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THINGS I NOTICED - Happily Ever After
Like most fans, I've always looked forward to Desmond-centric episodes. He's given us action, sorrow, loss, laughter, heartbreak, triumph, and probably the most popular love story in all of LOST. But in retrospect, Desmond's episodes have repeatedly given us something even more important: startling, game-changing revelations about the show.
Flashes Before Your Eyes, The Constant, Jughead - these episodes changed the very way we viewed things, and each of them sent our story spiraling in all new directions. And now, with Happily Ever After, Desmond's last episode does a lot more than just answer a few questions. It maps out a detailed blueprint as to what's going to happen in LOST's home stretch, as well as stopping to hint at subtle things that might've been staring us right in the face all along.
For six years we've wanted answers. Ready or not, here they come. Things I Noticed:
LOST Island... Headwound Capital of the Universe
As cool as Widmore's been these last few days, it was good to see Desmond deliver a nice, old-fashioned skull-crushing beating. He deserves no less for dragging Des back to the island, even if it was to save the known universe from imploding. He took his lumps, but he also reminded us of his own sacrifice, which looking back now seems fairly substantial. The only difference is that Charles Widmore chose to sacrifice these things for the good of the island, whereas Desmond did not. Not yet, anyway.
Widmore's overall attitude has definitely changed since he arrived on the island. In the past we've seen him manipulating anyone and everyone in order to make his way back. Now that he's here, Widmore seems to have adopted an open and honest approach to solving the last few pieces of the puzzle. Even if he's not giving Desmond or Jin all the answers at once, it doesn't seem as if he's hiding very much either. It also doesn't seem that he's lying - and after watching nearly six seasons of LOST, we can all pretty much consider ourselves experts on that subject.
Someone Get Me a MidiChlorian Count, STAT!
With the introduction of Zoe and Seamus, things have taken a markedly scientific turn on LOST. Monsters and mystical daggers have given way to laptops, gauges, dials, generators, and a giant pair of solenoids that must've been strapped to the sub's roofrack. Charles Widmore is cranking up more than his timetable as he jacks the gauss controls from his reluctant henchman. Seamus' hestitation to throttle up the generator was pretty funny when compared to the switch-happy co-worker who fried poor Simmons.
Electromagnetism has always been a part of LOST, and that's okay. I just hope it gets used sparingly, and not as an excuse to strip away the awesome mythology and mystique they've taken six whole seasons to build. I have no problem with introducing some science to counteract all of the recent faith... but if they start going all Lamp Post calculation and Valenzetti Equation on us, I for one will be sorely disappointed.
Although Widmore used Simmons' death-chamber as a test for Desmond, it's not too big of a stretch to say he's looking for a way to kill or stop the smoke monster. Whether he'll try to lure him in there like General Zod or just blast some giant electromagnetic pulse across the island, I guess the end result is still the same. Superman or Matrix, choose your poison.
Let Me Offer You My Driver, Mother!
The Desmond/Claire scene established a few things, the first of them being that I was wrong in my assumption about LA X. Turns out Desmond was on Oceanic Flight 815, and apparently he didn't know Jack at all. Here we see him vaguely begin remembering something as he stares at the arrival/departure board, but as always he's pulled back to reality before anything substantial can happen - this time by Hurley.
If Desmond's offer to Claire seemed overly friendly, maybe it's because he vaguely remembered her too. Being around each other seems to serve as a catalyst for remembering things when it comes to characters who've shared time on the island. Jack remembered Desmond on the plane, Ben cocked his head in recognition at Alex, Kate stared pointedly at Jack... all through season six these little flashes of acknowledgment have been happening. Later on this episode Charlie would cause Desmond to not only remember, but even to flash back temporarily to his pre-LAX life. This would eventually prompt Desmond to ask Minkowski for the flight manifest , as he somehow realizes getting everyone together for a Flight 815 reunion will help to further enlighten them all - Desmond included.
