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?