Lost in Thought: Got to Get You into My Life

"All You Need Is Love" was the most obvious title for this post, but, I feared, perhaps
too obvious and likely to be used elsewhere. Et voilà! I've just checked out Nik at Nite, my Lost home on the Web, and discovered that it's been employed by the ever-insightful Nikki Stafford — a usage that I do not in the least mean to indicate is hackneyed since, unlike me, she's not titling all of her Lost posts after Beatles songs.

Once again, I'm posting about the last
Lost perilously close to the airing of the next, but it's been a tough week and my thoughts on just what the alternate timeline is have been hard to articulate. I've been conversing over on Nik at Nite when able, however, and gathered considerable commentary, so before they're rendered either redundant or moot tomorrow let me share my musings on...

Lost about redemption? Is it about whether people, as individuals or a species, can change? Is it about whether they can rise above their baser instincts and cooperate as a productive society? Is it, in short, about good and evil, free will and destiny, and whether those poles correspond?


But last week we also learned that
Lost is, even moreso than we had thought, about love — which in its truest, most overpowering form may hold the key to answering every other question posed.

Jin and Sun's renewed, ardent devotion; the bond between Rose and Bernard; Penny as Desmond's constant; what the loss of Nadia, twice, did to Sayid; how glad we were to see John with Helen in the other timeline; the offbeat, too-brief, terribly bittersweet relationship between Charlie and Claire; the complicated combinations of Jack, Kate, Juliet, and Sawyer/James — all of these were apparently not just
part of the serial drama (or melodrama) but perhaps its point. The question of whether choice can trump fate has been hanging out there for most of the series, along with the conflict of science vs. faith — and even moreso than faith in the Island, now, it seems as if the most relevant, grandest power is faith in deep, soulful oneness shared with another person. Love doesn't just tear down walls of inhibition or bigotry, it tears down walls between layers of reality.

How much filial love is considered on a par with the romantic we don't yet know, but while Michael's sacrifice for Walt, Claire and Kate's devotion to Aaron, and even, I suspect, Christian's relationship with Jack are significant parts of the big picture, it's also worth noting that nearly all parent/child connections spotlighted on the show have been rent apart, whether by death or deliberate abandonment.

Mario Perez photo © 2010 ABC Studios.

As in the Richard focus "Ab Aeterno" we were given one unbroken flashback, except that it was to an alternate past. Unlike the
original flashbacks that the series was founded on, the apparent "flashsideways" scenes this season haven't been memories, and our present-day protagonists haven't been privy to their events — until now.

Many fans were thrilled to get an episode focused on
Desmond, not only because of the, uh, magnetism that Henry Ian Cusick holds for many womenfolk (some menfolk, too) but because we've been told repeatedly that the character is "special" and, indeed, seen why in such episodes as "Flashes Before Your Eyes" and "The Constant". We pretty much knew that we weren't getting the whole scoop on the Island's enigmatic, electromagnetic aura or the altered timeline until dear Des came along. It was almost a bonus that Desmond interacted with such much-missed characters as Charlie, Penny, Eloise, and Daniel.

In Season 3's "Flashes Before Your Eyes" we got a very unique flashback as
(deep breath) Desmond recalled the trip his consciousness took to 1996 in the wake of him turning the Hatch's fail-safe key in 2004 and thus detonating the EM lode whose energy had been kept in check through periodic venting via the all-important button. Whether his "specialness" was caused by the Hatch explosion or predated it, thus helping him survive it, is, I think, unknown — heck, it could be that the specialness was caused by the explosion and predated it, if one subscribes to the theory that all points in time exist simultaneously and affecting one point affects all others, although some upcoming thoughts of mine are at odds that interpretation. At any rate, Desmond's very survival of the EM detonation, and not, apparently, the mental This Is Your Life or limited future sight that resulted from it, is what compelled Charles Widmore to bring Desmond back to the Island and test his EM invulnerability (or at least lack of fatality; clearly, it affects Desmond, just... strangely) with his magic box. One presumes that the electromagnetism helps keep Smokey in check.

