The Lost Blog

Lost Theory: The Rule That Changed

Welcome to LOST Theories

Hi. This is vacc - I'm the one who's been putting up the Lost Photo Captions since Season 3 ended. As many of you may already know, I was fortunate enough to have one of my LOST Theories published in a recent USA Today article where 10 reader-submitted LOST Theories were critiqued and graded by the LOST brain trust - Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. My own theory - that the smoke monster is a Jinn - was a summary of something I've posted on this very blog during season three.. Perhaps over time, I'll be proven wrong.. at least "Darlton" was kind in their grading of my theory - they gave me a B and B+ respectively.

In the time since I've been reading and posting to this blog, I've come across many really awesome, detailed, and insightful theories - from frequent as well as first time posters. Sometimes these tend to get LOST among the hundreds of comments that follow mac's awesome reviews, and the opportunity to really hash out and discuss these theories in detail may be missed.

For that reason, mac and I have created this Lost Theories topic. Here's how it works : Readers can submit their own theory, or nominate a theory already posted in the comments of this blog, by sending an email to me - and include "Lost Theory" in the subject. From time to time (or until we all run out of theories), a new theory will be chosen and spotlighted here, for grading, critique, and discussion.

Theories should be fairly original. But it's also well within the rules to adapt a theory found elsewhere - as long as you are able to add something unique, or introduce new evidence to support (or debunk) key points. Once a theory has been posted here, feel free to comment, critique, and even grade the theory.

To help kick start this new topic, I humbly offer up my own latest theory :

alex gets shot In the latest episode, The Shape of Things to Come, Ben, after witnessing the execution of his daughter Alex, remarks "He changed the rules". What rules have been changed? Here's my theory:

I believe that the rules that were changed were much more that a simple set of wartime guidelines, or a gentleman's agreement on who was fair game in Ben and Widmore's battle for control of the Island. What if the rules that changed were part of the fundamental laws of the universe - perhaps quantum or temporal physics?

Martin Keamy A few people in earlier postings expressed surprise that Ben "miscalculated" in his handling of the Alex situation. Personally, I find that extremely difficult to accept. It was made very clear to us that Ben knew exactly the type of man he was dealing with in Keamy. This was certainly not the type of person who would hold a gun to someone's head knowing full well he would never carry out the threat simply because there were pre-existing "rules of gamesmanship" - especially after what we can only imagine must've transpired in Uganda.
ben is shocked While watching, then re-watching that exchange, something just seemed out of place to me. While it's natural to expect that Ben would feel extreme grief over losing Alex, his intensely shocked reaction to the reality of Alex's death seemed to go far beyond what I would expect to see from such an intelligent and calculating person as Ben Linus. WHY? My theory tries to explain this.
Ms. Hawking We've learned in several instances that minor details of the future can be tweaked, however the larger outcomes will always prevail - because the universe has a natural tendency for "course correction". Charlie's eventual death was an outcome of such a course correction, which became necessary when Desmond kept intervening in a futile attempt to save him. We also know that the idea of time travel is a key to the overall story - even if it is restricted to the idea of one's consciousness becoming "unstuck in time". It isn't a reach to think that Ben Linus has experienced this effect for himself - perhaps he has even developed an ability to control this effect.

Now consider this possible scenario: At some point in his travels along the time line, Ben has already encountered a future in which Alex survived the attack from the freighter people. Since his knowledge of this future is retained, this influences his present-day actions - for arguments sake, I'm using the Alex hostage standoff as present-day. Anyway, armed with the foreknowledge of Alex's survival, Ben calmly tells Alex that things are "under control". Ben's disavowment of Alex and his calling out Keamy on his threat to kill his daughter were based on his unflinching belief that Keamy would NOT be successful.

Tom visits Michael in NY This makes the first exchange in New York between Michael and Tom even more relevant. Tom knew Michael's attempt at suicide would not succeed. Why? Because it was already known that Michael is tied to future events, he obviously did not kill himself.

I believe that once Ben witnessed the execution of his daughter (adopted or otherwise), he realized that the future outcomes he believed to be carved in stone were no longer a certainty - and that is the "rule" that changed. If this is the case, then Ben's exchange with Widmore becomes even more interesting.

