The writers have used Desmond to answer so many questions and move so many storylines forward over the years: what's in the Hatch?...the Dharma Initiative...pressing the button...course correction...Jughead...how time travel in the LOST universe is going to work...etc, etc.
So, it's no surprise that when it came time (or past time...but we will address that later) to tell the audience what the Sideways timeline means, and to connect it to what is happening on the Island...it happened in a Desmond episode.
Let's get to it...
- We pick up a few days after Ben shot Desmond in the groceries back in Dead is Dead...Widmore and his team apparently snuck Desmond out of the hospital. Widmore promises Desmond that both Penny and little Charlie are "perfectly safe"...so, I wonder whether Penny got a visit from dear old Dad, or if he just stole her husband and whisked him away to Craphole Island without telling her?
- Widmore can't imagine how Desmond must be feeling about being brought back to the Island. Luckily, Desmond doesn't require him to imagine it...he lets him know how he feels about it by implanting his IV pole in his forehead. "How about now, BRUTHA??? Do you know how I feel NOW???"
- "The Island isn't done with you yet!" Same thing Eloise told him when he stormed out of the Lamppost back in "316". Desmond tried to argue that he IS done with the Island...doesn't look like that argument worked.
- When did they set all of this electromagnetic "test" stuff up? I know that some of it was already there as part of the Hydra station, but that's still some pretty quick work.
- The rabbit's name is Angstrom...according to Lostpedia, "Rabbit" Angstrom was a recurring character in the works of John Updike that follow the themes of life, death, and redemption.
I love this show, and I love the FANS of this show. How many other TV shows actually make you smarter?
- Nice to meet you, Simmons! Nice red shirt you have on there!
- Not sure what Widmore was checking for when he had them stop with the body on the way out, unless it was just to confirm that it was the radiation burns that killed him.
Either way, it wasn't very reassuring to Desmond, who immediately (and understandably) starts freaking out.
Those two henchmen really worked him over to get him into that chair...and Widmore tells him, "I know how this looks".
Really, Charles? DO you? Because it looks to me like you kidnapped Des out of the hospital, took him away from his family and brought him to the one place in the world he never ever wanted to see again, and now your henchmen are beating the crap out of him and tying him into a shack where he just saw the last inhabitant pulled out looking like a piece of bacon.
Is that about right?
- So who "told" Widmore about Desmond's unique qualities? Could be Eloise, or maybe Daniel.
I have a question...do we know whose side Widmore is actually on? We can assume it's not Smokey, after their conversation last week...but is he on Jacob's? If we assume that Ilana and Bram are/were on Jacob's side, what do we make of Bram telling Miles that he is on the "wrong side" back when Miles was about to go on Widmore's freighter? What if Widmore is on his a THIRD team, and Jacob's dying words to Smokey, "They're coming", was actually a warning about Widmore and his people coming for BOTH of them?
What if Jacob and Smokey represent the yin and yang of "faith", or the spiritual realm, and Widmore represents "science" in the whole "Man of Science, Man of Faith" theme that we have seen through this entire show?
- Slight nitpick...how did they put this wooden shed together without using any nails? Did they use wooden nails? Otherwise those magnets would rip this thing apart.
-WIDMORE: "That man is the only person I'm aware of, in the world, who has survived a catastrophic electromagnetic event. I need to know that he can do it again, or we all die."
So, apparently, Widmore is planning on using Desmond and the pockets of electromagnetism on the Island in the war against Smokey...any ideas as to how?
- Magnets go on, Desmond gets all fiery and radiated, and then we see....clouds, blue sky, and then Desmond checking arrivals. I think we actually traveled with Desmond's consciousness there, which is pretty cool.
- There are so many awesome little call back moments in Desmond's Sideways story that I'm not going to try to point them all out...but I did like the "protective" vibe that Desmond was throwing at Claire, since so much of their time together on the Island involved Desmond protecting Claire and her bay-bay.
And I totally thought that Desmond was "aware" of both timelines when he told Claire she was having a boy. Instead, I think it was just one of those "cracks" that we have seen several times (Jack and Kate recognizing each other, Claire knowing the bay-bay's name is Aaron, etc).
- Desmond may not be aware, but I totally think George Minkowski is...and that is awesome.
For those who may not remember, Minkowski was the radio operator on the freighter who was the first one we saw experience the nosebleeds and eventual death that came from the same Consciousness Travel that Desmond does...he died for the lack of a Constant. Maybe this means he has one now? Michelle Pfeiffer, maybe?
