What's the Alternative?

For those who missed the "Theory of Everything” I discussed a few weeks ago (or who don’t feel like reading 3,000 more words on a TV show that will be off the air in two months), the basic premise was that certain characters on the show are, in fact, from the future. I speculated that the mysterious boy (“The Boss,” who may be Aaron), the Man in Black (who is probably Aaron if the young boy isn’t), and Jacob (and, hell, he kind of looks like Aaron, too) have been thrown through time.

5x05 HelloEloise

She knows.

My basic theory is still intact: It may not be MiB and Jacob, but someone in the mix has knowledge of future events (the boy and Eloise if no one else). The MiB can’t leave the island because his presence will disrupt reality to the point that a particular timeline will collapse and disappear. This is where I think the FST is headed, as it will merge with the OT either purely because of Desmond’s efforts there, or a combination of his work and whatever impact the MiB may have in that reality. That’s the Cliff’s Notes version.

So, even though we’re only a few episodes from the end, and nothing has happened to dispel the original theory yet, why am I worried that that’s exactly what’s about to occur?

I talked last time about the somewhat clumsy revelation about the “whispers.” I tabled the discussion about its awkwardness, but I’ll address it here: My concern is not so much the heavy-handedness with which it was revealed, but, rather, the mildly-awkward incongruity it created.

Anyone who watched the first three seasons of Lost would have been absolutely convinced that the whispers tied directly into the mythology of the Others. It wasn’t clear whether it was some kind of psychic phenomenon, a secret technique used to exaggerate numbers, or something else, but there was little doubt that there was a correlation between the Others and the whispering. To wit, Linus tells Rousseau in "Dead is Dead” that she should “run the other way” when she hears those whispers, just before he spares her life while taking Alex from her.

I’m worried, therefore, that I’m looking too optimistically for answers. My expectation has been that the creators of the show will leave some pieces missing, but that the ones they introduce will fit tightly with the existing picture. Last week’s revelation leads me to believe that it is entirely possible that they’ll instead try to give us a fairly complete picture at the expense of having all the pieces fit together in a tidy fashion.

A good friend of mine made an interesting comment this week. He said that the theory I had put together was well thought-out and entirely plausible, but that it also represented as complex a “solution” as we would get. In other words, he thought the actual answer would be no more complicated than what I had theorized.

Unfortunately, I now think the creators of the show may err on the side of direct simplicity. That’s not inherently bad, especially for a show that has thrown as much at us as this one. But I worry that the complex nature of this show calls for a somewhat complex solution, lest the writers fall into a trap of convenience.

How does all of this play out in practical terms? One of the recurring themes on the show has been the idea of science and faith, their interaction, and their opposition. The big answers on this program will be part science and part supernatural. A given Lost fan’s belief about where this show is headed likely reflects that individual’s own preferences about which end of the spectrum the finale should favor. For me, that obviously leans toward the scientific - with a healthy dose of supernatural, because you’re not going to explain a psychic smoke monster without it.

Walt at Santa Rosa


That preference has nothing to do with my belief system. Rather, it has to do with my own instincts about what constitutes the most satisfying narrative. An “out” via the supernatural seems like a glorified deus ex machina to me. That’s why I’ve been hesitant to embrace theories involving Jacob and MiB being the same person, or demi-gods representing good and evil, or human manifestations of deities in Egyptian mythology - because all of those explanations lean too heavily on answers that seem “lazy” when compared to the usually-meticulous nature of the mythology of the show as a whole (Malcolm David Kelley’s ill-timed growth spurt notwithstanding). If the writers just say, “Hey, these guys are wizards, and they got to be wizards by touching a magic rock in Tunisia or Egypt,” then that’s a major disappointment.

The idea that there’s a futuristic component is not only consistent with certain observations I’ve made in watching this show, but also with the broader idea of the mysteries of the island. After all, the most advanced technologies in the present seem somewhat supernatural, much less semi-fictional technology from some other time.

So, even though my “solution” includes some supernatural stuff (Walt / Aaron’s power, for instance), most everything can be explained by physics - or at least the fictionalized version of physics on this show.

4x13-wheel-metal bands

If MiB and Jacob *are* from the past, then this wheel was probably there before they were if MiB's account of the well-builders is correct (big "if")

The alternative is that Jacob and the Man in Black are just two dudes from the distant past. My guess would be Roman times, just based on their clothing and the ethnicities of the actors. Mark Pelligrino and Titus Welliver would have a tough time passing for Egyptian. Of course, that also means that the two of them weren’t the first humans on the island. It would mean that Egyptians and/or other cultures preceded them, built the tunnels and possibly the temple, as well as the wells and the time wheel (although I can’t get the anachronistic “compass” reference unstuck from my craw - see my previous blog for more information). I would imagine that the people who preceded the two of them were also somehow guided by The Boss.

Even if all of that is the case, it doesn’t necessarily torpedo my theory entirely, so long as the mysterious boy has been the one calling all the shots, and he, in fact, is from the future.

But, if he’s not, and he’s just God, or a god, or an ancient wizard, or something of that nature, then it seems like a little bit of the “point” is lost.

A few odds and ends:

1. I think the whole “women can’t have babies on the island anymore” conundrum will be answered in a similar fashion to the “whispers” question. It’s another one of those things that seemed important for a couple of seasons, but hasn’t been mentioned in a while.

2. After being mildly-disappointed in the whispers thing, I had a disturbing notion that the “Adam and Eve” skeletons might wind up being Desmond and Penny, with Charlie thrown back in time with them and growing up with the Others to be Charles Widmore. Let’s call that a nightmare scenario. That would at least explain what happened to Eloise between 1977 and 2004 to enlighten her as to the various timelines and what was going to happen - namely, Charles had some kind of insight, given his past, and confided in her after she killed their future son. But, again, I'm hoping this "big picture" answer isn't the case.

3. I think that when The Boss tells MiB in “The Substitute” that “You can’t kill him,” he doesn’t necessarily means “It’s against the rules of the game I’ve created to kill him,” but, rather, “You are literally not able to kill him,” in the same way that Michael couldn’t kill himself when he got off the island. This is actually a good sign, because it might indicate a physics / space-time reason for why certain people can’t die at certain times or in certain places. Whatever happened, happened.

6x12 MysteriousBoyIsBack

Aaron? God? Young Matt Damon?

I still need clarification on whether MiB’s line about Jacob taking his body was literal, because that sure would tie up a big loose end: Jacob looks like Aaron. MiB won’t say his own name - probably because it has significance to people on the island. If MiB is Aaron, but had his Aaron-looking body taken by Jacob, that would clean up a lot of the theory. It would also explain why The Boss’ hair was so much darker this time - to throw people off the idea that The Boss is Aaron. Still, if MiB and Jacob are from the past, The Boss must be Aaron, or I’m just completely wrong about a major aspect of the mystery.

5. I think this week’s episode will be more important in the FST than the OT, except for some more goodies from OT Desmond. Otherwise, the OT is mostly just treading water at this point, waiting for the FST to merge. The FST, on the other hand, has to get a move on to get where it’s going. So, in the OT, I think we’ll get a lot of information the audience already knows, but the characters don’t, like Sawyer discussing his submarine strategy with Jack or MiB explaining his bogus plan with the new arrivals to the camp. In the FST, however, we should get some good interaction as all of these characters are shepherded together by Desmond for reasons they don’t yet understand.

--Montecore's Revenge 21:50, April 18, 2010 (UTC)

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