Introductory Remarks following the Cleanup
Details of the Cleanup
- The page has been radically restructured from these chaotic discussions to contain theories only, and no discussion points.
- Discussions have not been lost, they have been moved to the discussion page where they belong.
- The discussion page is structured in an identical manner to this page, so that you can add your comment in the appropriate section.
- Additions to this page are welcome, but they should be new theories, well justified.
- When adding new theories, create a new sub-heading under an exisiting heading. If necessary, create a new category altogether.
Nomenclature & Abbreviations
Throughout this page, it is useful to maintain some consistent terminology. Therefore during the edit, following the lead of The Lost Powers That Be, the 'universe' introduced in LA X, Part 1 has been called Flash-sideways Timeline, and for ease of reference, shortened to FST. In contrast, the timeline where Oceanic 815 crashed in "Pilot, Part 1" has been called the Original Timeline, and abbreviated to OT. While you may not agree that these are the best descriptions, they are consistent with those used elsewhere, and as a result maintains clarity across the Wiki.
A Final Plea
Please please please, please, do NOT add comment, chat, dialogue, discussion points, counter-arguments, rebuttals, refutations, agreement, confirmations or anything which simply adds commentary on a theory on this page. As this is a Wiki, you are perfectly entitled to re-edit, embellish , enhance or otherwise improve upon what is written here. However, if you simply want to comment or argue, please post it in the approprate section of the discussion page. On the other hand, if it is a completely new theory, create a new heading in a suitable section and post it on this page.
The page is now an approachable set of theories about LOST's approach to "timelines" and "time travel". My earlier comments are now superseded as the Universe of Lostpedia has corrected itself! Succinctness and brevity continue to work best.
- The FST demonstrates that the island, and what the survivors did there, was their destiny- "the most important part of their lives" as Christian says. Their destiny was always the island and to do what they did there. It cannot be altered or escaped, even if the the plan to detonate Jughead had worked. When they realise that (remember the OT) and actually fulfil it (through actions in the OT) they can move on, happy and fulfilled, their destinies complete.
- When Jack dropped the bomb, Jacob stopped it from detonating. But, when Jacob was killed, that power was no more letting the bomb detonate meaning that their destiny can be changed.
- The flash sideways timeline is actually what takes place AFTER the series' finale. When we see the events of the final episode, everything we've seen in this alternate timeline will make sense and answers the "what happens to them after that?!" question.
- The flash sideways timeline depicts the lives of the survivors without Jacobs influence. Clearly, Jacob meddled in the lives of the survivors directing them to the island. Season six depicts two alternate realities. In one, nothing changed except that the explosion transported everyone to their appropriate time. In the other, things have changed; the island is under water. Jacob perhaps is dead; or, at least, his agenda has changed. The major changes in the lives of the survivors (i.e. Jack having a son) is showing the way things would have played out without Jacobs influence.
- This is more of an inference than a theory, but in the flash sideways (granted it goes back this far), a pregnant Claudia and her people never crashed their ship near the island. Claudia gave birth to Jacob and his brother, and they lived on the mainland. Thus, during "modern times", Jacob and his brother have been gone for centuries.
- The sideways timeline is a wish fulfilment dream of all of its characters. Nothing bad happens in the sideways timeline but everyone retains their basic persona. Kate escapes with ease, Claire is helped to have her baby by a fairy godmother and an understanding Doctor, Jack connects with his mum and his very successful son and doesn't have to deal with any wives or girlfriends, John has an understanding and loving partner, Hurley is clever and successful not pushed around by others etc, the Island is put to rest. But there are gaps. These gaps are called reality.
- The flash-sideways is a simulation running on some kind of "What If" machine in the lighthouse. It shows the lives the candidates would have lived had they not been touched by Jacob or otherwise influenced by the Island. Jacob observes this simulation through his mirror "monitors" to better judge the character of his candidates. Real-world events somehow leak in and cause glitches in the simulation: half-remembered encounters, unexplained scars, etc.
- The alternate timeline depicts what would have happened if the bomb had not exploded. The depiction of the incident matches the history seen in the primary timeline (We see Dr. Chang lose his arm, and heard Richard say that he watched the main characters die). This also explains why Eloise Hawking convinced her son to go to the island despite knowing that he would die there; she was sacrificing him to save the island.
- The alternate timeline was created at the moment Jughead was detonated. When Jughead was detonated two things happened - one is the survivors were flashed forward in time to the moment Jacob was killed. Two is that their psyches merged with their real life 1977 selves due to their proximity to the magnetic pocket at the moment of detonation. This is the same thing that happened to Desmond in Flashes Before Your Eyes. This explains the changes in the characters' lives before even boarding flight 815. They had the life-lessons they learned from the island imprinted in their subconcious at their early ages in 1977 (Jack would have been 7 or 8 - the same age his FS mother says he had his appendix removed). It also explains Desmond being "special" because he had already been exposed to the radiation from the Swan site at a moment of detonation which caused him to constantly flash from one period of his life to another. This was him travelling/flashing through the FS world. This also explains his very brief appearance on 815. He briefly flashed on and then off again.
- The flashes in Season 6 are the true timeline (before anything island-related happened) and the flashes from the past seasons are the alternate universe. Something will happen in the season 6 flashes that will convince all the losties to get together, travel to some island, do something which will cause the plane crash, thereby causing the original set of flashes (and the current island events) to be the "true" timeline. At this point, knowing their past set of experiences, they will, now somewhat wiser, move on with their lives. While I will admit that this theory, as it is, does not integrate too well with known events, it seems precisely like the type of mindf*ck that the producers would try to pull.
- The Flash Sideways Time Line is the original time line. The Island was put under water sometime after the Dharma Initiative inhabited the island, but before young Ben Linus was brought to the island. This is how it begins for our characters. Ben was not raised on the island, Jack has a teenage son, Desmond was never appointed to the Swan Station, Sawyer does not seem to be a con-man, Hurley considers himself lucky... This is the beginning, their origin, the way it was suppose to be. At the end of the sideways time line, as we will see in the upcoming episodes of season 6, somehow the characters will be time traveled (without memory), probably by Jacob himself, to a much earlier point in history [before some of them were even born]. Jacob does this to change their history, which is now their future, so that they all end up on Flight 815 to crash on the island. Once Jacob took part in altering their time line to a new one, which is now their sideways time line, and the only one they know, episode 1 begins, with certain survivors as candidates of filling Jacob's shoes as the island protector. This also explains why the island is under water. In The Plane Crash Time Line the survivors, while on the island, are able to time travel to the 1970's to prevent a catastrophic incident at the Swan location, which should have sent the island under water. Since Juliet detonated Jughead the island remains and the Swan Station is built to protect the island and the rest of the world. The Dharma Initiative also continues as they refer to the detonation of Jughead as "The Incident". This is why Juliet declares "It worked". If she hadn't detonated Jughead, the island would not have survived the 1970's. Hence Jacob bringing them to the island to protect it.
- The Flash Sideways timeline is the original timeline. The Island is there for a world-critical reason and the Dharma Initiative destroyed it by drilling into the pocket in 1977. The turbulence on flight 815 was Jacob pulling Desmond back in time and convincing him to recruit candidates to save the Island. By the end of season 6, it will be revealed that all the candidates' lives turned out very badly in the flash-sideways(original) timeline. When the consequences of the Island's absence begin to play out Desmond approaches each person and they choose to become candidates in order to save the Island and hence the world. Their willing agreement to do this is what gives Jacob the latitude to "create" the scenario we have been watching since season 1.
- The Flash-Sideways Time Line shows the characters living their lives with less evil in them. This is because when Jughead detonated it destroyed the evil trapped on the island which escaped as a result of The Incident. This is why the characters don't have the evil that was present in their (OT) lives. Kate didn't kill her father, Hurley doesn't have bad things happen to him, Locke was not paralyzed by his father, Sawyer is not a con man, Jin does not kill people for Sun's father, and Ben put his Alex before himself. The evil that was causing bad things to happen to the characters was not released to afflict them.
- The Flash-Sideways Time Line is exactly what Faraday predicted and Jack wanted: A reboot in which 815 never crashed. It's also a timeline in which Jacob never diverted the characters' lives. The Island timeline is now a closed timeloop (ergo, Eloise always knew what was going to happen) created when Jughead exploded.