By the way...how awesome has Fisher Stevens' life been? Dated Michelle Pfeiffer at what was assumed to be her peak (who knew she was just going to get hotter as she got older), had a great and pivotal role on the greatest television drama of all time, won an Oscar as the co-producer of The Cove....plus, Short Circuit!
His bucket list is DONE.
- As most of us figured out as soon as Desmond referenced "The Boss", he is working for Widmore.
Couple of interesting decorations in Widmore's office: a model of a sailing ship that looks a little like one might take on a boat race around the world...and a painting of a set of scales, balanced by a white rock on one side and a black rock on the other.
The painting, especially, tells me that Widmore is definitely a character who knows what is going on in the "big picture", in both timelines.
- Widmore is REALLY selling how happy Desmond is supposed to be: "You really do have the life, son. No family, no commitments, ahh to be free of atttachments..." Toasting him with the McCutcheon's that Desmond couldn't even DREAM of tasting in the original timeline..."I am blessed to have you in my employ"..."NOTHING'S too good for you"...
Is this like some version of "The Truman Show", or the Matrix? An artificial reality where everything seems to be as it should be, but it's really just a distraction designed to keep our characters from realizing that something isn't right?
Let's put it like this...I think that somebody REALLY wants Desmond to accept this Sideways timeline as the way things are "supposed" to be, and not question it. We see that later with Eloise, but is Charles in on it, too? And if so, what does that say about Charles' motivations?
I honestly don't know...luckily, we probably don't have to wait very long to find out.
- There have been moments in every Sideways story where our characters have caught reflections of themselves in the mirror and seem transfixed by what they see there...Desmond's came as he was walking toward the courthouse door. He sees his reflections and seems to slow down a little to get a better look.
Of course, if I looked like most of the people in this cast, I would be checking myself out in the mirror ALL the time.
- Charlie takes off across the street, right through traffic...knowing what we know from his later conversation with Desmond, I think he is acting out of hopes for another near-death experience, rather than a belief that he can no longer die.
- If this IS a reality designed to make our characters think they are happy, it's working on Desmond. "Why WOULDN'T I be happy" is how he puts it to Charlie.
- Nice job by Dom Managhan in his description of what he saw in his near-death experience on the plane...to me, you could see Charlie almost remembering Claire...almost tasting the peanut butter...good stuff.
"I've seen something REAL. I've seen the TRUTH". Not this false reality that we are surrounded by...the TRUTH.
Not to mention that this is the FIRST confirmation that we've gotten that these two timelines can be CONNECTED somehow. Finally.
- Desmond: "There's always a choice, brutha."
I think that somebody...maybe one person, maybe all of them...are going to have to make a choice between these two lives. And there are pros and cons to both of them, for every one of these characters, even the ones who are dead in one of them. Charlie, for instance, can choose this life in which he is, you know, ALIVE, or the other one where he has met Claire....the number one item on his "Greatest Hits".
- Charlie yanks Desmond's car into the ocean, hoping for another glimpse into the other timeline. And then....one of my favorite scenes of all time, as Desmond starts flashing back to the LAST time he was on one side of the glass and Charlie was on the other, and Charlie sacrificed himself for his friends.
You know what emotion I felt more than any other, at least the first time I saw it? Relief. FINALLY, we are going to start tying these two worlds together.
Now, the second and third times I watched it, there was a lot more emotional kick...got a little dusty in here.
By the way...I don't think Charlie saw anything when he was under water. He was trying to get back there, but I don't think he did.
- Not a single emergency contact for this Desmond...just his boss. Think he's been isolated on purpose?
- Was that a little tinge of panic I heard in Desmond's voice when the tech told him he needed the button? "The button?"
- TREE-MENDOUS job by Henry Ian Cusick when Desmond was in the MRI machine...using only his eyes, he showed us fear, love, amazement, and ultimately...panic.
And, yeah, as they flashed through his and Penny's life together, I got a little teary again. Shut up.
- Does Jack work ALL THE TIME?
Was it just me, or did Jack seem to find it a little odd that so many of the Flight 815ers were in his hospital? Think maybe he's starting to put it together, too? He has definitely had the most obvious "cracks" in the realities until this episode...the cut on his neck, the appendectomy scar that he couldn't remember, his seeming to recognize Kate.
- RUN, YOU LITTLE HOBBIT!
- "None of this matters. All that matters is that we felt it."
Is that a commentary on the whole Sideways timeline? That it's not the "how" or "what" that we should be paying attention to, but instead the emotional payoff that's coming?
By the way...I don't think it's "all about love", as I've seen some commenters say. I think it's all about the connections between these people...those connections that we've seen since all the way back in those Season 1 flashbacks, when all of the Losties kept popping up in each other's lives.
- So then Desmond goes to meet Eloise and her hair.
