Do You Need To Be A Trekkie To Understand The LOST S6 Premiere? (maybe not, but it will help)

Last night was the highly-anticipated premiere of the sixth and final season of Lost, with the two part episode "LA X". As usual with the show, it was very mysterious and at times possibly even confusing. But any fan of Star Trek might have had an advantage in trying to figure it all out.


Lost goes MWI?

In December I wrote about how it appeared that time travel and alternative universes/timelines seems to a popular growing trend on network TV shows, showing up in shows like Flash Forward, Heroes, Fringe and Lost. Of course these kinds of things are common in Star Trek (and other sci-fi shows). Season 5 of Lost was particularly time-travel heavy with some of the cast members hopping around time for much of the season. And the season ended with the show’s heroes (trapped in the 1970s) on a mission to change time itself. They were going to set of a nuclear bomb in a pocket of electromagnetism (Trek-like technobabble!), which was theorized to change their histories so that the fateful plane crash that launched the series and stranded them all on that island would never happen. Watching the finale last year was reminiscent of episodes of Trek like TNG’s "Yesterday’s Enterprise" or Voyager’s "Year of Hell" where the characters were doing all they can to hit that giant RESET button. The season ended with one of the characters (Juliet) literally banging on the bomb with a rock, doing her best to trigger that reset.

And when you watch the first four minutes of "LA X" (put online before the show aired), it appears that she was successful. Juliet hits bomb, bomb goes boom, and wammo everyone is back on Oceanic flight 815, which doesn’t crash on the island but instead comes into a nice landing at "LAX".

Opening scene of “LA X” hits the reset button, the island is gone and the plane never crashes

So far so good, right? Even if you have a passing familiarity with time travel movies like the Terminator or Back to the Future series, you can probably get what is going on here. But Star Trek’s Damon Lindelof (who co-wrote the episode) isn’t done yet. When we come back from the commercial break we are back on the island — the same island we just saw at the bottom of the ocean, but now very much above sea level. The same people we just saw on the plane are all there, but now brought forward in time (apparently to the present). What is really going on here?

What’s this? The Losties back on the island too? WTF?

The rest of the episode continues to jump back and forth between the island and the plane (and LAX) with the same characters living out two different paths. The folks on the island assume that their plan to hit the reset button has failed (although Juliet sends a message from beyond the grave to her boyfriend Sawyer that "it worked" but he doesn’t seem to understand it). And here is where regular Lost fans start wondering if they missed a scene. Looking at much of the early buzz, some fans were confused by the episode wondering what is the ‘real’ reality. However, if you are a Trekkie, this all seems to be familiar territory. Trekkies probably immediately thought "multiple timelines" or "parallel realities". Star Trek has many examples of this kind of thing, including TOS "Mirror, Mirror", TNG "Parallels", and even the 2009 Star Trek movie.

Final moments from TNG "Parellels" when the universe all meet each other

Essentially Lost appears to now have its own prime timeline (on the island) and an alternative timeline (where the island is toast and characters have landed in LA). Putting that in 2009 Star Trek movie terms, Juliet is Spock Prime (and Nero), the bomb was Red Matter, the pocket of electromagnetism was the Hobus Supernova and the island is the USS Kelvin. The difference on Lost is we now get to see what is happening in both timelines.

Damon Lindelof sits on the Trekkie wing (along with Bob Orci) of the new Star Trek Supreme Court, and he is steeped in time travel and alternative reality lore. He and I discuss both at length in our audio commentary for the time-travel Star Trek movie Star Trek First Contact (from the 2009 re-release). And Lindelof is not shy from borrowing from Trek. The first Lost episode that dipped into the world of time-travel was "The Constant" from Season 4. In a 2008 interview with TrekMovie, Lindelof admitted that episode was their version of TNG’s "All Good Things." 

Scene from TNG "Yesterday’s Enterprise" – Guinan knows an alternate timeline when she sees one

So far no one in either of the Lost realities seems to be aware that there are two going on, in other words there is no "Guinan" around saying "this is wrong", but there is much more to go in season six and for all we know this has nothing to do with multiple timelines at all. To date the Lost version of time travel was based around the notion of the predestination paradox, or "what happened, happened" and you cannot change the past. However, the plan with the bomb and the electromagnetism pocket was hatched based on the notion that it was an exception to that rule, and so now the show seems to have adopted the multiple timestreams approach (and gone the quantum physics many worlds interpretation route being adopted by shows like Fringe). Then again, maybe this stuff is all a dream sequence and someone is about to step out of a shower.