- The Flash-Sideways Time Line is like the alternate universe in "House of M". The events in Lost and "House of M" almost identical. So if they are doing something like "House of M" then only one person is controlling the illusion. Also in "House of M" Hawkeye was killed in the original time line but is revived in the alternate universe, just like Locke. If you are fuzzy on the details or even the events of "House of M" check the link.
Two separate timelines that merge Since the begining there are two timelines: one is influenced by Jacob (OT) and the other isn't (FST). People only live in one of them, but they can jump to a different timeline. At the end of season 6, the actions in OT will cause a merge with FST. That's why some characterts start noticing some anomalies (Jack's scar) and some others remember things from the OT (remember Kate' face when she heard Claire naming her baby Aaron)
- ROOM 23. This might sound a bit farfetched, but is it possiblie that, the FST, is just a state of mind the characters are in due to being hypnotized in Room 23. We have seen Desmond, Faraday and Charlie "remember" the OT when having a near death experience or coming in contact with someone they loved in the OT (could be their constant). This could mean that if a character was to die in the FST or spend too much time with their constant, they will then wake up in the OT. Im not sure what the reason could be, but Room 23 seems to be significant and we havnt seen enough of it. The hypnotism will take place later on this season.
Scientific Theories underpinning the concept of Alternate Timelines
The way that events are shaping up, some explanation and rules are becoming apparent. To begin with, it is clear that “Whatever Happened, Happened” (WHH) is always held to be true, for a particular timeline. However, it is also true that “The Universe has a way of ‘course correcting’”, (CC) is also held as a tenet. Now clearly, both these cannot be true if we think of the universe as having a single timeline, otherwise how can a universe ‘course correct’, if there is only a single line? The concept of CC implies that there are at least two possible tracks, and one of these is the ‘desired’ one.
Hence, this puts us in the realm of Everett’s Multiverse. At each quantum event, the universe can split into two, bifurcating into possible universes which reflect the ‘choices’ made. Each choice effectively creates a new timeline, and a new history, and, as choices pile up, a potential infinitude of universes with different histories. However, (and this is where I think the produces have ‘invented their own version of the Multiverse’), if the universe CC’s then it is possible that after the quantum splits, some of the timelines may converge to what ‘ought’ to be; in other words, there are some events which have to happen, and it doesn’t matter what decisions are made, WHH. In quantum electrodynamics there is a notion called “sum over histories”, in which an event can be seen as the sum of all possible paths leading to that event. I think it is this idea that the producers are drawing on here. All the different decisions on all the different timelines converge back to the one event: “It only happens once, everything else is just progress”.
The question is, what happens to people’s consciousness and memories when timelines converge? Clearly people can only remember one sequence of events, and they could choose the most probable, or possibly the one for them which makes the most sense, or provides them with the greatest satisfaction (?). However, they did experience all sets of events leading to WHH, but these memories will not so much be suppressed, as never occur. In the Lost universe, it seems there are some ‘special’ people who are able to see these multiple timelines: Desmond, Eloise Hawking, Jacob, possibly Richard?
The episodes involving Faraday and Desmond provide the clearest statement of the multiple 'convergent' approach. In FBYE, for example we know that both Eloise Hawking and Desmond are exposed to multiple timelines. In the ring shop in FBYE, she cryptically says “Is this your first time?”, but then later on, she not only says “No, you do not buy the ring”, but goes on to tell him exactly what will happen over the course of the next few years. Additionally, she is able to give a catalogue of events which might befall the man with red shoes, if she were to attempt to prevent his imminent death. This episode might be interpreted as ‘illustration’, were it not for the fact that Desmond attempts to do just that with Charlie, and prevent his death from occurring. In one of the timelines he could well have had a conversation with Claire, responding to the question of “If you knew he was going to be killed by lightning, why didn’t you prevent it?”, Desond might have said something along the lines of: “If I’d have stopped that, he would have drowned trying to rescue you, and if I prevented that he would have slipped off a cliff trying to catch a bird, and if that didn’t happen he would either have been killed in the jungle Or drowned, switching off the jamming signal” At the end of series 5 Eloise Hawking admits “For the first time in a long time, I don’t know what happens next.”, implying that at least for her the multiple timelines have converged.
Apart from anything else, this “multiple convergent timeline” theory is the perfect platform in which to play out notions of destiny v. free will and fate v. coincidence.
The explanation of ‘multiple timelines’ also solves problems of the paradox of the compass, and Faraday’s death. These are not time-loops, so much as time-spirals. This can be berst explained by considering Faraday’s death. In reality A, Faraday is killed by his own pregnant mother in 1977; she then has a baby who grows up to be Faraday A, who time travels to 1977. However, in doing this, Faraday A ends up in reality B, a slightly different version of events, only to be killed by the reality B version of his pregnant mother, who subsequently has a baby (Faraday B) who grows up to time travel back to 1977, ending up in reality C, getting killed there and where, in the same reality, a version Faraday C is born. This repeates as often as you like. It does not cause a paradox, as it just creates a chain of events spiralling throough alternate histories. It reiterates the WHH principle, and no matter how hard you try, the universe has a way of CC. However, it does leave open the possibility that at some point in the iterations, it would be possible to break the chain. Even so, it might still be the case that Faraday was destined to be killed via some sort of time-travelling accident, just as Eloise was destined to leave the island, as part of some course correction.
Schrodinger's Cat and Alternative Universes
According to Erwin Schrödinger, "...the consequences of a 'random' event can lead to both outcomes simultaneously - until, that is, the event is 'observed' and the true outcome becomes reality." This is known as the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum mechanics and implies that the cat remains both alive and dead (to the universe outside the box) until the box is opened.
Put in LOST terms, the lost people are both on the island (plane crashed) and off the island (plane never crashed) (to the viewer (outside the box)), until someone is able to peer inside and actually see what happened...in other words, one of the lost people is going to have to "open the box" (aka, find a way to see what actually happened) in order to reveal the true reality of the effect of the bomb.
Therefore, the rest of the season will be showing us, the viewer, both POSSIBLE outcomes of what happened when the bomb went off (off the island vs. on the island) At some point someone (maybe Desmond) will have the ability to 'peer inside the box' and figure out which reality actually happened as a result of the bomb.
Theories about the relationship between the Flash-Sideways and Original Timelines
The Flash-Sideways Timeline & the Original Timeline Co-exist
Separate, but parallel timelines
The FST is not an alternate timeline, but an alternate universe altogether. Neither universe was created by actions taken within the other, but have always coexisted in parallel. Nevertheless, certain actions taken within each universe can have an effect on the other, such as Juliet's detonation of the hydrogen bomb. The bomb's energy was transfered from the OT to the FST as a side effect of triggering the electromagnetic pocket of energy. This led to the Island sinking in the FST. The reset also caused a rift or doorway to open between the two universes. Matter cannot pass between the two universes because that would essentially destroy the matter in one universe, which violates the conservation of energy. However, immaterial things such as memories can pass from one universe to the other.
Iterations of the 'same' timeline
The FST is not an alternate timeline, but just the iteration before the OT in which the oceanic 815 crashed on the island. We have seen only two iterations through the show broadcasted till now. Maybe there are millions of iterations. It is nothing to do with the explosion or the incident. It is now revealed just to confuse us like Juliet's last words "it worked". In the previous iteration Ben didn't invite her, the button pressing never initiated a time loop and Desmond never came to the island and there was no cause for the oceanic 815 to crash. In this previous iteration Jacob failed to change the destiny of the island and so started another iteration by manipulating various events.
Not parallel, but a line and a loop
FST is a real and only one possible time line and therefore history.
In it the 815 flight lands safely in LAX AND also crashes on an island with unique properties, which does not exist.
This is how the timelines relate:
- Imagine a line and a circle next to it that touches the line at a single point. The line represents the time in the real world; and the circle represents the Island's time-line, which is a loop. The point at which they connect is a point in time and space and is moving along the line ("The Island is always moving"). Because of electromagnetic anomalies and “negatively charged exotic matter”, time and space are distorted around the island. Time itself is a relative term – one must have a starting point to tell a point in time. So, on the Island in every group of people, each person lives in a time line related to his or her particular group. Each group’s individual time line is linear and straight but these lines can not necessarily be parallel to each other – that’s how people from the plane were able to visit other groups on the Island in different moments of their history and how a particular group experiences (or imagines) the time flow is not necessarily real, or the same for others. (It is possible that Others have a ritual or some kind of process that attaches and detaches (Juliet) them to/from the island’s time line).
