In the review for âLA Xâ, it was theorized that âthe Incidentâ was associated with a quantum mechanical event, such that two realities were born out of a single timeline: the familiar âLost Primeâ and the flash-sideways âLost Xâ. While many possible explanations for the purpose of âLost Xâ have been offered since that point, based on new information, one constant has been the theory that Desmond would be directly connected to it.
While many of the characters have experienced time travel and exposure to the unusual electromagnetic properties of the island, Desmond is the one that was at the heart of the Swan Station implosion in âLive Together, Die Aloneâ. And as seen in âFlashes Before Your Eyesâ and âThe Constantâ, this led to Desmondâs consciousness being uniquely âunstuckâ. Desmond could see the future for a time, and stood outside of the rule that âwhatever happened, happenedâ.
This episode confirms the assumption that âthe Incidentâ was the cause of the split in the timeline. If there are details in terms of events before 1977 that seem to diverge and canât be explained by the lack of time traveling by the survivors, thatâs likely just side effects of the temporal connection to the electromagnetic anomaly. (OK, in reality, itâs a bit of sloppiness from the writers, but thatâs not as much fun as coming up with a work-around!)
And that seems to solidify the theory that âthe Incidentâ had differing effects in each timeline. In âLost Primeâ, the island remained intact, but those displaced in time were taken back to the moment of their departure (2007). In âLost Xâ, the island sank (at an undetermined rate, but slow enough to let most if not all of the Dharma Initiative members to leave), and Jacob never intervened in the lives of the characters.
It was inevitable, just based on the information in âLA Xâ, that the two timelines would ultimately connect. As stated in the review for âThe Packageâ, the progression of the âLost Xâ timeline towards a reunion of the familiar characters who were on that timelineâs Oceanic 815 flight has to have a purpose within the larger context of the story. This episode only drives home this notion.
This episode provided an interesting perspective on the relationship between âLost Primeâ and âLost Xâ. Characters in âLost Xâ are becoming more and more aware of the existence of âLost Primeâ, during moments of transcendent personal revelation. In this episode, itâs tied to two life-altering events: love and death. The emphasis is on love, but both Charlie and Desmond had their epiphanies during near-death experiences.
The two are also not directly linked. Daniel recognized that he loved Charlotte, but there was no associated near-death experience. (And while one might theorize that Danielâs own unique mental state in âLost Primeâ could account for his insight, thatâs an exception that seems a bit too subtle, especially given how Desmond is in focus.) On the other side of the coin, Jack was the one person in âLA Xâ who seemed to have flashes of recollection of âLost Primeâ, without the trigger of love. Yet, itâs clear that the death of his father had affected him deeply.
Yet it is interesting to note that the characters in âLost Primeâ donât have the same insights into the existence of âLost Xâ. The only character that seems to allude to it is Jacobâs rival. But that is only in the form of temptation, so itâs not necessarily a reference to âLost Xâ. A solid rationale would have to be provided to make that link.
Desmondâs unique state of existence may be that link. By the end of this episode, there is every reason to believe that he is aware of the âLost Xâ timeline, just as Desmond X is aware of âLost Primeâ. He now has a holistic perspective that the rest of the characters simply do not have. And that ties back into the speculation from the review for âLA Xâ: if someone has to make a decision as to which reality will prevail, Desmond is the only one with the necessary perspective on both states of existence. Desmond may not be the one called to make a decision, but he may be able to trump it.
Itâs fairly clear that the final battle is swiftly approaching. Possession of the Ajira plane (or, perhaps, the Widmore submarine) is the final goal. Jacobâs rival put together a long-term plan to achieve the right set of circumstances to leave the island. Jacob constructed his own plan in counterpoint. This all involves the Candidates, and a few possible scenarios have been mentioned, particularly in the review for âThe Packageâ.
Yet Widmoreâs gambit seemed apart from that. Now itâs revealed that it has something to do with Desmond, the electromagnetic properties of the main island, and perhaps even a nuclear bomb. Because it seems rather likely that Widmore knows about the splintered timeline.
In âFlashes Before Your Eyesâ, Eloise Hawking made it very clear that Desmond had to resist the urge to alter the timeline, because if he did, âevery single one of us is deadâ. This has been echoed by Jacob and Widmore this season more than once. But what does that mean? From a literal perspective, it could mean that Jacobâs rival would utterly destroy all life on the planet. But it could also mean that Jacobâs rival could wipe out the âLost Primeâ timeline in favor of one of his own preference. In essence, everyone in the âLost Primeâ timeline would cease to exist.
