Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Lost, "Follow the Leader": Paid the cost to be the boss

Spoilers for tonight's "Lost" coming up just as soon as I buy shares in Microsoft...
"I'm starting to think John Locke is going to be trouble." -Richard Alpert
"Why do you think I tried to kill him?" -Ben
Of the many recurring themes of "Lost," the question of what makes a good leader -- and how someone can be the perfect leader in one situation and a complete disaster in another -- has always been one of my favorites. It's fun to watch, and to debate -- I can go on for a few hours about all the ways in which Sayid was the perfect leader for nearly every situation of the first four seasons, not that anyone on the show was ever wise enough to notice -- and so an episode with a title like "Follow the Leader," with so much musing about who deserves to be in charge of different factions, was right up my alley.

Between 1977 and 2007, we have many past, present and future leaders coming into conflict with one another -- some on their way up the leadership track, some on their way back down -- with the one constant being immortal Richard Alpert.

We see in both eras that Richard's role is to be the "advisor," as Ben puts it, to whoever the island has chosen to lead the Others -- a coalition of Eloise and Widmore in 1977, Locke in the present -- and to aid them in carrying out their plans. It seems he has to listen to them, to go along with whatever they're doing, even if he disagrees with it, and even though he's older, wiser and more tightly-connected to the island than any of them. But we also see throughout the episode -- just as we did back when Richard was introduced back in season three, when he helped Locke to undermine Ben's leadership -- that he's not quite as subservient as he appears. He's not happy with Ellie's decision to follow Jack, nor with Locke's insistence on going to see Jacob -- and taking the rest of the Others with him -- and you can see in both eras that he's trying to figure out a way to follow the letter of whatever law keeps him from being the leader while ducking the spirit of it.

Sometime between now and the end of the series, we almost have to get a Richard flashback episode, one that likely goes back to the Black Rock era (as hinted at by the ship in a bottle gag at the top of the episode), if not all the way back to when the statue and the Temple were built. There's too much island mythology to unravel any other way in the limited time we have left, and as Ben notes to Sun, Richard's had this job "for a very, very long time." He's the man who's been witness to so many things that the show has only implied so far, and we have to find out what he knows to understand it all.

And among the first things we have to understand is who exactly Richard reports to: Jacob, or the island? Until this episode, I would have assumed the two entities were more or less the same. But Locke is getting his marching orders -- including instructions on how to orchestrate Richard's end of the compass scene from the season premiere -- from someone or something, and whatever that force is, it's telling him he needs to kill Jacob. Is it possible that Jacob -- and the people like Ben, and Widmore, and possibly Richard, who have claimed to follow him -- don't really have the island's best interest at heart at all? And if so, which side should we be rooting for? Jacob did, after all, ask Locke to help him back in "The Man Behind the Curtain," and in a tone that implied he was a prisoner of the cabin, if not the island itself. As with the Widmore/Ben feud, it's unclear who, if anyone, is the good guy in this particular conflict.

Back in the '70s, we have a variety of power struggles among different factions, just as the Oceanic 815 survivors were constantly bickering over who got to deliver the orders. Radzinsky stages a wartime coup of sorts among the Dharma Intiative, even as Dr. Chang (having meditated on Faraday's warning) is doing his best to get the women and children out alive. Sawyer's reign as an important man among both the Dharma group and the time-travelers comes to an end after he's caught by Radzinsky and Phil, and so he reverts back to his self-preservationist roots, trading a map to the Others in exchange for submarine passage for himself and his special lady Juliet. And Kate, who once would have followed Jack blindly into the gates of Hell, rebels against his attempt to follow through with Faraday's plan to explode Jughead in the Swan, preventing the Incident and all the deaths that followed.

It's that last conflict that's the heart of most of the 1977 scenes. Jack means well, but he's willfully operating with blinders on, as he so often does. He doesn't know exactly what Dan intended to do, nor how it's going to work, but he's so caught up in the idea of preventing the plane crash and all the bad things that happened that he's wiling to go forward with the insane idea of detonating a hydrogen bomb, without even having a quantum physicist's knowledge of how this is all supposed to work.

Kate, conversely, initially seems against Jack's plan for selfish reasons: sure, dozens upon dozens of other people (from the anonymous Socks to people she knew well like Boone and Shannon and Michael) might not have died, but Kate would still be a prisoner, and she'd never get to have all that fun, sexy love triangle time with Jack and Sawyer. As she puts it to Jack, "It was not all misery!"

But the more the episode went along, the more it seemed that Kate was the one thinking clearly. Jack doesn't know what he's doing, and is consumed with a Locke-like mania, predicated on the belief that he has some grand destiny to fulfill, and that faith is all it will take to make that happen. Locke acted that way, and people died -- and I suspect more of them will die in his crusade to take out Jacob -- and the same will very likely happen with Jack being this stubborn.

My best guess at this point, actually, is that Dan was right in the first place: whatever happened, happened, and every action the time-unstuck characters take will only ensure that history goes along the proper course. Maybe if Radzinsky weren't losing his mind about a possible attack by the Hostiles, or if Jack weren't attempting to assault the Swan with a freakin' hydrogen bomb, the Incident never would have happened. We've already seen Charlotte and Miles and their mothers evacuated from the island just as they remember -- with Miles finally coming to understand why his father was such an apparent bastard to him and his mother -- and that only happened because of the time travel. As Eloise told Desmond, the universe has a way of course-correcting, and I'm assuming the season ends with the Incident having taken place, followed by Jack, Sayid, Kate and company hurled back to the present, having accomplished nothing but ensuring the predetermined flow of history.

Now, to get there, a lot is going to have to happen, starting with the Dharma sub making a u-turn to deposit Sawyer, Juliet and Kate back onto Craphole Island.

In the end, the reign of LaFleur ended just as messily as every other leader's tenure on this island. (Maybe that's a part of being a leader of any island faction: with great power comes the inevitable beatdown. Sawyer's face looked an awful lot like Ben's by the end of the episode.) Even as Sawyer lost his Churchill-like wisdom and serenity, Josh Holloway and Elizabeth Mitchell continued to kill it in showing Sawyer and Juliet's deep love and trust of one another, in the Dharma security office, on the dock as they said goodbye (and, in Sawyer's case, "Good riddance") to the island, and on the sub as they pondered a free life in the real world of 1977. But on "Lost," happiness doesn't even last as long as a leader's time in office, and so of course Kate had to be dumped into the sub and shackled next to them. Awk-ward! Great looks on everyone's face, and lots of promise for next week's two-hour finale.

Some other thoughts on "Follow the Leader":

• Though we couldn't hear all of Widmore and Eloise's conversation, the snippets we did hear, and his pat of her belly, implies she's pregnant with Dan in 1977, which answers some of my chronology questions from last week (and means that Jeremy Davies was playing quite a bit younger -- and that the Dan that Desmond met in 1996 was only 18 or 19). I'm assuming that part of the fallout from the Incident will involve Eloise moving to the mainland to have and raise the son she knows she's destined to kill.

• Speaking of which, for the benefit of the people who don't read all of the comments, I want to again commend all the posters last week who suggested the reason for Dan's awful destiny was to put his journal in his mother's hands, so that Eloise would know most of what would happen for the next 30 years. This also explains why she told Penny last week that she no longer knew anything that was coming next. I'll still miss Jeremy Davies, who was incredible in his spotlight episodes this season, but I at least feel better that Dan didn't just die to close a chronal loop.

• While Radzinsky and Phil were slapping around Sawyer, all I could think of was why they didn't drag Sawyer out to see crazy Oldham from "He's Our You." I know Stu thought time was of the essence, but that seemed the easiest and most secure way to get a confession -- unless, of course, everyone was so spooked by what they thought was the failed interrogation of Sayid that they've dismissed the idea of Oldham's truth serum.

• Hurley, terrible liar. Doesn't know when he was supposed to be born, or who the president was, and assumed that the Korean War question was a trick of Chang's. Hilarious scene.

• Locke gets to kill another boar, and to return to Others camp with another corpse on his back.

• Regardless of what Richard is up to, what do you suppose Ben's game is? Is he really already disobeying the orders he got in "Dead Is Dead"? Or is he setting up Richard? Or just amusing himself while following orders? Either way, it's a lot of fun to watch Michael Emerson play a sidelined but still troublesome Ben, and it continues to be great to watch this serene, cocky Terry O'Quinn.

• For that matter, it was amusing as hell to see Richard and Ben so at a loss in the time travel scene. Nice to see the shoe on the other foot now and then.

• And speaking of the compass scene, we still don't know where the compass originated from (Richard gets it in 1954 from Locke, who then gets it from Richard in 2007 to give back to Richard in 1954), and we find out that Locke's instructions to bring back the entire Oceanic Six originated from Locke himself. Now, some of that also came from Ben and Ms. Hawking and Christian Shepard, but mostly it's like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

• I know nearly every network show has had its budget trimmed some in this rough economy, so I'll give the show a pass for the cheesey-looking CGI on the submarine departure sequence, which managed to look worse than Lapidus landing the Ajira plane on the Alcatraz runway.

What did everybody else think?

188 comments:

Robert said...

Just wish Ben's line had been, "That's why I killed him," instead of "tried to kill him." Of course he's never told the truth about anything yet, so why start now?

Mike F said...

With a few of the Losties headed off to the real world in the late 70s, I'm thinking maybe they turn out to be the money and will behind the group that kidnaps Miles in the van and plants the other passengers on the Ajira flight.

Jordan said...

I went into this knowing (since it's a penultimate episode) that it would be a moving the pieces into place episode, but wow, a lot of stuff went down. I'm still trying to process it, but here's what I think (and it's pretty close to Alan):

What happened happened. When they try to change things despite being told they can't, they just play into what we know happened, a la 12 Monkeys. Dan's found a variable because he's looking for one, it's not brilliant science, just an unbalanced guy trying to get his girlfriend back (from the dead). I think whatever Jack tries to do to stop the incident causes it in the first place (kinda like Ironman (the song)).

Just throwing this out there, but what if when Jacob told Locke "help me" this is what he meant? I can't wait till next week.

Anonymous said...

Great episode. I love the way everything is all set up for the finale. That scene on the sub when Kate is not only shackled with Sawyer and Juliet, but between them, was awesome. Mitchell's facial expressions were priceless. I bet Sawyer drew a map that will lead Radzinsky into some kind of trap. The little touch with Miles understanding why his father sent them away was also a nice one. I agree that the sub will most likely need to make a U-Turn in order for the finale to tie up loose ends, but wouldn't Sawyer on the loose in the "Me" decade be intriguing? Perhaps a leisure suit, or a trip to the disco?

Devin McCullen said...

I loved the look on Ben's face at the end of the episode. For once he's completely at a loss.

The thing about the sub departure scene is that it was totally unecessary. They could have gotten that across with interior scenes.

One thing that bugged me is that Richard seemed to be acting a little too familiar with Jack in the Others' camp. He'd never met him before.

And it would appear that Locke is lying to Sun about helping her get to Jin. Bad idea, dude.

Chaddogg said...

@Alan -- I don't think we should give a pass to ABC on the cheapo sub special effects....who needed to see it? What, you couldn't show another sub leaving a dock and plunging? Seriously, that could NOT have been as expensive to shoot as the fake-o stuff they did shoot....

Jeff said...

The whole "self-fulfilling" prophecy leads me to raise my estimate of the probability that the "Locke is Jacob" theory is true. That scene where Locke sends Alpert to himself gave Locke the seeming omniscience of a Jacob.

All I know is I'm a little tired of being in the 70s. I hope by the end of season we're back in present day, having done nothing to alter what happened. I want the bomb to be the very thing that causes the button to exist, and I don't know how I'll feel if the writers blow up a big variable next week.

chris littmann said...

was it already established that a) jughead was under the dharma folks and b) that's likely why the pregnancies were never successful (guessing radiation?) I have a hard time keeping track.

Michael said...

Alan,

you couldn't be more right about the sub. I thought I was watching Velociraptor 4 on the ScyFy (is that the right new way to say that)network. Couldn't they have used stock footage of another actual sub or something?

I didn't catch what Locke said at the very end regarding why he brought everyone back. I think he said it was to kill them but I figured you would have mentioned a bombshell like that in the write up so maybe not. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the physics of Locke telling Richard what to tell Locke. So if I understand it correctly had they not come back to the island then the plan to get them back to the island wouldn't have happened? That makes my head hurt. Does anyone have a simpler take on this.

I absolutely loved this episode. Even my brother who blindly bashes the show without ever really giving it a chance, ("polar bears on an island, that's stupid") watched it with me and was totally drawn in. I can't wait for next week!

J said...

Man, you crank the quality stuff out fast.

CGI Sub earned the classic MST3K "Toy boat toy boat toy boat" riff in our livingroom.

My first reaction is that Locke is killing Jacob because Jacob told him to do so, a sort of classic Golden Boughish passing of power. It was nice to see Alpha-Locke back again, and the compass scene was crackerjack. It would be nice if he asked Bat Manuel a few ?s, but no one on this show knows how to do that.

The H-Bomb thing is ludicrous. Not one of these people thinks to bring up the paradox?

And I'm so glad the show indulged JJ's torture fetish in time to remind me to NOT SEE STAR TREK. I'm sure his detestable impulses -- deep down he's the little dude beating up Juliet to assert himself -- surface there, too. Bad, bad robot.

Russ said...

I'm still thinking that Daniel's "revised" theory was right, and that time can be changed, but I expect this issue won't be resolved until next season.

Sort of a random point, but this was the second time that a Lost scene by the docks reminded me of the carbonite freeze scene in Empire Strikes Back. The first time was in Live Together, Die Alone, when Jack and Kate exchanged meaningful looks before beeing hooded by The Others (I thought they had some sort of plan, but it didn't turn out that way). Tonight it was a VERY Han Solo-like Sawyer interacting with Juliet as they walked toward the sub. (And again, I thought he had something up his sleeve and was wrong.)

EOTW said...

So many things about htis ep but the two that struck me, tht have changed the mythology in one ep for me are:

1) Richard saying John Locke migh be trouble. How could this be? WHO DOES RICHARD take orders from? Up until now, I have always assumed Jacob.Island was giving the orders and that Richard was the guardian of the island. Therefore, as he told Widmore: "The island wants who it wants." So, is he not followin the island? How can he not when, clearly, his immortality is coming from the island. This i the first instance where I thought that Locke might have to kill Richard.

2) Remember When Walt told Locke in NYC that he dreamed Locke was on the beach surrounded by people who wanted to kill him (did Walt say Locke was wearing a suit in this vision?)? Until now, I thought he meant the scene where He and Ben try to take the rigger and the three guys with guns try to stop him. But will The Others try to kill Locke?

Alan, for months now, my brother has been telling that Jack is Jacob. Think about it: Jacob tells Locke to "help him" and then all he people we see standing in for Jacob are Shepards (Christian and Claire) My brother feels that the last scene of the series will be Lock sitting down with Jacob and finding out it is Jack and then cut to the title.

I till don't know. the show continues to amaze me. The Hurley scene made me laugh and everything else gave me so many pleasurable moments. The show continues to be the most entertaining damn thing around. I love it completely, even Jack's tattoo ep and Nickey and Paolo. May they rest in peace.

Waiting till next week is going to be awful and YOU KNOW the cliffhanger at th end of next week is going to kill all of us til January 2010.

Russ said...

Also: So Locke told Richard to tell Locke that Locke had to bring the survivors back. This (mostly strong) season's key weakness has been the failure to persuade us that the O6 really needed to go back. This circularity doesn't bode well, unless we find out next week (or later) why Jacob passed on that message.

Also: Am I wrong, or have we still not learned how Hurley went from police custody (after running outside his house and confessing) to the Ajira flight? If so, do you suppose that's because the answer is very important or because it's not at all important?

Sam Hobart said...

I suspect that Ben is angling for Richard's job. He knows that the smoke monster (or ghost Alex, or whoever that was) will not be happy if he doesn't help Locke, so if he is able to replace Richard, he still gets to wield some authority while fulfilling this requirement.

As for Jughead, it seems more and more likely to me that the bomb went off at the end of season 2, when Desmond turned the key. The current concern over whether a nuclear detonation will even work jives fairly well with Kelvin and Desmond's uncertainty whether the failsafe would work. On top of that, the button system with its hieroglyphs, seems almost like a hybrid Dharma/Others solution.

Finally, I rewatched the premiere recently, and Richard's insistence to Locke that he bring everyone back struck me as not about how to get back to the island but about what happens then. The original order to bring everyone back comes from Christian, via Locke, via Richard. I fairly certain there's a reason they all had to come back and that we'll see that play out next season.

Michael said...

They've got a lot of material to cover for the next (and final) season.

Alan, at some point when you get to interview Carlton and Lindelof (maybe even after the series is over), it'd be really interesting to hear of the behind-the-scenes stuff on what the endgame was (if they even had one) when they first started out. Back then there was no Widmore, no Ben, no time travel, just a polar bear and a mysterious monster.

Jordan said...

Was that the walking on a journey music from Exodus? If so, nice callback.

Bitsy said...

