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Lost Theories – Speculating the Frozen Donkey Wheel

By docarzt,

  Filed under: Lost Theories
  Comments: 12


In the enormous, indepth, and astoundingly informative Doc Jensen on-set expose at Entertainment Weekly (which you must read NOW!), Damon Lindelof gives his strongest, and strangest, clues yet on the “Frozen Donkey Wheel” twist, confirming that it is – as I asked Darlton a few months back – a change that will impact the way the story is told in future seasons.  So I’ve decided to intrude on this earth shattering announcement with a few scenarios of my own, and I’m wondering what you guys think this could mean.

“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.” 

  • who me?

    I think it’ll be an on-island flash forward/back(way back).

    Good theories though.

  • kyle

    I really hope that doesnt happen.

  • KoozyK

    i’m going to go with some sort of multiple character flashback/forward where all the characters become aware of the flash and act on it. maybe some effect on the island (they did say we’d be seeing the purple sky again) will make it so everyone can act within their flashes.

    who really knows at this point. every theory i’ve made hasn’t come true.

  • gusteaux

    What’s puzzling is that they seem to indicate that there will be no more FB’s or FF’s after S4. Yet they say that we will get the Miles and Daniel centrics that were originally (pre-strike)scheuduled for S4. Certainly these two eps would have to include FB’s or FF’s. Also, we have been promised a Rousseau FB for years, the details of Libby being in Santa Rosa with Hurley, what happened to Annie (although we may still get that info this season), etc.

  • Samfishercell

    gusteaux: I think what Damon means is that eventually time is going to come together on the show. “Season 4 is about who gets off the island and the fact that they need to get back. Season 5 is about why they need to get back, and season 6 is about what happens when they get back.” For example, Season 6 might contain no flash forwards (because they would be after the end of the story) and no flashback (since we might, by that time, know everything we need to about a character’s past).

    It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with the rest of the season. Hopefully there is some more mind-warping stuff ahead. I felt that ‘Meet Kevin Johnson’ had the potential, and then BLEW IT. I am interested in seeing how this duplicate thing might play out. What if it was Jack in the coffin?

  • urgh! a music war

    The flashbacks are not necessarily to be taken at face value. If I had to guess, I’d say that they’re more like memories of the past than they are like films of the past, and like our own memories they contain some factual information (filtered through our perceptions and biases), with a healthy dose of things that were forgotten and bits added in that never really happened – and something pointing to this fact will be revealed. Just my humble opinion, of course.

  • matt

    I think what Damon is trying to say is actually a lot more simple then some of us are trying to make it. I dont really think the big twist at the end of this season is going to deal with the whole “flash” issue. They just did that to much praise last season and to have the big twist be a retake on the “flashes” again seems a little strange to me. That said, Damon does make it clear that flashes are at stake in the future, I just dont think its going to be the big twist this season. The quote that is mentioned here essentially says that we, the audience, knows and have come accustomed to the way the story is told. It is done with an islands story and then “Woosh” we are in a flashback or flashfoward. I think it is becoming increasingly clear that eventually the real time will catch up to flashfowards and when that happens flashfowards will become obsolete. I think what Damon means by the above quote is the story we have come accustomed to, with an on-island story and then an off-island flash, may not be able to continue simply because the “oceanic 6” will be getting off of the island, and therefore a big piece of story will be back in the real world now. When they do get off of the island the story will have to change to incorporate everyone. I think we will have to follow the “oceanic 6” off-islnad trying to return to the island as well as follow the events of the castaways left on the island. So maybe instead of “flashes” the story may now typically just flash back and forth btwn the island and the oceanic 6 attempting to return..until season 6 when they finally do return.

  • Ben


    The flashbacks will become of the time from the island, and we will see pieces of character interaction we never saw from all 4 seasons. Just a thought.

    It would be crazy if the island were in the middle of lake Michigan or something like the April fools “script” shows. That would be a mind blower.

  • chirpy

    Matt is right.

    Chances are that the gamechanger is that we see FFs ON the island, and that this sets the scene for season 5.

    So next season could be a LOTR Two Towers type of affair whereby there are two main storylines running concurrently, only to integrate later (season 6 – LOTR-ROTK).So we see why the O6 have to go back, both from thier perspective and from those left on the island.

    This implies that the finale episodes of season 4 will feature non-O6 FFs of losties left on the island – most likely Sawyer and Claire.

  • tremendouspie

    Im thinking that the final episode is going to be leading to one major event from both the future and the present. They have the story in the present and then flash forward. However, i think the flash forward story will be working backwards. We will get the end of the its story first and it will work backwords to this one major event. At the same time the present storyline will be moving towards that same event. The episode will end with them meeting together.

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