Ben wakes up Widmore That's it for theory - any ideas I have of how the rules got changed are purely conjecture. Perhaps we'll eventually learn that Widmore was correct in asserting that it was Ben who changed the rules. Perhaps something Ben has already done caused this - like engineering the circumstances where the button would not be pressed. Or it may even be something Ben has yet to do - a future event which informs the past.

I can't wait to see how it all plays out!

Well said. That is *exactly* how I interpreted the events.

I would even go as far as saying that perhaps Ben only knows (or thought he knew) that Alex is part of his future, so regardless of whether he's experienced *this particular moment* before, he fully expected that Alex would live, since she's alive in his future.

#1. Posted by: Lex at April 29, 2008 4:16 PM

Snippet of A Theory: Alex was Ben's Constant. One of the few people he seemed to care about, unless he cared about here BECAUSE she was his constant. Either way, she's dead so now he's freaking out because he has to find another Constant... Juliet, maybe? Unless she was his constant for a while until she betrayed him...

#2. Posted by: Gaby at April 29, 2008 6:42 PM


Yeah, me too, and that's basically what I already posted under TSoTtC/#128:

"I'm thinking that's what Ben meant by saying Widmore had 'changed the rules,' the rules being the whole course correction thing. Alex wasn't 'supposed' to die as she did, not just pissing Ben off, but making his job of maintaining the time-line more difficult by introducing another wrinkle. Ben may actually be the 'good guy,' keeping the proper timeline moving forward; Widmore, maliciously or just unknowingly, would then make sense as the 'bad guy,' mucking things up and hastening the end of the world."

I have come to further understanding upon review ...

Note that in TSoTtC, the "flash: scene at the end with Ben/Widmore is preceded by "the whoosh." We know from the producers that this means it is either a flash-back or flash-forward (not a consciousness time-travel experience). Also note the other scenes when Ben is in Tunisia/Iraq ... they always begin at intermission, but end with the whoosh, again implying a flash-forward/back. This doesn't show that Ben has "actually" time-travelled, but at least eliminates the possibility that these are "consciousness" time travels.

Next note the dialogue in the final scene. Widmore's "nightmares have begun" comment (sound familiar, in terms of Desmond's [et al] "consciousness" travels?) leads me believe he "will" get to the island (or at least close) at some point in the future, and is "now" having visions, like Desmond was in the Army. Ben also states that Widmore doesn't know where the island is; yet he clearly does as his boy Keamy (eventually) shoots Alex, straight from Widmore's boat!

This leads me to believe the scene is a flash-back, and also implies Ben has the ability to "actually" travel back in time to that point (although not from the so-called "secret portal," for inconsistency reasons mentioned by many already) ... Widmore knows about Alex dying, because he has seen it in his "flashes," as well as Ben, again for the same reason. The "race" is not about whether Widmore will find the island (he clearly will), but whether Ben will kill Penny along the way.

Perhaps ... Widmore has seen a "flash" of Penny dying (ala Des with Charlie), and has decided to "change the rules" in order to save her? Hence, his "nightmares."

Ben, being the supposed "protector" of the timeline, now has to "course correct" for Widmore's interference, but screws up by taking things personally with Widmore. Hence, Jacob's loss of faith in him (he sees this coming), and switch of allegiance to Hurley (yet to come in future eps ...). Ben is no longer "reliable" in terms of keeping the timeline, because of his hatred for Widmore and desire for revenge, and Jacob will turn the "reins" over to Hurley soon ...

This is MY theory ...

#3. Posted by: ealgumby at April 29, 2008 6:59 PM

You guys aren't arguing are you? I see similarities and little differences in these theories.It is possible for several people to think the same thing. I thought some of these ideas too, but would have a LOT of trouble connecting everything together. I admire your ability to focus.

Question. Didn't the creators say that the ending would be plausible and easily explained by todays science? I do believe time travel is now a certainty in the plot, but I wouldn't say it a fact of science. Maybe Chaos Theory.