The watch paradox reminds me of Somewhere in Time. Old lady Jane Seymour gives Superman his pocket watch and is all, "Come back to me," and then he goes back in time to get to her, and leaves that watch that he gave her behind, so that she can give it to him. And in Lost, Locke is special to the Others because he appeared in their camp in 1954 and told them that Jacob had sent him, and so they spent all that time looking for him and getting him to think that he's special and should come to the Island/Mittelos Science Camp. And when he finally gets there, he's made to think that he has a destiny, which he himself will create, but because he hasn't yet, that destiny builds him up to fulfill that destiny. And round and round we go. Closed loop. Ha ha. Got it?

EOTW said...

Hey Mike: There always was an endgame. they have stated that over nd over an over and it has been coming to fruition ever since htey settled on a final end date.

trust me on htis. htye got it and have said as much forver. BTW, if you want to see a show flounder and end on a vomitous note, feel fre to watch the final meandering, go nowhere season of BSG!

Mike F said...

Couple things not mentioned so far...

Richard, who has always been a truth-teller in this show, states early in the episode that he watched all the 70s Losties die. Was he lying? Did he actually see them all die? or was he tricked or fooled somehow a la Jin getting blown up on the boat?

And then who plants the other passengers on the Ajira plane...and I think its probably going to turn out to be some of the 70s Losties who have been sitting in wait to effect their own end game.

Jennifer J. said...

I agree with EOTW that the cliffhanger and the waiting is going to have us all in a panicked zombie state. What will I do at 8pm every Wednesday night? :(

This episode blew my brains to bits. Thank God we had the hilarious Hurley scene even if it did have to come so soon.

Very happy for Miles to get that moment.

I have so many questions that I can't even think of one....

I want to know how the hell they'll be getting off that sub?! If so, do other people?

Can Radzinsky go ahead and blow himself up already?! I wanna change time on that. Phil...you're on my list for hitting a girl. Shame on you!

Jennifer J. said...

Russ: I think we're supposed to just chalk up Hurley getting out of prison to the lawyer man (My So Called Life's Tom Irwin) that was working all along for Ben.

Now, how he got to want to get on that plane I have no inkling....

Toby O'B said...

I have no idea if Michael Emerson has ever done Shakespeare - though I'm sure he'd be great at it - but I think someday he should take on the role of Iago in 'Othello'.....

I agree that it was unnecessary for the cheapo effects of the CGI sub. It reminded me of the 'Sopranos' scene when Tony went to see his Mom... after Nancy Marchand was already dead. The same conversation could have been done over the phone, from Tony's perspective only, with snippped-together dialogue from Livia.

Jordan, that's my favorite piece of 'Lost' music. Never get tired of hearing it and I'm glad to see it returned tonight.

Dave said...

Glad it wasn't just me who thought the cgi sub looked like s**t!

We could talk time paradoxes all night couldn't we? My wife is frustrated by the whole thing because she has little experience with sci-fi/fantasy and so understanding time travel is a bit of a challenge. Lots of discussion of the meaning of the word "yet" going on during long DVR pauses. I cut my sci-fi teeth on Planet Of The Apes at a very young age (plus a lifeling superhero comic reader) so this is old hat for me: I even resorted to trying to explain Hasslein's theory of "changing lanes" from Escape From The POTA. Surely somebody reading this knows what I'm talking about, yes?

Still diggin' the whole thing. I think we'll be plowing through the whole thing over the summer to refresh our memories. Good fun!

dez said...

For that matter, it was amusing as hell to see Richard and Ben so at a loss in the time travel scene. Nice to see the shoe on the other foot now and then. I'm not sure I liked finding out that Batmanuel was not as all-knowing as I thought he was, but he did seem to catch on fast--unlike Ben.

I'm fully on the Locke = Jacob bandwagon, and I'm also starting the Daniel isn't Dead Dead, only Island Dead Train, if anyone wants a seat. He has to pop up again a la Christian and Claire, he just has to! Especially because someone needs to tell Jack he's not a nuclear physicist and to step away from the Jughead.

Oaktown Girl said...

Can someone please tell me what happened to Sayid's accent? Am I forgetting one of the zillion little plot twists, or did Sayid's accent completely change tonight for no apparent reason?

I haven't got a DVR to replay it, but it seemed to me tonight (esp. inside the cave talking to Jack) he went from his usual Middle Eastern accent to a straight-up British one. Anyone else notice that? What's the deal? I'm much fonder of the sexy Middle Eastern accent, personally, and hope he goes back to it. Unless I'm completely off base and my ears totally deceived me tonight.

jim treacher said...

I'm starting to think that Richard Alpert has lived so long because every time the Angel of Death looks at him, it falls asleep.

So we're setting up for 30-years-older Sawyer, Kate, and Juliet setting up Oceanic 815, is that it?

Rick said...

I've been saying something about Jacob since he was introduced, and I really expect to be proven right in one week.

Man, Locke is about to be surprised.

Mike F said...

what's that, Rick?

rhys said...

I think Ben is grudgingly following the orders to help Locke, which is why he grudgingly informed him of Richard's reservations. Normally he'd play Richard off Locke, but now he has to back up Locke, which I Richard is not going to suspect. There's always the chance that at the last minute Ben will turn on Locke, but I think that Ben will end up saving Locke when it looks like he won't. However, the whole killing Jacob raises the question, who actually controls the monster and the "ghosts"? Is it the Island or Jacob? Christian and Claire appeared in Jacob's hut, so who knows. Jacob asked Locke to help him, and I think it's because he WANTS to die. I think he is somehow trapped in the energy of the Island and cannot leave and wants to. A major question is where did Jacob come from? Did him and Richard come to the Island together? Perhaps on the Black Rock? What caused Jacob to be trapped in the Island? And if he wants to die, why hasn't either Richard or Ben done it? And what about Ben never having seen Jacob? Can he only appear to certain people? Has he only been able to appear to Richard and Richard has refused to kill him for some reason? And kept everyone else away to make sure no one else hears his cries for help? Is it because he's afraid to lose him? So many questions, so little time.

J-bone said...

I've really enjoyed this season, might be Lost's best, but why does every season have to end with everyone split up into groups of 3 or 4 on a quest to go somwhere on the island to save everyone? It's becoming formulaic in the way the Sopranos was with Tony's new nemesis every season. That being said, this episode set things up in a way which reminded me of the end of Season 3, so I'm optomistic for the finale.

Glad you brought up the compass, Alan. I've also been wondering who had it first.

Anonymous said...

maybe im wrong, but didnt sayid KILL witmore??? isnt that something we should be concerned about? witmore cant be dead right? gosh this is so confusing

Mike F said...

that wasn't widmore...that was another other

Tyroc said...

Two different theories...

Building off a previous post here,could Lock be killing Jacob (or planning to) to help Jacob finally die? As if he's been a prisoner in that house and finally wants to be set free? (And maybe Richard has been using his being kept alive to keep himself alive?)

Can Richard be Jacob? The man behind the curtain as it were?

Norris said...

Alan, don't worry about Jack not knowing squat about how to detonate a nuclear device. Remember: Sayid is there and with his time serving in Iraq with all those WMDs...ooops, nevermind.If only there were actual WMDs there.

Matthew said...

HAAAAAA - good one norris.

I wanna hear more about this Jack = Jacob or Locke = Jacob theories. Also Locke has to go get the other set of hostiles from the temple, and maybe even Jacob = Daniel. Kate is lame, Jack feels pain cuz to him the island = time with kate so its too painful.

also the ghosts, i always liked to think the whispers and sightings were due to the time travel effects. Even some of the Walt sightings hmmz.

also I agree its good this episode made us think island and jacob might be different.

maitresse said...

One of the best moments in the show's history-- when Hurley says there's no such thing as the Korean War and the camera cuts to Jin rolling his eyes. GOD I love this show.

BF said...

This (mostly strong) season's key weakness has been the failure to persuade us that the O6 really needed to go back. My guess is the reason Ben & Old Ellie were pushing so hard for all 6 to go back was because both characters remembered all 6 being back in the 70s at some point. And the only way they'd be back there is if they all went back. Of course, for this theory to work, that means that Sun (and Locke?) need to time-jump to 1977 pretty quick.

Stef said...

"We'll buy Microsoft." Oh, how I would love to see Sawyer and Juliet living it up in the 70's and 80's! :-)

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much Eloise (and Whitmore, to a degree) understands about the island. Even though there were clues (like Whitmore's gravitation to Daniel's face, or the notebook with her writing, etc), she still seemed to have taken Daniel's word that he's her son real quickly.

I have to think that Richard is faking his cluelessness to the whole time traveling thing. (Though, very very interesting to watch Locke be the smug one who seemingly understands way more than either Richard and Ben appeared to) As pointed out, he's been around for decades and decades (and possibly more).

Similarly for Ben, I thought Jacob saved his life back then, which would mean Ben did see Jacob before, even if he doesn't remember it. Why Locke was so sure nobody saw Jacob before puzzles me. I guess the big question is what does Locke want exactly (other than to kill Jacob, because we don't know why yet), and what agenda is he following?

Can't wait til next week, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

An excellent episode all around, but two points about last night:

1) Because we know so little about who/what Jacob is, Locke's "shocking" proclamation at the end fell a little flat.

2) It's time for use to learn who/what Richard Alpert is, otherwise, I find myself not caring too much about his loyalties and motives. Sure, his conversation with Ben about Locke seemed sinister, but who knows if it really is? Mystery is great for hooking people into a character/idea, but maintaining the mystery for it's own sake leads to diminishing returns.

Chris

christy said...

Oaktown Girl: YES! The whole time, I was thinking, holy crap, they've used Sayid so little this season that Naveen Andrews has forgotten the accent he usually uses as Sayid! Ha!

Of course, now and then I catch a late-night season one or two episode on the weekend, and Sayid's accent sounded different then, too. It's changed gradually over the course of the series. You're right, though, it sounded so British, I thought Naveen just slipped and used his own accent instead (though his natural accent is even less gruff).

I was just so glad to see Sayid again finally. I don't have high hopes for him making it out of this series alive, but I'd like to actually SEE him now and then if he's going to die soon.

christy said...

Last night's compass hand-off is actually the thing that has me most confused about the closed loop, even though I'm a strong proponent of it (and usually understand it just fine).

We've already brought up the question in past threads--if Richard gives the compass to Locke and Locke gives the compass to Richard, then how was the compass made? But that's not really the question that bothers me much.

When Locke asks Richard about the compass in this episode, Richard says something like "pretty rusty but she still tells North." So...the compass has visibly aged in the time (50 years!) that Richard has had it in his pocket? But then Richard gives that aged compass to Locke who immediately time jumps to the 1950s and gives it back to Richard. But...if whatever happened happened, Locke can't give Richard a compass that looks older than the compass he gave Richard. It has to look the same "every time" (because there is only the one time). It's hard to explain, I hope I'm getting my point across.

It's also hard to explain why the aging compass bothers me more than the compass that has always existed and was never manufactured. I guess I was thinking that the compass was a magical object of some sort, but the fact that they made a point to say it'd gotten rusty throws a wrench in the way my brain was processing that.

Karen said...

Totally agree with the first comment: I immediately thought that Ben's line should have been "That's why I killed him." And I loved the glances between Ben and Locke during the whole discussion of whether or not Locke had died.

Felt all warm and fuzzy as Miles watched Chang insisting his wife and son leave.

And count me and the Husband among those who totally expected something different from Sawyer as he approached the sub - having him actually get on it was a fake-out for us. (The CGI sub... baaaad.) I don't think he gave them a real map, though. I just can't.

Plus, I'm finding... (checking IMdB) David S. Lee totally physically convincing as a young Alan Dale.

As for the plot? Makes my head hurt, but in a good way.

(Naveen's real accent is very different from any of Sayid's, by the way - in interviews I've heard, he sounds much less upper class or RP or whatever the term we're supposed to use these days is.)

Karen said...

P.S. We'd totally forgotten about Sayid, so him bursting in like that was very cool.

Peter D Bakija said...

I'm still operating under the assumption that John Locke is dead, and "John Locke" that we have now is a manifestation of the island (smoke monster or something)--as noted many times, "dead is dead", and there was the whole "you never see John and the smoke monster in the same room" sequence ("John Lock *can't* be the smoke monster. The smoke monster wears glasses, and John Locke doesn't..."). And we still have only ever seen John Locke from someone else's perspective (i.e. we are yet to see any sequences of John alone, and only ever see him as he reacts to others).

Given this, either:

A) It is a total red herring, and John is alive and well.

B) "John Locke" is bringing The Others/Ben/Richard to Jacob as a mechanism of the island, and is doing something that will effect Ben/Richard, rather than something that will serve John Locke. As he's dead anyway.

Justin said...

"Am I wrong, or have we still not learned how Hurley went from police custody (after running outside his house and confessing) to the Ajira flight?"

No, but Ben had the lawyers working on it and he was supposed to be out in plenty of time.

The real mystery there is what convinced Hurley to get on the plane.

JD said...

I'm glad others noticed how bad those submarine special effects were. The best thing about last night's episode was that it was the second episode in a row that gave us almost every single character on one episode. This time we were only missing Desmond/Penny and we still haven't heard from Rose/Bernard and Claire. There are some things I doubt we'll ever get resolution on (why was Walt so special, why was Libby at Hurley's mental institution), but I'm dying to know about Claire, Rose/Bernard, and how Sun will get reunited with Jin.

lizvelrene said...

My crazy guesses for the finale:

1) Jacob is some sort of "infection" to the Island that Locke has to iradicate.

2) Jacob will almost certainly turn out to be one of the characters in the 1970's storyline, somehow trapped in limbo by "the incident".

3) I'll more wildly guess that Jacob is Jack. Or at least, that's what I hope is the case, because story-wise that would be fantastic.

4) More certainly, the incident will cause Dr. Candle to lose his hand, kill off a great big swath of the Dharma initiative, and send the rest of the Losties back to the future (minus whoever ends up as Jacob). We might even get an indication of what Richard is - an avatar of the Island itself? Etc.

Russ said...

Christy -- I'm not that strong on the ins and outs of the compass hand-offs, but I THOUGHT last night that the rusty compass was past (i.e., "after") all the trades in the time line. I.e., if you imagine a line that moves from left to right but loops around a bit in the middle and then straightens out again, I thought we were on the right side of the loop.

But again, I'm not so strong on this. Does Richard give Locke the compass in the 2004 time frame?

Anonymous said...

Hurley's interrogation was hilarious. Just hilarious.

Russ said...

Liz, recall that Dharma is still in force in the 90s, when the Hostiles massacre them. We know that at the least, Radzinsky and Horace and "Candle" survive the Incident (as well as whichever Dharma-ites in the ditch were on the Island in '77. (Of course, a bunch could be killed in the Incident while a larger bunch survives.)

sandra said...

I don’t like clueless Richard, he has been around for years & years, he has met multiple time traveling people so why is he still so confused by it? I find it super annoying. I liked him better when he seemed like he was all knowing. I really do hope he is faking.

But I really do not want Richard to be bad, and I refuse to believe he is. Last week he was all upset with Elle for killing Daniel, even though the man had just threatened to kill him and like others have said he is pretty darn honest. Almost too honest, since he gladly gave Widmore’s first and last name to Jack just because he asked. Plus, we have to assume his agelessness comes from the island, so he has to be in the island’s favor right?

So, the island knows where the Smoke Monster is, when past Locke is going to appear but does not know where to find Jacob? I’m going to say that it’s not the island that speaking to Locke, but something else.

Anonymous said...

The Chang+Hurley scene was a callback to Namaste.

Hurley: What if they start asking us questions we can't answer, like, uh, who's president in 1977?
Sawyer: It's not a damn game show, Hugo.

Apparently it is a damn game show!

Alan Sepinwall said...

While the idea of Sawyer, Juliet and Kate making a fortune and being the backers behind Ilana, Bram and company is cool, I seriously doubt the producers would consign three of their most attractive actors -- and 3/4 of the love quadrangle they've spent so much time on -- to spend the final season wearing old age makeup.

The sub's going to have to turn back. The only question is whether those three are the only ones who get off, or if little Miles, little Charlotte, or someone else's past gets changed in the bargain.

Bryan said...

Terrific episode and I agree with you Alan- whatever tinge of dissappointment I felt at the end of last week is gone. Also, going by the previews last week, I was not looking forward to this episode very much. I thought they were going go back into a straight "Jack's the leader let's stop the plane from crashing" mode. But I was fooled again -

Hey - this is a little off-topic but I just thought about it this week for some reason. If the severity of the sickness that Charlotte died from is based on time on the island have we ever found out why Fisher Stevens died from it? did I miss something?

Anonymous said...

This is my first time commenting but I have so many thoughts about this episode I have to get some of them out:

Assuming Smokey = Jacob, and Smokey told Ben to follow Locke no matter what - Jacob WANTS Locke to kill him ... and I totally buy into Jacob wanting to die to be released from the island.

Which leads us to 1) Is Richard's immortality tied to Jacob's, and is that going to cause a mutiny. 2) Will Locke become the "new" Jacob unable to die and leader of the island?

The theory that Jacob = Jack makes more sense than I'd like it too.

Also in response to Richard saying he saw them all die. I think that's what he THINKS - but really he saw them time flash and they will show up in 2007 at some point coming up.

I don't think that Sawyer/Kate/Juliet are 30 yr older versions sending back the Ajira group because if they do get off the island they could care less about the mytholgy of the island and would just want to get on with their lives.

