DocArzt and Friends Logo

LOST: Self-Consistent Time Travel – Part I: Desmond and Charlie

By imfromthepast,

  Filed under: Lost News, Lost Theories
  Comments: 147

If you get nosebleeds when you think about time travel, if you have used terms such as ‘closed time-like curves’ or ‘spacetime’ without really knowing what they mean, if you pride yourself on having read ‘A Brief History of Time’ but understood it no more than Aldo appeared to, if you think if a person that has traveled back in time ever meets himself he will explode, if you think the past can be changed, or if you have ever used the phrase, ‘the first time such-and-such happened’…this article is not for you.

Please stop reading right now, or at the very least please refrain from commenting. You will save the rest of us a lot of aggravation.

On the other hand, if you have a decent-to-advanced understanding and appreciation for the beautiful symmetry of Self-Consistent time travel fiction, then this article is for you. It is presented,  not as an attempt to explain self-consistent time travel, a task I have deemed futile and utterly without reward, but instead as an exploration of the self-consistent nature of time travel as it is being used in LOST.

This article is part of a series of three articles, laid out as follows:

1. Explain how previous seasons of LOST, including the time travel adventures of Desmond Hume have been entirely self-consistent in nature.
2. Explain how the time travel presented in season 5 thus far has been self-consistent, and
3. Use the self-consistent nature of time travel, as employed in LOST to explain some of the themes of LOST, and to make some predictions regarding the possible future arc of the show.

So let’s get into it, shall we?

The Hypothesis

Let me begin by saying that I believe I can show that time travel in LOST has been entirely self-consistent throughout the run of the show. That is to say, not a single frame of the on-air content has yet violated the precepts of self-consistent time travel, which are that there is one single timeline of events, and that this timeline does not age, and can thus not be changed in any way. This has been shown on the show recently by Daniel Faraday’s wonderfully succinct quote “Whatever happened, happened.”

The application of this quote to the time traveling that is happening in Season 5 is clear and has been commented on ad-nauseum. Despite the abundance of existing commentary, I will elaborate on this aspect more in the second part of this series, but for now I will focus on applying it to the one aspect of the show that has thus far avoided Self-Consistent scrutiny, Desmond Hume.

Flashes Before Your Eyes

desmond-aviThe first episode of LOST to tentatively dip its toe in the pool of time travel was “Flashes Before Your Eyes”. Through its conservative use of ‘consciousness travel’ it eased itself into the shallow end, testing the waters, by dressing Desmond’s time traveling as a unique flashback. It was later confirmed that Desmond had indeed quantum leapt into his younger body, retaining some of his memories of being on the Island, albeit in Sam Beckett style swiss cheese fashion. A telling point I feel it is important to mention is it also seemed he retained some vestigial memory of the events depicted in the episode as well, more on that later.

The flashback/time travel begins with Desmond in his flat with Penny, and goes from there. His meeting with Charles Widmore does not go well and he leaves defeated. In a fit of anger he takes off his tie and throws it to the ground. He meets Charlie Pace and then it rains. He gets in touch with his friend the physicist and asks him about time travel, at the same time failing to prove his point by blowing a sports prediction. Later he decides that he has been given a second chance and sets off to do things differently ‘this time.’

Note that until this point, none of the events he has experienced in this flashback have differed from his spotty recollections. He remembered painting the flat, the meeting with Charles Widmore, the tie throwing, the rain, etc. (more on Charlie soon). Nothing has changed so far, in keeping with self-consistency.

So Desmond goes to buy a ring and propose to Penny, where he meets Eloise Hawking. She tells him he cannot buy the ring and she tells him he must break up with Penny so he can go on the race around the world and get stranded on the Island and push that button. She tells him that is the only truly heroic thing he will ever do. She basically plants seeds in his mind. They don’t flower immediately, but they’re there. He buys the ring anyway and decides to marry Penny. He almost does, but after taking that famous photo, he chickens out, breaks up with Penny and throws the ring in the river.

So, basically, despite his every reason/desire to change the past and make his life better, in the end Desmond Hume utterly fails to change one single detail of his past. Every single tiny event that was portrayed in the flashback/time travel event happened just as he remembered. Whatever happened, happened.

But what about Charlie Pace. He ran into Charlie after being humiliated by Charles Widmore. Was that a change? No. Since whatever happened, happened, if he met Charlie that day, then he met Charlie that day. This is no more fantastic than Sawyer meeting Christian Shepherd in the bar or any of the other numerous LOST-crosses. If Charlie had a photographic memory, he would testify to the fact that the first time he ever laid eyes on Desmond Hume was when he was on a sidewalk covering Oasis right before it started to rain, exactly as portrayed in “Flashed Before Your Eyes”. Whatever happened, happened.

To prove it, consider the photograph of Desmond and Penny. Where and when was it taken? At the river walk right before Desmond decided not to propose. Why were they there? Desmond was going to propose. So that photo being taken was a direct result of Desmond deciding to propose. Because Desmond had that photo prior to the Fail Safe Key being turned, and because that photo was the end result of the specific sequence of events portrayed in “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, it can be deduced that that sequence was not an altered one, but the one and only, unaltered sequence. In other words, the events portrayed in “Flashes Before Your Eyes” were the one and only way that sequence of events played out, eventually leading to Desmond having that photo with him in the hatch. Otherwise, had Desmond not bought the ring and not decided to propose, he would not have been at the river walk to take the photo with Penny.

Course Correction

During his trip in the past, Desmond gets a lesson on time travel do’s and don’ts from the aforementioned Eloise Hawking. These lessons amount to the idea that the Universe avoids paradoxes through the use of course correction.

A quick side note if I may, you know how on LOST all the people that are “in the know” always seem so condescending to the main characters, using phrases like, “you are not capable of comprehending…”? Don’t you just wish one of these guys would just spell it out for us? Well, I am about to do just that, so be careful what you wish for…

Anyway, Eloise Hawking explained time travel via a metaphor, course correction, as illustrated by the poor guy in red shoes. She points the guy out to Desmond and then a building falls on him. In answer to Desmond’s question of why she didn’t try to save him, she says that the Universe would have found a way to kill him eventually. Being that this episode represented the first foray into the shallow end of the pool of time travel, this explanation was just meant to provide an explanation for time travel neophytes, so in a way, Eloise Hawking’s course correction speech was nothing more than a polite version of “you are not capable of comprehending.” Ben used the same approach with John Locke by using the magic box metaphor, an approach he no doubt grew to regret after Locke’s repeated inquiries of “Is this the magic box?” The Magic Box was a metaphor John! Oh, and Desmond, so is course correction.

But a metaphor for what?

I’ll get to that later.

Speaking of Charlie…


If you are still on board and accept that Desmond didn’t change anything in “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, then you may be wondering about those flashes Desmond was having on the Island after returning from his little quantum leap, the ones that helped him save Charlie’s life all those times. Surely he was changing the timeline then, right? Wrong. Did we see Charlie drown trying to save Claire? No. Did we see Charlie get struck by lightning? No. Did we see Charlie die trying to get that bird? No. Did we see Charlie get killed by one of Danielle’s traps? Well, yes, but that was just a storytelling device used to show us first hand one of Desmond’s flashes. None of Charlie’s deaths actually happened (except the last one naturally). They were merely visions in Desmond’s head. This is a subtle point I am about to make, so pay attention: Desmond never changed anything from happening, he prevented things from happening. He didn’t change anything, because Charlie never drowned, never got struck by lightning, was never beat against the rocks and was never shot in the throat. To quote Daniel, “If it didn’t happen, it can’t happen.”

It is not as if Desmond witnessed Charlie dying , jumped in his Delorean, reached 88 mph, and saved Charlie. Charlie’s deaths never occurred, because Desmond prevented them. Desmond is special and the Rules don’t apply to him in so much as due to his proximity to the fail safe event, he received flashes that warned him of possible events in the future, thus enabling him to steer events away from undesired outcomes.

Sounds a little like Course Correction doesn’t it?

Course Correction Redux

The following gets rather esoteric, so if you get lost, just skip to the next heading. I’ll sum up this section there so you won’t miss anything except the finer points.

Ok, so earlier I said that course correction was just a metaphor, but a metaphor for what?

I’m getting to that.

Before I continue, there is a key concept you need to understand. It is hard to explain, so I will just illustrate it with a story.

One day in 1977 Jack is asked to report to the Orchid. When he gets there he is greeted by Dr Chang who directs him to a room with a table and chair. On the table is a pencil and notepad. Jack takes a seat and Dr Chang asks him to think of a number between one and a billion. Jack says 2,342. Dr Chang consults his clipboard and smiles. He then tells Jack to follow him to another room where he sees and interesting little closet. Dr Chang instructs Jack to remove all metal objects from his person and to step into the closet. Jack complies and the door shuts behind him. There is a brief flash of white light and the doors open. Dr Chang asks Jack to follow him back into the room with the table with the notepad and pencil. Dr Chang then asks Jack to write on the pad the number he was told to come up with. Jack writes 2,342 on the pad. Dr Chang tears the page out and clips it into his clip board. He then dismisses Jack, who returns to the Barracks.


Nothing out of the ordinary there, from Jack’s point of view. However, the story is a little different from Dr Chang’s point of view. You see, when Jack stepped into the little closet, he was unwittingly sent ten minutes into the past. That means from Dr Chang’s perspective, Jack emerged from the little closet, followed him into the room and wrote 2,343 on the pad. Dr Chang took this sheet and clipped it into his clipboard and dismissed Jack. Several minutes later Jack walked in and Dr Chang escorted him into the little room and told him to pick a number from one to a billion. From Dr Chang’s perspective there should be a one in a billion chance that Jack would choose the number written on the paper in his clip board, but sure enough, that’s the number Jack picks.

Here is the question: Was it fate that Jack would pick 2,342? Or was it free will? The answer depends on who you ask. Dr Chang is just as right to declare that it was ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’ as Jack is in declaring that it was free will. It is all a matter of perspective.