- Because of the possibility of random intersections of timelines of different groups, numerous time loops are created within the borders of the anomaly making it increasingly unstable and in theory non-existent as far as the outside world exists. If we take the example with the compass: if one event falls out of the sequence, the compass ceases to exist – if Richard had not given it to Locke, Locke would not have been able to give it back to Richard; as a result the compass and the whole world around it, including both Richard and Locke, disappear. The Island is therefore a closed universe within the borders of the anomaly and was created via a complex web of time loops.
- The Island can be approached by any conventional transport if an appropriate portal (i.e. a point in space where real Island space and time are in sync with the outside world’s space-time) exists and can be found. Leaving the island with a transport that was built in the outside world brings one to a point in time relative to this transport with a possibility of some small discrepancies. Leaving the island is also possible through the turning of the ancient weel – however this would send one to a random (from the view point of the wheel-turner) point in time – imagine jumping from a spinning carousel – and therefore is “both, dangerous and unpredictable”.
- People going off the island - is an example of how the universe course-corrects, in order to avoid paradoxes. It can be what Daniel called as an “imaginary time” and “imaginary space” - that is how these particular individuals ‘experience’ time and space. Leaving the island does not get one to a 'real' time line but to an extension of the island’s loop, which is also a dead-end. This explains their subconscious desire to return to the island, and their limited free-will (Michael). It also explains the virtual impossibility of returning to the island by leaving it through the turning of the wheel, having been sent to a random point of the real time-line. It is also possible that Ben and Locke did not actually get to a real time because the actions of the O6 had perviously previously created an extension and their connection ('fate').
- Now, it is clear that because of these unique properties nothing that happens on the island can influence the course of the outside world history, because it effectively does not exist. It means that Faraday was wrong about the Swan site and the bomb – one cannot change external events by changing the objects ON the Island (that is why it was safe for DHARMA to conduct their experiments here). The crash of the flight 815 was caused by a human error (Desmond) - but we still do not know what caused Ajira 316's emergency landing, so in order to change history (only personal history of individuals can be changed, that is restored) the responsible person, Desmond in this case, must be changed first.
- According to this theory “finding a loophole” actually means finding the most fragile event of the sequence, changing it and so destroying the loop and the Island. Now, it is absolutely irrelevant when, by the island’s time, the island finally disappears with its whole world – this could happen in 2008 or 2009 or after, or the island could be already on the bottom of the ocean in by 2004, or even in 1850 for that matter, these dates simply being the ones in the 'outside world' history. This is because the island does not exist at any given point in time of the real world. The clues that we can look for in the FST time line are the changes in characters that appear because of the lack of interference from the native “Island’s” characters.
Looping the Loop
This is a slightly amended and expanded version of the theory above, and I am indebted to the original author for his work. The theory below is very long, but I think is worth the read.
How the Universe is Configured
In this version, the line is the real world (RW) which contains the vestiges of an island at one particular location. The island has no special properties, and indeed is sunken beneath the Pacific Ocean. Attached to the RW timeline via a series of single points (one of which is Sept 22nd 2004) is a loop of time, in which an alternative version of the universe exists. This alternative version of Reality (AVR) of the universe is an 'aberrant' version of reality in which all sorts of phenomena which do not normally exist in the RW can have their place. In this universe, the island is 'special', and has special properties. The points at which the RW and AVR are connected are special points in the time continuum, which, if particular circumstances converge, will allow individuals to move beween universes.
Who is in Charge?
In the AVR, the island is controlled by beings wielding great power. To RW inhabitants, their powers appear magical, just as the powers of the Conquistadors seemed magical to the Incas: it's all relative. Part of this power is to be able to prevent the Island in the AVR from being seen by the rest of the AVR world: this island can be moved, and people can time travel. Beings from the island can appear 'off-island' in the 'outside world' version in the AVR (NB not the same as the RW!). In this version of the outside world, most of the inhabitants do not know of the existence of the island, even though the island beings actually influence the world, and wield power over it. One such being, Jacob, regularly visits and 'nudges people' in different directions. he brings individuals & groups to the island, and watches as they grow & develop. Another being, Jacob's Nemesis, usually exists as a pillar of black smoke, and is confined to the island. Their behaviour is governed by rules built into the AVR, and which they cannot transgress.
The 815 Crash
At one point in time in the AVR, Oceanic 815 crosses over the island. For a long time Jacob has been weaving an intricate tapestry of events; he pulls the plane from the sky, and saves those people on the plane he wishes to use for his own purposes. However, it is important for his plans that the people actually believe that it was an accident, and they were there by coincidence rather than fate. This means the crash must look realistic and many people are injured and/or are dead. This is just 'collateral damage'. As this is a loop in time, killing people does not effectively matter: they will be simply be born & reborn time after time.
Previous Occupants on the Island
As part of the 'mysterious events' occuring on the island, there are vestiges of Jacob's previous attempts at managing the island: the Black Rock, the Dharma Initiative, and a group of individuals Jacob has made aware of his existence, in order to carry out particular functions, which, if he were to do it himself, would demonstrate that he had 'supernatural powers'. The people being manipulated, must, by the rules of the AVR, or the rules Jacob has imposed upon himself, choose willingly to do what is required of them; otherwise the pact will be broken. This means that Jacob cannot manifest himself directly, unless it is in the direst of emergencies. Even then, he risks everything by breaking the rules.
The Swan Hatch & The Button
As part of the vestiges from Dharma times, there is a button, at the Swan station which, when pressed, releases energy. The purpose of this button is to de-synchronise time between the island and the rest of the AVR. This was the manner in which Jacob caused the plane to crash: when the button was not pressed, time went out of synch, and the plane, flying directly overhead, was caused to crash. (Coincidentally - or not so coincidentally, for it is a story after all), in the RW, there was a plane flying over the sunken island at exactly the same time and exactly the same place. Whether the survivors who crash-landed on the island were the same ones who had taken off in the AVR, or whether they were their RW counterparts, is anyone's guess. Only their histories can tell this. One set of individuals grew up in the AVR, and arrived at that place & that time & in the right frame of mind to do carry out Jacob's plan. Another set of individuals grew up in the RW free from Jacob.
The Wheel & The Bomb
Once in the loop it is impossible to get out of it, unless the time is at one of the 'special points' and you are located on the island. It is apparently possible to get off the island, by, for example turning a wheel under the Dharma Orchid station, but in fact that just sends you to another part of the AVR, but off the island. Turning the wheel can have other effects too, especially if it is dislodged. Those who are 'out of synch' with the time on the island (for example, those who have spent a long time in the AVR 'outside world') can find themselves propelled back in time to an earlier version of the AVR Island history. It is entirely possible in this AVR to create time-loops: events which fold back upon themselves and have no obvious causes. In one such loop, the survivors attempt to use a bomb to blow up the Swan before it is built. This effectively releases energy in the Swan, and propels the survivors "back to the future" - the time they would have been in, had the Orchid wheel not been turned.
The destruction of the Island
The island contains within it the seeds of its own destruction, and of the beings who control it. Both Jacob & the Nemesis are effectively trapped in the time loop, since an event which is "destined" to happen shortly after the return of the survivors to the future they left, in an attempt to change it, will destroy the island, and destroy the rest of the AVR. If this event were to happen, it would expand the point of contact with the RW and open up a rift, causing the universe to be exposed to the AVR, and the beings of power within it. In past iterations of the loop, this has been avoided, by Jacob invoking a catastrophic event in the AVR which moves the entire island, and the AVR with it, back in time to a point prior to any individuals coming to the island, and thus allowing for a 'reset'. This has happened many times in the past. However, Jacob is convinced that there is a way forward, which avoids the reset, and his plan involves juggling the variables in the Valenzetti equation - that is the people he brings to the island, nudging them, changing their attributes, and hoping that their interactions & their free will will help them find a way to prevent the island's demise and free everyone from the loop.