Sorry for the long post but there is just so much to talk about in this episode! I can't wait for the finale!!!

- MARY

Anonymous said...

"showing Sawyer and Juliet's deep love and trust of one another"

Alan,
Great review as always, but you think Juliet has been conveying trust in Sawyer the last two episodes? I think she has been selling just how insecure she has been since Kate has been back.

Call her Freckles, she immediately give up the fence codes.

Or the loaded question "Do you still have my back", when packing for the beach.

Or her look when Kate climbed into the sub.

I don't think Juliet was showing trust in those 3 scenes.

Jennifer Finney Boylan said...

My teenagers and I all had the same reaction to this week's episode--"That's it?" I'm not entirely sure why this one left us so restless, but it did.

I think our two main problems are--
1) that I don't understand the whole Jack and the H-bomb thing. Maybe I'm just an English teacher, but wouldn't, like detonating an H-bomb wipe out everybody forever, in the most horrible way possible? And the good thing about this is that some nether-version of the characters in some alternate reality in the future never have a plane crash? Why would Richard and Ellie help him with this project? THEY aren't going to crash on any damn plane. Is it that they really don't think Jack wants to detonate the bomb? What ELSE would you do with a bomb?

And: this seems like a reversion to the "old" Jack. The one I was so glad to see the good doctor evolve from. Jack had grown so much as a character, and now, bang, he's back to old bullheaded Jack. Doing something that seems just totally unbelievable to me. And-- (hate to use this word to describe my favorite show): SILLY.

Two: there's no drama for me in hearing that Locke's going to "kill Jacob." Nor that he's leading a band of REDSHIRTS toward the place where he will do this. This would mean more to me if I knew what Jacob was. OR if I knew any of those people. But the only ones I care about are Richard and Ben, and we don't seem to be learning anything new about them at this point.

LOVE wise, "i have a purpose" Terry O'Q. Just so much fun to watch.

I have been hoping all season to see the Hurley How-I-Got-On-The-Plane episode, and was sad that this was not it. Call me a sucker, but ever since Hurley told Miles he talks to dead people (which we already knew, of course), I've been hoping for an episode in which EVERY DEAD CHARACTER, EVER, comes and talks to Hurley. My children and I have had great fun imagining this: the at-long-last love scene with Libby, victory laps for Boone, and Shannon, and Anna-Lucia, and NIkki, and Paolo, and who knows? Ethan? Desmond? Charlotte? EVeryone's welcome! And of course, Charlie, who still has to GIVE HIM THE GUITAR. We saw hurley making off into the wood with the guitar last night, which I thought was sweet.

As was Miles admitting he's Dr. Halliwax's son.

My guess is that we won't have a Hurley episode now; seems too late.

We spend a lot of time at our house talking about LOST this way; I will admit that the thing I love most is the way this show is something my children and i totally share. And yeah: we have also invented A WHOLE EPISODE FOR VINCENT, TOO.

Okay, so. Shows got a lot of ground to make up next week to satisfy the Boylan family.

And, if you'll forgive me, one last time: Bernard? Rose?

Mr. Derp said...

I'm thinking that, post-incident, the last shot of the season will be of 815 crashing again, with some significant differences (older Walt, no Michael, no Boone/Shannon, no Locke). Season six will then be about explaining how all this has happened and what the nature of the island is that has drawn these characters to it.

Just a thought.

Rae said...

Christy - The compass thing works, though, if you realize that the age of the compass is from Richard's perspective alone... and it does visibly age from the time he's given it and the time he gives it back. Since he doesn't comment on what it looks like when Locke gives it to him in the 50s, we can't assume it's not already rusty at that point and just gets rustier every time the loop happens.

Peter D Bakija said...

Christy wrote:
>>When Locke asks Richard about the compass in this episode, Richard says something like "pretty rusty but she still tells North." So...the compass has visibly aged in the time (50 years!) that Richard has had it in his pocket? But then Richard gives that aged compass to Locke who immediately time jumps to the 1950s and gives it back to Richard. But...if whatever happened happened, Locke can't give Richard a compass that looks older than the compass he gave Richard. It has to look the same "every time" (because there is only the one time).>>

We don't know that the compass looked "new" when Richard got it in 1954. We just know that it was less rusty than it was in 2007 (or whenever that is). So if Richard gets the compass in 1954, and in 2007 it looks older than it did in 1954, all is good.

So Richard gives Locke an old compass in 2007, and Locke gives Richard the old compass in 1954, and then 50 years later, the compass is older than it was in 1954. And he gives it to Locke. And Locke gives it back to Richard in 1954. And so on.

The compass, as a result of this information:

A) Was never actually made. As it always just is.

B) It ages from 1954 till 2007. And looks older in 2007 then it did in 1954. 'Cause it ages 50 years in the mean time.

So really, the compass just exists and is infinitely old.

Anonymous said...

The scene of Hurley, Miles and Jin watching people get onto the sub reminded me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion were watching the witch's castle to try to figure out how to rescue Dorothy.

Yes, we also thought the sub effects were bad too, even the part inside the sub when the crew was getting the sub ready to submerge. Reminded us of the old 20,000 Leagues Sub attraction at Disney World.

Kath

BF said...

("John Lock *can't* be the smoke monster. The smoke monster wears glasses, and John Locke doesn't...").
Jacob is Cassanova Frankenstein?!?

latenac said...

Wasn't the bomb that Eloise uncovered a lot smaller than the Jughead we saw in Jughead? I think Sayyid maybe right once again in Season 5.

Peter D Bakija said...

BF wrote:
>>("John Lock *can't* be the smoke monster. The smoke monster wears glasses, and John Locke doesn't...").
Jacob is Cassanova Frankenstein?!?>>

I'm glad someone is paying attention :-)

Russ said...

With due respect, the "infinitely old compass" theory is deeply unsatisfying. If this is a loop, it has occurred/is occurring an infinite number of times -- over and over and over and over (we're only watching one iteration, but if it's a loop than it keeps on happening over and over and over). In that instance, any degeneration on the part of the compass would lead to its demise. Put differently, 50 years times infinity is a heck of a long time, and if the compass is getting older/rustier, it would ultimately deteriorate into dust in the loop. (And it's not good enough to respond, as one might, that we're just seeing an iteration in which the compass is still intact, but that in "later" iterations it isn't, because then the loop is unsustainable.)

Russ said...

Argh. "Then" not "than." Sorry.

Mr. Derp said...

Why do we care about the compass so much? It's value is more symbolic than anything, reading too deeply into these details kills the magic of the show.

Toby O'B said...

From Jennifer: "ever since Hurley told Miles he talks to dead people (which we already knew, of course), I've been hoping for an episode in which EVERY DEAD CHARACTER, EVER, comes and talks to Hurley."

I'm thinking we'll get plenty of that next season. I'm convinced next season's big group will be The Whisperers.

Every season has had a group introduced:

Season One - the 815ers
Season Two - the Tailies
Season Three - the Others
Season Four - the Freighter folk
Season Five - Dharma Initiative

So the Whisperers would be - to me - the logical group for the final season. Who else is left?

With each episode we'd greet old friends through the auspices of Hurley and Miles, and from the POV of Claire, whom I think is one.

If so, good luck to the producers in trying to keep such info from getting spoiled as each actor returns!

Anonymous said...

What person on the island in 1977 has the best concept of the time warp that our characters are going through? I would say that person was Daniel Faraday.

So now Jack is a fool following the plans of Faraday? I don't think so.

What did Miles tell his dad about Faraday "He has been right about everything".

I can understand Jack's reasoning. Everybody says blowing up a hydrogen bomb is rational. Yes, what they need is more rational thought. Rational thought about smoke monsters, time travel, flaming arrows, pressing buttons to save the world, polar bears, others, Dharma, Swan Station, Hydra, voices, vision of dead relatives etc, etc, etc....

I'm not sure I would do what Jack is doing, but I understand it. When nothing has made senses in 3 years, I could see myself following a guy who has had some of the answers.

Anonymous said...

"trust me on htis. htye got it and have said as much forver. BTW, if you want to see a show flounder and end on a vomitous note, feel fre to watch the final meandering, go nowhere season of BSG!"

Apparently unjustified bile towards the final season of BSG causes a ton of typos. Righteous!

"maybe im wrong, but didnt sayid KILL witmore??? isnt that something we should be concerned about? witmore cant be dead right? gosh this is so confusing"

That was "Eric," as in when Eloise set out with Jack and Kate, she told Richard "I need you and Eric to come with me."

"2) Jacob will almost certainly turn out to be one of the characters in the 1970's storyline, somehow trapped in limbo by "the incident"."

Then why does Richard know about Jacob back in the 1950s storyline from earlier in the season? The only way Jack=Jacob is if at the end of Jack and co being transported back to the 00s, and at the end of season 6, Jack is somehow thrust back into time far enough back to become Jacob. Otherwise, there are "many" Jacobs and it's just a damned monarchical title to be passed down...

"1) that I don't understand the whole Jack and the H-bomb thing. Maybe I'm just an English teacher, but wouldn't, like detonating an H-bomb wipe out everybody forever, in the most horrible way possible? And the good thing about this is that some nether-version of the characters in some alternate reality in the future never have a plane crash? Why would Richard and Ellie help him with this project? THEY aren't going to crash on any damn plane. Is it that they really don't think Jack wants to detonate the bomb? What ELSE would you do with a bomb?"

detonating it underground would not necessarily kill everyone. Killing everyone would not necessarily wipe out everyone forever. The entire theory that Jack has adopted from Faraday here is that if they prevent the island's energy from being tapped by the work at the Swan Station, which leads to the numbers needing to be input every 108 minutes for nearly 3 decades, which leads to the energy release when Desmond doesn't put in the code that one time and flight 815's crash... then the entire timeline they're in right now back in 1977 won't ever have happened. Not ONLY will the Losties in the 70s never come to the 70s.... but Richard and Eloise will never meet them/help them set off the bomb.

This is the open loop alternative to the closed loop time travel theory. Or else, this is the "this is an alternate reality/alternate timeline branch from the "true" timeline of Lost" theory.

Anonymous said...

... and now, for something completely disturbing:

"And then who plants the other passengers on the Ajira plane...and I think its probably going to turn out to be some of the 70s Losties who have been sitting in wait to effect their own end game."

So you think the 70s Losties (or "some" of them as you said) never get to time travel back to the 00s, and they're in their 60s (or whatever) back in the USA engineering the Ajira flight's passenger list?

Doesn't that mean that Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Juliet, Hurley, Miles, Jin, and/or Sayid don't have very much to do from 1977 to 2007 on the show itself? I mean, that means that Jack and co (or whoever exactly) will never be back in the present at their CURRENT ages, interacting with Locke. Isn't that a bit of a bummer?

Not to mention the simple practical matter of "so wait, back in the present, all those characters who were back in the 70s are going to be played by new actors for season 6????"

I don't think that's gonna happen, somehow.

"So we're setting up for 30-years-older Sawyer, Kate, and Juliet setting up Oceanic 815, is that it?"

Argh... this is going to be a trend of speculation now, isn't it. No no no no noooo. ;_;

The real problem is that next week's finale may not nip it in the bud, that may have to wait for January 2010. (sigh)

ZeppJets said...

"Lots of discussion of the meaning of the word "yet" going on during long DVR pauses. I cut my sci-fi teeth on Planet Of The Apes at a very young age...so this is old hat for me"

Speaking of which- did anyone else flash to Planet of the Apes when young Widmore on horse back clocks Jack with the gun-butt?

Russ said...

Can't speak for others, but I care about the compass because I care about figuring out how time travel is supposed to work on Lost. I respect the choice not to engage such questions, but I don't think one can be faulted for taking the show up on its invitation to figure things out.

BH said...

How come we didn't see a flash when Locke disappeared last night?

Oaktown Girl said...

Christy - thanks for chiming in and letting me know you noticed Sayid's marked change of accent as well. Taking into account any previous small variations that occur whenever actors use foreign accents, last night was still a radical departure.

I can't believe with so many people here focused on every little "Lost" detail, hardly anyone else here seemed to notice or care about that one, (including Alan!), which to me was a HUGE deal. Oh well.

Toby O'B said...

Speaking of little "Lost" details.....

If "dead is dead" and Locke was killed, wouldn't he have been embalmed for the funeral? And wouldn't that include removing his inner organs?

If so, what happened when he ate that mango on the beath with Illana? Just bouncing around in that empty cavity?

I know. Ewwwwwww.

(It's making me think of Owen on 'Torchwood'....)

Steve said...

I loved the first 45 minutes of the show.

The Hurley scene with Chang was fantastic, and great job by anonymous in pointing out that it was a recall to "Namaste." (Jorge Garcia has come a long way from selling pot to Larry David)

Am I the only one to pick up on the idea that the map Sawyer draws for Radzinsky is the same map he paints on the Hatch fail-safe wall before blowing out his brains?

Also, I think I'm the only one that doesn't like this Locke. When he gets that definite idea of what needs to be done, I find that his scenes become the least entertaining. It's just me, though.

Loved the ship-in-a-bottle sight gag. Loved that Miles caused his dad to send his mother and him off.

The name "Jack Shephard" has so many ties to Jacob that it's either an obvious red herring, or the showrunners are beating us over the heads with it just to say that they told us all along.

Didn't Horace build the cabin for Jacob? So if he is a prisoner, he hasn't become one yet (in 70s timeline). But again, wait and see.

I keep having this nagging fear that the series finale will not have a satisfying ending.

Was it me, or did Jack, Kate, Hurley and Miles (time travelers) all seem to look a lot older/grayer?

Elizabeth said...

(first time commenter-long time reader. Gotta love a blog where you actually take the time to read all the comments!)

The one thing that irritated me last night that maybe has been answered before and I just can't recall:
Where did all these 'Others' come from anyway? There seemed to be a whole lot of them both in 77 and 'present day' and if the refurbished 'Others' under Ben couldn't give birth, was that a result of the incident in 77? and if so, shouldn't all the 'Others' be pretty old by now? All the people on the beach in 'present day' following Locke looked to be in their 20's or 30's.

Loren said...

I think the solution to the compass paradox is this:

In 1954, Locke presents Richard with the compass as part of his evidence that he's from the future. IIRC, Richard seems curious how Locke got it.

I tend to think that when Locke gave the compass to Richard, Richard already had the compass. So from 1954 to 2007, Richard had TWO compasses. Then in 2007, Richard gives his *original* compass to the time-traveling Locke, and keeps the one that Locke gave him.

Problem solved.

Porkchop said...

just a thought but the whole loop thing does it remind anyone else of the Desmond loop when he thought he had to save Charlie?

christy said...

Russ said: "Christy -- I'm not that strong on the ins and outs of the compass hand-offs, but I THOUGHT last night that the rusty compass was past (i.e., "after") all the trades in the time line. I.e., if you imagine a line that moves from left to right but loops around a bit in the middle and then straightens out again, I thought we were on the right side of the loop. But again, I'm not so strong on this. Does Richard give Locke the compass in the 2004 time frame?"

I don't think so. My impression is that it goes like this. In the 1950s, Locke appears and gives the compass to Richard. Later, Richard shows the compass to Locke as a child, but still holds on to it. In 2007, Locke appears again. He asks Richard if he still has the compass. Richard says yes and it's rusty. Locke, Richard and Ben immediately trek to the heroin plane. 2004-Locke is unstuck in time, and appears in 2007 with the bullet in his leg. 2007-Locke tells Richard to give the compass to 2004-Locke. He does. 2004-Locke then time-skips again, arrives in the 1950s, and gives the compass to Richard. That's the loop. So, Locke gives the compass to 50s-Richard very soon after 2007-Richard mentions that the compass has rusted.

But if whatever happened happened, what happened was that Locke gave Richard a compass that was a certain age. Doesn't have to be brand new, but the age it is, or at least the age it LOOKS, should be fixed. Like Richard.

It shouldn't be able to be older and older every time, because there is only one time. Our characters experience these moments in different orders, and in some cases more than once from different perspectives. But the moment itself, and all the things that happen in it, and all the people and objects that are present in it, are fixed.

That is, in the closed loop theory. Neither of the explanations from Peter J Bakija or Rae is consistent with that.

I can accept that the compass is just magical, and that it always existed. But to me that should mean that it should also always look the same. Or, if it does age, that something happens to it to look "younger" again before Locke hands it over to Richard. I also considered (and still consider) that Richard only THINKS it looks rustier in 2007 than it did in the 1950s, because that would be logical, and he can't possibly remember exactly how it looked when he got it. That he just assumes it's changed because that's what should happen, but it hasn't.

But if any of those things are true, I just wonder why none of them were shown in some way, while they DID go out of their way to have Richard remark that it's aged.

Does any of this have anything to do with anything? I don't know. I'm just saying that the closed loop, "whatever happened happened," 12 Monkeys, Prisoner of Azkahban theory is the only thing that makes any kind of sense to me, and this one tiny detail is the one thing that makes me wonder how it could be.

I also wonder if it has anything to do with why Richard doesn't age. Maybe he, like the compass, is stuck in a time loop somehow. I do think it's funny that while this whole series has gone on, we've been looking at Richard thinking "why does he always look the same age???" And now that we know more details about the time travel parts of the plot, we know that from Richard's perspective, none of the 815ers, or Daniel, age either! He's seen them in all the same time periods we've seen Richard, all looking the same age. (Except when he visits Locke at various ages, I guess).