Every time I try to make sense of things I come back to the numbers. I REALLY want them to mean something. Why are they on the side of the swan hatch????

Also, Since no one has been here much, in Faraday's notebook, there is a page that is a diagram of sorts that looks like circles connected. It looks like the overlay of lines connecting the hatches on the island that can seen on the blast door. Now that would be science if someone could explain it.

#4. Posted by: berkyo at April 29, 2008 7:36 PM


No, we're not arguing ... just (and I think I speak for all of us) frustrated over not being able to make sense of things here! Of course, if it were easy to figure out, no one (well, maybe a very few) would be watching.

This show is kind of like a "Wheel Of Fortune" with hundreds of empty spaces left to be filled in, but each "correct letter" turns over only one tile ... many possible "answers" fit the remaining "clues," and "everyone knows" the final answer, until proven wrong.

That's why it's so fun ... everyone wants to be the one that predicted the correct "answer" from the beginning, yet there's little shame in guessing wrong when so few of the "tiles" have been revealed.

It remains to be seen how the producers will keep up that "fun factor" as the final picture starts coming into view ... my guess is that they'll have to do it very quickly near the end, with the "final" picture of what's been going on obscured until upon the last moments of the show ... otherwise it'll be like the guy who has all the vowels and all the consonants except "X" and "Q" to figure the answer is "THE QUEEN'S X-RAY".

#5. Posted by: ealgumby at April 29, 2008 10:38 PM

#4 berkyo said > You guys aren't arguing are you?

I was about to answer that, but this time I checked and saw that ealgumby answered that question before I posted the same thing ;-)

seriously though, ealgumby is among those whose contributions I hold in the highest regard. And your excellent point - "It is possible for several people to think the same thing." definitely applies here. If anything, it's a huge relief for me to know that others saw things the same way..

#3 ealgumby - After reading your post above, I checked out what you wrote in the TSoTtC and it's clear that we definitely took away the same meaning of how the "rules changed".

I don't claim "ownership" of this or any theory.. But I did arrive at my conclusions independent of anything other than multiple viewings of the episode (4 times so far) - after which I had one of those "Aha!" moments and started rambling like a lunatic to my wife about Ben possibly seeing Alex in his future.

I did read through the postings from TSoTtC, and honestly didn't even catch ealgumby's point about "course correction". This is the very reason I asked mac to let me start up a theories area on his blog. ealgumby presented an interesting theory which ended up being overlooked by being post #128 in a thread that may easily exceed 300.

Hopefully, this area can serve as a place to develop, dissect, prove, and disprove specific theories over the course of the show rather than an episode by episode basis. It should be fun to look back at these as the story unfolds and we are either vindicated or we find out how completely wrong we were!!
I expect that many of the theories that are showcased here will come from frequent posters - like ealgumby - who typically have very insightful and unique perspectives on all aspects of the show. (or perhaps meg after she's been drinking?)

As for this particular theory, all I can say to ealgumby is this - now you're tied to it too. We'll be right together, or wrong together!

#6. Posted by: vacc at April 29, 2008 11:28 PM

I'm afraid it's simply not going to turn out to be as neat and consistent as the theory you folks are considering here. The major hole/inconsistency from my POV:

In the course of the Chuck and Ben conversation, when Chuck suggests Ben has arrived with intent to do him harm, Ben replies that they both know he can't do that. That 'rule' still holds, apparently, even as another that would have protected Alex was changed. It can't be an overarching rule, like the immutability of timelines, that changed because it would have changed the idea that Ben was prevented from harming Chuck, as well.

It also seems unlikely to me that what has previously been described as the fundamental nature of the universe--that the future timeline is kept consistent by a universal tendency to course correction--is something that Ben would instantly perceive/conclude is merely a 'rule' that 'he' (whoever this singular 'he' is--Joshua? Widmore?) can change.

My expectation is that it's going to come down to something Chuck said: "Everything you have, you stole". That includes Alex, whom he stole from Danielle, and who was never really his. I think we'll find out that it isn't that the rules changed, but that Ben erred in assuming he could claim their protection under circumstances that didn't meet the requirements.