In the Will of the Gods
Jacob's Nemesis disagrees. he has seen Jacob do this over & over again, and is totally unconvinced. He is extremely tired & wants to get off the island, and out of the loop. He reasons that he can do this by killing Jacob; however, rules prevent him from killing Jacob directly, but he is able to do some manipulating of his own, and convinces the Leader of Jacob's followers to murder him. This effectively puts him in charge. He does not believe in free will, but he does need 'followers' in order to do his bidding. His plan is simple. He will gather all of Jacob's variables in one place, and will ensure that they make choices to ensure that the AVR catastrophic event happens, the rift is opened to the RW, and all this will be over, and he can make a triumphant return to the RW. Return, because he and Jacob were both once there at the dawn of pre-history, guiding humanity, giving them purpose. Then they were called gods - but that was before humanity developed and grew and had no use for gods - or at least that was Jacob's notion, for how can a culture grow and develop if, when they get into difficulties all they have to do is to call on a protector and he will give them what they want? It is part of Jacob's heritage that he removed the gods from the world, provided humanity with free will instead of destiny, and placed them In the AVR - on the island, but in a parallel timeline. So they could watch humanity grow and develop - from a distance.
The Dead Hand of Valenzetti
However, things went awry. Humanity DID grow, they DID develop, to the point at which they almost, but not quite developed the technology to call themselves gods, for at some point in the history of the RW, humanity developed science, not faith, and developed almost to the point which the Valenzetti equation predicted their demise. That catastrophic event could not be allowed to happen; Jacob's handiwork would have been for nothing. The 'gods' had to step in at that point and reconfigure the connection between the AVR and the RW, creating a bubble of time, and incorporating the 'end of everything' into the bubble of the AVR, and suspending time in the RW, and calling a temporary halt to reality. In the meantime, trapped in this bubble, Jacob was determined to find a way to prevent the 'end of everything', and to revert the universe to two parallel timelines.
Changing the Variables
Jacob as believer in humanity, and a believer in free will can only allow individuals to resolve this via their free will. The 'outside world' portion of the AVR is a test-bed for ideas. If a way can be determined to avoid the catastrophe, that will resolve the issue and humanity can progress beyond the predicted demise. However, this can only be done via the actions of the variables in the equation. These are the people brought to the island, and juggled by Jacob.
Reboot, Restart or Revelation?
If Jacob succeeds, there will be a new order: the RW will be enabled to restart, and progress; humanity will be saved, humankind will grow & develop and one day, become the equal of gods. If Jacob fails, he will simply reboot the AVR and try again. However, during this iteration, Jacob's Nemesis thinks he has found a way to remove Jacob from his position of power, and if his plan succeeds, he will let the catastrophic event unfold, and he will then be allowed to return to the RW, which will restart, with him in it. The Island, and its loop will no longer exist, but he will be home.
The Flash-sideways timeline was created by the Nemesis
In Sundown, Flocke's offer to Sayid (to reunite him with Nadia) is presented between flashes sideways, where Sayid and Nadia are shown together again (though not as a couple). This timeline is actually a result of interventions by the Nemesis, similar to the way in which te Original timeline resulted from the interventions of Jacob.
- The Nemesis' imprisonment on the Island is the reason for its strange properties, including its apparent disjunction from normal spacetime. This accords with Rosseau's statement that he was the Island's "security system". His presence on the Island is what makes it so difficult to find and to navigate to.
- One of the Island's unique properties keeps it from sinking to the bottom of the ocean.
- Nemesis experiences time differently from humans. In order for him to leave the Island, he needs Jacob dead without a successor in place, as well as a major release of energy at just the right point in spacetime (specifically, the detonation of Jughead's core at the Swan site in 1977.) The absence of a protector (Jacob or a successor) at any given point in time, combined with access to the temple at that same point in time, allows him to access the momentary crack in spacetime caused by the explosion at the Swan site. He is then able to escape via the crack, emerging in 1977.
- His absence after the explosion removes the Island's unique properties, causing it to sink (see 2, above.)
- Once he's out, he honors his deal with Sayid (as well as any others with whom he had an agreement), nudging events from 1977 onward in such a way as to give his followers what they asked for.
The Flash-sideways timeline is the Jacobless timeline
As speculated briefly above, the flash-sideways timeline has always existed independently from the original timeline and has nothing to do with Jughead (which was a red herring). Instead, this is a universe where Jacob either died early on or never existed. Jacob's inability to touch the candidates and manipulate their lives is what caused the butterfly effect of minor changes (Nadia married to Sayid's brother, Locke and Helen still together) and major changes (Jack having a son, Alex off the island). DHARMA still found the island, but people like Ben and Roger Linus left unscathed because the Others don't exist, having never been brought by Jacob to the island. Rousseau's team never crashes on the island, thus Alex is born and lives off the island. Because Jacob was not around to exert his power over the island, it sank when the Incident occured in 1977 and most DHARMA personnel were successfully evacuated. Finally, Jacob's absence, not the lack of Desmond or the button, is what causes flight 815 to safely pass over the sunken island. As the Man in Black points out, flight 815 crashed on the island because Jacob wanted it to--Desmond's failure to push the button was just the physical cause of the crash.
We have to remember that the Man in Black says Jacob has been pushing the candidates their entire lives, not just during the selected events shown to us in "The Incident, Parts 1 & 2". Jacob may have encountered Jack a dozen times; we were merely shown one particular event. These numerous encounters never happened in the flash-sideways timeline; thus the characters have several differences in their lives. Guessing the ultimate result of this flash-sideways timeline is outside the scope of this theory, but it will likely involve the characters learning of their original timeline predicament (possibly from someone who remembers the original events, like Desmond) and attempting to find the island.
It is claimed that: "Because Jacob was not around to exert his power over the island, it sank when the Incident occured in 1977 and most DHARMA personnel were successfully evacuated.", and "Others don't exist, having never been brought by Jacob to the island"; however, this is incompatible. The 1977 incident definitely involved the "Others"; it was they who kept the bomb safe, and it was they who helped Jack & Sayid to find it. If that incident sunk the island, then this kills off the Others, and there is no island with the Others on at all, because by your own theory, Jacob does not exist in the other timeline. No Jacob, No Others, therefore no plane crash. The theory has internal contradictions.
The Incident described in the Jacob-less world would have been caused by Radzinsky's drilling, not Jughead, and the events play out as described.
The Flash-Sideways Timeline Rewrote the Original Timeline
The Island Has Its Own, Independent Timeline
We've seen before that within of the perimeter of the Island (which goes a few miles into the sea around) Time runs at a different pace than without: Ray's corpse was washed up ashore before he was killed by Keamy (meaning that the Island was a few hours in the future at the moment), but just a day later, Faraday made a test with Rockets fired from the Kahana, which arrived several hours after fired, meaning the Island was a few hours in the past. We can imply from this that the Island oscilates gently in Time inside its little pocket timeline —when "seen" from outside— without overwriting it's own history (which may explain why it's so hard to locate and a mechanism based on a pendulum in The Lamp Post was needed to consistently find it). Moreover, Time transcurs normally for people inside the Island, despite its rocking to and fro.
Now, for the sake of this argument, we're going to pretend the Island has never been "moved" before. Most likely it had, in ages past that doesn't concern to us, so to easily visualize this theory, we're going to assume that the O815 flight crashed in the Island in the year 2004 both inside and outside of the Island (altough a few hours off.)
Ben Moved the Island Through Time, Not Space
First we need to understand that Lost (as most other sci-fi stories dealing with time travel) displays the unscientific quality of objects travelling through time while staying stationary in relative space (while in truth, travelling back through time means appearing at zones of the space where the Earth, or in fact, the galaxy have not been yet.)
When Ben moved the wheel, the Island jumped inside its Time pocket to our 2001-2, (while the Island was entering its 2005 year inside) and then, as the wheel was knocked off its axis, started leaping apparently erraticaly through time. However, Sawyer, Miles, Juliet, Daniel, Jin, Locke and Charlotte were not "anchored" to the Island —as we can presume the Others were— but rather to the off-Island Timeline; whenever the Island leapt through time, they leapt through time too, appearing at the time inside the Island correspondent to the year outside. Finally, Locke turned the wheel again, setting it correctly and causing one last leap: to the off-Island year 1974. This is perhaps the most important fact of this theory: The Island is in 1977 even in what we now call the present or Island's 2007 year.
