Don’t worry, I won’t spoil last night’s Lost in this post, but I will be alluding to things that have happened this season. So, if you’re more than a month or two behind, you might want to click away.
Hokay. So, a bunch of our favorite Losties are stuck back in 1977, hiding within the Dharma Initiative and trying not to be discovered. It’s a neat plotline, and I’m enjoying it.
That said, I have a hard time buying Jack and Hurley’s (but especially Jack’s) inability to grasp what Miles and Daniel keep telling them: you can die here. This is our present.
I don’t know, maybe it’s all the science fiction I’ve devoured over the years, but I have to say that if I found myself suddenly yoinked backwards in time I’d be damned careful with everything I did, and not just for fear of stepping on a butterfly.
Actually, Jack and crew don’t even have to worry about the whole Sound of Thunder thing. So far, the rules of the Lostverse say you can tramp on all the butterflies you want — if you do it, that’s because they’re supposed to get flattened, not because you changed the timeline. You were always supposed to be there, in that place and time to smushy smushy — even if you “belong” thirty years in the future.
What they do have to worry about, what Miles and Daniel get and they seem to deny, is that “dun sweat the flutterbies” also means “if you’re supposed to die here and now, guess what. Buh-bye.” Because time, for them, is linear. They might have seen Richard Alpert and Ben Linus all grownsed up in good ol’ 2007, so sure, you probably can’t kill them (sorry, Sayid), but unless you’ve also jumped ahead during the Island’s version of Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? and, say, saw yourself in 2015, there are no guarantees.
But every time Jack does something risky, he’s all “I CAN’T DIE LOL,” and I want to shake him. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that it finally managed to worm its way into his skull last night, but good lord, it took, what, six episodes now?
I find it hard to believe that Jack can’t grasp the concept. He’s a smart guy. Hell, Hurley has at least some kind of understanding of it, latching onto the rules of the Back to the Future universe to explain things.
So is Jack in denial? Is he just that thick? Or is it that easy for me because I’ve read this stuff so many times, and seen it in so many movies and TV shows (hell, how many times in the last few seasons has the concept factored into Doctor Who?) — does the average viewer, for whom Lost is pretty much their first (only?) foray into sf, need a few extra episodes to catch on, and Jack acts as their everyman?
I’ll answer that last one, but I’d love to hear it if you have a differing opinion. Suggesting that non-sf fans aren’t going to be able to grok the rules is silly. Look at all the twists and turns this show has taken over four seasons. If you can keep straight in your mind what’s present-day and what’s past,* you are definitely smart enough to wrap your mind around the rules of time-travel in the Lostverse.
Which means, my conclusion leans towards “Jack is just that thick,” or, possibly, Poor Writing. I really, really liked last night’s episode, so I’m loathe to suggest that, but, hrm. Looking at Season 5 over at Lostpedia, I can see that the last few episodes were all done by different writing teams. Is it possible that each of them wanted their shot at writing the “Yes, we can die” dialogues, or that some of them felt it was important and others didn’t even touch upon it? I don’t know nearly enough about screenwriting, especially for a project like Lost, to venture a decent guess.
*or, in season 3, what’s present-day and what’s future