Lost: Down the Hatch – A Quantum Leap forward

Chris Kirkman

Chris Kirkman

“Because You Left” and “The Lie” Recap and Analysis …

Previously, on Lost:
“Okay, you see we did crash, but it was on this crazy island. And then we waited for rescue, only there wasn’t a rescue. And then there was this smoke monster. And there were other people on the island, we called them the Others, and they started attacking us. And we found these hatches, and there was a button you had to push every 108 minutes, or … well, I was never really clear on that.

“But, the Others didn’t have anything to do with the hatches, that was the Dharma Initative. But they’re all dead, the Others killed them … and now they’re trying to kill us. And then we teamed up with the Others because worse people were coming on a freighter. Desmond’s girlfriend’s father sent them to kill us. So we stole their helicopter and we flew it to their freighter, but it blew up, and we couldn’t go back to the island because it disappeared. So then we crashed into the ocean and we floated there for awhile before a boat came and picked us up. By then, there was six of us. That part was true. But the rest of the people who were on the plane … they’re still on that island …”

Thank you, Hurley, I believe we’re all caught up now. Best Lost summary ever.

Hurley tells his mom
The same look that anyone who is uninitiated gives me when I talk about the show.

Well, dear readers, this season we’re doing things a little differently. Other than a brief comment about the episode each week, I won’t be offering up an in-depth recap. Unfortunately, it’s just become too time-consuming, and there are plenty Others out there that can sum things up just as well and more humorously than me. No, instead I’ll stick to rooting around inside this strange brain for some off-beat theories and explanations in my usual analysis – something you don’t necessarily see from some of the Others out there. Let’s get to it, shall we?

You might want to get real comfortable and unscrew the back of your head. There’s a lot of craziness to go over, and this might get a little bumpy.

In essence, here’s the situation: at the end of last season, Ben turned the Great Wheel and unleashed a vast amount of stored temporal energy. In a blinding flash of white light, the island seemed to disappear to the Oceanic 6. To those on or near the island, nothing seemed to happen at first. Gradually, however, the survivors notice that the beach camp is completely gone. Daniel Farraday, who was on the Zodiac landing craft, remarks that the raft “must have been inside the radius.” Apparently he and the others on the craft were close enough to the temporal anomaly that shifted the island to be caught in its bubble. Once on the beach, Dan explains to the survivors that the beach camp hasn’t been destroyed – it simply hasn’t been built yet. Yes, true believers, the survivors have come unstuck in time.

As the episodes progress, we see that all of the survivors, as well as Dan, Miles, Charlotte and Juliet, are “skipping” through time. The Others, however, seem to be rooted to the base timeline of the island and are not skipping about. Richard seems to be aware of the phenomenon, however, as he confronts Locke on one of his trips backwards in time and fills in some of the holes. Essentially, Locke needs to get everyone back on the island or something REALLY BAD is going to happen. In order to do this, Locke is going to have to die. We’ll deal with that later. Right now, we have some string theory to go over.

Last season when we discussed “The Constant,” I described Desmond’s travels through time as a by-product of a personal consciousness being time-shifted. If you don’t remember that, don’t fret – with the developments in the season premiere, we’re going to have to delve a bit deeper. We won’t be throwing anything out, mind you, just adding onto it all. I just hope it all makes sense when the ride’s over.

In our temporal analysis from last year, I talked a bit about the simplistic view of space-time existing as an extra dimension beyond our conventional three dimensions. Now, however, it’s important that we start to look further into viewing time through string theory. Imagine, if you will, that time is like a string. An individual’s personal timeline can be represented as a straight piece of string, with birth at the beginning and death at the end.

String theory

Last year, we started out talking about all this in much the same way.

The points along the string represent the individual moments of a person’s lifetime. If you could somehow put the two ends of the string together, life would be a loop.

String theory figure 2

Now, if you could somehow coil the string – ball it up like a big bit of yarn for the cats – then various moments of your life would intersect or touch another moment. Theoretically, you could jaunt from moment to moment along the string, allowing you to move back and forth along the string within your own lifetime. If you want to know more about all this from a far more entertaining aspect, go catch some repeats of Quantum Leap.

String theory figure 3

Of course, the string could be messier, with more intersects, looser with less intersects, or more organized, with exact intersects. I like to think of the coiled string as just a bit messy, much like life.

At any rate, Desmond’s experiences from last season imply that it was simply his consciousness that was shifting across the string. He was able to view and interact with moments along his timeline, but his “present” physical self was not transported to that particular moment. Again, this is much like how Sam Beckett jaunted his conscious mind about in Quantum Leap. The survivors, however, seem to be physically jumping back and forth through time. It’s not just their consciousness that is traveling, and all of the survivors and those not truly “indigenous” to the island are experiencing the same phenomenon. How are the survivors jumping and the Others are not? For that matter, how are the survivors shifting physically? How can we reconcile all this? Through some very open-minded thinking, actually.

This week’s drink recipe honors Hurley and his never-ending honesty. It’s the perfect libation to sip while you’re telling your loved ones that you were trapped on a mysterious island with smoke monsters, capri-loving communists and killer mercenaries. One of the finishing ingredients is a grapefruit soda like Jarritos, which Hurley is sipping while he spills the beans to his mom.

