Key Points from "Happily Ever After"
Season 6, Episode 11
Episode Air Date: 04/06/10
Have you ever taken a really challenging class? Or maybe you forced yourself to read a book that was just outside your intellectual comfort zone? It's taxing and invigorating at the same time, right? You can actually hear your brain working.
That's how I feel right now. It's also how I felt after what I believe is the series' best episode, "The Constant." And the fact that Desmond was the lead in both episodes is surely not a coincidence. At this point -- and I'm oddly comfortable with this conclusion -- Desmond is the most important character on the show.
Think about that for a second. A guy who wasn't in the first season at all and who dropped in and out in subsequent seasons, and -- this is the real kicker -- has only appeared to date in a cameo role in the all-important final season ... that guy is the lynchpin. This is precisely why I love this show. It's bold. The writers want the narrative to be hard.
Along those lines ... I'm not going to pretend I fully understand what just happened. I've got a few ideas, but really, I'm walking blindfolded around an alien room right now. But it's a big room with padded carpet. And it's got lots of cushy furniture and nicely rounded edges. So this little excursion is gonna be fun.
Let's get to it.
First things first: we can now confirm that the Desmond we saw sitting next to Jack in "LA X" was the real Desmond. Well, he's a real Desmond. Given what we learn in this episode, he's not precisely the Desmond we've come to know over the years. But he's most definitely real. He's an Alt, just like Alt Jack, Alt Locke, Alt Sayid, and all the other Alts we've met.
Interestingly, Alt Desmond is a far cry from his island counterpart. He's the most diverged from all the Alts. Where Island Des is devoted to true love and his dear Penny and little Charlie and all that's romantic in the world, Alt Des is an unattached bachelor whose only meaningful relationship is with his boss ... some old guy named Charles Widmore.
But Alt Des shares one important characteristic with his Island self: they're super-receptive timeline conduits. Jack, Kate, Sawyer and the other Alts stare blankly into mirrors and wonder about scars. Desmond, however, actually sees flashes from the island timeline. For example, a near-death experience with Charlie -- an alt-timeline variation on the pair's final moments on the island -- burns the phrase "Not Penny's Boat' into Alt Desmond's brain. And later, during an MRI, a burst of electromagnetism fills Alt Desmond's head with images of Penny -- a woman he doesn't even know in the alt timeline.
Now, if you'll excuse a brief tangent into devil's advocacy.
I realize that our view into Alt Desmond's world is considerably different than what we've experienced with other alt characters in season six. For starters, Island Desmond is "sent" to the alternate universe. That dissonant chunka-swoosh-chunka alt-timeline music is also noticeably absent. It's entirely possible Alt Desmond isn't in the alternate timeline at all, or there's some other to-be-revealed variation.
But for the sake of clarity and sanity, I'm going to put discrepancies aside and assume that Alt Des is just like the other alt characters, except more attuned to the vagaries of timelines.
Moving on ...
It seems to me that we're finally learning how the alternate timeline works. As we've all discussed in past weeks, it's clear that the alternate universe is not simply a representation of life in a world where Oceanic 815 safely lands. I initially thought the flash-sideways segments were showing the characters' worlds had Jacob not intervened, but that doesn't feel exactly right anymore.
In this episode, Alt Faraday (now a musician, not a physicist) theorizes that a massive burst of energy somehow changed their lives. And that's certainly something we witnessed, but perhaps in my own feeble deconstructions I've been focusing too much on a definitive moment of change. Maybe the alternate timeline isn't an either-or proposition, but rather a sort of wave that drifts over characters at different stages in their lives and gradually creates alternate realities.
It also appears that a doorway between the timelines opens -- or "leakage" occurs -- when a character on either side is near death. So far, Alt Charlie is the only one who's gone down that road and returned to tell the tale (he presumably saw/felt/sensed Claire when he almost choked to death on Alt Oceanic 815). Juliet seemed to experience something similar on the island just before she died. And I wonder if Alt Sun might experience the same thing now that she's got a bullet in her gut.
Desmond experienced a little leakage of his own (I need to come up with a better phrase, I know), when he and Alt Penny first touched. But I'm chalking "touch activation" up to the whole Desmond-Penny constant thing, not some sort of universal touching rule. Alt Sawyer and Alt Charlotte did plenty of touching. The only leakage they experienced came from ...
Yeah, let's move on.
I jotted down a number of other notable bits and pieces from this episode's considerable alt timeline scenes. In no particular order:
-- I had a feeling George Minkowski would reappear. It always seemed odd for Fisher Stevens to have such a small role. The man was in "Short Circuit," for God's sake! And now that Alt George is doing Alt Desmond's bidding, I'm guessing we'll have him around for a while.
-- Does Eloise Widmore (nee Hawking) have the same ability as Desmond? She appears to be the only person in the alternate universe who is fully aware of another world. Yet, she doesn't share Desmond's desire to poke holes in the timelines. She actually refers to Desmond's meddling as a "violation."
-- I can't believe I never asked this question before, but who is Penny's mother? We know that Widmore and Eloise got together and had Daniel (both in the island timeline and the alternate universe), but have we ever received any info on Penny's mum? And doesn't that seem odd? This is the same woman who was at least partially responsible for Widmore's exile.
-- Speaking of the Widmore family tree: why did the original Daniel have the last name "Faraday"? And why does Alt Penny use the last name "Milton"?
-- If Penny is Desmond's constant and Desmond is Faraday's constant, what happens if they all get together in one room?
-- So, Desmond is going to use the Oceanic 815 flight manifest to track down passengers and "show them something." Let's hope he can find a visual aid that's slightly less traumatic than a near-death experience. And please, please let him visit a guy named Ethan Rom. Just for kicks.
I know it'll never happen, but I would love to see a Widmore-centric episode. There's just so many questions surrounding this guy. How did he rise to power on the island? How did he amass his off-island fortune? And most importantly: Whose side is he on?
He would seem to be on Team Jacob, but he also has his own agenda. I certainly don't recall Jacob suggesting any of his candidates fire up a decades-old electromagnetic Stargate in order to save the world. Ol' Jacob strikes me as distinctly anti-tech, with the weaving and the Unabomber shack. But Widmore? I bet he got iPad No. 001.
Also, what are we to make of the Widmore-Desmond alliance forged at the end of the episode? Is that legitimate? Des seemed awfully catatonic, and that was against Zombie Sayid. And how will Alt Desmond's actions impact Island Widmore's plans? Will those work in tandem, or will one wipe out the other?
A few closing questions and observations:
- Best Line: "Why are you accosting a man in a dressing gown?" -- Charlie to Desmond.
- Second Best line: "I don't want to set off a nuclear bomb. I think I already did." -- Daniel to Desmond.
- Is Los Angeles full of people running Tour de stades in the middle of the night? We've seen Jack, Desmond and Penny all huffing their way through this ridiculous exercise.
- I now understand why "Flashforward" went on a three-month hiatus: "Lost" sucked away two of its stars.
That's all I've got!
"Everybody Loves Hugo" -- Hurley gets a deserved moment in the sixth-season sun. Airs Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 9 p.m. on ABC.
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