Anyway. Sorry that was so long.

Mr. Derp said...

Elizabeth, the Others took over the Dharma resources (ie - the submarine, etc) and have not been afraid to use it to 'recruit' people into their fold. We also don't know yet how many of the Others are Richard-style (apparently immortal) and how many are Widmore-style (susceptible to age).

christy said...

I said: "So, Locke gives the compass to 50s-Richard very soon after 2007-Richard mentions that the compass has rusted."

I mean, from the compass's perspective. (If compasses have perspectives).

Michael said...

Peter wrote:

there was the whole "you never see John and the smoke monster in the same room" sequence ("John Lock *can't* be the smoke monster. The smoke monster wears glasses, and John Locke doesn't...").
Wasn't there a scene somewhere in season 1 or 2 when Locke was grabbed and dragged by Smokey and was almost taken down a rabbit hole or something? Or was that someone else?

Also, was there another early scene where Locke met Smokey (maybe when Locke was out hunting boar), faced him down, and walked off? Or was that another character?

Kirs said...

Am I forgetting something or have we not seen who was shooting at Sawyer and company during the massive rainstorm/boat thing earlier in the season?

So happy to have Sayid back. I didn't catch the accent change, but maybe it was because I was so psyched to have him back. I actually yelled "SAYID!" when he came on screen.

Perhaps Richard is Dorian Gray and Jacob is Dorian Gray's portrait? Richard never ages. Jacob is something hideously monstrous, so ancient that he's just ether.

Kirs said...

Oh- and the look on Elizabeth Mitchell's face when Kate joined them on the sub was freakin' brilliant. Absolutely incredible. It was subtle, but managed to convey that Juliette was beaming a million rays of hate towards Kate.

Pereking said...

Why are we assuming that there is only one compass?

Locke didn't tell Richard to give past Locke the compass, he only told him to tell past Locke that he is going to have to bring the others, and die.

Therefore, we must assume giving past Locke the compass was Richard's own initiative, and he had gotten a new compass (other than the one Locke gave him) sometime between 1954 and 2007.

Richard also appears to be acting confused for some reason. He asks Locke where he was for the past three years, after he disappeared, even though he knows Locke travels back in time at some point to meet him, and he knows that in 1954, Locke also disappears, therefore tying the two events together.

christy said...

Loren: sorry, I think you posted while I was typing.

The two-compass theory doesn't work for me either, because the compass Richard gives Locke becomes the compass Locke gives Richard. It would mean that compass 1 and compass 2 were alternating between being the compass Locke gives Richard and the compass Richard already had. If whatever happened happened, then what happened was that Locke gave Richard a compass. It always has to be the same compass, because it only happens once.

Oaktown Girl: a friend here IRL suggested that maybe Naveen was sounding more British than usual because Eloise's British accent was bringing out Naveen's real accent. I know when I'm around my aunts and uncles, you can sure tell I'm from Maine. Of course, I'm not trying to put on a fake Iraqi accent. Not all the time anyway :)

I think Rose, Bernard and Vincent MUST be at the beach in 1977, right? I feel like characters keep saying "that's it--let's just go back to the beach" but then they never do. So maybe Rose et al just figure the beach is the safest place, and the place they're most likely to see someone they know. They're certainly not safe with the Others or the Dharma. Still, three years is a long time to be waiting at the beach. I just hope we don't find out they died in the cave years ago.

Joe Cobb said...

I think we've missed the obvious.

On the whole compass drama... we are all assuming that our characters are jumping in a static time line. Meaning the 1977 is the 1977 of the 2007 time line. What if...

What if our characters are indeed jumping in time, but jumping into different time lines altogether?

accepting that you can't change the future, our guys can only do what they would've done to make the correct outcome occur for them in their correct time line.

Example: Jack goes back to 1977, but it isn't HIS 1977A, it's 1977B. Whatever he does in 1977B is determined by (fate) to course correct 1977B to fit Jack's 2007A life. But you can't change the future... therefore whatever happened to Jack in 2007B is what will happen to Jack in 1977B.

So if you look at the compass, while it may be the same compass, it is existing in different timelines and is not a constant.

Mr. Derp said...

Joe Cobb, I don't think we're in alternate timeline land...we have seen that two versions of the same person can simultaneously exist, so when 2007 Jack goes back to 1977, 1977 Jack is still playing Little League in California, even though 2007 Jack is on the island at the same time.

Since you can't change the future, there is no 2007A or 2007B--2007 Jack's future is currently in 1977. This is the key, I think: the castaways CAN change the future in 1977 because they are still on an effectively linear timeline (as in if 2007 Jack is 35 and goes back to 1977 for three years, he will be 38 in 1980...I know the ages are wrong, just an example). They may not be able to change what happens between the Others and the Dharma initiative, but I suspect they can alter their own futures as they are effectively living out their lives in the wrong time.

Hope that makes as much sense on the page as it does in my head.

Steve said...

My take on the compass theory

I think it was a throw-away joke by Richard... a tongue-in-cheek comment about Locke asking for a compass that he gave to Richard FIFTY years ago.

I know it would disregard all of the hard investigative work you guys are doing about it (and it's great, thoughtful stuff), but maybe sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Peter D Bakija said...

Christy wrote:
>>That is, in the closed loop theory. Neither of the explanations from Peter J Bakija or Rae is consistent with that.>>

No, no, it works fine. It is a paradox (and the whole basis of a paradox is that it doesn't make sesne)--the compass only exists in the infinite time loop--Locke got it from Richard in the future, who got it from Locke in the past. It wasn't made. It just is. And in 2007, it is older looking than it was in 1954, 'cause 50 years have passed. We don't know how much older it looks, and we don't know what it looked like when Richard got it in 1954. We just know it looks older when Richard takes it out of his pocket than it did when he got it originally. Which is the only sensical part of the whole issue.

>>I can accept that the compass is just magical, and that it always existed.>>

It isn't magical. It is just a compass. It is just a paradoxical object. It came to the past from the future. And in the future, it is sent to the past. It is part of a loop. A paradox. And doesn't make sense. 'Cause paradoxes don't make sense.

>> But to me that should mean that it should also always look the same.>>

Why? In 1954, Richard gets it. He keeps it in his pocket (or whatever) for 50 years. Things age in 50 years (oxidization, scratches, whatever). So when he gives it to Locke in 2007, it is 50 years older than when he got it in 1954, and looks 50 years older. But then it goes back to 1954. And Richard gets it. And it sits in his pocket for 50 years. And when he gives it back to Locke in 2007, it looks 50 years older. And so on.

One could say "But then it is inifinitley old, and should disintigrate". Or, on could say "Huh. That is a paradox." and just go from there. 'Cause paradoxes don't make sense. Which is why they are paradoxical.

>> Or, if it does age, that something happens to it to look "younger" again before Locke hands it over to Richard.>>

Nope. Nothing happens to it. It ages 50 years and then goes back to the beginning.

You can't make your self crazy trying to make paradoxes make sense. 'Cause paradoxes, by defenition, don't make sense.

Doug S said...

I like the POTA flashbacks people had here. For me, the biggest echo has always been how much every mention of Jacob makes me think of Carnivale, and "management."

Peter D Bakija said...

Michael wrote:
>>Wasn't there a scene somewhere in season 1 or 2 when Locke was grabbed and dragged by Smokey and was almost taken down a rabbit hole or something? Or was that someone else?>>

No, that was Locke. I'm talking about Locke *now*. Since he died. Locke was killed. Locke is dead. And dead is dead. Since Locke "came back to life", we have only seen him from other folks's perspective (i.e. we never see Locke by himself or see the story from his POV). And in the Ben episode, the show makes a *very* specific point of having smoke monster and Locke not being in the same place at the same time (Ben calls for smoke monster and waits for it to come out of the woods--Locke comes out instead; Ben falls in hole, Locke says "I'll got get rope!" and vanishes, smoke monster shows up, smoke monster goes away, Locke shows up with rope). Indications are that Locke is not Locke, but something else (smoke monster/Jacob/Island/whatever). It could be a total red herring. Or it could be that Locke is dead, and "Locke" is not Locke.

james said...

If Jacob is not an entity of the island then he is someone stuck in time. If he is stuck in time, constantly flashing around, it could easily explain why no one can really see Jacob. Jacob exists in that place but never for a stable period.

There's been speculation about Jacob since the character was introduced and it's pretty safe to assume it's someone we know. Is it Jack or is it Locke?

For a while I thought it would Alfonoso Hanso or whatever the hell his name was.

Lizbeth said...

I like that someone mentioned "Planet of the Apes" here. There's been plenty of times where Lost reminds me of "Planet of the Apes." I think the music is very similar, as are some of the themes.

For a while, I've also thought of another 1980s film that might be related -- "The Final Countdown". I especially thought of this when some of you mentioned you thought the very end of Lost may see an Juliet, Sawyer, and Kate returning to the island as older versions of themselves. If they went this route, they would directly be copying (or paying homage to)the final scene of "The Final Countdown."

That film is about an aircraft carrier that travels back in time to the attack on Pearl Harbor...Something about Lost reminds me of that film.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Final_Countdown_(film)

Danny Cohen said...

I have to say, after reading so many comments about the compass, that I could care less. Let's just agree on a Unified Compass Theory, and move on to better parts.

Like how Juliet is pissed at Kate. And how Kate is pissed Jack for wanting to erase everything. And how Locke is pissed at Jacob, maybe? Or maybe he just wants to prove that there is no Jacob, or... who knows? I have no idea!!!!!!!!!!

I wish I could throw some theories out there, but my understanding is that the sub will turn around (maybe even stop off at the Looking Glass), and everyone will meet at the Swan, where Richard will "see [the 815ers] die" in an explosion (either with the H-Bombs help or not) because they are actually going to be brought to present time with Locke & Co. Beyond that, I have no idea what's going on, and I just want to know what the overarching goals are.

Unified Compass Theory

Joe Cobb said...

The "awesome" thing about the Great Compass Debate (GCD) is that it is bringing about some serious (and noteworthy) discussion of how the characters can (or cannot) affect their futures.

If Locke gave the compass to Richard who in turn gives it to Locke who eventually gives it o Richard to give to himself... well then I think we have our answer to the free will vs fate debate.

Anonymous said...

As a commenter recently mentioned, we still don't know how the Others got to the island in the first place - Eloise and Charles for example. How and when did they get to the island? They seem to age normally on the island. Have there been any other clues?

ED said...

Ok, not to be overly picky, but too many people are making this mistake:

It's Widmore . . . not Whitmore.

christy said...

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to start some big crazy compass thing. In hindsight, I guess it was inevitable.

I was thinking about the two-compass thing and I actually think it could make sense if BOTH Richard and Locke always had a compass and then they switched, and then they both have the other one's compass for the rest of their lives (or, at least, longer than 2007).

But like my other ways it *might* work, we haven't seen evidence of that, either before or after the switch.

As Mr. Derp points out, Joe Cobb is working from a completely different theory of time travel than I am. The whole idea of "whatever happened happened" is that there are NOT alternate realities. If there were, there would probably need to be infinite alternate realities if there were any at all. It is, I suppose, a valid theory of time travel when discussing time travel in general, but not how LOST has worked, at least not so far.

Peter D Bakija: Sorry I got your initial wrong before, don't know what happened there. Clearly it's a paradox, that's why it has me confused. The fact that the compass exists in a time loop at all is a paradox, and the fact that the compass changes or can change while in that time loop is also a paradox. But I guess what I'm saying is that the two paradoxes are different, especially in terms of how I understand how time travel works in the LOST universe. The first is a paradox, but it doesn't change that whatever happened happened. The second is a paradox that DOES seem to change what happened.

mark said...

I'm going to back up Loren's interpretation of the compass thing. The point of sending the compass back in time with recently-shot Locke was to help him prove that he was from the future. christy, you mentioned that the compass Locke gives Richard becomes the compass Richard gives Locke, but I don't see that this necessarily has to be true. 1954 Richard must have had a younger version of the same compass; otherwise, why does the future compass prove anything? Locke would just be all, "I'm from the future; Jacob sent me; here's a random compass you've never seen before."

So what happens every loop is that 1954 Richard believes time-traveling Locke is from the future thanks to receiving the future-version of a compass he already owns. A half-century later, after 2007 Locke asks him if he still has a compass, 2007 Richard hands over the aged version of his original compass to the Locke that is about to travel back to 1954.

Now, I dunno what happens to the older version of the compass in each cycle, but we can avoid worrying about whether the compass is mythical -- Richard probably just bought the compass at a flea market, and each iteration of the compass just gets to live through the same 53 years twice. Or maybe he tosses the future compass in the trash in 1954 because he doesn't need two compasses.

Mamba's Messenger said...

How did Locke know that he would appear in the jungle at that exact moment? He explains to Ben that the island told him. Im not so sure. When Richard first sees Locke he says that he hasn't seen him in three years. Locke appears confused by this. Why? Before Richards confession, Locke assumes that Richard finding him in the jungle has already happened. Clearly, it didnt. It still doesnt explain how Locke knew the exact moment. Maybe he got lucky.

And was that the Hurley bird I heard as Sawyer and Juliet were getting into the sub?

Joe Cobb said...

But if we are assuming the closed loop theory is THE theory, then why debate anything. We all know how this will end... they will crash on the island because of the things they did in the past. And then they will go back in time to try and change the past which will result in them crashing on the island.

A closed loop is a close loop.

If there are NOT alternate time lines, then Farraday is wrong. You cannot change anything. What happened... happened.

If you could change anything, then everything that had occurred before doesn't just disappear... it happened, but now it happened in another time line.

Think of it like this... the 2004 plane crashed happened. The 1977 Losties do something to keep that from happening. Therefore they never crash, but if they never crash, they can't go back in time to change whatever kept them from crashing.

But if we establish that the crash did happen, will happen, and cannot be changed... then what our Losties in 1977 are working towards is creating an alternate time line where the crash did not happen. Every moment after they make the successful change, becomes time line B. But Time line A still has to exist to answer the question of how they got back to 1977 in the first place.

To accept the closed loop theory as is (the future is written), then it is to accept the futility of all future actions. And that come across a lot like "limbo" which would sorely disappoint me as the ending.

Peter D Bakija said...

Christy wrote:
>>The first is a paradox, but it doesn't change that whatever happened happened. The second is a paradox that DOES seem to change what happened.>>

Hmm. I guess I'm not understanding what you are seeing as being changed. In terms of the compass (which can be viewed as a small example of all the time loop rules of the show), nothing ever changes--what happend with the compass always happened with the compass. Locke gives it to Richard in '54. Richard gives it to Locke in '07. Locke goes back in time and gives it to Richard in '54. And so on. Nothing is changed in time. Richard always got the compass from Locke in 1954. Richard always gives it to Locke in 2007 (as otherwise, Locke couldn't give it to Richard in 1954...)

In terms of what you initially seemed to be getting hung up on (the compass aging), the compass ages 50 years between when Richard gets it in '54 and when he gies it to Locke in '07, as things age over 50 years. When Richard gets it in 1954, it is in condition X. When he gives it to Locke in 2007, it is condition Y. When it goes back in time to 1954, it is still in condition Y, but relative to Richard in 1954, condition Y becomes condition X, so 50 years later, the compass has aged and is in condition Y.

Which doesn't necessarily make sense, as it can't, 'cause it is a paradox. The compass doesn't magically get new again in 1954. It is the same 50 year old compass it was in 2007. And 50 years later, it is that 50 year old compass, but relative to Richard (who hasn't looped in time), it is 50 years older. The compass doesn't age infinitely, as relative to the characters involved, it only happens the one time--Richard gets the compass in '54 (which it "the beginning" of the compass). He holds onto it for 50 years. He gives it to Locke. Locke goes back in time and Gives it to Richard. That is the existence of the compass. And is completely paradoxical. Which is how everything in the time loop theory of the show works.

Anonymous said...

I agree with others that the whole H bomb scenario is at once cool and mystifying in terms of both character motivation and not making any bloody sense with respect to the physics. As some may know, an H bomb is detonated using fission (A-bomb) explosions, the only force large enough to bring fusion. Since the Swan has a powerful energy of its own (as we saw when Lock didn't press the button on the hatch) it's hard to imagine how an H-bomb explosion triggered against a powerful electromagnitic force (that also happens to have something to do with the dimension of time) would prove a nullifying force. A more likely guess is it'd bring to fruition Oppenheimer's nightmare jest and catch the earth's atmosphere on fire! Perhaps the writers will introduce some goofy matter/anti-matter (or gluon anti-gluon) explanation but more likely they'll follow Ron Moore-style sci fi and just not explain it.

At any rate, setting off an H bomb explosion is no mean task. It was dubious when Faraday proposed it with no details of how it would be executed; and as Jack doesn't understand the physics or mechanics of it, the whole scheme seems just plain crazy. But as a story device it's still fun and we'll just have to suspend our disbelief in equal measure as with the whole time travel mess.

I note with a wry smile, Alan, that Sa`id follows Jack on this dubious mission in spite of your finding the former an exemplary leader while the latter mostly a poor one.
- anonymoose

Mr. Derp said...

