Here we'd settled nicely into the whole "flash forward" device only to have the rug pulled out from underneath us again. Last night's episode of LOST didn't use the flash forward technique and wasn't quite a flashback as Desmond--similar to last season's Flashes Before Your Eyes--seemed to toggle back and forth between 2004 and 1996.
So time travel IS going to be a theme related to the island's mystical properties. This raises some interesting possibilities. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly's Doc Jensen, the alternate reality theory was broached:
DOC JENSEN: Another popular theory making the rounds is that we're dealing with alternate realities. For example, there are people who think the flash-forwards are merely possible future scenarios, not written in stone.And if that's not enough for you, Daniel Faraday reiterated that stance in The Constant telling Desmond, "You can't change the future." Hmmm, a bit Calvinistic wouldn't you say?
CARLTON CUSE: We want people to believe in the stakes of the show. The problem with alternative realities is that you never know when the rug is going to be pulled out from under you. We want the audience to believe that the jeopardy is real. Postulating alternative realities would be an escape valve that would be damaging that as a narrative value.
DAMON LINDELOF: You can get away with it in Heroes, where there is an apocalyptic future you want to avoid. But we're doing the opposite. We want to work toward a future where Jack is absolutely miserable and wants to go back to the Island. Everything we present to the audience has to be factual.
CUSE: We want the audience to believe that is THE future. We don't want people thinking, ''Well, since there are five iterations of this, I'm not going to invest in what's happening to the characters.''
So we can travel through time, and time perceptions are different on the island than off as Daniel tells a worried Jack and Juliette who haven't heard from Sayid and Desmond that, "Your perception of how long your friends have been gone may not be how long they've actually been gone." Add to that the chopper's arrival on the freighter mid-day when they left at dusk and you've got some odd time anomalies. Oddly enough, according to the calendar on the freighter shows that it is Christmas Eve 2004--which is 94 days from when Flight 815 crashed. So obviously freighter time, real world time and island time aren't THAT out of sync...
Very cool how Daniel was able to direct the time-jumping Desmond to his past self--a professor of physics at Oxford--in order to help him with the shifting. A little like Doc Brown and Marty McFly in Back to the Future, no? 1996 Daniel tells Desmond that he needs a "constant" to anchor him in one place. Otherwise he could end up like Daniel's lab rat, Eloise, who suffers from a brain aneurysm and dies. Eloise's fate does happen to Minkowski, who is also suffering from time shifts. So that's it for Fisher Stevens and the mysterious Minkowski? I was expecting more...Obviously Minkowski isn't Ben's mole. And it would appear that Ben's mole is helping the Losties on board the freighter as Minkowski tells Des and Sayid, "Looks like you have a friend on this boat," when the sickbay door is discovered to be ajar allowing them to escape. Did the mole also destroy the phone lines in the communications room?
Looks like we might be getting answers about the Black Rock--a 19th century merchant ship that was shipwrecked on the island in 1845--this season. Charles Widmore purchased the captain's journal at an auction. Could the captain be Richard Alpert? It appears that Black Rock has a Hanso connection as well as the owner of the journal up for sale is Tovar Hanso.
Desmond manages to establish Penny as his anchor and ground himself back in 2004. A tearful phone exchange has Penny promising to find him. She tells him, "I know about the island." So if the freighter people aren't there to help the Losties off the island, will it be Penelope Widmore who rescues them? And with the notation in Daniel's journal that says, "If anything goes wrong Desmond Hume will be my constant," can we expect more time-shifting in upcoming episodes?
To get even more immersed in LOST, check out the recap at Lostpedia, screencaps at Lost Easter Eggs, Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly's Dueling Analyses on Celebritology and other assorted goodies at Lost Media.