So, if the Island only moved in time, why did it disappear in front of Lapidus and the O6 as they were escaping the Kahana in the Helicopter? Shouldn't the Island just be there, 30 years into its own future (2037)? Well, what if some event during the Island timeline during those 30 years made the Island sink?
Ajira's Flight 316 Travelled Back in Time
The last point states that for the off-Island timeline, the Island ceased to exist in December the 31th of 2004 after suddenly disapearing. Then, how did Ajira 316 manage to get there in 2007? The answer lies in the unusual conditions Eloise Hawkins demanded for the flight, i.e. getting as many O6 as possible in the flight and incorporate several elements that mirrored Oceanic 815's last flight. Ajira 316 was the flight that according with The Lamp Post's pendulum would cross over the relative bearings of the Island, even if it wasn't there anymore (all of this means that even sunk, the Island's perimeter still keeps its own timeline.) Once there, the special conditions of the flight made the Island "pull" the plane through time, as we can infer from the intense flash of light and whooshing sound that the series had established as the mark of time travel.
While the plane was dragged to the Island's "present" (2007), the O6 —sans Sun— were whisked to the Island's 1977 year, most likely pulled there by the presence of the Sawyer and the other survivors. Many reasons can be offered to explain why Sun wasn't pulled back as well (my favourite is that, having conceived inside the Island, she got "anchored" to it, like the Others are) however, in the end it's obvious that she was left in the present for the dramatic potential that a couple separated by time offers to the series and it's perhaps not relevant to the overarching plot.
Jughead's Core Never Exploded
As the series oftenly went out of its way to prove, inside the Island, "whatever happened, happened"; in other ways, the Island's timeline cannot be changed. Things like the DHARMA picture with the survivors on it, and Dr. Chang's prosthetic hand point that all the events up to the Incident played exactly like always happened (Dr. Chang was at the Incident site by advice of Hurley and once his hand was caught, he was pulled away from a certain death by Miles.) Now, we know that in the Island's Timeline, Jughead's core didn't explode, otherwise Dr. Chang would have died. We can assume that the Incident ran its course until the hole sealed itself with all the debris it pulled in, then the Swan was built ontop to regulate the electromagnetic emissions and Jughead's core placed as the failsafe.
What Juliet Did
If Jughead's core never went off, what did Juliet manage by striking it until the blinding light engulfed them? The correct answer has to be the most immediate one: it synchronized the Losties back with the Island's present, i.e. 2007. Why? My guess is that it was part of the mentioned self-correcting quality of the universe. It's probable that Juliet's eighth hit to the core would have actually set it off, changing radically history and causing a major paradox, so right at that moment, the Island fixed it by correcting the Losties' time displacement.
So, What About The "Flash-sideways Timeline"?
The current events in Island's year 2007 and the series up to this point have shown no hints of changing history at all. In fact, even if, as speculated, Juliet's actions worked as Faraday expected and created the alternate timeline in which there's no The Swan or keys to be pushed and fail to be pushed causing the crash of the O815, it doesn't explain why the past of the protagonists is changed as well, as hinted by their different outlooks in life and circumstances. This new timeline was generated far before the fated Oceanic flight, something that cannot be explained under Faraday's Theory's framework.
This is a good time to remember that the Island is currently in off-Island's 1977.
Then, What's Next?
While I cannot speculate about the specifics, events will happen that:
- Will make the Island sink
- Will allow one or more survivors (my bet is one) to escape the Island, appearing in off-Island's 1977. This individual(s) will then proceed to engineer the events on the protagonists' lives to give them better circumstances AND to make eachother connect with the others around the same time they did in the old timeline. (Arguably, connecting with eachother was a positive thing for all the characters, so is desirable. I wouldn't feel surprised to see Locke helping Charlie with his addiction problem in this timeline as well, or Sawyer marrying Juliet, etc.)
Some Last Related Speculation
We last saw that Jacob was aware in some way about the Valenzetti Equation numbers, something we had only seen before in relation to the DHARMA initiative. Tying this with the importance Jacob places in the Island and the theorized end of the world, we might speculate that the Island is "God's Judgement" and will be what causes the destruction of the world if Valenzetti's equation is not changed. Jacob is the one who believes that humanity can redeem itself and is worthy of the chance of doing so. MiB, on the other hand, wants the judgement to be delivered, so his duty of guarding the Island will be done with.
The Flash-Sideways Timeline Rewrote the Original Timeline - Option 2
Juliet Set Off Jughead and Erased the Original Timeline
When Juliet sets off Jughead in 1977, the effect is that the timeline up until that point becomes the FST. The OT no longer exists due to these actions. However, after Ben had turned The Wheel, the OT Island was dislodged from space and time, literally moving in physical space, explaining its disappearance in 2004. Jughead going off leads to a chain of events which culminates in the sinking of the Island. There is an obvious paradox here and due to this all displaced characters are transported back to the Island in 2007, where they would have normally been if not for their time travels. The Island’s unique exceptions regarding space and time allow it to still exist in a special pocket following the turning of The Wheel, despite the fact that it actually sinks in 1977. The Island is both sitting at the bottom of the ocean AND located elsewhere at the same time.
Faraday's Journal Preserved Knowledge from the Original Timeline
While members of DHARMA and some of the Others escape from the Island, the only people in the world with full knowledge of OT’s (now alternate) future are Eloise, Charles, and Richard. Eloise and Charles have possession of Faraday’s journal and are able to piece together the story of this future that now never occurred. Faraday’s journal would have information regarding the OT from when he received the journal after graduation until he boarded the freighter, all his time on the Island, his time traveling exploits, and his three years in Ann Arbor. Charles, Eloise, Richard and everyone else lives life in the FST, which is now the only “real” timeline.
Occupying Two Different Spaces in the Same Time
Meanwhile, everyone on the Island of the OT is fully convinced they are still in their timeline, but they are the only ones in the world with full memory of it. In LA, they are also living their happier FST lives with both parties unaware of one another. We have seen instances of these time travel doubles happening before, with the various time travelers occupying the same time period as themselves as they jumped around before Locke set The Wheel right. Also, please see the “Orchid Orientation Video”, showing the appearance (doubling up) of an identical Rabbit #15, which greatly upsets the DHARMA staff. Presumably due to effects of time travel, the same rabbit is occupying two places in the same timeline. Chang says the two cannot be allowed to be close together.
FST Charles Comes to The Island
When Charles comes on his sub, he is FST Charles who was able to find the Island with the help of the still functioning Lamppost Station. When he meets Sawyer in “Recon”, Charles knows him from the experiences of the past and Faraday’s journal, but is aware that this Sawyer is from an alternate timeline. Sawyer says he knows Charles is the man who sent a freighter full of people to kill everyone on the Island and Charles remarks that “it’s sad how little” Sawyer really knows. Charles knows of Locke’s death through an examination of the airplane, which would have had information regarding the transportation of Locke’s body. We know Charles said his team searched through the airplane, and he showed Jin pictures of Ji Yeon. OT Charles had contact with Sun in the OT, so if he were not from FST he could have easily shown Jin pictures of her some other way, especially with all the information he had on everyone previously in the series. However, this camera that came from the OT Ajira flight is the only remaining evidence of the OT Ji Yeon.
Desmond is The Constant
When Desmond is pulled from the sub at the end of “The Package”, he is FST Desmond, the same Desmond we would have seen on the airplane. As Faraday said, Desmond is special, he is the constant, he doesn’t follow the same rules. FST Desmond is the only person not from the OT that also has firsthand knowledge of the OT timeline.
Who Knows What?
Basically, there are the OT doubles on the Island of Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Sayid, Hurley, Sun, Jin, Miles, Ben, and Claire. Also, Richard presumably has an FST double in LA that we have not seen yet, assuming he was able to get off the sinking Island. Others in LA with some knowledge of people from the OT would be FST Ben, Roger Linus, and Pierre Chang (assuming he is still alive).
Juliet Saw the FST Reality in Her Dying Moments
Juliet seemed to have some ability to have knowledge of the FST reality that was now happening across the ocean, proclaiming that “it worked” and mumbling about going Dutch on coffee with Sawyer, which will presumably happen in an upcoming episode.
What Does It All Mean?
