We have to say, this episode's return to full-on science fiction was a huge relief after being bombarded with so much mystical mumbo-jumbo this season. Sure, the conflict between Jacob and Smokey is intriguing, but like seemingly a lot of the viewers, we'd be pissed if the entire series came down to two demi-gods having an argument.
Additionally, it was also a huge relief to finally see some payoffs on the so-called "alternate" timeline. The audience has been getting twitchy for a while now, wondering why the hell we're spending all this time on a timeline where none of the events of the last 5 seasons appear to have happened. Of course "payoffs" don't necessarily mean "answers," at least not on this show. But at least we're asking more interesting questions after last night's game-changer. We'll get to those questions in a bit.
With the opening shot of the episode we groaned out loud. Is Zoe not the most annoying Lost character of all time (not counting Bai Ling)? Discuss. In fact, Lorenzo said "I can't STAND this character," and Tom replied, "Ah, she'll be dead in the next two episodes. Ten bucks she gets shot in the stomach, like half of the female characters do when they die." Gotta hammer that womb symbolism, doncha know.
So Desmond wakes up on the island and reacts with a beautiful-to-see twitchy-lipped rage which he proceeds to take out on Charles with an IV stand. We go back and forth on Charles' supposed villainy. Was he so awful to Desmond all those years because he didn't think him worthy of his daughter or because he needed him to go on a certain path toward a certain destination, and all his villainous machinations were a means to that end?
It seems most fans of the show would agree that one of the all-time greatest episodes of Lost was "The Constant," the one where Desmond was flashing back and forth on his own personal timeline and was going to die if he couldn't get Penny to agree to be his constant. It ended with one of the most emotional and iconic scenes in the show's 6-year history: the hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck, lump-in-the-throat, "I will find you, no matter what." "I love you" phone call between Penny and Desmond.
Clearly, this episode owed a lot to that one, but there was another Desmond-centric episode that dealt with similar concepts: Season 3's "Flashes Before Your Eyes," and we think last night's episode was as much a callback to that one. In fact, we think the writers did a little sleight of hand last night. You were meant to think of "The Constant," but they were really dealing with the concepts in "Flashes Before Your Eyes." Just as the former gave us the important concept of a constant, the latter gave us the equally as important concept of "course-correction."
In "FBYE," Charles treats Desmond with such disdain, he won't even allow him a sip of his MacCutcheon scotch, deeming him unworthy of it. In "Happily Ever After," Charles is all hugs and handshakes with Desmond, freely pouring him his scotch and openly telling him how much he means to him. In "FBYE" Eloise impatiently informed Desmond he wasn't ready to propose to Penny, ensuring that Desmond wouldn't attempt to alter the timeline. In "Happily Ever After," Eloise impatiently informs Desmond that he's not ready for ...something, and essentially tries to convince him, again, to not attempt to alter the timeline.
See, it's that "course correction" concept that we think is going to play a huge part in the coming climax to the story. And we think last night's episode subtly turned the entire idea of an alternate timeline on its head. Here's our theory: there is no "alternate" timeline. There is only one timeline. The characters we see in the "alternate" timeline are not different versions of the characters we know. They're the same people, existing not in an alternate timeline, but an altered one. Desmond wasn't jumping back and forth between parallel universes or alternate realities last night, he was doing what he's done twice before on the show: jumping back and forth on his own timeline except it was altered at some point by some event. The reason so many 815ers keep inexplicably running into each other in L.A. is because of what Eloise told him back in "FBYE": The universe has a way of course-correcting. The altered timeline is "wrong" and the universe is attempting to correct that by bringing the people responsible for it together to "fix" it.
This ties into our other theory that the altered timeline is what happens to the world when Smokey escapes the island. Think about this: through the power of love (cue Celine), Desmond remembers a timeline with Penny, Daniel remembers a timeline where he loved Charlotte, and Charlie remembers a timeline where he loved Claire. None of the main characters are experiencing the grand love affairs they had in the original timeline: Not the aforementioned characters, not Jin and Sun (who are unmarried and in a world of hurt), and not Kate, Jack, Sawyer or Sayid. But who DID get to reunite with the love of his life in the alternate timeline? Locke. Kinda strange, wouldn't you say? The show wants us to believe that the timeline got altered when Juliet set off the bomb, but we still maintain that it got altered by Smokey's upcoming escape.
This post is once again about to collapse under the weight of too much theorizing, so before we get to the bullet points, we want to single out Dominic Monaghan who gave the best performance he's ever given last night. The rapturous look on his face as he described his vision of Claire was touching and a little sad, since we know that if the timeline is "corrected," he's going to be dead. In fact, it's notable that three characters have gotten full glimpses of the original timeline: Desmond, who's supposedly different because of his exposure to massive amounts of electromagnetic energy, and Charlie and Daniel, who are both dead in the original timeline. It seems that death, or near death experiences has something to do with people getting glimpses.
* "The island isn't done with you yet." Y'know, we can't help noticing how often people attribute their own agendas to "the island." It's the Lost version of "the devil made me do it"
* D.A.N.G.E.R. N.E.R.D.S. IN SCIENCE ACTION! "Go in there and check the circuits on the solenoids!" We're telling you: they need to develop a D.A.N.G.E.R. N.E.R.D.S. spinoff cartoon for Nickelodeon.
* In the altered timeline, were Charles and Eloise on the island like the Linuses were? Why exactly does Eloise seem to know so much? "Someone has clearly affected the way you see things. It is, in fact, a violation." Like Desmond, it seems she also has the ability to bounce around the timeline. How else would she have been able to do what she did in "FBYE?" How much does Charles know in the altered timeline? It's notable that in his office, there is a painting depicting a scale with black and white stones on it, just like the scale in Smokey's Mystery Cave.
* Daniel was apparently allowed to continue the piano lessons denied him in the original timeline. He also seems far more well-adjusted without the burden of the repercussions of his experiments, which pretty much drove him crazy for a good chunk of time
* Altered-timeline Desmond is free of attachments. Is this really something Desmond wanted? Did he really desire Charles' approval more than anything? No, actually. It was something he was trying to change about himself. That, in fact, was his "journey" in this story, going from the man who fucked up his life so bad because he ran away from one girl, joined a monastery, met another girl, ran away from her and joined the army, met up with her again, and ran away to sail around the world. Desmond's whole journey has been about embracing the "attachments" that come his way rather than running away from them. Like fugitive Kate in the altered timeline, this is a Desmond back to square one.
* Everyone in the water! When the car crashed in the water we first thought it was yet another subtle callback to an iconic event, in this case, the whole Looking Glass station scenario that resulted in Charlie's death. It was a true Lost "Holy shit!" moment when the callback went from subtle to overt with the flash to "NOT PENNY'S BOAT."
* The stadium scene was a cute role reversal of the original scene between Penny and Desmond in S2's "Live Together, Die Alone." We have to say, Henry Ian Cusick and Sonia Walger have an insane, off-the-charts chemistry with each other. You really believe they're two people in love.
* "I just need to show them something." So Desmond is going to be the catalyst to bringing all the survivors together in the altered timeline. And then what? Convince them all to get MRIs so they'll remember?
* What is the important thing Desmond has to do on the island? Why does Sayid "rescue" him? Why does Desmond go with Sayid right after he agreed to do Widmore's bidding? What's the sacrifice he's supposed to make? Oh, Lost. How we wish we could quit you.
[Photo Credit: abc.go.com/shows/lost]
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Labels: Lost, Lost Season 6