In little bits and pieces over season 6, we've seen small fragments of Island World bleeding over into Sideways World, flashes of deja vu, moments where characters seemed to have knowledge of their Island lives. This has never been so pronounced until now. "Happily Ever After," while not action-packed, gave us a lot of insight and clarity into the big picture. I can't say that I know what this show means yet, necessarily, but I do feel like they're driving us to realize that, surprisingly, one of the main important themes of this show is...love.
You wouldn't necessarily think Lost is a show about love. We've seen a lot of lost love--loved ones getting killed, loved ones being separated from one another. But the point that the show seems to be making after this episode is that love is somehow the motivating factor for everything that's been happening and is perhaps also the driving force behind whatever still needs to happen.
Charlie showed up in Desmond's Sideways world to get him thinking about whether or not he was happy and to urge him to look for something. In the poignant scene underwater that mirrored Charlie's death scene at the end of season 3, Desmond started being reminded of Penny--whom he had not yet met in the Sideways world. Charlie, who crashed the car into the water because he knew he needed to show Desmond something, understood that Desmond needed to realize that he had to find Penny.
Eventually Desmond ran into Faraday--er, that's Daniel Widmore, actually--who, after telling him about his own experience with love (his love was a redheaded girl with blue eyes...paging Charlotte Staples Lewis!), Faraday revealed that Penny (whose last name was Milton in this world, not Widmore) was his half-sister...and told Desmond how to find her. (On the topic of Faraday and love--it seemed like his mother had a more selfless love toward him. Despite the fact that, in talking to Desmond, she mentioned "It's about time!" with a very knowing look, this time it isn't all about time for her--at least not where it concerns Faraday. here, he plays piano--which is what he'd wanted to do--and he is not a physicist, despite the fact that he is genius-level at some physics-related things. These are things he's seemed to explore on his own, not things he's forced to explore--and abandon his own passions in the process--by his mother. And speaking of his mother, she's definitely a Mrs. Widmore here--not an ex of Charles Widmore, as we've seen in the island world.)
To find her, Desmond went back to a place we've seen before: the stadium where he met Jack on the bleachers in the episode where he first told Jack "See you in another life, brotha!" Only this time, it wasn't Jack who was there (side note: we did see Jack in this episode, though--as a doctor in the hospital where Desmond was being treated and Charlie was running amok through the hallways clad in a hospital gown and checkered sneakers). This time, it was Penny jogging through the bleachers. They appeared to be equally smitten with one another, and they made a date for an hour later.
Before they made that date, though, Desmond "fainted." We saw him back on the Island, where we'd seen him in the beginning of this episode, in an experiment run by Charles Widmore. Widmore was trying to confirm that Desmond could withstand a large amount of electromagnetic energy--the type of energy that other human beings could not survive. Desmond made it through the experiment...only to follow an infected Sayid away from Widmore and his crew. Hmmm...
Also before the Penny/Desmond date happens, we see Desmond asking Minkowski (in this episode, this was the driver Widmore hired to take Desmond around, but where we've seen Minkowski before is in the freigher--hat tip to Anonymous regarding this!--with Desmond) for the manifest for Oceanic 815. Desmond, his two world bleeding almost seamlessly together, seemed to be inspired by whatever happened to him as a result of the experiment Widmore conducted on him. On-Island and in the Sideways world, he knows his purpose is to "show them [the other folks from 815] something."
So what is it, exactly, that Desmond can show them? He seems quite enlightened and seems to have a deep understanding of what this is all about. If I'm right and this is all about love, Desmond seems to understand that love is the driving force behind everything. But since Desmond is special somehow in that he can't seem to be killed by crazy amounts of electromagnetism, it's not like he can get the others to hop into Widmore's little experiment to become similarly enlightened--they'd all end up dead. So what's he gonna show them--and how will he do this? He understands he needs to make a sacrifice, some sort of action that will prevent everything and everyone ceasing to exist. How's he gonna make that sacrifice by tromping off with Sayid into the jungle (after, according to Zoe, "that goddamn thing fried [Desmond's] brain)?
In terms of the mirror image-related stuff we've been talking about for weeks now, I noticed plenty of things along that theme. Charlie always seemed to love Claire deeply--in this episode, he was telling Desmond about the blonde he saw on the plane as he was choking on the bag of heroin he swallowed in the Sideways world. Similarly, Faraday, who always seemed to have a deep love for Charlotte, mentioned the redhead he fell in love with in the Sideways world. Also, Desmond and Minkowski worked together in this episode, like they had before. It may not always be about love, but it absolutely seems like some of these characters are always, always, always meant to be connected somehow, no matter what. And no matter what, McCutcheon's always plentiful. Other parallels: Button-pushing (MRI machine vs. hatch)! Asking Desmond if he has any metal on him!
I also found many, many, many of the characters' conversations significant tonight. It was like every sentence was a loaded one--loaded with insight. For instance:
Charlie, about how he felt when he'd fallen in love with, presumably, Claire: "It was like it had always been--and always will be." And then: "I've seen something real. I've seen the truth." And then later: "None of this matters. All that matters is that we felt it. ...Start looking for Penny."
Mrs. Widmore (Eloise) to Desmond, on looking for Penny: "I want you to stop. Someone has affected the way you see things. You need to stop looking for it..." and "It is a violation." (I want to know more about whose rules this violates, and how it violates them!) This sort of reminded me how Eloise treated Faraday in the non-Sideways world--being rude to Teresa because she affected Faraday's work, his purpose, his studies about physics and time.
Mrs. Widmore also told Desmond that he got "the thing [he] wanted more than anything--[her] husband's approval." I wasn't buying that. Desmond, in the Sideways world, appeared to lead an empty life, devoid of personal relationships. I don't buy that his boss's approval is the thing he wanted most. I think the thing he wanted most is the thing he never knew he wanted and needed: Penny.
Faraday to Desmond: "It was like I already loved her [presumably Charlotte]...and that's when things got weird." Then we got a glimpse of Faraday's notebook, which, as best I could see, said:
That looked significant as hell. But--what does it mean?
Faraday to Desmond: "What if this wasn't supposed to be our life? What if we had some other life and, for some reason, we changed things?" And then: "I don't want to set off a nuclear bomb. I think I already did." (Actually, he didn't. But he tried to! As did Jack! And then it was Juliet who finally made that damn Jughead work!) And then: "You feel it...[which mirrored a lot of what Charlie was telling Desmond earlier in the episode]...you felt love."
Faraday to Desmond, regarding Penny: "She's an idea." And then: "She's my half-sister...and I can tell you exactly where and when to find her."
Penny to Desmond: "I must have quite an effect on you. Have we met before?"
Desmond: "If we had, we'd remember it" (or something like that).
But Desmond does remember it, even if he's not entirely clear on that. In the scene underwater with Charlie, he remembers Charlie's hand" NOT PENNY'S BOAT." While getting the MRI, "memories" of Penny flashed through his head, so much so that he had to push that button to make the procedure stop.
I really enjoyed this episode because I feel like it's finally all coming together. I can't see the finished puzzle yet--not by a long shot--but I'm beginning to get a sense of where the pieces go. I thought the Desmond/Charlie, Desmond/Faraday, and Desmond/Penny scenes were all fantastic--and the Desmond/Minkowski scenes made me smile. There's much more of a sense of cohesion now than there was in the beginning of this season, and I'm starting to relax a little more, trusting the writers and producers that they really do know what they're doing with this crazy story, and starting to truly enjoy the ride.
Dear readers, what did you think of "Happily Ever After"? Are any of our favorite characters going to get a happily ever after? What do you think Desmond needs to show everyone? Talk to me in the comments!