Posted by Marc Oromaner on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 at 8:04 pm - filed under Lost In Myth - (67) Comments
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As soon as I learned of the title of Lost’s Season 6 premiere episode last year, I immediately began to wonder about its implications. Sure, the LA X was a reference to LAX, the abbreviation for Los Angeles International Airport where Oceanic Flight 815 was suppose to land, but why was there a space between the “LA” and the “X”?  Like everything on Lost, surely this play on letters was for a reason.

My first thought was that Jack’s plan will have failed, and that the X stood for an error—that the Losties would not be getting back to LA (as in LA? Survey says: X!) Then I thought that maybe both possibilities would exist—that an alternate reality could occur where the Losties both would and would not get to LAX (theory #3 of the “Season 6 Spoiler-Free Theories” post). This twin realities possibility has been a popular theory for the last nine months and did seemingly come to fruition with this episode. Still, I think the genius of the title name is that it has many meanings and that it’s main implication is not quite as apparent as the others.  I’d also thought about the possibility of LA X, translating into “The X”—as in X marks the spot, or “the wrong choice” for Jack.

Now that I’ve seen the episode however, I think that the true meaning of the “X” is that of a variable in an equation. It is the unknown. A possibility that can go multiple ways.  Thinking back to “The Variable” episode, what was it that Daniel Faraday said that the variables were in the equation of life? He said that they were us. And what do we now see in the “LA X” episode? We see two versions of the characters. One version where they were able to resolve their issues and one where they haven’t. One where they are struggling with challenges, and one where they have overcome them. One where they are motivated by greed and one by good. One where they are consumed by dark, and the other by light. One where they are dead, and another where they are alive. One where they have had it easy, and one where they have had it hard.

The message here is clear. Each of us has the potential to become the best version of ourselves or the worst…or, somewhere in between. This is our freedom of choice. Yet, while it is our choice, we are also often the victims or benefiters of our circumstances. So both fate and freewill have a hand in our destinies.

The duality theme has run through Lost since the beginning, and I’ve written about fate versus freewill and the good versus bad aspects of ourselves numerous times in relation to Lost and other recent films. The theme of whether or not we are actually the bad guys, or the dual sides of our personalities has been especially popular in films lately. District 9Avatar, and other films have all explored the possibility of us being on the wrong team or learning to revaluate who we think our enemies are.

One version of this theme also explores the dark sides of our personalities—the beast within us so to speak. Surely, there will be those who saw the many trailers of The Wolfman that aired during this episode of Lost as a complete coincidence and those of you who, like me, saw something more. (There is also the fact that this episode came out on Groundhog’s Day, the day when a hibernating animal affects the future positively or negatively depending on whether or not he can see his shadow self.) Yes, I’ve been accused of being a bit apophenic in my world view, but I’ve just experienced far too many serendipitous occurrences in my life to believe they are completely random. There is something bigger going on. Something that the universe is trying to tell us, or that our collective unconscious is trying to tell ourselves. It almost seems that much like the Losties, we too may be given a choice about who we want to be, and there may not even be a right or wrong answer. So far, which reality is the better one for the Losties—the one where they are on the island or the one where they are in LA? To some extent, it depends which character you’re talking about, but even still, some of the answers aren’t so clear-cut.

To me, the island seems to be the version of life that explores fate, whereas LA seems to be more about free will. And something tells me that these two dichotomies will be merging together. After all, the LA Losties are in 2004, while the others are a bit over three years ahead of them (so technically, it isn’t really a flash-sideways, more like a flash up-and-over—like a knight move in chess). Regardless of whether or not the timelines eventually merge however, the dual timelines offer all kinds of juicy possibilities.

For most of Lost, many of the so-called “shippers” have wondered who Kate will end up with—Jack or Sawyer. Perhaps the answer is both—Jack on the island and Sawyer in LA.  Will John Locke end up dead or alive? We can see both. We can see two versions of Jin and Sun’s relationship. A bad luck Hurley versus a good luck Hurley. A Jack who was a man of science who converted, and a Jack who was mostly a man of science but open to faith (he tells Locke in LA that nothing is impossible, so perhaps this Jack was more swayed at having fixed his former wife’s spine?) We might also learn if Shannon was better off using men, or getting to know true love before dying, and if Charlie would be better off as a living drug addict or a dead man who sacrificed himself for others.