Right now, Jacobâs rival is telling the Candidates that he can give them what they want: the restoration of loved ones and a better life, a world where Jacob never brought them to the island. Itâs the exact opposite of redemption. But to the Candidates, that might actually sound like a good thing. âLost Primeâ has been harsh. The thought of a new world, where things turned out the way they âshould have beenâ, would have to be tempting, especially sight unseen.
But Desmond is now aware of that other existence. On some level, he may still be connected to it. He knows, from direct experience, that the other universe is not perfect. If anything, he realizes (thanks to Charlie and Daniel) that as real as it may seem and even be, itâs not where the âLost Primeâ survivors are meant to be. More than that, he knows that the two are intrinsically connected. In other words, it may be that wiping out âLost Primeâ in favor of âLost Xâ would, in essence, destroy both timelines.
Then again, itâs a well-established fact that the producers and writers had no intention of exploring the âLost Xâ timeline before they settled on the finalized plan for the sixth season. It was a late addition to the series, developed as a means of adjusting format to give the season a unique flavor. So while this approach gives the audience a perspective into this alternative reality, itâs likely that the original treatment was more conceptual.
It all comes down, as Jacob said in âAb Aeternoâ, to finding someone willing to let go of the past, accept a clean slate, and take his place as caretaker of the island. It makes perfect sense that Jacobâs rival would offer them a temptation of this magnitude. Widmore is in direct opposition to Jacobâs rival, so it appears as though this is all part of Jacobâs counter-ploy.
After all, if Jacob contrived to have Oceanic 815 crash on the island, then he is the likely manipulator behind Desmondâs lapse in the Swan Station (going back to the long-standing theory that the crash was not at all accidental). And who was directly involved in getting Desmond to the island? Charles Widmore. It all adds up. (That also serves to explain Libbyâs importance to the story. She facilitated Desmondâs arrival on the island as part of Team Jacob. Thereâs really nothing else pertinent to know about her.)
So how might it all come together? Desmond knows about the other timeline. He knows that âLost Primeâ is the way things were supposed to play out; this is in direct line with Eloise Hawkingâs warnings in âFlashes Before Your Eyesâ. He can survive intense electromagnetic fields, such as exist on the island and are tied to the containment of Jacobâs rival. And he knows that a nuclear bomb, in conjunction with such a field, can change the flow of time. And Eloise Hawking, someone intimately connected to Charles Widmore, knew all about the implications based on her possession of Daniel Faradayâs journal.
What if Charles Widmore, as part of Jacobâs plan, is trying to stage a second, much bigger Incident? The producers have said that Zoe is key to the final resolution; as a geophysicist, she would be able to advise on where the second Incident would need to take place. If âwhatever happened, happenedâ, and âcourse correctionâ is intrinsic to the stability of the timeline, then it may all come down to mending the damage done by the first Incident. And it makes sense that it would take an event of similar magnitude to make that happen.
The trick could be that this requires setting off the burst in the most potent electromagnetic location on the island, and it may be too strong for a normal human being to withstand. Thatâs where Desmond comes into the picture. Eliminate the âLost Xâ timeline, and Jacobâs rival no longer has an alternative to offer to the Candidates. (In fact, it may be that Jacobâs rival needs the âLost Xâ timeline to exist for his escape to be fully realized. Eliminate âLost Xâ, select the Candidate, and the game is over for this cycle.)
So a relatively logical scenario is now forming for the final resolution to the story. But there is one unusual aspect still to take into account. Desmond seemed altogether too happy to do what Widmore was asking him to do, which seems to be sacrificing himself (and therefore his life with Penny and little Charlie) to eliminate the âLost Xâ timeline in which he was still destined to be with his true love. But he was also willing to go with Sayid, no questions asked. So what is Desmondâs current motivation?
Desmond has never been particularly secretive on the matter: his sole desire was always to be with Penny. As far back as âLive Together, Die Aloneâ, the producers have been clear on the point that the Desmond/Penny relationship was one of the most important aspects of the story. So the audience can count on Desmond making whatever choice he feels is right with respect to Penny. Itâs not entirely clear what he took away from his experience in âLost Xâ, but itâs certainly going to factor into the endgame.
Overall, this was another solid and satisfying episode, confirming some of the speculation regarding the direction and nature of the story while promising that some of the more pressing plot threads will be resolved. This is effectively the end of the complication phase of the final arc; itâs now a headlong rush to ultimate resolution.