#7. Posted by: Deep Cover at April 30, 2008 6:56 AM

I'm glad you make nice:)

I'm anxious to hear everybody's theory as I said before, I have terrible time trying to focus on a single line of reason. I always get distracted.

Do you think the writers had this contest to see if the fans had a better theory than they are working with? Maybe they wrote themselves into a corner.

#8. Posted by: berkyo at April 30, 2008 12:43 PM

Lost has always had two sides to everything.

Ben - Widmore
White - Black
John - Jack

The secret to Lost is who is Jacob's other half. And that would be Smokie.

Smokie is the one keeping Jacob trapped and needing help. Grey magic stuff around Cabin.

That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Justlike Cindy's scarf around Ben's arm.

#9. Posted by: SamFin at April 30, 2008 1:29 PM

1) Ben sent Alex away because he feared that, being his daughter, the invaders would use her to get to him.

2) The invaders did just that.

3) In an effort to save her, Ben said that she was no actual relation to him. He clearly had the expectation that, if he could convince them she meant nothing to him, she would be spared.

4) This, however, contradicts his prior assertion that, once the invaders had him they were going to kill everyone (including, presumably, unrelated mean-nothing-to-Ben kidnapped adopted daughters), a fact which Miles seemed to confirm were their orders.

5) When the mercs nevertheless kill Alex, Ben is shocked and stunned, because he says, some rule has apparently been changed, unilaterally, by the 'other side', presumably Widmore.

6) The rule can't have been 'no harming family', else Ben would not have attempted 3 above.

7) The rule can't have been 'no harming innocents' or ‘no harming needlessly’, else Ben would not have attempted 3 would have worked (if Ben was convincing) and 4 would be untrue.

This set of statements is logically contradictory. One or more of the assumptions must be wrong.

My nominee: The assertion that the mercs were under orders to kill everyone once Ben was secured. It appeared to be no part of Abbadon’s instructions to Naomi. (Do we assume Abbadon worked for Widmore?)

We have only Ben’s word for this, possibly backed up by Miles, and both Ben and Miles could have ulterior motives for wanting the Losties to believe this as a way to manipulate them. If this assumption is removed, then there could have been a ‘no innocents’ rule, and the mercs just didn’t believe Ben. Still, it’s difficult to understand why they would then kill Alex, losing their one hold on Ben.

Sigh, I guess we just have to wait for more information.



Great topic, and you can use my 'matter transmitter' post over on TSoTtC as another theory, if you wish.

#10. Posted by: Cecil Rose at April 30, 2008 3:00 PM

I posted my take on the Rules as "no killing blood relatives." Ben believes Widmore broke the rules by killing Alex, but since Alex was adopted and not a blood relative, this was not technically a breach of the rule. Ben cannot kill Widmore because he is his grandson (Emily was Widmore's daughter). This would explain why Widmore and Roger Linus called Ben a "monster" for killing Emily during childbirth, which could also explain why Ben was so focused on trying to figure out why pregnant women on the island die (to erase the monster tag others have put on him.)

#11. Posted by: welh at April 30, 2008 3:06 PM

@#8 berkyo - hmmmm... a theory on theories? Cool. Here's my take.

I do believe the writers when they claim to already have the entire story planned out. They also promise we'll get answers to all of the major questions regarding Ben, Widmore, Dharma, the Others, the Black Rock, Alpert, the Button and Failsafe Key, Time travel, Smokey, Jacob, Walt, Christian Shephard, Aaron, Adam and Eve among countless other questions.

However it seems that most of the major reveals are intended to come towards the end of the story, instead of specific answers being made clear to us along the way. If so, it makes sense to expect that the specific details behind these answers are constantly being fine-tuned, and as such may be influenced or tweaked based on ideas gleaned from theories, blogs, and discussion threads.

The best analogy would be the way a Polaroid picture comes into focus - at some point before it fully develops, you can make out basic shapes - from which your imagination can make some really interesting guesses. Later you can identify the types of objects in the picture - a person, a building, or a tree.. but not which specific person or building or tree. Finally, the picture comes into focus.