Speaking of sacrifice, one new question that Lost presents us with in this episode is why didn’t Jacob fight back? Ben asks Smokey the Locke, “why did he let me just kill him?” To which his manipulator replies, “I guess he knew that he was beaten.” Deep down, all of us know that there is something more going on here. Why did Jacob let Ben just kill him? Let’s refer to our old friend mythology for a clue.

“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine” Ben “Obi-Wahn” Kenobi tells Darth Vader in Star Wars. Once in his spiritual form, Obi-Wahn is able to guide Luke to destroy the Death Star. In The Lord of the Rings Gandalf the Grey sacrifices himself to save his friends and is transformed into the more powerful Gandalf the White. So, knowing how muchLost pays tribute to Star Wars and other mythology, it is highly probable that Jacob is sacrificing himself for the greater good and will eventually be returning in a more powerful form as well. The message for us (as discussed in “Choosing to Sacrifice for the Sake of the Island”) is that by challenging ourselves we grow into stronger people, better able to handle the challenges of the future.

While Jacob’s enemy has certainly come up with a long con to find the loophole that could defeat Jacob, perhaps Jacob’s con is even longer, or at least, more involved. Perhaps the reason why Christian’s body is missing in the alternate timeline is because Jacob plans to beat his nemesis at his own game—taking Christian’s body from that realm in order to put his plan in effect.  Whatever the details, it’s probably safe to assume that Jacob’s story isn’t over. And that he has a plan too.  And that his plan will likely work. Maybe this is what Juliet is referring to when she posthumously tells Sawyer that, “It worked.” Yes, the implication is that Jack’s plan to prevent Oceanic 815 from ever crashing worked, but perhaps the real meaning refers to the bigger picture. In fact, perhaps the alternate timeline isn’t happening alongside the other, as their juxtaposition would suggest, but will happen after.

After Jacob wins, he may offer the Losties a chance to have lived as though none of this ever happened. Certainly, he will allow them to choose for themselves, as seems to be his modus operandi. And perhaps, we will never know what choice they make, for that will be the moment that Lost will cut to black for the last time—leaving us to spend the rest of our lifetimes pondering over which realities would be better for which characters. Will fate be better for the Losties or pure free will? This is one of the major questions of the show and the crux of the argument between Jacob and his nemesis. With this kind of ending, I can see why Lindelof and Cuse do not want to do a movie or spinoff series. The rest of the story will be up to us—both to discuss, and incorporate into our own lives. We will still be a bit lost, but at least we’ll be able to see the many paths before us, and hopefully chose them more wisely this time.


Marc Oromaner
is a New York City writer whose book, The Myth of Lost offers a simple solution to Lost and uncovers its hidden insight into the mysteries of life. He can be contacted in the discussion section of The Myth of Lost Facebook page.

The Myth of Lost is available on Amazon and barnesandnoble.com.

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67 Responses to “Marc Oromaner’s Lost In Myth: What the LA X in “LA X” Really Refers To.”


  1. Adam says:

    Thats very interesting! The X could symbolize a variable. Since the whole thing was variation of what happened originally. And whatever choice they made caused a slightly different series of events.

    • naultz says:

      or as faraday pointed out “people are the variables”. what if the losties are all variables (X’s) in a larger equation? I propose that faraday is right about the survivors being variables in an equation, possibly the Valenzetti equation( from The Lost Experience) that predicts the end of the world. Dharma was formed to try and manipulate the core numbers (4,8,15,16 23,42) of this equation. What if each number/variable in the equation was actually a person? than by manipulating these “variables” ie. the losties, We could ultimately change the equation and save the world. Although, that sounds a whole lot harder than pushing a button :)

      • cap10tripps says:

        Love this point, but the 6 numbers vs. 8 people Jacob touches would have to be explained. Perhaps Hurley and Sayid are the variables that changes the equation, as they are the only post 815 crash victims Jacob touches. This would work well in the current context of the show, and would give the “Jacob is now Sayid” thoughts much credibility.

        After all if you were in Jacob’s shoes, which LOSTie would help you most on your quest to bring down the man who wants to end the world (or see the Valenzetti equation come to fruition)? That’s a no brainer, bad ass Sayid. He needed Hurley on the plane as well, as Hurley has the ability to see and communicate with those who have passed on.

