Saturday, February 17, 2007

"Flashes Before Your Eyes" Analysis

I find that one of the problems with taking a few days to formulate and write my analysis to an episode is that by the time it actually gets posted on the Blog, it either seems like a re-hashing of ideas that have already been posted in the Comments section, or that I’m flat-out stealing the theories of others and claiming them as my own. It almost makes me wonder if it’s necessary to go through such analysis, since my conclusions often mirror those of others, who get them out much more quickly than I do. But I guess without knowing what my thoughts are, my future predictions and analysis wouldn’t make any sense. Plus, I usually try to pull together all the theories and ideas out there into one cohesive post for the masses too afraid to venture into the Comments section. That somehow justifies their purpose, and the amount of time I spend on them, right?

Enough of my blabbering. Without further ado, here is my outdated, much-influenced analysis of “Flashes Before Your Eyes”.

Flashbacks. In a way, it's ironic that after two and a half years worth of Lost episodes featuring character flashbacks, only now are we really starting to question them. Up until this point, it was assumed they were merely plot devices used to develop the varied characters that were thrown together after the crash of Flight 815. But after this episode, people are wondering if they might represent something more, something deeper - something that could actually be key to the greater purpose and mysteries of Lost Island itself. Deep stuff.

Before the episode, we were told that it "would feature and use flashbacks in a way we never have before and never will again. It'll either blow people's minds or chase them away for good." Based on the extremely lengthy and heady comments people have already made in the comments section from my "Instant Reactions" on the episode, the former seems to be the case… (although ratings might tell another story - but I blame that more on the episode airing at 10:00 pm than anything else. Heck, it's even tough for me to stay awake for the whole episode… and I've got a lot more vested interest in each episode than the average American!)

So what was so different about the flashbacks this episode? Well, the fundamental difference between Desmond's flashbacks and those of most everyone else over the past few seasons is that he was cognizant of his future and "aware" that he was in his past. Desmond was proactively trying to change his flashbacks, interacting with them, and doing things differently than he did when these moments in his life originally happened. This is a striking contrast to the flashbacks of the other Survivors that just seem to be passively viewing moments in their pre-Island lives in their minds.

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The question becomes – what made Desmond different this episode? What was really happening during his flashbacks? After much deep thought and consultation with my Magic 8 Ball, I've narrowed it down to one of two possibilities, each with their own logical strengths and weaknesses:

Desmond was time traveling. He was actually re-living the events (and changing them). It’s definitely the sexier and much more complicated theory. There are countless variations of what actually was happening – call it “time travel”, an “out of body experience”, a “parallel reality”, or whatever scientific explanation makes the most sense. But the important thing with this theory is that Desmond was physically back in the past, interacting with real people.

From this assumption, there are a number of ways to explain why things happened the way they did, and what it means to the numerous outstanding mysteries we’ve encountered on Lost. But in the end, if Desmond did travel back in time, it really just comes down to two important (but very contrary) points:

  1. Desmond still ended up on the Island.
  2. Desmond told others about his future.


Well, Desmond discovered that fate is a very powerful thing. As Ms. Hawking (creepy old jewelry store lady) told him, the Universe has a way of “correcting itself”. Even if you can travel back in time, things that are destined to happen are going to happen (the “Final Destination” theory). This flies in the face of the “Back to the Future Theory” where the slightest changes in the past can have dramatic effects on the future. However, this goes a long way in explaining all the random events that led our Survivors to the Island. It wasn’t some grand master plan by Dharma or the Others that brought them to the Island – it was merely fate.

Upon viewing this episode, some began to hypothesize that maybe all of the flashbacks we have seen aren’t really just flashbacks, but opportunities for our Survivors to correct their pasts and right their wrongs. But if you look at Desmond this episode, he tried to correct his greatest mistake and found that no matter what he did, he couldn’t. So even if the rest of the Survivors were cognizant of themselves in their flashbacks, it wouldn’t matter – you can’t change your path in life. Kinda depressing, right?

Well the good news is that the other point is much more hopeful, optimistic, and intriguing… and it fits in with Back to the Future Part II. Remember when Marty returned to “Alternate 1985” where everything was different due to his actions in the past? Well, assuming that Desmond actually did go back in time, we’re currently looking at “Alternate Island” because he told his friend Donovan about the future and what was going to happen to him.

By doing this simple act, Desmond might have opened up the door for the rescue of everyone on the Island. While Donovan initially dismissed Desmond’s claims about the soccer (futbol) game, the bar fight, and his race around the world, eventually he would come to realize that Desmond was actually right – he was just a day off in his predictions. I don’t know about you, but if my friend told me that he was going to disappear on a race around the world and then a few months later he actually did, I would start telling people about it.

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So who is this Donovan character? Well, we know he’s a physicist who we meet while he is finishing up a conversation that sounds very much like he’s discussing the possibilities of alternate realities existing. He seems like someone who wouldn’t chalk up his encounter with Desmond to “crazy-talk”, but rather the proof that his theories about time travel / alternate realities actually could exist. From here, it’s easy to see the storyline progressing to Desmond telling Penny, who has the resources to fund setting up a “detection system” for any space-time anomalies around the world… and queue the Arctic Scientists at the end of Season Two.

Because Desmond went back into the past and told Donovan about his future, Penny knows how to find and save him – simply by waiting for the “Electromagnetic Anomaly” to occur (the result of Desmond going back into the past), and then tracking it. The curious thing here is that, if you remember, the Arctic Scientists made a comment about “we didn’t miss it again”, as if there was already one that had already occurred, but they didn’t track. This brings up the interesting concept of a “time loop”. That could either mean that Desmond has done this multiple times, trying to change his past through a variety of ways only to find it futile... or the flashbacks of the other Survivors are actually time travel as well. Since we’ve seen nearly 60 flashbacks from other characters already, I think the former is the more likely – otherwise, the Arctic Scientists’ detection devices would be going off nonstop over the course of the past two months.

