Television: Lost versus Time Travel

Starring: Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Terry O'Quinn, Michael Emerson, Elizabeth Mitchell, Josh Holloway
ABC, Wednesdays at 9:00


Time travel is often the bane of televisual storytelling. It almost never works. This is because of all the paradoxes created when dealing with time travel. The only show I can say consistently and logically dealt with time travel would be Quantum Leap.

Now, the trouble with Lost and time travel is this: we never know how much they're not telling us. Will some of the problems be explained eventually? Is Faraday lying about how time travel works, or . . . ? We won't know until the final episode airs, really, how much they plan to tell us.

But already there are questions. At the end of last season Ben (Michael Emerson) "moved" the island by turning a "frozen donkey wheel." The island moved not in space, but in time. Unfortunately--at least, I suppose it's unfortunate--it keeps moving, sort of like a stone skipping over water, except it's not going in just one direction. So maybe it's more like a combination lock, forward and back again, not finding the correct set of numbers on which to settle.

Okay, that's well and good, but the people? The people on the island are moving in time, too . . . Or, some of them are and some aren't? Here is where it gets confusing. One could say, "Well, the people who are dead and/or who have already left the island are not affected the same way." Mmm hmm. So at one point in time, the now time-traveling islanders discover the hatch is still closed and Desmond is still inside. Faraday points out that Desmond "doesn't know them yet." Right, except Juliet is standing right next to Sawyer, and she knows him, even though at that point in time she should by all rights be across the island and not know him at all. And Jack should now also be back on the island, along with Kate et al. IF Desmond is, too. Right?

Of course, Faraday does speak to Desmond once the others have left, and he tells Desmond that he (Desmond) is "special." So either that will come into play in all this time travel stuff OR the logic simply doesn't hold.

Still, no one can be in two places at once. That's the primary paradox of time travel, the one Quantum Leap solved by having Sam leap into other people. And anyway, Faraday (assuming he wasn't lying) says that no one can change anything when traveling in time. In which case, one shouldn't actually be able to interact with others when traveling. In fact, one should simply be put back where they were at any given moment. For example, if the island should skip to when Oceanic 815 crashes, then none of the current survivors should be on the island when it happens (because they're on the plane, right?), and yet Sawyer and the others have been there for all these moments in which, really, they should have been somewhere else--polar bear cages, what-have-you.

I'm curious to see where the writers and creators take this. They've been a mostly savvy lot, so it's my hope that they have this planned and will reveal all in, er, time.


Kalligenia said...

I picked up some of those things, too. Faraday isn't being honest, I think. I also think that Desmond is special because he has Penny as his focus and isn't horribly affected by time travel like the rest will be. Faraday has his journal as his focus. I'm willing to suspend all my questions on time travel to let the story expand, though. Lost has deserved it!

On another note, I'm so pleased Sawyer was shirtless for a good amount of time! *LOL* I didn't want 'Frogert' to give him his shirt!

Anonymous said...

i think it is important to note that so far we have not seen anyone be in two places at once so for the moment I am willing to suspend disbelief as well

EG said...

Man, I hope they've thought this all through. I want ALL the answers in the end. The message boards on abc.com can be helpful for this. I'm curious if Locke is moving in the same way as the rest of them.

My general observations: Sayid is scary but I love him. I'm liking Sun a lot in her new tough guy role, too. Also, Richard is smokin'. His cousin is an exec who I sort of know at my company, which is funny.