      • *SPOILER*: Naultz, according to some spoiler-ish info I heard today, you seem to be correct. Not sure about the details, but the numbers do seem to correlate to the Losties.

    • A variable is: A letter used to represent a number value in an expression or an equation. Usually a variable is used to express an unknown value which must be solved with the known components in an equation.

      I suggest X represents a solution, which in the cause of Lost is not necessarily a number but a reality. Which is the reality? The Losties or the Landies? For now, like Marc, I believe the sideways flashes© represent an event yet to be revealed.

      I’m not sure I buy that Jacob – or whoever really controls the Island – will give a walk-away-with-my-marbles option as Marc suggests, though. It may be more along the lines of what Doc has suggested, some point they all say this game is stupid and we refuse to play.

      While I like the idea of the Foundies dealing with their issues and finding redemption. But like I’ve also been saying since the 5 finale, the backstories all become skewed, unknown, and not the Losties we know and love (or in the case of Ben and Locke, hate). The bomb/event occurred in ’77 and would have had reprecussions that altered the courses of our Losties’ lives, clearly seen with the Foundies (Hurley’s luck, Boone’s sister). That will be a disappointment, for me.

      But maybe The Darlton can make the Foundies as endearing and important. My guess is that’s their hope as well. My guess is Desmond will serve as a bridge – he MUST have some other connection with the Island because the event that gave him the ability to see the future or alter his own life occurred after ’77. Des in essence will serve as US, the audience. He will have experienced the Lostie experience even if that is wiped clean, rebooted.

  2. Illundiel says:

    haha I mentioned the same thing about Obi-Wan on Facebook and gizmodo last night. I’m think this is pretty spot on, but I’d like closure(even though I won’t get it).

  3. Nick Stevens says:

    I was thinking of the X being a place holder or variable myself. Nice to see others following that same train.

  4. steve says:

    I posted this out on Mac’s blog as well. on the variable idea.
    The theory about “X” in LA X being a variable did not do it for me.

    In mathematics, variables are denoted with lower case letters. example: f(x) .

    Capitol Letters are more often used to represent Spaces or Sets of things, or the Greek Capitol letters like Sigma which is used for a repeated function to sum, so if the “X” here refers to the Greek Chi – perhaps a repeated function…

    • I can totally see that the Losties could be stuck in a repeated function or loop. After all, if the island was destroyed/sunken in 1977 with the bomb, then pregnant Eloise would’ve been killed so Faraday never born so no one to tell Jack to drop the bomb in the first place. In fact, there will be no Jack on the island to drop the bomb. It’s the old “shooting your grandpa” paradox. Yes, such a move could create or move into an alternate timeline, which is where my beliefs lie (so you wind up in a timeline where you have a different grandpa), but it may still create a loop here: if the bomb explodes and 815 doesn’t crash, no one goes back to the island to drop the bomb.

      As for the upper case X thing, sure, if you wanna get technical, but had they called the episode LA x, it would be giving too much away. In making multiple meanings work, the upper case X is okay to mean variable b/c it’s necessary to indicate LAX (airport). The space between the letters provides the clue that there’s more to it. In other words, the X most likely still indicates a variable, especially since this is as aspect of the show that’s been explained, more-so than mobius loops, but we shall see what concepts Season 6 brings up.

  5. crafty bison says:

    The ‘X’ refers to an alternate reality as is convention across sci-fi shows.

  6. iCherub says:

    Interesting. Though I have to disagree on the Christian Shepherd involvement as Jacob’s manifestation part. Evidently, the story line have suggested so far that the apparition of Christian is working for Jacob’s Nemesis. Watch how Christian manipulated John Lock and convinced him of dying. The entity which was in the Cabinet which appeared to Lock and Ben was surrounded with ashes same way as Jacobs body guard surrounded himself with the circle of ashes to protect against the smoke monster which turned out to be Jacob’s nemesis and who was last seen in the Cabinet, it was Christian with Clair. Christian is lying about being on Jacob’s side because he wants John Lock to believe that he is on the good side.

    • Newbie says:

      agree Christian is on the other side

    • My thought was more that Jacob would beat his nemesis at his own game, meaning, yes, Christian HAD been the nemesis before, but now, Jacob could use Christian from the alternate timeline so there would be two Christians. I’m not 100% on board with this, just throwing it out there.

