So far, we have seen definite 'bleedthroughs' from the OT into the FST for Charlie, Daniel, Libby and Hurley. It has been indicated that Eloise Widmore knows far more than she has said. We have also seen that Desmond has had some sort of epiphany which has allowed him to experience the OT. It is not clear exactly what OT Desmond understands of the FST, but he is definitely acting 'out of character'. We should also note that the characters named above experienced scenes from the OT lives which occurred prior to December 2004. Not one of their flashes was after that date. However, Desmond's flashes went all the way up to 2006 and possibly 2007. This fact establishes that the FST and OT are NOT 'alternate and parallel realities' existing in a concurrent timeframe. In some sense, for the characters of the FST, if they are 'remembering the OT', then, as far as they are concerned the events of the OT must already have occurred OR they are seeng the future.
Three possibilities for the FST/OT
- The OT was a precursor for the FST, which has somehow superseded the OT as the single reality, and the 'memories' have carried over into this new reality, much like 'regression into former lives' under hypnosis.
- If this is true, then it must be the case that before the end of Season 6, the OT ceases to be, and all of the people in the OT effectively die, but they retain vestigial memories.
- The FST and OT are co-existing and interlinked, but there is no common timeframe. What appear to be 'memories' of the OT are in fact 'flashes of one possible future', much like Desmond had of Charlie's death in Flashes Before Your Eyes.
- If this is true, then this would appear to run counter to the diagram in Daniel's Journal which presupposed that moving from one 'imaginary space' to the other occurred if and only if the time variable is held constant. The only way that this could be made to work is if there is a three-year time-differential between the island and Mainland (i.e. Mainland 2004 = Island 2007).
- Both the FST and the OT are fictions, and neither is the 'true' reality. The events which we are witnessing have already occurred, but for some reason have not been 'observed' (or possibly have been forgotten) by the Losties, who are now experiencing them as if for the first time. They (or the person who is contructing their 'reality' for them) are construing the events in different ways, which then appear as two different versions of the same thing.
- If this is true, then the whole Lost Saga reduces to a Simulism or 'Matrix'-type scenario of some sort: dreamscape, computer simulation, computer game, mass hallucination, reality gameshow, fantasy, mindwarp etc.
Analysis of the possibilities
1. OT as a precursor to FST
I do agree that (1) is still currently a possibility. However, even though the writers have spent a long time building up the FST, possibly in the hope that the viewers invest in the characters, as a reality it can only ever be a 'holding position' for the Losties. There are far too many unanswered questions about the FST, and too many anomalies. For example if it 'succeeds' the OT, at what point would it start, and why? The FST has always felt to me like an 'Oomphalos' universe, that it was invented, intact about 5 seconds before the start of LA X, Part 1, and its entire premise (that the same set of people could be on the same plane in the FST & OT) always felt like a deliberate contrivance meant to signal to us that the entire FST experience was somehow not real or a false reality. There is also the issue of 'no time travelling in Season 6'. The FST is clearly "unsatisfactory" as a solutyion, and characters are trying to exit it. However, to exit the FST and revert back to some earlier state, would require some sort of time travelling solution. The producers have said that this season is about the consequences of time travel, not time travel itself. This can only mean that the FST/OT duality is a result of the time travelling exploits, and needs to be resolved either by merging the FST/OT, or one superseding the other. Given the direction of the flow of memories, it currently looks like the FST has already superseded the OT. If this is true, without time travelling it is really difficult to see where we go from here.
2. OT and FST are co-existing
I would love to think that Daniel's diagram which was reproduced in Happily Ever After, must be relevant, and the FST and OT are genuine 'slideways' universes which are interlinked (or "entangled"). The three year time gap in 'memories of the future' is however difficult to address. If the current time on the mainland is 2004, and on the island is 2007, then island time must be 3 years in the future. This does not really fit with the facts: A316 left in 2007, and landed on the island in 2007; also the O6 left the island in early 2005, they arrived back on the mainland at an equivalent time of 2005. However, there are several events which have involved the electromagnetic properties of the island, and which might account for timeshifts which could have cause island time/Mainland time to move with respect to one another:
- The Hatch implosion (December 2004); Ben moving the island via the FDW (2005); Locke moving the island via the FDW (in the 1860s? 2004?); The time jumps in between Ben & Locke turning the wheel (various: 1953-2007); Jughead detonation (July 1977); Another Swan Incident (around 1978/9); the button-pressing from 1980-2004 (that is one hell of a long time...)
If there is a rational, scientific explanation for the FST & OT, I feel it must centre around these issues. However, there does not appear to be any simple way to make the time differentials work within the story (or at least no way which could be presented in a brief explanation for viewers, ... and believe me I have tried). The facts can be made to be consistent up to a point: for example, when the O6 left the island, they left in 2005, and arrived in 2005; so did Ben who turned the wheel. However when Locke turned the wheel, he left in 2005, but arrived in 2007. Turning the wheel must have undone what Ben did and realigned the times. No EM event has happened on the island after Locke's wheel turning to change the realignment therefore when A316 leaving in 2007, and arriving in 2007 confirms this. However, this is now inconsistent with memories from OT 2007 'bleeding through' into FS 2004.
One other alternative would be the following:
The FDW and other events not only realigns times, it also realigns the island and the mainland realities; i.e.
- Alignment 1: OT mainland is aligned with OT Island; FST mainland aligned with FST Island (submerged)
- Alignment 2: OT mainland is aligned with FST island (submerged); FST Mainland aligned with OT Island
(The problem with this approach is that there could well be many different settings.)
This theory might conceivably explain why the island cannot be found, why it appeared to sink underwater when Ben moved the wheel, and why time alignments may be different at different times. However, when Ben turned the wheel, he arrived in Tunisia; when Locke turned the wheel he also arrived in Tunisia, in the same reality. However if realities had been realigned, they should each have have ended up in a different mainland reality. When you begin to work out the details of it, it is very difficult to see how this can work.
3. The OT and/or FST are simulations
Many people have ruled this out, simply because they do not want to countenance a solution which is a dream, simulation or any such variant. As we get deeper into season 6, this seems to be an increasingly likely prospect, and for me it is the only one which can really fit all the facts. A lot of the features are there; the excessive emphasis on rules (programming constraints), the mysterious place with echoes of antiquity, but whuch are anomalous and anachronistic, the idea of a reset or restart to the FST, the random elements, such as the recurrence of the numbers throughout, the connections between characters, the 'problems to be solved' such as the hatch, the button-pressing, getting off the island, getting on the island etc., getting jughead into place, the events occurring in the FST/OT but slightly differently, people being treated as npcs, redshirts, being killed off in a peremptory manner as if their deaths were meaningless. All these feel like reruns of the same computer game, but under slighly different conditions. A simulation scenario of some sort would easily allow a merging of science/fantasy/supernatural elements within the whole, and the consciousnesses of Jacob/MiB and the losties could all be trapped within such a simulated reality.
Therefore I am sadly coming round to the conclusion that although we have been fed scientific explanations so far, and the show has been almost entirely rationally based for most of its run, no coherent scientific explanation other than 'it's all an illusion' (even if all of reality itself turns out to be illusory) can fit the facts as they have been presented. There are too many loose ends for it to work, and too many contradictions for a single science-based theory to fit. Out of the three explanations offered above, I am afraid the only one which makes any sense is the 'reality is not real' explanation, and, if I am right, I expect louder howls of protest from other fans than the protests which I have been making of late.