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.