      Still, there are interesting things to think about as to how this already happened. Remember, Jack has seen his dead father off the island. So, since the nemesis is imprisoned, but Jacob can go off-island, it might be explained if this Christian was not the nemesis but Jacob. Also, Jacob was able to give characters a little nudge by touching them, but Christian couldn’t touch Locke when he fell in the well. He wasn’t allowed to help. This may be a rule that applies to both Jacob and the nemesis though since neither seem to be allowed to directly interfere. Jacob insists they must make their own choice, and nemesis just tries to influence, but also could not kill Jacob himself. Neither seems to be allowed to “move the game pieces” themselves.

  7. Funback Joe says:

    isnt this the dude that thinks its a big video game?

  8. greg dharma says:

    hmm…jacob becomes christian? interesting, but sayid is the more likely “candidate”–as hinted when he “died” and then didnt die.

  9. Mirko says:

    I think the X symbolizes the crossing of two timelines.

    So, the episode name actually foreshadows one of the major events that will occur troughout the finale season. I’m totally convinced that at some point of the story both realities will come together. If one collapses into the other or they will both basically perpetuate for their own good, I can’t say at the moment. Despite the X suggests that both will remain and go their own ways.

  10. hugo says:

    “In fact, perhaps the alternate timeline isn’t happening alongside the other, as their juxtaposition would suggest, but will happen after.”

    Hmmm… now I’m confused, the plane crashes on the island/lands at LAX in 2004, and the island story of this season is supposed to be in 2007. Or am I getting something wrong?

    • Illundiel says:

      No, they did the exact same thing in season 4. it’s a pretty popular idea…but would make for a decent finale.

      • Mirko says:

        While I believe this actually might be what Dharlton had planned for the series finale, I think it’s just to popular or obvious by now. Even if they had planned this all along, they’re still in the process of writing the last third of the season. So, they could still easily change this outcome into one possiblity out of many. Maybe the alternate timeline we see unfold before our eyes will only be one that COULD arrise in the future(/past), without definate affirmation.

        Darlton are to clever to let something as big as the series ending slip out right in (or shortly after) the first two hours of the season.

        • brent says:

          All true but they did say that “The Incident” coupled with “LA X” would give fans a pretty clear indication of the endgame direction. The realities MUST merge eventually. Leaving them separate would create an ambiguous finale, something they absolutely do not want to do.

          • Illundiel says:

            Well no they will converge as per jacob reading “Everything That Rises Must Converge”…it’s just maybe we’re seeing it after they’ve already done so.

          • brent says:

            I’m sure one of the final tricks of the show is that certain scenes perceived to be earlier in the narrative were actually later. They just better not be too far out of left field.

            Merge or converge. It was an appropriate book for Jacob to be reading. That dude knows what’s going on here. As does the MIB.

  11. Guliana says:

    Maybe the “X” refers to “ten”…as in only ten of the real Losties are truly on the plane. Jack, Charlie, Rose, Bernard, Kate, Sawyer, Boone, Sayid, Jin and Sun. Locke and Desmond are not who they seem. These are the L.A. Ten, versus the Ocean Six.

    • Guliana says:

      oops, forgot Hurley was there too. I dunno anymore.

    • steve says:

      What about Hurley?

      • steve says:

        remember Desmond was not on the original 815

        • Guliana says:

          Maybe the X is “ten” referring to them actually landing in 2010? We assume they landed in the original flight time. But perhaps since it is obvious some things are different with the Losties and the flight this time, maybe they all didn’t really board the flight until 2010.

          • Ryan says:

            I like the way you’re thinking but I feel great pains were taken to make the 815ers appear to be in 2004. If you have the show DVRd or can watch it online take a look at Jack’s cell phone. It might sound silly but the prop people on the show are very careful about cell phones. Remember the Jin and Sun episode when it was a Sun flashforward and a Jin flashback? Jin had an old style motorola. In the finale to season 3 when we were introduced to the first flashforward jack was shown on plane with a crazr, a phone that wasn’t available in 2004 to reinforce the fact that what we were watching was in the future. In LA X jack is on the phone with his mother and I would hope that were he in 2010 that a crack spinal surgeon could afford a DROID or iPhone and not that old gross flip phone he was talking on.

