This isn’t a full recap of the premiere, just a look at what on earth the island is doing, but before I begin if you haven’t watched both episodes from the season 5 premiere then stop reading now and come back after you have, I don’t want to be responsible for spoiling anything for you.
At the end of season 4 Ben turned the ‘donkey wheel’ and moved the island, to those aboard the helicopter it was simply there one moment and gone the next leaving them no option but to put the chopper down into the ocean, for Ben it resulted in him being transported from January 2005 on the Island to the middle of a Tunisian desert… in October 2005. But for those on the island the consequences appear to have been a little more severe.
As the bright light and loud noises dissipated Sawyer, Juliet and co found themselves still on the island but in a time before Flight 815 had crashed, the result being that they no longer had any of their shelter, food or other supplies that they’d been keeping at the beach. Sawyer points out to Juliet that the burning wreck of the freighter that they could see previously has now vanished. Dan arrives back at the island in the Zodiac, which he was on along with several other losties during the move and was brought along for the ride. He mentions something about “being inside the radius”, obviously both the freighter and the helicopter were outside this radius.
The ‘Island 5’TM (Sawyer, Juliet, Dan, Charlotte and Miles) head off to the hatch, on the way there the Dan explains that the Island is like a skipping record, and that they might have been dislodged from time. Before they get to the hatch the island ‘skips’ again, and when they arrive they find the hatch already imploded, in other words they’ve jumped forward again, but they don’t know how far. While standing looking over the imploded ruins of the hatch the island ‘skips’ again, taking them back again to a time before the hatch was found.
Sawyer, being Sawyer, storms off to find the back door because he wants supplies from the hatch. Dan tries to explain to him that it won’t work, because if it didn’t happen before it can’t happen this time. Everyone heads back to the beach, except Dan who conveniently left his pack at the hatch. Once Dan goes back to his pack he gets out his notebook and flips frantically through the pages, we don’t see what it is that he finds, but remember this is the same notebook that has “if anything happens Desmond will be my constant” written in it.
Dan explains to Des that he’s special because the rules don’t apply to him, is this because of the whole ‘constant’ thing? If it is, could it be that Desmond is not only Dan constant, but he is also the Islands constant. The only catch with this would be that he isn’t on the island in the ‘present’ time on the island, only the past, meaning they’d need to wait for his return to correct the skipping problem.
I know what you’re thinking, what about Locke? Well when Ben turned the donkey wheel he’d just met up with Alpert and the Others, but after island skipped the first time he found himself all alone not another person in sight. He headed through the jungle where he came across a clearing, he sees something in the distance, its the Nigerian drug plane that he’d found previously. So we now know that Locke too has gone backwards (possibly to the same time that the Island 5 has). Locke heads to the wreckage of the plane and as he’s climbing up to check it out someone starts taking pot shots at him, one hitting him in the leg causing him to fall.
He lying on the ground, with a bullet in his leg, when the gunman comes out of the bushes, its Ethan. Right about now Locke is probably think WTF is going on (as if the plane hadn’t already caused him to think this). He tries to explain to Ethan that he knows who he is, as Ethan goes to shoot him the island skips again and Ethan is gone. Locke is now in a time after the plane has fallen from the cliff it was hanging from. Alpert turns up to help patch up Locke’s wound, he explains that he’ll be moving on soon, and that the only way to fix things is to bring everyone who left back to the island. He also says that Jack, Kate and the other are already home, which kind of indicates that Locke has skipped forward to a point after they left the island. Alpert informs Locke that the way to convince them to come back to the island will require him to die.
Back on the beach (after Dan has returned) the losties are fighting, its mainly Frogurt and Bernard, when fiery arrows begin to rain down on the, the first of which stick straight into Frogurts chest (thank god for that). They scatter in all different directions to escape the attack (presumably from the others and/or Dharma). Sawyer and Juliet are caught by a small group of Dharma-ites only to be rescued by a knife-wielding Locke.
So when are they now? We saw Dan beneath the under-construction Orchid station in the 70’s at the beginning, they’ve been on both pre and post-crash version of the island and appear to be currently in a time before the crash, and before Ben wiped out Dharma (which we think was early 90’s), so lets say that they are in the 80’s sometime… maybe.
What does this all mean, if the Oceanic 6 saw the island vanish, how are they going to get back? Presumably they’ll need to ‘arrive’ at the island at a time when it exists in their timeline, which is probably where Mrs Hawking and the 72-hour window (determined by that big swinging magnetic thing and that ancient computer in her own personal little Dharma station beneath some random church) comes into play. I doubt they’ll make that ‘window’ though, that’d be too easy.