- And immediately Eloise drops one of her typical "double meaning" quotes on him..."It's about TIME."
Man, if this was two seasons ago, I would be writing a three paragraph theory about time loops, casimir effects, etc, etc...but I think we've learned this season that the time travel aspects, while admittedly awesome and one of my personal favorite parts of the show, are just a side dish.
- She also throws in a "What happened, happened"....of course.
- She is awfully nice to Desmond, isn't she? Until...Desmond hears the name "Penny" (MILTON, by the way) and wants to see the list.
That's when the Eloise that we all know and love shows up and, as usual, pulls back the curtain for us.
VERY interesting how she puts it to Desmond: "Someone has clearly affected the way you see things. This is a serious problem. It is, in fact, a violation. So, whatever you’re doing, whatever it is you think you’re looking for...You need to stop looking for it."
A violation? Another reference to there being "rules" to this game.
And she wants him to stop looking...stop rocking the boat...plug back in to the Matrix and pay no attention to the Man Behind the Curtain.
Man...this just got AWESOME.
- Wait...it just got MORE awesome. Cause here's Daniel Faraday, still rocking his skinny tie.
- So Charlie saw Claire because he had a near-death experience, and Desmond started seeing flashes in his own traumatic experience (and continued them when exposed to electromagnetism).
All it took for Daniel was just to SEE Charlotte (eating her chocolate again, probably before dinner...the naughty little minx).
- I know this is super-long already, but let's stop here for a second. Remember, in the original timeline, Daniel was on his way to possibly becoming a musician until Eloise stopped him and instead pointed him towards his new destiny...one that would end with him starting the "Jughead" plan in motion before getting shot by his own mother.
In that scene, where Eloise tells Daniel he can't be a musician anymore, she comes out of the kitchen visibly upset after speaking with someone on the phone. So...who was she talking to? And is that moment actually when the two timelines started diverging? In one, Daniel is a musician, but in the other he is a doomed scientist who starts the chain of events that leads to Juliet blowing up the Island.
I think there is more to come on that in future episodes...
- Jeremy Davies is perfect as Faraday...loved the delivery on the line after Desmond asks him what his drawings mean: "I'm a musician. I have no idea."
- "Imagine something terrible is about to happen. Something catastrophic, and the only way to stop it from happening is by releasing a huge amount of energy. Like setting off a nuclear bomb."
This refers to Jughead, right? Well...what if it also applies to what is going on right now on the Island? We know Widmore is looking for those pockets of electromagnetic energy on the Island...is the something "catastrophic" in fact Smokey's escape from the Island? And Desmond is going to have to somehow be the one to stop it, by releasing that energy? And is that related to the "sacrifice" that Widmore said he was going to have to make in order to save the entire world?
- Yet another chills-inducing moment...Penny running the same stadium steps that Desmond was running when he met Jack, and also the last place that Desmond and Penny saw each other before he left on his "race around the world".
- And now Des is back on the Island, apparently with a much deeper understanding of what is going on in the "big picture". Now he's apparently ready to do whatever Widmore needs him to do.
Skipping ahead a couple of scenes, when Zombie Sayid shows up, kills one of Widmore's men and then inexplicably lets Zoe go (what was up with that?), Desmond willingly goes with him, too. Almost TOO willingly. Does he maybe understand that Widmore is only working for himself, and was only pretending to cooperate? Or is he just buying time because he know that the REAL work is happening in the Sideways timeline by alt-Desmond?
I don't know...it just seemed strange to me.
- Back to the Sideways...Penny doesn't seem very nervous at being propositioned by a perfect stranger in the middle of an empty stadium. I will just chalk that up to her feeling the same "connection" that caused Claire to trust a gun-wielding psychopath to accompany her to the home of her bay-bay's prospective parents.
- George is DEFINITELY not just a limo driver. "Hey, can you get me the manifest for the flight I flew in on?" "The manifest? Oh, yeah, I sure can. Anything else?"
- "I just need to show them something".
As you can probably tell, I LOVED this episode. I still have tons of questions, and I still think we should have gotten this episode at least three weeks ago, but I am digging the fact that we finally have some relevance assigned to the Sideways, and now I feel like both timelines are kind of "caught up" with each other in terms of significance. From here on out I think it's going to be nothing but forward momentum, both on-Island and off.
I promise, I wrote this recap before listening to the excellent Zap2It podcast with Ryan McGee, Mo Ryan, and James Poniewozik....Ryan makes the same comparison I do in bringing up both The Truman Show and The Matrix. I highly recommend checking it out, as well as all of the other awesome LOST coverage over at Ryan's LOST blog on Zap2It.