Lost: The Compass Time Travel Paradox

  • Jan 23, 2009
  • Buddy TV

The season 5 premiere of Lost brilliantly introduced time travel as a major component of the storytelling. The people left behind on the Island are randomly jumping through time. There’s a mystery about whether the points in time they jump to is random or pre-ordained, but other rules have been established.

Dr. Marvin Candle and Daniel Faraday both explained that people can’t change the past, and that any attempts to do so will fail. However, Faraday also revealed that, for unknown reasons, Desmond is special and immune from this rule.

My bigger question is trying to understand what jumps. Obviously the survivors and their clothes jump, but people like Richard Alpert don’t. The Zodiac made the jump, but Juliet and Sawyer assumed this was because it was being used at the time. Now, however, we’ve seen several time jumps and the Zodiac, even when it’s not in use, still jumps with them.

However, this does not seem to be the case for everything. In one scene, Richard Alpert gave John Locke a compass, telling him that the next time they meet, he should return it. Locke time jumps, and he still has the compass, meaning it could jump with him. Similarly, the bullet in John’s leg jumped as well.

The problem is that when Locke does meet Alpert again and he gives him the compass, will the compass continue to jump? Presumably not, since Alpert has the compass to give to Locke. This would indicate that the castaways are capable of carrying objects through a time jump, but that the objects will get stuck unless they are carried through every jump.

See also  'Lost' Video Sneak Peek: Locke's Stuck In A Box, Again

I can only assume that the Zodiac is the exception because it was in use during the first jump, and everything that traveled in the first jump is permanently unstuck in time.

If this is true, this season may explain a lot of mysteries on the Island. Perhaps the castaways carried things like Christian Shephard’s body into a different time, which could explain why it wasn’t in the casket. There’s also a possibility that they carried other people through the time jumps, like Claire, which could explain why she suddenly went missing. This could also explain why both Claire and Christian appear in Jacob’s cabin.

But getting back to the compass, there’s a paradox surrounding it that still troubles me. If Alpert gave it to Locke, and at some point in the past, Locke gives it back to Alpert, then the compass is stuck inside a time loop, going back and forth between these two men. Where did the compass originate from? Alpert gave it to Locke, Locke gave it to Alpert, and so on, getting trapped in a Mobius strip of time.

Will any of my issues, concerns and questions about time travel get raised? Or are these the idle ramblings of someone who has gone mad trying to understand Lost’s time travel? I’m hoping it’s the first one, otherwise I may have to check myself into the Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute.

Read our Lost Recaps and Easter Eggs:
Season 5 Premiere “Because You Left” Recap
“The Lie” Recap
Easter Eggs for “Because You Left”
Easter Eggs for “The Lie”

See also  LOST Season Four - Will it be Flash Forward or Flash Back?

-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of ABC)

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