So I’ve had a couple weeks to digest the finale now, and I’ve got to be honest with you: I’m not sure I’m liking the frozen donkey wheel. Not the “frozen donkey wheel” in the metaphorical sense, as the code for the surprises in the season finale. I mean the wheel itself, which was in fact frozen. I need to go back and watch that scene again, but there was something goofy, in a non-Lost-like way, about Ben going down to a not-especially-real-looking frozen cavern and turning an actual wheel to make the island move in space and time. Though Michael Emerson proved his worth again, as his palpable sense of loss sold what could have been a really laughable scene.
Then again: I can’t stop thinking about that damn wheel. Which would suggest that it did do its job, if its job was to raise tantalyzing questions. (Questions which I am sure have already been raised elsewhere, but which you’re just going to have to put up with again.) Such as: who put it there? The wheel literally underlies Dharma’s presence on the island; to reach it, Ben has to blow up a chamber that Dharma built. If it predates Dharma, who could possibly have put it there, and to what end?
On the one hand, its nature—a big ol’ wheel—suggests a much earlier technology. On the other hand, it teleports an island, so it’s got that going for it. (And forget its space-time abilities: how did anyone even set that thing into a rock?) Is it related to the Hostiles / the Black Rock people? Does is predate even them? Is there a connection—finally!—to the freaking four-toed statue? Did Dharma know it was there, and could the initiative have had anything to do with it? (Dharma, after all, is not unfamiliar with wheels.)
My question: well, I guess I don’t have one. Or I have too many. But I invite any theories or conjecture related to the wheel. Give ‘er a spin.