Joe Cobb, you're right that Jack, for example, is attempting to CREATE an alternate timeline, but from what we've seen, this is impossible. I'll reassert my thought that we're going to start season 6 with 815 crashing all over again, with some significant differences from the 'original' crash. Along the way, key characters will have learned something that allows them to actually change the course of events, a la Battlestar Galactica. Just speculation though.

Meanwhile, I think we're missing some key evidence revealed last episode (and in season 4)--Faraday crying when he sees the plane crash. Memories may well be generated retroactively; for example, maybe 2004 Rousseau didn't remember Jin because 2004 Jin had not yet met 1980s Rousseau. A similar thing could be happening with Faraday...if someone cannot have knowledge of past events because those events have not happened, it could answer a lot of our questions. Just more speculation though.

Joe Cobb said...

Mr. Derp, good points. Perhaps we get to caught up in thinking of time lines as actual linear progressions of time, and rather we should think of it as time a time slinky... contracting and epanding upon itself... and certain contractions are when a 2007 Lostie goes back to 1977... and the imprint is made on that time.

Although I am beginning to think the reason why Richard seems to not remember everyone or somewhat askew to what is happening is that he is a CONSTANT, and has been exposed to several variations of differing time lines... thus incapable of really remembering anything as "what happened".

christy said...

Peter D Bakija said: "Hmm. I guess I'm not understanding what you are seeing as being changed."

The action doesn't change, but the object does. If anything can change, then ANYTHING can change.

Peter D Bakija said: "In terms of what you initially seemed to be getting hung up on (the compass aging), the compass ages 50 years between when Richard gets it in '54 and when he gies it to Locke in '07, as things age over 50 years. When Richard gets it in 1954, it is in condition X. When he gives it to Locke in 2007, it is condition Y. When it goes back in time to 1954, it is still in condition Y, but relative to Richard in 1954, condition Y becomes condition X, so 50 years later, the compass has aged and is in condition Y."

Exactly. And that's interesting in a "I wonder if we all see colors differently" kind of way. But objectively, the condition has changed. Condition X is not the same as condition Y. The past has changed. But that can't be, because the past only happens one way one time.

I do see what you mean, in that the compass must age, even though it's a paradox, because of the very fact that it's been sitting in Richard's pocket for 50 years. It can't not age. And that's the paradox. Those 50 years vs. the fact that at the end of the 50 years, it goes right back to the beginning again.

Perhaps I just hadn't considered the aging thing, or perhaps I was thinking that in a world where someone like Richard exists (let alone in his own pocket), a compass that doesn't change over time could also exist. Either way, the fact that he pointed out that it had rusted, when he didn't need to, threw me for a loop.

Tyroc said...

Alan,

I agree that Sawyer and Juliet and Kate won't be sailing off into the 1970s sunset on the sub.

But... I could see a situation where Kate wants to go back to stop Jack, and Sawyer decides to go with her. And Juliet has had enough, and says goodbye and goes on with her life in the 70s. (And then maybe becomes the one who funds that new group?)

I did like Sawyers "Good Riddance." line. Felt like an ending.

christy said...

Joe Cobb said: "To accept the closed loop theory as is (the future is written), then it is to accept the futility of all future actions."

I disagree, and this is one of those things that I think is truly a matter of opinion. I don't think free will and fate are mutually exclusive, and I don't think that actions are futile even if the outcome can only be one thing. Actions are still actions, and actions still have consequences, and even though we already know some of the things that will happen in the future from 1977 doesn't mean that HOW those things happen doesn't matter. In real life, even without time travel, only one thing can happen, in the end. The only difference is no one knows what that is yet, while on LOST we the viewers know some of the things that will happen, and some of the characters know some of the things that will happen. But no one knows everything that will happen, and it still matters that it happens.

I actually think that the idea of splitting into alternate realities is what makes actions futile. It basically would mean that if even one person could go back in time ever, then there are probably infinite realities in which every single possible thing that could ever happen happens in all possible combinations forever the end. Go nuts--nothing you do matters, because somewhere there's some other reality where you did something else.

christy said...

mark said: "each iteration of the compass just gets to live through the same 53 years twice."

That's the part of it that I can't get behind.

If whatever happened happened, there is no twice. There's only the once. So it can't just be a different compass.

But the same compass stuck in a loop is just as much of a paradox, just a different one. So, I don't know.

Toby O'B said...

I hope Lindelof and Cuse consider the comments to your blog to be required reading, Alan!

jim treacher said...

The compass is really the symbol for this whole season. Sayid, Daniel, Richard, Locke, everybody on the island, they're all learning the same lesson. When the writers say "whatever happened happened," they really mean it. It happened because it happened.

gina said...

I've read all of the comments (well, I mostly skimmed the compass discussion, sorry guys!), and I don't think anyone has mentioned this already...

I have wondered why it was so important to Mrs. Hawking that Desmond go to the Island in "Flashes Before Your Eyes.". Now I know that at least one of the reasons was contained in the journal that Daniel left behind when his mother shot him: "If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant."

Pereking said...

Alright, new theory- it is one compass. Richard got the compass prior to 1954. In 1954, John Locke popped out of nowhere with the same compass Richard already had, saying he's from the future. After that, Richard had two compasses until 2007, when he gave time traveling Locke one of them to take back to him.

Two things to remember- Locke does not take the compass from Richard in 2007, and he does not tell him to give the compass to his time traveling self.

Jen said...

My theory, stolen from The Matrix: There is no compass.

Ok... to other stuff. Do we think it's safe to assume that the subterranean tunnels are the reason the Others don't worry about the sonic fence? It seems like at least one portion of them empties into Ben's house (how did the 1977 residents never encounter it I wonder) so I wonder where else they open up.

Peter D Bakija said...

Christy wrote:
>>The action doesn't change, but the object does. If anything can change, then ANYTHING can change.>>

Ah, I see what you are saying. Yeah, I don't think that is how the "closed loop time theory" works--when someone (in the show or about the show) says "you can't change things", this means "you can't change the way the time line happens" not "no object every changes". Things age and change like normal. Just the timeline stays the same. Sawyer and Juliette, for example, end up on the island in 1974. By 1977, they have aged 3 years (i.e. if Sawyer was 36 when he got there, he is 39 in '77) and changed in all ways that you change over the course of 3 years. But the *timeline* is the same as it always was (Sawyer and Juliette were *always* on the island in 1977)--it doesn't change 'cause they go back in time and get there, as that always happened.

>>Exactly. And that's interesting in a "I wonder if we all see colors differently" kind of way. But objectively, the condition has changed. Condition X is not the same as condition Y. The past has changed. But that can't be, because the past only happens one way one time.>>

But, see, the past *hasn't* changed. The compass is always in the condition it is when Richard gets it in '54. And it is always 50 years older when he gives it to Locke in '07. That such a thing is possible is a paradox. And is never going to make any sense at all :-)

>>Those 50 years vs. the fact that at the end of the 50 years, it goes right back to the beginning again.>>

Correct. And when it goes back to the beginning of the loop, you have a 50 year old compass being given to Richard in '54. And 50 years later, it is 50 years older. So relative to Richard in '07, the compass has aged 50 years. But when it is handed to Richard in '54 by Locke, it just is what it is--a 50 year old compass. And 50 years later, it will be again. It isn't getting younger by going back in time. It is just mind boggling, 'cause it is a paradox.

>>Perhaps I just hadn't considered the aging thing, or perhaps I was thinking that in a world where someone like Richard exists (let alone in his own pocket), a compass that doesn't change over time could also exist.>>

Oh, I suppose. But we have been given no reason at all to think that the compass is anything other than a compass ("It points *north*, John..."). It ages and changes just like everything else does. It is just 'cause it is the object of a time loop paradox, it seems kind of extra crazy :-)

>>Either way, the fact that he pointed out that it had rusted, when he didn't need to, threw me for a loop.>>

Oh, sure--I suspect that line was in there just to indicate that the compass was the same compass we saw him get in 1954 (as opposed to some other compass).

Anonymous said...

How about the sub not getting very far from the island and Sawyer, Juliet and Kate just flashing out of there whenever The Incident happens?

Peter D Bakija said...

Pereking wrote:
>>Alright, new theory- it is one compass. Richard got the compass prior to 1954.>>

But we know he didn't. He gets the compass from John Locke. We have no other evidence or hints in the text (i.e. in the show) that anything else happened--Richard gets the compass in '54 from John Locke. He carries it around (or whatever; including presenting it to Locke when Locke is a kid in the 60's) until 2007. He then gives it to John Locke. Who goes back in time and gives it to Richard. The compass doesn't need to be anything else. It is what it is.

>> In 1954, John Locke popped out of nowhere with the same compass Richard already had, saying he's from the future. After that, Richard had two compasses until 2007, when he gave time traveling Locke one of them to take back to him..>>

We have no reason (at this point) to believe that there are 2 compasses. John gave the compass to Richard 'cause Richard told him to. Richard gives the compass to John, 'cause Richard knows he got the compass from John. And that is what always happened.

>>Two things to remember- Locke does not take the compass from Richard in 2007, and he does not tell him to give the compass to his time traveling self.>>

No, he doesn't (well, at least we don't see him do that). Richard apparently decides to do this on his own. Which makes sense, as he knows he gets the compass from John in 1954, as that is why he has the compass in the first place.

Don't get me wrong here--it is very likely that at some point in the story, the closed time loop theory will likely be sidestepped (likely by Desmond, as we already have evidence that Desmond is an anomaly--see: "I just remembered that Fariday told me something 20 years ago...") and that is likely an important plot point. But to now, a closed time loop is a closed time loop. Why is Ben the way he is? Because Sayid tried to kill him in 1977 and 'cause Jack refused to save him in 1977, both acting in the name of changing the future. And in trying to change the future, they just made the future what it always is. 'Cause what happened, happened, and always happened.

christy said...

mark said: "each iteration of the compass just gets to live through the same 53 years twice."

Then I said: "That's the part of it that I can't get behind. If whatever happened happened, there is no twice. There's only the once. So it can't just be a different compass."

But I think I may have misunderstood what you meant when you said twice. And I think what you and Loren (and later, I think, Pereking) are proposing MIGHT work.

Say Richard buys a compass in 1950. Then in 1954, Locke gives him the same compass, older. Now he has a four-year-old compass and a 57-year-old compass. Then, in 2007, Locke asks him if he has the compass. He says yes, it's rusty. (Doesn't matter much which one he's talking about, as both would have gotten rustier over time). Now he has a 57-year-old compass, and the now-107-year-old compass that Locke gave him. He sees 2004-Locke, and gives him the 57-year-old compass. He keeps the 107-year-old compass indefinitely.

Does that makes sense? Are there any paradoxes there? (Those of you who proposed it are probably thinking "yes that's what I meant all along, duh!" but I had to put it in my own words to see if it made sense I guess).

So...assuming this does make sense and it is what happens, a few questions come to mind:

One, does Locke know that this is what's happening, or does he think the loop is happening?

Two, does the fact that we've only ever seen Richard with one compass at a time mean that WE were meant to think that the loop was happening?

christy said...

Peter D Bakija: "Why is Ben the way he is? Because Sayid tried to kill him in 1977 and 'cause Jack refused to save him in 1977, both acting in the name of changing the future."

I think this is why I sort of just accepted the stuck-in-a-loop compass before I considered the rustiness. If whatever happened happened, there's bound to be SOME chicken-and-egg stuff, like Ben getting shot which leads him to live with the Others, which turns him into the man he is, which is what makes Sayid want to go back in time and shoot Ben as a child.

christy said...

Also, I just want to say I'm as sorry for the derail as I am grateful for people with whom to hash out these questions. It would have bugged me forever probably if I didn't have this outlet to discuss and hear other ideas and ways of thinking about it all. So, thank you Alan and everyone.

Peter D Bakija said...

Christy wrote:
>>Does that makes sense? Are there any paradoxes there? (Those of you who proposed it are probably thinking "yes that's what I meant all along, duh!" but I had to put it in my own words to see if it made sense I guess).>>

See, trying to make the paradox make sense by inventing a "two compass theory", or whatever, is missing the whole point of the paradox. There doesn't need to be a second compass. The first compass (the only compass) is a paradox. And it is a paradox 'cause it went back in time (much like Ben getting shot by Sayid is a paradox, as are many other things). And trying to make the paradox into not a paradox by inventing a second compass is just ignoring what the show is telling us. I mean, I realize that people want to make the paradox into not a paradox, as it hurts your brain less, but the paradox is a paradox. If there is a second compass to make that paradox into a not paradox, then why doesn't there need to be a second Ben (for example) to make that paradox into not a paradox?

Ben is who he is (i.e. the Ben we meet in 2004 in, what, season 2?) specifically 'cause Sayid went back in time and tried to kill him. Sayid only tried to kill him in 1977 'cause he was such a SOB in 2004. But Ben is such a SOB in 2004 'cause Sayid tried to kill him in 1977. If Sayid *doesn't* try and kill Ben in 1977, then Ben doesn't convince Sayid that it is a good idea to kill him in 1977. It is a crazy paradox. It doesn't need any added explanation. Just like the compass. There doesn't need to be a second compass for the compass to make sense. As it doesn't make sense. And trying to make it make sense is to ignore its paradoxical nature.

>>Two, does the fact that we've only ever seen Richard with one compass at a time mean that WE were meant to think that the loop was happening?>>

We *know* the loop happens. And we only ever see Richard with one compass 'cause there is only one compass. John gives the compass to Richard in '54. Richard gives it to John in '07. That is what happened. That is what always happens. Where did the compass come from? Richard got it from John. How did John get it? Richard gave it to him. There is no need for there to be another compass. Sure. It is crazy and non-sensical. But that is what paradoxes are.

Peter D Bakija said...

Chirsty wrote:
>>I think this is why I sort of just accepted the stuck-in-a-loop compass before I considered the rustiness.>>

(As a quick aside, I think this discussion is fantastic, and "the compass" works very well as a mechanism to discuss the time travel in the show as a whole, so just keep it going :-)

The rustiness of the compass isn't something that makes something not work. If you get a compass in 1954 and have it in your pocket (or whatever) till 2007, it is going to age and get rusty. We have no reason to believe that the compass Richard gets in 1954 is shiny and new (and can't possibly be, as it is "a little rusty" when John gives it to him in 1954--which is what Richard says about the compass in 2007). All we know about the condition of the compass is that Richard calls it "a little rusty" in 2007. That doesn't mean it wasn't also " a little rusty" in '54.

christy said...

Peter D Bakija said: "Ah, I see what you are saying. Yeah, I don't think that is how the "closed loop time theory" works--when someone (in the show or about the show) says "you can't change things", this means "you can't change the way the time line happens" not "no object every changes". Things age and change like normal. Just the timeline stays the same. Sawyer and Juliette, for example, end up on the island in 1974. By 1977, they have aged 3 years (i.e. if Sawyer was 36 when he got there, he is 39 in '77) and changed in all ways that you change over the course of 3 years. But the *timeline* is the same as it always was (Sawyer and Juliette were *always* on the island in 1977)--it doesn't change 'cause they go back in time and get there, as that always happened."

I disagree with this, by the way. If whatever happened happened, NOTHING changes. Neither objects nor actions. It only happens once, only one way.

Your example with Sawyer and Juliet isn't the same thing, because they're not stuck in an infinite loop. It doesn't conflict with whatever happened happened.

christy said...

Peter D Bakija said: "See, trying to make the paradox make sense by inventing a "two compass theory", or whatever, is missing the whole point of the paradox. There doesn't need to be a second compass. The first compass (the only compass) is a paradox. And it is a paradox 'cause it went back in time (much like Ben getting shot by Sayid is a paradox, as are many other things). And trying to make the paradox into not a paradox by inventing a second compass is just ignoring what the show is telling us. I mean, I realize that people want to make the paradox into not a paradox, as it hurts your brain less, but the paradox is a paradox. If there is a second compass to make that paradox into a not paradox, then why doesn't there need to be a second Ben (for example) to make that paradox into not a paradox?"

No, read my post again. There is no second compass. It's more like, what if the compass is a person. It's me. I'm the compass. I am 27 years old. Say, tomorrow, 57-year-old-christy shows up and says, "hi, I'm from the future, can I live in your house?" I say sure. We live together in the same house for 30 years. Now it's 2039. I'm 57, and I live in a house with my 87-year-old self. Then I say, "so long! Going to the past" and I travel back in time to 2009 to go live with 27-year-old christy. Then 87-year-old me continues to live in my house until she dies, the end.

It's not exactly possible, but it's not a paradox in the same sense as a compass being passed from Richard to Locke infinitely. And there AREN'T two separate christys. Just christy at different points in her personal timeline.

You're right though that we have no EVIDENCE of it at this point. That's the thing that gives me pause about that theory right now.

"The rustiness of the compass isn't something that makes something not work."

I know, but it's what opened up my eyes to why it really doesn't work.

Peter D Bakija said...

Christy wrote:
>>I disagree with this, by the way. If whatever happened happened, NOTHING changes.>>

No, no. Things change relative to themselves, just not to the timeline. In the previous episode, Daniel points out that he didn't have a scar on his neck in 2004, when he got shot in 1977. Which is sensical--2004 is Daniel's past relative to Daniel in 1977. So Daniel getting shot in the neck in 1977 has no bearing on Daniel in 2004. As to Daniel in 1977, 2004 is his past (and 1977 is his present).