This theory does not deal with the happenings regarding the struggle between Jacob and the Man in Black, only the frame of the timeline. In the end, the characters will be faced with the knowledge that their desire to save the future was a success, but they will never get to experience it. It will live on through their FST selves. This will be their ultimate sacrifice, their display of true humanity. Choosing to stay and continue to defend the island so their “Others” can live a happy life.
Also, please check out the film “Primer”. It really helps one understand all the timeline paradoxes in Lost.
A Theory about when the Flash-sideways timeline might have diverged from the Original 815 crash timeline
This section explores new material from What Kate Does (i.e. the appearance of Ethan), together with previous material (that from LA X, Parts 1 & 2, and shows that there are important conclusions to be drawn, namely that the losties were not responsible for the alt timeline being created, and the divergence from the 815 crash timeline must have occured either before 1974 or after 1989. If you find flaws in my reasoning, please discuss this on the talk page.
- In both this episode and the 2004 original timeline, Ethan = Ethan Goodspeed (= Ethan Rom?)
- In the original S1-5 version, Ethan's parents were Amy & Horace, but she only married Horace after the Hostiles had killed Amy's husband Paul, and the time-travelling losties stopped the Hostiles from killing her. If the losties had not travelled back to 1974, then, in that timeline, Amy would be dead, and could not have married Horace, with the consequence that Ethan would not exist.
LATER NOTE: From The enhanced version of What Kate Does, we now know that: "Ethan was born on the island in 1977 / to Horace and Amy Goodspeed / as revealed in the Season 5 episode, "LaFleur." "
In what follows, I have assumed the existence of a 'single pass through the storyline', i.e. it is possible for events to occur in separate timelines, but in order to maintain integrity, in the storyline A must precede B, B must precede C etc. All events must have causes, even if that cause occurs because of something that hasn't happened yet.
Observation 1: In any timeline where the events occurred in the original island timeline up to the point in 1974 when the losties arrived, but the Losties do NOT time travel back to this point, Ethan cannot be born on the island.
Note that this means that if Ethan is born on the island, and the losties did not travel back, then the circumstances must have been different well prior to the point at which Amy was captured: Amy is not captured, but she & her husband must have split in some other manner, and subsequently still marry Goodspeed. This timeline must therefore have diverged from the original S1-5 timeline, prior to 1974, when Amy was rescued; if it did not, she would be dead. In this case, Since Ethan is alive, but the island is underwater, Ethan must then have left the island prior to its demise. Although we have seen Ethan was on the island in 1989 (see Ethan Rom#1989, this event may not have happened in this ‘alt’ timeline. All that we can say is that he must have left after 1977 when we know Ethan was born. Note that since the losties did not have any involvement in these events, they were not responsible for the island’s demise.
Suppose now that the losties did travel back and did play their part in Ethan's existance, and the events in S1-5 did play out, up to and including the events of The Incident, Parts 1 & 2. We now have two possibilities. (a) Either the incident resulted in some sort of shift/fracture/divergence to the timeline, or (b) it didn't. We have seen a timeline which involvesEthan & Ben kidnapping Alex in 1989. If this timeline is the one in which alt Ethan is now residing, this would mean that this version of Ethan left the island after 1989, when the island would still be in existence. Therefore, whatever the cause of its demise, it was not down to the 1977 time-travelling losties. Clearly, this would imply that this timeline must have resulted from case (b), where the bomb did not fracture the timeline.
Let us now return to the case where the events of the Incident played out, and timelines were affected. If the consequence of the existence of such an event is the appearance of Alt Ethan, then we know that all of Alt Ethan's back history up to and including the events of 1977, were the same as those of Ethan. In other words, he was born on the island, and was subsequently evacuated. However, in this new timeline, there are no losties to travel back in time to ensure that his mother does not die (unless this happens subsequently). This means that the 1974 time-travelling losties who rescued Alt Ethan's mother( = Ethan's mother), were from a different timeline, and one which is running concurrently with the Flash-Sideways timeline. The consequence of this is that there are (at least) two independent realities, which have been in existence since at least 1977, and possibly earlier (for example, the first appearance of Faraday in 1954 could have triggered such a fracture). While this line of reasoning presents us with a bifurcation of timelines, It cannot be concluded definitely that the incident was the event which caused the bifurcation of timelines.
Similarly, the consequences of Ethan NOT being born on the island, means that he must have been conceived in some alternate timeline. This timeline must have been in existence since at least the time of his conception, and probably much earlier. This means that in 1976, when Ethan was conceived, Amy & Horace were living on the mainland. (How they might have got together is an interesting speculation, but not totally relevant). We can conclude in this case, that it is a completely different timeline to anything we have seen in S1-5, and it must have diverged from the timeline prior to 1974 (otherwise Amy would have been killed), and by 1977 neither Amy nor Horace were part of the DI on the island. However we do know that in this timeline, the DI still did go to the island (witness Dharmaville & the shark in LA X, Parts 1 & 2. This means that Horace nor Amy were either never recruited, or if recruited, left the island prior to 1977. Consequently, we can conclude that the losties did not time-travel back to this underwater ‘alt’ island, and therefore could not have been responsible for its being underwater.
Possibility A: If the alt timeline introduced in LA X, Parts 1 & 2 was not the result of the incident, then the flash-sideways timeline diverged from the original 2004 timeline Either prior to 1974, Or sometime after 1989. In either case, the losties were not responsible for the island being underwater.
Possibility B: If, on the other hand, the alt timeline was created as a result of the incident, then in 2004, two timelines are running simultaneously. Their histories coincide up until 1977.
In order to determine which of these is correct, we should look out for people in the alt timeline whose existence is dependent upon events which occur on the island during or after 1977. For example, we know that both Eloise and Widmore were on the island in 1977, and were presumably killed when the island went underwater. If she exists in the alt timeline, then this implies that Possibility B cannot be true, and we are left only with possibility A. Either that or an intricately involved retcon job by the producers.
Events from The Lighthouse
Possibility B above now appears to have been ruled out by the evidence of FS-Jack's appendix scar, which must have occurred in the FS Timeline prior to the events of the Incident in 1977. This would now mean that the FS timeline & the OT diverge either prior to 1974 OR after 1989. Clearly, Jack's appendix scar evidence discounts a divergence after 1989, hence we can only conclude that The FS-Timeline and the Original Timelines started to diverge sometime prior to 1974.
There are Three Possible Universes
There are three universes in LOST.
- Universe A in which everything happened on the island in the 70's WITHOUT the survivors from Oceanic 815.(Unseen)
- Universe B is which Oceanic 815 crashed, the O6 left, and then returned to the island. (Original Timeline)
- Universe C is the island underwater in which the crash never occurred at all. (Flash-Sideways Timeline)
Universe A doesn't really exist anymore. The bomb went off; Juliet even said "it worked." Therefore, everyone in that time period died and then island eventually went underwater. The survivors of 815 jumped in time instead of being blown up because they weren't supposed to be in that time to begin with.
Conjectures about the use of 'alternate timelines' previously during Seasons 1-5
The 2004 OT and the supposed 2007 OT shown in Seasons 5 were actually in different timelines
See This discussion. There was a huge debate about the barracks being different in the 2007 and 2004 versions, and at the time there was no obvious explanation, other than to hypothesise that there were two sets of Dharma Barracks in two different locations. Well, that seems exactly what there was. The 2007 version has a derelict 'processing center' which is very different from the 2004 processing center. Now you can say that things changed, they changed the building or whatever, but in hindsight with what we now know is happening, an alternate timeline theory here is not out of the question. The con to this however is that (a) Ben appears to know his way around his house the 2007 Barracks, and is not phased by any of the apparent differences, and (b) there is a game of Risk in one of the houses which had been left in 2004 by Sawyer et. al prior to the time jumping episodes. Further evidence that this IS a different timeline is shown by the fact that there is a difference between the Swan Hatch implosions site in the 2007 version, and the one in 2004 (Flashes before Your Eyes), and the fact that Desmond's bike was found in the debris, but in FBYE it was lying in the jungle.
The Original Timeline & The Flash-Sideways Timeline have been in existence throughout Series 1-5
Many contributors seem to accept the idea that there are actually two timelines running concurrently. However, if this is true there are certain logical consequences for the existing narratives in Lost, and this may explain certain anomalies which could have been attributed to 'plot holes' or continuity errors. In addition, the 'parallel reality' seen in Flashes Before Your Eyes can be explained as being one and the same with the FST being shown in season 6: Desmond had already gained access to it and now so have the rest of the survivors.
