Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lost Season V

Lost Season V. We're through what, a quarter of the season now, right? The way I see it, it's around this time where you can legitimately start forming an opinion on how the season as a whole is going. To be honest, my girly chat friends know this already but I have had some misgivings ever since this season began, which I will get in to below. But I wanted to wait to see a decent part of the season before I started making judgments, and I'm happy to admit that my original unease has tempered a bit as the season has worn on.

First and foremost, I do have to say that, ever since the whole time traveling thing began, I have liked Lost that much less. And it's not like I have some problem with time travel as a concept -- nobody loved Back to the Future, Terminator, Butterfly Effect, etc. more than me. Shit, I even dug on Star Trek VI. That's right, the ghey one with the humpback whales. And one of my all-time favorite books, called "Replay" by a guy named Ken Grimwood, is about time travel in a way. So it's not like I just hate science fiction and can't stand stories about time travel, I actually kinda dig it. But just not in this story. As I watch the island jumping from the past to the present to the future in a very random and yet plot-convenient way, it just makes part of me long for the old days of Seasons 1 and 2, when tour castaways were just discovering all the wonders of the island. The hatch, the numbers, the Others, the smoke monster. These days, the show has really become something totally different from what it started out to be. Five years ago we were watching a story of a bunch of plane crash survivors roughing it in the South Pacific somewhere, learning all the strange and crazy things about the island they found themselves shipwrecked on, and we were learning all about the surviving members of the plane crash via their individual backstories as well. Now, we're watching a show that this season has morphed into a multiple-strings travel through time as those still on the island fight to survive, while those off the island are struggling to get back for a reason I still do not fully understand. And that's not to say that different is automatically bad; my personal opinion is that the show is just not as good these days as when it was in its heyday some several seasons ago. Really, it's no different from what I think about 24 and Gray's Anatomy and many other popular network shows nowadays. These things are basically all written just to "make it" in their rookie season; the creators generally put their all into the plot for the first season, and figure they will worry about future seasons if and when the opportunity presents itself. I think that shows with Lost just like it does with 24, Desperate Housewives and most of the other popular shows out there today.

Now, as I mentioned above, I am happy to say that this general malaise about where Lost has gone here in Season V has been waning steadily since the season began, with this past week's most recent episode definitely scoring to me as the most interesting and overall best episode so far of the season. They are really drawing us in as only the writers of Lost can. But this leads to my other concern with the path they have taken the show down now: I believe explaining their way out of this whole mess is going to be much more complicated and difficult than most people realize, and that the writers of Lost have gotten themselves into a situation where they risk ending the show in a way that will alienate a number of their longtime viewers because it will require a highly complex explanation that is bound to be hard to follow. If what I think is going on with the island is what's actually going on, the rest of the show will be far more about time travel than about the actual island and its other mysteries.

Which brings me to my theory of what's really going on with this island. One of the absolute best things about Lost working its way towards a final conclusion in just 28 more episodes is that, here in Season V, I feel like I am finally getting to the point where I can start to string together a theory about what might be happening here at the island, based on actual fact instead of just silly conjecture like most such theories have based on over the past few years. Here's my view of things -- keep in mind this is purely just a theory and is based on no actual knowledge whatsoever, I don't ever read spoilers and what I am about to say can and likely will be proven completely wrong in short order. But here's what I think is going on with this island:

Somehow, the Others formed on the island, probably as some split off from the original Dharma Initiative that first came to the island in the 1950s, which we have now seen this season included Ellie and Charles Widmore as visitors, and of course the ever-present and ever-eye-shadow-wearing Richard Alpert. Ben once referred to a "black box" on the island in a previous episode, telling Locke it could be used to bring anyone from the world to the island. My guess is that this black box, one of the great mysteries of this series so far, is likely some sort of time machine, one which the Others have developed by figuring out how to harness the incredible energy source located under the Orchid station. In fact, my guess from the Marvin Candle sighting earlier this season is that the Dharma Initiative was originally working on harnessing the power of this energy source as well, but that the Others somehow split away from Dharma, maybe due to some dispute over the time machine, how to develop it or what it should be used for, and at this point it appears that the Others, led by Ben, orchestrated a mass killing of the remaining Dharma Initiative workers in the past as we have seen in previous episodes. This has left the Others in control of the island's time-travel capabilities for some time now since they got rid of the rest of Dharma.