It was cool to see Minkowski again, too. Initially he seems overeager to help, but in a sleazy limo-driver-who-gets-kickbacks kind of way. By the end of the episode however, my opinion of him totally changed. George Minkowski, like Abaddon, is more than just Driving Ms. Daisy here. Minkowski is in the loop. Minkowski is like Charlie, like Keamy, like Charlotte... like many of LOST's other characters who've died in the island's timeline, and who are now a more 'knowledgeable' part of the LAX universe. His offer to help Desmond "with anything he might need" seemed a little loaded to me.
The Scales of Justice... Balanced with Backgammon Chips
Here, in an overly-gushing scene where I thought they might actually give each other a handy, Charles Widmore is singing Desmond's praises to a shot of 60-year old MacCutcheon's whisky. This isn't just a clap on the back for a job well-done... it's pure, unadulterated, unfiltered appeasement, designed to keep Desmond pacified and questionless in the LAX timeline. Yet whoever manufactured or created this reality to keep Desmond happy doesn't know him very well, because when it comes to what makes Des tick they forgot one all-important thing: LOVE.
As much as original Desmond desired Charles Widmore's blessing, the purpose for wanting such approval was always Penny. That purpose is absent here, in the LAX timeline. Desmond's new gig keeps him happy only up until Charlie points out how purposeless and meaningless his existence really is. It's Charlie who shows Desmond what he's really missing - a life with Penny and his newborn son - and it's Charlie who oversteps cosmic boundaries to get this message across. That "violation" Ms. Hawking mentions later on? It's all on Charlie, and it's probably going on his permanent record.
Look at the way Widmore speaks to Desmond in this scene. He talks about being blessed to "have him in his employ" (almost as if he has him in his pocket), and speaks about how "indispensable" Desmond is. He even goes above and beyond normal praise, making sure to reinforce how happy Desmond should be to be free from commitments and attachments.
Widmore is pulling the wool over LAX_Desmond's eyes, here. He needs him to not question things, and to not dig too deeply into any emotions that might remind him of his prior life with Penny. This gets reiterated by Ms. Hawking later on during their own conversation together, but in this scene it's important to note how adamant Charles gets about Desmond flying solo - and staying that way. LAX Widmore and Hawking remain on the team that wants to keep things status quo. They want things to happen they way they're "supposed to", possibly just to keep the loop going.
School's In... and Charlie's Teaching the First Lesson Underwater
Desmond's arrival at the police station cues up the requisite mirror scene, in which he sees a reflection of himself. From this point forward things change, and truths resurface. More specifically, Charlie brings about these changes in Desmond... from the moment he walks untouched through busy traffic - without a care in the world - to the second he jerks the wheel of Des's car into the depths of that marina.
At the bar, the first thing Charlie does is ask Desmond if he's happy. It's like he's testing the extent to which Charles Widmore and the new timeline has brainwashed him. Charlie corrects Desmond by telling him he doesn't even remotely know what happiness is, and then goes on to tell of the life-altering experience he had while slipping into unconsciousness. He also tells Desmond he's seen "something real", and goes on to tell him exactly what it is: the TRUTH.
All of these are elements we've talked about - in both my recaps and your comments - over the past several weeks. The mirrors reflecting back the truth... the water acting as a catalyst... the flashes of remembrance between the LAX and island timelines, brought about whenever these people run into each other. Charlie solidifies it all here, finally laying it out as undeniable fact. He calls Desmond out as a glorified babysitter, laughs at his 'perks', and hints toward his entire LAX 'life' being nothing but a pipe dream.
In talking about Claire, Charlie gets taken away to another place. "I know her. We're together. It's like we've always been, and always will be". Charlie's being totally candid here, and we all know it. Desmond however, still needs more convincing. This is where Charlie offers Desmond a choice, while driving along to DriveShaft. But it's also where Charlie violates the rules... taking that choice away from Desmond only seconds after giving it to him.
