I really wanted to call in sick for this Blog post.
After last season’s mind-bending, time-traveling escapades, I thought this was supposed to be an “easier” season of Lost… but apparently not. At least not yet. Mark your calendars because as of this very moment, I’m as confused about Lost as I’ve ever been in the history of the series.
Because of this, I’ve been absolutely dreading this analysis. Thoughts about Lost have been consuming every waking moment of my life for the past few days – and the most frustrating part of all, is that after all that hard work, I still don’t have a great “all encompassing” theory about how the different timelines are going to tie together, or how Lost is going to end. So if you’re only reading in hopes of finding that, I’ll save you the time. Better luck next week. For everyone else, let’s soldier on. This is why they pay us the big bucks.
In all honesty, “LA X” wasn’t my favorite episode of Lost. It was good – but it wasn’t great… at least not yet. It was dense with information – but since I don’t really understand or appreciate any of the Off-Island storyline (again, at least not yet), I found myself continually wishing that the action would shift back to the On-Island storylines whenever we left them. I’m hoping that once the Off-Island stuff makes more sense, I’ll be able to revisit the episode with a newfound appreciation. For now, I’m just taking it all in and trying to make some sense of it.
Off-Island. Before we start, let’s get the semantics out of the way. A lot of people are calling the scenes involving our characters on an Oceanic airplane an “alternate reality”. But in reality, we don’t know when or what this storyline is. It seemingly takes place in 2004 (as opposed to the On-Island action which is apparently taking place in 2007ish) – but it could be the “original 2004” a “new 2004” or a “parallel 2004”. For now, I’m just going with “Off-Island” and “On-Island” to describe the various scenes. If the writers are cruel and add any additional timeline and location wrenches to the mix, we’ll adjust accordingly.
One reason why analyzing this portion of the storyline is so difficult is that we have no idea how to establish this timeline. Yes, there were differences between this flight and the original Oceanic 815 – but without knowing how to frame those differences, how do you pull meaning from them? It’s frustrating, at least for me.
Lostpedia has a whole page dedicated to these differences (http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Differences_between_flash-sideways_timeline_and_original_timeline), but here are some of the more intriguing highlights:
- The flight is never actually identified as Oceanic 815
- Sun and Jin are not married.
- Hurley has nothing but good fortune.
- Christian Shephard is missing.
- Desmond is on the plane... maybe.
- Jack has a cut on his neck.
So what do these all mean?
Before we go off the deep end coming up with different theories for each of them, it’s probably best to look at some of the potential explanations for the Off-Island timeline – and then see which one fits these “differences” the best. Over the course of my intense thinking (that’s right, it’s not a typo – I said “thinking”, not “drinking”) for the past three days, I’ve come up with these three scenarios:
Scenario One – The “Off-Island is a Parallel Universe” One
The easiest, and the lamest. It’s the one where Juliet detonating the Jughead didn’t change the past – it created a brand new timeline that is running parallel to the “original storyline” we’ve watched for the past five seasons… and the two never cross paths. In this storyline, anything goes. Initially, I was thinking that if Oceanic 815 never crashed on the Island, the storyline would only change going forward from that flight – but the more I think about it, the more I realize that things before the flight would change as well. If the
This is the cop out explanation, the “choose your own ending to the series” explanation, and Damon and
While it’s the easiest to explain all the differences between Oceanic 815 and the flight we saw in “LA X”, I’m ruling this one out.
Scenario Two – The “Off-Island is the Future” One
This theory seems to be gaining popularity on the Internets these days – it basically states that what we are seeing in the Off-Island storyline is really a flashforward, to what will happen after the On-Island storyline. It means that our Survivors continue the action On-Island, and after they finish their work there (killing SmokeLocke, saving the world, finding the secrets to all life’s mysteries, etc), some mystical power whisks them back to 2004, on the Oceanic flight, for them to live out the rest of their lives as their reward.
The main draw of this theory is that it allows the “action” on the Island to be the main focus of this season, but then also give us a view into the “happily ever after” lives of our Survivors after the action is over. But there are a lot of problems with it as well.
