As promised here is Vozzek69's Overall Theory on Lost. Vozz's fans will also be pleased to know that he'll will be doing a Monthly recap of his favourite Episodes from Season 1 and 2 right up to the start of Season 4 in Feb 2008.
Alright, after watching three seasons of LOST here's my overall theory as to what I think is going on. Remember that these are only my best guesses, and sometimes I get wacky. Please feel free to agree or disagree with whatever you wish, and add your own thoughts, comments, or hate mail. Here goes:
We all know the island is special. It's exhibited powers of healing, longevity, and suggestive manifestation. We've also seen numerous nods at time anomalies that may or may not be related to its unusual magnetic properties. The island speaks to select people. It has a consciousness all it's own, and as the series progresses, seems to have an agenda as well.
As I've said before, I believe the island is a sticky ball rolling through time and space, picking up objects and people along the way. The Black Rock, flight 815, Desmond's boat - these things have collided with the island's snowball-like path. Total coincidence? No. The island definitely seems to have some influence on who and what it brings in. It has an ultimate goal, which is to accomplish some task at the end of the show (again, the event). But there are also people who have found the island (Hanso, DHARMA, Naomi's people) on their own by looking for it, and have brought people to the island that are not necessary to its master plan. Perhaps the island allowed some of this to happen in order to gain a required asset (Ben), but the rest of the inhabitants are unnecessary and are subsequently 'purged'.
There's evidence on the island of at least three century's worth of history. Aside from the 21st century crash of flight 815 we have the Black Rock's 19th century wreckage, improbably landlocked inland. Many of the Others sport WWII-style weaponry (M1 Garand, Luger PO8, Goodwin's knife, etc...) as well as the odd fact that all employees of Oceanic airlines wear WWII airman's pilot wings (flight 815's pilot, all the stewardesses, and even the stewardess in Jack's flash forward are wearing these). Richard's garb during Ben's flashback also suggests that inhabitants landed on the island from an even older era, not to mention the 4-toed statue and assorted ruins from who knows when.
Roughly theorizing the sequence of events on the island is hard to do. We've been given small glimpses into the past that don't show much in the way of detail. Historically I'd guess that Hanso found the island and recognized that it was special. He somehow found a way to consistently gain access to it, maybe even temporarily holding it in place with the electromagnet. He brought DHARMA in as a beard while he worked to unlock its deeper secrets. DHARMA's work was the superficial skin that covered his true goal (whatever that was), as we have only to glance at the operation to see that everything DHARMA did was largely bullshit.
The locals/hostiles on the island have been there for a long time (I think Richard's "very, very patient" speech not only applied to Ben but also to his own group). They co-existed with DHARMA until they could no longer stand by watching the purity of the island compromised... or until the island told them to act. Richard finding Ben in the jungle was an important event - important enough to make them wait until Ben was old enough to be assimilated into their group. At this point Ben betrayed DHARMA and was instrumental in executing the purge, perhaps even providing the codes to the sonic fence. Recognized as special in much the same way Walt was, Ben became their leader. Perhaps this was through Richard's doing, but more likely it was through the orders of a higher authority - Jacob.
Alright, now here's where it gets sticky...
I'm inclined to think the island rests upon some sort of temporal faultline. If you don't like the word temporal, think of it as resting on a nexus for all possible timelines. LOTS of timelines. I think the island can slip in and out of these mirrored universes, which is why sometimes it can be seen and other times it cannot. Charlie's "Where are we?" and Ben's "God can't see this place" are hints toward this. While the island keeps moving things are constantly changing. It's nearly impossible to find. Hurley's radio picks up songs from the past, Desmond's boat keeps floating back to the island no matter which direction he sails in.
On an even more surreal level, I think this explains the subtle differences in scenery and props that everyone's been pointing out since the show started. The "these are only set errors!" argument grows weaker lately, as the entire contents of Ben's fridge rearrange themselves, clocks skip hours ahead in mere seconds, and stickers like "I was here moments ago" get slapped on Charlie's guitar. Yeah, they could still be inconsistency errors. They could even be the producers having fun with us. But in the end, I think they're significant. As we've been told: "Everything changes".
You come home from work and throw your keys on the counter. You could've thrown them on the kitchen table, but you didn't. Maybe there's a universe where you DID throw them on the kitchen table. Maybe there's even a universe where you snap your key off in the lock and call a locksmith who runs down a squirrel on the way to your house, and that universe goes on without that squirrel in it. Silly example, but that's the idea.