But so far we’ve only been talking about Desmond’s time travel to the past. What this episode showed us was that he also has the ability to see the future. His time travel experience wasn’t limited to a one-time event when the Hatch imploded because he’s now saved Charlie TWICE. This is pretty key. If he only saved Charlie once, one could theorize that his entire life flashed before his eyes – past, present, and future – and he knew Charlie was going to die because he already experienced. But by saving Charlie from the lightning bolt, he effectively changed the future. If Charlie was also in danger of drowning, the only way Desmond could have known about is if he saw the future again, after the lightning incident. But is Desmond actually going into the future and interacting with it, as he did with the past? Or is he just getting “visions” of the future as some byproduct of his powers? Does he have any control over this power? How far into the future has he actually seen? Are his visions limited to only seeing others in danger or can he also use this for gambling purposes?

As you can see, the questions start piling on pretty quickly – and trying to formulate reasonable answers for them is enough to make the brains of even the most over-analytical among us start to hurt. But if you remember at the start of this rant, I said one of two explanations was possible. Time travel is just the first. The second is much simpler, and much more logical.

Desmond was dreaming. We're all over-analyzing this a bit, and if we look strictly at the facts from the episode, it's much simpler. When the Hatch imploded, the blast carried Desmond clear out of the Hatch and onto the ground of the jungle some distance away - this clearly knocked him out… at least temporarily - and this is thing that sets his flashbacks apart from everyone else.

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Typically, when a character on Lost has their "flashbacks", they are awake, interacting with others, in the middle of doing things, and otherwise cognizant of what is going on around them. They're almost daydreaming about the past, seemingly inspired by things that are currently happening on the Island (when the writing is good and the flashbacks don't seem forced, that is). At least that's the way they are presented to the viewer.

On the other hand, Desmond's flashback occurred while he was seemingly unconscious (aka “dreaming”) from the blast of the Hatch, between the time when he turned the Failsafe Key and the moment he woke up in the jungle outside... and this might help explain the difference between the two. When Freud studied dreams, he found that more often than not, dreams don't gratify wishes. He noted that some dreams represent attempts to master or overcome a past traumatic experience. It’s the brain’s way of trying to go back and “fix” things from the past that it wishes were different.

Sound familiar?

Desmond was dreaming that he had a chance to do it all over again – to replay the events in his life that led up to his arrival on the Island in hopes of changing them. However, what he found is that dreams don’t always grant wishes. What happens next is an intriguing battle between the left and right sides of Desmond’s brain. His left side is serving up the logic and facts about the present and past. We even have Ms. Hawking acting as a physical manifestation of Desmond’s subconscious – the rational left side of his brain telling him that he can’t actually change the past and needs to accept his current state. Since the left side is the practical, safe side of the brain, she even goes so far as to give him some comfort about his current place in life on the Island with her “If you didn’t push the button, we all would have died” speech. On the other hand, the right, dreaming side of the brain is telling Desmond that he can indeed change his past actions to achieve a different, better future.

In effect, Desmond was just dreaming, not having a “flashback” like everyone else on the Island has. His life “flashed before his eyes” and he tried to change it, but realized that the Island was his fate. No matter what he tried to do, this is where he was supposed to end up. Once again, fate controls all.

It’s all pretty neat and easy, right? Well, the problem is that none of this would explain his future seeing. Sure, Desmond could have had a trippy dream as the result of being knocked out – but how does this explain that how he knows very specifically how Charlie’s life is in danger?


The two are not connected.

Who says that Desmond’s dream has anything to do with the ability to see the future? If we accept that the “flashback” was nothing more than a dream, then it would be in no way tied to the potential magnetic mumbo-jumbo that Desmond could have received from the Hatch Implosion. Think about it. How different is Desmond from Walt seeing the future? What about all the other “visions” that the other Survivors have had on the Island? Desmond’s are just a little different – almost a combination of the two.

Maybe Desmond is somehow temporarily “flashing” outside of the normal time of the Island due to the Hatch Implosion, and the whole point of the dream in this episode was to serve another purpose – to show Desmond coming to grips with his life in the present.

For a show whose constant underlying theme has always been redemption, it would make sense. Here we have Desmond, who has been told that he isn’t good enough and would never amount to anything, ending up on an Island pushing a button where he may or may not have saved the entire world. In the process of saving the world, he somehow gained the ability to see the future, and sees this gift as having the potential for him to do something even more positive with his life – saving others. The Island / Smokey may be giving him this gift as a way to overcome his past demons – that of feeling not worthy – by practically making him a hero.

Again, how different is this than the Island showing Boone visions that helped him get over Shannon, or having the Island appear in the form of Yemi to try and get Eko to repent for his past sins? What better way to help Desmond find his worth than having him save the world? And like the other Survivors, Desmond is finding that getting over your demons isn’t an easy thing. He’s facing the harsh realization that fate is a very powerful thing, and it may not be possible to change it not matter what he does.

So which theory is correct? Well, I think there are three critical pieces of information that tip the scales one way or the other.

The Picture. The first piece of evidence is the picture of Desmond and Penny. Before we analyze too much, it should be pointed out that there is one glaring issue with looking at the picture too closely – that it has changed over the seasons. When we first saw the picture, the actress for Penny had not yet been cast – thus the difference between the picture we saw inside the Hatch at the start of Season Two, and the picture that Desmond currently has.

