In interviews last year, Darlton repeatedly said that there would be no time travel in Season 6.
Yet we just saw the LOST-ies move not only sideways, but also backwards in time to Flight 815. The Dharma LOST-ies also moved forward in time, up to the present.
If that’s not time travel, what is it?
Maybe what Darlton meant is that there wouldn’t be any more time travel. I guess technically the LOST-ies moved foward, sideways, and back during the last second of Season 5, during the white flash. Which would mean they were already in their new timelines by the time Season 6 began. So unless Darlton are totally (as opposed to only somewhat) pulling our legs, perhaps we can expect that the LOST-ies won’t be moving out of the new timelines where they’ve already landed.
But does that mean they will be stuck in dual timelines forever?
My head hurts. I need Hurley to explain this all to me. 😉
In this segment of the LOST panel at Bumbershoot (the Seattle arts festival named after an old slang term for umbrella), producer/writers Carlton Cuse, Eddy Kitsis, and Adam Horowitz talked about what it’s been like to write the show.
Host Jeff Jensen asked them what was the most difficult thing to write, and they all agreed that it was time travel. They had to put detailed charts and graphs on the writers’ room walls so that they could keep track of where they were.
Carlton said, “Fortunately, Damon really loves time travel.” They spent, he said, a great deal of time trying to figure out the mechanics of it. Maintaining their concept of non-paradoxical time travel was tricky, and when they opened a time loop, they had to put a lot of thought into making sure they could figure out a way to close it.
The panelists then talked about how getting an end date changed what they were able to do with the show.
They also said some fascinating things about how they write. It’s a collaborative process. Nine of them sit around a conference room table. They start writing each episode by deciding which character it’s going to be about. Each episode has three stories — an Island story, an off-Island story (which may be a flashback or a flashforward — or, Carlton said, “whatever that might possibly be in Season 6” … hmmm), and a little C-story. Then they fit it all into a six-act structure.
They wrote the show like fans of the show. “What would be cool?” they asked themselves. “Wouldn’t it be cool if we actually showed the statue?” And so they did.
"It's going to allow us to manipulate time." -- Dr. Pierre Chang (aka Dr. Marvin Candle) in 5x01
I’ve been focusing a lot recently on the last episode of Season 5, but now I want to switch gears for a bit and look back at the beginning of the season, which has its own intriguing mysteries, especially when seen now, in light of what we learned later on.
In a scene near the beginning of the season premiere, 5×01 Because You Left, Dr. Chang is underground in the Orchid Station, talking to a construction foreman. The year is 1977:
Foreman: There’s an open chamber about 20 meters in, behind the rock. (Pointing to a sonar image that shows part of the donkey wheel) There’s something in there. The only way to get to it is to lay charges here (pointing) and here. Blast through —
Dr. Chang: Under no circumstances. This station is being built here because of its proximity to what we believe to be an almost limitless energy. And that energy, once we can harness it correctly — it’s going to allow us to manipulate time.
Foreman: Hah. (Sarcastically) Okay, so, what, we’re going to go back and kill Hitler?
Dr. Chang: Don’t be absurd. There are rules. Rules that can’t be broken.
Foreman: So what do you want me to do?
Dr. Chang: You’re gonna do nothing. If you drill even one centimeter further and risk releasing that energy — if that were to happen (looks at injured worker and shakes his head) — God help us all.
This raises a lot of questions. How did Dr. Chang know about the special “energy”? Did he come to the Island because he knew that energy was there? And if so, was the whole Dharma Initiative a ruse, a cover for his real purpose of finding and harnessing the energy? Or did Chang discover the energy and its properties only after he arrived at the Island? If so, how?
When Dr. Chang talks about “rules” that can’t be broken, he sounds a lot like Faraday, when Faraday explained the “rules” of time travel to the Losties, before he changed his mind. Where did Dr. Chang get his ideas about the rules?
Dr. Chang’s line, “God help us all,” is so dramatic. Then in the next episode, 5×02 The Lie, that line echoes with an eerie resonance when it is repeated by Eloise Hawking:
Eloise: What you need is irrelevant. Seventy hours is what you’ve got.
Ben: Look, I lost Reyes tonight. (Pause) So what happens if I can’t get them all to come back?
Eloise: Then God help us all. (Crescendo. End of episode.)
What exactly is Eloise Hawking afraid of, and is it the same thing that Dr. Chang was afraid of when he uttered the same phrase?
"Locke's compass is in an infinite mobius loop" -- Damon and Carlton
The May 11, 2009 official audio podcast, a good one that I recommend listening to in its entirety if you have time, is Damon and Carlton’s last for Season 5. Michael Emerson, though, will be doing the podcast next week to rehash the Finale.
On the podcast, Damon and Carlton rehash Follow the Leader, talking about how Locke emerged as a strong and compelling guy in tune with the Island, much to the consternation of Ben and Richard Alpert, and how Jack had finally found his mission, after weeks of mopping floors and erasing chalkboards, although he hasn’t been able to attract many followers.
As for the finale, they say we will get a substantial piece of information, and that by the end of the premiere of Season 6, we will have enough information to be able to come up with some theories about how it will all end.
In response to a question about the compass — the one that Locke gave to Alpert and Alpert gave to Locke — they say that what they have done with the compass was intentional in terms of the broader themes of the show. The compass is a puzzle that really has no solution. It is purposefully perplexing — it has no origin! It is in an infinite Mobius loop.
They say they believe there is a large portion of mystery and magic in the world, and it is not their intention to demystify the world of LOST by overexplaining things.
Damon and Carlton’s next talk will be at Comic-Con — their final appearance there.
Photo of Mobius strip by David Benbennick, via Wikipedia, GNU FDL
My favorite part of the first segment is when Carlton says, Phew! They are done with the time-travel season — and that was the defining characteristic of Season 5 — and Season 6 will be about something different.
In the second part of the video, Damon and Carlton talk about the time loop — and they say that even they get a headache thinking about it! Ha ha ha.
This part of the interview can’t be embedded, but you can watch it on the EW site. Recommended!
There are also videos there, which I haven’t had a chance to watch, about Darlton’s favorite Season 5 moments, and some teasers for the Season 5 finale.