The key concept you need to take away is that inevitability, fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it and free will are on equal footing. Therefore the sequence of events that Desmond found himself playing out in the episode “Flashes Before Your Eyes” were predestined to turn out the way they did because of his free will. The inevitable outcome were a result of his free will. It is no different with Charlie. Charlie was going to disable the Looking Glass jamming equipment, that was inevitable, therefore Desmond had to be there to protect him. The visions he had that warned him of the dangers of Charlie’s premature deaths were course correction, not in the sense of steering an errant ship that has strayed from its course, but instead, they were the little nudges that are necessary to keep the ship on it’s course in the first place.

In other words, Course Correction is not a metaphor of timeline repair, it is a metaphor for timeline maintenance. The flashes were inevitability’s way of ensuring that Charlie Pace stays alive long enough to go down to the Looking Glass. They are no more special than Jack picking the number he did. It’s just a matter of perspective. To Dr Chang it may have seemed amazing that out of a billion choices, Jack should choose the number written on the paper, just as it seems amazing to Desmond, Charlie and the viewer that Desmond should receive such accurate predictions, all surrounding possible dangers to Charlie, but it is all a matter of perspective.

The Point of Desmond’s Flashes

If you skipped to this point, all I was getting at with the previous section is that The Universe wasn’t using Course Correction to try to kill Charlie, it was using Course Correction to aide Desmond in keeping Charlie alive so he could go to the Looking Glass.

The question then arises, why would the Universe want Charlie to go to the Looking Glass?


The answer involves the sequence of events triggered by Charlie’s actions in the Looking Glass, actions he was uniquely suited for. First, the obvious. He was the only musician among the survivors, and this proved crucial in deciphering the code to disable the jamming. Second, he knew Penny. When he disabled the jamming, he was there to tell Penny that Desmond was there with him.

So because of Charlie, the jamming was disabled, enabling the call to the Freighter to be made, and because of Charlie, Penny knew where to find Desmond. Further events resulting from Charlie being in the Looking Glass was Lapidus bringing a working Helicopter, Daniel, Miles and Charlotte to the Island. Keamy also came, eventually causing Ben to turn the Frozen Donkey Wheel, ultimately resulting in Sawyer, Jack, Juliet, Miles, Daniel, Kate, Sayid and Hurley being on the Island in 1977. (I skipped over a lot of details here, but fear not, I will revisit this part in the next article of this series.)

Which of course was the point all along.

The entire show began with the crash of Oceanic 815, which brought those survivors to the Island, and climaxed with the episode, “Namaste”, which finally got everyone when and where they needed to be. The board is now set for the end game.

All thanks to Desmond Hume and Charlie Pace.

The Constant

The last example of Desmond’s consciousness traveling was seen in the Season 4 episode “The Constant”. Despite the trippy way the story was told, the events portrayed in this episode were pretty straight forward. It was the opposite of what happened to Desmond in “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, with past Desmond’s mind being pulled into present Desmond’s body for a few minutes at a time. Present Desmond’s mind was apparently dormant, but aware of what was happening, since at the end, he calmly transitioned and has shown no lapse in memory since. Again the episode breaks none of the precepts of Self-Consistency, as there are no examples of anything being changed. Desmond gets Penny’s phone number in the past and tells her to wait for his call on Christmas, and then eight years later makes the call, and there she is, waiting for it, entirely in keeping with the self-consistent sequence of events that were set in motion in the past.

Of course there was that one little detail of Daniel and Desmond in Oxford. When Daniel gets wind of Desmond’s issues, he tells him to look him up in Oxford. Once Desmond finds Daniel in Oxford he is to give Daniel some settings for his machine. Desmond does as he is told, and the settings turn out to be the settings necessary for Daniel’s little time machine to work. Eureka! What a handy turn of events for Daniel. There he was struggling with trying to workout the value of those settings on his own, and along comes a stranger with information from the future, and gives him the values. Now he doesn’t have to do all that pesky working-it-out-for-himself!

image0-48Or does he?

After Desmond leaves Daniel, being the smart guy that he is, must realize that the value for those settings seems to have materialized out of thin air. After all, if he were to just write those numbers in his journal, go to the Island and give them to Desmond to give to him, who figured the numbers out? While not a paradox, that is surely wrong! What to do?

Again, Daniel is a smart guy and quickly realizes all he needs to do is hunker down and get to work solving the equations that will yield the value for those settings on their own. Once he does that, he can then write the value in his journal content with the knowledge that he did indeed work out the numbers on his own after all. Again, realize that this changes nothing, and the value for the settings are not circular. They indeed have an origin, as they arise as the result of Daniel working out the equations. Just because he knows the answers ahead of time doesn’t indicate a paradox anymore than knowing the answer to any proof ahead of time does not preclude you still working it out on your own. Daniel only made use of the peculiarities of time travel to take advantage of his hard work before he did it.

That’s it for now. Congratulations if you read this entire article.

The next article in this series will focus on the physical time traveling being done in Season 5, and deal with the Compass, Locke and Richard, why Locke ‘had to’ die, Jin and Danielle, Penny’s boat, Desmond’s not so special, and more.

  • Thank you for the very good article, Imfromthepast!

  • AstroJones

    Great article. I’m specifically glad that you brought up the issue of perspective in the battle of Free Will vs. Fate/Destiny. Typically Free Will vs. Fate/Destiny are always at odds with one another. I think inherently people want to believe that they have free will, but also believe that there is some larger fate or destiny driving them in some way. Typically these two notions are at odds with one another, but when you introduce the idea of perspective into the equation, it becomes a little easier to see how you can have both.

    Thanks for this!

  • Ambivalentman

    To quote a Gumby from the Flying Circus: “My brain hurts.” Yet I’m left with a question. If the “course correction” metaphor is really “course maintenance,” why would Desmond not remember Daniel Faraday when they have their encounter outside the Swan station in “Because You Left?”

    Now, I have to assume that the reason our survivors don’t remember the events that transpired in 1977 in 2004-2007 has to do with the fact that in their own chronologies they hadn’t had their Dharma experience yet. So, according to your theory, they were always meant to travel to 1977 according the free will they exercised in getting there. Does that sound right?

    • imfromthepast

      I will be dealing with Desmond and Daniel in the Swan Hatch in Part II.

      Re: your free will comment, yes that sounds right to me. I think the whole destiny vs free will theme of Lost is rooted in this self-consistent time travel paradigm. If 1977 DHARMA had Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Jin, Sayid, Miles, Faraday and Juliet in it, then come hell or highwater, they are going to end up traveling to 1977, despite whatever they do.
      Scratch that.
      Not ‘despite’ whatever they do, ‘because’ of whatever they do. Their free will, choosing left instead of right, business class instead of coach, all these choices added up to culminate in a sequence of events that landed them in 1977 DHARMA.

  • Ambivalentman

    By the way, your article was very well-written, and very unique. So far there hasn’t been a lot of time travel related articles out there (especially since J. Wood has been unable to post). So, thank you for the time and effort you expended.

    • imfromthepast

      You are most welcome.

  • Devin

    Great article Doc, but although I’m right with you and agree on most of your time travel arguments, I do have to disagree a little bit with this one.

    Basically what I think you’re forgetting is that Desmond is special. As Faraday said, for some reason he is unique, and he is the only one who CAN change things. For example, when Desmond saw Charlie playing guitar before it started raining, that WAS a change, because when we saw Charlie’s flashback of that event in Greatest Hits, Desmond didn’t run up and start blabbering about an island, which you curiously left out. What we have to remember is that the universe DOES course correct if someone is able to change something (although Desmond seems to be the only one who can change anything, I agree with you about course correction otherwise).

    So basically, because I think, as Daniel said, Desmond is special, he can change some things, and there were changes to the “flash” events of Flashes Before Your Eyes, but ultimately, no important ones. Everything important that was supposed to happen still happened.

    But again, aside from Desmond, I totally agree with you. With the time travel we’re now seeing, it’s not some kind of loop or alternate timeline, it’s simply an earlier point in the timeline that we’re being presented with now because, from a narrative point-of-view, it makes sense to.

    Oh, and BTW, for some reason, whenever I come to your site lately, my CPU usage kicks way, way up and the fans on my laptop start blaring away. If I stay long enough, it goes back down, but it’s still strange.

    • imfromthepast

      I realize Daniel said that Desmond was Special, and he implies that Desmond may be able to change the past, but as of writing the article, we have yet to see any concrete evidence of this. As I pointed out in the Article, there is no definitive examples of Desmond changing anything.
      As for Charlie, I do not remember him flashbacking (is that a word?) to the Flashes before Your Eyes meeting with Desmond in Greatest Hits. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought it was just a random rainy day when he saved Nadia, not conclusively the same exact day.

      Until, we see an episode demonstrating conclusively that Desmond has changed something, I am sticking to the inturpretation presented above.

      • Devin

        I guess no one ever came out and said it was the same day, but he was playing the same music in the same spot and the same weather hit at the same time, so I thought it was implied that it was the same day.

      • Desmond is special in the sense that he can do the “course maintenance” necessary. His prescience allows him to “interfere” with burps or disruptions in the flow of events.

        There is a limit to his power. He did not foresee that Charlie would conk him on the head, or that Charlie would get stuck in the com-room.

        He cannot change the past – but he can change the future. It’s a perspective thing, like you said. He sees “possibilities” maybe more than the future. He see’s the lightening strike Charlie, but not him keeping that from happening. So he did not change the past – he changed the future – from his perspective.

        Which is why “The Island is not finished with you yet, Desmond”, and we may see him in the past make a necessary, major course maintenance.

        • Uncle Beaver

          WOW !! Awesome insight.

        • imfromthepast

          I can get with that. It allows Desmond to be Special in that he is receptive to whatever force was using him, but doesn’t violate SC.