While not actually
referred to as a magic box, Widmore's Happy Fun-Time Zapping Chamber™ is the latest in a series of settings to which that rubric, first broached by Ben Linus to John Locke three season ago, could be applied. Others include Jacob's cabin, which many viewers felt the Zapping Chamber resembled, and the Island itself. And the magic-box allusion was just one of this episode's callbacks — a string of which the series has indulged in during its final run, winkingly and otherwise, even beyond the recurrent names, places, and motifs that are bound to crop up in a story involving time-travel, multiple perspectives, and interconnectedness. We got an almost ridiculously chummy Charles and Desmond drinking MacCutcheon together, heard Drive Shaft's "You All Everybody" on the radio, and found Penny (rather than Jack or Des) running a tour de stade, but the most pertinent echos were probably in the dialogue: In Alternate 2004, Eloise dismisses Desmond's dismay at not corralling Charlie Pace for the concert as "What happened, happened," a very different delivery of that line than usual, while in the present Charles Widmore tells Des, after an altercation, "The Island isn't done with you yet," something Eloise had said to him in the Los Angeles church basement doubling as Dharma's off-Island Lamp Post station in the Season 5 episode "316".

Did anyone else, by the way, half-expect Alternate Eloise to command, "The seating arrangement of the last party must be recreated as closely as possible or every last one of us is doomed!"? No? Just me?

Since this is the point at which this post left off when it was first published, and there's still plenty of text to come, I thought I'd break for some haiku. The aforementioned Nikki Stafford, lovely and Canadian author of ECW Press' Finding 'Lost' books, has been hosting haiku jams on her blog since last season, and I first reprinted entries about the mysterious Richard Alpert on this blog almost a year ago. She invited odes to "Happily Ever After" earlier today. Here are my efforts, ending with a trilogy that recaps the episode (and takes the eye-popping Des & Charles AT chumminess even further). Some if not most of these, of course, are hardly haiku in spirit, being shoehorned into the 5-7-5 motif, but the idea is more humor than traditionalism.

All you need is love.
Love is all you need. Well, that
and explanations.

First there is a ring /
Then there is no ring — Not quite
a Donovan song.

"Wait just a moment.
Mmm. Yes. He's quite burnt. All right,
you can take him now."

"Do you have any
metal in your pockets? Keys,
change, watch, sardine tin?"

"I was kidnapped from
the bloody hospital by
you lot. You tell me!"

"Need a ride, lady?"
"I'm pregnant." "And I'm Desmond.
Let's go get a room."

"I had a vision
and felt true love." Yeah, that's 'cause
you swallowed drugs, dude.

"Like this song, mate?" "Eh."
"Well, just for that I'm gonna
drive us off the road."

"Paging Dr. Jack
Shephard. Jack Shephard. Don't just
do something; stand there."

Hawking, Faraday,
Widmore, Milton... So what is
this family's name?

"I think I set off
an atomic bomb and it
changed reality."

"Okay, skinny-tied
Charles Manson pianist,
let's look at your notes."

Sorry, Dan, but your
dream girl has been rooting through
someone else's drawers.

"Can you get me the
passenger list from my flight?"
"Really? No call girls?"

"Desmond?" "Where am I?"
"The Island." "Rassafrassin'...
You bloody bastard!"

"Desmond! MacCutcheon?"
"Charles! Yes, thank you." "So." "Hi."
mwah mwah mwah mwah mwah

"Desmond?" "I'm awake."
"Now, we have to..." "It's okay.
I'm with you." "You are?"

If you're wondering what the thing about the ring is, well, apparently when Desmond met Jack on the plane in "LA X", the Season 6 opener, he was wearing a wedding ring, but there's no sign of one in "Happily Ever After". This has led some to conclude that the Desmond we saw in "LA X" is actually the 2008 Original Des somehow bodily transported onto the 2004 Alternate Oceanic 815, an event to be revisited down the road; the problem with that (besides there not being much road left) is Desmond approaching Jack in the hospital in "Happily Ever After" when Charlie Pace is on the loose and referencing their encounter. And it's not as if the prop department, script supervisors, and producers on Lost have a sterling track record with this stuff, much to the frustration of fans trying to figure out what's a clue and what's a continuity error.

Mario Perez photo © 2010 ABC Studios.

Other big questions about the episode included why Desmond is so gung-ho with Widmore when he awakens on the Island in 2008 and then why he's so compliant with Sayid. My take on the latter is that he isn't following Sayid blindly; he's playing along with Sayid, who has just engaged Des's captors through violence, carefully. As for his calm, enigmatic acceptance of Widmore — himself incredulous at how totally on-board Des was after the EM bombardment — I think it's genuine but that we're missing some information.