Using the Polaroid example, I think that the LOST story has already developed beyond fuzzy vague shapes, and we are now seeing the outline of the eventual answers.. Examining fan theories may be one way to take the audience's pulse - to gauge whether the viewers see more than, or less than what they are really intended to know at this point in the storytelling.

That being said, I do believe it's possible that aspects of fan theories can have an influence on the writing itself. But I don't believe it would stem from being "written into a corner". More likely, some of the ideas that they will encounter within fan theories will simply be better than what they had already come up with.

I don't think it would happen to the degree that the direction of the story changes - but fan theories could have an impact on less critical aspects.

Here's a hypothetical example: Let's assume that the story outline for the this season called for Jin being killed. After the Ji-Yeon episode, there was a great deal of debate and speculation about whether Jin was still alive - despite Sun and Hurley's visit to his grave. I posted my own theory - that there was a camera hidden in the cemetery and Sun was actually speaking to Jin on the Island, rather than to dead Jin in heaven.

Now, before Jin's death got scripted into an actual episode, the writers got wind of this theory and said to themselves "wish I thought of that". They kick it around and decide to postpone Jin's death and instead write a scene into the opening of another episode where a blindfolded Jin is led into a room. The blindfold is removed and he sees a tv monitor. Ben presses a button and there is Sun, standing beside Hurley telling him about Ji-Yeon. (think back to when Ben and Rich Alpert showed Juliet proof that her sister and niece were alive)

In this example we all win - we get an awesome mind-blowing scene based on a fan theory - and they can still kill off Jin anytime they wish.

#12. Posted by: vacc at April 30, 2008 3:31 PM

This doesn't have anything to do with a theory, but when reading #12vacc a question came to mind.

I thought I remember reading/hearing that Ben's character was only supposed to be a bit part, yet he has become one of the central characters. Doesn't that contradict the writers claim that the story has been planned out from start to finish?

#13. Posted by: cadams at April 30, 2008 4:37 PM

Vacc -- Great theory... and everyone else.

My brain hasn't been working properly lately... I believe I have been slacking. I really WANT to add stuff... but my mind isn't letting me!!!

I blame it on the break between "Meet Kevin Johnson" and "The Shape of Things to Come"... and SATs.

I'm still sticking to my theory of Vincent being Smokey. I will support it and send it to you one day Vacc.

#14. Posted by: ilovebenjaminlinusxx at April 30, 2008 5:24 PM

→ 13. Posted by: cadams
character was only supposed to be a bit part, yet he has become one of the central characters.
- - - -
And Jack was supposed to die after the pilot. Story Arc is not about the details, it is about the Saga. Ben was probably written as a lieutenant in the Others army, like Ethan & Goodwin. All three worked for the Barracks boss. Then they received so much praise about Emersons' acting as Ben, that they melded the characters into one - the lieutenant did not go into the Swan Hatch as Henry Gale - the Barracks boss went under-cover as Henry Gale to access the Swan... easy writing transition that did not hamper the 'story arc'. MO

#15. Posted by: DocH at April 30, 2008 5:52 PM

maybe widmore is ben's constant

#16. Posted by: stoams at April 30, 2008 6:03 PM

Like David Lynch's movies, they really are quite simple. They follow a central tenet.

The same with Donnie Darko, people blah on about time travel etc etc.. but the central theme is more about intolerance and alienation.

If there's something to say about lost.. I mean, the title has 2 meanings. People are lost via downing a plane as well as knowing, realising and becoming. Simple eh!

Ben and the others, no pun intended, seek to change people, because they are lost. Sahid has LOST his wife and becomes something with Ben.

There are philosophical discussions about this and that. But, I note that most of the philosopher's and thinkers are radical and very emperical based. There's few philosophers who really capture the essence of the Island. That might be the BIGGEST irony... you might meet Spinoza who is guided by Wittgenstien.

The series is all about becoming in the grander sence. For me, the build up is if it acheives a FOUND! This means the character's remain true, there's no rushed ending and it says something about who we are and perhaps there is an innocent or not.

The biggest irony would be for Hurley to use the numbers to kill. So far he has little blood on his hands. The rest.. well, they have it.

Maybe that's the key!