          I can get behind that idea.

      • Herkybird

        You are so sure about what is going on, but based on your logic being that we have had to have seen in on air or or it is unsubstanciated and probably false. So based on that you say that everything Des did, he did already. We have never seen that, it is possible that in the past he did things in the exact opposite fashion. He and Pen may have gone to the pier to look at the boats, not just for Des to propose. It just strikes me that you mock the other people in the begining of the article who do not share the same opinion as you, but you still fail to look at the other side of the coin youself. Just seems a bit hypocritical to me. I am of the belief that we have yet to really understand what and how D&C (I despise the phrase “Darlton”) are doing regarding time travel. As has been pointed out before, they said that time travel was never going to be part of the show, but here it is making my nose bleed.

        • Uncle Beaver

          You’re right. The term “Darlton” makes me wish Nikki and Paulo were MY CONSTANTS.

          BBLUUUGHHARF !!

          However, I think that when Lindeloff & Cuse admitted, later on, that when they “said” time-travel would not be part of the show, it was, because, of their desire to keep this aspect of it a “surprise” for the fans, until it actually came to be.

          Wait a minute… maybe Lindeloff & Cuse have been course-corrected themselves, into provid… us … wi… (nose bleed).

  • Great Article man… loved it

  • kara

    I agree, mostly. One timeline, Desmond didn’t work against course correction by saving Charlie, but actually was course correction, etc. I do, however, not agree that Desmond cannot change things, because he did, even if it was just getting hit with a bat in FBYE. (In addition, how do you explain what the flashes are, i.e. what happens to Desmond at that specific moment? It seemed the most logical to me that he jumped a few moments into the future, in which case what he saw did happen, until he changed it.)

  • Bezmina

    Again thank you and I really look forward to the next in the series! Had to reread the Jack Dr Chang bit but got there in the end!

  • yannick-sker

    Congrats, I truly loved it yoo. Can’t wait for the newt one, especially your explanations for the Jin and Danielle stuff.

  • Jane

    First episode with time-travel was Pilot 1, we just didn’t see it at the time. First episode where we *saw* time travel was Pilot 2.

    There is one way to defeat the self-consistent time-loop, and that is through death.

    • dolce

      what ifthe death is part of the loop?

    • Have you ever watched 12Monkeys?

      • dolce

        Dude, you just blew my mind. Terry Gilliam rocks!

    • TheJLNC

      What was the time travel in the pilot? I’m not doubting it, just can;t think of what it would be?

  • jscimeca715

    Great article and I can’t wait to read the entire series. I was one of the viewers that struggled with the course-correction part of the time travel. Physical time travel introduced this season was easy for me to understand in regards to one time-line. I think the reason that I struggled with course-correction was due to the fact I thought it negated free will. Your post, and some others that I’ve read in the past, have really helped to clear that up.

    It’s amazing the battle lines that have been drawn by viewers this season on Lost in regards to time travel and the time-line debate. It’s made for some great theories and has caused people to discuss the show with more passion than ever.

    • imfromthepast

      no kidding, huh? I was pretty happy go lucky for Seasons 1 through 4 in regards to theories, because the only thing I get passionate about is time travel.
      And then lo and behold Season 5 comes along and goes all out for time travel, and now suddenly I am involved in heated debates about LOST.

      Just what I needed. LOL!

      • dolce

        You and I are on the same page with the passion for time travel. I knew way back in the spring before season one began and there was just buzz about it that this show was going to be special( given that the thing in the jungle was not going to turn out to be a dinosaur ). Imagine my glee when the scene came up with Sayid and Hurley on the beach with the radio. I remember literally jumping up and down and shouting to my wife ” they’re f***ing with time!They’re f***ing with time! ( She is very aware of my passion for stories that have to do with time travel ). Like yourself, I am very particular about the rules that apply in these types of storylines. I agree with just about everything that you’ve said inthis post as well as others, with just a couple of questions.
        Did Desmond actually meet Charlie on the street that day, or just look at him because he seemed familiar? That is not to say that this did not always happen ( no change in timeline ), just now due to the events that occured at the swan, things have now been set in motion. Also, and I may be wrong here, but as far as Charie needing to be the one to go down into the looking glass because he is a musician(definitly), but I did’nt think he knew Penny( just knew of her) did he?
        Speaking of Charlie and the looking glass, I had never really thought of it the way you stated ( that Desmond needed to course correct by way of delaying his death so he could fulfill his destiny in the looking glass ) but more that Desmond had to see for himself that some things ( Charlie’s death ) are inevitable and you can only escape them for so long. I wonder what would have happened if Desmond never went in the water to save him? Of course we know he was always going to. Is this course correction on Desmond’s part, or just the course of events as they always happened? I dunno, I’ve got more but I have to finnish wrapping my head around it.Sorry for the rambling.

        • imfromthepast

          when I said that Charlie knew Penny, I meant that he would recognize her. I don’t think anyone else is that position would have recognized Penny for who she was. That’s all.

          • dolce

            Did’nt mean to nit-pick, was just wondering if I missed somethng. Thanks!

  • Aubrey

    Awesome, great article! And no nose bleed!

    • imfromthepast


  • Chuck

    “No this — I remember this. This all happened before. Today — th — th — this happened today. This — I remember that he said I wasn’t worthy — and then I — and then I — and then I came down and I — and I took off my tie and I — and then I lost my tie and Penny said where was it and then it started to rain and… ”

    “Penny said where was it”

    How does he have that memory if he doesn’t see Penny until he gets home and she’s asleep and doesn’t say anything about his tie? Plus, according to his order of events, he would’ve seen Penny before it started to rain.

  • Calichusetts

    Just one point and not nit-picking:

    Charlie was not the only musician, Jack could play a mean piano as demostarted pre-wedding to sarah.

    We could also imply Hurley played or at least now plays guitar.

    Still, if fits why he had to stay alive since hes probably the best musician

  • Calichusetts

    Also, there does not have to be a paradox in instant information, compass or daniel’s numbers. Recent scientific theories are pointing towards the idea that information can be destroyed and created out of nothing. The previous laws of thermodynamics created the idea that of the information paradox, but i dont even see the real problem.

    So what if the compass had no origin, its a matter of perspective anyway, like your story about Chang and Jack and the room/number. It only depends on where you see the information coming from. If the Big bang collapses onto itself and creates another big bang, is it the end of the world or the beginning? The answer would be different to people born during the first expansion, and those after the first collapse. Just perspective.

    To explain more concretely. If I am 2004 Locke, the compass came from Richard, and that is a true statement. Richard introduced the compass to John. On the other hand, Richard would say that John gave him the compass in 1950s, but he is also correct. Its when we combine BOTh persepectives that we see it doesn’t make that much sense, but a lot of things in science don’t make rational sense either and we accept it, so why not instant information!!

    • imfromthepast

      I will be getting into the compass thing in the next part, so I will not comment on that now. However, regarding the information paradox, I think you misunderstand information, but i can’t accurately reply to your comment because it is too vague. Please expand on your statement. Thank you.

      • Calichusetts

        All I am pointing out is that science created the information paradox. Because science claimed that nothing can be created or destroyed (without a balanace of energy, etc) they implied that theoritically in time travel, you can not introduce new information (ie compass from nowhere). BUT, now science is moving into new territory with white holes and a revisiting of the big bang. If some theoritical physicists prove the big bang created information from nothing or white holes do the same, then the information paradox is no paradox at all, its an act of nature.

        I know that was very scientific, and many will criticize this saying its a sci-FI show, but the writters are aware of these ideas. I’m not saying im right, im just saying that the information paradox is probably not a paradox at all.

        If a future me comes back and tells me how to build a time machine and then I go back later in my new time machine and explain it to a past self, there doesnt have to be a paradox, it may seem weird but like i stated earlier, true understanding in science is closer to the imagination then our ideas of reality.

        • imfromthepast

          When I was in 11th grade, I wrote a short story about someone who receives blueprints for a time machine from his future self, builds the time machine and goes back in time and gives himself the plans. In my story, I did treat this as a paradox, and provided a way to avoid it.
          It was a good story.

  • TheEGW

    Why did Desmond not recall having blackouts during the periods when future Desmond was occupying him and living his life (as in The Butterfly Effect)?

    The biggest inconsistency with this is that Desmond had memories of the events he was living through in his younger self, suggesting there are two histories: 1) in which young Desmond lives through the events and retains the memories until he becomes Older Desmond, and 2) in which Older Desmond lives through the events but still has the memories from history 1.

    Whilst you might be right that Desmond didn’t change anything, it could not have been the one and only time it happened. If it was he would have no recall of events.

  • Jman

    I think this is a really compelling theory, however, it lacks a catalyst. While the timeline may need “course correction” for maintenence, it seems that (based on the story narrative) the Universe takes the most complicated way to achieve it’s goals rather than the path of least resistance (ala Occam’s Razor). I suggest that there is some event that occurred that nudged the time line off course and thus created the need for such complexity in righting things.

    In otherwords, I believe that there would be no need for self-consistent time travel unless something happened to CREATE the need for it.

    • imfromthepast

      I agree with you, but this article only discusses what has happened thus far. The catalyst you seek may well be lurking in future episodes. We will have to see.

    • dolce

      I had always looked at the hatch implosion as being the catalyst. Not so much that it was not meant to happen, but that this is what changed Desmond from being just like everyone else to being “special”. Maybe although the 815ers were always supposed to end up on the island, but maybe the island/Jacob/whatever did not account for the effect that people of such convicted faith(Eko, Locke) plus the ultimate man of science would have when put together in the mix. Maybe the line between destiny and free will is so thin that it can occasionally be stepped over given the right circumstances. Maybe the events leading up to the hatch implosion were always the only xfactor. I don’t know if this even makes sense to me, and I just wrote it.

    • Maybe Sayid killing Ben is the catalyst.

      • Herkybird

        When did that happen?