And as for the flashbacks, I think they change too. I'm not saying they're completely false, but I am saying the island has a definite hand in them. It certainly has a hand in their dreams and visions (Eko, Boone, Locke, Charlie, the list goes on and on...), so why not the flashbacks too? Items, paintings, numbers, photos... are we to believe that all of these things are just naturally woven so tightly and repetitively through flashbacks of people who have supposedly never met? Not to mention the characters themselves, who have been defying all laws of mathematical coincidence by popping in and out of each other's 'flashbacks' since day one. Could it really be that Desmond's microwave sounds EXACTLY like the Swan's countdown timer? Hell no. I think the island's ability to screw with the flashbacks is limited to the things it knows. This is why the geiger counter from the swan hatch shows up in Locks's apartment during his flashback. This is why everyone's drinking McCutcheon's whiskey. This is why so many people LOOK like so many others, from the woman Jack saved from the burning car to the mugger Charlie faced in the alley - the island has a finite wellspring of knowledge (memories?) from which to draw from.
As most of you already know, I believe the island has the ability to manifest the thoughts, beliefs, or fears of its inhabitants. Jack's dad and Kate's horse are subconscious examples of this, but conscious belief and true faith seem to enhance this ability. Locke can hunt, track, and throws knives like a circus performer because he firmly believes that he can. When he teaches Walt to do this, he tells him to "see it in his mind's eye". Once he does, Walt can throw knives too - on this island it would seem that faith prevails over science. This is why the children are taken by the Others. Children believe blindly in monsters and superheros and all manner of things, and this makes their creative minds the most dangerous. From what we've seen of Emma and Zack lately, they seem placid and almost brainwashed. The Others have brought them to a 'better place' - a controlled environment.
Suggestive manifestation aside, certain characters have exhibited more pronounced abilities. Walt for example, was doing these things off island. His ties with the island were TOO powerful, which may be why Ben let him go. Richard recognized young Ben's vision of his dead mother, making him very desirable. And Locke's kinship with the island began the moment he arrived... and walked away from the plane crash on two good legs. These 'gifted' people are important to the island in that they'll be instrumental in achieving the ultimate goal. They are children of the island, and it speaks to them and through them. Leaving before the goal is realized is not an option; think about how Locke struck Sayid to prevent him from locating the radio in early season one. Even way back then he knew they weren't supposed to go home. And when Alex asks Ben why he doesn't just let the 815'ers leave, he very frustratedly responds with "Because I can't". There's obviously something that needs to happen first.
My theory is that LOST is a big multi-act play. The island is the stage, and everyone on it are the players. This play is different however, because every time the curtain goes up - the story itself changes. There are smaller parts and larger ones, but most everything and everyone are there FOR A REASON. Some characters are more crucial than others, and this is where Jacob's list comes in. The 'good' ones are vital to the end game. And then finally there are the island's few chosen sons/daughters who have the ability to manipulate the storyline as the play progresses, and these are the most important players of all.
But of all the ways for the story to play out, I'm betting there is only one 'correct' way. There is something that must happen (or not happen) which will be revealed to us at the end of LOST. This is the ultimate goal. This is the reason the 815'ers have been brought to the island, and this is what Ben and Jacob are trying to accomplish - time and time again. Because once something happens on the island to make the end goal impossible (i.e. Naomi's people coming to 'rescue' them), that timeline is shot. That particular play ends tragically, as seen in Jack's flashforward. That reality is now a dead end.
However, the game is not over. Because every time that happens there's the opportunity for a fresh start. Nakedness and rebirth. Desmond and Mikhail. Everything is stuck in a loop, from Rousseau's radio message to the currents around the island bringing the boat and the raft back to its shores. "It'll come back around". "We all have a fresh start". "See you in another life". Not the next life mind you, but another one. Different timelines, different actions. So many things point to this. The skeletons, for one. We've long theorized who Jack and Jill will turn out to be, clutching the black and white stones, almost as if we expect a loop. Will Ben turn out to be Aaron? Is the musician who programmed the jamming code in the Looking Glass really just another version of Charlie? How many times has the play LOST been run? Hundreds? Thousands? When does it end?
I think it can only end when the ultimate goal is achieved. The island is attempting to guide the players along to that end goal, enlightening certain people as to what needs to be done. Ben and Locke are examples. All throughout the show they've 'known' things. "You're not supposed to do this" or "This isn't the way this is supposed to happen". How else could Ben be so far ahead of everything that's happening... unless he's seen the same things happen before? Whether Jacob's given him a heads up or whether he's actually seen this stuff firsthand doesn't really matter. What matters is he knows.
So now put yourself in Ben's shoes for a minute. You know all this stuff, but you can't tell anyone because the very act of enlightening them might change the things they're about to do. And would they believe you anyway? Probably not. Which is why you need to trick and nudge people into doing the 'right' things. You need them to want to want to do these things, and moreover, to think they themselves chose to do them. You have a list of select people who are destined to accomplish certain tasks at certain times, but then you've got other wild card characters who you cannot control, spinning things in different directions. Every time something 'wrong' happens you've got to implement damage control - you've got to make moves to get things back on track. You're the master of a giant chessgame, but you only control some of the pieces. And you can only make certain moves: Michael: "Why don't you go get them yourself?" Klugh: "It doesn't work that way".
