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Final Conclusions About the Incident
"You were wrong!! That's the Swan hatch! You blew us right back where we started, except Juliet's dead!" --James 'Sawyer' Ford
The writers messed with our heads throughout all of this last season, dropping hints here and there to make us think that the flash-sideways timeline was somehow created by the Jughead bomb exploding in The Incident, or at least that the alternate reality had something to do with the time-travelling Losties' interference in 1977. But in The End, the flash-sideways timeline turned out to be something entirely different that had nothing to do with The Incident. But now we're left wondering, what exactly did the hydrogen bomb detonation do, besides blast our time travellers back to 2007? As with all other unanswered questions, it's now up to us to come up with our best theories to explain what happened. This is my attempt to piece together what I think happened after Juliet detonated the Jughead bomb with a rock in July of 1977. (Most of this is simply taken from theories I had before Season 6, since I already believed in "Whatever happened happened".)
The Jughead explosion, instead of destroying the island, reacted with the pocket of electromagnetic energy at the Swan site, which caused everyone who did not belong in 1977 (Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Miles, Hurley, Sayid, Jin, Juliet, Rose, Bernard, Vincent) to be transported to 2007. Richard Alpert, who knew that Jack was planning to detonate the hydrogen bomb, eventually realized that they were all gone and assumed that they were all vaporized by the blast. This is why 30 years later, he tells Sun that he saw them all die.
The detonation of Jughead temporarily negated the electromagnetic energy that had been released by Radzinsky's drilling, thus saving the Island and the rest of the world from destruction. It gave the DHARMA scientists just enough time to finish building the Swan station to implement the button protocol. Pushing the button produced the same effect as the Jughead bomb, but was much smaller and would only negate 108 minutes worth of electromagnetic buildup. Since they had to build the mechanism in such a hurry, and with the limited technology they had in the 1970's, they didn't have time to program a computer to automate the process, which meant that a person had to manually push the button every 108 minutes. Radzinsky took on this task, knowing that the Incident was essentially his fault. He would have a partner assist him, and that partner would be replaced every so often.
In 1980, Pierre Chang, after recovering from his injuries sustained in the Incident and receiving a prosthetic arm, created the orientation film for the Swan station. Not wanting to reveal to any new DHARMA recruits that the Incident involved a group of time-travellers from the future and a hydrogen bomb, he purposely remained very vague in the orientation film and merely said, "there was... an incident..." and proceeded to give the most basic instructions on pushing the button.
Jack's failure to change history turned Eloise Hawking into a believer of "course-correction" and the concept that it's better to try to fulfill destiny than to try to change it. She knew that there was nothing she could do to prevent her son Daniel from being accidentally shot by her, so once Daniel was born, she made sure to stay emotionally distant from him while grooming him for his ultimate destiny, which was to become a physicist who would get sent to the Island on Widmore's freighter and eventually travel back to the 1970's where he would get shot. Meanwhile, Eloise was still in possession of Daniel's journal which contained all kinds of information from the future, particularly about the Island and the DHARMA Initiative, and Eloise became the leading expert on future events (such as Desmond's history) and the inner workings of the Island and how to find it. She left the Island to focus on those goals, leaving Charles Widmore the leader of the Others.
In short, everything that the Losties did in the 1970's, including detonating the hydrogen bomb and leaving Daniel's journal in Eloise's possession, was necessary for events to play out the way they always did. No matter what you try to do to change history, you'll only end up becoming a part of the history that already happened. Whatever happened, happened.
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