Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Forgive my "Lost" obsession

I know this blog is supposed to be about motherhood and transformation. But on Lost we have crazy-ghost?-mom-Claire going commando in the Island jungle. Is that enough of a connection? No? Too bad, because I am obsessed with Lost--and therefore I blog.

Writing about Lost can make the best of us sound nuts

The only person I know who is more obsessed with Lost than I am is "Doc" Jeff Jensen on EW.com. And he's gone above and beyond the call of duty with his analysis! Someone should give him an honorary degree, and he should be sure to take his wife out for a nice dinner on a regular basis during this last season. [Note to other Lost obsessives, of course I know you are out there and I am not trying to start a fight!]

In my Sideways-world I co-host the "Totally Lost" series with Doc Jensen. Too bad it can't last.

You see, this final season of Lost took an audacious turn when time-traveling Jack and company set of a hydrogen bomb in 1977 and destroyed the Island--creating a "Sideways" timeline, in which the island is gone, and therefore Oceanic Flight 815 never crashes in 2004, there are no castaways or Island adventure. It's important to note that with the Island's destruction, the timeline has therefore been changed significantly since 1977 and not just the supposed day of the plane crash. And then the other timeline matches back up with the past five seasons we've watched--when the bomb goes off they castaways are propelled back to "current" island time (2007) and remember the crash and their time on the Island and all that happened.

Confusing? Yes, but that's barely getting started. Last week I went on a long road trip and thought about Lost for several hundred miles. Sometimes I think I can pull together a mental picture that almost all makes sense. Darn it though, there are always loose ends. But here's my basic theory:

I think it's fair to say that blowing up a hydrogen bomb is never a good idea and always causes a mess. So I think that in 1977, when Juliet detonated the "Jughead" bomb (Jack's idea, but Juliet actually did it), that created a split in the timeline and created a "bubble" universe, a real but parallel timeline that is unstable and starting to come apart at the seams. And why is it unstable? Because the Island is gone!

I think the Island is essential to the stability of "our" whole overall universe, which in itself is not a terribly original idea, but I draw on the titles of the episodes, "The Variable," "The Constant," and the recurring Numbers that keep showing up to construct a quasi-scientific explanation. Here's my more original thought about what's going on: I think that our universe is almost stable but requires a "fudge factor" to make it work out. So the people who are associated with The Numbers are like the remainder in a cosmic division problem--for whatever reason, the whole equation of the universe doesn't quite work out if they are in it, so they have to be brought to the island (by plane crash, shipwreck, orchestrated by Jacob). This idea connects to some Creationist theories that I heard presented in campus lectures way back in college--now I am not a Creationist but with Jacob and the Man in Black running around messing with people's lives like stones on a cosmic backgammon board, I think we can assume a Creationist universe-view might apply to Lost, with the Man in Black as an important but bored "god"/symbol of chaos who is ready to "win" to end the whole game. I think that Jacob isn't purely "good," but represents the continued tinkering needed to try to keep order. Humanity's free will--to set of the bomb or not--is the wild card.

I don't even know if Google can help me bring this up, but the gist of the Creationist argument was that if gravity or the speed of light or any one of many other scientific values (constants, if you will) were even a little bit off, then the universe could not exist in its current form. The Creationists concluded, see, we barely exist so there must be a God orchestrating it all to make it work out. Scientists might say, that's right, if the constants were different, we'd have a radically different universe.

So that's why the castaways are brought to the Island that exists out of normal space and time--whether they are good or bad people, the overall puzzle pieces just can't fit with them in the world!

And here's why I think that our reluctant hero Jack will be brought back into the ultimate resolution of the series: the bubble universe is unstable, growing more so as the timeline progresses past the the point at which Oceanic flight 815 was "supposed" to crash. The wires are getting crossed--so now Sideways Jack, Kate, and John are really getting confused by echoes of their other existence. But what will the central conflict be? Jack has a son, David, in the Sideways world but is childless in the Island world. For a guy with lifelong Daddy issues this is a huge deal! And now his son's universe cannot hold--ultimately, the Island is necessary and if one universe prevails, it will be the one in which the Island still exists. Jack will do whatever it takes to save his son, even bringing David to the Island and reluctantly but voluntarily taking over the "Jacob" caretaker role himself if need be.

The Remainders

There are loose ends, of course, just like the remainders in my Numbers theory.

One loose end I really cannot tie up may seem minor but it's bugging me--how Benjamin Linus survive the Jughead explosion in 1977? He was present on the Island then in kid form. Did Richard Alpert and Eloise Hawking evacuate the Others in time? However Benjamin ended up teaching history with John Locke as a substitute teacher in the Sideways world--I love it, hilarious, but clearly that's not their ultimate destiny!

A time-traveling coda

I predict there will be a good two or three twists to come between now and the end of the show that will totally change the way we look at the whole series. (So don't hold out for the end of the series to start watching DVDs--watch it now!)

There has been enough time traveling in this show that I think we haven't seen the last of it. Someone has to end up "being his own grandpa" or some other paradoxical time travel twist. My choices:

Penny and Desmond's baby Charlie is actually supposedly-villainous Charles Widmore.

Or, mysterious dude Matthew Abbadon is actually grown up Future Walt come back to try to fix things.

And, Jack's Grandpa Ray whom we met in the retirement home is actually his son David, saved from the unstable bubble universe by the magic of time travel. (A loophole that Jack finds and negotiates in return for staying on the Island?)

And most going out on a limb, our friend Desmond, who somehow operates out of the rules that govern everyone else, is a Christ-like figure who is a roving constant who can operate in the real world, usually unaware of what he's doing.

Okay, enough crazy theories for one day. I hope that at least some of what I have said hits the mark!

--Doc Tiemann

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