The underwater car scene, with Desmond's chilling revelation, was absolutely incredible. I think what made it a hundred times better was the absolute cessation of sound or music as Desmond saw NOT PENNY'S BOAT scrawled on Charlie's hand. Desmond's face was worth a thousand words, and I felt like a huge piece of the puzzle just locked into place, for both him and for us.
Charlie knew. He stepped beyond the scope of the rules to show Desmond. He didn't allow Des the choice to see things for himself, he flat out took control of the situation and gave him the answer.
This is a FIRST. It's also huge moment for LOST. It verifies that people outside of the 'game' - people who've died or gone over to the other side - are somehow in the know about things. Up until now, we've only seen these people permitted to push or nudge things in the right direction, the way Charlie did to Hurley during The Shape of Things To Come. Here however, Charlie wipes his ass with the rulebook. His flagrant foul gets called later on by Hawking, but at this point I'm not so sure Charlie even cares. He sits back in his seat, satisfied that he conveyed his message, expecting to die as he knows he's supposed to. And for one last time, Desmond saves him.
Get Me Out Of Here Before I Smother, Brotha!
As much as water acted as a catalyst for Desmond's cross-universe visions, so does electromagnetism. The MRI he receives at the hospital triggers even further memories of his life with Penny. LAX_Desmond is almost fully converted... he's gone from a non-believer to someone desperate to hook up with the woman he somehow knows he loves, all in the span of just a few hours.
After cornering Charlie for more answers, Desmond gets clued in a bit further. "This doesn't matter", Charlie tells him, gesturing to the new, foreign life that's been thrust upon them both. "None of this matters. All that matters is that we felt it."
Does this mean the LAX timeline doesn't matter? Not at all. Charlie's telling Desmond that he's barking up the wrong tree. He advises Desmond to stop worrying about rock concerts, Widmore's errands, and inconsequential bullshit. This is exactly the same as when Rose and Bernard told Sawyer, Kate, and Juliet to stop worrying about bombs, guns, and time travel. Penny is what matters. Love is what matters. Realizing that you have everything that you ever really wanted right there in front of you? That's what matters.
Let Me Course-Correct This Butter Knife's Place in the Universe, and I'll Be Right With You...
Desmond's latest encounter with Ms. Hawking is immediately dripping with hint-laden dialogue, and her initial face betrays how shocked and totally unhappy she is to see him. Like Widmore, she's doing everything to keep Desmond from remembering stuff. She jams "It's a travesty we haven't met before" down his throat rather quickly, in hopes he doesn't recall their meeting at the ring shop.
Truth be told, Hawking could care less whether Drive Shaft rocks her charity ball. What she's most concerned about is keeping Desmond away from Penny, and possibly away from her son Daniel as well. She's relieved to hear Desmond's only crisis involves not signing Charlie up for the gig, and she dismisses quickly him with a nice "What happened, happened". Unfortunately for her though (and thanks to Charlie) Desmond now recognizes Penny's name when he hears it.
Hawking's entire demeanor changes as she pulls Desmond aside, knowing that the jig is up. She tells him to 'stop' but remains obscure; she can't even tell him exactly what it is he must stop doing. Hawking is beyond pissed, and not at Des. She makes it known that someone's "changed the way" Desmond sees things, and that doing so was a violation. We know Charlie is the responsible party here, and that by helping Des remember he just tossed a huge wrench into Hawking's works.
Eloise continues with something even more revealing: that Desmond should be happy because he has a "perfect life", and the one thing he always wanted: her husband's approval. The idea that she would know this seems to span both timelines, because it's within the island-based universe that Desmond sought Charles Widmore's blessing. It also shows a serious error in judgement in thinking this was the one thing Desmond wanted "most of all". That honor goes to Penny, but these chumps haven't figured that out yet.
So let's deconstruct this for a moment. The fact that Desmond's pre-LAX needs have been taken into consideration seems to indicate we're seeing a manufactured reality. Someone or something has constructed the LAX universe based upon what it thought Desmond - and possibly every other character - would want.