For starters, it brings dead characters back to life (like Charlie) which cheapens his heroic death on-Island. It also assumes that our characters will have some sort of “happily ever after” if they went back to their pre-Island lives. SmokeLocke was right – Locke was the only one smart enough to know that his pre-Island life sucked. Do you really want your final images of Kate to be running from the law? Or Charlie as a drug addict wanting to kill himself? Or would you prefer them to earn their redemption on the
Like the first scenario, it’s an easy one to use to explain the differences, but from a bigger, overall storyline perspective, it doesn’t work either.
Scenario Three – The “Off-Island is the Past” One
To tell you the truth, I was pretty depressed thinking about this Blog because neither of those first two ideas excited me in the least. In fact, I’d go so far to say that if either of those first two scenarios prove to be true, I’d be disappointed with the writers, and would walk way from the Lost experience with the feeling that I should never have faith or trust in anyone else ever again.
But then this idea popped into my head.
The reason why I hate those first two scenarios so much is that they’re in the “future” from a storyline perspective, and seem to take some of the “importance” away from the On-Island storyline that I love so much. So what’s the alternative? Have the Off-Island storyline take place in the past – but not the same past that we’ve already seen through prior season’s flashbacks – the past of a different “loop” of time.
Whoa, I think I even lost myself there.
Let’s think back to last season. Jacob and Anti-Jacob sat on the beach, and had this conversation:
Anti-Jacob: “Am I? They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.”
Jacob: “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.”
At the time, I took that line to mean that Jacob and Anti-Jacob have played out this game of “testing humanity” on various visitors to the Island over the years – Egyptians, Black Rock People, our Survivors, etc… and Jacob would continue to bring these people to the
Let me try to simplify this a bit more.
Attempt One: everything happens just as we’ve seen in Seasons One through Five. Ancient Egyptians build temples on the Island, the Black Rock crashes on the Island, our Survivors crash on the Island, the Oceanic Six make it off the Island, they come back to the Island, they time travel, they detonate the Jughead, they end up at the Temple with the Others – but Jacob didn’t give Hurley the guitar case with the Ankh, he just assumed that the Others would listen to our Survivors because they referenced Jacob’s name. But instead Dogen (the Japanese Other) orders them to be shot.
Jacob thinks to himself “crap, that didn’t work out like I wanted” and starts the whole process over… from the very start.
Attempt Two: everything happens the same as Attempt One, but this time, Jacob pays a visit to Hurley when he is let out of prison and gives him the guitar case.
The thing is – I don’t think we’re on Attempt One or Two, we’re probably more on Attempt 4,815,162,342 (I was just going for a really large number there, but how cool would it be if “the numbers” were actually the iteration for how many times Jacob has played through this “game”?). Again, the smallest change can have the biggest impact in unforeseen ways – and Jacob has been fine-tuning these changes for a really long time.
You with me?
Now think back to all the weird stuff we’ve seen with the Others over the years. They didn’t travel in time with our Survivors. They all seem to know more than they let on, and are all interconnected. I’m guessing that the Others act as the “workers” for Jacob. They help get the pieces of the puzzle in place according to Jacob’s gameplan. Remember last season, when Eloise Hawking told Penny “For the first time in a long time, I don't know what's going to happen next.” That’s because Jacob told her exactly what she had to do for his plan to work – including not preventing her from killing Daniel, but now we’re in the “present attempt” for Jacob – so even he doesn’t know what’s going to happen next.
Why is this theory great? It keeps the On-Island action in the “present”, and its outcome could be anyone (including Jacob’s) guess. Maybe it’s all going to end great, maybe it’s all going to end terrible – but we’re about to find out. There aren’t any “all-knowing” beings in the game anymore, everyone is finding things out together, for the first time, which is a refreshing change from all the withholding of information we’ve seen in Lost’s first five seasons.
What does any of this have to do with the Off-Island action we saw in “LA X”?
What we are seeing is a failed attempt – where Jacob tried to do things differently, and they didn’t work out. Initially, this seems like something pretty uninteresting, except that by seeing these scenes, we’ll begin to understand exactly how much work (and interference) Jacob and the Others have had in our Survivors’ lives. It will provide a way to answer the “destiny vs. fate” question we’ve had from the beginning, as well as understanding how all these characters are connected, and why each one is important to the
The big hole in this theory? The underwater
A bit of a stretch, but it’s the best I’ve got.