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So throw any discussion about that out the window. But the interesting thing here is that both Desmond and Penny have a copy of that same picture. Sure, it’s possible that Desmond and Penny had the picture copied prior to Desmond’s race around the world, but what if they didn’t? If Penny and Desmond both have a copy, that could mean that Desmond has gone back in time and that event has happened twice – once where Penny keeps the picture, and once where Desmond keeps the picture.

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Advantage: Time Travel.

Ms. Hawking. First of all, this is two weeks in a row with obvious Stephen Hawking references (he also wrote “A Brief History of Time” featured in last week’s episode). Without getting too in-depth, it’s worth noting that Stephen Hawking is theoretical physicist who specializes in theories on space and time. However, when you look at the character of Ms. Hawking, the important thing is that she knows a whole lot about Desmond’s future. This isn’t like Richard Malkin, the creepy psychic from Claire / Eko’s flashbacks who talked in sweeping generalities and later “admitted” that he was a fraud. Ms. Hawking knows very specific details about Desmond’s future, as well as his intentions to try and change it.

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If Desmond is really time traveling, how do you explain that? Is she an agent of Dharma that can also time travel and is trying to prevent Desmond from changing things? I think that’s a little too far out there, even for someone who just made logical arguments supporting the possibility of time travel. No way.

Desmond’s assumption that she is his conscience is much more plausible, and not a total rip-off of the Matrix movies.

Advantage: Dreaming.

Stuff. What about all the Island Items that we saw in Desmond’s past?

The 1:08 Clock.

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The Beeping Microwave.

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The package “for 815”.

The Polar Bear / Buddha / Namaste Picture.

One note about this – at first it looks like the word “Namaste” is written backwards, which is kinda creepy – and that the picture disappears after we initially see it!

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But actually, what we are originally seeing is the reflection of the picture in a mirror on Desmond’s right side (thus, the backward word), and the real picture is on his left side:

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If you think about it, these are the strongest indications that Desmond was indeed dreaming, and not time traveling. Sure, you could chalk up the items up to coincidence, foreshadowing, or even a Widmore-Dharma connection, but the much more reasonable explanation is that they were just random images that his mind was inserting into his dream. Scientists have found that people often interpolate items from their day-to-day life into dreams in very strange and unexplainable ways.

Advantage: Dreaming.

So, after thinking through both theories and comparing the facts – I think the answer is that the events we saw during “Flashes Before Your Eyes” were just that – Desmond’s life flashing before his eyes in a dream. However, the events that we didn’t see – the future events that also “flashed before his eyes” seem to indicate that Desmond has gained some sort of “future seeing” power from the Island. So in a way, everyone wins. But more specifically (and accurately), those who said “Desmond can’t time travel, but he can see the future” are actually the big winners.

My brain hurts. Two last quick things before I go…

Charlie. In this episode, we discovered that Charlie’s middle name is Hieronymus. His parents must have hated him, right? Well actually, Hieronymus Bosch was a Dutch painter back in the day, famous for works concerning religion, Adam and Eve, sin, etc. Plenty of symbolism there!

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But the more pressing question is – “Is Charlie Doomed?” It’s funny, Desmond said that no matter what he does, he can’t save Charlie – yet ironically he’s now saved him twice. But how long can Desmond keep this up? Does the Island want Charlie dead? Is this a product of fate? Is Dominic Monaghan just looking to get off Lost to do more Hobbit movies?

As much as I hate Claire’s character on the Island (due to her incessant wining and general lack of development), Charlie has to take the cake for having the worst flashbacks of any character on the show (see: “Homecoming”, where Charlie tried to sell copiers and “Fire + Ice” where Charlie does diaper commercials). Based on that alone, I wouldn’t shed too many tears if he actually died.

But will he? Well, as much as we like to claim Lost surprises us – how about this fun fact? No major character has ever died in an episode that wasn’t his or her flashback (Libby being the one exception). Charlie isn’t due for a flashback for quite some time (at least not in the next six episodes), so he should be sticking around for a while at least. Or perhaps Desmond will discover that he can change fate (it just takes a lot of tries and hard work) and Charlie will truly be saved.

Either way, we look to have Charlie around for a while, so we won’t put him on “death watch” quite yet.

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Hobbes. I would be amiss if I went through this entire post and didn’t comment on hobbes’ excellent theory from the Comments section below. For those who didn’t read it, here you go:

Hobbes said:

"if something is meant to happen, it's going to happen" - Brian

Well more to the point in physics there is a strong notion that it is ALL THAT can happen. Due to a multitude of belief systems out there some of you may not appreciate this notion or like this next analogy even less. But I certainly hope I don't basterdize it too much too insult all the physisists out there who really know what they are talking about.

Now imagine the universe is like a big loaf of bread. It is for all intensive purposes, everything. On one end you have the past and on the other you the future. And what if we can make a slice to see from one end to the other? Well, this of course should start to provoke some thought that if indeed the universe is static, then what does that do for free will? And the notion that we have choice? Remember, the loaf is static, all that happens is all that can. There is not to much you can do once the loaf is made, you can't change it. Life, is what it is, brothos' & sistos'. Like I said I may have ruined the actual physics analogy but I think I got the basic premise.

Now this brings me to the Swan hatch and it's Grand (albeit, still hypothetical) purpose. What if the purpose of the Swan hatch was to generate a bubble or a pocket of "Lost Time" in which the area of the island is in a phase shift from the rest of time. Effectively removing that area of spacetime from the static (hard coded) nature of the universe. Wow that was overly wordy. But stay with me hopefully I am making as much sense as it seems in my head. And hey its been awhile since I've had a crazy Lost theory of my own. And like any Lost theory it has holes.

