Why an alt timeline makes perfect sense

I’m really wanting to look at why and how it makes sense from a narrative perspective for there to be an alternate timeline. Before I get into my reasons, this is what I mean by an alt timeline. When Ajira crashes and Jack, Kate, Sayid and Hurley are flashed back to 1977, it sets of a series of events which lead up to the possibility of Jughead detonating at the Swan. In the timeline we have seen through seasons 1-4, the bomb didn’t go off, the EM was breached, they built the Swan with the button protocol… – the original timeline (this has already happened and stays happened). In 1977, Juliet has a brain snap that she didn’t have in the original timeline (as Daniel says, the people are the variables and can act differently), the bomb goes off this time with significant consequences — killing the losties? Swan not built? DI stop drilling in others territory? Others leave DI alone? No purge? No 815 crash?

Both of these timelines are occurring simultaneously and the island is a place where evidence of both timelines can be seen because it is special. Therefore no paradox has occurred because BOTH timelines are happening.
Now a number of people have said why bother with an alt timeline, just flash the losties back into 2007 and get on with it. But get on with what? If the losties are going to play a major role in any upcoming war they need to know about it, what’s going on, what side they’d like to fight for. At the moment they have no idea what’s going on — so how can you just flash them into the middle of it? And then what was the point of most of season 5, why send Jack etc… back to 1977 to have them make no new impact then just flash them back, and why bother with the Sun/Jin story if you are just going to magically bring them back together?

If you look at the narrative flow of the series so far, you’ll see that in every season the writers consistently follow a 3 act structure closely and with the final act flowing over and being resolved in around the first 5-7 episodes of the season before moving on to the next part.

Eg, Season 3
1. Continues the consequences of Michael being used and selling out (from end of S2), Kate, Jack, Sawyer of Hydra Island
2. Ep 7 (Not in Portland) We start to get Juilet’s and others backstory, start to humanize them
3. Ep 17 (Catch 22) Naomi crashes, introduces the freighter and rescue
This leads to S4 where the first 5 episodes deal with the rescue and whether or not they are there to help or not.

The same pattern can be seem in all seasons, so looking at season 5
1. Time flashes and O6 — dealing with the consequences of the fight betweem Ben and Widmore and the FDW turing.
2. Ep 5 -8 — time flashes stop 1970s story, WHH, they always did what they are doing now, you can’t change anything.
3. Ep 14 (The Variable) actually you can change stuff, Daniel was wrong. But it’s not that simple — if you still act in the same way you always do, you won’t change anything (why Daniel still died, he didn’t act differently to how he would always have acted)

Which means that season 6 has to start with how things have changed, resolve that in 6ish episodes and then bring it home.

That doesn’t mean that the previous seasons don’t mean anything — they happened too, we are going to be shown an alternate, kind of like Des’s flashes about Charlie’s death — Charlie still died just differently. They’ve already set up for us that you can nudge the future and change the circumstances. Using a river as an example, the Des situation showed us that it you used little rocks, but lots, you can alter the course of the river — once you stop though it will find a way back to it’s original path, but that section of the river has been changed. If think the bomb going off is like throwing a huge rock into the river, again it changes the flow dramatically, but the river will find a way back to the easiest path to the ocean.

What we are going to see is that section of the river altered by the huge rock, they land in LAX, people who are dead die anyway and the losties have a feeling that something is not right. They don’t need to be wasted episodes as some of you are thinking – just giving us a different versions — I think they will use those episode to do a few things:

– give the losties extra knowledge about the island and what the war is about so that when they return they know what it is they are fighting over.
– Kill Sun so that Jin has a huge incentive to make things right — merge the timelines
– Show how there can be two Lockes and how and when new Locke got his in-depth knowledge and enlightenment about the island
– They can also used this situation to give us more on Widmore and his role in things as well as the different possibilities for the future of the DI — what happens after 1977?

A lot can be covered in these episodes without needing a lot of explanation and exposition, landing in LAX and well done flashbacks will tell us all we need to know about the new timeline. They’ve said that season 6 will mirror season 1 in many ways — character flashbacks to learn of their story and perspectives while having them discover lots about a crazy island. 7 episodes, 7 character stories — Locke, Kate, Jack, Hurley, Sun/Jin, Sayid, Sawyer. Seems really neat to me.

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14 thoughts on “Why an alt timeline makes perfect sense

  1. “the Des situation showed us that it you used little rocks, but lots, you can alter the course of the river — once you stop though it will find a way back to it’s original path, but that section of the river has been changed. If think the bomb going off is like throwing a huge rock into the river”

    did you see the season5 deleted scene called PEBBLES AND BOULDERS.

    Farday says exactly what you’re saying but gives a visual by dropping pebbles in a stream, then a big rock!

  2. I have a different take on the “alternate timeline” theory (though it’s not worthy of its own thread ’cause I don’t have a lot of legit evidence to back it up lol).

    Instead of a direct alternate timeline, what if the incident caused a damaged rift, opening multiple parallel (or at least two) universes, or timelines, happening at the same time.

    This can somewhat solve the mysterious whispers, some of the disappearing acts of objects (cabin) and people, dead people that Hurley sees and the smoke monster releases (which can explains their ability to touch the living), and most likely a lot more but don’t remember them at the moment. Also, it might just be the reason why MIB can’t kill Jacob; he’s in a different parallel universe and must have someone in Jacob’s universe to actually kill him (otherwise it would break the rule. of what? that i don’t know lol)

    I don’t know the underlying reason of their “destiny,” but what can solve a lot of the odd things around the island is the multiple universes being finally merged into a single universe.

    Sorry if it might sound crazy. I’m a newcomer here lol 😛

  3. I have only 1 question.

    If there are 2 Lockes – suggesting they are from separate timelines and have merged – then wouldnt that mean the whole timeline has merged and not just one person from it?
    I dont understand how it can be just one character merging.