The Paloma

  • 3 ounces (2 jiggers) agave tequila – accept no substitutes
  • 1/2 a lime
  • Pinch of salt
    (sea salt, if you’ve got it – it’s the island, remember?)
  • Jarritos grapefruit soda
    (or a similar substitute – I’ve had a version of this drink with a bit of grapefruit juice and club soda or Sprite)

Grab a regular Collins glass and throw three or four cubes of ice in there. Add the tequila, squeeze the juice of half the lime and add the salt. Stir it a bit. Top it off with Jarritos. After a couple of these, you’ll be spewing the secrets of the island to anyone within earshot.

Much like how magnets and particles attract in nature, so, too, can temporal strings. When individuals come together for an extended period of time, their strings can attract and become entwined, much like a braided piece of yarn. This entwining can occur anywhere along the personal timeline, beginning or end, and can affect the string along its entire width. In Lost, all of our characters are connected in some way or another in the past. Many of them had never met, but their lives had become inexplicably entwined. Some characters are more connected than others, but everyone involved with the island has a connection. The force of the experience on the island has caused all of the survivors’ temporal strings to become entwined. As such, any temporal shift, or “balling up” of the string, would be experienced by the group as a whole. This can explain the group shift, and how its possible to experience something of this magnitude as a whole. To figure out why they’re jumping about through the island’s physical history, though, we have to take it a step further.

When Ben turned the wheel, this caused the island to shift temporally. It was the island’s temporal string that balled up, not the entwined survivors’. However, since the survivors’ strings are somewhat entwined with the island’s, they were pulled along during the shift. If the survivors’ strings were completely entwined with the island, they would have experienced no shift whatsoever. This is why the Others are not shifting like the survivors – the Others have existed with the island for so long that their strings are completely entwined. Now, since the island’s string is twisted, the survivors are essentially traveling along their own “normal” entwined time, but are forced to experience random moments in the island’s history as they pass through portions of the twisted coil.

This analogy can be taken a step further to show how the island has “disappeared” and why, at the end of “The Lie,” Ms. Hawking is trying to ascertain the next logical location that the island will reemerge into the natural world’s continuum. Basically, with the turning of The Great Wheel, the temporal force of the island was so great that it was able to coil its string independently of that of the rest of the physical world. Since the Jump, the island has become dislodged from the natural time flow and will only appear at random intervals in the Earth’s history. It’s possible that this is how the island has existed since the very beginning, and could explain why it has remained hidden for so long. It would explain why The Black Rock is stuck in the middle of the island. It could explain why its indigenous population, namely Richard, doesn’t age normally. It could explain the nature of the very power within the island, and why so many people have sought it out throughout history.

Beautiful Charlotte is dying. Much like the rats that Daniel used and the bunnies of the Dharma Initiative, Charlotte is starting to come unraveled. She needs something to hold onto. She needs a constant.

For Desmond, that constant turned out to be Penny. I believe that this is a by-product of the string entwining. Desmond and Penny’s lives were entwined for so long that Desmond had the force of another string to hold onto. In essence, it kept him from unraveling. In many ways, every survivor left on the island is in need of a constant much like that. Daniel is fairly safe, as he has Desmond as a constant. The rest of the survivors, however, need each other and the island as a constant. In the same vein, since the survivors’ lives are so closely entwined with the island, it may also need them as a sort of constant. This may be the reason why Ben is trying to get everyone back to the island – without them, the survivors and the very island itself could become unraveled.

On another note in regard to Desmond, it’s interesting that he is the one person who Daniel believes “the rules” don’t apply. The rules, of course, are that time is immutable. What has been set in motion cannot be changed. Desmond, however, seems to exist somewhat outside the rules. This may be a by-product of his temporal consciousness shift, or perhaps it can be attributed to his string being entwined with so many important anchors – the island, the outside world, Penny, Daniel, the Dharma Initiative, Jack and, of course, Charles Widmore.

A few miles back, I talked at length about ley lines, their mystical significance as powerful intersect points along the Earth, and how they could tie into the exact location of the island. Some believe that ley line intersects also tie deeply into temporal phenomena, which would make a helluva lot of sense in regards to Lost. I’m not going to dig deep into this subject again in this analysis, but I’ll leave you all with some visuals to get the ol’ brain juices going for next time.

Ms Hawking
Hey, it’s Ms. Hawking! Wait … uh … are you Daniel’s mum? Maybe? No?

Ms Hawking
Never mind that Daniel question … hey, what’re you working on there?

Ms Hawking
Oh, I see! Very interesting … that looks sort of familiar …

Ley lines
Just a little trifle I worked up from awhile back … there are many, many more ley line intersects, but these are the major ones.

Daniel's notebook
And, what the heck … let’s just throw this little scribble from Daniel’s notebook into the mix, while we’re at it.

That about does it for this week. There’s plenty left to talk about – What happens if Ben can’t get everyone back to the island in 70 hours? Will we ever really learn how all this ties into The Button? Which Leap will be their next leap home?

Also, is Ms. Hawking…

  1. A Time Lord
  2. A Timecop
  3. A Leaper
  4. Crazy, Wild-eyed Scientist?

I’ll be back next week with the usual insane ramblings about whatever temporal shenanigans the show is up to, as well as a look at some important figures in time travel, as shown above, for all of you interested in a little extracurricular viewing. Until then, keep thinking good things and let me know if any of you have epiphanies.


Chris Kirkman is a graphic designer/photographer/journalist/geek extraordinaire with way too many Bruce Campbell movies in his library. He is still hoping that Lost will end when Bob Newhart wakes up next to Suzanne Pleshette, complaining of a strange, strange dream. You can contact him at ckirkman@hobotrashcan.com.

Comments (1)
  1. Joel January 28, 2009

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