One thing is for sure and that is that Lost remains one of the most intriguing and fun shows on television and kicked off its final season with a whole bunch answers along with its own set of new mysteries.

If you missed it, you can watch the full season premiere at

You can also watch interviews, clips and more at


Here is the promo for next week’s episode (showing images from the island timeline).

and a sneak peak (from the reset timeline)

Damon and Carlton answer questions on Jimmy Kimmel

Lost Executive Producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse were guests on last night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC and they answered some questions about the season premiere. They also revealed the series finale will be on Sunday May 23rd. You can watch their appearance below (in two parts).



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The big difference is that within even the Trek rules of canon, there are 2 distinct timelines that co-exist. We don’t need a writer to tell us to ignore what we saw and listen to what they say.

Hmmmm fascinating…maybe I should start watching now…

Great article, Anthony! I was very excited when I realized what was going on…I am curious to see how (or if) these two different realities will reconcile themselves. Are they on the same “plane of existence,” and all the characters now have a doppleganger? Or are we looking at two separate universes?

Very nice article. It’s true. I talk with Lost (non trek) fans and they where actually a little bit confused about what they see. In the same time I feel very comfortable with the premiere of Lost.

As a Trek fan I can only say that I totally understood what was going on. How it will go from here however, is anybody’s guess. I have a feeling that some major players will die in each timeline, but both timelines will continue. I am also sure there will plenty of more suprises.

I loved when Charlie said, “But I’m supposed to die!”. Good stuff.

I read an interview some time back from some/one of the creators of Lost. They were talking about the ending of the series, saying many will be disappointed. It wasn’t necessarily intended for the mainstream. They expected a cult hit at best….like X-Files numbers. So, the Star Trek/sci-fi bent…not surprising.

“Putting that in 2009 Star Trek movie terms, Juliet is Spock Prime (and Nero), the bomb was Red Matter, the pocket of electromagnetism was the Hobus Supernova and the island is the USS Kelvin.”

lol, I like the Star Trek movie analogy.

The cool thing is that it is working like ST9 did with the two timelines.. Basically the new Lost universe is trying to heal itself like the new ST9 universe did… By bringing these people together, even though they did not crash on the island. (Yet that may have to do with the fact that Jacob touched them in their pasts) But it’s exactly what happened in Star Trek.. Kirk, Spock, and the rest came together to become a crew against all odds of the new universe. So to it looks like the Lost cast will as well. Awesome stuff!

I’ve not seen ‘Lost’ since season 2, but I’ll catch up eventually. I own the entire series up to this season… ditto with ‘Battlestar Galactica.’

Its just soo sad whats happening to the characters on Lost. After all they’ve been through….. its going to end on a sad note. But , its still the greatest show on tv now.

I have always said Star Trek made me an “expert” on Temporal Mechanics.

LA X was even better than I was expecting. I love the fact that they didn’t just go with the standard Reset button technique. I am so enraptured by Lost, yet at the start of every season I get these fears that they’re going to screw it up, only to be rewarded with consistently strong writing. So, I really shouldn’t have been surprised that there was nothing “stock” about the premiere of the 6th season.

I need a PhD to understand this stuff.

PS I heart Kate.

Of course, none of this explains why the people who changed the timeline are still above water in the present…

Interesting to see all the ‘dead’ characters come back. Does every timeline get its own ending, complete with whatever version of characters it has, or will all the timelines re-converge? I kinda wish they’d stop adding characters, though. The temple gang is just gonna die, so why bother? I’d rather have Juliet back… although I know she’s off chasing lizards on that other show. Ah well, big final season!

I don’t think Juliet IS Spock Prime or Nero.

Again, what they put in the movie doesn’t support what they have said outside the movie, when combined with 40 years of Trek, but forget that for the moment and let’s pretend they put something in the movie.

If we go by what they said happened, then Juliet is just a redshirt from the original timeline.

She died.

She never went from one universe to another.

We’re not going to see Juliet hanging out with Jack from the new reality.

What I think is going on is Lost is doing what Orci said they did in Trek.