Now I am loosly following this up with things like Juliettes remark about there still being "Free will on the island". And Ben's (HGI at the time) comment about how "God can't see us here"(something to that effect). Well duh! when you are not entirely plugged in with the rest of the universe perhaps there is a way to change things. To alter fates path.

So maybe with this (the Swan Hatch generator), there actually was a way for the initial purpose of the Hanso Foundation/Dharma initiative to succeed in creating a way to directly affect causality, and free ourselves from the "tyranny of those numbers" (the variables in the equation). And ultimately to change the morbid destiny of humanity via altering aspects of the human genome and implimaneting those on a global scale. "The bodies must be examined to insure specific genetic markers are being made" -Mittlework. After all if enough of us can survive...

But more importantly now that the bubble is popped and the island has phased in with the rest of the universe, what now?

Alright I'll take my bruises now.

Awesome theory. While I pretty much throw out the “time travel” notion of this episode, I’m still a big fan of a theory that the Island exists on some sort of “funky time” – and this concept of a “bubble” outside of the normal timeline of the universe makes a lot of sense. It ties in nicely with the ARG from this summer, where Dharma scientists were working to change the Valenzetti Equation and, in doing so, save the world. What better way to create more time to work on saving the world than to develop an Island where time moves more slowly than the rest of the world? They could spend years working on a solution while only hours pass in the rest of the world.

Granted, there are still holes with the theory – the Red Sox World Series footage being the biggest. Jack was shown this footage after roughly one month of “Island Time” had passed. Flight 815 crashed on September 23. The Red Sox won the World Series on October 27. That makes the timeline of the Island nearly identical to the timeline of the rest of the world.

So in the end, I still have no idea how – or even IF – there is “funky time” on the Island. There are so many hints towards it, but no theory seems to match up all the facts and hold up to the overwhelming evidence to discredit it… and so we soldier on in our quest for the truth about Lost.


Anonymous said...

Brian.. great right up, but I'm disapointed that you didn't mention(unless in my skimming over parts missed it) that the dream could be cause by smokey or the island.
The island dreams are well known for the clever placements. Sure, he hasn't gone face to face with smokey... but....

Anonymous said...

Arrghhh.. WRITE UP!

jbdean said...

I was with the "it's time travel" group until I noticed that the cup Penny hands to Desmond is the exact same cup that sat next to his computer in the Swan Station. I noticed it right off but when I saw your cap of it, it made me realize that there is no way that cup was back with them and ended up on the island, too. Desmond didn't bring a green cup with him when he set out to abandon his boat.

Feline said...

I have a question: Are you sure Desmond saved Charlie in this episode? He said he was Charlie getting electrocuted before, and he saved him that time, but this time, Charlie was too far to even know that Claire was drowning. He couldn't go there and drown while trying to save her unless someone told him. Charlie didn't need saving, Claire did.

Desmond didn't bring Charlie and Hurley in the jungle on purpose, he asked to go with him cause apparently Locke needed them. He has the falsh of Charlie drowning after they were deep into the jungle, Charlie with them) Did the TPTB overlook this? It doesn't make any sense. Makes you wonder if Desmond can really see the future: What he was (Charlie drowning helping Claire) was not/ couldn't be what happened.

I think he was dreaming, that's why he knew it was the past. He couldn't quite place it first, but then he had flashes of the hatch, the computer, the beeping, that's why he recognized Charlie. The dream was given by the island, when he turned that key.

Now my theory: The Island is disappointed with Locke's recent faith crisis (I would be too, he crushed the computer, plus 3 of their people have been captured and 8 episodes later, he's still standing... still) The Island chooses Desmond as his new "the one", after all, he pushed the button for years too. The Island gives him this ability to foresee the future as a mean of fighting back... against what? Against the others/Dharma. I think the Island wants to get rid of those crazy people (others/Dharma) with crazy experiments on his back, and that's why he needs our survivors help. The black smoke is its spy, so that it can sort out people 'good', qualified enough to help it.

Anyway, I know it doesn't make much sense and holes can easily be spotted but this episode made me think of such a theory.

I didn't like this episode first, but then I realized how good it was to get away from Jack/Kate/Sawyer for a change. I was so bored of seeing our "love triangle" (sucks) and Jack trying to bully people.

We don't have enough information to support the time theory, just the Mittelos reference and TPTB who said it would make sense. I think we know better than to rely on what they say.

Sorry I ranted that much :p

cathy said...

When the Arctic scientists made reference to missing the first one but seeing this one, I thought it was related to the first anomaly that caused the plane to crash and the second (and bigger) anomaly when the hatch blew.

Joe D. said...

I just had to point this out. You said that no major character has died in an episode that wasn't his/her flashback. What about Boone? He was mortally injured during Dues ex machina (Locke-centric) and he died during Do No Harm (Jack-centric).

So Charlie just may be doomed after all.

Also note that Desmond said that Charlie WILL die, but he didn't say when. Charlie could die next season for all we know.

Don said...

I agree that the time travel theory doesn't make much sense if you think that he is traveling both back and forward in time. However, maybe we're thinking about this wrong. What we see as him traveling forward in time to learn that Charlie is killed and then returning to the present could instead be him *in the future* reliving a part of his life and being able to make different choices (Quantum Leap-style), the same way that he did during his "flashback."

Also, Ms. Hawkings claims in this episode that Desmond's pushing the button has, in some way, saved the world. What if it wasn't saving the world *directly*, as Desmond had been lead to believe, but rather by extending the time of the discharge/failsafe-activation until the appropriate moment. Maybe one of our Losties, or their presence on the island, is more important to the continued existence of the world than we had assumed.

hobbes said...