You have to lie to people all of the time, even your own people. You have incredible knowledge that you cannot share, and this gets very lonely. It also sucks because since everything is running according to someone else's design, you have nothing all your own - in a way, you're a pawn in your own chess game. So you try to make some things all your own - just for you. Raising Alex, for example. Maybe you initiate a fertility project. These things are for your own benefit, yet in the grand scheme of things they end up screwing up the master plan. The small, seemingly harmless deviations you make cause Doppler-like ripples that effect the end game, which in turn causes Jacob to turn his back on you and look for a new champion.
"History is about to repeat itself, right here, right now". These are Ben's words to Jack during the finale. At this point he knows he's about to fail, that he's blown another run at the whole thing. Locke knows too, desperately trying to stop Jack by telling him "This will be your last chance". But the call gets made, and the jig is up. Ben's head sinks. Locke slumps off into the jungle, knowing there's nothing more to be done.
Whenever this happens, whenever the island reaches another point of no return, I believe it sideslips timelines or realities. It re-enters a point at which the task can still be accomplished again, and the slate is wiped clean. Tabula Rasa. A new beginning. Knowledge of past errors is retained and passed on, so that certain mistakes aren't made again - yet different mistakes are inevitable. Maybe this happened, even partially, when Desmond turned the failsafe key. Being at the epicenter of that disaster would explain his brief trip to what sure looked like an alternate timeline. It would also explain his flashes of future events. Desmond is seeing things that have happened before, and is actually able to change them. This is where Ms. Hawking comes in.
Ms. Hawking's assertion that Desmond cannot change the future turns out to be wrong. Does Charlie die? Sure, but Desmond is able to keep him alive long enough to perform a very crucial task that Charlie, and Charlie only, could perform. With Greta and Bonnie dead, Charlie was the only person able to flip the jamming switch - once and for all proving that destiny is not set in stone. It's more like a river whose course is constantly changing. Hawking desperately wanted to convince Desmond otherwise, which seems to be consistent with the island's interests of keeping this knowledge from everyone.
As for Jacob, I love the idea that he's really one of LOST's main characters (Locke, Desmond, ?) trapped in a place between worlds. Maybe he was in the wrong place at the wrong time during one of the slips I mentioned. I definitely don't think Jacob exists within the realm of the current timeline, which is why he can't easily be seen. Only those open enough to the island's inner workings can visualize the man trapped between worlds, stuck in a timeless limbo from which he cannot escape. Jacob isn't without power, but his powers are limited (and may be further limited by Ben's volcanic circle of ash). I think he might be influencing the flashbacks and could definitely be responsible for the dreams and visions.
Jacob may even be the smoke monster. This idea makes sense in that he'd certainly kill the pilot for trying to communicate off-island, and that he'd judge and 'scan' Locke and Eko looking for people to help his cause. When dragging Locke into that hole during the season one finale Locke knew he'd "be alright" because this was more of a forceable request for an audience with Jacob than a physical attack. As Ben said "This isn't a man you go to see - you are summoned by him".
What I'm still really not sure about are the whispers. One thing we do know is that they resemble a running commentary of current events, meaning that whoever is behind them can actually see what's going on. There's even a mention of a 'scope' at one point. Another spooky fact is that the whispers often seem to resemble LOST's existing characters, both live and dead. Boone's "Hi sis!" (as Shannon appears) came about after his death, with the words "dying sucks" mouthed in the same scene. We also hear "Relax dude", which could undoubtedly be Hurley, and Frank Duckett's voice distinctly tells us "It'll come back around".
Definite facts about the whispers: they seem to be trying to help. They also seem very afraid of being seen or discovered, which would apparently "ruin everything". If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say the whispers might be LOST's characters watching themselves run through the ever-looping course of events on the island. Whether they're from some other parallel timeline/reality, or from a world beyond... I have no clue. I'm open to ideas.
Okay... if you've gotten this far, go one extra step. I've never been a Star Trek guy, but go out and find the ST Next Generation episode called "Cause and Effect". Watch it, or read a synopsis of it. If you agree with some of the things I've said above, the similarities of this episode will blow your head apart - right down to the whispers. And even if you don't agree, it was still a pretty kickass episode - even for non Star Trek fans.
Well, that's it. I'll finish by saying I don't think we'll see too much more of Jack's flashforward timeline stuff. Some, but not much. I believe that's a timeline that won't come to fruition (in terms of the current timeline) because something will probably be done (on island) to change it. I think we're going to see the big event at the end, which is perhaps the point at which Jacob got stuck. That's the purpose of LOST, the reason everything loops back. Whatever happens there, it's got to be a complete jaw-dropping mind-f***. LOST can't finish with a tearful rescue and some sad music. There won't be a hand-holding walk-into-the-sunset type of ending. The show will definitely conclude the same way it began - with chaos and upheaval and maybe even a plane crash. ;)
Theory by Vozzek69