So what does this mean for the differences we’ve seen between Oceanic 815 and the Off-Island action in “LA X”? If Scenario Three is true, it doesn’t seem like we gain a lot from over-analyzing the details of a prior “Attempt” by Jacob. Although I’m quite intrigued by things like Sayid suddenly being from Iran instead of Iraq, I think the main point of the Off-Island action is to reiterate to the audience how going to the Island was the best thing that could ever happen to our Survivors, and to show us how orchestrated all the events were that led to them arriving on the Island in the first place.
Note: this theory will probably be disproved by the end of next week’s episode, but for now, it’s the only one I don’t absolutely hate – so I’ve gotta go with it.
Enough with the Off-Island stuff, let’s focus on what’s important here – the events On-Island!
Juliet. It’s appropriate that the season premiere aired on Groundhog Day, since we were treated to Juliet dying not once, but a whopping FOUR TIMES (if you include the recap episode before the premiere). Brutal! But with Elizabeth Mitchell on “V” this season, it’s not a surprise to see that Juliet indeed died during “The Incident”. But the interesting thing is what she said to Sawyer. Initially, she seems upset, stating “It didn’t work, we’re still on the
So in one moment, we’ve got Juliet saying “it didn’t work”, followed by her saying “it worked”. What’s up with that? It would be reasonable to argue that she was jumping between two “worlds” of some kind. Initially, she was lying in a hole in the Island dying – but maybe as she began slipping away from the land of the living, she had images of her and Sawyer happily living off the
Or maybe between those two statements, she had a Desmond-like flash, where she saw Sawyer living off-Island. Again, Juliet being so close to the “unique electromagnetic properties of the Swan Hatch” is pretty much the same thing that happened to Desmond when he turned the failsafe – so it would make sense that the effects would be similar. The only problem is, Juliet suffered fatal injuries during The Incident, so she only had these powers for a minute before dying.
Remember, she tells Sawyer that the reason she detonated the Jughead was “to make it so you never came to this damn island”. It wasn’t so much about the two of them living happily ever after as it was Sawyer never coming to the
It would make sense that Jacob’s ability to create these timeline “loops” would be tied to the unique electromagnetic properties for the Island, which seemingly exists outside of time – so perhaps getting too close to those electromagnetic properties gives you the ability to get brief glimpses into different loops – or something. I feel like these concepts are all related somehow, it’s just putting them together in a way that makes it sound logical, and not like some bad sci-fi movie that’s the problem.
Ugh – I feel like I’m 0 for 2 on Blog topics this week. Let’s move on…
Why do the Others at the
What is the pool of water inside the
The Others are seemingly afraid of SmokeLocke. They’re spreading ash and supporting the walls of the
Why did the writers feel the need to make Dogen speak Japanese, basically making every scene with him take twice as long as needed? We’re in the final season! Stop wasting time! Thankfully, Lostpedia provided the translation for his statements, so we can see where Lennon (his translating bitch) made some alterations:
DOGEN: They should not have come here. Seeing this place is unforgivable. Shoot them!
LENNON: Shoot 'em.
DOGEN: Have you encountered Jacob?
LENNON: He wants you to prove it.
DOGEN: He must tell a lie! Shoot them!
DOGEN: All right! Let's go! Bring the injured Jarrah. We're going to the spring.
LENNON: The water isn't clear - what happened?
DOGEN: I don't know what happened.
DOGEN: I'll try as much as I can, but it'll come with risks.
LENNON: If we do this there are risks
Again, nothing major – but is this really necessary?
Sayid. This brings us to the debate about Sayid. In my Instant Reactions, I wondered if Jacob could be inhabiting Sayid’s body, much like Anti-Jacob is inhabiting Locke’s body… but the more I think about it, the crazier that becomes. For starters, Anti-Jacob isn’t actually occupying Locke’s body. Locke’s body is lying on the beach while SmokeLocke kicks ass and takes names. So you would think that Jacob could just take the form of Sayid if he wanted to. Plus, that would totally cheapen Sayid’s redemption, which I have to think is just around the corner (his almost death scene with Hurley where he questioned where he would go when he dies was a sure giveaway). But with all the pain and baggage Sayid has in his life, how is he going to find his redemption on the
Exactly – which is why this plot device is so genius.
