I read the TV Guide poll on “What’s really happening on Lost?” a while ago and even then was sorely disappointed with their answers. It was obvious that the survey staff had chosen the responses themselves and then had participants choose, because people in the fandom have come up with much better explanations than “they’re all dead.”

So today, while looking for translations of the Korean parts of the script, I happened upon a bunch of message boards with posts containing riffs on the “Shore Leave” theory. And they got me thinking about not just polar bears, but also a lot of other things that don’t fit on the island. As I see it, the things we need to explain are: the survival of the castaways, the existence of Ethan and Company, the locked door, the power source, what made the French expedition crazy and/or dead, and the monster (which I call the Beastie). Here we go, and comment me if I don’t make sense…..

Theory #1: a mystical force is at work on the island, manifesting people’s thoughts. The above-mentioned “Shore Leave” theory, usually applied to Walt and the polar bears to conclude that they are springing from his imagination. However, if you assume that all the poltergeist action is due to Walt, you have to assume that everything that happened on the island before his arrival really did happen, which in the case of the Otherman tribe (anagram it a bit) seems a little far-fetched even for a science fiction show. If you attribute at least some of the odd happenings to the island itself, you can also use the force (yes, Luke) to explain Locke’s miracle, Jack’s hallucinations, and even, possibly, the Beastie.

Corollary to Theory #1: the SLF (Shore Leave Force) manifests deeply held beliefs and/or desires of people on the island, when these beliefs do not reflect reality as it would otherwise be. Which means that because Locke still viewed himself as completely able-bodied, he was. Jack’s case seems to me to be one of expectation, either that he would look up and see his father (and who among us hasn’t felt that soon after losing a relative?) or that he would hear a scream at a good, TV-appropriate moment. Thus it does not explain any possible connection between Walt and polar bears. See Theory#4 for more on this.

Theory #2: Danielle never saw the baby she claims to have had, or can’t remember seeing it. It. “My child.” That is not a normal way for a mother to refer to her child, as I observed immediately while watching “Solitary.” It implies she didn’t know the sex of the baby, because to my mind she would have said “son” or “daughter” had she known. So, she never saw Alex.

Theory #3: Danielle is certifiable. Delusions of persecution, I’d say, or delusions of something at least. Psych experts might have better input for this, but I’ll leave it at the woman being nuts.

Theory #4: Walt is indeed a wunderkind with mickle mental powers. This is based on the bird-meets-window event and Brian’s testimony. It also explains how a polar bear got there early on, before Michael made him reeeeeeally mad and gave him reason to want the polar bear to come back. At this point, he doesn’t appear to have any control over when or how he makes things happen; strong emotions manifest in the form of surface thoughts. He’s angry at being ignored, and the bird he’s thinking of shows up. He’s angry at being disciplined when he sees no reason, and wants the comic back, but gets a polar bear. God only knows how the first bear got there. Maybe he was concentrating too hard on trying to insta-learn Spanish?

Okay. We have our groundwork. Time to combine and extrapolate like crazy.

Danielle is delusional, and the island can create things. Therefore, the island can create the stuff of her delusions. She believes there are others, so there are others. She believes they corrupted the rest of her expedition; they may well have, but we may never know, so I’ll let this lie. Also, keep in mind that Boone’s dead DoppelShannon didn’t actually exist, so there are limits to the SLF–possibly related to whether the mind thinking the stuff up is under the influence. I’ll have to tinker with this as I see more.

The next Danielle bit is more of a stretch. What if her delusions started around the time that Alex was lost? She might not have had a baby at all, whether due to a miscarriage or to never having been pregnant in the first place, and convinced herself that she had a viable child. Who was stolen. This not only creates the need for the Othermen, as she would be reluctant to finger her own party, but also sets her against the party members, who would be trying to tell her the truth. And here we see how a band of baby-snatching weirdos could have come into being on the island: Ethan and friends are Danielle’s polar bears. It’s even possible that she was ill, hallucinating as well as dreaming the vivid dreams of pregnancy, and came to believe the Othermen were sending the dreams–as they may later have done to Claire.

The Beastie is tame by comparison; anyone could have come up with a vague tree-rattling menace. The question is, Who did it? And who dreamed up the locked door, and the power cable–or are those what’s creating the SLF? Did people’s checked luggage really land on the island, or did they just believe it would? Is Rose’s belief in itself enough to ensure the survival of the passengers from the tail of the plane? Did the castaways survive essentially through believing they would? Can Jin learn English by believing he knows it? Is Walt the only thing that can save the bunch from destruction at the claws of the Beastie or the hands of the Othermen?

Stay tuned.

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