There are other examples:
- is Claire's mother in a coma in one timeline, and well in another, taking care of Aaron?
- did Jack give himself timeout in one timeline, but his father gave him the timeout in another?
- did Jimmy hit the barman in one timeline, but hit Desmond in another?
- did Desmond recognise Charlie singing in the street in one timeline, but not in the other?
If this conjecture is correct, there are all sorts of possibilities which need to be explored. If we have actually been seeing (During Seasons 1-5), a combination of two storylines, one from each timeline, where sometimes the 'backstory' events occur in one timeline & not the other, but sometimes appearing in both, then this could take a huge amount of unpicking AND rewriting of large amounts of this Wiki. The paranoid in me suspects that The Lost Powers That Be could well have created such a monstrous idea simply to vex the nerds of Lostpedia.
Desmond's Roles in Alternate Universes
Desmond can experience more than one timeline
We have clearly seen alternate timelines before, usually via Desmond. As Faraday told him, Desmond is "special" because "the rules don't apply to him." What Faraday is suggesting is that Desmond has the ability to experience several timelines. This is evidenced by the following:
- In the episode Flashes Before Your Eyes Desmond had a prescient knowledge of the future (he had thoughts about the Island, the button, etc). And yet, he was ready to propose to Penelope if Eloise Hawking had not intervened. Eloise suggests that Desmond never purchases the ring, and instead walks out. So the fact that Desmond DOES purchase the ring (even though he later throws it into water) suggests that he's CHANGED something. Of course, since he didn't propose to Penelope and broke up with her anyway, nothing "significant" changed.
- In the episode The Constant Desmond met with Daniel Faraday in 1996. Yet, when Desmond met Faraday on the Island in 2004 (by the helicopter), he didn't know him. That's because Desmond created a NEW timeline by meeting with Faraday in 1996.
- Desmond prevents Charlie's death several times, which eventually leads to the discovery of Naomi, which sets in motion all of the events of Seasons 4 and 5 (no Naomi = no mercenaries = no turning the wheel).
- There is no proof that Desmond was even telling the truth about "everything has to happen or it wont work." We haven't seen Claire get rescued, he was desperate to see Penny, etc. And they were just flashes, its not like he had a video of everything that would happen. Desmond could only see what happened in the future, not control it. The people on the boat already had the bearing to follow, Naomi would have gotten there regardless. Course correction and fate would have led to the same outcome; them finding Naomi, calling the mercenaries, and so on.
Faraday called Desmond "special" because Desmond CAN CHANGE the past when his consciousness jumps between time periods; this would definitely suggest that Desmond has already experienced multiple timelines.
In Flashes Before your Eyes:
- 1996 Desmond wakes up with the mind of 2004 Desmond. When he woke up he wasn't sure what was going on since he woke up in a familiar time/place, naturally he would assume that it was just 1996 and that the island and everything else was dream (what other explanation would he have?). But as the episode progresses he has major deja vu since he has already experienced everything that is happening. He remembered seeing Charlie because he HAD already seen him when he lived through 1996. He remembered the bartender getting hit in the face since his 2004 mind had already experienced it, but when he was in 1996 originally he didn't have those memories.
- Eloise Hawking was there because SHE KNEW that Desmond COULD change things and was trying to prevent him from doing so. She gave him the whole course correction speech to con him into believing that he COULD NOT change things. She knew that if he married Penny that he would never end up at the Island, and that could potentially ruin whatever mission Ben, Widmore, Jacob, etc. are trying to accomplish.
In The Constant:
- Desmond did not know Faraday when he met him initially because he had not flashed back and met him yet. When Desmond left on the helicopter, his mind began jumping back and forth between 1996 and 2004. When he flashed back to the Island he talked to Faraday who told him to go meet 1996 Faraday for help when he flashed again. Desmond goes and meets Faraday, Faraday tells him to find a Constant, he does, and then everything is cool. Only AFTER THIS does the memory of their meeting exist, because up until the flashes Desmond's consciousness had not gone back to 1996 yet.
- At the end of The Constant, Faraday opens up his journal and sees his note "if anything goes wrong Desmond Hume will be my constant," then you see a surprised look on Faraday's face and hear the "Lost thud." Faraday was surprised because his notes had changed, something he did not think was possible. This is proof that the flashes occurred in the same timeline. And it was also the first step in Faraday realizing that you may in fact be able to change the past (the whole "the variables are humans and their free will speech." Desmond is the variable.
Travel and/or Transfer between the two Timelines
Now that there are two timelines, the unique electromagnetic energy that allows for time travel on the island will also allow for travel between the two timelines in certain circumstances. This is how Christian's body was lost in the alternate timeline (FST); his body was transferred to the Original Timeline when the plane hit the "turbulence" while traveling above the island. In the season 5 episode 316 Eloise Hawking tells Jack that he has to re-create the conditions of first flight as closely as possible in order to return to the island. When they flew over the island a few of the Oceanic 6 were flashed to the island. Because there were some similarites in the flash-sideways flight, those similarites such as Christian's body in the coffin, were flashed to the island when the plane flew over.
Theories about how the Flash-Sideways Timeline enmeshes with Lost's exisiting Narratives
The Flash-Sideways Timeline represents the New vs. Old Testament
It seems that the death of Jacob in the flesh opened a new chapter of sorts for the Losties. In the original reality, God's (and Jacob's) world is characterized by strict rules, unnatural sacrifices (such as having to kill your son - or your father!) and hardships. While in the new world he is forgiving, his people must choose to follow him. It could be said it is Jacob's plan to change his approach and give his people a choice. There never appeared to be a choice before when he told Ben or Richard what to do or when he brought people to the island. The idea of having a choice is new as Ben was the first person he gave a choice to. Everything prior to that was was fear-based - A Jacob-fearing island.
The Flash-Sideways Timeline is between Seasons 5 and 6
Desmond had already had an experience in a different timeline (his past, slightly altered) which was recounted in the episode "Flashes Before Your Eyes". This experience occured when he turned the key that blasted the hatch. That was an explosion + the energy at The Swan. The 1977 Explosion + energy at The Swan now puts us in an alternate timeline which gives a similar experience for everyone who was present at that blast. However, unlike Desmons, they don't carry memory between timelines, whereas we know Desmond to be special because he does. This would explain why Kate woke up in the tree. Desmond similarly just appeared in the jungle, and did not know how he got there. The start of LA X, Parts 1 & 2 shows the losties continuing into the OT into 2007 and teh FST in 2004, both occurring at or above the location of the explosion, with everyone in the FST apparently carriing on from where they left off (and having no recollection of their previous experience).
The Flash-Sideways Timeline represents Season 7
What the Flash-Sideways Timeline shows us could be what ultimately happens to the characters after the successful reset is finally done (not in the end of season 5 but by the end of season 6 in the real (island) timeline). So it's an alternative timeline which becomes the "only true timeline" after the successful reset. The FST happens in 2004 and possibly goes on to investigate whether the characters would still have the same fates ahead of them even without the influence of the island. This season will show us the OT & FST simultaneously, so that the creators are able to tell the chronological stories of both seasons 6 and "7" during this one season we have left.
The Flash-Sideways Timeline is a flashforward
The Flash-Sideways Timeline is actually a flash forward - specifically, it's the result of a reset - not from the H-bomb incident, but from some other incident that will occur later in the season. THAT reset will be the one that causes the island to end up at the bottom of the ocean; we'll also see Jack get that specific injury (haematoma) on his neck right before the new reset. Though the events on the plane in the FST take place in 2004, and our heroes are on island in 2007/8, the 2004 events are a flash forward because they occur in the iteration of the timeline following a new and successful reset. It's not so much a different universe, but more so the eventual result of changing the past (via some future action).
- As an edit to this theory, the FTS timeline is not a reset, but a view of the passengers' lives after fulfilling the wishes of the island. If everything is a cosmic game, then once the destiny of the island has been determined, everyone will get their lives back.
- The appearance of FST is created by the pieces of the narrative shown outside of chronological order. What is believed to be concurrent years running parallel is the product of editing. The OT is a looping timeline, visiting 1977 and 2004 again and again. The FST is really what happens after the season finale. The island and its loop are destroyed, and life begins in 2004 as if it had never been interrupted.