        • dolce

          It hasn’t….yet.(?)

    • Thor

      It is really odd that the Universe takes the most complicated way to chieve it’s goals, but then again.. the universe we’re speaking of here is created by some (brilliant!) writers.

      And I agree with you that there must be a catalyst! But I’m not that convinced that a ‘human’ character will be responsible for it. Well, everybody do our part in the world of causality, but if there is a ‘will’ to change, it’s probably not human. And what is not human..? Jacob?

      Anyway, when talking about these issues, remember that words like ‘complicated’ becomes meaningless; we are talking physics here. If we are to follow the argument in the article, EVERYTHING that happens happens because of causality. Nothing is, or should be, weird about it.

      But this IS a show, and most of the comments here are great!

  • LostMommyof3

    Asking those who don’t agree to not comment is never a good idea 🙂 I have been firmly on the side of things CAN change since season 2 when I saw things were different from time to time. Season 3 gave me the bigger picture to put together. Rather than espouse my own beliefs and proofs, I will just point out what I think you’ve neglected.

    I believe we were given a premise to know that Desmond’s visions were in fact reliable and true. In Further Instructions Desmond assures Hurley and Charlie that everything will be OK.
    DESMOND: Don’t worry. Locke’s going to go after them. He said so in his speech.

    The others have a “duh” look on their faces when minutes later, Locke makes his speech about going to get Jack and Kate. I absolutely believe that this was the foundation for us to KNOW that we can rely on his visions.

    While one could use props that have changed, dialogue that has been different in times we’ve seen the same scene and time discrepancies such as Juliet’s own account of when she arrived on the Island as proofs that things can change why not just take what we were most recently shown in Namaste. When Sun and Frank arrive on the main island in 2007 we see the processing center portion of the Barracks. In short…it’s different than what we’ve seen of the barracks. Windows have boards over them, DHARMA signage is still hanging and left alone as well as the whole processing center. Something changed in the past. We haven’t seen what or who is responsible for it, but I predict we will get some clear indications that things can and will change.

    I look forward to the rest of your articles though. this is my hot topic of the moment!

    • imfromthepast

      LOL! I took a shot.

      As for the flashes, I would submit that perhaps some force is giving them to Desmond on purpose. They certainly aren’t random. The first couple were inconsequential, establishing credentials as it were, then a dry run with the lightning rod, and from there the serious stuff.
      I am not putting that forth as an actual theory, just thinking out loud.

      BTW, this is my stance on the Processing Center:

      • LostMommyof3

        I’ve tackled the issue of the Processing Center on the Fuslage in your threads. I’ll just say here really quickly that a re-watch of Namaste with this purpose in mind should resolve the question of how close the processing center is to the main barracks. They are in the same area without a doubt.

        • AstroJones

          WEll, I full think that the processing center is in the same location as the barracks. But I still don’t believe that we saw an altered future or altered timeline. I just think that 3 years have passed on the island, and we have no way of knowing what happened during those 3 years or why. And we don’t even know if this building was perhaps left untouched when the Others occupied the barracks for a reason. So I’m not willing to say that this is evidence of a timeline change just yet. It may indeed come to that, but I don’t think the proof is there just yet.

        • TheJLNC

          Actually re-watching Namaste now, and I still do not think the Processing center is in the Barracks proper. The Barracks seems to have house lined so near each other that you can’t really look one way without seeing may of them, as in the the Introduction video, while when outside the Processing center it looks like 3 large buildings in a U formation with no smaller living areas behind them, just open space.

          I don’t think it’s unreasonable story wise that the others took over the living area but ignored the processing center and let it fall into disrepair. They didn’t seem concerned with wiping out any Dharma stations and had no problem eating Dharma branded food, so I wouldn’t assume they would need to tear down any Dharma logos at sites they weren’t using regularly.

  • Ed Einstein

    First I’d like to say thanks to everyone who writes articles about Lost, it really makes the week between episodes go by quickly and entertainingly.

    Now I’d like to throw a little curve ball….

    In the only episode featuring a Miles flashback there appears to be an alteration of the timeline. When he visits the lady to do whatever it is that Miles does as he walks up the stairway we get a obvious view of some family photos on the wall but when he later returns downstairs the photos are different.

    Either this was a mistake by the props department or there is something more going on here than what we all believe. Go back and look at the episode.

    • imfromthepast

      I suppose you also think Juliet’s sister is really a man? Don’t you remember that the medical records Ben showed Juliet indicated Rachel was a male. Oh, and I guess Han Solo is an escape artist with a randomly invisible vest? Watch the famous I love you-I know scene in Empire Strikes Back.
      The point is, I think it’s more likely that the team who couldn’t get Charlotte’s birth year right just might be capable of making other mistakes in the set dressing department.

      • LostMommyof3

        Rabecca Mader recently wrote this on her blog of that supposed error:
        I’m P*ssed Damon and Carlton lied about me on the most recent PODCAST. The timeline error was their mistake and they are making it out to be my fault. NOT COOL!

        I just wanted to say that I NEVER changed my characters age on the set of LOST as Damon and Carlton accused me of on the most recent PODCAST. Charlotte Lewis was ALWAYS meant to be 28 and born in 1979. It was written in the script EP #402!!!!!!

      • Ed Einstein

        Hey….no reason to get nasty! I was just posting something that I thought was interesting. I don’t know if its a mistake from the props department or not and that is why I put in the note that it may be a mistake on their part. What a jerk you are!

        • imfromthepast

          Its true, I am a jerk. I didn’t mean to come off as nasty. I have a real hard time conveying sarcasm online. I wasn’t trying to be insulting, I was exaggerating to make a point. I’m sorry.

          • Ed Einstein

            Thank you and I really did enjoy your article!

      • RandomZombie

        I don’t buy that the differing picture arrangements in Miles’s flashback was a production error. They make a point of showing this particular part of the wall twice, and the arrangement of pictures is radically different. If it was a case of a couple of pictures being switched, that’s one thing, but for pictures to be missing, and for frames being switched… I don’t think so.

        • Ed Einstein

          I’m going to have to agree with RandomZombie here. I think that something is going on.

          I think there might be something more to Miles and to Hurley who also has been chatting with the deceased lately.

        • Herkybird

          I agree. I do not think that it is an alternate timeline but something changed that made those pic’s change. Has anyone figured out when Des turned the failsafe and how that relates to the outside world? I think that may be a reason for the change, but thinking about it more, with the discrepency in time on and off island (a la dead freighter doc on island, and living doc on freighter at the same moment)it may not make a difference when. I have not backing but gut insticnt on this one. Rip away!

    • dolce

      That was a confirmed by Darlton prop mistake (according to lostpedia, that is).

      • Ed Einstein

        Where did you find the note saying that Darlton confirmed this as a prop error? I just went through lostapedia and couldn’t find what you said at all. Just take a look at the entry for the episode we’re talking about, Confirmed Dead, and you’ll find that it is noted that it “could be” a prop mistake but there isn’t a confirmation.

        I’m not trying to be stubborn about this, I just want to get to the bottom of it.

        • dolce

          Maybe it was’nt lostpedia, I’m not sure. I just remember sometime after that episode aired, and people started pointing it out that I read somewhere that it was simply a mistake. I’ll see if I can remember and let you know. If I can’t find it, I’ll defer to the fact that I drink a lot.

          • Ed Einstein

            Thanks Dolce….if you can find that reference it’ll be greatly appreciated!

            All I’ve got to say is that Wednesday night couldn’t come any quicker right now!

        • dolce

          Okay, found it. I would post a link but my computer skills are limited. Apologies, not confirmed by Darlton, but listed in the bloopers/errors section for that episode. I knew I read something about it though. I still defer to drinking.

          • Ed Einstein

            There is not blooper/error section on lostapedia for the episode “Confirmed Dead”! There is only a mention in one section, and I’m going to qoute it here….

            “When Miles heads up the stairs to have his discussion with the ghost, the pictures on the wall can be seen in wooden frames. When Miles comes back down the stairs, the frames of the pictures have changed to (synthetic) brass. Additionally the picture the camera centers on is bigger in the second scene. It also appears that the photos, not only the frames, surrounding the focal point photo have also changed. Most notably the photo to the left of the focal point photo – in one it shows a young man entering a car; in the other scene, it appears to be something completely different. Among fans it is debated if this changing of the frames and picture is important, or simply a prop error.”

            taken from:

            Note that this doesn’t mean it wasn’t a prop error but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t intentional either.

          • dolce

            To Ed below: That’s what I read. And there is a bloopers/errors section (that’s what it said on the button I clicked on)that lists them by season and ep. Either way I don’t have to be right on this. It was either an error or intentional. If intentional, what possible signigance can it have in the grand scheme?Anyway, I was just passing along some info I came across one day.

          • Jenn

            What possible significance? Isn’t that the entire question that’s been raised. If it was intentional, there is huge significance since it would indicate an ability to actually affect change and not merely course correct.

          • dolce


  • oldrunner262

    One big inconsistency about this season and time travel (otherwise known as the “Flashes”): Where are Rose, Bernard and the remaining redshirts? After Ben turned the FDW and he flashed to Oct 2005, and the O6 stayed in 2004 to re rescued by Penny, etc., the LeftBehinds (Sawyer, Juliet, Charlotte, Miles, Daniel, Locke AND Rose and company) were on the island. There were a lot of flashes and it seemed they all stayed in the same time zone. Now it is 1977, but where are Rose, Bernard, etc???

    • imfromthepast

      I don’t know if it is so much an inconsistency as an as yet unanswered question.

    • AstroJones

      I’ve wondered about this as well. It seems impossible that they are alive somewhere in the jungle for the past 3 years while Sawyer and gang were in Othersville. At this point I am just assuming that they are MIA and presumed dead after the flaming arrow attack on the beach. I know nobody will like that outcome, but I have to go with something until the show tells us otherwise.