What’s interesting is that for some reason, the people who belonged in 2007 somehow wound up there after the bomb. THAT doesn’t make any sense at all.

The new Lost timeline is occuring four years ago, the original timeline is occuring now. Whose to say the at the end of the season the characters in the current timeline will return to four years ago, to reset the show, the difference between this and other shows is that we get to watch the new timeline from the beginning of the season.

My head hurts in one of my universes.

And THIS is why its viewership halved last season. As if this show wasn’t confusing enough, they decide to go and throw it into Trek territory. While I love the whole “Mirror Universe” concept that’s going on right now, especially with Fringe, it works better if it’s the POINT of the show, not a sudden introduction like with Lost.

Also, is it bad that I now understand this show BETTER than before it had time travel and alternate universes?

I’m guessing Desmond will turn out to be the Guinan here. He’s already been shown not to “play by the rules,” timewise. The way he disappeared off the plane (where he wasn’t supposed to be in the first place) was an early indication.

I was also struck, on Tuesday night, by the role of destiny. Even in the new universe, all of those characters wound up bumping into each other at LAX. That too was one of the new Trek’s major themes.

#19. I’ve heard that theory bandied about. I think it makes a lot of sense.

#21. Who’s to say it wasn’t the point of the show from the very beginning? The creators have said they knew from the start how it would end.

Captain April (above poster) got it right…the alternate timeline we’re seeing is simply an indication of what’s going to happen to the characters in “our” timeline when they really do hit the reset button at the end of this season. There’s NOT two timelines going on at the same time – we’re simply getting flashforwards (or flashbacks, since the events will actually be happening earlier) to what is to come.

Time travle is a fun thing. My G.F who watches a ABC Soap One Life to Live told me of a time travel story on that shoe as well. Lost is a great show and I love the Time line there doing. It is so much fun trying to keep up.

WoW. I can’t spell today. Somebody Shoot me. Or maybe I can go back in time and correct it.

I was thinking the very same thing while watching it –this movie appears to be using the unclarified theme of ST XI, which Orci alluded to outside of the film after the fact concerning the “Many Worlds” ‘multiverse’ highly speculative theory of quantum mechanics, which incidentally, I tend not to believe in …at least not to the extent espoused by physicists such as Michio Kaku.

My guess is that the dead have the insight… along with Desmond who has some ambiguous ability to see through time lines.

So Charlie already told Jack “he was supposed to die”… Juliette knows it worked, my guess is Sayid will have some insight now that he’s dead and back…

I guess we’ll see. Doug L.

My guess? They have to integrate the two plot lines eventually. It’d be extremely unsatisfying if the whole point of the off-island alternate reality would be “Gee, Kate, I wish in some sort of way we had hooked up.” And cut to Alt. Kate and Jack having a happy life. So the two must converge at some point. Spock Prime has to go through the Red Matter black hole.

Calling it right now: Good Alternate Reality Locke has a face down with Bad Smokey Locke in the series finale.

I don’t doubt they knew how it would end for a second. I’m talking from a viewer’s perspective. All of a sudden introducing these concepts right at the end of a series made it confusing to watch. Albeit, to me it’s now easier to follow BECAUSE of the time travel/mirror universe stuff. Huzzah for growing up on Trek!

In case anyone is interested, I saw that Big Lots has the Star Trek 2009 figures now. 3.00 for the small ones and 5.00 for the medium ones.

#31 – are they shelved between the overstock boxed set of serated steak knifes and the closeout camoflauge wading pools?

#23 & #30

The producers were interviewed for Nightline the other night and were talking about how at one point they felt stuck in cages like the characters (at that particular point in the series) because they ran out of story ideas and didn’t know where they were going with the overall story. So they didn’t have an ending planned out from the start –they only established that when viewers started to become disinterested because they didn’t think all the story threads would ever come together to make complete sense.

Go to ABC Online and watch the Nightline segments and you’ll see for yourselves. In fact, here’s the Link:

Interesting that both the new ST film and this episode use the trick of two parallel universes, one prime, the other altered (as opposed to alternate) co-existing (seemingly at this point). I wonder if the plan for this season of lost is what inspired Bob Orci and Co. when righting ST09?

