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Flashbacks/Theories

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Main Article Theories about
Flashbacks
Main Discussion
 Theories may be removed if ... 
  1. Stated as questions or possibilities (avoid question marks, "Maybe", "I think", etc).
  2. More appropriate for another article.
  3. Illogical or previously disproven.
  4. Proven by canon source, and moved to main article.
  5. Speculative and lacking any evidence to support arguments.
  6. Responding to another theory (use discussion page instead).
  • This does not include responses that can stand alone as its own theory.
  • Usage of an indented bullet does not imply the statement is a response.

See the Lostpedia theory policy for more details.

THEORY: Flashbacks are time-travel effects caused by the properties of the island

  • The unique time-space properties of the Island cause the character experiencing the flashback to actually travel into their own past and relive the events, however the character does not realize this and dismisses the flashback as a vivid dream or intense memory. Desmond, due to his proximity to the energies of the Hatch when it imploded, became cognizant of the phenomenon and was able to attempt to change events in his own past. As the story of LOST unfolds, the characters will come to realize they can interact in their "flashbacks" and take steps to interact with one another and alter their collective futures, however the Universal "Course Correction" phenomenon will prevent this. The prevalence of the Numbers in their past and the strange Pre-Island connections among the characters will be revealed as a sort of "fingerprint" signifying these attempts.
    • This becomes apparent in "Flashes Before Your Eyes" and "The Constant", when Desmond Hume DOES remember the present while in the past, and DOES remember visiting the past while in the present. Aside from Hume's awareness of the flashbacks in these episodes, the flashbacks are otherwise the same as all the other flashbacks that the other characters experience in the other episodes.
    • The flashbacks stopped when Ben and Locke turned the frozen wheel altering the time-space properties of the island. This is why the familiar "whoosh" sound was absent in "Ab Aeterno". Richard's extended backstory in that episode wasn't a true flashback, but was merely a narrative device, unlike the "real" flashbacks. That is, the "whooshing" of the flashbacks and the "creaking" sound of the flash sidewayses are the sound of something really, metaphysically happening.
  • Constant - The show's producers had always said that there was a reason characters appeared in each others flashbacks - a significant reason, it wasn't just accident. What if the writers have set it up so that the characters can be each other's constants?
    • Interesting theory, but many of the characters who cross paths in flashbacks are not connected meaningfully enough to be constants for one another. Desmond knew and cared about Penny in the both the past and the present.
      • We have not seen a "meaningful" connection between Daniel and Desmond, yet Daniel (who is presented as knowing the most about constants) writes in his journal that Desmond can be his constant if anything goes wrong.
        • Daniel may feel a meaningful connection to Desmond, seeing as how Desmond gave him the information to administer his first successful time travel experiment (with Eloise and the maze), in "The Constant".
    • This is true. Maybe because the characters are not consciously aware of their ability to actually travel their consciousness back to the past, their minds cannot be "screwed with" like Desmond before he finds his constant and Minkowski who doesn't find a constant at all. The energies Desmond was exposed to may have just increased the strength of this awareness of time travel. Thus, once you reach the stage of being consciously cognizant, you then need a constant. So if the other characters achieve this level of awareness they can use the other people they've interacted with in the past as constants, given that they now know each other on the island.
      • Yes, agreed, the Losties are not aware at the start of the show of their trips to the past. Although I do think they start to become aware - think Sayid and Amira's cat. It is the escaped electromagnetism from the incident which causes the conscious time trips to the past because we have seen that the electromagnetism has time travel properties. It is also known as the sickness because they would become diorientated, act strangly, not recognise people and eventually the people experiencing the flashbacks would die of a brain aneurysm. It is a slower process for those with less exposure. Evidence - In the Constant Daniel tells Desmond, "In your case, I'm guessing that progression is exponential. Each time your consciousness jumps, it gets harder and harder to jump back." Since the incident happened in 70's the affects of the electromagnetism on the island have diminished. Rousseau's memory problems are also attributed to this sickness caused by the release of the electromagnetism, just as Daniel (who experiemnted on himself) has also suffered memory problems. By the time the Losties get to the island the effects are minimal. Just enough for them to experience the flashes on a sub conscious level. They have flashbacks where they relive parts of their past but are not conscious of it therefore they don't need a Constant. It's like an unconscious desire to change the past which actually changed the timeline. EG Kate going to see her mother to apologise to her but she gets caught by the Marshall. Because changes cannot be made to the timeline course correction ensures that the timeline occurs as it should. Or someone is manipulating the timeline to ensure the future happens as it should. Just as Hawkings was there to "correct" Desmond, other people manipulated the chnages the Losties were unconsciously making. EG in the case of Kate course correction is the horse which jumps in front of the Marshall's car. She then escapes until her she is caught at the appropriate time so that she gets onto Flight 815 to get to the island.