    • clueless1der

      I just refuse to believe that this won’t be answered in some manner. True, it might not be in the way those of us who like Rose and Bernard want it to be, but it will be answered in some fashion.

  • Widmore Industries

    Great post. Thanks for taking the time. Your argument is clear and succinct.

    I have a question that I think will help answer whether or not Desmond’s “specialness” allows him to change history. In The Constant, I wonder whether “Desmond Hume is your Constant” appears in Daniel’s notebook only after Desmond travels back to 1996 in 2004, or was it there when Daniel left for the Island?

    • imfromthepast

      I would have to say it was, just because Whatever happened, happened, but since the show ain’t over yet, we’ll have to wait and see.

      The thing about all this time travel stuff is, I know how I would do it, and thus far about 95% of LOST is jiving with what I would do, but there is still that 5%lurking out there waiting to pounce.

      That is why I formulate my theories based on what we’ve seen so far and just ignore the stuff we don’t have enough information about yet.
      This whole article could be proved absolutely wrong by a future episode, and if that happens, I will re evaluate, but so far I see no reason to do so. Yet. There still is that other shoe.

    • dolce

      I kinda got the impression that he had just written that in the book as a result of the events that occured in The Constant, just in case.

  • sabrina

    I have come to believe that not only was Charlie the only person who could disable the jamming signal in the looking glass because he was a musician, but he was the person who programmed it as well. Reasons: 1) the other, (Bonnie?) in the looking glass told Charlie that “a musician” programmed it to begin with and 2) it’s beginning to look more like our 815ers were the ones who set it up to ensure that they came back and were responsbile for a lot of the events on the island, i.e: the transmission with Hurley now reading the numbers.

    • Dan

      …but Charlie is dead, right?

      • dolce


    • brent

      Good thought Sabrina… are you the Sabrina from the

      It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Losties little trip to 1977 will allow for the setup of the events taking place in the fall of 2004. There will be countless callbacks to those three months from the Dharma era. And it will be their past selves helping their future selves out! Nice job, self!

  • Gusteaux

    Great article, I’mFrom…looking forward to parts 2 & 3. Please address Desmond’s vision of Claire AND Aaron getting onto a helicopter.

  • brent

    I agree that we have seen self-consistent time travel up to this point. If we hadn’t, there would be no need to tell the story with the flashback story-telling device. It does appear that everything our characters try to do to prevent something from happening will actually be the cause of that very thing happening. That is not to say that we will never break these time-traveling rules. Because this is LOST, I can’t imagine that holding forever as we get lulled into complacency with 25 hours of LOST to go.

    So I foresee a single example of a timeline disturbance that pushes the universe just far enough out of wack that it can’t course correct so easily. My theoretical catch is that this can’t be accomplished by just one person, not even the great Desmond or Faraday; it’s going to take everyone working together towards a common goal.

  • Michel

    Well, apart from the hugely condescending tone of the article (many times, I tend to be condescending as well, so…) here are some bits and pieces of constructive criticism… because this article has several things wrong, a many places that suffer from a faulty logic. These are the biggest three:

    1. “Note that until this point, none of the events he has experienced in this flashback have differed from his spotty recollections. He remembered painting the flat, the meeting with Charles Widmore, the tie throwing, the rain, etc. Nothing has changed so far, in keeping with self-consistency.”

    This is simply not true, several things changed. First, in the flashback, Desmond had the memory of being in the island, yet, when he gets to the island, he doesn’t remember having remembered it. He didn’t have any recollection of the place whatsoever. There’s a change. You could argue about selective memory loss (evidenced by Faraday’s amnesia or Desmond’s inability to remember the year he met Faraday in Oxford) and that would be a sort of course correction, which is, of course, also course maintenance… but a radical deus ex machine, I might add.

    2. “So Desmond goes to buy a ring and propose to Penny, where he meets Eloise Hawking. She tells him he cannot buy the ring and she tells him he must break up with Penny so he can go on the race around the world and get stranded on the Island and push that button. She tells him that is the only truly heroic thing he will ever do. She basically plants seeds in his mind. They don’t flower immediately, but they’re there. He buys the ring anyway and decides to marry Penny.”

    Here is another change. Eloise Hawking told him he wasn’t supposed to buy the ring. Yet he did. He didn’t marry Penny alright, but he did buy the ring. So, if the past can be changed, then Hawking was lying, because Desmond was able to alter it. But, the again, if she was lying, maybe the past CAN be changed, or the Universe DOES NOT correct course. If she lied in one part, why not the rest? Let’s see, who’s the other one who says the past can’t be changed… that’s right, her son. And who may have told Faraday that little mantra… his mother. But, until this point, it could be all a big fat lie. And it probably is. Why would she, Ben and Widmore feel there’s so many things at stake if the course can’t be altered? Because it’s a fallacy, implemented to keep people on check.

    3. “Here is the question: Was it fate that Jack would pick 2,342? Or was it free will? The answer depends on who you ask. Dr Chang is just as right to declare that it was ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’ as Jack is in declaring that it was free will. It is all a matter of perspective.”

    Okay, the first problem with this example is that Jack is sent back to a moment where he existed (ten minutes earlier). That means that Jack exists twice in a similar space. It’s not about the danger of both of them finding they exist, but the problem that the Jack that didn’t jump to the past will eventually jump, 10 minutes after the first one came from the present. And then three Jack’s will be in a similar space in the same time… and so on… unless one or more Jacks die. It’s the clone problem from The Prestige. Angier’s machine could be seen as a time machine with a time difference almost equivalent to zero. At a certain point, he meets his former self… and they’re NOT THE SAME PERSON. And if the Universe can’t figure out a way to correct that, the body count will keep on going up, which is in itself a gigantic theoretical hole. Not to mention the time-traveler’s aging. When Desmond traveled in time, only his consciousness made the jumps, but what if his body made the jump, like the 815ers have been doing? Sent back three years in the past, then waiting three years with erased memory to jump again three years in the past… and now his six years older… and so on. I get that memory may be erased as a side-effect or course correction… but what about aging?

    • Eloise – if that is Widmore’s mate and the blonde babe from the ’50s – may have suffered the same exposure to the zero-mass as did Desmond. She is referring to her “vision” of Des and the ring and it can be changed.

      The thing about Des’ two selves switching bodies allows the past Des to get information the future Des will need. At that point the future can be changed (some might want to use the word maintained) but the past itself has not changed. Des’ future self ALWAYS was going to flash back. But the past Des had to have that information to insure that events would play out as pre-determined.

    • Baalzak

      Addressing your response to #3:

      There would never be a third, fourth, fifth Jack in that example. There is, at one point, two Jacks. That’s it. “Present” Jack (the one that comes in from outside) ends up going into the closet and jumping back, while “future” Jack continues on with his life, unaware that he just missed seeing his own entrance.

      They overlap for 10 minutes – the 10 minutes between Jack 2 arriving and Jack 1 jumping. At the end of those 10 minutes, Jack 1 jumps and Jack 2 continues on with life on a linear timeline again. However, labeling them this way is misleading, since they are the same person at two different points in his personal, subjective time. Jack 1 BECOMES Jack 2; Jack 2 is not created out of thin air. At no point is there ever a third Jack, because Jack 1 always becomes Jack 2, and Jack 2 always just goes on with his life as if nothing strange has happened. For Jack, time remains linear. It’s only to Dr. Chang (the outside observer) that there are ever multiple Jacks.

      • imfromthepast

        Baalzak, you can answer questions on my behalf from now on.

      • Michel

        Thank you, this is a prfectly correct and logical answer, but then there would still be 2 problems: 1. the memory loss, which seems to be too selective and deusexmachiny, and 2.that too many people are taking for granted the line of “Whatever Happened Happened”. If, like Hansome says above your message, Ms. Hawking got her info wrong (maybe through a Desmond-like flash) then she’s not omniscient. She got that info wrong. And maybe she’s wrong too about that “whatever happened, happened” mantra. Quite wrong. Besides, if she’s familiar with the timeline (even in a basic level) why is she worried abou how events are going to unfold?

        Two things that don’t fit in with the theory.

        • Baalzak

          I completely agree with you on your last point. If nothing can ever be changed, then why is everyone so worried? So far, however, I think that the “whatever happened, happened” mantra has held true in the series.

          • Michel

            Yes, it has, but only if you add the amnesia component, which raises even more questions. It is selective memory loss? It is automatic or does someone make it happen (i.e. Jacob; The Island)? If no one makes it, what’s the frame of reference to determine which are the right memories and which aren’t? Since there’s no alternate reality to compare, how are the wrong memories filtered out?

            Too many questions. And necessary questions. To make it random would be one of the biggest deus ex machinas in the series.

  • horselover

    Most I’ve enjoyed an article in a long time, so I have a lot of thoughts.
    I like the compatiblism (like the real David Hume), there’s no reason fate and free will should be considered opposites.
    Also, I think for the theory to work you have to adopt the “all at once” time theory, instead of the moving from beginning to end. That’s the only way the future can cause the past (like in the Constant). By that I mean everything that has and will happen, is happening right now. It’s just that we’re stuck in three dimensions and experience time as moving forward. I think this is the correct view for Lost, since Desmond was “unstuck in time,” just like in Slaughterhouse 5, and that’s the theory of time that Vonnegut presents there.
    One last thing: suppose in your Jack and Chang story that after Chang had the 2,342 number, he decided to ask Jack for a number under 1,000. Or even decided not to even put Jack in the time machine at all. He has foreknowledge in the real world (not Desmond-like flashes), so it seems like free will could be negated there. I think it is inevitable for someone in Lost to have knowledge of what their future actions have to be (like Daniel knowing he has to tell Charlotte not to come back), and free will would allow them not to do it. Maybe a little hypothetical since the issue has presented itself yet, but just a thought.

