The Ageless Richard Alpert
Our Get Lost feature would normally appear on Friday, but it has encountered “negatively charged exotic matter” and was moved in time to today (Saturday). Similarly, when Ben moved the Island, I suspect he moved it in time, not space. The question is when is the Island, not where.
There are several clues to support the view that time travel is a central to understanding the mysteries of the Island. To find the island Charles Widmore required the services of time-travel scientist, Daniel Faraday. People who approach (or leave) the island incorrectly are dislocated in time, as was Desmond and several of the freighter’s crew. The rocket fired from the freighter obviously time travelled before it reached the island. The Island is hidden by time, not space.
Even off the Island, Ms. Hawking is able to predict the future, suggesting time travel. Miles is able to speak with the dead; perhaps he travels back in time. When Ben is transported to the Tunisian desert he asks the hotel clerk what year it is.
Back on the Island we know that Desmond could glimpse the future (time travel). And Richard does not age (more time travel).
Here’s my best guess of how time loops and travel will help resolve the mysteries: Under Lost rules one cannot really change Fate because the world auto-corrects for any attempt to change it (as Ms. Hawking suggests). The plot of Lost will be resolved by showing the futile attempts to change Fate loop back into the same time-line.
I think the time-line begins with the Black Rock, which carrying metals from a slave-operated mine, is attracted to the exotic material of the Island and hurled upon its mountain-side. The survivors of the Black Rock include Charles Widmore and someone from the Hanso family. Widmore was in charge, but over time there are schisms among the Black Rock survivors and Charles is forced to move the Island in time and is teleported off the island and to modern times.
The Others, including Richard, are the descendents of the Adam and Eve skeletons, which I suspect are two of the survivors of Flight 815 who looped back in time. They stop being able to reproduce for some reason, perhaps related to the arrival of the Black Rock and Charles’ moving of the Island. Time stops moving forward for the Others, which is why they can’t age but also can’t reproduce.
Hanso clashes with these Others and eventually brings in Dharma to study and exploit the Island’s time-travel properties. Widmore desperately wants to get back to the Island to reclaim what was his. The Others recruit Ben to get rid of the Hanso led Dharma group and to re-start time for them by discovering how to reproduce.
The Losties are drawn to the Island as part of the auto-correction for whatever changes the Dharma experiments have produced. All of these efforts are doomed to failure since changing Fate is impossible. Locke is cured of his paralysis and Rose is cured of cancer only because they have moved back in time, but eventually Fate will auto-correct and their ailments will return.
In the end both Jack, the man of science, and Locke, the man of faith, will be vindicated. They were destined to be on that Island, as Locke suggests, but the exotic material and time-travel will provide the “scientific” explanation Jack insists must exist. And in the very end, we’ll discover that the two skeletons in the cave — the Adam and Eve — are two of the last people remaining alive on the Island — perhaps Sawyer and Kate. And maybe Aaron survives that time loop and is the initial leader of The Others.
The appearance of dead people, like Christian Shephard, and the whispers in the jungle will all be explained by time travel.
Who knows how exactly the writers will resolve the mysteries, but it is safe to bet that it will involve time loops and unchangeable Fate. And in some ways the way in which the mysteries are resolved is beside the real point of the series. The real point is the character development as they confront the tensions and mysteries that we all confront in some way. Dwelling too much on the mystery of the plot is the same sort of mistake people make with M. Night Shyamalan movies. They aren’t really about the twist. They are about the issues and mysteries in life before the twist resolves them.