The Flash-Sideways Timeline is a flashback
The alternate reality is the opposite of the flash-forward theory - its a flashback to the original timeline in which Jacob has not touched anybody. But in the actual reality (as we know it), Jacob has touched people and its made a significant difference. Jacob decided in my original reality that things were not working (island submerged), and decided to change things up a bit. http://telewatcher.com/telewatching/a-theory-on-lost-the-flash-sideways-timeline/
How the Recurrent Themes of Lost unfold in the Flash-Sideways Timeline
Whatever happened, happened
Flight 815 crashed on the island, Benjamin Linus and John Locke turned the frozen wheel simply to get Faraday into the past and the plutonium core into the "Incident Chamber". This on its own was not enough to detonate the plutonium core which would have contained the EM energy and prevented the island from sinking. Since the core did not detonate on its own, an alternate timeline was created in which the island sank and Juliet's sister was still dying from cancer. Someone, (probably Eloise Hawking) knew there was an alternate (parallel) timeline and convinced Juliet to travel between timelines to detonate the core, crash 815, and save the island, this creating the initial timeline and save her sister from cancer. There's still no point in saying "but if this happened, that wouldn't have happened", because both timelines did happen and were critical to things being the way they always have been.
Desmond and Eloise Hawking both insist that "the universe tends to unfold as it should." This is given as the explanation of why Charlie must die (presumably in both timelines). However, if Desmond had allowed Charlie to die the first time (with the lightning), then the finding of Naomi would have played out differently, but more particularly, at the point at which Charlie drowns, when he switches of the jamming device, and then hears a message from Penny, warning Desmond that the boat does not belong to Penny. If he had been killed earlier then one of the following must be true: (i) The jamming device was never switched off, and the Losties did not know it was not Penny's boat. (ii) The jamming device was switched off, but someone else drowned. (iii) The jamming device was switched off, no-one drowned, and this allowed someone to have a conversation with Penny, possibly even Desmond. In each of these cases, it is difficult to see how events in Series 4 and 5 would have played out the same, following the change in events.
The Numbers in the Flash-Sideways Timeline
The difference between Jack's seat number (23 in the Original Timeline and 24 in the Flash-sideways timeline) suggest an alteration to the core values of the Valenzetti Equation in the Flash-sideways Timeline. Hugo used these new numbers to win the lottery, which in turn resulted in his apparent good fortune.
FST is parallel to OT
In the episode Dr. Linus, they seemed to go out of their way to show that WHH, in both the FST and OT. Starting with this episode we see several parallels, Locke tells Ben that maybe he should lead the school since he seems to care about it. On the island in the OT he tells Ben the same thing, but instead of leading the school it is the island. Ben, later in the FST, ultimately chooses Alex over leading the school, and on the beach in the OT he tells Ilana that he should have chosen Alex over the Island. Evidence like this is in many of the season 6 episodes. The example with Kate would be that in the FST What Kate Does she had a chance to get away and instead went back to help Claire at risk to herself. In the OT back on the island when MIB is tearing up the Temple, Kate has a chance to escape with Ilana and the group thru the secret passage, she instead chooses to go back to Claire obviously putting herself in danger. At the End of Sundown we see a captive Jin, and at the end of the previous episode Jin is being held by Claire, and we still don’t know his whereabouts. In the episode Lighthouse Sayid has a chance to spare the life of Keamy and before he kills him he has a look of I wish I could, but I can’t. On the Island when Sayid goes back to the temple and is talking to Dogen at the pool, Dogen tells a sad story about how he got to the island and about his son. Sayid has a look, for a moment, of pity (his eyebrows are drawn together momentarily), then attacks Dogen and drowns him in the pool. In both instances it looks like for a moment he wishes he could spare them but in the end he does the same thing. So it would appear that with our without the influence of Jacob/the Island things are very similar or the same.
FST is the happy end of Lost
The timeline shows how the cast are happy without the island, John Locke being at peace with his fate, Sawyer being a police man and not a criminal etc. - While some of their alternative fates are not so happy, they are still in control of their own lives and not controlled by a higher force, i.e. the island or the man in black. This is simply to create a happy end to the story, while the original timeline is going in a much more tragic direction.
Fate vs. Free will
The purpose of the flash-sideways timeline is to show what parts of the original timeline can be attributed to fate, and which events can be contributed to freewill. Any events that occur in both timelines are fate, and any that occur in just one of the timelines are free will. Under this theory, it was fate for Sawyer's parents to be conned and subsequently die, but it was free will for Sawyer to become either a conman or a cop. Jin was destined to work for Mr. Paik and end up with Sun, but they weren't necessarily fated to be married. You get the picture. Perhaps most importantly, Flight 815 was not fated to crash on the island.
The Man in Black dominates the flash sideways timeline
Jacob appeared to the passengers of Oceanic 815 at various points in their lives in the original timeline, while the Man in Black will appear in this timeline, since he has found his 'loophole'.
Having just finished reading over all of the theories on this page, the majority being beautifully written and extremely intelligent/well informed, feasible concepts that likely teeter right upon the precipice of validity..I finally reached this final, short and sweet explanation, which is shared by myself.
If you think about it, all the FST characters have what can be assumed (and in several cases- proven) to be not just only their greatest wish..but curiously all related to material, or rather "human" wants and needs. Jack has a child, Locke has actually come to accept his handicap, Ben has Alex filling a daughterly role in his life once again, Desmond has the respect of Widmore, Sayid has Nadia close to him..the point being: In at least Sayid and Ben's case this is exactly what they asked of/would ask of Smokie had they been given a single wish to fulfill. With Damon and Carlton having stated this is indeed not an "alternate" reality in the traditional sense, the most applicable and reasonable explanation is this is after the OT's completion, Smokie was victorious, not only is Jacob/his jailer dead, but The Island/his prison is down in Davy Jones' locker. With the cork no longer restraining the wine in the bottle, he has been freed and walks amongst the FST world, keeping all the candidates/ex-candidates, basically anyone who would have normally posed a threat to his plans, distracted and unknowingly compliant to his will. What of the vast improvements made to their outlooks and attitudes shown by their rising above their habit of following base desires and actions? Merely Jacob's side of the equation.
Because unknown to Smokie this was Jacobs plan all along..with Jacob out of the picture, once Desmond has enlightened the key pieces on this massive chessboard and they are aware of the unchecked evil within this blissful new reality- they will understand the gravity of Jacob's absence and the winning candidate will obviously be the one who at last can transcend this material world of humanity and truly fulfill Jacobs position as the governing deity, just as Jacob had to endure the trials and tribulations before..having the job basically shoved into his hands without a choice. The true candidate is meant to be just that, the true guardian of the island- having given up the things they hold most dear and taken the position by choice- essentially embodying everything Jacob has been seeking and hoping to find in mankind as well as his most basic principle that man should know right from wrong and have free will..and the winning candidate is the one who, by their own free will, chooses to be GOOD and destroy the evil that is Smokie, which they now do having willingly cast aside their human shell and their greatest wish- which also happens to be the one power Smokie holds over them, and truly fulfill Jacobs shoes as his replacement- Which, as of "Across the Sea" seems to blatantly be Jack (we've always known he's the one, but just figured it was too obvious) along with Sayid's statement in "The Candidate" that its always been Jack (hence the title of the episode) Even though we have seen now that Locke's entire life was manipulated by Smokie, down to making his life a mirror of his own, serious parent issues, the lack of the father figure (early on), being "special", visions of his fate and heroes journey..as well as setting him in motion on his whole time/leaving the island quest, and the symbolic picture of Smokie himself he drew as a child..and what is intriguing is we could assume now, judging by Richards shock at Locke's choice of the objects placed in front of him when visiting him in that very scene, he most likely chose the object that belonged to Smokie..But alas- Jacob did seemingly bring him back from the brink of death after his fall, and that small fact could be the very loophole JACOB had planned on. Either way, when the finale comes our way I'd bet a hefty sum this will indeed turn out to be the truth behind the FST. (Hell, the only prediction I am more sure of is whom Juliet shot in the canoe that chased and fired upon the time-jumpers during the flashes that we STILL have not witnessed in present time.. Sawyer. Whiich would be the most ironic and ridiculous death yet for LOST..and that's saying something.