  • jack

    Hopefully someone will be arsed to take this on board, I don’t write for the homepage and half of my posts regarding time get deleted from the forums. The whole thing swings around the way in which we are shown things, The show appears to have a logical order for events regarding the characters (We start with them first landing on the island and ending up back in the 70’s) However from the point of view of the island it will have a much different reading of events.

    If you don’t know a bit about maths ignore the next bit
    (Possibly a slightly bad example to put this into perspective, and i’m only saying it because it appears on Faraday’s drawings. Imagine it like a differential equation where the islands time is a given function (imagine a sine wave) and the 815ers perpception of island time is a tangent of that function. Hence both paths can cross, possibly more than once yet both have a different course)

    I known sinse this is so far down the list here it will most likely be disregarded but here goes with the ‘my theory’ bit… If season one was set in the 1970’s showing the DI, we as viewers would be willing to believe in what we were seeing and time travel would not be a concern to us. Lets take one character as an example say, Sawyer. If one day Sawyer started having flash forwards to a strange new island in 2008 we’d say he was seeing/jumping to the future. This is because we are seeing Sawyers timeline starting in the 70’s and to see him running around in the jungle/chilling at the dharma van swilling beer/reading books the swan, circa 2008. we would HAVE to believe he had jumped forwards in time without aging.

    Of course we could only believe this because the writers would save the fact Sawyer crash landed on the island some 30 years later till after we’d seen these events and there’d be massive shocks about how this could happen and what it meant. And this perspective, of course would answer all the questions we are asking now but raise new ones regarding fate and destiny. But obviously nothing in the storyline or indeed anything else needs to be changed with relation to what we are seeing in Lost week in week out.

    I agree with imfromthepast in terms of the way the show WILL play out. However the means in which we are allowed to see it for ourselves and undestand it will undoubtadly cause much more confusion and speculation…

    • Yes, it is about what the show allows us to see upon which we produce our theories.

      The trick for them – especially as writers – is to be consistent to their own driving theory. Their “theory” may rest in the ’50s or ’70s or the ’00s. If rooted in the ’50s then what they show us in the ’70s and ’00s is the future and changeable. If the ’70s, then the ’00s become malleable.

      By the way, isn’t “timeline” incorrect? Doesn’t time move in a wave like light and sound?

      • Michel

        No, time actually doesn’t move. It only exists, at most. Time is nothing more than the changes of state in matter, or the sequential movement of particles or waves. In a theoretical space where nothing changes, ever, time is not moving.

        And not to be pedantic, but the light has both wave AND particle properties (photons).

        I’d say that, whatever is making the castaways jump in time, it has to be on their brains. Maybe it’s the disease. Maybe their brainwaves frequencies became vulnerable to the electromagnetic fluctuations of the island, making small amounts of mass around their brains unstuck in time (i.e. the castaways bodies, and the things they were holding). But whatever it is, it’s happening in their brains… to explain how Desmond and Faraday have those memory problems.

  • RandomZombie

    A very interesting article, and some of it works for me, but not all.

    I thought that Flashes Before Your Eyes made it very clear that Desmond was changing the past, albeit slightly. Course correction was a factor, in this case Ms. Hawking was playing the part of course corrector. She was there to put the doubt into Desmond’s mind and ensure that he didn’t marry Penny.
    When Desmond woke up on the floor of his flat he retained memories from his time on the island. This is first evident when he hears the microwave – there’s no doubt that it reminds him of the sound of the alarm in the Swan. Other examples have already been listed, such as knowing Charlie and mentioning the rain before it begins.

    It’s also clear that the timeline changed when Daniel spoke to Desmond at the door of the Swan. Desmond had no memory of that encounter until three years after he had left the island. (This brings up issues of why he knew of it at that exact point in time – as if the timeline of those left on the island was running parallel to that of those who left, but that’s not the point right now.) Desmond was adamant that the encounter wasn’t a dream, but a memory. Did he conveniently forget of the encounter until that moment? Daniel, through Desmond, changed the past.
    Desmond sought out Daniel’s mother, but had no reason for doing so based on the events that had originally occurred on the island. It wasn’t until Daniel told him to seek her out, thus changing past events, that Desmond knew that he was supposed to find her.

    The idea that fate and free will are essentially one in the same doesn’t work for me, either. To say that you have the ability to do what you want based on your own desires and will, but that choice was going to happen all along is a contradiction.
    The idea offends me as a free-thinking being. (I want to make it clear that you saying it doesn’t offend me, only the concept itself.)
    If something happens that is going to happen no matter what, it eliminates the possibility of free will, even if the person THINKS that they are making the choice. Fate can exist with the illusion of free will, but not with actual free will.

    That being said, I don’t believe that the Oceanic survivors (and remaining freighter folk) are in the past to change anything (though it could happen,) but to take part in events that had already happened in their timeline. Although Desmond’s inevitable arrival may change that.

    • TheEGW

      You’re right about the perception of Desmond’s hatch timeline and Desmond’s boat timeline appearing to run parrallel. It’s a major weakpoint in the time-travel mechanics and something that many, many, other TT stories get wrong–a person travels into the past, changes something, and the “present” visibly alters, just because that’s where the cameras happen to be.

      What really would have happened when Faraday knocked on Desmond’s hatch and gave him the message is that Desmond would have gone back in the hatch, knowledge/memory of the encounter formed and in tact, and would not have mysteriously forgotton it until some point in the future when it just happens to be important to the story.

      • RandomZombie

        You could argue that, though the past extends infinitely behind us, there is no future, only the present, which is always moving forward. As if you were drawing a line with a pencil, where the point exists is the present, though it’s constantly moving forward.

        Daniel was clearly in the past-that-was, and when he talked to Desmond at the hatch it made the PRESENT Desmond, who was on the boat with Penny (and, from Daniel’s perspective, as far into the future as it was possible to go,) remember what had happened.

        • TheJLNC

          I like the pencil line image, as it seems that they were making a point in the episode that Desmond did not have that memory until that moment, which does somewhat screw with the WHH straight line theory of time. The pencil idea kind of works to explain why Desmond suddenly has the memory.

        • TheEGW

          Yeah, I suppose you could argue that there is a “real” present,but tbh, every point on the timeline is the present to someone. Anyway, what happened to Desmond’s memory when he closed the hatch door. Imagine if you were able to observe Desmond from that moment on. At some point between closing the hatch door and falling asleep on the boat Desmond had to forget…?

    • AstroJones

      You see, I don’t take it that he is saying Free Will and Fate/Destiny are the same, or even that they exist together. The point is simply that the notion of Free Will and Destiny is dependent upon the observer. If I come to a fork in the road, stop, ponder which path to take, and ultimately choose to take the left-handed path, I exhibited free will as far as I’m concerned. No outside force pushed me down that path, and no “signs” were given guiding me there. I made a decision, and then acted on that decision.

      But based on the notion of self-consistent time travel, a time traveler, who continues to move back and forth through time will see that I always took the left-hand side. And in fact, nothing he or anyone else does can make me take a different path, because the events cannot be changed. And maybe I meet someone that helps me become President further down the left-handed path. To me, I always made a decision back there. But to the time traveler, I was ALWAYS meant to take that path. So both notions exist, on different levels, or dimensions if you will. Now, I’m not trying to translate this into the real world, I’m simply saying, in the land of LOST, it seems viable to me that both Destiny and Free Will can exist, on different planes based on the observer.

    • Thor

      I’m not saying you’re wrong, but it is possible to argue against your claim that casual determination eliminates free will.

      Suppose you were locked up in a cage. Would you have free will? No, because you couldn’t ‘do’ anything (e.g. making the changes you wanted based on your own will). Yes, you would still have the ability in you to make free choices, but someone with power forced you into a situation where you couldn’t exercise your own will. Now, if you look at this situation in a purely pragmatic manner (which means ‘what is actually being done here?’), you don’t have free will.

      This is similar to the argument proposed by the thinker and writer Voltaire. He said that yes, we have free will. But this free will is in itself closely connected to the concept of power (to will). More power, more free will. Less power, less free will. It’s pure pragmatics.

      This holds in a pragmatic perspective, a perspective that we are used to in LOST. We, the viewers, is watching how Desmond uses his ‘free will’ in the bar when he gets hit in the head and wakes up. But still, WE KNOW this was meant to be (because look, it has happened).

      So now you might think ‘so.. can I or can I not do whatever the heck I want to’? Do I have free will? If you believe your acts are meant by you, then yes. If not, the act of refusing to accept free will is in itself an act made by you. I would say that yes, you have free will. But in retrospect, you don’t.

      • Michel

        I strongly recommend all of you watching the Matrix again, especially the Merovingio soliloquy.

        This is simple logics…. everything that happens in the world has a “cause” and an “effect”. There you go. To one action, there can only be one specific set of reactions. But these are not random, or optional. That’s it. That is the definitive evidence of the existence of FATE. Even our decisions (the foundations of free will) have causes, that have other causes, in a very tight deterministic setting. They do not come from nothing. It’s all an unstoppable chain of events…

        ……. and an irrelevant one. Because, unless we find a way to predict the future (the SPECIFIC future, and not some general, basic info) then out decisions are as important to us as we may think. There doesn’t have to be a superior power for Fate to exist. It just does. But since we can’t read it, then free will can keep on existing. As an illusion, of course, but a highly practical one.

  • clueless1der

    Imfromthepast, again a great article. Very well written and no nosebleeds here, either. I can’t help that I’m one of the people that just don’t “get” it. But with the way you take it step by step even my clueless self can get it.

    I am looking forward to the Jin and Danielle bits as well. 🙂

  • Zonker

    Haven’t read the whole article, but there is a problem with the idea that course correction was used for Charlie to meet his destiny of bringing the Freighter to the island. In fact, the Freighter including Frank, Charlotte, Miles and Daniel was already just off-shore the island at the time Charlie spoke with Penny.

    “NOT PENNY’S BOAT” remember?

