Due to an overwhelming response to my call for questions about Season 5, I wasn’t able to answer them all. By the time I finished, Season 5 would have been halfway over. So I chose to focus on questions asked by first-time commenters or those who normally don’t post a lot here. Don’t worry: the other questions will be answered in the podcast. So make sure to check that out as well. I love my hard-core commenters, but it’s valuable to get as many questions/opinions/insights as possible as we sort through this crazy season of Lost.

And it IS crazy. Majorly crazy. I think the volume of questions asked this time around shows just how complex this show has gotten. Many of you either publicly or privately have told me you have absolutely no idea what’s going on, asking one-sentence questions that spin off into multiple paragraphs as you try and sort them out. You can look at this complexity in one of two ways. In the first way, you can give up, assuming that just because something’s unclear now means there’s no point working through it. The second way is the one I take: just because we don’t know what’s going on doesn’t mean the show doesn’t. And so far, it’s not let us down yet.

Moreover, admitting you don’t know what’s going on isn’t a bad thing. We are ALL confused right now. But there’s good confusion and bad confusion, from a viewer’s standpoint. A show like Heroes has mastered the art of providing the latter, with people like me sitting slack-jawed with confusion at the ridiculous plot and unbelievable character moments we’re expected to swallow on a week to week basis. Lost, on the other hand, is to us as Ben is to everyone else: about six steps ahead. If you don’t know something right now, it’s not because you’re stupid. It’s because the writers of Lost are extremely smart and, most importantly, are the only ones with the correct answers.

Any one of us, myself included, who posits a theory that is later proven to be correct isn’t a genius. He or she is someone who made an ultimately accurate guess based on a set of provided information. It’s an informed guess, but a shot in the proverbial dark all the same. Only Darlton and Company know the answers, which in and of themselves aren’t necessarily “right,” just the ones they chose to present within the context of the story they want to tell. This is why I gave up trying to be “right” about a month into starting this blog. I was paralyzed, trying to come up with airtight arguments that couldn’t be countered. And such over-analysis was both stifling and the incorrect way to approach writing about the show. It does neither me as a writer nor you as a reader any good at all.

What I try to do, and I suggest all of you do as well, is simply think about the show in ways that are plausible and interesting. That’s it. These answers below are far from authoritative. They are my singular take on your queries. I obviously think they are valid answers; but I don’t think they are the only way to answer them, either. Ultimately, the show will go in a way determined by people I’ve never met that somehow created a show that sends millions of us into deep, interesting, and engrossed discussion of what it all means. That’s not frustrating: that’s incredible. And so approaching the various questions and mystery from that perspective makes something like Season 5 less of a chore for me and more of a joy. Bring on the questions, Lost. Bring on the questions, readers. We’ll miss the mystery when it’s all over. Let’s savor it for now.

They've taken 4 years to tell the 3-month story of crashing onto and getting off of the island. Will they take the entire Season 5 to tell the story of the 70 hours to get back onto the island, with the season finale being the first moments of the "arrival" back there? Or would they stretch the 70-hours story into Season 6; if not, what would be the storyline of Season 6 if they're back on the island at the beginning of it?

The producers are on record as saying the Oceanic 6 will be back before season’s end. But yes, we might see a few episodes covering that 70-hour period. They’ve also taken great pains to provide obstacles in their way preventing immediate return. Hurley’s incarceration is one, and Sun’s great vengeance and furious anger is another. Speaking of Sun, I think Scottie has a question about her.

I know Sun says she wants Ben dead, but I am not convinced that is the other person she blames for Jin’s death, in the season 4 finale when Jack is talking to Ben about how hard it is going to be to get everyone back together, Jack says "Sun still blames me for…" but never finishes, do you think that Jack is the other person Sun blames for Jin’s death?
Scotty B.

Scotty, you’re right. Jack’s line derives from his own guilt, not something Sun has said. That’s not to say she wants to send Jack an Edible Arrangement anytime soon (same with Kate), but we haven’t heard Sun say the second person’s name definitively. When Sun first mentions there two people responsible for Jin’s death, it’s May 2005. Locke doesn’t appear off-Island until 2008 as Jeremy Bentham. She might have blamed Ben all along, but only confronted Widmore after learning of Ben’s existence in the real world.