Looking at the compass, what happened? John gives Richard the compass in 1954. Richard gives John the compass in 2007. 1954 is Richard's past. 1954 is also John's future, relative to his 2007, compass getting self. Richard always got the compass from John in 1954. That can't change. That doesn't mean that the compass doesn't age between 1954 and 2007, as if John, for example, was left in 1954, he'd age 50 years as well by 2007.

That the compass doesn't disintigrate from the infinitie time loop it is stuck in is part of what makes a paradox nonsensical.

>>Neither objects nor actions. It only happens once, only one way.>>

Correct. Richard always got the compass from John in 1954. Nothing has changed.

>>Your example with Sawyer and Juliet isn't the same thing, because they're not stuck in an infinite loop. It doesn't conflict with whatever happened happened.>>

Neither does the compass. Richard always got it from John in 1954. Richard always has the compass to give to John in 2007. That is what happened. And always will. And always did. Nothing changes there.

Barbara said...

Regarding the possible origin of the now legendary compass...waaay back in Season One, there's a scene that deals with a compass. I can't recall who all is in the scene...Locke? Sayid? Maybe Boone? I do remember that someone said the compass wasn't working properly.

Since Richard tells Locke in "Follow the Leader" that the rusty compass points north, it's possible it's not the same one from Season One (since that one wasn't working properly). But this is "Lost" after all.

So, does anyone remember that scene from Season One and is it possible it's the same compass?

I'm not certain if that would be significant or not, but you never know.

Peter D Bakija said...

Christy wrote:
>>It's not exactly possible, but it's not a paradox in the same sense as a compass being passed from Richard to Locke infinitely.>>

True. The compass is a true, incomprehensible paradox. The compass gets passed back and forth infinitely. If logic were to prevail, the compass would crumble to dust instantly, as it is infinitely old. But then the compass wouldn't be there to give to Richard in the first place :-)

Mr. Derp said...

Barbara, I think that was Sayid and I'm pretty sure it's a different compass.

christy said...

Things change in the sense that things happen. But things only happen once, in one way, with one set of details, everything from whether an h-bomb exploded down to exactly how much rust is on a little compass.

Barbara: a compass came into play in the video game LOST: Via Domus. Did you ever play it? I think the compass in that makes it hard for me to remember if there wasn't ALSO a compass in the early seasons of the actual show.

Anonymous said...

When Richard said "I saw them all die.", maybe he was referring to seeing all the Dharma people die when Ben poisoned them? And thus he didn't actually see Jin & co die, but assumed that they would have died with the other Dharma folks... but if the Losties leave the past-island before the purge happens they won't die then.

As someone else suggested, I think the Incident will push the Losties back to 2007, wherever they are at the time (even if on the sub).

Anonymous said...

Not only have we not seen Hurley travel from jail to Ajira 316, but haven't we also NOT seen Sun travel from the marina to Ajira 316?

James M. Barrie said...

Just to get into this fascinating debate about the compass, which I really think is an excellent mechanism to help us understand the dynamics of time travel.

Christy makes an excellent point, the one I've been thinking about since the very beggining of this discussion. Just think of the compass as a person. That's it. There is only one compass, as there's only one, say, Miles. But that doesn't change the fact that, in 1977, there's a baby Miles coexisting with an adult Miles.

I think Peter D. Bakija is missing the point when he calls the compass a paradox. You also said, Peter, that "Ben getting shot by Sayid is a paradox".
But it ISN'T.
A paradox CAN'T happen, unless the writers allow the characters to change time. And there's no evidence for this so far. A paradox is something that doesn't make sense because it CANNOT happen, it WON'T happen. You can't go back in time and kill your mom before she gives birth to you. It simply won't happen.

But the thing is, the compass situation already happened. Hence, it isn't a paradox. So, it MUST make sense. The writers can't get away with "ah, we don't have to explain it, it's a paradox, it doesn't make sense". Because I say, once again, it is NOT a paradox.

And the only way this compass situation can make sense is if Richard has a compass prior to his meeting with John in 1954. The example Christy gave is perfect.
Let's say Richard has a month-old compass in 1954. In 2007, this compass will be 53 years and a month-old. That's the one he gives John. Then Locke goes back in time, and gives the 53years+a month-old compass to Richard. Now, this compass is coexisting with its younger self - in 1954, there are the month-old compass and the 53+a month-old compass.
What Richard does with this older version of the compass, it doesn't matter. The thing is, that's not the version he gives Locke in 2007.

Like Christy said, we have no evidence of this, fair enough. But it's the only theory that makes complete sense within the dynamics of time travel presented to us in Lost.

Anonymous said...

these writers have known exactly where they are taking this story since day 1. they aren't writing on the fly. they knew who widdmore was, ben, the dharma people, etc. just great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the compass does not age because the compass is being carried by a timeless Richard that also does not age.
Or maybe it is the other way around. Maybe Richard does not age while he carries the compass because he carries a compass that can not age.
Of course this does explain the rusty comment, which suggests the compass does age.

Heather said...

Another stellar episode, but that part where Locke sends Alpert directions for his old self gave me some distress. So which came first really? Who hold the knowledge? I don't think Locke is Locke anymore.

Three things:
-The weekly 'Where the hell are Rose and Bernard?!?!?!'
-Ben's expression when Locke states "I died". Classic Ben.
-Nice callback to Hurley's fear that someone would ask him who was the president of the United States. Lol. Might have come in handy now.

Peter D Bakija said...

James wrote:
>>But the thing is, the compass situation already happened. Hence, it isn't a paradox. So, it MUST make sense.>>

The compass is a true, incomprehensible paradox (like the old "what if I go back in time and kill my grandparents" situation--if I go back in time and kill my grandparents, I won't exist. So I can't go back in time and kill them. So I will exist. So I can...). The compass came from John, went to Richard, waits 50 years, goes back to John, who goes back 50 years, and gives it back to Richard.

I now see what Christy is objecting to (finally :-), in that if the compass ages, it won't be the same each iteration of the time loop; the compass will get older and older. But as it can't do that (as otherwise, it ages infinitely, crumbles to dust, and isn't there for Richard to give to John to give to Richard, and so it never happened in the first place. Like going back in time and killing your grandparents), it doesn't do that.

Which, given the evidence we have at our disposal (as opposed to the completely hypothetical), either:

A) The compass doesn't actually age. It is "a little rusty" and is always "a little rusty" and never changes from this state (and we have no reason to believe it does)

B) It is just a crazy paradox. And we can't comprehend it. As we can't comprehend these things :-)

>>Because I say, once again, it is NOT a paradox.>>

As presented, it is. Just like shooting your grandparents in the past.

Carmichael Harold said...

Just to quickly jump in on the compass discussion, I think James has it right. As someone else mentioned about halfway up, and unless I'm forgetting something, the evidence that Richard already had a compass, is that Locke gives Richard the compass as a way of presenting his own bona fides.

If Richard didn't already have a compass, then Locke giving one to Richard wouldn't in any way validate Locke as coming from the future. So while we haven't necessarily seen both compasses, I think we can make a fair inference that Richard already had one (which ages 50 years and is then given to Locke), and he always has that one in 1954 before Locke comes back and gives him the aged version of it.

Peter D Bakija said...

Carmichael wrote:
>> If Richard didn't already have a compass, then Locke giving one to Richard wouldn't in any way validate Locke as coming from the future.>>

We are yet to have any information one way or the other as to what the compass meant or did. Other than what we saw. I mean, yeah, maybe there is a second compass, and maybe Richard compares the two, and says "Aha! This is the same compass, but from the future! Locke was telling the truth!", but we don't have anything to support this other than pure conjecture. But it might very well fall that way, if anything ever comes of it.

christy said...

"I now see what Christy is objecting to (finally :-), in that if the compass ages, it won't be the same each iteration of the time loop; the compass will get older and older. But as it can't do that (as otherwise, it ages infinitely, crumbles to dust, and isn't there for Richard to give to John to give to Richard, and so it never happened in the first place. Like going back in time and killing your grandparents), it doesn't do that."

Exactly. Yaaaaaaay.

"We are yet to have any information one way or the other as to what the compass meant or did. Other than what we saw. I mean, yeah, maybe there is a second compass, and maybe Richard compares the two, and says "Aha! This is the same compass, but from the future! Locke was telling the truth!", but we don't have anything to support this other than pure conjecture. But it might very well fall that way, if anything ever comes of it."

Yes, I agree with this, too. We don't know why Richard decides to give Locke the compass, we know that Richard never gets the chance to tell Locke anything about it until Locke time-jumps again, and we also don't know why Locke decides to give the compass back to Richard, nor what Richard thinks when he does. I suppose the only common memory 2007-Richard and 2004-Locke have about the compass is when Richard showed it to Locke as a boy. But 1954-Richard wouldn't know that, and we don't even know for sure if 2004-Locke remembers that, and if he does, if he realizes that Richard was the man who did it.

Now, I HOPE the show offers logical explanations and background for both these motivations and the existence of the compass itself. But that's one of many, many things I hope the show offers logical explanations for :)

Alan said: "I'm assuming the season ends with the Incident having taken place, followed by Jack, Sayid, Kate and company hurled back to the present, having accomplished nothing but ensuring the predetermined flow of history."

I think so, (or that they're hurled OUT of 1977, if not directly TO 2007) and I think it could make sense that Richard thinks he sees our time travelers die in the incident but what he really sees is them leaving 1977. I'm counting on this, for Hurley alone. I'd be fine if Jack and Kate died. I could handle Juliet and Miles dying. Even Jin and Sawyer. Even Sayid! Yes, Sayid. But Hurley...he's the one person that I require survive the series.

Actually I'm prepared for Sayid to be the one not to survive the incident. I hope it doesn't happen yet, but I'm steeling myself, just in case they redeem him for trying to kill Ben by having him sacrifice himself to save others from the incident.

James M. Barrie said...

"The compass is a true, incomprehensible paradox (like the old "what if I go back in time and kill my grandparents" situation--if I go back in time and kill my grandparents, I won't exist. So I can't go back in time and kill them. So I will exist. So I can...). The compass came from John, went to Richard, waits 50 years, goes back to John, who goes back 50 years, and gives it back to Richard."

But that's what I'm saying: you CAN'T go back in time and kill yot grandparents, at least if we go by the rules Lost presented us so far. There's no evidence that they can, indeed, change time. The time travel system that the show adopted so far is the one we see in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (and I think that in 12 Monkeys too, but I saw that a long time ago, so I'm not sure). If you went back in time to kill your grandparents, it wouldn't work. The gun would jam or something. Or, as we saw in the Sayid shooting Ben situation, you would come to realize that this attempt of murder was already part of the past.
Whatever happened, happened.

So, we have two options:
- Every time you try to do something that will create a paradox, you will fail. And the very attempt of trying to avoid something maybe the one thing that causes it (you can argue that Sayid shooting Ben was the crucial event that made him the man he is now).
- Or, if you succed, the universe will colapse (less likely).

Either way, the time travel dynamics cannot contain the creation of a paradox. There's no such thing. Therefore, the compass cannot be a "true, incomprehensible paradox". Because event the 'closed-time-loop' theory can't contain it. BTW, I think that 'closed-time-loop' theory is a bad name precisely because it can lead to this kind of confusion. It's not quite a loop. It's not the same thing happening over and over again (even though I think that's a pretty amazing concept, that's not how it works in Lost).
There's only one straight line, as Faraday said back in the season premiere, and all the events that already passed are already determined.

Of course that, as we still have the season finale ahead of us, everything could change (but I don't think it's likely).
But, right now, we can only work with the clues that Lost gave us so far, and they point very strongly to a time travel system similar to the one we see in Prisoner of Azkaban.
Bearing that in mind, the best theory to explain the whole compass issue is this one of an older compass and a newer compass coexisting during this gap (1954-2007).

Mike F said...

Alan, I guess you are right about Sawyer, Kate and Juliet all leaving the island on the sub being unlikely for the show...removing such main characters from the action and having them be so old when we assume the action resumes in the present for next season.

One poster suggested that maybe Juliet might stay in the past and leave the island on the sub (along with baby Miles and his mom and the other women/children). Regardless of who it turns out to be, I think that somebody from the 70s we're watching now leaves the island (probably on that sub) and sets the stage for some these other characters on the Ajira flight to do what they've done so far.

The only other possibility I see, and this may turn out to be the case is that its Eloise...who although she says she no longer knows what will happen, told Desmond authoritatively that the island wasn't done with him yet.

This brings to mind and may answer a question that's been on my mind for years. How did Penny just happen to be in the right place at the right time to pick up the Oceanic Six...and before that, how did she happen to be at the right place at the right time to catch Desmond's phone call and to answer the transmission from Charlie. It seems to me that likely Eloise has moved her around like a chess piece as she's done with others for some wide-ranging purpose.

Her icy encounter with Charles indicated to me that she most certainly isn't on his side in how all of these events are playing out and resents the man. Add to that Richard's comment about their relationship (I think to Jack) at the Others camp in this last episode and it makes more sense.

Perhaps she's working with somebody else, maybe one of the time travelling Losties or Juliet who could have teamed up with her off the island, perhaps its Benjamin himself...which would explain Ben's adversarial relationship with Widmore...but it seems to make a lot of sense to me that she's been steering things towards a bigger picture endgame.

Incidentally, another Brotherhood cast member made an appearance last night on the show (I think for the first time) as a Dharmite...lo and behond, there was Kevin Champman (Freddy Cork)...his role seemed slight last night, but hard to imagine they signed him up to not play at least a slightly bigger part.

Mark B said...

The first rule of time travel is that there are no rules for time travel. It is either that or the first rule of time travel is you don’t talk about time travel. I’m absolutely sure it is one of those two unless it is that the first rule of time travel is that time travel is fiction and there are no rules. I can keep this up until I flash somewhen else.

Personally, I believe the GROUNDHOG DAY rules apply to LOST. Simply put, the rule is that time loops back to the point where the timeline gets stuck, for example, 6 AM on February 2, 1993. There are constants, like the physical location and inhabitants of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Then, as Daniel Faraday might phrase it, there are the variable interactions of the people.

The Groundhog Day model is that every daily time loop back to the original skip point may be composed of different interactions between the people, until the interpersonal interactions fall into the correct formation to cure the time blockage.

There is only one time line. Say point A to B to C to D. If something is causing point C to misconnect with point D, then point C reverts to point B and the timeline experiments until the flawed connection is corrected. I know this because I have read Faraday’s journal and it begins with the first rule of time travel. :)

Barbara said...

Mark B, what a great post!

You made me laugh, which I needed right now (in Santa Barbara County, with wildfires raging out of control). And you helped me get a grasp of what might be happening time-travel wise with this crazy show.

Whether or not the Groundhog Day model is indeed the one the "Lost" creators are using, I'm so excited that I finally understand at least one time travel theory!

Many thanks!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how people are obsessing over the compass. Why pull your hairs out over something so minte and probably irrelevant to the story?Damon and Carlton are gonna have a good laugh bout it on their podcast.

DR said...

Comments in point form again, because a lot went down:

* Richard. Richard's story becomes more and more compelling every episode. The ship in the bottle gives us a clue to his origins, or maybe the writers are just messing with us. I want to see this played out, or at least an explanation given

* I like new Ben. The intent behind his actions really sells him for me. He's also running roughshod over the plot, fast-forwarding with his aggressive desire to get things done.

* Jacob speculation. I'm pretty sure that Jacob's true identity is going to be one of the season's reveals, and it will be someone that we know. We may even find out why he's being all secret, and what his relation with Claire is.

* Claire. There's another thing. Any idea why her role on the show has been so drastically reduced? I could ask the same question of Walter, who's basically been hung out to dry. They spent a lot of time defining how special Walter was, just to ignore him for the vast majority of recent episodes.

* I don't like new Jack. His faith is just a little too blind, and his faith is in a scientific method -- that just _can't_ end well. I believe that the loop is closed, which almost makes Jack's part in it not his "fault" - he's pretty much doomed to do whatever he's going to do in order to make what has to happen happen, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

* Kate meanwhile gains some rationality, but it's too little too late for her. The writer's don't seem to know where they're going with her.

* Advice. Lay off the compass, it'll just bake your noodle trying to figure it out.

* Swan. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about how the Swan station becomes what it eventually becomes. Why is the code required? Why must it be inputted manually? Why is it necessary to lock it down during a resupply? Why go to the trouble of drawing a super-secret UV map on a blast door? Why is there a shut off switch which self-destructs it? Why does that switch permanently fix the problem, and why not just use it at the beginning? I could go on... suffice that the story of how the Hatch became the Hatch is going to be a tricky one to completely reconcile.

* Lastly I'll leave you with a bold prediction. People have been musing endlessly about "The Economist" - wondering who he is, and where he stands, etc... I believe that this episode answers that question. It seems like a throw away joke about Microsoft, but what if, viewers... what if our friend Sawyer does become phenomenally wealthy by playing with impeccable accuracy the economy, becoming an "Economist"?

Makes you wonder, eh?

Scott J. said...

Anonymous said...

