One dead mouse does not a paradox make.
Right, so I was putting this theory – if you want to call it that – together before Lost-Theories.com bit the dirt. Unfortunately I never got a chance to post it, and so I bring it to you here, for your enjoyment. I will say, before we start, that this is not a groundbreaking theory or a prediction of how things will turn out. It should however clear up the paradox involving Faraday’s rat Eloise – or at least, I hope so. If you’re a comic book fan, think of it as ret-conning.
First, my justification for this endeavour. I’m not good with loose ends. They pick at me, get under my skin, and niggle away at me until I can’t take it any more. There is one thing worse than a loose end though, and that’s an incredibly convenient excuse. Eloise’s paradox has both of these, and frankly I will not stand for it. I also love the time travel aspect of the show, and the delicate way it is handled. I couldn’t bear for there to be some kind of flaw with it.
Firstly, I’ll outline the paradox itself. Eloise is zapped by Faraday’s machine, and her consciousness is unstuck in time. Unlike Desmond, her future consciousness – which knows the maze – comes back in time. Faraday claims he was going to teach Eloise the maze in an hour’s time, but 75 minutes later when Desmond wakes up from passing out, Eloise is in the big lab in the sky. In addition to the fact that teaching a rat to run a new maze takes a lot longer than 75 minutes, it’s also pretty difficult to teach a rat something it already knows. Paradox alert.
Some folk have attempted to explain the paradox by saying that Eloise’s present consciousness, which didn’t know the maze, snapped back into place just in time for Faraday to teach it the maze – leaving the fact that it takes much longer than that to teach rats to run mazes down to creative license, or a production error.
This is both incredibly convenient (too convenient, if y’ask me), and incredibly wrong, as I shall attempt to prove to you now. All it takes is a little thought: the consciousness of Eloise that didn’t know the maze was never seen again after Faraday zapped her. Think about Desmond – when he was jumping back and forth through time, his 2004 consciousness was nowhere to be seen. When his 1996 consciousness was in 1996, he was catatonic in 2004, and vice versa. This happened with Eloise too – witness her freezing after Faraday unleashes his purple light. It’s the time period that changes, not the consciousness, which is how Des could remember those numbers for Faraday’s machine. The consciousness that took priority in Eloise could run the maze, and you can’t teach someone something if they already know it.
“Bloody hell CoolBeans, you fantastically handsome fool!” I hear you cry. “Why surely that means that the situation is a paradox?! Lawks a mussy boy, you’ve tied yourself in knots!”
Not so, my friends. Although this is where it can get a little tricky. As Jennifer Aniston would say: “Here comes the science..”.
There isn’t a paradox in this situation at all. It merely looks as though there is to us, because we look at time as a linear thing, seen from one point of view. It’s not though. Time is like colour – a construct of the mind created to allow us to organise the chaos that is reality into something that our brains can handle. We all have our own timelines, but since we don’t come across many black holes, rarely encounter faster than light travel, and tend to stay well away from giant imploding electromagnetic anomalies, ours tend to be fairly congruent. Not always – for example, most people seem happy to sit through Edward Scissorhands, and would estimate its time at about an hour and a half, while I find that it seems to go on for at least twice that time.
So the way to look at the events in Lost is to look at everyone’s differing points of view, and not the overall timeline, because on everyone’s timelines different things happened. On Faraday’s timeline he was planning to teach Eloise the maze, when Desmond arrived. He put the numbers into the computer, watched Eloise run the maze, put Desmond in a chair while he was catatonic, did some maths, and saw Eloise die without ever teaching her the maze. From Eloise’s point of view, Desmond wasn’t around that morning. Faraday taught her to run the maze, then all of a sudden she was back in the past, at the start of the maze. She ran it, kept jumping through time, had a nosebleed, and then died. Both of these timelines happened, but only from each character’s perspective. Faraday taught Eloise the maze, but only from her point of view. No paradox in that, it’s called relativity (or at least it’s in that field).
Please feel free to direct any queries, arguments, or grovelling praise my way (well, I can hope), and I’ll do my best to iron out any creases you may find.