And, we've been told, the show is not simply a dream or a similar cop-out; in other words, no, we are not due at the end of next season a deus ex machina revelation that the entire show took place in some autistic child's snow globe.
Yet there's a hint now that it might be possible for the events of the entire program to date to simply have never happened. Lovable physics-nerd Daniel Faraday revealed in this week's episode "The Variable" (a play on a prior Daniel-and-Desmond-centric episode, "The Constant") that he has a plan to prevent the events leading to the crash of Oceanic 815--and thus everything that's happened over the past four and a half seasons--from having ever happened. "You'll land in Los Angeles," Daniel explained.
Daniel, you see, had decided that the future could be changed after all, having changed his mind over the past three years, by realizing that the losties are variables, not constants, and as such can indeed cause events to unfold differently. Get everyone off the island, then set off the hydrogen bomb ("Jughead") he'd previously talked the island's indigenous "Others" into burying in 1954, and he'd be able to prevent the "Incident" and its release of electromagnetic energy which caused Oceanic 815 to crash.
Now, I'm sure there are those on the island who'd see that as a perfectly acceptable change to history, and indeed, several who have died (Boone, Shannon, Charlie, Eko, Ana Lucia, Libby, Michael, the entire stock of Red Shirts 'R Us, Arzt, and even those "Poochies" Nicki and Paolo, just to name a few) would have another chance at life. Yet none of the redemption and character growth we've seen our troubled, broken cast of characters go through over the six seasons of LOST would have happened, and indeed, the stories of redemption are one of the biggest reasons the show has been as successful and has remained engaging throughout its run. All that would be wiped away, worthless, in an instant which never would have happened. (I'll avoid consideration of the paradox we'd end up with, whereby it took the crash survivors to prevent the crash from having ever happened; at some point, you have to let it go.)
Of course, Daniel managed not to change history once already: he got himself shot by his own mother back in 1977--though some might question whether or not that was his intention all along or whether it was indeed "destiny" (though we never got a "You're my density!" from him, a perfect Back to the Future reference for his character). So perhaps there's hope that history will not be unwritten, even though "Mr. Fixit" Jack seems driven now to implement Daniel's plan, left conveniently in his hands before Dan's untimely exit via a strange reverse-matricide (and if you think about it for a moment, kindly old Ms. Hawking sent Daniel back to the island, knowing her younger self would kill him...)
But despite the fact I still feel LOST and its current writers are among the best in television, I do have a bit of nagging fear that they've opened the door to erasing the events of the past several years, and hope they do not take that path. It's a fine line to dance, between destiny and free-will, after all.