LOST: “Because You Left” & “The Lie”

Right. So, off the island, it’s Back to the Future, but on the island it’s Back to the Future part II, specifically the part where they time-travel back into the first movie.  Oh, and Daniel Faraday is secretly Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap.  And this show is still great.

The first hour was top shelf, stocked with all the mind-blowing time-bending plot-jumping momentum you could want. The second episode had substance to it, but it lost a couple of points for a stupid begining. Specifically, the scene of the Oceanic Six on the boat. When Hurley is pressed to adopt the lie and Sayid won’t back him up about being honest, Our Mr. Reyes (of all people) decides to declare a resentful vendetta against trained killer Sayid? That is some weak sauce, writers, and a totally unnecessary attempt to give the episode a stronger framing device.  After the jump, let’s talk time travel.

All right, here’s my wild-eyed idea: the mysterious, maybe-fake sickness that kept the Swan station operators in biohazard suits and injecting DHARMA vaccines is actually the time-travel sickness that we see affecting Charlotte and, last season, Desmond and Minkowski.  My theory is that the Incident referred to in the Swan station orientation video was some sort of event roughly equivalent to turning the donkey wheel. DHARMA accidentally sent the Island skipping out of its time-groove, endangering the laws of causality and by extension, existence on both sides of the looking glass. So, when Ben led the Hostiles/Others in Purging the DHARMA Intiative, maybe he was ‘course-correcting,’ somehow resolving the time-jumping that resulted from the Incident?  Is it possible that the Others’ inability to have children is some kind of cosmic punishment for taking liberties with space-time?

But of course there’s a paradox if the Purge prevented the Incident:  the Swan orientation video strongly suggests that the button was installed as a solution to the Incident.  In other words, DHARMA set the Island in motion but couldn’t figure out how to settle it down, they could only put it on a leash. The Island still wanted to move, but the Swan station button was preventing it to preserve the coherency of the time-space continuum. So when Desmond turned the fail-safe key, the Island became truly time-space stable for the first time since the Incident, which is also why it became visible to the outside world and, more specifically, both of the Widmores who were seeking it.

This also explains a lot about Ben’s behavior towards the button in season two.  He must have knowledge of the button’s origins, so he knows it’s real, and he knows the fail-safe would end the need for it. He wants it to stay in operation because it keeps Widmore from finding the Island (and possibly gives him the ability to move the Island without being exiled), and yet he goads Locke into running down the clock. We know that the last time the countdown hit zero, Flight 815 was pulled from the outside world onto the Island– did Ben need the electro-magnetic burst in order for Michael and Walt to escape the Island and get outside? I don’t think Ben turned the donkey wheel just to hide the Island from Widmore– I think he needed to do that too, or the Oceanic Six would have destroyed causality the moment they left, and putting the Island into Quantum Leap mode bought everyone enough time to try and resolve the break.

Whatever the case, I’m sure of one thing. Most major answers in Season 5 will be about the “modern” history of the island, covering the period starting with the Black Rock and the Hanso family, up through DHARMA and its fate, which ties into Widmore’s presence on the Island, the creation of the button, and hopefully Rousseau and her origin story.  Answers about the smoke monster, Jacob, the ancient history of the Island and the Others’ religion will be the subjects of season six. Waiting for it in linear time is gonna suck.

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