  • chris

    Imfromthepast, Great Article, i think it makes alot of sense with the evidence we’ve been given of the show but i have one question (not sure if anyone else commented on) about Desmonds timeline and his pre-island days.

    How do you explain him in the Stadium where Penny finds him saying “with enough money, you can find anybody”. This clearly happened after 1996 when Desmond told her he’d call her 8 years later. Why wouldn’t this be mentioned in the conversation at all? Any thoughts/theories on that?


  • marc

    I like the article but my question is in flashes before your eyes, desomond does make a pretty big deal to charlie bout there being an island that they are on together. He is all in his face and bananas about it. Although the writers may not have decided on this exact plot point at the time of desmond and charlies first meeting on island, wouldnt desmond yellign at charlie about the island give him foreknowlege of the island. Also if desmond did live this all over a second time when his consionous travelled back in time to this point but changed nothing, he could not of possibly yelled at charlie about the island the first time he did it. i know you are saying there is no first and second time, i just need that explained to me. I dont understand how this isnt new to the time line. him yelling about future events he doesnt know about yet until his consious flips back in time.

    • dolce

      Thanks dude, you just answered one of my questions from a reply I made at the top. (about wether Desmond actually met Charlie that day on the street or just saw him and thought he looked familiar, have’nt seen that ep. in a whlie)

      • Marc

        youre welcome dolce we’ve bumped heads before over my spoiler hatred but im glad we can benefit from eachother on something actually show related.

    • TheJLNC

      The idea that there was no first time means that in Desmonds past (from a 2004 perspective) always included him being confused and ranting about something that even his past consciousness had no idea about, I imagine he would have seemed to just be crazy at the time. He always went crazy at certain points in his life and broke up with Penny, or ran out on the army to go to Oxford.
      If indeed there is no first or second time, and it has always happened the one way, it’s not unreasonable to think that Desmond yelling at Charlie would have little to no effect on Charlies actions, nor that Charlie would immediately remember this was the crazy guy from that particular day years ago. He was a street musician, this was most likely crazy guy number 207 to him.

      I guess another problem is seeing these events in his life as all that ever happened, when they may have been occasional bouts of apparent mental instability with stretches of perfectly lucid time between them.

      Not saying this is the way it is, just, hopefully, explaining how it could be this way.

  • Desi’s Brother

    Good article. It is just a shame you have to be so cocky and condescending in tone.

    My issue with this is the idea that “nothing” has changed. The events stay the same more or less, but what about the mental state of the time traveller. Are we to believe that when Desmond was going through all the action getting ready to propose and leave penny he was having memories of an island that he would be stuck on and premonitions of events that were coming in the future? Because if nothing has changed then shouldn’t these memories have been there all along?

    That is what I don’t understand. Surely being mentally consious of time travelling has an effect on how you deal with those situations.

    • imfromthepast

      Please take my cocky, condencending tone with a grain of salt. That’s just how I am in real life.
      Of course when I do it in person, it comes across as charming and tongue-in-cheek, something I can’t get across in the written word.

      I will try to tone it down in the next article. But if i just get 2 comments, it’s back to snarky imfromthepast for the third!

  • rtd2

    You Know what I think…..oh wait I just traveled to the future and realized that I am not smart enough to comment or even read imfromthepatsy’s post…sorry bout that, maybe I will travel back in time and have another chance to not be as wicked smart as you
    you’re too funny man!

  • Overall, an excellent article, imfromthepast…but I think you’re failing to take into account a few details.

    Like some of the other commenters, I agree that Desmond actually did change the past minutely when he flashed back in “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” though not in “The Constant.” I contend that the date with Penny went slightly differently the first time around and that the buying of the ring didn’t happen. Note Hawking’s surprise at Des’ willingness to actually go through with the purchase. The end result was the same…Des disappoints Pen, runs off and joins the Royal Scots. Details were changed, but not enough to change the outcome thanks to the intervention of Ms. Hawking.

    Also, the pub fight doesn’t go as Des remembered it, since it’s Des himself who ends up taking the cricket bat to the head (well, first anyway) rather than the bartender. The details change slightly, but again not enough to change any big pictures.

    Des is very much what Faraday told him he is in “Because You Left”…someone to whom the rules of time do not apply. Their conversation didn’t happen in the first go-round. Desmond’s sudden memory of the conversation in the objective future, but a similar subjective time between Faraday & Desmond, has made a small but significant change…something of which Faraday knows Desmond to be capable.

    I’m also not buying your dismissal of ontological paradox re: Faraday’s instrument settings in 1996 during “The Constant.” Even if Faraday works backward from the correct answer to figure out why those settings were successful, that information still only exists within the closed loop and lacks an origin.

    The Island makes alterations to the timeline possible, otherwise there wouldn’t be this high-stakes game around manipulating the Lostaways in general or Desmond in particular to gain some kind of power over the Island at some crucial future juncture. The only question is when the foreknowledge ends. Even Dr. Manhattan couldn’t see through a neutrino cloud, after all.

    And the evidence of changes ripping *backward* in the timeline from some Incident or other is clearly there in shots like the change in photos on the wall between Miles’ ascent and descent of the stairs in the house of the ghost and his mother in “Confirmed Dead.”

    Somehow the Island can defeat paradox, even if all the humans in the world (except Desmond and possibly Walt, whose special abilities seemed to actually be about manipulating probability to bring about a desired outcome), can’t do the same. If that weren’t the case, there would be no story because the biggest fish would know that everything was predestined and there was nothing they could do to affect the outcome one way or another.

    • imfromthepast

      1.The only evidence you have that the events in the bar happened differently from what was portrayed in FBYE is the testimony of a slightly inebriated Scott with a head injury and demonstrably spotty memories of the events.

      2.I didn’t say Faraday worked backward from the answer. Let’s say you have a math problem, (2*2)+(3*3)=x that for some reason is very difficult to you. You are spending hours working on it and all you have been able to do is work out that 2*2 is 4. Then along comes a man from the future that tells you that future you tells you that the x=13. You leap for joy and write the answer down. The man from the future leaves, and later you feel like you cheated, so you get back to work trying to figure out the answer on your own. Eventually you realize that 3*3=9, and then work out that 9+4=13. Your forknowledge of the answer didn’t effect your abilities to solve the equation, if you worked it out on your own. The knowledge that x = 13 therefore has an origin, it arises from solving the equation. You then write down the value of x in a note back, and then years later you tell someone the value of x, and he then goes back in time to give it to you. The value of x has an origin in this scenario and is not a closed loop.

  • Uncle Beaver

    At the VERY END of this MAGNIFICENT TV Show, everything will have played out.

    EVERYTHING will have happened as the storytellers INTENDED it to happen.

    Whatever happened in this story, HAPPENED in this story. No matter how much free-will the characters on LOST think they have, they are governed by the “almighty” writers.

    So, when we get to the very end of this show, WHO is to say what is predetermined, and what is left to fate/chance/god?

    At the very end, everything will unfold as it was MEANT to unfold.

    After all… Who are we to question god (AKA the writers)?

    • Uncle Beaver

      By the way…


    • imfromthepast

      lol, awesome post!

  • Cecil

    This is excellent work. I look forward to the rest.

  • Pat

    It was changed that Desmond was acting as if he knew Charlie before he even met him on the island. I am certain that Desmond would have remembered that day when he met Charlie on the island.

    • Pat

      It also bothers me that while Sawyer and Co. are in Dharma in 1977 their younger selves are still alive off of the island. There are two of each person out there. This is either an alternate timeline of events or we are watching the first time everyone travels back in time and all this will just be a loop once the younger versions get back to the island again.

  • dolce

    Holy s***! I have never seen this much activity in response to a post 6 days after an episode airs. This rivals the activity you’d see on a Thursday. I love it!

  • Hill Farmer Blue

    If everything that happened happened why can`t Desmond recall very important events in his own history. I would imagine that pleading with Penny to answer the phone on Xmas eve 8 years down the road wouldn`t be easily forgotten. Similarily, a rare encounter with Mr. Farraday outside the Swan might be something that stands out in memory. The claim is a single continuous unchangable physical timeline, however Desmonds mental time appears to be constantly chaotically changing.

  • Desi’s Brother

    Also this post doesn’t really take into account Faraday’s Journal and his concept of “Real Time” and “Imagined Time” and “Real Space” and “Imagined Space”

    I have no idea what that is about. But I’m sure it must be important. If anything it seems that Desmond is the “EXCEPTION” to rules so perhaps he functions within “Imagined Time and Space”

    • imfromthepast

      Real Time, Imaginary Time, Real Space, and Imaginary Space are real life concepts and don’t have anything to do with what they sound like. They involve Imaginary Numbers, numbers found on the y axis of the number line.

      Its a mathematical thing.

  • besch64

    I disagree with everything aside from the very last segment about Dan determining the equation (or whatever) for himself. I like to think of it that the settings for the machine were never determined by anybody. Daniel doesn’t know how to set his machine, Desmond tells him what to use, Daniel tells him the settings later. The settings don’t come from anywhere. They just are. Based on the strongly religious nature of the show, this seems to be an extremely easy answer to swallow. In the same way that Christians believe that God “just is,” we are to believe that the numbers for the settings “just are.”

  • besch64

    I of course mean to say “I AGREE with everything aside from the very last segment about Dan…”


  • adam118

    I signed up for the sole reason to congratulate the author on a very well written piece.

    • imfromthepast

      wow, I’m honored! thanks.

  • Bravo on an excellent article! I can’t get over how many people are sure that everybody in Lost is altering the past like this is a Back to the Future movie. Even some of the most well-known Lost recappers are stuck on that track, and it’s frustrating to read! You did an excellent job of presenting a point-by-point examination of why “whatever happened, happened” on Lost. And your point about free will and destiny both existing is a beautiful and very astute conclusion. I can’t wait for your next installments in this series.

    • imfromthepast

      Thank you. It is for people such as yourself that I wrote this article.

