Lost 0611 – Desmonds

So Desmond wakes up, and apparently he hasn’t been quite conscious since we last saw him, when Benry attacked he and Penny.

Is it me, or is this the first time Jim Robinson has actually been civil to Desmond? He seems generally nicer this season, doesn’t he?

Widmore’s people are planning to run a test using our Mr Hume, but first it’s suggested that there may be some rabbit death. But there’s a bit of scientist slapstick with a lever that ends with some hapless red-shirt getting burnt to shit by a catastrophic electromagnetic event before that can happen:

Apparently Jim Robinson does know the meaning of the word sacrifice. He mentions losing his son to the island – I’m wondering whether that’s something we’ve seen before, as I can’t immediately recall it. He suggests that Desmond is going to be asked to make one, for the sake of the whole world. At some point after they give him the Doc Manhattan test. Because apparently he’s the only person who’s ever survived a catastrophic electromagnetic event, back when all of his clothes got vanished off and the hatch blew.

They run the test, and instead of him turning blue and showing off his winky, we’re flashed across to Desmond in what appears to be the other version of the Lost universe, at the point when flight 815 arrives in LA:

He’s working for Widmore, who apparently loves the fuck out of him here:

Hm. Widmore’s asking him to babysit Charlie, who has some connection to Widmore’s son – who is alive in this version. It becomes apparent that Desmond isn’t with Widmore’s daughter in this alternate. Actually, Penny hasn’t been mentioned at all, yet. Widmore offers him scotch – I’m pretty sure it’s the same scotch he’s previously said was worth more than Desmond’s life – but this time out, nothing’s too good for Desmond. He is, apparently, worth it.

Charlie, it turns out, is an obnoxious, whiney dick. I applaud the showrunners’ attention to detail, as this is pretty much how we met him in the first place. In fact, Charlie was a pretty big dick right up until the day he died, wasn’t he?

Aww, Charlie saw a blonde vision – maybe Claire? – as he was dying on the plane. And he’s right… Jack is a bloody idiot!

Desmond frames Charlie’s situation as a choice, which is a cool nod to his attempts back on the island to save Charlie from his fate. And once again, Charlie forces Desmond to watch him drowning. This time, he manages to save him.

But not before Charlie flattens his hand to the glass, and Desmond flashes on the last time he saw Charlie back in the reality that we’re so used to.

Taken to hospital after the incident, Desmond is forced to have an MRI, which triggers more of the flashes, this time keyed around Penny Widmore. Before the flashes start, Desmond is given a panic button – the word “button” clearly causes him some concern.

Nobody will give Desmond any help when it comes to finding Charlie, but OH LOOK there’s the bloody idiot himself! Interestingly, Jack and Desmond recognise each other, and neither acknowledges the fact that Desmond seemed to vanish on the flight, which makes me wonder whether it’s going to be addressed, or treated as just a gap in our knowledge.

Finally he finds Charlie, who is insistent that none of this reality actually matters. Charlie seems to be quite in touch with the weirdnesses that are going on, and oh, goodness I just remembered that Widmore may have been Faraday’s… that Faraday’s mother and Widmore had something going… hang on. Now I can’t remember what I remember.

So Faraday’s mother is Eloise, we knew that, right? But now she’s Eloise Widmore? That’s not a stretch, I guess, and that makes Daniel Faraday Daniel Widmore? Did we already know all this?

And… Penny Milton? What? What? Eloise Widmore knows more than she should. Which immediately makes this alternate seem like it doesn’t fit my thoughts, or any of the others I’ve heard. Eloise, by the way, suggested that Desmond had got exactly what he wanted, which does tie a little into at least one theory I’ve heard, about the alternate being the met wishes of our Lostees, but unless Eloise is working in cahoots with the nonLocke, or the Other masquerading as Locke was working through her in both realities, it still isn’t clear what’s going on.

Of course. Of course it would be a Desmond episode that started things unravelling. Daniel Widmore sees someone at the museum? I’m guessing Charlotte? And then suddenly he’s writing things down that he could only have known from our original Lost reality?

This show is fucking awesome, is what it is. Fucking, fucking awesome.