Although they might need a Constant in time if and when the affects progress and get worse. Or they might not need something quite as familiar as Desmond needs because they have not had the same level of exposure. It could be that Desmond needs a more familiar Constant due to his greater exposure. Quote from The Constant - "Something familiar in both times. All this, see this is all variables, it's random, it's chaotic. Every equation needs stability, something known. It's called a constant. Desmond, you have no constant. When you go to the future, nothing there is familiar. So if you want to stop this, then you need to find something there...something that you really, really care about...that also exists back here, in 1996." So the basic need when one is "flashing" is to find something familiar but for Desmond it is something not just familiar but something he really cares about. I also want to mention that it is more likely one can find something special than something familiar which might not work. What happens after the failsafe key is turned? Is everyone exposed to maore electromagnetiusm or does the implosion stop the affects? Suggest to rewatch flashbacks before and after the incident to look for any changes.


THEORY: Flashbacks are merely a narrative device

  • The flashbacks form the only pre-crash information that can be considered to be the truth. Anything that a character says about their life before they arrived on the island cannot be trusted.

THEORY: Flashbacks are experienced consciously by the character

  • The flashbacks are seen not only by the audience, but also by the character featured in the flashback as it occurs. That is to say, we only see what the characters remember. Judging by how Jack reacts to the flash-forward in "Through the Looking Glass", however, it appears that the characters cannot see their flash-forwards.
    • Evidence for this could be seen in S3#12 Par Avion. Clare has a flashback to her Mother in hospital where she watches a nature programnme on TV about migratory birds. Then on her "return" to the island she devises a plan to catch a gull on the island which has been tagged by scientists and since the birds are migrating south she suggestes they attach a message to one of their legs. Also at one of the Comic Con meetings Damon and Carlton brought out a statue of a bird after someone in the audience said the secret word which was “Claire”. I believe this was to draw attention to the importance of the birds and how Clare remembered the information she had acquired in her past and used it on the island. I think it is suspicious that she should suddenly remember that information, it's more likely that she had sub-consciously time travelled to her past and the flashback was much more than her recalling the past in her memory.--Cassiopea 08:50, August 16, 2010 (UTC)
    • Also does Jack change his beliefs after S2#01 Man of Science, Man of Faith. Does he now question his belief in science and believe more in faith as a result of his flashbacks in this episode. Jack may have always saved Sarah but he might not have believed the miracle quite so much if it wasn't for his chat with Desmond. The flashback to the stadium reminds Jack of this event and his meeting with Desmond. In the flashback Desmond was so convinced that Sarah would recover from her injuries and told Jack that she could recover before Jack had seen Sarah wriggle her toes and asks Jack what would that mean to him if she did recover against all the odds. When Jack flashes back to this experience in his past his belief in science is shaken. Not only has he recalled the miracle of Sarah's recovery but he realises that the person who predicted Sarah's recovery is now on the island with him. I ask the question whether Desmond was able to consciously change the past by talking to Jack in the stadium and reinforce Jacks' change of opinion. I beleive that Desmond harnessed the ability to change the past by having these flashbacks because he learned of Constants. Hawking told him not to marry Penny because he would radically change the future and/or course correction would step in. But Desmond could have made a difference to Jack's actions on the island by talking to him in the past in the stadium and reinforced an idea of faith rather than science in Jack's mind. In that episode Jack really did go from being a man of science to a man of faith.--Cassiopea 09:30, August 16, 2010 (UTC)

THEORY: Flashbacks are implanted false memories

  • Until "Through the Looking Glass" it appeared that the flashbacks were implanted memories by the island (or some other guiding force controlling all of the events of the show) into the characters' subconscious to get them to behave in a certain way. The flashforwards kind of nixed this theory but perhaps the flashforward has a different purpose. The flashforward may be the likely result of the course of action in each episode as computed by the island. So; the flashback is the island's way to get the characters to act a certain way, the time on the island is when the characters make decisions that lead to the desired aims of the islands which are shown to the viewers as flashforwards.

THEORY: Flashbacks are changes made to their past by the interferance of the Others

  • Island flashbacks are actually changes made to people's past by the interferance of the Others. The Others have been going to the past and changing the pasts of the survivors of Flight 815 to change the future on the island. Those memories are new to the person who is having the flashback but they may not be aware what they are actually remembering new memories rather than what has always happened to them. It's like the new memories are being downloaded into their consciousness in the present on the island to update the person's brain so that they think that their past is what the Others want it to be. For example Inman has gone into the past and changed Sayid's past. In S2#14 "One Of Them" Sayid's past could have been changed by the Others. He might never have become a torturer if it was not for Inman because Inman spoke Arabic and did not need Sayid to interrogate his commanding officer Tariq. Inman and the Others wanted Sayid to become an interrogator to achieve something for their advantage on the island or maybe because of orders from Jacob. From Lostpedia's page on S2#14 "He [Inman] says he thinks Sayid is lucky, now that he gained a new skill he can use. Sayid tells him he would never torture anyone again. Inman suddenly begins speaking in Arabic, telling him that one day, there will be something he will need to know - and now he knows how to get it." It would also follow that there would be a butterfly effect which would affect other parts of Sayid's life and other new memories to be downloaded into Sayid's consciousness on the island. For example the flashback's in S3#11 "Enter 77" and Sayid's life in Paris.

.--Cassiopea 08:32, September 29, 2009 (UTC)Cassiopea EDITED --Cassiopea 09:53, August 16, 2010 (UTC)

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