See B! Great moderation as alway! This is why I like this blog. Many valid points on both sides of the fence. And I can definitely appreciate keeping things simple (ie, not buying into the clone theories){:P}. Still I think Des's flashback sequence deserves special merrit. The one thing about Lost is that it can be difficult to tell when to take some things at face value. Not to mention that thinking 4th dimensionally is a sure recipe for a migraine.

In either case however I really don't think Ms.Hawking was a Smokey manifestation; she wasn't wearing black. Like Kate's black horse, Jack's Dads' black suit or Yemi's black priest outfit. I could be wrong on that but I thought we had laid out that Smokey appears to us in some form of black fashion. Plus we also see Ms.Hawking on the island in a clip for next week; I am assuming she is an Other. Also next 2 weeks are supposed to be big reveals.

As for the Des/Penny photo. It's not a poloriod so there could be a negative. Penny could simply have gone back for a reprint.

Good recap on "the Arctic Scientists made a comment about “we didn’t miss it again”, as if there was already one that had already occurred, but they didn’t track." --- But couldn't it be that they are refferring to Desmond's first time he was late in entering the numbers. But since it (the Swan Hatch generator)didn't go critical it only appeared as a brief blip to the artic dudes. But of course stong enough to bring Flight 815 down.

If indeed Des did go back, the whole Donovon leading Penny to search for Des is a nice lead-in. A nice cause and effect agruement.

heliopath said...

i hate to admit it because i love the idea that lost would go the crazy route of time travel AND prove to the world that the creators of the show are secretely scientific/philisophical geniuses and fabricated the greatest most creative/intelligent story in the history of story telling.

But the dream theory does make a lot of sense and i think they threw in the weird creepy island reference as indicators of it being a dream rather than time travel. Although for a dream (specially for lost dreams - think of claire's and locke's crazy dreams) it was extremely realistic and almost too logical to be dreamy. But i guess going over things that have already happened with mini alterations would kinda stick to a train track.

anyway im not contributing anything vastly new just want to throw my opinion out there. I love this show for this very reason, the 93 comments on the previous post were very exciting

hobbes said...


I am thinking more Butterfly Effect rather than Quantum-Leap style, minus all the causality changes. And I believe Desmond only has done this once and isn't still actively moving from one point in time to other points anymore. And I find it more to the effect that he opened a conduit for his past and future memories to amalgimate to his present self. Much like when he was in the "relative" past he received a rush of "future" flashes of his time on the island. He may no longer be a slave to time (stuck in the present). But he still doesn't understand it the way Ms.Hawking does.

Anonymous said...

Brian, I wouldn't consider Charlie safe just yet. The Nigerian plane holding Boone crashed in "Deus ex Machina"--a Locke episode--and he died in the next, a Jack-centric episode.

Personally, I like the idea of killing a character when they don't have a flashback episode--it's made the deaths too predictable.

hobbes said...

Actually I apologize I rewatched and noticed that the camera (that took the Des/Penny photo), does look like a poloraoid. So yeah I don't know how there could be a copy for Penny. Any photograhers out there who can explain? Or perhaps it's a continuity error in production.
Also the clip for next week shows a new woman (not Cindy) talking to Jack about his tattoo. At first I thought it was Ms.Hawking. But this woman in the clip is younger. Although it seems she could be a younger Ms.Hawkings, but that's even more crazy.

goklemez said...

ok, here it goes.

we, normal people, have to follow the linear timeline. minutes after minutes, hours after hours, days after days and so on...

I always thinked that, God doesn't follow this timeline. For him; past, present and future(of course they are in men's perspective) are all happening together. He looks outside of this course of time.

Now, I can bind these two paragraphs. What if Desmond stepped outside of the course of time when he turned that failsafe and can look over the timeline. In that case, there is no past or future for him anymore. He is living with Penny, he is in the island and he is in the future -yet we don't know- concurrently.

But; here i have to limit this extraordinary ability. First of all, Desmond can observe his timeline only(this limits his knowledge. otherwise he has to know everything). Secondly, this ability is not steady; it is flashing before his eyes.

Therefore; he has lived the past for one time and asking for a second chance to live again, and he can only momentarily see the future.

And about Ms. Hawking: This woman is certainly an employee of Dharma and she can also step out of timeline(she can control it). Sometime in the future, Dharma discovered Desmond's ability and scared that he can change the past(may be he did once) and they inculcated that he cannot change the course of time, there is fate.

that's all.

goklemez said...

also; if universe has a course-correcting system, dharma is working for nothing since whatever they do, they won't be able to change the numbers(4 8 15 16 23 42, valenzetti equation)

may be we can conclude that; course-correcting doesn't work in island... because of what?

Anonymous said...

my question is...why would the show bother with making this whole weird flashback if it was just a dream? just to mess with us?

hobbes said...

goklemez said...
"may be we can conclude that; course-correcting doesn't work in island... because of what?"

Because of what the Swan Hatch could "possibly" do. Somehow allowing for the Dharma Initiative, a way to cheat fate or pre-determinism.

Salvar said...

That's a great idea, Hobbes--except for the fact that you said "intensive purposes". :P And of course, if you accept that determinism is a fundamental property of the universe, then you'd have to wonder how life could continue without it. Considering that science is based on determinism.
Also, apart from hard determinism, the whole idea of "Final Destination" fate is ridiculous. It's natural processes operating based on high-level concepts such as "fate" and "destiny", completely throwing out the window the question of what invisible hand makes the decisions and pushes the buildings over?
So, both of the theories I mentioned just now are pretty ridiculous from a scientific standpoint, but they make sense as long as you don't think about them too hard... which makes me fear that they're liable to be seen as viable explanations. Hollywood often gets so caught up in its own synthetic plausibility that it doesn't think about actual, realistic plausibility. I'm really afraid that Lost is falling in with that manner of thinking, too--and I'm starting to think more and more that I won't be satisfied with however they choose to end this.

