So what are the “Flash Sideways” in Lost? (a theory)

Right now everyone is focused on only one part of what’s going on in Lost and it all revolves around the “Man in Black” (a.k.a. “Man in Locke”, “Milty”, “Black Smoke”, etc.).  They’re so caught up in what’s going on in this battle between Milty and Jacob, that they’ve forgotten about the other major mystery introduced in the final season of Lost.

Note up front, I’m not going to be spoiler free here about anything that has already shown on Television.  There will be no hidden text, and I will not hold back on things we know, now, today – based on the regular Lost United States programming schedule.  I will presume you have seen every episode to date at least once.  So read on at your own risk.

For the first few seasons of Lost we were provided back story for characters in the form of “Flashbacks”.  Little snippets of their past interspersed with the main story and often tied heavily to it so we could understand the motivations of the characters in their current predicament of being stranded on the Island.  These flashes presented a fantastic story telling mechanism, and one of the best selling points of the show overall at the time.

Then things changed and we learn that somewhere along the line the Flashes changed to “Flash Forwards”.  Suddenly the roles of the Flashes and the on Island parts of the show are reversed, and what we’re seeing on the Island is suddenly driving the goings on in the Flashes.  It was one of the most clever mechanical twists on a television show ever.  It kept the show fresh at a time when many were giving up on Lost.

And now the mechanic has changed again.  We’re now presented with a series of Flashes that look like the presentation of an alternate reality for our Losties.  Jack has a son and is divorced.  Miles and Sawyer are cops.  Charlotte works for Miles’s dad at a museum.  The island is under water. etc.  The big question is this,  “What’s going on here?

One key theme on the show has always been that of redemption.  Once a character finds it, they seem to get their release and reward through death.  Charlie, Eko, etc.  There are many examples of this.  Many seem to think these new Flashes are the Losties receiving their just rewards for their time served.  After all the entire purpose of many religions is to seek redemption – this is why they tend to focus in a large part on repentance.  You must be absolved of sin to receive redemption, at least according to scripture.

And I am not going to deny that theme of the show.  It’s there, it’s strong, and it’s obvious.  But I am going to say flat out that what we’re seeing in these new Flashes is not the redemption of the Losties.  It’s not alternate reality.

I’m going to tell you that the “Flash Sideways” are what happened to the Losties who were at the site of “The Incident” between the time the nuclear bomb went off and the time we saw them wake up on the Island near the destroyed hatch at the beginning of this season.

Why do I think this?  Well there is some very  information that has been presented to us in prior seasons.

For starters, lets look to Miles and Hurley.  Both characters have been written in a way where they seem to both relate more to the viewers then any other characters on the show.  They think what we think, and react how we react.  And most important, they very often ask the same questions we’re asking.

Last season they had a conversation about time travel.  And while there was a lot of humor in the conversation, one thing rang true.  They producers gave us, in a small, neat, little package their theory of time travel for the Losties, by presenting for us the basic rules.  Time is linear in terms of perception.  Most of the time you move forward through time, but sometimes you don’t.  And when you don’t, what you perceive is still your “present”.  Little Ben can’t die because Big Ben gives them all hell in the future.  They can all die because despite that they come from the future, 1977 was their present.

This is proven true by the deaths of Charlotte, Faraday, and Juliet.  And well the death and resurrection of Sayid.  Each of them was bouncing through time, and each of them died somewhere along the way.  It did not change all that they’d already experienced, even though it happened in the future.  Their lives all ended in their current time, their present.

Now lets look at Desmond’s own brand of time travel.  His very much resembles that of Billy Pligrim in Slaughterhouse-Five.  Like Billy, Desmond is, or rather was, unstuck in time.  During his travels we learn that his consciousness is bouncing through time at different points in his life.  He is able to experience things over again, but we also learn that despite the chance to “put right what once went wrong”, we learn from Ms. Hawking  that “the universe has a way of course correcting“.  So this is not Quantum Leap.  What Desmond has already done once, will happen again, despite his attempts to change things.

Here’s the thing.  What caused Desmond to travel through time was the implosion of the electromagnetic anomaly at the heart of the Swan hatch.  We had already learned from the show that this anomaly was caused by “The Incident”.  Of course, we learned that our very Losties who were stuck in 1977 were the once who caused “The Incident” by trying to follow a plan laid out by Daniel Faraday to use the nuclear warhead from a bomb named Jughead to destroy the electromagnetic anomaly that brought down flight 815 in the first place.

Yes that’s right folks…the failsafe key when turned by Desmond let loose the explosion of Jughead that caused the implosion of the Swan hatch.  And that propelled him through time.  At the heart of that same explosion, though separated by 27 years, were the Losties that were stuck in 1977.  And I propose that the same explosion also threw them forward through time as well, with a brief stop in 2004.

But the universe was course correcting 2004 as per Ms. Hawking.  So we find the Island was under water.  Flight 815 landed, etc.  Jack has a scar from his appendix which we know was removed on the Island, but his mom says was removed when he was a kid, but he doesn’t remember it.  Sawyer who in 1977 was “the sheriff” of Dhamaville along with his deputy Miles both became cops in the course corrected world.  A dying on the outside Sayid, died on the inside to save his brother’s life.  Jin who still hadn’t found Sun, is separated from Sun at the airport.  Kate gets to do what she went back to the island to do, reunite Claire and Aaron – in a fashion.

What we’re going to see in the “Flash Sideways” going forward is that the universe is still trying to course correct.  Because the Losties did go to the Island, and the Universe has to figure out how to get them back there.  And somehow it will, and they’ll all end up right where we saw them in beginning of the season – all lying somewhere around the Swan hatch.

Ode to Jay and Jack, that’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it.