#17. Posted by: Spooky at April 30, 2008 7:12 PM

This is a copy of my post from TSoTtC thread (#254), but think it's pertinent to discussion here as well ...


Just to be safe, added the spoiler tag, but don't really think it's necessary ...

Wanted to clarify what has (as canon)been "established" re time travel ...

(1) The producers have confirmed that "consciuosness" time travel is canon (aka Desmond). However, they have NOT declared that time travel on the show is limited to such.

(2) From "The Constant" enhanced epi ... (while in Faraday's lab with Des):
"One of the equations on the chalkboard
is the Kerr metric equation
which some scientists believe
implies the existence of time travel."

For the science geeks out there (me too), the Kerr metric posits the existence of two "horizons" around a rotating black hole ... the commonly (now) accepted view that nothing can ever escape a black hole's "event horizon" only applies to the inner horizon, according to the Kerr metric. It is also theoretically possible for a traveler/object to accelerate toward the black hole, and pass between the horizons in such a manner that (given the correct entry course), the traveler will be able to exit the outer horizon in a potentially different space-time "location" than would "conventionally" be expected, due to "frame-dragging" effects. This concept is often presented in terms of "time cone diagrams" (also seen on Dan's board).

In short, the traveler can theoretically "time travel" as well as "space travel" or any combination thereof, given the correct "exact" course upon approach to the rotating black hole (among the options is, of course, no resultant change in time or place).

I (meaning me, no canon here) believe the whole "315 or 305" thing is about the correct course to produce no time/space offset upon exit from the horizon traversal ... i.e., how to go "through" and end up on/off the island without ending up in Tunisia or a different time. However, according to the canonical Kerr metric theory, one "could" plot a course toward the black hole (with exact knowledge of the horizon geometry) to end up where/whenever desired, including in the past where "the traveler" might already exist (hence the possibility of the others/originals conundrum).

(3) The producers confirm there will be no "time travel paradoxes" induced on the show (i.e., you go back in time and kill your dad before you were born, so how did you exist to go back in time to do so?). While not canonically confirmed as such, the only recognized scientific theory which addresses this is the "Novikov Principle." Novikov suggests that going back in time CANNOT disrupt the "ultimate" timeline, and any induced "wrinkles" will somehow be "course-corrected" to produce the same ultimate result at the point when the traveler went back in time. This preserves the "objective" (read "God's" if you will) timeline, and prevents the possibility of paradox-inducing actions.

I (again, ME only, not canonical) suggest this is what is meant by "the rules." Exactly when the "ultimate" timeline must be course-corrected to maintain the stability of the universe is not defined by Novikov, leaving open the possibility that Widmore has "changed the rules" from Ben's perspective, but things MUST eventually resolve themselves such that space-time is not ripped asunder (according to the Novikov Principle).

This MAY include both Alex and/or Penny dying, and NOT violate the "ultimate" timeline. Just more "course-corrections" may be required along the way ...


#18. Posted by: ealgumby at April 30, 2008 9:04 PM

So instead of not doing my essay that was due April 9th and I never turned it in, and instead of doing my photoshop stuff... I am preparing my theory thing.

It will be excellent and you will all be convinced.


#19. Posted by: ilovebenjaminlinusxx at May 1, 2008 11:32 AM

RE "Ben cannot kill Widmore because he is his grandson (Emily was Widmore's daughter)."

Do we know this? I don't remember that at all. That would be really interesting.

#20. Posted by: berkyo at May 1, 2008 1:43 PM

@20 berkyo - No, we do not know of any actual relationship between Ben Linus and Charles Widmore, other than what's been speculated here. welh #11 suggested that Emily was Widmore's daughter. In the TSoTtC discussion, ealgumby suggested "I don't think Emily was Widmore's daughter, but rather that he impregnated her with Ben!"
That's not such a reach. But if ealgumby is right, then Ben would be killing his own half sister when he takes out Penny. If welh is right, then he'd be killing his aunt. Neither should be a problem for someone who killed his own father - but then again, I've always doubted that Roger Linus was Ben's father.