Nick Spangler said...

OK, in my opinion, Desmonds "dream" and his "future seeing powers" are actually the same thing. In his dream, he was reliving a section of his life and he was aware of it. He thought he could change the future with his actions, but in the end decided he couldn't so he made the same choices that landed him on the island.

NOW back on the island, he is in the exact same state, reliving a section of his life, and aware of it, yet this time he has decided to try and change the future. I think when he "has future visions" it's actually him remembering the previous time he lived the moment (same as in the bar scene in his "dream" when he says "I remember this!!") So standing in the jungle, staring into space, he was thinking "I remember this... we came back out of the jungle, Claire was drowning, and Charlie went to save her..." And instead of doing nothing, he changed the future by running off to save her himself.

This theory also fits in with his first comment to Hurley about "Locke said so in his speech". Just like when he got the days in the bar wrong in his dream, he had the days wrong on the island. So he's not "seeing the future", he's reliving, and his attempts to change the future are when he remembers what happened the previous time he lived it.


Dean said...

Remeber that funky video last episode and how when you rewind it it says only fools are enslaved by time and space, well wouldnt this fit in with Hoobs theiory?

Anonymous said...

Not everything in the dreams are black. Who else has had dreams or seen visions? Hurley?(Dave) Boone?(Shannon), Charlie(all sorts of messed up stuff). The black is a coincidence. So her horse was black, and a priest wears black.
I just believe it's the simplest solution, and the time travel just gets way too deep and if there is one things on the show that I've learned, all out complex stories seem to turn out to be much more simple(occam's razor). It's the little items in the dream, the coffee cup, the microwave, the clock, the delivery guy, the photo(don't think they missed this detail), the whiskey.... Of all this, the whiskey is key. How could such a rare whiskey be on the island? The Island knew he liked whiskey(and he's scottish), and knew the whiskey was on the island, so it was placed in his vision or dream. So no... it's not JUST a dream, it's MUCH more.

hobbes said...

Nice one Salvar! Really those bruises I mentioned, oouuch! lol. Well I did acknowledge that science is indeed its own religion. While I can't defend its reliance on determinsm anymore than I could defend the Catholic notion of heaven & hell, it simply wasn't my point to do so.

As for my use of "intensive purposes." Ok I confess I'm not a grammarian. Maybe I should have said "for all intents and purposes" but what do I know? Regardless, I more or less thought I was speaking towards and within the framework of the story and the POV the producers are operating from. I thought the analogy was pithy enough but I guess I should say a big sorry to all the philosophers out there too.

A big question from the beginning, for me is "aside from the soap opera between JKS, WTF is this show really about?" If in the end that answer is another attempt by Hollywood to spoon feed us "synthetic plausibility" not fit for ocular consumption; well don't hold your breath. I thought Lost mostly fell under the Sci-fi genre. Science Fiction / synthetic plausibility, see the connection. I'm sure we've all stepped in some deeper puddles at some time. But I'm pretty certain that when the story arc is complete, I think most of us will be satisfied with the end product.


Also, Thanks Deen ;)

Senor feesh said...

Not everything in the dreams are black. Who else has had dreams or seen visions? Hurley?(Dave) Boone?(Shannon), Charlie(all sorts of messed up stuff).

Well I'm pretty sure we can chalk Dave up to Hurley's own mental instability, because he existed pre-island (altho I suppose it's possible smokey could manifest as Dave, no-one else ever saw him.)

In fact, that may be one of the key points when determining "Smokey Visions" and Dreams - Dreams (upper-case) as opposed to dreams, because I feel there is something more to them. When Charlie sees him "messed up stuff" as you put it, he's sleeping - Jack, Kate and Eko were all wide awake, plus it fits nicely with the producers' "You've already seen smokey, you just don't realise it".

Rick said...

ok... just a comment.

First, thanks Brian for posting on your blog. Don't stop

Second, if they were "over a mile away" and they all ran towards Claire drowning, how did Hurley keep up for a mile?

Anonymous said...

Important piece of dialogue....when Desmond and Donavan (physicist friend) were talking in the bar, Donavan asked Desmond to predict what would happen next in the bar. Desmond explained that "if comes in pieces" or something like that. In other words, it doesn't work on "demand". This may explain why he didn't know exactly when Claire would drown and went into the woods with Charlie.

José said...

I don't believe Desmond was time travelling quite simply because Charlie doesn't remember him. I believe he was dreaming while reacting to what he was seeing to no avail. That's why he was unable to keep his relationship with Penny and his future was unchanged.
It's kinda like that thing that when something happens we tend to think "What if I'd done that".

djdavid60 said...

I'm beginning to think that Desmond got blasted away into the future or some parallel time thread. Each time he has a vision, like during the past in the pub, or the "present" on the island, he looks around him in a confused state like he's remembering something that already happened. This is what he did in the jungle before running off to save Claire.

This makes me think that maybe our present time on the island, is actually part of Desmond's past. And that turning the key sent him off into the future with the 1.21 GigaWatts of power that turned the sky purple :) Sorry for the Back to the Future reference.

Right before he went to turn the key, he said to Locke, "See you in another life brother". I guess we'll see what really happened in the future.


about charlie dying, is he redeemed? almost every other character that has died has found peace with the past, found redemption, but has charlie? i guess he has, being over his addiction and all, so killing him would fall in line with the rest of the deaths on the island, wouldnt it?

jan said...