    • jojo says:

      Charlie was suppose to die on the plane. So back to 10? (X). I don’t know but I thought the same as you…

      • Guliana says:

        One more for fun…The “X” also could refer to “Times” as in the multiplication symbol, such as 3X3=9. Phonetically, that would read “L.A. Times,” perhaps a reference to the same newspaper publishing the obit for Jeremy Bentham.

        I suspect it will turn out to mean “variable” as others suggested, but just throwing it out there.

  12. cap10tripps says:

    I can’t wait for the first Desmond episode. Something tells me he’s the X factor. Faraday certainly made this clear, plus my belief is that Dez has learned more control over his ability. The Dez we see on the plane is in one of his flashes.

    • brent says:

      Yes, it looks like they are not dropping the “Desmond is special and the rules don’t apply to him” angle. While it’s one of the biggest hand-waving elements of the show, his “powers” are clearly important to the final mythology and straightening this all out.

  13. Chad Geri says:

    “After Jacob wins, he may offer the Losties a chance to have lived as though none of this ever happened. Certainly, he will allow them to choose for themselves, as seems to be his modus operandi. And perhaps, we will never know what choice they make, for that will be the moment that Lost will cut to black for the last time—leaving us to spend the rest of our lifetimes pondering over which realities would be better for which characters.”

    Of all potential endings I’ve heard, I think that’s the coolest. I would be very satisfied.

  14. sparafucile says:

    You figured this all out by yourself? Sorry for the sarcasm, but I figured this out TWO WEEKS AGO, as soon as I learned about the “FlashSideways” device.

  15. cap10tripps says:

    This creates a new paradox of Faraday not existing to tell of a bomb and a plan to detonate and change things. This simply means that there is only one timeline and now “Bad Twins” exist.

    This is all reminding me of “Donnie Darko.” Both tangent universes will cease to exist unless one is destroyed. If the tangent universes are allowed to converge (which will innevitably begin to happen) the Valenzetti equation comes to fruition. There will be a point that someone (Jack?) will knowingly have to prevent this from happening and destroy one of said universes. I guess this would make Desmond Frank the Bunny.

  16. s.w.a.c. says:

    Weirdly enough, I was just watching an episode of Six Feet Under a few days before where Nate was playing music for his daughter Maya, and the album in question was Los Angeles by the band X.

    I don’t think this has anything to do with anything, but L.A. x X is a punk classic.

  17. OnBorrowedTime says:

    Mr.Oromaner,
    Great recap as always and one of the few recaps I truly enjoy.
    Looking forward to the rest of your thoughts/theories on the last season of Lost.

  18. Fandango1 says:

    You’re right about each of us having the potential to become a better or worse version of ourselves. However, in this instance, all the “worse” versions had been “touched” by Jacob at some point. I’m working on the assumption that he didn’t touch the LA versions of these characters, and I wonder if that made the diffence in them become better versions of themselves.

  19. [...] mean that the events are happening along side each other. As I pointed out last week (in “What the LA X in ‘LA X’ Really Refers To”), it is entirely possible that this off-island timeline will occur after the island storyline ends [...]

  20. [...] mean that the events are happening along side each other. As I pointed out last week (in “What the LA X in ‘LA X’ Really Refers To”), it is entirely possible that this off-island timeline will occur after the island storyline ends [...]

  21. [...] mean that the events are happening along side each other. As I pointed out last week (in “What the LA X in ‘LA X’ Really Refers To”), it is entirely possible that this off-island timeline will occur after the island storyline ends [...]

  22. [...] mean that the events are happening along side each other. As I pointed out last week (in “What the LA X in ‘LA X’ Really Refers To”), it is entirely possible that this off-island timeline will occur after the island storyline ends [...]

  23. [...] I’ve written in my previous two columns from this season (“What the LA X Refers To” and “Tale of Two Kates”) , I still believe the events of the parallel 2004 timeline are really [...]

  24. [...] I’ve written in my previous two columns from this season (“What the LA X Refers To” and “Tale of Two Kates”) , I still believe the events of the parallel 2004 timeline are [...]

  25. [...] I’ve written in my previous two columns from this season (“What the LA X Refers To” and “Tale of Two Kates”) , I still believe the events of the parallel 2004 timeline are really [...]

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