Friday, March 19, 2010

I'm Not Time Traveling

This was a gift from Jacob. Only. . . It's not a gift at all. It's a curse.


I've got some time to write before heading over to Sam and Monica's for dinner, and then going on a "double-date" to see Alice in Wonderland. We actually already saw it, but it's pretty good. P.S. This post is about time and traveling.

So, supposedly the next episode of Lost is going to be Richard-centric, and one of the most highest-rated (other than final) episode this season. I am looking forward to Tuesday!

I was reading a journalist's weekly article at Entertainment Weekly. He writes a column each week on Lost, and his writing is rather annoying and pretentious. He can't just write a sentence. He's got to throw pop culture in every single vibe. But his article last week did present a pretty interesting theory on time as presented in Lost. I don't know quite how to illustrate this, but found a 3-D vector image that shows a displacement from the origin and thus specifies a given point by showing its displacement from the origin. This is how I'll try to understand/illustrate the whole alternate timeline presented in Lost. I mean, space is 3-D, and time is essentially space, so we have to look at time as 3-D as well.

The cube represents time, and the red lines represent alternative timelines that Lost seems to be showing for most of the major characters. The article I read said that two of the timelines in the show represent 

1) What Was 

2) What Could Have Been

I think of the horizontal and vertical red lines being these two lines of time. The article proposed that the third timeline represents 

3) What Should Be

And it is the timeline we're seeing in Season 6. This timeline is represented above by the angled red line intersecting the other two--in fact, as it has been said by Daniel Faraday in the show, destiny is basically the point of time self-correcting itself when people have traveled in time to create potential paradoxes. In the image above, the point at which the red angled line intersects with the other two is the point at which it self-corrects and then heads out into What Should Be.
It's still confusing to figure out which timeline is which alternate reality on the show. In Seasons 1-4, we had basically What Was (at least What Was as we, the viewing audience, could see). There is a story of people who crashed onto an island from Oceanic Flight 815. In their trials throughout the seasons, we are treated to  flashbacks as their history of What Was. And on up through Season 5, we also see the dilemmas of other island inhabitant's What Was timelines, including the Dharma Initiative and The Others. 

In Season 5, so the time traveling began, and I believe we were shown What Could Have Been. This timeline was presented when Desmond didn't execute the 108-minute computer button. Then, suddenly, there was What Could Have Been, with Jin not even married to Sun and all these other alternative timelines, including Sawyer, Juliet, et al going back in time to the DI camp and basically creating potential paradoxes.
But as we've been warned by Daniel Faraday, even though you can't change what happened (and, as we are told, "what happened, happened"), time will correct itself so that destiny will be fulfilled. You cannot change destiny. In other words, you may be able to change the means, but you cannot change the end.

This is where, in Season 6, after Season 5's ultimate season wherein we at least think Juliet prevented the hydrogen bomb from going off (as it should have?) that there is a third timeline present. This timeline, which may be What Should Be OR could be What Could Have Been (we don't know yet, and won't til the last episode), is presented as a sideways flash interspersed as the Losties are reunited on the island still trying to do what they are supposed to do, even though they, and we, are really not sure what they are supposed to do since the two main players (gods?), Jacob and Man in Black (Not-Locke), are pretty darn obscure and manipulative. 

The Sideways timelines are rather interesting in that they convey a time of redemption compared to What Was (i.e. Sawyer is now a cop instead of just a conman--and though he is a conman cop, he changes, or that Ben is a history teacher instead of a whatever-he-is and redeems himself by not ruining Alex's life, etc.). It's still iffy about others, like Sayid, who doesn't want to be evil, or a killer anymore. There's also in many of these sideways flashes, people looking at themselves in mirrors. You kinda get the idea they are at the time-crucial conjunction of "Who am I?" In fact, they seem to be confused or self-loathing. In need of redemption or What Should Be or at least Could Be. Lost in time, indeed!

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