Last night's Lost continued two very positive trends that began toward the end of Season 3 but have come to define the the first few episodes of Season 4. One is more action and adventure -- if this season were a Star Trek film, it would be the Wrath of Khan. Another is resolution to some of the older mysteries on the show -- this is fast becoming the Season of Answers. In the best Lost tradition, moreover, these answers are offered in such a way that they simultaneously raise fresh questions for fans like us to ponder.
A special twenty-three geek salute to the writers for Daniel Faraday. A physicist, Dan the Man is the perfect character to provide the answers that we seek, particularly where (pseudo) science is concerned. A great example was his comment that we discussed last week about the light not scattering right on the Island. Another was his experiment last night demonstrating that the Island is 31 minutes removed from the rest of the world. That latter clue, in particular, points to an interesting explanation of how the Island might be hidden from view.
The inspiration is Stephen King's novella the Langoliers. Passengers on a red-eye flight awaken to find that their fellow travelers and the crew have mysteriously vanished. One of the remaining passengers lands the plane at an airport that turns out to be deserted. They disembark and discover that food has no taste or texture, beer and soda are flat, matches won't light, etc. Eventually, the survivors surmise they have flown through a rip in the fabric of space-time into the immediate past. To get back to the present, they must precisely retrace their route through the rift -- just as Daniel told Frank he must do to return safely to the Freighter.
My prediction: like in the Langoliers, the Island exists in the immediate past, which is why no one can see them. The question isn't just "where" they are but "when." Locating the Island requires more than the usual three-dimensions of physical space -- you also have to account for the fourth dimension of time. As I describe in Cause and Effect, it is theoretically possible to follow a curved trajectory and travel back through 4-D space-time. Apparently, in the sky and underwater around the Island, there are natural wormholes with warped space-time geometries that provide access by depositing one 31 minutes in the past.
Dan's rocket experiment is consistent with this explanation. From his perspective and that of the freighter, the rocket seemingly paused when it reached the Island, then materialized out of thin air a short time later. But that's actually an illusion created by confusing the wormhole's entrance for the Island itself. In fact, the rocket continued traveling for a short distance through 4-D hyperspace *after* reaching the Island's apparent geographic coordinates in 3-D space. The distance isn't far enough to affect radio transmissions (e.g., the sat phones and the beacon). Someone entering the wormhole, however, would experience a brief but continuous journey through higher dimensional space ala Dave Bowman in 2001.
I'll expand on all of this in a separate post, but I want to briefly propose a variation of a scenario I've explored before, e.g., in Lost Time. Let's say the Island naturally exists 31 minutes in our past. Perhaps Oceanic 815 was supposed to crash killing everyone on board. Instead, the intense magnetic field caused by System Failure pulled the plane through one of the Island's natural wormholes, threatening to disrupt the timeline. The second crash was faked to prevent a course correction that would profoundly alter the future -- a future Charles Widmore believes he owns.
Here are some other reactions and questions that I had to and about the Economist:
* The flash forward reminded me a great deal of Stephen Spielberg's Munich, which is loosely based on the true story of how Mossad agents hunted down the Black September members behind the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. Like Lost, Munich is very much a story of personal transformation -- i.e., of Avner, who begins the film as a devoted Israeli but is reborn by the end as a conflicted American Jew.
* The Munich comparison leads me to a speculation about why Ben and Sayid are targeting certain people for execution. Did you catch how Sayid recognized the bracelet sported by Elsa in the flash forward as being identical to one worn by Naomi? I think he and Ben are systematically exacting revenge against Naomi's employers, who apparently include Elsa's boss.
* Along related lines, a poster named Crimson Rabbit has a provocative speculation that the body in the casket at the end of Through the Looking Glass was, in fact, Matthew Abbadon's. We now know that Abbadon was one of the people who hired Naomi. What if Sayid is the one who killed him?
* I have this weird suspicion that Regina on the boat is Naomi's sister...
* My whackadoo speculation for the week: Jack will be told that only a limited number of people can leave the Island and that the rest of them must die. He will be forced to choose who among them lives to become the Oceanic Six. That's partly why he's so despondent in the flash forwards -- he has the blood of dozens of Losties on his hands. That's also why Abbadon asked if anyone was still alive -- Hurley and Jack managed to save the lives of at least a few...