Not only have we not seen Hurley travel from jail to Ajira 316, but haven't we also NOT seen Sun travel from the marina to Ajira 316?


Sun left the marina with Ben and Jack to see Eloise. She knew the plan, and her motive for returning is clear, so there's nothing else to really show there, I think.

With Hurley, on the other hand, even if we assume Ben's lawyer got him out, that doesn't explain how he knew about the flight, why he begrudgingly went along with Ben on-board after having vowed never to go along with him anywhere, or what that guitar case is all about. Which is nagging at me, because I don't imagine we'll get to see any of this in the finale, and leaving it hanging until next season seems... incongruous.

Matthew said...

The people discussing paradoxes are kind of missing the point in my opinion, one which was stated by someone already in thread comment thread.

Forget all notions of predestination and paradoxes, just think about the evidence we have:

- 2007 Richard gave 2007 Locke the compass so that 1957 Richard would know to trust him.

- The reason for Richard doing this CANNOT be explained away by paradox, because in order for Richard to recognise the compass and trust Locke in 1957, he had to already known of it.

- You could perhaps envision a wider paradox where 1957 Richard is actually a future version of 2007 Richard (who at some later stage goes back in time) but I'm going to Occams Razor that one to death.

- From the above we can surmise that 1957 Richard must already be in possession of a compass identical to the one that 2007 Locke shows to him.

- Therefore, Richard in 1957 MUST have two copies of the same compass, the "brand new" copy and the 50 year old copy.

One single compass lives like this:

1. At some point before 1957, Richard Alpert comes into possession of a relatively new compass which he keeps on him at all times. Original compass is (for example say he bought the compass in 1947) 0 years old.

2. In 1957, John Locke shows up, and comes to Richard Alpert. He gives Richard a second 60 year old compass which is identical to his own, age aside. Original compass is 10 years old.

3. Richard either keeps or discards the second compass, but definitely keeps his own newer compass for 50 years. For this example, we'll say he keeps both it and the original compass. Original compass ages from 10 to 60 years old from 1957 to 2007. Second compass ages from 60 to 110 years old.

4. Richard encounters reborn Locke with Ben in 2007, and comments on the status of the compass. Original compass is still 60 years old. Second compass is still 110 years old.

5. Richard meets with shot-Locke and treats him, and also gives him the 60 year old compass to take back with him when he travels back to 1957. Original compass is still 60 years old and exists in 1957. Second compass is still 110 years old and exists in 2007, where its either kept or discarded.

The thing about this "solution" is that it does not require any form of paradox, nor is it even a stretch of the imagine to put into action. In fact, its the simplest explanation of all, and even neatly ties up the pretty unimportant answer to 'where the compass originally came from'.

But more importantly, it answers the very important question 'Why would the compass prove to 1957 Richard that Locke is friendly?'

Even if you say that the compass only ever existed inside the paradox, that's going to be wrong, because the loop starts at 1957 when Locke meets Richard, and ends in 2007 when Richard gives the compass to shot-Locke. Fine thats a paradox, but Richard in 1957 still needed to have a compass prior to the loop starting, which means that a paradox is completely inadequate to cover this one.

Peter D Bakija said...

James wrote:
>>There's only one straight line, as Faraday said back in the season premiere, and all the events that already passed are already determined.>>

Correct. And the compass (even the single compass) works in a straight (if slightly and infinitely looped) line :-)

John hands Richard the compass in 1954. Richard keeps the compass until 2007. Richard gives to compass to John. John gives the compass to Richard in 1954. There ya go.

Could there be (if this were real life) a *second* compass? Sure. But we are yet to have any evidence of that in the story. When Richard gives Locke to compass in 2007, he indictaes that it is the same compass that Locke gave him in 1954. Not a second copy of it. The same one.

Maybe the season finale will consist of someone saying "Wait! This compass cannot be!" and then the universe vanishes :-)

Peter D Bakija said...

Matthew wrote:
>>Fine thats a paradox, but Richard in 1957 still needed to have a compass prior to the loop starting, which means that a paradox is completely inadequate to cover this one.>>

Why did Richard need to have a compass prior to 1954? People have hypothesized (up above) that somehow John giving the compass to Richard proved something (i.e. Richard had the compass already, and John giving him the one from the future meant he had a second one and this was proof of time travel or something). This might yet turn out to be the case. But we have no evidence of it yet. All we know is John gives the compass to Richard in '54, and Richard gives the same compass (see: "Yes. A little rusty but still points north") to John in 2007.

Why? We don't know. What we have seen is that John gives Richard the compass becuase Richard tells him to. And Richard gives John the compass because he knows John gives it to him in 1954. Is there a second compass? Maybe. But not that we know of yet. Is the universe going to colapse, because of the apparent incomprehensible paradox? Certainly possible...

christy said...

Matthew, your 1-5 solution is the same thing I laid out in my 4:43 comment yesterday, right?

You also say: "just think about the evidence we have:

- 2007 Richard gave 2007 Locke the compass so that 1957 Richard would know to trust him.

- The reason for Richard doing this CANNOT be explained away by paradox, because in order for Richard to recognise the compass and trust Locke in 1957, he had to already known of it."

You call this evidence but where's the evidence? It may be a logical explanation, and it may be the correct explanation, but it's not evidence. Here are the two scenes in question, from the Lostpedia transcripts:

From Because You Left:

RICHARD: Second thing--no, no, pay attention. Next time we see each other, I'm not gonna recognize you. All right? You give me this. All right?

[Richard hands Locke something small, something we've seen before.]

LOCKE: What is this?

RICHARD: It's a compass.

And from Jughead:

[Inside a tent at the Army camp on the Island, Richard examines a compass in his hands. Locke sips from a WWII-era tin canteen cup. They both sit in chairs.]

RICHARD: I gave you this?

LOCKE: Yes.

RICHARD: After you were shot in the leg and I... wandered out of the jungle to patch you up?

LOCKE: That's right.

RICHARD: Then why don't I remember... well, any of this?

LOCKE: Because it hasn't happened yet.

RICHARD: [Chuckles] I'm not sure what you're expecting me to say, John Locke.

----------

That's it. He doesn't say I'll trust you if you give me this. He doesn't say, oh hey, this is an older version of my compass, you must be from the future (in fact he continues to ask for proof, that's why Locke tells him his birth date and says to come visit him as a baby to be sure). He has no discernible reaction to the compass at all. We don't know what Locke says to him when he gives him the compass because that happens off-scene. And we have yet to see the "original" compass before the 1954 hand-off or double compasses between 1954 and 2007.

I also question why it would be proof in the first place. If some stranger gave me an old rusty compass that looked like mine, I'd say, "hey, that's the same as mine. You've been rough on yours," not "you're from the future and I trust you now."

And another question: if Richard is in possession of the original, younger compass from sometime before 1954 until giving it to Locke in 2007, why would he ask a child Locke if the compass was already his? The only thing I can think of is that he's assuming that Locke is already time-traveling as a child, and that 10-year-old Locke has traveled forward to the future, met an older Richard (because Richard would know he hadn't given Locke the compass yet), gotten the compass from him, and time-traveled back to his foster home. That would be a big assumption.

Don't get me wrong. I think these questions could be resolved, and that it's possible they'll be resolved in a way that is consistent with your idea of what happened, Matthew. But I think you're jumping the gun in terms of things we already know. We don't know these things yet.

As for me, my brain is satisfied for now. I'm still on board with whatever happened happened. Even though we don't know yet exactly what that is or how.

sandra said...

I love how people are obsessing over the compass, since I was wondering what the heck was up with it all the way in the first episode. It really seems like it just “poofed” into existences.

This episode has made me more confused then I’ve been in a while by this show. I was sitting around for two years, sure that the island, Jacob and Richard were on the same side and they were all good, now I don’t know what to believe anymore. At first I was very much against the idea of Richard being bad, but now that I think about it, while it would be surprising, it wouldn’t be super unbelievable. In fact I would have to give the show major props for that, it’s one thing to have a character like Ben who can manipulate other characters, but to have a character fool the audience is pretty nifty. I only hope good or evil; he is still around next season and in the present. (also I want to give a big thanks to CBS for cancelling Cane)

I would also like to learn more about the relationship between Ben & Richard. While they’ve known each other for 30 years, and Richard even saved his life, we have now seen both of them go behind the others back to John. Richard got Locke to kill his father in season 3 and in this episode Ben was all tattling on Richard. And the actors have done an awesome job at showing so much history whenever these two speak to each other.

The CineManiac said...

I'm beginning to wonder if Jacob is someone we already know. Someone who would draw Christian and Claire close to him, in order to spend more time with them. Someone who tries to do something in the past (where we've yet to see anyone mention a Jacob) that ends up trapping him in some kind of timeloop perhaps. I imagine some kind of "Incident" keeps this person trapped in some way.
Perhaps Locke will discover he's already butted heads with Jacob before, repeatedly.
And let's just assume this person with ties to Christian and Claire, whose repeatedly been at odds with Locke also happens to have a name similar to Jacob.
Just sayin'

Erizu said...

To add to the Great Compass Debate (TM), I went back and watched Jughead and the compass Locke gives to Richard is not rusty.

So Richard has a non-rusty compass from 1954-2007.

When they go to meet time-travelling Locke, Locke 2.0 never tells Richard to give him the compass. Richard assumes the compass Locke gave him in 1954 is the same one he's had for 50 years.

Infact, in Because You Left the compass Richard hands Locke is...Non-rusty. So there are two compasses.

Richard didn't have a second compass before Locke gave him one in 1954, he got one between 1954 and 2007, probably in the last 5 years, as it is not rusty.

The compass Locke gives Richard is just a second compass Richard got at some point while holding onto the fifty-year compass.

PROBLEM SOLVED!

Erizu said...

Actually, let me amend that. Richard never assumes the compass he's had since 1954 is the one he gives to Locke. The thought doesn't enter his mind. All he knows is Locke in 1954 gives him a compass. He still has this now rusty compass, and will continue to have it. So, Richard gives Locke the new compass he got at some point in the last 5-10 years, and this becomes the compass Locke gave him. The origin of the new compass is irrelevent, all we know is it is non-rusty so therefore cannot be the one he's had for fifty years.

No paradox here, people.

Dan Jardine said...

While I was thrilled to see Sayid reappear in this episode, his timing sucked. If he'd have shown up ten seconds later, we'd be done with Kate's character, as Eric would have plugged her in the back.

I really don't think the writers have a handle on what to do with Kate. She gives up Aaron to come back to the island to find Claire, but spends zero time actually looking for Claire, then takes the first opportunity to jump a sub back off of the island. This is one confused kitty kat.

James M. Barrie said...

"Is the universe going to colapse, because of the apparent incomprehensible paradox? Certainly possible..."

Nope. It makes no sense that the universe waits a while before colapsing. Like "Oh, look, that compass is a paradox. But I can't explode right now, I have to wait until the finale!". It would happen right away.
Besides, the writers certainly aren't gonna go down that road. We have still one more season to go, they can't destroy the universe, hahaha.
I still believe that whatever happened, happened; the trick is in how it happened, and I'm guessing that the Incident will be something very different than what we're all expecting (Jack blowing up the hydrogen bomb, everybody going back to the future, etc.).

Then, I will accept that theory of an older compass coexisting with a newer compass. Because, even though we have no evidence of that, is the only theory that fits into the rules the that show presented us so far.

While I was writing this, I saw that Erizu also posted a good theory, this one makes sense too, and I think I'm going for this one, because of what Christy said in her comments (that girl reads my mind).
The compass John gives Richard in 1954 is absolutely no proof that he's from the future. And, in Jughead, as Christy pointed out, we see that the compass means nothing to Richard. When the flash comes, the compass happens to stay with him.

When he meets the time-travelling John in 2007, he understands what is happening while talking to him and fixing his leg. Then, he realizes that the compass he's got (going by Erizu's theory, a compass he got AFTER 1954) is the same one Locke gives him in 1954. So, he just fulfills the timeline he knows that has to happen and give the compass to John.

The only problem is, as Christy pointed out, that even this new take on the "the-compass-doesn't-exist-only-in-the-time-loop theory" does not explain why Richard shows the compass to a five-year old (or so) John and acts like that's the object that is already his.

But now that I think about it, we have no explicit evidence in Cabin Fever that, when Richard asks young John "what object is already yours?", he is referring to the compass, do we? I don't remember the scene exactly, but I think we just assumed it was the compass he was talking about AFTER we saw the compass showing up again in Because You Left and Jughead, right?

Maybe he was referring to something else, also because John never told 1954-Richard that the compass was his [John's]. At least, we never saw him saying it, and the bit of dialogue Christy showed us implies that John said "you gave this compass, Richard", or something like that, so there would be no reason for Richard to think that the compass already belonged to John when he visits him as a child.

I don't like this explanation; but, so far, is the only one that makes sense; at least for me.

Oh, and for the people that are pointing out that discussing the compass issue is useless, I beg to differ. I think it's one of the best dispositives we have to unravel the dynamics of time travel in the show.

Alan Sepinwall said...

She gives up Aaron to come back to the island to find Claire, but spends zero time actually looking for Claire, then takes the first opportunity to jump a sub back off of the island.

Unlike Sawyer and Juliet, Kate didn't want to get on the sub. She came back to Dharma village to try to help out her friends, got caught, and Horace wanted her tossed off the island, ASAP.

James M. Barrie said...

*"you gave ME this compass, Richard"

sorry.

Hoosier Paul said...

I really wish 30 Rock hadn't done that "Harry and the Hendersons" bit so recently ... it was all I could think of as Dr. Chang was shooing his wife and son off the island.

Peter D Bakija said...

James wrote:
>>Nope. It makes no sense that the universe waits a while before colapsing.>>

Heh--I wasn't really suggesting that the show was going to end with an abrupt universal disolution. That was just comedy :-)

>>Then, I will accept that theory of an older compass coexisting with a newer compass.>>

Which is a reasonable thing to do. But for my money, I'd much rather just go with what we have seen on the show (i.e. all we have is the text). And what we have seen on the show? An infinite loop time paradox compass :-)

>>Then, he realizes that the compass he's got (going by Erizu's theory, a compass he got AFTER 1954) is the same one Locke gives him in 1954.>>

But then compass he gives to John in 2007 is the compass John gave him in 1954. "Do you have that compass I gave you?" "Yes. A little rusty, but still points north". It isn't a different compass. It is the same one.

>>But now that I think about it, we have no explicit evidence in Cabin Fever that, when Richard asks young John "what object is already yours?", he is referring to the compass, do we?>>

Well, no. But this is, I suspect, way too far of a leap away from the text of the show. In Cabin Feefer, we get a completely unexplained scene of Richard presenting some objects to child Locke, asking him to identify which is his. One of these objects is a compass. Which, in Because You Left, turns out to be a significant object (the compass) that travels trhough time. We can make two things of this:

A) Richard was hoping that John would recognize the compass as his, as Richard got the compass from John. From the future.

B) Something else completely different that isn't really supported by evidence presented.

I can see why someone would go to (B), but I'm sticking with (A).

>>Oh, and for the people that are pointing out that discussing the compass issue is useless, I beg to differ.>>

Agreed 100%. This is some TV geek analysis gold!

Jennifer Finney Boylan said...

can I also say, that when the gun went off--before we knew it was Sayid--both my teenagers looked all excited, because they were so hoping that they'd actually killed Kate. I am sorry to report this, but it's worth mentioning, I guess. The youth of tomorrow aren't Kate fans.

christy said...

James M. Barrie said: "because of what Christy said in her comments (that girl reads my mind)."

This makes me smile, because I was thinking the same thing. That James M. Barrie, he gets me. No wonder I loved Peter Pan so much as a child (um, and as an adult as well).

Like Erizu, I was also considering that Richard may have actually found the original, younger compass AFTER Locke gives him the old one. I didn't mention it because people seemed to be hung up on the compass proving something to Richard in the 1950s, so it was easier to explain the basic theory how it COULD be only one compass at different points in its "life" without just going round and round to infinity. But from a strictly logical standpoint, and given that we don't have enough information yet to say for sure where it originated or what Richard thinks of it, it could be. It could be that at some point between 1954 and 2007, Richard finds the young compass and says "OHHH, so that's where it came from!" And we will say the same thing :)

Peter D Bakija said: "But then compass he gives to John in 2007 is the compass John gave him in 1954. "Do you have that compass I gave you?" "Yes. A little rusty, but still points north". It isn't a different compass. It is the same one."

It's always the same one. It's just a matter of whether it's done the hand-off from Richard to Locke to Richard yet, from the "perspective" of the compass. If the compass had been shot in the neck while in Locke's possession, would it have a scar in 2007? :)

What I mean is that when Locke says "Do you have that compass I gave you?" and Richard says "yes," he may be referring to either the younger one or the older one or both, because they are the same compass. One has traveled through time already, the other hasn't, but they are the same compass. Richard has probably figured that out by 2007, too.

That is, if it's not an infinite loop time-traveling compass, but rather just a regular loop time-traveling compass.

Anonymous said...

Alan you're correct in pointing out Kate was put on the sub, but the larger question is still there - has Kate done or said anything related to finding Claire? Is her excuse for not doing anything that she's in the past?

annie said...

