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LOST Theory – The Great Time Travel Confidence Game

By docarzt,

  Filed under: Lost, Lost Theories
  Comments: 18

Every time I read an intricately researched theory on LOST’s time travel element, the ‘constant’ device, and Cuse and Lindelof’s Laws of LOST-time relativity, I imagine this very troubling scene: Carlton and Damon sitting in a dimly lit office, reading those very same theories, muffling sinister self-satisfied guffaws as they realize that we’ve all ‘fallen for it.’ That part of my mind suspects we’re all marks in one of LOST’s bigger narrative-con games.

flashes-desmond1At some point – probably while researching how grifters do their job for Sawyer’s character – the LOST writers realized that this one particular social engineering game of ‘The Long Con’ can be particularly useful in their craft. And so, they sat about figuring out how to lull us all into a sense of ‘how things are’, so they could effectively pull the carpet out from under us many episodes later. For instance, consider how we were lead to believe that The Others were grubby bare-footed folks that seemed to be living in the wild. The fact that they occasionally appeared in clean clothes was the source for tons of speculation – they could have been Dharma, for instance.

When later season 3 opened in the bucolic village of mustard colored bungalows we would later refer to fondly as ‘otherville,’ we began to learn the truth about at least one aspect of The Others – but more importantly, we learned that we really didn’t know much to begin with.

The sheer genius of this sort of story-telling could arguabley be how well it extends a story that could probably be told in a much shorter span of time. With the grand distraction and myriad possibilities, LOST managed to keep us entertained and bemused by The Others actions without simply blurting out that they were a pocket civilization that ‘worshipped’ a deity named Jacob, needed fresh women for reproduction experiments, and strove to avert becoming ‘fools enslaved by time and space.’

This is all part of LOST’s genius, to distract us with possibilities (what is the strange Dharma station being guarded at that coastal camp?) that turn out to be nothing at all, or convincing us that we know where things are going only to take an abrupt exit. As a matter of craft, it is the show’s signature and it is a stylistic mark of the writers that they themselves cannot escape.

The conclusion can only be that time travel, LOST’s handbook of time travel rules, and any shenanigans thereof, will ultimately prove to be nothing more than an intersection to LOST’s final act. A clever way to show us the history of what will lead to ‘whatever happens’ in LOST’s endgame. A side effect of whatever island magic LOST”s brain trust has cooked up for the final hours of the show. Like any overarching series theme of LOST, there may be some overlapping elements, but in my mind there is as good a chance of time travel – or it’s rules – being of importance in the final season as there was of The Others walking around barefoot for Season 3, or Flashbacks being the only temporal device for season 4, or the freighter still being parked off shore of the island in season 5.

As I’m sure a lot of you will point out, there is no concrete evidence to support this idea. Or is there? Think of this, the season began with the skipping of a record – a metaphor, we suspect, for what is currently going on with the island. If that is true, putting the penny on the turntable arm is the end game for this season. Stopping the erratic time flashing so that the narrative can resume unabated, dropping our characters – incidentally – into the time frame that becomes LOST’s final playing field with information they couldn’t have had without this time travel diversion.

From TVFrenzy:

  • professorstotch

    Good theory here, Doc. I was thinking about how time travel is going to be the bait that develops into something much, much larger. Everything introduced at the start of a season has snowballed into something huge.

    Season 1 – A mysterious island is now much more than what we originally thought it could ever be.

    Season 2 – The Hatch and Dharma. Remember when people thought their might only be one station? Now Dharma is one of the biggest aspects of the show.

    Season 3 – The Others were doing more than just living in a village. They had a whole society, they completely purged and overtook Dharma.

    Season 4 – The freighter people who were there to “save” them, turned out to be a team sent by Widmore who’s hunting down Ben.

    Season 5 – Time travel introduced = ?

    • clueless1der

      “Time travel introduced…….”

      ……..brains explode all over the world.

  • Neat theory, even little suri is trying to figure out what’s going on!

    • Oh how I laughed!! 🙂

      Jimzip 😀

  • imfromthepast

    Bravo. I must agree.

  • james

    I think it makes sense to use time travel as an element, but then to stop. I really like this theory. Time travel will simply be used as a means to tell us about the island’s history.

  • The Magician

    But what is bigger than time travel?

    Time travel, or manipulation of time is the most mysterious, most complex and the most valuable asset that could ever be harnessed. The alchemists spoke of finding the philosophers’ stone, a substance which could transmute metals (among other things) but compared to finding a way to manipulate time makes the notion of a philosophers stone seem like a cheap party trick.

    The progression of time is at the heart of every major problem humanity faces, and it is also the cure. (The popular idea of heaven is simply time travel to a period when loved ones and relatives were alive and well… the idea of miraculous healing can be conveyed as resetting the body to a time when it was healthy/ free of whatever ailment is hindering it). Even many modern magical applications have their roots in manipulation of hypothesised dimensions of time, in order to bring desired realities into manifestation

    So while I agree that the Lost writers have partaken in some marvellous acts of misdirection in the past, bringing even greater themes and plans to light, I don’t believe they have anything greater in mind than time travel; because there *is* nothing greater than time travel.

    • DocArzt

      That’s the interesting question. What story could ONLY be told with a brief sojourn through time-travel-land?

      • cap10tripps

        The explanation of god, creation, and the afterlife…

        • cap10tripps

          While that would be an extremely controvercial conclusion, it’s my theory. The island will be used to explain what is worshipped in this world. We have been seeing science/faith, black/white, and hints of different religions throughout the show. How original and mind blowing would it be to put these elements together to form an explanation of the great question. If anyone’s read or watched “The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy” you know that their explanation or answer was 42. Possibly another hint from LOST’s infamous numbers…

          • switch

            I’ve been wondering their relation as well, between the end of the Numbers and HG2G. Could it be that Mr. Adams was bluffing when he said that he came up with “just a random number”, or does it have its roots with Valenzetti?

            This would be invalid anyway if HG2G ain’t a literary reference of the writers.

  • kara

    In one of the pre-season interviews (Comic Con, maybe?), Darlton actually said we will think we’ve figured everything out in Season Five, only to realize it’s about something different in Season Six. *shrugs* Not that that “something” necessarily has to be better, but to be honest, the time jumping is getting old really fast, so I’m not opposed to it not being the end-all of the series.

    • JD

      Old as opposed to what? More flashbacks? The show has had a time travelling element right from Episode 1, it’s just that now it’s more blatant.

      • kara

        Yes, I totally agree, time travel has been a part pretty much from the beginning. I simply think the “we wander around, we talk to somebody, we see a blinding flash and vanish before valuable information is exchanged” is a device that gets old very fast.

    • Au contraire! I live for the flashes, and every time Iwonder if we’ll finally get to see who built that god-darned statue!

      Jimzip 😀

  • clueless1der

    Oh fantastic. Like I wasn’t paranoid enough- now I’m going to be overthinking yet more aspects of this show.


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