It’s funny just how comfortable I was in seeing an MWI bifurcation in the Lost premiere of season 6. I feel that I have a good grip on the mythology of FlashForward now and can see an MWI there as well. In that show the branched worlds are very close and they have been switching back and forth for the first ten episodes. I also think neither of the branches are of our own reality and the series might end visiting ours last. It’s not just a feeling as I have put this together from easter eggs. The puzzle in FlashForward is greatly detailed and very, very rich. Of course while Lost has Damon Lindelof FlashForward has Brannon Braga. Yes, the one that did all those MWI and time travel episodes in ST.

Oh, and there is the Oceanic billboard with a perfect safety record in the FF pilot that now matches up quite nicely with the alt Lost timeline that did not crash that also matches up with the Lost advertising spots where Oceanic’s record was spotless and Hugo made it back from down under to make his Mr. Cluck’s commercial. All intended and planned for. Cool.

Never watched it….never will.

Oh no. I’ve gone cross-eyed!

Captain Dunsel has hit upon a genius method of seeing two worlds at once. Well done! 8^)

Great job on the article too, Anthony.

I almost re-bought First Contact DVD just for the Lindelof commentary track, but didn’t wanna double-dip when I have the Special Edition already. Anyone know where I can get it for less than 5 bucks?

I’ve been geeky for over 40 years. But there’s geeky… and then there’s incestously pseudo-intellectual incomprehensibly impenetrable nonsense.

One has charm and mass appeal. The other is pretentious BS. I liked Lost when it was offbeat and clever. But all this indechiperable “we’re smarter than you” storytelling is going to be the death of mass broadcast SF.

Imagine if Lost actually did turn out to be a prequel to Star Trek?

Everything that happened on the island? Either Q screwing with the puny humans’ minds again, or possibly the automated defenses on Gary Seven’s backup base gone haywire…

It would either be the dumbest thing in creation, or the most awesome thing ever. :D

Early episodes = FlashBacks
Middle episodes = FlashForwards
Desmond episodes = FlashBothWays
Final episodes= FlashBetweenTimelines


“Captain Dunsel has hit upon a genius method of seeing two worlds at once. Well done! 8^)”

LOL very funny Hyde! ;p

#44 — I don’t think it can get any more succinct than that and still be accurate. Good job!

#1=you are wrong…in OLD Trek there are two distinct timelines…Prime Timeline and the Mirror Universe…then with JJverse there’s THREE distinct timelines, and a fourth once the JJ-version of the mirror universe is featured…but in reality, in the TNG episode ‘Parallels’ it is PROVEN that the JJverse angle is CORRECT because a quantum anomaly that Worf entered caused him to bounce across multiple timelines like a stone across the pond of the metaverse…plus, the ‘Prime TImeline’ as it was when Nero went back in time was the result of so many alterations in history that since the beginning of TOS the primary timeline wherein the stories take place changed like at least 3 dozen times…

and an add-on to #44:

Series Finale: FlashToRevealAllOfLostWasAHolodeckSimulationSpockPrimeRanBeforeTryingToSaveRomulusPreMovie

*continued… …Trying ToSaveRomulusButFailingPreMovie

yeah I was actually thinking like that too it would just be too funny and absurd if all this turns out to be a holodeck simulation. I am half expecting a voice saying “computer end program” any time now, while watching a lost episode.

The idea of a ‘prime’ universe is stupid. On one hand, they talk about the ST:09 universe trying to ‘correct’ itself (to align with how history originally unfolded), and in the next it’s a parallel universe? What’s to correct if it’s a separate, distinct universe?

It was never mentioned in the new movie that Spock’s red matter punched a hole through quantum realities. All that was said was that he traveled back in time. If he did, there is no ‘prime’ universe any longer as ST:09 IS the prime universe.

To say otherwise sorta makes the temporal prime directive pointless, doesn’t it? I mean if every time you travel back in time, you’re just creating a new/separate universe, then what’s to worry about? You can go back in time and change whatever you like without worrying about the ‘prime’ timeline. Kinda makes you wonder why Picard was so worried about the Borg in First Contact? No worries – the prime universe is always safe! Hell, the same goes for pretty much every time travel incident in all of Trek.

This whole ‘prime universe’ crap is just to shut up fanboys who can’t stand the thought of things being different. It’s having your cake and eating it – plain and simple.