I’m feeling a little bit like Desmond right now. I have a glimpse of what the writers of Lost are telling us. I can touch it with my fingertips, but then it slips out of reach. I have a vague idea of what I want to say, but I can’t quite articulate it.
This episode felt like a whirlwind of new information, and all of it is swirling around in my brain. We got so many new clues, the characters started having lightbulb moments, and it finally felt like the writers might really be trying to wrap this thing up.
Let’s start with Desmond and the experiment Widmore was performing on him. We know that Desmond has a special purpose on the island and now we know that is because he is the one person who can withstand the energy of the island without being fried like a death row inmate in an electric chair.
The experiment seems to put Desmond back in the same state where we found him several seasons ago after the first time he came in contact with the energy of the island. He is flashing back and forth from one reality to the other without the ability to comprehend what is happening to him.
This time, Charlie, in all of his crazed determination to kill himself, seems to be the one person who gets it. He gives us a tiny explanation of the bigger message of the show. If the passengers on Oceanic 815 were being pushed to the island against their will, what is free will anyway? As Charlie explained to Desmond, sometimes a choice isn’t really a choice.
If the benefits of going one direction are clearly better than the alternative, then is it really a choice? But Charlie is finally ready to make the unreasonable choice.
He would rather die to experience what he had on the island then make the reasonable choice to go on living in this new reality that they created. He even seems determined to kill himself in the same way that he died before by forcing Desmond to drive his car into the Ocean.
Daniel shows up and explains that he has a perception that they got to a point where they all had to make the ultimate choice. Would they sacrifice themselves and do something completely unthinkable for the greater good?
When the Losties set off the nuclear bomb, they also seemed to have pushed a reset button on their lives. Now, they have attained the one thing they thought they always wanted. For Desmond, that would be the approval of Charles Widmore. When Eloise told Desmond that he finally had what he always wanted, I felt like she had somehow given him a “perfect” life so that he wouldn’t be unsatisfied and start looking for what was missing.
Both Eloise and Widmore keep reminding Desmond that his life is “perfect” — perfect job, no commitments, gets to travel the world — but he is lacking the excitement, joy and even the pain of his previous life with Penny.
It was great to see the lives of so many of the characters starting to intertwine off island: Desmond, Charlie, Jack, Charles Widmore, Eloise, Daniel, George Minkowski and Claire. Didn’t you love Jack’s look of disbelief when Desmond told him he was looking for a patient who was on the flight with the two of them?
Minkowski, by the way, shares with Desmond the past experience of having his mind travel through time, eventually resulting in his death on the freighter in the arms of Desmond. I wonder if George also was starting to get a glimpse of that other life when he told Desmond he would do whatever he needed him to do.
The characters are starting to remember what was and what would have been if they hadn’t set off that nuclear bomb. Charlie saw Claire. Desmond saw the message on Charlie’s hand and then Penny. Daniel saw Charlotte.
Only Eloise and Charles Widmore seem to be aware of what is happening in both of their parallel existences. So, does that make them more powerful than Jacob and the Man in Black. Are they controlled by the forces on the island? Or is the island controlled by them? Or maybe they ARE Jacob and the Man in Black. Who knows.
I think they wanted to make sure that Desmond did not reconnect with Penny because she was his constant and will be again. And the same is probably true of Daniel and Charlotte. As soon as Desmond and Penny made physical contact by touching hands, his mind flashed back to his island existence.
On the island, he seems to no longer care about making choices or trying to decide what to do. His eyes have glazed and he is content to go where he is told to go and do what he is told to do, without questioning or fighting.
First, he agrees to help Widmore, but as soon as Sayid comes along, he follows him. I’m not sure if he has accepted his mission, if he has a new sense of faith and is following along, or if he has completely lost his mind.
Off-island, Desmond wants to locate everyone else on that flight. I’m guessing that each of them also has a constant and once they find it, they will be able to remember their other life. Charlie will find Claire. Jack will find Kate. Sawyer will find Juliet. And then what?
Before it seemed that their other life, the one “controlled” by the island, was full of pain and misery and needed to be changed. But at the same time, they found something on the island —whether it was love, a purpose, a leadership role, a mission, or health.
Without the island, they supposedly have free will. For many of them, their other lives seem more pleasant, but at the same time mundane. It’s as if they have gained security, but given up a life of adventure. Which is better?
The nuclear bomb apparently is some type of loophole to Eloise’s statement that “what happened, happened.” But now that they changed what happened, will they leave it that way? Or will they be able to change it back? Or will they be able to re-create the relationships they left on the island in their alternate reality?
I can’t believe we only have five more episodes to figure it all out.