It seems the most ardent Lost fans this year have become apologists.
"Why don't they tell us the mysteries of the island?" the chorus of casual fans shouts. "Why don't Sun and Jin play bigger roles?" "Why don't Nikki and Paulo rise from the dead?" Just kidding on that last one.
The reply to all these: "Just wait," the faithful apologists say.
We never expected to get all the answers after six seasons of mind-bending story lines, and if the producers have been telling the truth in interviews, we won't. But we do expect we'll learn much more when the show ends in Sunday's 21/2-hour finale, just as we have as the series wound on.
The toughest part about being satisfied with Lost is that every answer yields another question — a less artful paraphrase of the line from the woman simply called "Mother" and played by Allison Janney in last week's episode.
But we have learned lots. Consider these — our choices for the biggest questions of the series — and how much we already know:
What is the black smoke? (Season 1)
The origins and its purpose are still mysterious, but think of all the time we waited in wonder to see its identity. It's black smoke that can take the form of dead people — and then kill.
What is the Dharma Initiative, and why did it build hatches and stations all over the island? (Seasons 1-2)
Dharma was a group of scientists that were attracted to the island because of its mysterious properties, including electromagnetism. They popularized The Numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42), as those were engraved on the Swan station's hatch and subsequently had to be entered into a computer to control a pocket of energy the group released upon digging too deep.
The group was wiped out because Benjamin Linus had daddy issues.
Who are The Others? (Seasons 2-3)
This group of island inhabitants predated the Dharma Initiative and was composed of people who crashed on the island over the years, presumably as part of Jacob's quest to lure more "candidates," who were revealed in Tuesday's episode to be the people he thought might replace him as the protector of the "light" at the center of the island.
Who are Jacob and the Man in Black? (Seasons 5-6)
These brothers and controlling forces of the island were given powers by "Mother," who identified herself as the island's protector. The Man in Black seeks to escape the island because he knew that people, including his birth mother, came to the island from elsewhere. Jacob, devoted to "Mother," who adopted them (and brutally killed their birth mum), sought to please her by staying on the island and recruiting candidates to replace him as protector.
Jack Shephard accepted the position, which is indefinite, on Tuesday's episode.
What are the origins of the island, and what gives it the mystical powers shown? (Pretty much every season)
Yeah, haven't gotten a clue. Not a darn one.
Lastly, from Dorothea, where has Desmond been all my life?
How did this gorgeous man escape my radar all these years? Oh, and is he at the center of it all? If industrialist and former island resident Charles Widmore is to be believed, Desmond Hume is a fail-safe to protect the island. He also seems to be gathering the castaways in the flash-sideways universe for an encounter on the last night.