On LOST, Time Travel, and the Final Season

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | January 26, 2010 10:38 am

With one week until the premiere of the final season of LOST, let’s consider the possibilities for what might happen next…

At this point in the story, the island has stopped jumping through time, but some survivors stuck in the past have just detonated–or attempted to detonate–a conveniently placed nuclear bomb. If successful, they could change everything.

Their plan was first concocted by the island’s resident physicist, Daniel Faraday, who figured out that variables (i.e., time travelers) may be able to alter the future, but unfortunately, he was shot by his own mother–who was pregnant with him at the time. So the other survivors took up Faraday’s mission to change what’s to come, reasoning that if the island and its mysterious energy no longer existed, their plane would not have crashed, they would not meet each other, and the entire first five seasons would never take place!

Where are we now? It also seems that master manipulator Benjamin Linus was just a pawn for the even greater master manipulating smoke monster (a.k.a., the Egyptian god Set?) who found his loophole to kill Jacob in John Locke. However, we suspect Jacob anticipated what would take place and set a series of events in motion by visiting each of the main characters before they reached the island, possibly derailing the smoke monster’s plan so his own murder would never happen. Further, it appears that this is a sort of game the two play: Endlessly calling travelers to their island to move them about like chess pieces. And Jacob always triumphs… so far.

Still with me? So this thread’s just for fun for all of the LOST fans out there. Let’s speculate on what’s to come in the final season and whether Jughead can actually change the future–or if it’s all been done before. What do readers think? I’ll get us started with a similar question to one I posed last year:

If you theoretically travel back in time to change the future–only to realize you’ve already been there and failed–might free will result in different choices leading to new and alternative realities?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Media and Science
MORE ABOUT: LOST, time travel

Comments (16)

  1. Gus Snarp

    Based entirely on what we’ve seen of time travel on lost, I don’t think the bomb will have changed anything. If anyone on lost can change the past, it’s Desmond, for some not quite fully explained reason.

  2. NicoleS

    But, if they detonate the bomb so that they don’t crash into the island five seasons ago, how can they detonate the bomb?!?

    I think if you follow what Eloise says – you can change certain things about the future, but the universe has a way of course correcting itself. So, even though Desmond changes Charlie’s future a bunch of times, Charlie still ends up dying.

    So maybe they detonate this bomb and it destroys the energy they brought them there, won’t the universe correct itself and have some other thing bring them there instead? Are their lives just a loop of destroying the means for which they got to the island, going back five seasons, getting to the island some other way, and then taking five seasons to again destroy whatever brought them there??

  3. Tuatara

    I think they will return to the original plane in 2004, but with their memories of what happened in the future/past (1970s) intact.

  4. Susie

    Could be it is all a dream…. like Dallas did years ago…. ha ha…. can’t wait to see… hope they really do answer all the questions…

  5. TB

    When does Howie Mandel wake up?


    I’m just now watching season 2 of Lost, and I *really* didn’t need to read the first paragraph of this article in my RSS reader before I realized what it was.


  7. NicoleS

    Susie – There’s talk about it all being in Hurley’s head. But I feel like they’ve hinted at that one too many times for it to be an actual thing. I really hope not, anyway.

  8. @3 Tuatara

    “I think they will return to the original plane in 2004, but with their memories of what happened in the future/past (1970s) intact.”

    Perhaps, and maybe only some of the survivors will remember…

    @6 William Furr

    “I’m just now watching season 2 of Lost, and I *really* didn’t need to read the first paragraph of this article in my RSS reader before I realized what it was.”

    Sorry about that. Hopefully, the title tipped off most beforehand.

  9. Jason

    The bomb is the incident.

  10. Guy

    One of the few really interesting shows on television. I don’t see how they expect you to keep-up with it without having DVR though.

  11. Victor

    From where did you glean the interpretation that Jacob’s nemesis is the smoke monster? I think this is an interesting take on what occurred in last season’s finale, although I would not want to speculate on the source of all the Lost supernaturalia…

  12. @10 Guy,
    ABC offers episodes free online each week.

    @11 Victor
    It’s my interpretation of the last season, especially given all of the Egyptian symbolism. But I could be wrong… If there’s one thing we can bet on with Lost, it’s that the writers always surprise us.

  13. I’m re watching the final of season 5 and I think season 6 will at least start out being about what if no on got on the plane and made different choices in their lives.

  14. I like the idea presented in a fake teaser trailer I saw online. In that fake trailer, everyone is boarding Oceanic 815 but Locke alone has flashes of the previous reality. This would continue Lost’s long tradition of Locke always looking like the crazy one. It also furthers the idea that Locke is somehow “special.” But if they do go back, don’t know how they’re going to handle Walt, who would clearly look very noticeably older.

  15. Gus Snarp

    @11 Victor – I got the same message that Sheril did about the smoke monster. It seems that the smoke monster can impersonate any dead person (hence all the dead folk showing up and giving advice on Lost) and that he impersonated Linus’ daughter to convince him to follow Locke, who is actually dead and being impersonated by the smoke monster. The smoke monster for some reason can not kill Jacob himself, so he manipulated Linus to do it.

    @ 14 Skepacabra I think that Locke is not special, just gullible. The smoke monster used him and the fact that others thought he was special, but he was always a tool of the smoke monster. Richard Alpert just screwed up and was manipulated into believing Locke should be their leader.

    Of course I used to hold the theory that they were all dead, and the island was some kind of purgatory. I’ve soured on that theory since.


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry.Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.comFor more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.


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