Alternate Desmond has found purpose, both in Penny and, I take it from his request for the flight manifest of Oceanic 815, in uniting others with their true loves. Maybe he just wants them to meet and be happy; maybe he's aiming to return history to the way it's supposed to be, where he and Penny are married with child, if he's now aware of the original timeline (OT). Whether after the fainting spell, which seemed to coincide with the return of Original Desmond's consciousness to Widmore's Happy Fun-Time Zapping Chamber™ in 2008, Alternate Desmond has knowledge of the OT beyond what his visions and Daniel's suppositions suggest, I'm not sure.

Original Desmond likewise has conviction, but exactly what he saw in the AT that has him falling in lockstep with Widmore before even hearing him out is unknown. Perhaps he found Alternate Charles so sincere and steadfast that he accepts Original Charles as likewise shooting straight with him and there's no time to waste; perhaps he was so profoundly affected by what Alternate Charlie told him, what Alternate Daniel told and showed him, and what he saw himself that he's not sweating the details; perhaps, and I think this most likely, he saw more than we saw him see and/or he otherwise accumulated special knowledge, and is at least as up to speed as Widmore on what needs to happen to safeguard their timeline if not more.

So why was Alternate Eloise trying to keep Desmond from changing things in that other timeline? Is she not the same Eloise we "know" — at least after a fashion, with some kind of shared consciousness — but rather a true AT counterpart to the OT Eloise? Are OEloise and AEloise at odds in wanting to preserve their respective timelines?

And in "The End" — the officially announced title of the series' final episode — will the love the characters take be equal, as the song goes, to the love they make?

To be continued in another post, since the Internet has been down for so long, with my latest and greatest theory on the alternate timeline...


Teebore said...

That's just a great, great choice of pic for this episode, by the way.

Whether his "specialness" was caused by the Hatch explosion or predated it, thus helping him survive it, is, I think, unknown

You know, I'd never given this much thought myself, but you're right: there's definitely a chicken/egg thing going on with Desmond's specialness and the hatch implosion.

I wonder if we'll ever get a definitive answer as to which came first? I'm betting it's one of those details they leave to us to suss out.

Great stuff, per usual. Looking forward to the conclusion!

word verif: cards. Well, they're, um, cards. That's no fun.

Gillian Whitfield said...

@Teebore : I agree with you completely on there being a chicken/egg thing going on with Desmond. It seems as if there's more to him than meets the eye.

word verification: buggle. A most embarrassing nickname that a mother bug gives her son bug, and calls him that in public.

But it seems as if Blogger didn't like that verification, so fingbot: a finger that acts as a robot.

Batcabbage said...

@Teebore @ Blam: Whether his "specialness" was caused by the Hatch explosion or predated it, thus helping him survive it, is, I think, unknown

You know, I'd never given this much thought myself, but you're right: there's definitely a chicken/egg thing going on with Desmond's specialness and the hatch implosion.

Excellent points, both of you, and it got me thinking about what Eloise said to Des regarding his buying of the engagement ring. He HAS to not buy the ring, because if he does, and ends up married to Penneh, he'll never get Libby's boat to try and prove to Charles that he's worthy of Penneh, and thus never ends up on the Island. Actually, that's got me thinking about the whole 'back in time/reliving the past' aspect of 'Flashes Before Your Eyes'. Was that an alternate reality? I assume that the first time it happened to Desmond, Eloise didn't have a chat with him, he didn't have the constant sense of deja vu. And now with 'Happily Ever After', it seems that Eloise might be some sort of reality hopping marshal, intent of keeping Desmond in this nice, new, 'perfect' reality, warning him against seeking 'whatever you're looking for', saying it's a 'violation'. Has Eloise more to do with the creation of these alternate realities than we thought? Was Des' flashback to that time in 'Flashes' just a lesson from Eloise instructing Des of his importance, his 'specialness'? Was it all set up by her?

Wow. Now my head hurts. AND I've got a cold! AND my word verification sucks! Sorry, I get whingy when I'm sick.

AchingHope said...

Brain. Explodes.

Joan Crawford said...

"Need a ride, lady?"
"I'm pregnant." "And I'm Desmond.
Let's go get a room."

HA! Best one yet. Ah, I love that Desmond."All women are a little crazy, Brotha." Oh, Desmond only you could say that and make it seem like the most endearing thing ever.