The time travel is not as compelling to me as the characters. Richard's and Ben's exchange about Locke being trouble and Locke's march to Jacob are much more intriguing to me. This role of adviser or person who takes you where you need to be (Richard, Abingdon, Christian) keeps me hooked. And of course Jacob - the what or who. Richard took young dieing Ben and said "he'll never be the same" -- just prompts the trading your soul to the devil ideas. Is Ben (and possibly several others) a vessel for Jacob?

Also, I just like the whole notion of exploring leadership in its many forms and how each style has its time to shine. Locke talking to the Others reminded me of the Guyana drinking the punch incident, though and gave me a bad feeling.

The Other Mike F. said...

RE: Richard saying he saw them all die... we know a couple of things: 1) There is "an incident," and 2) Richard survives it.

Richard will somehow be safely removed from "the incident" (which seems likely to be the detonation of the hydrogen bomb). He probably thought that the Losties did not get safely away, and when he sees the H-Bomb explode, he simply assumes that everything alive will have been killed. But if they are thrown back to the future before the denonation without his knowledge, he would be under the impression that they were killed.

As I'm thinking through this post, though, there's no way that the H-Bomb will go off. 27 years is nowhere near long enough for the island to shrug off the effects of an H-Bomb. There would have been very visible evidence in 2004.

pgillan said...

Right after they said that Alpert was on the island for a very, very long time, they cut to a shot of him, and I got to thinking about he always appears to be wearing eyeliner... which for some reason made me think about how the ancient Egyptians were always depicted with a lot of eyeliner... which naturally led me to the idea of the giant Egyptian statue that once stood on the island. My new theory is that the island's origins will be tied to ancient Egypt, and that even if Alpert did not originate with that group, he has close ties to them.

I love the certainty of a good hunch.

Erizu said...

@Peter D

"And what we have seen on the show? An infinite loop time paradox compass :-)"

No. Watch Because You Left again (because they don't show the moment in Follow the Leader), the compass Richard gives time-travel Locke is not rusty. It cannot be the one he has been keeping for fifty years, because as he puts out, "it's a little rusty".


"But then compass he gives to John in 2007 is the compass John gave him in 1954. 'Do you have that compass I gave you?' 'Yes. A little rusty, but still points north'. It isn't a different compass. It is the same one."

I don't see how his comment changes anything, or makes it a paradox. I was wrong before, it is the same compass, what it actually is is the same compass at two different ages existing at the same time (kinda like Miles)

Here's how I make it:

Compass A - Richard buys a compass in 1997.
Compass A - Richard gives it to Locke in 2007.
Compass A - Having time travelled, in 1954, Locke gives this ten year old compass to Richard.
Compass A - 40 years later in 1997, Richard still owns this now-rusty compass, but buys a new, shiny one. The same compass, one younger one older.
Compass A - 10 years later, Richard gives the shiny (younger) compass to Locke.
Compass A - 2017 - Richard still owns this now 70 year old compass.

It's easier to think of it as an organic thing:

So a kid is born in 1997, in 2007 he goes back in time to the fifties. By 2007, he's 60-odd. Simuntaneously, his 10 year old self goes back to the fifties, while the 60 year old keeps aging.

So actually it is one compass, it's just the compass comes into existence at the same time as it's 50-year old self exists alongside it. I think you think its a paradox because you assume it has to be created before 1954.

Erizu said...

@The Other Mike.F

"As I'm thinking through this post, though, there's no way that the H-Bomb will go off. 27 years is nowhere near long enough for the island to shrug off the effects of an H-Bomb. There would have been very visible evidence in 2004."

Like women dying during pregnancy from unknown circumstances?

I still think there's no way to know if Jughead will go off or not. If it does = radiation everywhere, women can't give birth. If it doesn't, still in the basement leaking radiation below the Dharma town where, unfortunately, the Others all live and try to have babies, so the women can't give birth.

Peter D Bakija said...

Erizu wrote:
>>No. Watch Because You Left again (because they don't show the moment in Follow the Leader), the compass Richard gives time-travel Locke is not rusty.>>

Heh. I don't think we can put much faith in a really minimal detail like what the compass prop looked like in Because You Left (filmed, and presumably written, before Follow the Leader). That is likely something that needs to be chalked up to "the writers and prop guys hadn't figured out what they were going to do at that point..."

>>It cannot be the one he has been keeping for fifty years, because as he puts out, "it's a little rusty".>>

Except based on the story, it is the same compass (as Richard says it is the same compass). So we can take the character at his word (i.e. when he says it is the same compass, it is the same compass) or we can assume the character is lying. But that opens up too many cans of worms to even consider.

>>I don't see how his comment changes anything, or makes it a paradox.>>

The Paradox is that the compass can't actually exist. As it was never made. It only exists because of a time travel loop--if we assume there is only one compass (and we have zero reason at this point to think otherwise other than pure conjecture), Richard got it from Locke in '54. Richard gives it to Locke in '07. Locke then goes back in time and gives it to Richard in '54. The compass didn't come from anywhere. It just is. Which is the paradox.

>>I was wrong before, it is the same compass, what it actually is is the same compass at two different ages existing at the same time (kinda like Miles)>>

See, with Miles, there are two Miles-es (Miles-i?), and we know there are two Miles-es; the one who is an infant in 1977, and the one who is grown up in 1977 from 2007. There is no problem there. We don't have a similar situation with the compass. We only know of one compass--the one that Locke gave Richard in '54 and then Richard gives to Locke in '07. There is no information indicating that there are ever two compasses (which are the same compass from two different times) like there are two Miles-es. But there is information indicating that there is only one compass.

>>Compass A - Richard buys a compass in 1997.
Compass A - Richard gives it to Locke in 2007.
Compass A - Having time travelled, in 1954, Locke gives this ten year old compass to Richard.
Compass A - 40 years later in 1997, Richard still owns this now-rusty compass, but buys a new, shiny one. The same compass, one younger one older.
Compass A - 10 years later, Richard gives the shiny (younger) compass to Locke.
Compass A - 2017 - Richard still owns this now 70 year old compass.>>

Which certainly could work. If we had any evidence at all that Richard bought a new compass. But we don't. We just have Richard saying he has the same compass that John gave him in '54. And again, we can believe what Richard says (and have no reason not to, based on what the story tells us) or we can choose to ignore what he says and conjecture other things. Which, again, isn't completely unreasonable, but I tend to go with the information we have.

Now mind, you, this could all just be the result of sloppy writing. Or it could be the result of the writers realizing that the compass is a incomprehensible time loop paradox, and just going with it, 'cause it is funny. Or maybe next week, they'll explain it all with a second compass story (although that seems unlikely). But if we take the story, and it's characters at face value, and don't invent "second compass" theories on conjecture, what we got is an impossible paradox compass. Which I'm totally ok with. As it is cool. If non sensical.

Dave Angel said...

Hello all, first post and this episode has caused me to beg a few questions..
What has happened to little Ben?! I've either missed something or we haven't seen him since Richard took him to the temple.. Where is his Dad in all the chaos of the evacuation off the island?! Horace, Radzinski and co also did not question Juliet about little Ben's disappearance after it became established that her and Sawyer were not what they seemed..

It has made me think a little bit about the running time of the show and the amount of episodes. As a Brit who is used to shows lasting an hour and particularly loving 'the wire' and 'the sopranos', American shows that did last nearly an hour or longer, I can't help thinking that in a 16 episode season of 42 minutes each that big chunks of interesting story are being edited out.. Kate getting caught after leaving Jack and Sayid for instance.

I think its a bit ironic that just as the show has got an end in sight and every single character and their arc has become really interesting there isn't enough time to tell all their stories.. Such little back story for Jin, Sayid and even how Sawyer and co got established with Dharma. Compare to the filler episodes of seasons 2 and 3, Jack's tattoo etc.

It does mean that every single episode is taut and fast moving but I can't help thinking that say 20 episodes would have made for an even more satisfying season.

Peter D Bakija said...

Dave Angel wrote:
>>What has happened to little Ben?!>>

He is with the Others. We haven't seen him since Richard took him, and really, not that much time has passed since then (a couple days, maybe, IIRC). And we already know what happens with little Ben from this point--he ends up back with the Dharma Initiative eventually, grows up, is secretly an Other all that time, and then helps kill all the Dharma folks in The Purge.

At this point, it is likely important that we don't see little Ben again, as they have established that Ben doesn't remember the Losties being around in 1977, which is easily explained by him losing memory from around his getting shot, and then him not getting back to Dharma until after the Losties all vanish again

Erizu said...

We absolutely can put faith into the detail of the show (haven't you stressed the importance of looking at the content of the 'text'?, this counts, no?) The writers obviously planned this season thoroughly ("I never said there was a bullet in my leg, Richard" "Well, you will"), so I see no reason to believe the compass prop being non-rusty is an accident, especially considering they highlight that the one Richard has had for 50 years IS.

Granted, we haven't seen the origin of the compass yet, but as Lost has been so paradox-free, there is enough evidence in the show to indicate the compass Richard passes on is the same one he's had for 50 years. Infact there is no strong evidence either way, Richard hasn't said the same compass he passed on was the one he had, he just said he still had the one from '54. Hell, in Follow the Leader they don't even show the clip with the compass being handed off, so his line clearly wasn't that important.

Peter D Bakija said...

Erizu wrote:
>>We absolutely can put faith into the detail of the show (haven't you stressed the importance of looking at the content of the 'text'?, this counts, no?)>>

Yes. I have. But I only put faith into the intentional parts of the show--I'm unconvinced that what the compass prop looked like 19 episodes ago relative to how they ended up needing it to look was intentional. Having Richard specifically point out that it was the same compass? Completely intentional. Having the compass looking the way it did in Because You Left? I'm not convinced that is intentional. Could I be wrong? Sure. But I'm willing to chalk that up to unintentional production gaff more than I'm willing to chalk it up to intentional writing.

>>The writers obviously planned this season thoroughly ("I never said there was a bullet in my leg, Richard" "Well, you will"), so I see no reason to believe the compass prop being non-rusty is an accident, especially considering they highlight that the one Richard has had for 50 years IS.>>

Sure. I might be wrong. And if it turns out I am? I'll be like "Huh. Look at that. I stand corrected."

Anonymous said...

Elizu said: ". . .but as Lost has been so paradox-free, . . ."

Once characters start seeing earlier versions of themselves, I think we are well beyond "paradox free". The view of time travel proposed by the show is ultimately an infinite regress and as such is unsustainable from the viewpoint of logic. Indeed, there are very few cosmological theories that permit a world where time travel into the past is possible and pretty much any show that proffers one runs into the inf-reg problem at some point. Be a Taoist of good cheer and let it all just flow right over you.

Two cents, freely offered :)

-anonymoose

Anonymous said...

Eliza notes: "I still think there's no way to know if Jughead will go off or not. If it does = radiation everywhere, women can't give birth. If it doesn't, still in the basement leaking radiation below the Dharma town"It does seem that in the past there's no evidence of a pregnancy problem on the island. Or am I missing something? If true, then this problem arose after our heroes traveled back to 1977.

Moreover, the effects of radiation on pregnancy are well documented (post-war Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and do not match the description we've received of the problems on the lost island. The inference I recall from those descriptions was that these problems were related to whatever on the Island heals cancer/etc. Perhaps a release of radiation combined with this other factor x is the source of later pregnancy woes.
-anonymoose

Michael said...

WAAAAAAAAAALT

I want WAAAAAAAAAAAAAALT

drugtest said...

The mystery of where the compass comes from reinforces some sage advice:

Always save your receipts.

Mike F said...

Maybe after LOST ends, they'll do a spin-off of the show featuring the entire run of the show seen from the perspective of the time-traveling compass.

Maybe Ron Moore and Joss Whedon could team up and produce and write that one as their next project.

Anonymous said...

Late watching this episode but I'd like to give due recognition to the great Elizabeth Mitchell for her work in this episode.
During the interrogation scene when Phil / Jimmy Barrett starts to beat Juliet, she gives a quick smile as Sawyer starts to go ballistic. 'Yes he loves me !'
Her ability to tell us so much with looks/expressions this season has been a highlight.

Anonymous said...

For me, one of Lost's biggest unsolved mysteries is why women cannot conceive on the island. With so many daddy issues I've sometimes forgotton about this but Eloise's murder of her future son got me thinking....Could the island have taken offense to this action and will therefore not allow any other women to conceive? I like the idea that the island is punishing all women for Eloise's mistake. Do we know of any women after Eloise who became pregnant on the island? We saw that Rousseau was already pregnant with Alex upon island arrival, for example and I can't think of a single character who we know for a fact was conceived on the island since (possibly the 70s Dharma-babies like Miles and Charlotte but those details are still vague). Sort of a random theory (one that also assumes that the Others in the 50s WERE conceiving on the island) but one that has been bugging me for a couple of weeks now. OK after 5 seasons of watching I threw out a theory but now my brain hurts so I'm going back to entertained viewer mode. LOVE your column Alan!

christy said...

Interesting point Anon. I think the only baby we know for sure was conceived on the island was Ji Yeon. (And Other pregnancies that killed the mothers). In the 70s and before, the Others and the Dharma people both have ways of traveling on and off the island and we know that Eloise traveled back and forth before leaving permanently, and we know that the Dharma people did send their women to mainland to give birth, so it's possible they were sent away to conceive as well. Still it's only in the aughts that we know pregancies are failing (at the latest, before Juliet is recruited), so we don't know yet when that starts. The Incident is a good guess but we'll see.

Eloise killing her own son from the future before he's born (probably actually when he's in utero!) is definitely related thematically if not literally.

Scott J. said...

Damon & Carlton mercifully address the questions about the compass in their latest podcast. Its nature was the subject of "way too many hours" of discussion in the writers' room, and they hit on every point that has been brought up here. They confirm that:
it is stuck in a loop,
it has no origin,
yet it decays over time.

They don't actually use the word "paradox". Damon likens it to an unsolvable mathematical problem such as Fermat's Last Theorem (newsflash, Damon: they solved it!), while Carlton comes right out and calls it "magic". So no easy answers, basically, which is OK by me.

Anonymous said...

Mike F: "This brings to mind and may answer a question that's been on my mind for years. How did Penny just happen to be in the right place at the right time to pick up the Oceanic Six...and before that, how did she happen to be at the right place at the right time to catch Desmond's phone call and to answer the transmission from Charlie. It seems to me that likely Eloise has moved her around like a chess piece as she's done with others for some wide-ranging purpose."

Um... Penny's ship was near the island ever since the hatch blew up. When Desmond turned the failsafe key, he basically destroyed the island's "invisibility" cloak. Sure, it was still tough to get to and from the island without losing your mind (like the freighter dude + Desmond experienced), you had to maintain that specific bearing and all, BUT... Penny's team (those two dudes in a radio listening station, remember?) detected the EM pulse or whatever from that "purple sky" moment, and she started hanging out in the vicinity.

Then when Ben turned the frozen donkey wheel, the island disappeared, ocean filled its space, and the helicopter and its crew were easily findable by Penny's ship. Well, maybe not EASY, it is a nice big open ocean area, but point being that the island's properties were no longer preventing Penny from getting to Desmond. Boom, fixed!

So... hope that makes more sense to you than whatever you'd heard before, Mike F. As for the phone call, Desmond called her at her house. She just happened to be at home in London when Desmond called her, that's all. Transmission from Charlie... was almost a season after the purple sky moment, so she was either in a monitoring station like the one her two employees were back during the purple sky/Swan Station failsafe key moment.... OR, she was already on a ship at that point. Either way, she told Charlie that the ship there AT the island wasn't her ship, and then she presumably made her way closer to the island to try and find Desmond and anyone else she could.

Dave Angel: "It has made me think a little bit about the running time of the show and the amount of episodes. As a Brit who is used to shows lasting an hour and particularly loving 'the wire' and 'the sopranos', American shows that did last nearly an hour or longer, I can't help thinking that in a 16 episode season of 42 minutes each that big chunks of interesting story are being edited out.. Kate getting caught after leaving Jack and Sayid for instance.:

The Wire and the Sopranos are on commercial-free HBO, that's the only reason the shows last around 50-55 minutes instead of 42 minutes. Every non-HBO or non-Showtime show on American TV, network OR mainstream cable channels... is edited for 42 minutes not by the station but by the producers of the show. Meaning you're not losing out on 10+ minutes of stuff the writers and director wanted you to see. Anything that was cut to get the episode down to 42 minutes were things they wanted to cut. Similar to how an hour long Doctor Who ep COULD have run 70 minutes, but 10 minutes of stuff was cut that didn't fit in somehow, made no sense, ruined the pacing, etc.

The 42 vs. 55/60/whatever minute difference is arbitrary. If the Lost writers had longer shows to make, then they'd be making LESS of them per season, so while I agree that a 20 ep season would be nice, you can't really blame the show length. 42 minute shows is what us Americans have had to make do with for decades. Just be glad they don't try to squeeze lost into a 21 minute (30 min for you guys) sitcom-length chunk! heh.

Peter D Bakija said...

Scott J. wrote:
>>Damon & Carlton mercifully address the questions about the compass in their latest podcast.>>

Heh. I just heard the podcast you talk about in your post, and immediately felt the need to come and post. Luckily, you got here first :-)

There is no second compass theory. The compass is in a mysterious, unsolvable time loop paradox. Yaa :-)