It looks like everyone Desmond meets seems to be struggling with the dual realities. Both Charlie and Daniel are equating the breakdown of the walls between them and their alternate realities with love, and that’s poignant, because it was the mention of Penny that got Desmond going and…

And Desmond is about to have the exact same first meeting with Penny that he had with Jack in our reality. She is his constant, and I guess so is this place.

All it takes to send Desmond back to the old and dirty reality is meeting Penny, but something weird happened there. At the beginning of this flash sideways, Desmond was completely at home with that version of himself, which suggested that this wasn’t our Desmond in continuity – that is, as with the other flashes throughout the show, Desmond wasn’t experiencing the flash as a flash – only the viewer could see what was happening. By the end, though, it seemed fairly clear that when Desmond came round, he remembered everything the Desmond in the flash had experienced. So even if he wasn’t consciously aware of the dual realities during the flash, when we came back to the prime reality, the Desmond who had just gone through the massive electromagnetic experiment remembered everything that we had just seen.

This isn’t the first time Desmond has broken the mould with the flashes. He just gets few enough episodes that it’s always noteworthy when it happens…

Desmond wants to help Widmore, now – a lot can happen in twenty minutes.

Luckily, just when it appears everything is going to go smoothly for someone, Sayid turns up – lovely, tormented, beautifully curly Sayid – and kills some dudes. He tells Desmond he’s in danger, and he has to leave, and Desmond, oddly, says that of course he’ll go with the Arab adonis.

And then he flashes back to the other reality, with Penny on the steps. And then he asks his driver – George, who we’ve seen before, on Widmore’s first boat to the island – to get him the passenger manifest for Flight 815. When asked what he wants it for, he says that he needs to show them something…

But what?? It’s probably no accident that he used similar terminology to Charlie’s, moments before Charlie forced the two of them off the road. It seems clear that Desmond intends to try and show the Lostee’s counterparts in the alternate reality that there is another world – the “real” one. But how he intends to do this, I don’t know. Perhaps he’ll take a page out of Charlie’s book, by getting them all on a coach and running it off a pier?

The more it goes on, the more it feels like, even if the actual incidents don’t seem to be piling up in the “wish-powered alternate reality” corner, the exposition reveals seem to be preparing the ground for that particular narrative endgame, and if that is the case, my disappointment won’t be because I’ve been wrong about it all along, so much as because as I’ve said before, I prefer this show when it veers more toward science-fiction than science or theology-fantasy.

Not that it matters, at this point – nothing anybody hopes for can probably change what the showmakers have planned for the final few episodes, and it’d be crass of me to try and suggest that I won’t love the last few episodes if they continue the high quality of this one, with it’s twisty turns and it’s “oh wow” moments for the fans. I’m not a particularly demanding TV viewer, and will forgive the show a finale that doesn’t do what I want it to, balanced against all the hours of enjoyment it’s given me where it did.

I think I’m just a bigger fan of the questions than I am of the sorts of answers that I’ll probably get – in a show like Lost, the questions are where it thrives, and many huge and interesting ideas hide within them, and all the typical TV resolution of those questions can ever mean is a closing down of possibilities – a reduction of the theories down until only one or two can exist. To me, that means that the show will go from the sort of entertainment that has something for everyone – at least within quite a wide band of viewing individuals – to one that by necessity will start to exclude some of those individuals in the final few chapters.

You don’t have to do that when you close down a mysterious story – some of my favourite books and films of the last few years leave major questions unanswered – but even the most masterful of writers falter at the point where they try to provide resolution to a story that thrived best in the areas where it dealt in ambiguity and ideas – the key example I can think of at the moment is “His Dark Materials” by Phillip Pullman, or almost any of Stephen King’s longer works, like “It” or “The Stand”.

It’s testament to how well made this show is, and how great most of the actors are, that Desmond episodes, which are nearly always the catalyst for one or t’other of my theories to be thrown out, what with the timey-wimey magicifying effect he has on the show universe, are also among my favourites, and always knock my socks off. Whatever that means.

Anyway, so episode 10 is done, and we’re clearly on the final lap. This episode was a giant step in the finale’s direction, I reckon, and it was lots of fun. But more Hurley next week, please!