Do you think the dead people appearing to Hurley are working for Jacob, against Jacob or are sort of neutral?

Anything Hurley-related is Jacob’s responsibility, or at least those working for the Army of the Light. If anyone of the Lostaways is a “good” person, it’s Hurley. He's so good, he made me actually miss Ana Lucia after his encounter with her this week. Such is the power of the Hugo.

Remember when the Others’ shrink tells Juliet that she looks just like "her", what if it's because it actually IS Juliet, but in the past. Does that make sense? What if Ben met adult Juliet when he was a child? Thoughts?

Let’s ask Daniel Faraday. “If it didn’t happen, it can’t happen.” Juliet and Ben didn’t know each other when she first arrived on the Island, therefore, it’s not her. I think Harper refers to Annie; my wife thinks it’s Ben’s mother. I think those are the two likely cases. But you’re right to ask these types of questions, as we’re about to enter some weird wacky paradox type questions right about now. Strap in.

What’s moving – the island or the Losties? Or Both? I think the answer to this question is crucial and I would love to hear your thoughts.

I think you need to look from the perspective of the helicopter containing the Oceanic 6. When Ben turns the wheel, both the Island and its inhabitants disappear. But it’s obvious they are not moving exactly in sync with each other, either. Remember the last line of the Orchid orientation video, in which “Halliwax” tells us, “In our first demonstration, we will attempt to shift the test subject 100 milliseconds ahead (in) four-dimensional space. For the briefest of the moments, the animal will seem to disappear, but in reality…”

At that point, the tape starts automatically rewinding, so we don’t hear the rest. So we don’t hear the “reality,” but I think the implication is that anything organic in fact just gets “dislodged,” to use Faraday’s word, from time-space and therefore is invisible to those of us still enslaved by it. Silly fools, us.

What Ms. Hawking seems to be doing is the same thing as her apparent son, Daniel: calculating the Island’s location in time. She’s either looking for the equivalent of the Island’s train schedule, or calculating the proper bearing by which the Island can be accessed. In either case, it looks like in 70 hours, the temporary window that exists will be closed, leaving whomever is currently in charge of the Island sitting atop a limitless energy that can destroy the world.

When, in Faraday's chronological timeline, do you think that first scene with Chang took place? Before or after all the time jumping going on in the rest of the episode?

I touched upon this in the recap, but the Faraday that explains how “time is a street” to Sawyer has not yet started going undercover inside the Orchid. From our perspective, as viewers, that encounter happened roughly thirty years ago, but Faraday has yet to experience it himself in terms of post-donkey wheel confusion.

I think it's important to pinpoint exactly when in time Daniel talked to Desmond in the past. Desmond never used to leave the hatch, because the guy he shared the hatch with told him he couldn't go out. Desmond never left until after he died, which coincided with the crash of oceanic 815. That means that at the moment they interacted, there could have been 2 copies of everyone on the island (who were still alive), as well as those that had already died and the oceanic 6. So, if this is possible, will we see some back to the future type interactions/avoidances this year?

OK, I’m probably gonna lose even myself on this one, but I’ll give it a whirl. There’s probably a slim chance of Sawyer running into a duplicate version of himself near the reconstituted swan, in that we’re talking about only 2-3 weeks of time in a 3-year window in which Desmond was in the hatch and Locke hadn’t started unearthing it yet. Desmond arrived on the Island in 2001, and the Lostaways arrived in 2004. The Marooned 5 (props for the nickname, Jo) have landed at some point in that timeframe. But your question of dual interactions/avoidances is a good one, and far from the only one asked.

Now that they are unhinged from time-space, how many occasions in past seasons do you think Locke, et al have interfered in island events? Any specific examples come to mind? Also, do you think we'll see any of them meet themselves in the past and/or future? What do you reckon are the rules governing those situations?