Because of what I imagine we will see happened back in the 1950s, Richard and Ben et al are well aware that Charles Widmore is desperate to return to the island, probably generally to complete the work he started while there in the '50s, or more specifically to regain control of the time machine he discovered back then (I expect to see more of this later in this season) so he can use it for his own purposes, be they nefarious, greed-based or personal. As a result of Widmore's lifelong search for the island ever since he was banished for some reason sixty years ago, Ben and Richard found a way to use the island's time-altering capabilities to move the entire island into the past at some point recently, perhaps as recently as when Rousseau's team traveled to the island in 1988, or even later than that (but prior to 2004 when the show began). At least as likely is that the Others found a way within the recent past to use the island's energy source to "freeze" the island in whatever time it was back then, while time around the rest of the world has continued to move on since then. It may be that the Others have figured out how to create a "time bubble" around the entire island, so that the surrounding space is still in the current time, but the island itself has been moved to or frozen in a time in the recent past, all to avoid detection by Widmore and his gang of baddies.

[As an aside, the theory is also that the Black Rock, that old boat stuck in the middle of the island, somehow crashed into the island some time ago, creating the "hole" in this time bubble surrounding the island through which the freighter people flew their helicopter and through which the raft could float between the freighter and the island. This would explain why Charles Widmore was so hell-bent on obtaining the Black Rock's log at the auction we saw a year or two ago -- Widmore knows that with that log, he can learn the exact coordinates through which the Black Rock sailed to get to the island, duplicating their exact route and thus enabling Widmore's people to pass through to the island via the same hole in whatever "time bubble" exists that was created by the Black Rock.]

So, my theory is that the island as we know it from Lost is actually situated in the recent past, say ten years ago, while the survivors of flight 815 were in 2004 before the plane crash detailed in the pilot episode of the series. The thought is that, when Desmond turned the key to enact the failsafe in the Swan station, the thing that turned the sky purple and ultimately caused the crash of flight 815, the survivors crash-landed on the island, but they landed on the island in the mid-1990s, the year when time had been "frozen" on the island, not in 2004 as it had been when they boarded the plane a few hours earlier. So it is, say, 1995 or something when all the events on the island took place as we have seen them.

This is a key point of my theory, because I no longer believe that the island has these "magical" healing properties such that a guy like Locke can be a quadriplegic when he boards his plane but then be able to walk perfectly upon crashing on the island. Rather, I believe the reason that Locke can walk on the island is that he had not yet been pushed out the window by his father back in 1995, the time it currently is on the island as soon as they crash-landed. Similarly, Rose's cancer has dissipated on the island, but in my view not because the island can cure cancer so much as because the island has taken Rose back in time to a point shortly before when she developed the cancer.

The only other major theme of this working theory I have deals with fate, and I believe that fate will prove to play a large role in where the writers are taking Lost here in the final two seasons. I think the writers have given us a couple of key tidbits here in Season V to piece together the fate part of my theory, which is that, as Daniel told Sawyer very matter-of-factly earlier this season, you cannot change the future by going back in the past. This concept goes against most of what you see in other time-travel movies, books and shows in our day, but the theory being put forth on Lost seems to be just that -- that you can maybe change a minor thing here or there, but that fate will not permit you to materially change the future by going back in the past. And the vibe I am getting so far from the Lost writers this year is that they might be setting up "fate" to be a real entity, a force, that physically acts out its will on anyone who tries to alter the natural course of things. Although I had been entertaining the thought that the smoke monster could be fate's agent to make sure that things changed in the past get righted before moving to the future, smokey's grab of Rousseau's team seems to cut against that theory so I am backing off on that part of it. But I still think that a central theme of the time travel aspect of Lost will be that fate will find a way to make things as they should in the right time.

Taking this theory to its conclusion, for example, my thought is that, as I mentioned above, Locke can walk on the island because, in the time that it currently is on the island, he has not been pushed out the window yet by his father. He can walk perfectly in 1995, so he can walk perfectly when the plane crash-lands on the island back in 1995-time. My thought, however, is that if Locke were to stay on the island for long enough, say 9 years or so until 2004, then fate would find a way to maim his legs in some other way on the island, because fate has already determined that in 2002 or whenever his father pushed him, he becomes paralyzed from the waist down. Similarly, I think that if Rose were to remain on the island for long enough, her cancer would develop at the exact same time as it developed back on the earth in her "original" life. So I don't think the island is eliminating these maladies for Locke, Rose and others, but rather just moving the players back in time some small number of years to before those maladies existed, but that they would come back and exhibit themselves in the same way at the time already pre-determined by fate.

