Wednesday, April 7, 2010 815 (or fewer) words: "Happily Ever After"

In the beginning of the season 5 finale, "The Incident," we saw Jacob weaving a tapestry that many of us believed could represent the strands of fate. And right now, more than halfway through the final season of Lost, we're again witnessing weaving--only now we know it's the weaving of two worlds together.

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

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:

real space
imagine time

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] 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!


April said...

I am exactly where you are. The puzzle pieces are all there and the image they are producing still has huge holes in it but I can see it coming together. This episode excited me in ways I can't even describe. When I saw the stadium, I sat there yelling "no way, no way!" even though it wasn't all that shocking after everything we have seen so far. Suddenly "see ya in another life brotha" doesn't just seem like something Desmond says but something real.

Oh, Eloise.... quite the puppetmaster. She knows something. She is awfully concerned that Desmond was going to find Penny because I think she knows when he does that everything will change.

I never thought this story was at all about love - with the smoke monster and the Others and time traveling and alternate universes - who would think it's all about LOVE but I think you're right. Love will be the driving force that motivates our losties to set things right even though it means that all that bad stuff that happened on that island, will be real again.

Anonymous said...

George (Minkowski) wasn't pushing the button- he was on the freighter:

Sarah said...

This episode was amazing! I agree that I dont know what it means yet, but I see the pieces of that puzzle starting to fit together.
I watched this episode twice last night just because there was so much to take in.

Charlie spoke of the girl he saw being rapturously beautiful and also said just before I was “engulfed” , I opened my eyes. This language seems to refer back to the biblical rapture- which speaks of the world being destroyed by fire or engulfed in flames.

I believe the structure Desmond was trapped in during the experiment is called a Faraday cage. Wikepedia can explain that a lot better than me.

The rabbit was called Angstrom. Anders Angstrom was a Swedish physicist who was prominent in the field of spectroscopy. Again, Wikipedia can explain that concept a lot better than me, but it seems to have something to do with electromagnetism.

I thought it was interesting that Charles and Eloise were married in this reality, and yet Penny and Daniel are only half siblings. Since Eloise was pregnant with Daniel on the island that means he is older than Penny, and he carries the Widmore name, while Penny got Milton for a last name.

And speaking of Milton- John Milton wrote Paradise Lost. The poem concerns the Christian story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton's purpose, stated in Book I, is to "justify the ways of God to men"[2] and elucidate the conflict between God's eternal foresight and free will.- ( And yes, I just copied that directly from Wikipedia)

When Eloise was talking to Desmond she told him that someone obviously had changed effected the way he saw things , and that was a violation. So obviously this world has rules that govern it as well. My Husband mentioned getting a “Matrix” vibe from this scene.

Also, whe Eloise told Desmond that he got the thing he always wanted- her husbands approval; I think she was referring to the Desmond in the other time line- the one who already had Penny but not the respect of her father.

If Charlie saw Claire while choking to death- does that mean Claire is also dead? I know this has been theorized about before, so do you think we just got confirmation from the writers?

Notice Eloises jewelry? She had on a large pendant that looked like a mirror and two broaches that look like stars. While its probably not related I couldn’t help but think of how in Peter Pan, Neverland was the second star to the right, straight on till morning.

Am I wrong, or did Daniel Widmore sound completely different than Faraday? I mean his speech patterns and phrasing seemed totally different. No weird pausing or cadences. He seemed, well, almost normal.

Desmond seemed fine with having to die to save everyone after seeing Penny in his flash, um, sideways? I noticed that the flash sideways music didn’t play during the scenes with Desmond in Los Angeles- wonder what that means?

I do think that is the sacrifice Widmore expects him to make- I think that’s what Zoey was about to say right before Sayid showed up in the woods. She lead off with something to the effect of its doesn’t matter anyway because you have to… and then was interrupted . I think the rest of that sentence is “die anyway”.

Well, that's all I have. :)

michael said...

CALLED IT! *does happy dance*

But seriously, folks. I think Desmond thinks that the "sacrifice" he's going to be asked to make is to be trapped in the Sideways world. He sees that he has a chance to be truly happy there.

Also, regarding love, if the Christian theme is to be considered, it does make sense. According to Jesus, the Commandments boil down to two things: love God above all else, and love thy neighbor. He may not have preached that "love conquers all" or that "love can be the means of opening doorways to parallel universes," but the foundation is there.