My original theory was that Ben's real father was Horace Goodspeed, the one who stumbled upon the Linus family in the moments between Ben's birth and Emily's death, and who later brought Roger Linus and his young son to the Island. Watching Horace and Ben immediately bond (see the pic that goes with Photo Caption topic: One day this will all be yours!) and the way Ben showed Horace respect by closing his eyes after the purge - there was definitely a connection - and a minor resemblance - between the pair.

#21. Posted by: vacc at May 1, 2008 2:12 PM

#12 vacc wrote: More likely, some of the ideas that they will encounter within fan theories will simply be better than what they had already come up with.

Couldn't agree more.

Kind of like the Seinfeld episode when Jerry couldn't remember his girlfriend's name even though it rhymed with a female body part.

The writer's named her "Celeste", but when they screened the show in front of a live audience, one of the audience members came up with "Delores."

The writers liked it so much they dubbed it into the final aired version.

#22. Posted by: ransomjackson at May 1, 2008 2:13 PM

@18 ealgumby - Excellent points on the time travel aspect of the show, and not at all spoiler from my standpoint.

Personally, as a huge Star Trek fan, I love when paradox is introduced as a result of time travel - especially when the time police always have to clean up after Janeway breaks the Temporal Prime Directive. And of course, there's my favorite - the Causality Paradox - where someone goes back in time to prevent a future event, and as a result of their interference they cause the very thing they were trying to prevent.

But that's the fiction part of sci-fi. I think every scientific explanation of theoretical time travel attempts to account for the elimination of paradox.

Some theories actually do account for the possibility of events being influenced in a minor way - but with larger outcomes being preserved (definitely sounds like "course correction"). That's the "Novikov Principle." ealgumby referred to.

The example here is someone who travels back in time to kill Hitler. In the zero-tolerance views of paradox, the time traveler would be unsuccessful.. the gun would jam, or something would intervene. We've seen this before on LOST when Micheal tried to off himself.

In the Novikov view of paradox, a time traveler might actually succeed in killing Hitler - but someone else would inevitably take his place and commit the same atrocities. However, even this less rigid, "course correcting" view of paradox has a very rigid rule at it's core - the time traveler cannot influence events in such a way as to prevent his journey from ever having taken place!! This is often referred to as the grandfather paradox: where the time traveler murders his grandfather, and as such is never born, thereby making it impossible for him to have traveled in time. As ealgumby already pointed out, the writers have emphatically stated that paradox will not be introduced.

Some time theorists account for paradox by allowing for "alternate universe" where a change in the timeline spawns a copy of the universe (and of the time traveler). However, the LOST producers have also claimed there are no "alternate reality" explanations to what takes place.

So how does this all factor into LOST? My head starts hurting whenever I try to think that through. I suppose it means that in the LOST view of the universe, if a time traveler attempts to murder his own grandfather he will either be unsuccessful - or he'll succeed only to discover that the man he killed was never his biological grandparent to begin with (I'll name that one the "cheating grandma scenario")

But back to ealgumby's idea of the rule change being disruption to the timeline wich requires course correction - has it been suggested that Alex's death WAS part of such a course correction? Perhaps Ben, like Desmond with Charlie, has seen flashes where Alex dies, and has already intervened on numerous occasions. He may have had a flash of Alex's death prior to instructing her to head to the temple. I still want to know why the temple is a safe haven, and why Ben said "because it's not for them" when she asked why they all can't go.

Oh and since we're talking about the future, here's a very minor spoiler - no plot details or mysteries revealed though..


I read that we will definitely see Richard Alpert this season - Nestor Carbonell will be returning for the May 8 episode.


#23. Posted by: vacc at May 1, 2008 3:52 PM

The flashback will show Rousseau's head snap back and to the left. BACK and to the LEFT.

Did anyone else see Patchy on the grassy knoll?

#24. Posted by: Clementine at May 1, 2008 9:34 PM

"Did anyone else see Patchy on the grassy knoll?"

Patchy & Keamy will be shown to have been comrades in Ugandan mercenary action ... Patchy is but the patsy!

