Another brilliant episode!
So I’ve waffled on what exactly to talk about this week. On my blog post for “Namaste,” I focused on Radzinsky (yay!), the origin of the runway, Ethan being Amy’s baby, and the difference between Jack the Leader and Sawyer the Leader (sorry… LaFleur the Leader).
Today I’m going to talk about why Sun is the only survivor to remain in the present, and the idea of fate versus free will in season 5.
A big discussion we’re having on my blog today is, why the split? If the Oceanic 6 (or 5) were required to return to the island, then why were Sayid, Jack, Hurley, and Kate sent back to 1977, but Sun stayed in 2007 or 2008 or whenever she’s supposed to be?
One reason could be that Ben had to stay in the present, simply because he exists in the DI camp as a boy, and the two cannot cross paths. One of the Oceanic survivors maybe has to stay with him, and Sun is the obvious choice because she’s the only one who made a deal with Widmore. (Does the island really hate Ben so much that it kept Sun in the same time period to ensure Ben’s Beaning by Oar?) Lapidus is still in the present because the island only needed certain people to return to the past, and Frank needed to pilot that plane in the brilliant way he did.
One of my readers suggested that Sun, Ben, and Lapidus ALL exist in the Dharma camp in 1977, Sun as a baby, Ben as the 12-year-old we’ve seen, and Frank slightly older. Therefore none were allowed back for the reason Ben couldn’t return.
Season 4’s brilliant episode, “The Constant,” was one of those episodes that seemed very separate from those around it, but it had to have been important. Jin and Sun could be each other’s constants, and of all the people who need to be reunited, these two would win the prize. Jin longs to return to 2008, and Sun needs him to do so, so he can be back with her, get off the island, and finally meet his daughter (I don’t think she’s quite figured out the how’s of that last part yet).
Or maybe it hinges on Sun and Lapidus heading to New Otherton. The appearance of Christian would ONLY have worked with Sun: Of the Oceanic 6, she’s the only person who wasn’t at Christian’s memorial service. Therefore, she’s the only one who wouldn’t immediately recognize him as Jack’s father. He can remain Jacob’s mysterious mouthpiece without having to answer questions about why he appears to be Jack’s dead dad.
It’s not clear whether that was the real New Otherton or a place that’s as ethereal as Jacob’s cabin, but it’s definitely not the barracks we’re used to seeing. Why does New Otherton look like that? We see the swinging sign of the Processing Centre and the Dharma symbol on all of the buildings. The Dharma symbols were all taken off the doors after the Purge (at least… I’ve never seen one). Locke blew up the sub, so most of the dock should have been missing, but instead it still looked pretty long. Is it possible Daniel was wrong? Can the past really be changed? Is it possible the Oceanic 4 are back in 1977 to prevent the Purge, they succeed, and what we see in the present is simply the abandonment of the village?
As I’ve said many times in my books, the show comes down to one all-pervading theme: Free will versus fate. So far this season, because of Faraday’s long explanation about “whatever happens, happens” or how they’re not able to change the future, we’ve tended to believe him, and think there’s only one possible timeline, and nothing can be changed. (The producers have also said there’s only one timeline, but then again, Damon also said a few years ago this show wouldn’t contain any time travel.) Sawyer was always going to go back in time and save Amy, and she was always going to make it back to the camp, fall in love with Horace, and have Ethan. There’s no timeline where she was captured. But what if there was? What if, in an alternate timeline, Sawyer didn’t go back? She WAS captured by the hostiles, she hooked up with one of them, had Ethan, and he was raised to be the Other we know and hate?
Christian believes in fate. Jack believes in free will, and that anyone who believes in predestination is just making excuses for their irresponsibility. Locke believes he was fated to lose the kidney (or else Ben’s bullet would have killed him). Kate believes in choices. Desmond believes that Charlie was meant to die, and he couldn’t save him or the universe would course correct to kill him anyway. Hurley once believed the numbers cursed him, but in “Tricia Tanaka Is Dead” he believed you make your own luck. Sayid mocked Locke’s belief in fate, angry that Locke was going to go north simply because of the way the light hit a bible verse on Eko’s stick.
The survivors who are back in that camp all believe in free will. Will they be able to change the destiny of the Dharma Initiative?
Nikki Stafford is the author of the Finding Lost series of books, which offer episode-by-episode guides to each season. The guide to season 4 is now available at Amazon.com. She posts regularly on her television blog, Nik at Nite.