Sayid scared the CRAP our of me last night. But Desmond didn't seemed fazed at all. Is his brain really that fried, or does he have some sort of plan? Either way, I cheered when he beat the crap out of Widmore with the IV stand.

This might have taken the place of my favorite episode so far, and not just because of the plot advancement. We got Desmond, Faraday, AND Charlie! I hope it lasts.

The one thing that I'm not sure of is, how can Desmond be the one person to have survived a catastrophic electromagnetic event? We have a whole host of time-travelers, who were there with Desmond when the Hatch imploded, AND who were there at Ground Zero for the tag-team Incident/Jughead detonation. This could take some time to sort out.

michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
April said...

Sarah - wow what an incredible comment.

I didn't even catch that Penny's last name was Milton last night - probably all the "OMG WOW DID YOU JUST SEE THAT?" texts I was sending to my friend - and I certainly wouldn't have figured out the connection to the poet though I have read Paradise Lost and love it. Now, I need to read it again. Thanks for that!


@ Anonymous: Thank you! I think I mixed up my "ski" people (Radzinsky vs Minkowski). Good catch!


@ Sarah: Wow, great observations! I had been wondering abut the rabbit's name too (I had thought it as Engstrom, and was disappointed when I couldn't find any info about this online--I'm glad you figured out it was actually Angstrom!) My ears perked up, too, when I heard that Penny's last name was Milton. I'm also curious about this "violation" that Eloise mentioned. Not sure that Claire is dead because Charlie saw her as he was choking--he also saw Jack, and Jack is alive/real. And yeah, Faraday sounded much more focused/less stoneriffic this time around! :)


@ Michael: Ooh, I love your theory on how Desmond will be asked to sacrfice himself by staying in the Sideways world. Very cool thought!

I couldn't tell if Desmond was looking all goofy and gooey-eyed becuase he had just become so enlightened or because he'd somehow become infected by Sayid. I hope it's the former! I don't think there's any place for Desmond on the dark side.

I'm with you--this may be my favorite episode so far this season. I still get chills just thinking about it! But yes, they definitely need to deal with the question of how Desmond was the only one to survive a catastrophic electromagnetic event when there were so many others who were still alive after the Hatch snafu as well as operation Jughead. I'm curious as to how that all works out, too.

michael said...

Sarah, I don't think what Desmond was in classifies as a Faraday cage. A Faraday cage is a cage made of wire mesh that blocks all EM signals larger than the holes - radio waves, for instance. If you were in a Faraday cage, for instance, a radio or a cell phone would not be able to receive or transmit any signals. The device was two giant solenoids, used to generate very specific electro-magnetic fields. The room may have been a Faraday cage to protect anything on the outside, but it served a different function.

Looking back, I think Eloise, as a physicist of unspecified genius, may have already figured out what happened. Either that, or she has always been much more involved with the Deus ex Island than just a person who was able to find the darn thing. Either way, she knows what's what, and to her, opening holes in between the two worlds is not a good thing.

Also, regarding Daniel, he seems normal because he is. Remember his experiments that put a girl in a vegetative state and drove him insane? They never happened! And, I'm assuming because the Island sank (still waiting for an explanation - were people like Widmore or Eloise ever aware of it in Sidewaysland?), Eloise didn't need to pressure her son into Physics in order to save the Island, so he got to do what he wanted.

Still waaay to many questions! I hope against hope that when all this is over, the writers or JJ or SOMEBODY in any official capacity sits down and writes a book (or books) that explains just what in the name of Walt is going on. That failing, I'd settle for a book by Doc Jensen.


@ Michael: I've heard the producers say that after the show ends, they're not gonna explain anything...but I don't buy that for a second. ;) But damn, if Doc wrote a book about Lost, that would be all kinds of awesomeness!

Dave said...

Once again, an excellent post! I agree - I think we are finally starting to see some of the puzzle pieces come together, if ever so slightly. I'm surprised no one brought this quote up yet - "'Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all", Alfred, Lord Tennyson. What do you think - Can you see it having any relevance to our favorite show?? I definitely think it has some merit. I really can't wait to see how the island world and sideways world time lines are resolved.


Thanks, Dave! Yep, I can see how that quote relates to Lost. But I think Juliet--she of the "If I never met you, then I would never have to lose you" sentiment she spoke of in season 5--might disagree with that statement. :)