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Summer Reading: Some New #Lost Theories Part I

It has been a few busy weeks and my Lost fascination has had to go on hold. Unfortunately, as with most things I approach with an “ignore it and it will go away” attitude, this one hasn’t. In fact, just the other night, I was shaken from a deep sleep by a dream in which I found myself a castaway on Lost Island. (For the record, I don’t normally dream about TV, so I took this as a sign that I had stuff I need to get off my chest.)

So let’s cast our mind back many weeks and dive in. To set the stage, I’ll refer you to a Doc Jensen column on Entertainment Weekly. If you haven’t read Jensen’s Lost theories, they’re really quite entertaining. The one I have linked hits a very critical point (to me at least) on page two.

I like the washed-out black and white sheen that’s been given to that classic Star Wars moment ‚Äî it gives it a certain old and damaged Orientation Film feel, specifically the one that the castaways found in the Hatch back in the third episode of season 2. As your (quack) doctor in Lostology, allow me to give you a piece of advice: Watch it again, as at least some of it has direct bearing on what is currently happening back in Dharma 1979 on Lost. (Note: This version does not include a short snippet of missing footage that was later found by Mr. Eko, which instructs Swan occupants to refrain from using the computer to communicate with the outside world.)

Note the following:

  1. Dr. Candle’s left arm does not move during the entire film.
  2. Dharma’s founders were a pair of University of Michigan scientists, Gerald and Karen DeGroot. An industrialist named Alvar Hanso funded their work.
  3. Remember ‚Äî nay, MEMORIZE ‚Äî this line as if it were scripture: ”Not long after the experiments began, however, there was…an ‘incident’…and since that time, the following protocol has been observed…”
  4. The copyright date on the film: 1980.
  5. The year that The Empire Strikes Back was released: 1980.
    Point No. 5 probably has nothing to do with anything.

My colleague and friend Paul Rodriguez and I have spent way too many hours discussing Lost. In those discussions this season, we have spent a lot of time on time travel and the question of whether or not you can change the past. Faraday argues that you cannot, then changes his mind to argue that you can. Once he does, however, he repeats the past and warns Charlotte not to come back – which he clearly had already done, and it made no difference at all.

It is my contention that everything we have witnessed this year is a repeat of everything that came before. From the plane crashing to Juliet falling down the well and detonating Jughead, everything has happened before. I am a fervent believer in the Deja Vu theory of time travel. Everything that happened before will happen again.

Faraday, at least on his death bed, seems to understand this. As he lies bleeding, shot by his own mother, Daniel realizes that his mother might well have sent him off to the island knowing that earlier her was going to shoot Daniel. Under his theory of humans as great variables, the one possible variable he failed to account for is she may have known the past, and the present.

So let’s jump back to that video now. You’ll note the first item that Jensen mentions is Candle’s stiff arm. Now think back to the incident at the Swan construction site and the scaffolding that fell on him – landing on his arm. Between Daniel getting whacked by mom, and Candle coincidentally having an arm crusher followed three years later by the video, I have become a believer. My new religion? The more things change, the more they remain the same.

I don’t believe they have changed anything at all. I think the islanders have become a logic puzzle.

If I were stuck 30 years in the past, and had to find a way to change/affect the future. What would my first thought be? Great! Now I can immediately discard that one because I would have already done that 30 years earlier.

Changing time in the way our island buddies are trying to requires what can be described as branching time theory. As you move down the path of time, you can introduce a significant event (Jughead’s detonation) and alter the flow of the time stream. The course of time is altered and you can avoid some specific negative outcome.

However, the fact that our islanders are hung up circa 1977 demonstrates the fallacy of this theory. Instead, the islanders and their 1977 selves exist simultaneously. Their two times are clearly different tracks on the same loop.

In this way, time is more like a cable TV system. Traditionally on cable (though this is changing with OnDemand and Switched Digital Video) channels are being fed down the line all at once. You can choose which channel to watch, but the rest are still moving along at the same time. By changing the channel, you haven’t changed anything but your perception of what’s on at that moment. You have altered your exposure, but everything else exists the same way.

I believe the islanders will now perceive that they have done some good, and will carry out the remainder of their 1977 existence, but won’t actually achieve anything. In fact, I am going to lay a bet on the outcome of the series (I’m not giving long odds on this, just a speculation).

At the end of the series, we will see our “current” castaways fate resolved in some way or another, and the island will be going along as it always has. Our “series finale” cast will be preparing to board the flight from Australia to LA and will have some vague recollection of one another as they do. The flight will take off, and somewhere along the line we’ll see the plane lurch, the tail section go flying off, and the screen will cut to black.

In the end, we’ll realize that the entire circle is beginning again, and has probably been moving along in much the same way, forever.

Written by Michael Turk