“You think the show is, ‘Okay, they’re on the Island, and then — whoosh
— you’re in the past or the future.’ By the end of season 4, I think
the audience is going to go, ‘How can the show continue to be that?’
And they are absolutely right.”
First, I’ll borrow an idea that has popped up in Doc Jensen’s articles before, my own, J. Wood’s, and numerous other Lost fans who love an oblique para-science solution: this is most likely an indication of some sort of all encompassing time distortion.
One thing I’ve always hoped for in a LOST game changer is some mechanism that is going to cause us to re-evaluate the entire series up until that point. There are moments that come close, but by and large most game-changers have been a branching rather then a sort of restructuring of narrative that would challenge the way our own memory of the series – up until that point – sits in our noodle. Flash forward came close. During the disorientation, alot of people were looking back and wondering if previous flash episodes could have been flash forwards. Not that there isn’t any promise there, but it’s unlikely the ‘frozen donkey wheel’ is going to re-bolster a theory whose time has past.
There are a couple of possibilities that would fulfill Lindelof’s prediction of how fans will react. One is that they are not where we think they are, which is sort of an obtuse interpretation, and the other is that they are not ‘when’ we think they are, or even… both.
One conceivable skeleton key is the Oceanic Wreckage. The ‘obviousness’ of the plane being planted is sort of counter intuitive to the Lost way of life. Isn’t it? Would the writer’s room really conspire to offer us two really well substantiated explanations for the presence of the wreckage and then resolve the mystery by choosing one as the reality? No. They would sell us on two perfectly believable scenarios, then lay on us a third that we could have never seen coming.
We’ve seen the Orchid’s ability to both make duplicates, and cause a time travel event in which the consciousness is the sole passenger. Could the center tile in what Cuse refers to as the Lost mosaic depict a scenario where the crash of 815 resulted in duplicates that should not exist, should not have a future, as well as the loosening of consciousnesses back into the past. Could the survivors actually be reliving those flashback moments in real time, just as Desmond did, and what if they suddenly became aware of that? If the plane was duplicated, does that satisfy Lindelof’s logic since flash backs would technically be part of someone else’s life, someone who should be dead not pondering new circumstances.
The comment is cryptic on some levels because we don’t know what Lindelof’s intent is. Is there merely an event that makes the narrative device of flashing illogical, or quaint? Or, does something happen to the Universe of the show that makes it impossible. What could make us suddenly think that it would not be possible any longer to show backstory? No matter how uninteresting it is, we would assume a 37 year old character has 37 years worth of back story. Right?
What if this but of language from Lindelof means we are approaching some meta-fictional or pseudo meta-fictional turning point in the story, where we find out our character’s histories are not real. This would seem to bristle against the notion of the events having “real stakes,” but would fulfill Lindelof’s notion that we would puzzle how more back-story could be told.
Of course this could be a healthy dose of Darlton hyperbole. It could merely mean that we are going to be introduced to something so much more interesting than flashback/forward that the idea of using flashes of any sort would be rendered obsolete. Perhaps something that revisits a certain bit of Room 23 back-masking that declared “Only fools are bound by time and space.”