#25. Posted by: ealgumby at May 1, 2008 11:20 PM

@22 ransomjackson reminisced:

>Kind of like the Seinfeld episode when Jerry couldn't remember his girlfriend's name even though it rhymed with a female body part.

>The writer's named her "Celeste", but when they screened the show in front of a live audience, one of the audience members came up with "Delores."

>The writers liked it so much they dubbed it into the final aired version.

Non-Seinfeld-watcher that I am, I never saw this (or any other) episode. I'm wracking my brains but can't come up with a body part that rhymes with "Delores". Is that the joke, or am I just too innocent?

#26. Posted by: Cecil Rose at May 2, 2008 2:24 PM

you are probably pronouncing it with the accents in the wrong place for it to work....clitoris!

#27. Posted by: undaunted at May 2, 2008 6:27 PM

@Cecil: If I remember correctly, you were out rubbing elbows with the greats of Sci-Fi in the 90s, rather than glued to Thursay Night Must-See TV with the rest of us. Now you know exactly what you were missing ;)

@undaunted: I'll go out on a limb and guess that's the first time that word has appeared on the Lost Blog!

@ealgumby: I have another theory. Karl was felled by a Magic Loogie (coated in teflon).

#28. Posted by: Clementine at May 2, 2008 9:16 PM



"clitoris" ... it just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

#29. Posted by: ealgumby at May 2, 2008 9:37 PM

→ 26. Cecil Rose: "Delores":

Well, CR, I'm w/you...I couldn't think of the rhyming word either.

→ 27. undaunted, 28. Clementine, 29. ealgumby:

Aww geeze, you guys, now I'm blushing! ; )

#30. Posted by: Alaïs_Longthought at May 2, 2008 10:45 PM

No, I'm afraid I'm just not buying it. Ben was trying to bluff his way out of the situation ("I have everything under control!") and the mercs called his bluff. That, in Ben's mind, is the "rule" that changed - nobody, NOBODY calls Ben's bluff!

Ben miscalculated, badly. His shock and horror were because:
1. For once, he wasn't able to bluff his way out of a tight spot.
2. As a result of his failure to control the situation, the one person in the entire world who he actually cared about (besides himself) died.
3. He can't undo it. There's no way to bluff or manipulate his way out of the brutal fact that Alex is dead.

He can, however, stop holding back. Now that the other side has broken the rules (never mind that the "rules" only existed in Ben's twisted little mind), Ben feels free to unleash everything in his arsenal, including Smokey.

Now, I don't think Ben controls Smokey as much as he was simply able to call Big, Bad Smokey to a particular point. I'm not convinced Smokey has anything more than animal-level intelligence. But Ben could have done something analagous to throwing blood into shark-infested waters. Smokey smelled "blood", saw some targets, and went into a feeding frenzy.

#31. Posted by: Zeb at May 3, 2008 10:57 AM

There is much to be learned here from TS Eliot's masterwork "The Four Quartets", a creation which the writers of Lost are no doubt familiar :

Burnt Norton

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.


Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.

...(it is worth many have done, for decades...)

#32. Posted by: Donald at May 3, 2008 11:23 PM

Some fine theorizing. Here's a short one: Sawyer is Aaron's father and Claire is his mother. Will elaborate in regular post on episode thread. Connection here is maybe there's a rule that a biological parent (father?) has to raise his or her child.

#33. Posted by: Scooby-Dude at May 4, 2008 6:29 PM

@30 Alaïs_Longthought posted:

>>→ 26. Cecil Rose: "Delores":

>Well, CR, I'm w/you...I couldn't think of the rhyming word either.

>→ 27. undaunted, 28. Clementine, 29. >ealgumby:

>Aww geeze, you guys, now I'm >blushing! ; )

Nah, Alaïs, we're just too refined, in realizing that to rhyme, the last *two* syllables have to match, and that "clitoris" and "Deloris" fall one /l/-/t/ sound short of rhyming.

#34. Posted by: Cecil Rose at May 5, 2008 4:49 PM

@32 Donald erudited:

[some fine T.S. Elliot]

Or as another philosopher put it

"Time is what keeps everything from happening at once."

#35. Posted by: Cecil Rose at May 5, 2008 4:51 PM