About meeting each other in the past/future: I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this is how the show explains the whispers. The whispers are either the show’s way of indicating certain people constantly moving through time, unable to create paradoxes, or an audible way to represent how certain people (like Locke) can move through time and others (Ethan) stay put. Notice how Ethan didn’t raise his hand to protect himself from the blinding light? It’s because he couldn’t see it. The whispers are the potential byproduct of time preventing two humans (or bunnies) from touching each other and causing a major catastrophe.

Speaking of Ethan, I think Erika is on point with explaining one possibility why Locke meeting Ethan seems consistent. A lot of people cried foul when this happened, stating it was something "new." Not necessarily. Locke hadn't met Ethan until 2004, whereas Ethan met him at some point earlier. He could have gone back to camp, told Ben/Richard the story, and that was that until they realized Locke was one of the Lostaways a few years later. Remember: Locke didn't mention anything about a plane crash, so when Ben sends Ethan his way in September of 2004, he's just sending him to look for survivors and pregnant women. This scene between Ethan/Locke might FINALLY explain why Ben Linus said he came to the Swan looking for Locke back in Season 2.

As to your first question, yes, absolutely we’ll see events involving our Lostaways in the past that are part of established, epochal events in the Island’s history. And going by Faraday’s rules, it’s not a paradox because it nominally always happened this way. What Season 5 will provide over and over again will be the recontextualizing of events we thought we knew. For instance, take Faraday. His first appearance is in Essex, Massachusetts, a few months after the crash of Oceanic 815. He’s crying, and no one, including himself, knows why. We might learn that he goes to the Island, then goes back in time, indirectly causes the “incident” which blows up the Orchid and renders the Swan nothing more than an energy dam, only to get spit out into the real world with nary a memory of the event thanks to the energy BTWRTH’ing his brains.

Let’s use his street analogy, with a row of houses going left to right. Lay this street atop a timeline in your head. People usually experience things left to right, with the starting point being birth all the way on the left with death to the far right. Even as people start hopping back to the left, they still continue living incrementally to the right. For them, their EXPERIENCES are linear, even if their position in time is not. This is how Faraday can technically have always blown up the Orchid in 1978 but not actually experienced it from his perspective schooling Sawyer on the intricacies and rules of time travel. Speaking of the rules…

Hey Ryan-first time poster-great blog. Regarding the "rules": Candle/Chang brusquely told the worker in the tunnel, “There are rules!" involved in dealing with time, and we saw Ben exclaim last season that Widmore "broke the rules" when Keamy killed Alex. I'm thinking that implies the so-called "rules" are largely a gentleman's agreement of sorts, obliging someone to follow along, or "God help them all"! That could possibly explain Ben becoming totally unhinged after Alex was killed, as he's not only upset over Alex's fate, but also by Widmore's callous disregard of the RULES that's he's supposed to be following.
Gord in NS

I think the dual use of the rules and their strict adherence is astutely noted. But I’m not sure they are as separate as you indicate. Nothing about Widmore indicates “gentleman’s agreement,” especially in his attitude towards Sun in the airport. A portion of it on the surface might play into this, of course. Perhaps Widmore still sends pallet drops in return for some unknown recompense. But he’d kill Ben if he physically could. But I’m not sure it’s the Island that disallows it; it’s history.

It’s at this point we really have to start to question the validity of a sentient Island, or at least thinking about less in terms of “a volcano with brains” and more in terms of the inevitable pull of time. As I mentioned in my recap, the converse of Faraday’s dictum is true: if it happened, it always happened. For something to violate this rule takes an amount of electromagnetic, chemical, psychic, or other type of energy so unique and/or singular that it would violate/disregard said pull. Note that Ben uses the smoke monster immediately after Alex dies: maybe the “security system” is what protects the sanctity of the rules of time, or punishes those that violate it. The monster’s nothing if not unique, after all.

So that’s all for now. Make sure to listen to the podcast where I get into more of your Season 5 questions! Coming tomorrow: how the true purpose of the Arrow might reveal the true purpose of the Dharma Initiative.

Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude, then peruses Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to subscribe to the Zap2It's Guide to Lost Twitter feed.

Posted by:Ryan McGee