Just take a look at Daniel, now a musician. Certainly his mother would remember her young son's only desire was to play the piano, and now we see him placated by having grown into a talented pianist. The only problem is that Daniel is not happy or placated, because running into Charlotte has reminded him of his past life. This causes him to go physics-happy all over a perfectly good notebook, prompting an investigation of his own.
So who created this new universe? We've always assumed it was Juliet, setting off Jughead with that rock. Yet someone has definitely stacked the deck here. Someone with intimate knowledge (or scanning?) of our main characters has tried, in a very Matrix-like way, to create the perfect utopia for each and every one of our heroes.
In a careful, calculated manner, someone has been trying to give our LAX characters exactly what it thinks they want, but at the same time, keep them completely in the dark about what happened in their previous, island-based lives. They're using happiness to suppress past memories, but love is the one thing that wasn't counted on. Is is so often the case, Love overrides everything else, spoiling the plan.
Daniel (Widmore) Faraday... Because Someone Still Needs to Represent the Skinny Tie
As if two mega-important conversations weren't enough for Desmond this episode, he goes and has a third with Daniel. Here's where our minds get even more blown away, because Dan starts talking about nuclear bombs and alternate timelines without ever having knowledge of such things. Being a musician and not a physicst hasn't slowed him down a single bit.
Many people have speculated that the LAX timeline is the correct one - the timeline that should've always been. Faraday squashes this theory, telling Desmond that the LAX timeline is actually the aberration. Much as the Oceanic Six timeline was described to be, their current timeline is still NOT right.
In Dan's opinion, they once had another life... but something happened to change things. He describes something catastrophic in the original timeline that needed to be avoided, with the avoidance of this event spinning off a whole new universe. Dan and Desmond now exist in a timeline that shouldn't really be, yet a timeline that was created out of necessity. Somehow, Daniel even knows that he's already set off the bomb.
Now, this isn't to say the LAX timeline still won't end up as the final timeline of the show. In fact, Desmond moving to correct not knowing Penny seems to indicate that it certainly might. Our LAX characters have fixed a hell of a lot of major problems in each of their centric episodes, and they may already be off the island to boot. Sticking around and finishing out their lives here might not be such a bad thing... if only they can slip out from under the thumb of those forces still manipulating them.
It's About Time Sayid Snapped Someone's Neck Again... That Hiatus Has Been Way Too Long
Not much else to say. It was interesting that he spared Zoe, but I guess someone needs to let Widmore know what happened.
Are The Stadiums Open 24/7 In Los Angeles? Because in NY They'd Toss You Out On Your Ass
The number of cool, touching scenes between Desmond and Penny are unfairly balancing the rest of the show's love interests. Watching his future-wife run her Tour De Stad, LAX_Desmond is fully and wholly converted, finishing the job that Charlie started.
Desmond faints, and his mind transitions unconsciously into the island timeline. Hopefully by now this shouldn't surprise anyone. What is surprising however, is that Desmond takes his memories with him.
Maybe it's his exposure to electromagnetic radiation - in both timelines - that allows this to happen. Maybe it's because he and Daniel act as each other's constants. Maybe it's just a plot point necessary to the last few episodes of the show. In the end, none of that matters. The only thing that's important is that island Desmond now seems to retain some or all of LAX_Desmond's knowledge. He's doing Widmore's bidding because he believes his assertion that everyone and everything will cease to exist should they fail. Yet at the same time, Desmond's smile betrays a whole lot of hope. The way he was grinning, it was almost as if he knew everything would be alright - whether it be in this life or the next.
Happily ever after, right? Sure. Except there's one thing that should still bother us: the sacrifice Widmore mentions Desmond must make. I've got a sinking feeling that sacrifice might just be his son, Charlie. If Des and Penny walk off into the LAX sunset, baby Charlie doesn't exist. Just like Widmore and Hawking, Desmond and Penny would have sacrificed a child to the island. Let's hope the writers and producers love Des as much as we do, so this doesn't have to happen.