The whole scene was pretty rich on religious symbolism – you have the pseudo-baptism, Sayid dying and being reborn into new life, and being carried out of the water with his arms outstretched, as if on a cross. But remember what happens when the Others take someone to the Spring – they lose their memory and their innocence, and are “forever one of the Others”. Perhaps this is just what Sayid needs to forget about the past. Instead of losing his innocence, maybe he’ll lose his self-loathing. And maybe becoming one of the Others will provide him with the purpose in life that he’s been looking for. I’m guessing that Sayid is going to play a big part in the upcoming “
Jacob and SmokeLocke. Which lastly brings us to the two most important and mysterious characters on the show – Jacob and Anti-Jacob, who I am currently calling “SmokeLocke” because it looks like a fun name. In case there was any debate about if Smokey = Anti-Jacob, that was laid to rest by Damon and
Looking back at all the things Smokey has done over the years, it’s interesting to revisit them knowing that it’s Anti-Jacob all along. It’s actually surprising how many of the encounters make total sense, knowing what we do about Anti-Jacob. He has little faith in people, so it makes sense that he would judge people and kill the ones deemed “unworthy”. But if you recall, Smokey was also known as the Security System for the Island, which must mean that Anti-Jacob does love the
The other thing I found interesting this episode was when Jacob explained his death to Hurley by saying “I was killed by an old friend who grew tired of my company.” Even though Anti-Jacob seemingly hated Jacob, maybe it was more of a sibling rivalry than a good vs. evil sort of thing. Anti-Jacob hates Jacob for all his experiments with people (and forcing him to relive all of humanity countless times during his “loops”), but deep down inside, they’re brothers and both love the
You could also play the whole “Dogma” card here about Jacob and Anti-Jacob being fallen angels with very different ideas about how to live out their lives away from “heaven”. But I’ve gone over that one before.
What about Jacob’s Cabin? Let’s revisit some of those details while we’re at it.
We first encountered Jacob’s Cabin when Ben took Locke there, upon his demands. Inside, wacky stuff happened, we saw a weird eyeball, and it was super freaky for my wife. There was apparently a complete circle of ash around the Cabin at this time. Who was living inside of it? Given that Smokey was out running amok on the
Every time we’ve seen Jacob, he’s looked like Jacob (or Rita’s abusive ex-husband on “Dexter”). On the other hand, Anti-Jacob has taken many shapes and forms. The weird eye that we saw in the Cabin? Didn’t look anything like Jacob.
Ben – the person who had never actually seen or communicated with Jacob, brought Locke to the Cabin. Isn’t it possible, that he knew full well that it wasn’t actually Jacob inside, but Anti-Jacob, and he was doing this as part of an elaborate scheme to get rid of Locke, who he hated?
Contrast this with Alpert, who actually is in communication with Jacob. When Locke asked him to see Jacob, Alpert marched them directly to the Four Toed Statue, without making any reference to the Cabin.
What about the circle of ash outside the Cabin? It’s logical to argue it was just as likely keeping Anti-Jacob “caged inside” as it was keeping Jacob inside protected from Anti-Jacob… but that makes no sense since we know that the only way Anti-Jacob could have hurt Jacob was through the loophole. So why would Jacob need the ash protection?
Then, you have Ilana and Bram, who visited the Cabin first, but immediately realized that Jacob hadn’t been there in a long time. They freaked out when they saw the ash, perhaps because they realized that the ash was there to cage Anti-Jacob, and it was broken.
It seems as though there are a lot of contradictions in all these facts, right? In the end, my gut tells me that the Cabin was originally Jacob’s, who somehow tricked Anti-Jacob into coming over for dinner while the Others sprinkled ash around the outside, trapping him inside. At some point before Oceanic 815 crashed, the circle of ash was broken – and Ben just didn’t notice it when he brought Locke there the first time. So Anti-Jacob has been running amuck ever since Lost started. But like everything else I’ve stated in this Blog post, this is subject to change once we get some more information.
Finally, there’s the question of where SmokeLocke’s “home” is. I suppose it could be the
Given what we know, that one seems the most likely, but it’s also the most ridiculously outrageous.
Remember when everything on this show was going to be explained by pseudo-science?
Phew. I’m beat. That’s gotta be the hardest, crappiest five-thousand word Blog post of all time. No wonder I don’t get paid to do this.
So who wants to straighten me out with some better analysis and answers? The Comments Section awaits!
(Four more days until all these theories get thrown out the window!)