Keep posting your analyses, Brian. The comments provide a nice mishmash of ideas, but your posts present a balanced, logical look at it all in the most coherent manner possible. In addition, you usually see connections and remember details that might otherwise go uncaught, at least by viewers less successful at staying awake than you.
Thank you for all your posts, and keep doing what you're doing.

Salvar said...

"I thought Lost mostly fell under the Sci-fi genre. Science Fiction / synthetic plausibility, see the connection."

Yeah, but sci-fi (good sci-fi, that is) explains things on a scientific basis--an explanation for every odd occurrence. Typically there's a variety of odd occurrences that can all be explained by one phenomenon that's fictionalized a little bit--but it's still relatively scientific. Fate of this sort doesn't fall into that category, because it's dynamic. Whatever the scientific phenomenon might be, it's not capable of saying "Whoops, Charlie didn't die then. Better switch a few things around to try to kill him again." That's either magic or god. When they said that everything would have a scientific explanation, I have to assume that they know what science really means. And after this last episode, I'm much less confident.
It's not that the "it was all a dream" explanation can't be rewarding in some cases... but they explicitly promised a scientific ending, and I hope they know just what they promised.

Joe D. said...

I have now watched "Flashes Before Your Eyes" three times. Upon this 3rd viewing, I realized how truly great this episode was. I rank it up there with the greatest ever episodes of Lost. Great, great storytelling.

hobbes said...

See this is the exact agruement I was trying to avoid. I couldn't agree with you more that whenever an author attempts to mix elements of science and religion (faith) they inevitably muddy the point with there own brand of psuedo-logic mixed with tangents of cliche-ic elements of a particular faith. Have you ever watched What the Bleep do we know? Man talk about taking liberties to mix fringe science with dogmatic religious scripture. It actually did an injustice to both science and faith. But many people loved that feeling of being able to mix the two. But I have to tell you I love that term "synthetic plausibility". But you use it like it's an insult to sci-fi. If a particular story element doesn't coincide with our own level of rational. We can sit back, cry fowl and snub our noses if the author doesn't match our expected level of "actual, realistic plausibility." But really where would we be without it. We wouldn't have warp speed, transcended rebel AI, lightsabers or the Force (metachlorines; scientifically speaking - yeessh what was GL smokin' that day). So come on, Lost is of course chalk full of synthetic plausibility, some good, some bad; that's not exactly profound. Really you aren't expecting Smokey, the hatch, and even how Juliette could impregnate a male mouse to all be just a little contribed?

Look I agree, with the producers to state it will all be answered scientifically is really just a bump/set/spike for disappointment.
With this episode I was only trying to avoid a St.Elsewhere scenario and the whole it's all just in his head explanation. And take what we saw and assign some level of face value to it. But isn't that what constitutes the very nature of a crazy Lost theory (CLT).haha

hobbes said...

contrived -- ooops

Stef said...

Brian, I want to echo the other commenters - keep doing what you're doing! I look forward to your new posts *almost* as much as I look forward to new episodes. :-)

wornoutwoman said...

Love this blog. I am so glad I found it. I'm a huge fan of LOST>thank you for your theories. It's a huge brain teaser!

Anonymous said...

Purists! You do not want your scientific peas mixing with your faith mashed potatoes! This IS Lost - perfectly inscrutable and by no means 100% science fiction! (I am ducking as Hobbes and et al throws a breadloaf at me)

For me, science and faith mix together. In real life they just seem to overlap and agree more than disagree and I think it is the same way in Lost.

We have miraculous healings occuring to people who were doomed to their "fate". We have Kate and Sawyer seeing the horse. We have man eating polar bears on a tropical island. We have Smokie. We have ESP time travelling Walt and Desmond. WE have the Dharma principle that the Universe is ordered (similar to the huge Breadloaf).
- Webuffy

Craig said...

Yes the camera for the Des/Pen portrait is a Polaroid (Model 600 se), so no negative to share, just one photo. There is a full frame shot of the camera lens with model number just before its taken, wonder if intentional?

You can also piece together the phrase beneath the backdrop as:
"We place you inside the location of your choice".

Is it reaching too far to suggest this is a hint at Dharma 'placing' people on the island or is it just Fate spelt out - but instead of our choice (as Des would like to hope), it's our destiny?

Maybe not :-)

Anonymous said...

The possibility that Donovan will figure out that Desmonds' prediction was correct...just the wrong day....and work thru or with Penny to find him is intriguing and story telling at its' best...of course this assumes Des actually did go back in time and wasn't dreaming. Can't wait for Wednesday!!

amber said...

Question about the previews for next episode: How does Jack recognize Cindy? He never met her, did he? I realize the previews can be deceiving, but he says "they took you". Only Sawyer & Jin & Bernard should know who Cindy is, right?

Brian said...

amber - Actually Jack knows Cindy from the flight, where she hooked him up with some extra booze.

I guess you could argue that he wouldn't really remember some random stewardess from a flight over two months ago - but Cindy's pretty cute, so Jack probably took notice :)

Stephanie said...

I've been thinknig about all of this. I still think the Island has a lot to do with the flashback, but I do think that Hobbes theory fits in as he now catches glimpses from his entire future, as if he can see this 'loaf of bread' from the outseide. David has a good point about the bar scenes, he can't call upon it, it comes in bits and pieces. The difference is that he remembers the hatch in detail.

The problem is the classic time travel paradox. Whether he can glimpse the future, or has lived it, or traveled from the future, the method doesn't matter, If Charlie never dies from the lightning strike, how does desmond know to change it, for if he changes the event, then he never happened. He had to know about the event to change it, and because he changed it, it never happened.

