Friday, November 19, 2004

Literally Reborn: My Unified Theory of Lost

I've posted these thoughts elsewhere. But I wanted to see if I could pull everything together into one coherent theory.


I believe there is at least one powerful alien presence (and possibly more) that has been on the island for some time. This presence isn't good or evil, per se, but it is terribly lonely and bored. Perhaps, like the castwaways, it is even marooned with little hope of rescue. As such, the presence eagerly awaits other crashes of boats, planes, and whatever else, all of which bring human beings to the island. It may even keep Rousseau's distress call running as a lure.

The alien presence craves human company as a source of entertainment, scientific insights, or possibly both. Maybe its original mission was even to study humanity. Regardless, the presence clearly wants castaways to want to stay on the island. It seduces them by manifesting their subconscious desires, and it punishes those who want to leave by manifesting their subconscious fears.

Our Castaways

I strongly believe that everyone died in the crash. At this point, Jack's statement that "we all died three days ago," coupled with Sayid's speculations on the improbability of any survivors, are simply too conspicuous to ignore. Then there's the strange fact that we never saw any of the survivors emerge from the wreckage. All of the dead bodies we've seen were belted securely to their seats. Only the survivors seem to have been thrown from the plane.

The reason is that they aren't survivors at all. Rather, the 48 in question were either revived using the alien entity's superior technology, or cloned from samples taken from the mysterious missing hairbrushes. Those who were cloned were then implanted with the memories of their original selves. If so, this may explain why Locke is so susceptible to the island's charms. Perhaps he literally was a blank slate as a clone, and the implanted memories of the original Locke provide less protection than real ones.

So how did the entity choose which of the dead to revive/clone? Well, if it has the power to manifest their fears and desires, then it obviously has access to their thoughts. My suspicion is that the entity revived/cloned those castaways it believed would be most likely to want to stay on the island. In practice, this probably meant choosing people with shady/pathetic pasts - they would have the least incentive to return to civilzation.

Danielle Rousseau

My sense is that Rousseau was, in fact, marooned with fellow scientists the way she desribed. Much like our own castaways, they initially held out hope of rescue, building a temporary shelter and holding on to whatever technology (batteries, lights, etc.) they could salvage. Over time, however, the scientists presumably split along the lines we're currently seeing: some wanted to stay and embrace the island, while others (e.g., Danielle) remained adamant about leaving.

This is the mysterious "sickness" Danielle keeps mentioning. It's not some literal virus or bacteria. It is, rather, a state of mind akin to an addiction - i.e., a kind of desperate desire to stay and be gratified by the island. I suspect that all of the scientists except Danielle eventually became possessed in this way. They may have even sabotaged her efforts to be rescued - much as I suspect Locke did by hitting Sayid over the head. Danielle freaked out, killed them all, and has spent the years since losing her mind in solitude.

What This All Means

As I say, I think the "sickness" Rousseau refers to is simply a metaphor, albeit a useful one. Even if there is no literal virus, it still helps to think of the castaways as being in various states of infection. Those on the beach are in the earliest stages - they still cling to hopes of rescue. Those in the caves are in an intermediate stage - they 've tentatively embraced the island but would still leave if rescued. Then there's Locke, who is pretty much terminal.

Since the sickness is metaphorical, there is no cure. The conflict between those who want to stay and those who want to go will become even more central to the show. Perhaps this will be one more signficance of the white vs black dichotomy.