First, this begs the question of what "real" is. After all, either way, we're talking about a fictional narrative. And as fans of one particular strain of the fiction, one that we've watched through 5 seasons, isn't the island storyline a little more "real" to us? (See this week's edition of "Totally Lost," wherein Doc Jeff Jensen and Dan Snierson share this thought).
So then, how can this one-season wonder be just as "real" as the island story, when they seem mutually exclusive? And then it hit me. Let me break it down.
1) The new reality is taking place in 2004, while the more familiar reality, after all the time-travel hocus pocus, is back, firmly, in 2007.
2) We already know that the island exists, in part, outside of space and time as we know it (hence the inability to escape without following a specific vector, and the inability to find the island from the outside world).
3) We know that the universe has a way of "course correcting" whenever a force acts to try to change the natural course of events.
4) We know that at least one person, Desmond Hume, was somehow immune to the "course correction" in the sense that he could have his memories altered, in some way that made him, per Daniel Faraday, "uniquely special".
5) We also know that Jacob, whoever or whatever he is or was, specially selected a number of characters - specifically, Sun, Jin, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Sayid, and Locke - with his touch. not surprisingly, these are the same characters that left the island, only to return.
So, with these data in mind, what the frak is going on? Quite simply, as ghost Juliet put it, "it worked." The bomb did change the past, as we've started to see in the flash-sideways storyline. But the "big moment," the place the whole Lost story has been building, is the coming war on the island. Course correction is kicking in, and somehow, these strangers from 2004 will somehow, over the next three years of their lives, be brought back to the 2007 they always should have experienced.
Now, admitedly, this will be difficult to reconcile. The main problem? Flash-sideways people live in a world where there is no more island. So how will the universe course-correct? I haven't the foggiest. Perhaps Desmond, special as he is, will be able to retain memories of both lives, and will reconnect with Jack2 et al. Perhaps the pocket of energy in the Swan pit will somehow raise the island out of the depths of the ocean. Perhaps Eloise Hawking will just get all uppity, like she did when she first met Desmond, and bitch-slap the characters back to their own native reality.
The point is, this flash-sideways 2004, and the 2007 we've been following all along, will turn out to somehow be the same story. And you heard it here.
Finally, before we head into Episode 602, a bit of a thought experiment. Let's assume Jughead's detonation in 1977 immediately caused the island to blow up, and everyone on it was killed (I don't think that happened, but until we figure out a different sinkage date, bear with me). What would be different in our characters' lives before Oceanic 815?
- Rousseau's crew never would have marooned in 1988, meaning Alex would have been born somewhere else.
- Charles Widmore may not have left the island to father Penelope, meaning the Desmond on the plane would not even know her.
- Widmore also wouldn't have been exiled in the early 1990s, meaning he would never have created the boat race that led Desmond to the island that no longer exists.
- Widmore also would not have had the chance to order DHARMA purged.
- If Widmore never left the island, he never sent Matthew Abaddon to convince John Locke to go on Walkabout after his injury. But if he didn't, how did Locke end up in Australia?
- There was no numbers transmission leading to Leonard hearing the numbers leading to Hurley playing them.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Just something to make you go "hmm."
Anyway, check back in later this week for my recap of "What kate Does."