The only time this works is if the 'time traveller' traveler is the one that caused the events of the past, such as 'Twelve Monkeys' where the character travelled to the past had a role in the future events actually happening, so he had to travel back to make the event happen. The two events were dependent on each other and could not be changed.

Shoot, I can see it both ways now. I still think the evidence points too heavily to the 'dream' due to so much stuff on the island appearing in the 'vision'. However, it's also possible that he may have jumped to a different point in his life. The creepy old lady may have been someone like himself, someone who sees the loaf of time from the outside, but she has better control over it(see Heroes). She doesn't have to be associated with Dharma, after a while, you take it for granted. She did not expect him to buy the ring, she knew what was supposed to happen, and it became aware to her that he was also aware, and was trying to change his future.

Oh, I know, I sound wishy washy now. Despite the second resolution explaining the time shift and future seeing so well, I have to go with my first instict. There is just too much in that flashback to suggest that the island had something to do with it. I seem to be in the minority, so lets just see what happens. Wow.. I really enjoy this blog!

Stephanie said...

Craig pointed out: "We place you inside the location of your choice".

Maybe, this is an clue for being able to travel to any point of time in your life?

annie said...

good grief, brian! you must continue your recaps... they are critical to me understanding each episode! ;) you do a great job.

hobbes said...

Symbolism has strongly been used throughout Lost. Ms.Hawking was wearing a Ouroboros (an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon swallowing its own tail and forming a circle). And to quote wikipedia even further "The Ouroboros could very well be used to symbolize the closed-system model of the universe of some physicists".

Twin Earth said...

Pardon me if someone has already said this, but I don't recall seeing it anywhere.

Ms. Hawking tells Desmond that he has to be on the island to push the button/save the world, but in fact, that can't be his true purpose. Kevin Inman was already on the island serving that purpose.

Desmond killed Inman when he left the hatch and attempted to leave the island on Desmond's boat. If Desmond never arrived on the island, this wouldn't have happened, and we can assume Inman would still be there now pushing the button.

The big difference (and perhaps the real reason Desmond needed to be on the island) is the crash of flight 815. Desmond caused the crash, remember? If he never goes to the island, the plane never crashes there, Locke doesn't smash the computer, the hatch is still in operation (I presume).

I don't know what this means, though. Maybe the island needs the 815 survivors for some grand purpose. Perhaps the island wants to be discovered by the rest of the world?

annie said...

also... i didn't notice anyone mention it, but charlie was singing oasis' 'wonderwall' as desmond walked up to him performing on the street. right as des walked up, he was singing 'because maybe, you're gonna be the one that saves me'

just interesting!

Chris B. said...

Video of the SCENE!

Well, it finally has happened. LOST on ABC has joined in connection with HEROES on NBC. I know that is JUST an "easter egg," but that is cool enough!

Both the producers from LOST and HEROES came together a little while ago and said that "...LOST could have a connection with HEROES..." Tim Kring was joking, Damon Lindelof was NOT!

WELL, we have seen/heard it now!!! LOST planted an easter egg in HEROES, only a few select LOST fans who search and hunt for such things will find it!

I think I am one of the first! Not to be COCKY or anything!

But, remember the scene where Nathan and Simone are talking about "going public" with what they can do. Nathan says something VERY interesting!

Did you catch it! Well if you didn't, rewatch the episode, and look for this quote:

"...if people knew what we were capable of, they would drop a collective brick...because that's what I would do, I'd round us all up, stick us in a LAB, on some island in the middle of the ocean."

Referencing LOST! "...LAB...some island...middle of the ocean..."

For all you fellow LOST lovers out there, (including myself) this may be an answer or two to some questions for all of us!!!

*I did not write this, I got this off a link through Digg*

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see the movie Stay? Crappy movie (I thought), but a very similar concept. The main character in the movie is dying as a result of an accident and as he is laying in the street and paramedics are attempting to help him, he "dreams" the whole movie. The sounds and people around him influence and appear in his visions. Seems very similar to what happened to Desmond.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone here has mentioned Kurt Vonnegut’s "Slaughter House Five" in which the main character become "unstuck in time," meaning he warps back and forth in his life at random moments. Of course, in the book, we're supposed to believe that the main character is insane, but Desmond’s experience reminded me of this. It’s not really “time travel” as we usually think of it though. Desmond just seems to be one of the people on Earth who moves freely back and forth through time. He is not constrained by a chronological time frame like everyone else. Ms. Hawking is probably another one of these people but she seems to have more control and memory of her experiences. In any case, I don’t think the book has ever been featured on the show, but I wouldn’t doubt that it might be an influence.

DCrowley said...

Two brief points, even though this is over a week after the episode and not many people will see them.

First, it might be worth noting that Desmond has indicated that this is at least his third loop through time. The first time, Charlie died from the lightning strike. The second time, drowning. There may have been more deaths that Desmond didn't mention, but it seems like he'd have to be on his third time through at the least to have averted two deaths so far.

Second, and this actually has no bearing on the plot, but as for the "Budda/Bear/Namaste" picture being reversed: you can see a lamp and clock at the far left of the image, corresponding to what would be the left side of Widmore's desk (from Widmore's perspective). In the second image, there is neither a clock nor a lamp to Widmore's left... but one of each to his right.

Instead of an in-office mirror reversing everything (since the second image doesn't show any mirror that'd be large enough to pick up the whole field of view necessary), my guess is that the makers of LOST simply reversed the shot during editing. I don't know why the original Desmond-facing-right shot was unsatisfactory, but this interpretation seems to make the most sense given the images.

(It doesn't seem like the images were reversed post-broadcast because the HD logo is still present in the lower-right of the backwards image.)