  • imfromthepast

    Instead of replying to my critics individually, let me make a sweeping, general comment here.

    This article takes the Self-Consistent approach to time travel in Lost Season 5 as a given, and explores the notion that maybe it also applies to previous seasons, and Desmond in particular. I asked those who disagree with Self-Consistency not to comment, not because I was trying to quell dissent, but because I was trying to limit the discussion to the point of the article, that is: can Desmond’s actions in previous seasons be reinturpreted as Self-Consistent?

    Am I insisting that Desmond is not special? No. Desmond could very well pop up in tonight’s episode and completely destroy the timeline. If that happens, then this entire article is moot. I will accept that and move on.

    In the meantime, I am opperating under the following assumption. LOST has always had a theme of everything happens for a reason, that the 815 survivors were meant to be on the Island. Given that they have now revealed a Self-Consistent time travel element, I am exploring the concept that perhaps that is why they were meant to be on the Island, because some of them at least have a part to play in 1977. If that is the case, then Self-Consistency would have to be valid for the entire show. This series of articles deals with that idea, and this part deals specificly with Desmond, trying to fit him in the mold.

    Does he fit? I think so. That is the discussion that belongs in this comment section. You want to discuss the Barracks, go post in that other article I wrote. You want to discuss the merits of Self-Consistency, go to the forums.

    Finally, is Desmond Special? Faraday thinks so, and so do I. How is he Special? I don’t know. This article supposes it is in some way we have yet to fully understand, but it is not a way that violates Self-Consistency. Since we don’t fully understand Desmond’s part in this, I can’t accurately predict his effect. So I am ignoring it.

    Am I right? Who knows. Only time will tell.

  • Iwantmykidneyback

    I believe that “whatever happened, happened” applies to everyone on lost with the exception of Desmond. I thinks that it’s important to differentiate between physical time travel and the sort of jump of consciousness that Desmond (aka Dr Manhattan)experiences. I believe “whatever happened, happened” applies only to those who physically travel through time. We’ve already seen how this leads to Richard being present at Locke’s birth. I think very soon we’ll be seeing why Ben knows so much about everything and everyone. He’s going to learn a lot from the 815ers as a boy. (As a side note, does anyone else think that Ben could could be a sort of Adrian character from the watchmen? someone who ultimately saves everyone by sacrificing a few?) Now concerning desmond, I think it’s fairly clear that in “Flashes Before Your Eyes” when desmond’s consciousness jumps, he does some things diffently than he did the first time. I think in Desmond’s case it is appropriate to use the terms 1st time and 2nd time because of these changes. Therefore whatever happened, did not necessarily happen. This is why I think that so far we can trust Faraday’s comments on time travel. After “The Constant” he realizes that Desmond can change the past to an extent which is why he tries knocking on the door. He knows that the rules don’t apply to him. Desmond’s coming to the door leads to two possiblilities if my logic so far is correct. Either “what happened, happened” holds true and therefore Desmond should remember Daniel when he arrives at the island or Desmond’s consciousness jumped back in time and he changed the past. I think the latter is true and this could explain why Desmond suddenly had a “memory” when he was on his boat. These are just a few of my thoughts. Suprised my head hasn’t exploded yet. I enjoyed the article a lot. The only part I disagreed with a little was concerning Desmond. I’d also like to hear some theories on Jin/Rousseau, Ethan/Locke, and the compass. This is my first post. Let me know what you think.

    • dolce

      Never post again. Lol I’m just kidding. I think I agree with you on the Desmond point, but it’s clearly stated over and over that he is special.

  • Baalzak

    As a fan of what you termed “self-consistent time travel fiction,” I’d like to make one small attempt at clearing up, in a logical way, the confusion several people seem to have suffered while reading your very well-written and enjoyable post. You mention the following point briefly in your intro, but many people seem to have missed (or misunderstood) your statement.

    In a self-consistent universe, all this talk of “changing the timeline” is, by its very nature, illogical. You can no more “change the timeline” than you can “move the universe.”

    Saying that anything “changes” immediately implies the passage of time for that object. You cannot have change unless there is a start condition and an end condition, meaning that one happened before the other – time would have to pass to get from start to end. Therefore, in order to “change the timeline”, the timeline itself would have to be experiencing the passage of time, which is inherently impossible.

    Just as in my initial example – if you were to “move the universe”, to where would you move it? What dimensions of spacetime exist in which you can move space itself to another location? In the same sense, there is no dimension of spacetime which will allow you to age time. If time cannot get older, than it cannot change. Just as you cannot move the universe to another location (since the universe by definition consists of ALL locations), you cannot age the timeline, because the timeline contains ALL time.

    Now, that said, Lost has redefined itself several times so far – a large part of why I enjoy the show and admire the writing skill so much. I can’t say definitively right here and now that Lost is, without a doubt, guaranteed, 100% following completely with this philosophy through to the very end. Desmond (or someone/something else) may very well end up ultimately “changing” something. If not done perfectly, an event like this (i.e. nothing we’ve seen ever really happened because Desmond changed the past to prevent it) would weaken the story so much that I CAN guarantee that such a change would be a huge, earth-shatteringly important on-screen event, and not a subtle “pictures behind Miles in that house moved,” production/set-error sort of change.

    What we are seeing right now is meant to be watched the same way that the Nikki and Paolo episode was meant to be watched. (Aside: As much as that episode ended up failing from a viewer-approval perspective, I rather liked the idea behind the episode… even if I didn’t love the final product. In retrospect it appears to be, in a way, an attempt to prepare everyone for the narrative style we are experiencing this season.) You are not seeing anything new. You are seeing what already happened. Stop watching as if you’re about to see something happen for the first time, and start watching with the mindset of “OH! So THAT’S how that happened.” To see the narrative elegance of the past half-season for what it is – pieces of the puzzle, missing threads at long last being woven into place in the fabric of the story – is to recognize the genius of the writers in building a narrative that is at the same time mind-bendingly complex, yet beautifully simple and consistent.

    • imfromthepast

      Thanks for bringing that up. You put it perfectly. I have never been able to explain that the way I’ve wanted to, and you hit the nail on the head.

  • BAK2530

    Whatever happened happened has been beat into our head so much it only stands to reason that something will happen to change that

  • Pure Greatness!
    I just finished reading it 😛
    Looking forward to your next post!

  • edd

    Just because he knows the answers ahead of time doesn’t indicate a paradox anymore than knowing the answer to any proof ahead of time does not preclude you still working it out on your own. Daniel only made use of the peculiarities of time travel to take advantage of his hard work before he did it.

    I still don’t understand why Daniel, if he already knew the solution (via Des), would bother working out the problem. It seems like a pointless waste of time, no?

    • imfromthepast

      if he doesn’t work the answer out on his own, then he got the answer from himself, who got it from himself, who got it from himself, who got it from himself, who got it…etc.

      however, if he works the answer out on his own, and it is that answer that he gives to Des, then he got the answer from himself, then worked it out independantly from the equations. the end.

  • Keys777

    If Desmond did not change the past, then how come he did not remember his discussions with his physicist friend about the Island? If Desmond changed nothing in the past, then he knew all along that he would end up on the Island. However, this is obviously not the case; he did not remember all this when he crashed on the Island. And he could not have forgotten all of those discussions with Ms. Hawking or his thoughts of the Island during his failed proposal to Penny. It would be unaccountably strange if he forgot his proposal, since it is vital to how he ends up on the Island, and Penny would eventually remind him of it and bring back the memories of how his thoughts were torn between her and the Island.

    Here’s my theory: for every other character, time is a closed loop, as you masterfully point out. However, because of his massive dose of magnetism, Desmond is special (or the Island could be rewarding him for his Christ-like self-sacrifice). Desmond CAN change the timeline, which is why Faraday calls him miraculously special, and why Faraday asks him to find his mother. For Desmond, the universe must course correct as timeline repair. This type of course correction still preserves the theme of free will vs. fate; Desmond can exercise his free will in changing the timeline, but fate ultimately has its way (this matches the religious theme of people disobeying God, but God’s will ultimately being done). Therefore, Desmond’s flashes are small expeditions of his consciousness into the future, and these expeditions are exacerbated when he leaves the Island at the wrong bearing in “The Constant”. Those uncontrolled expeditions (i.e. Minkowski Syndrome) are finally cured when he finds his constant, but he is still special in that he can still change the timeline when Faraday contacts him in the past.

  • Evil Bastard

    It’s a lot easier than that. Desmond has to ignore Daniel’s mom and Propose to Penny. If Desmond marries Penny, then he doesn’t sail across the globe

    If Desmond doesn’t sail, he doesn’t crash on the island.

    If Desmond doesn’t crash on the Island, then he is not in the Hatch.

    If Desmond is not in the Hatch, the he is not there to not push the button
    (Remember the plane crashed because Desmond left the hatch and wasn’t there to push the button).

    So if Desmond never appears on the Island, the plane never crashes, then the losties never make it to the island.

    So my theory is that Desmond marries Penny, the Losties get on the plane in Australia, and arrive in LA, nothing happens, and they go on with their lives like nothing ever happened.

  • I have to wonder if the author of this article has actually watched the show. Daniel clearly tells us that the rules of time travel on Lost are “whatever happened, happened…except for Desmond.” Desmond meeting Daniel outside the Swan is a CLEAR example of this exception. But hey…keep trying to pound the square peg of your theory into the round hole of Lost!

    • Sorry…I was being a douche. Your know-it-all attitude really rankles me. It positively compels me to smack you down.

      • LOL! No hard feelings, smack away, I probably deserve it.

  • Jay

    I understand that Charlie may not remember what Desmond, however wouldnt Charlie remember someone saying “we were stranded on an island pushing a button” when it in fact occurs later on down the road?

  • You really make it seem so easy along with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually one thing which I believe I might never understand. It sort of feels too complex and extremely extensive for me. I am having a look forward in your subsequent post, I will try to get the cling of it!