  4. SawyersGirl,

    Im just throwing it out there, that’s why this is not its own thread lol.

    But the 2 Lockes thing happened before the incident, correct? We don’t know what happened yet.

  5. good theory, and you bring up a lot of good points about the plot structure of previous seasons… and good point in bringing up the writers saying that s6 will mirror s1 in many ways…
    however, i think i have a theory about what will happen that does not involve an alt timeline, and also will follow the plot structure you mentioned and will explain a lot of the same phenomena, and will mirror s1 in many ways…
    man, i’m looking forward to posting it! I’m going to see if i’ll have time tonight to do it.
    Still, you have a well thought out theory here, and I have to thank you, banlinus, and yojimbo for clearing up the whole alt timeline theory for me. when i first came to this site it didn’t make any sense to me, but you’ve all done a good job of explaining it. thank you, and sorry for being so difficult during our debates.

  6. Great Job Tas.
    Boy I had a weird thought today. Lost likes to use metaphor, and I think the purge will be a metaphor for the upcoming war.
    When Ben described the purge, he said “When it became apparent that one group had to go……”.
    I think the purge will be a metaphor for the upcoming war. One group will have to go. Not because they are bad or good, but because one group has to go in order for life to continue. This is a little out there, but what I’m refering to is one time line will win over the other, or at least thats what the war will be about.
    I admit these are raving thoughts. It’s very Fringelike, and I didn’t get them from Fringe.

  7. Hey all,
    Cliff87, interesting thoughts, could be a viable way of explaining stuff.

    Sawyersgirl, I think the timelines have merged. The others who are following Richard and Locke, Richard, Ben, Sun, Frank are all from the original timeline (they have all of those memories). The dead Locke is from the original timeline, the alive Locke is from the new timeline. I think ‘they’re coming’ refers to Jack, Kate, Sawyer etc… from the new timeline. Richard said he saw them all die. This then makes sense if he saw them dead from the bomb blast, they can be alive (like Locke) from the new timeline with some differences in their experiences from 1977 and knowledge of the war and what it’s about. The losties will come back to the island prepared to fight for a side and not just run around wherever like they had beeen doing. That’s why I think Sun dies in the new timeline (but possibly wasn’t meant to) that way we don’t have 2 Sun’s walking around. From ep9-15 we have actually been shown an alternate timeline and the merge. Season 6 will give us the back story and pull it all together and can do it because Lost isn’t shown chronologically.
    LilBoyBlue, looking forward to reading your ideas. I didn’t think you were being difficult (maybe a little stubborn 😉 ) I love a good debate and when people raise questions about what I’m saying it means I either have to find evidence to back myself up or put my hands up and say ‘got me’. I really enjoy sifting through episodes looking for details to back up my arguments (my family think I’m a little loopy) and I can get a tad agrumentative and ‘involved’. Sometimes I get a bit frustrated at the more ‘fictiony’ theories, interesting thoughts, but where your evidence from the show, they foreshadow everything so it’ll be there. Just my way of working. So, a good debate that makes you think and justify your ideas is exactly what I love from this site.
    Josh, I’ve seen that so yes that’s why I used the same analogy, I think Daniel missed the point that 1 little rock doesn’t make a difference, but when you use lots in a purposeful way, you can build a dam for example, just takes more time. And I think the bomb is going to be a much bigger rock than little Dan could pick up.
    Ban, like the purge idea, I think that makes heaps of sense. It fits with ideas I have on what they are fighting over – how to use the island rather than the implicit nature of man (can you really lump Ghandi and Hitler together to judge mankind as one?)

  8. good to hear i didn’t piss you off or anything… i love a good debate as well. I just submitted my theory, so hopefully it will go up tomorrow or sometime soon.
    Caution! the theory I’m talking about is REALLY long. I split it in to two parts, but still the second part ended up being ridiculously long…
    Still I hope you will read it, and enjoy. I look forward to debating about it after you read it (if you can stand to sit through it).

  9. wait i think iv finally found out why i dont understand alt. timelines.

    How can the timelines merge?

    looking at the alt. timeline; Kate is being escorted by the marshal and presumably goes to jail; Sun leaves Jin and goes god knows where; Hurley misses his flight; Rose has terminal cancer and had (i think) 6 months to live.
    So when will they ever be able to merge with the losties? They will be living completely different lives and will (probably) never go to the island..

  10. That’s not all SawyersGirl… don’t forget about the freighter crew. thay wouldn’t have come to the island if 815 never crashed. so if in the alt timeline 815 doesn’t crash and the ’77 losties don’t go back to the DI, then Dan never tells Dr. Chang to evacuate the island, and it would be all together possible that Charlotte and Miles both would have grown up in the DI and died in the purge. Also, If dan never comes back so that Eloise can kill him, would she leave the island? or would she stay, and raise him there, to be the next leader of the others?

  11. Yes, all those things and more may well happen. I think the purge doesn’t happen for one, Rousseau dies before changing the recorded numbers message, Ben stays a member of DI and not the leader of the others… The implications of the bomb going off in 1977 are huge. BUT they’ve already shown us how the alt timeline losties can be aware that someting is a bit off – Desmond’s consciouness jumps. They’ve already foreshadowed this, which ties in an incentive for the main players to go the island and do something about it. They’ve set it up perfectly, they land in LAX like nothing happened, just like Jack wanted, but something isn’t quite right and like an increasing level of women’s intuition they realise more and how and why it’s not right.

  12. Another quick point, Carlton and Damon have said that when writing they try to put the characters as far away from where they know they need to be then have fun writing them getting where they need to be. Can’t get much further than a timeline where the island never happened for a lot of them.

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