Now to be clear, I'm not saying that fate would ensure that Locke would get pushed out of a window somewhere on the island if he remained there until the time when he originally got pushed out the window by his assholic father. I get the feeling that fate is concerned with ensuring the results it has worked out for everyone, but not at all the means by which those results are obtained. Fate doesn't care if Locke is pushed out of a window or if some heavy piece of machinery falls on his legs. The only thing fate would see to is that, somehow, some way, Locke's legs would become -- will become, in a few years of island-time -- incapacitated. I believe this theory is supported by what we saw go down at the very end of last week's episode -- Locke is preparing to fix the wheel that moved the island and send himself back to the world, where he plans to convince all of the Oceanic 6 to return to the island to finish their "work" there. But when Locke goes back to the real world, he will be jumping from 1995-ish, when the Others froze time on the island to better hide from Charles Widmore, back to 2007 or whatever the present time is in our flash-forwards in Los Angeles. But in 2007, Locke's legs have already been destroyed by his father. So what happens as Locke is on his way down to the wheel to jump back to the future? The island flashes, the well disappears when Locke is halfway down, and he falls the rest of the way. You saw that disgusting bone protruding a good two inches from his leg when he fell, right? There's no way an injury like that is going to be reparable by modern medicine, methinks. I think that was the island's way of ensuring that Locke, who is about to go back to the present, is once again a quadriplegic as fate has lain out for him in that time.

Lastly, I should also mention that there is one way in my theory that the Lost writers believe you can change history somewhat in the past. If you, alive in the current day, go back into the past and are killed, can you still exist in the present day? This of course is one of the great conundrums of time travel lovers over time, and it seems that every book, every tv show, and every movie that addresses these issues seems to handle it differently. On Lost, I think they have their own way of dealing with this issue -- if you go into the past and die, then you can still exist in the future, but only as kind of a half-existence. You can exist in spirit only, but not in body. This is what I think Christian Shepard is, which is why I think they made the point of Christian saying that he could not help injured Locke make his way over to the frozen wheel. Because Christian Shepard died already in Australia just before Jack got on flight 815 to bury him (and I think we will learn that Christian somehow got involved with the island's time machine before that death), I think Christian has been relegated to just a spirit on the island, such that if Locke tried to grab Christian's arm, he would just grab at nothing and fall right through the air. Similarly, I also think that Jacob is the spirit of someone who was on the island, went back in time, and was eventually killed in the past, such that Jacob exists now only in spirit on the island. I believe Claire, who Locke also saw in Jacob's cabin with Christian late last season, probably is also dead at this point, existing only in spirit on the island. And this could go a long way towards explaining who Jacob is, and why nobody ever gets to see him but he still gets to speak and apparently exercise a fair amount of control over the island's original inhabitants.

That's basically it for my Lost theory. I've spared you the bit about Locke having to have part of his foot amputated in connection with stabilizing the infection from that redonkulous leg injury he just suffered before returning back to Los Angeles in 2007, resulting in the loss of one of his toes, and then returning to the island eventually as Jacob, in spirit only because he dies in Los Angeles, and eventually being the guy whose foot is immortalized by the island's inhabitants as part of the giant four-toed statue they showed us a couple of years ago. Stuff like that is just too in doubt and too involved to really spend much time thinking about here at this point. But what I would say is, in case you didn't quite get my point about how complicated they have now turned this show into with all the time-travel stuff, go back and read my last ten paragraphs or so. That's why I think the Lost writers might have passed the point of no return and gotten themselves into a situation where only a too-complex-to-be-accepted explanation will suffice to cover everything that's happened to the island and its inhabitants over the past five seasons of brilliant, exhilarating television.

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Blogger Puce said...

Really interesting! But, if I may, Locke's open leg fracture can be cured by modern medicine. If his paralysis has to strike back, it would probably be as instantly as it went away in the first episode.

Right now, I am praying that the remaining flight 815 survivors on the island will "land" on a time where they can stay, because it is getting a little bit annoying to see them time-travelling every 10minutes or so!

5:40 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Puce, I am totally with you on that, the time travel thing to me is ultimately quite ghey in this context. But I know plenty of die hard fans of the show who say this is great.

They are fools though, obviously.

Maybe Locke can at least lose a toe due to infection from the cure of the leg?

9:18 AM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

Sounds like a pretty good show, maybe I will start watching.

By the way, you totally got your hand history wrong.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Skramly said...

Good theories. I actually think that Jacob is future-Locke, and he uses Christian's body because Locke would lose his mind if he encountered another Locke. I have to wonder if they're working up to time-traveling Losties encountering themselves in the past, though. There have been too many convenient near misses. I also think that Richard and his group, the "original" inhabitants of the island, were there long before Dharma was ever formed. Could they be the crew of the Black Rock, maybe?

7:04 AM  

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