There's nothing like a Desmond episode to warm the heart of even the worst Lost skeptic, and trust me, I really needed it after last week's Sun & Jin episode spent an entire hour spinning its wheels. With Desmond and his time-flashes and his special relationship to the timelines back in the picture, it really seems like we're moving somewhere, and tonight's episode managed to stuff a ton of plot, some delicious cameos and even a touch of daddy issues into an extremely tight and engaging hour of TV. If this is the pace we're working with for the remaining six episodes, I may even forget about wasting 5 minutes last week watching Sun unbutton her cardigan.
As it turns out, I have a lot more questions coming out of this episode than I do answers, but the answers are a lot of the BIG ones about the last few episodes, and seem to be setting the stage pretty clearly for, yes, yet another season finale that revolves around people blowing something up. Except this time, we know it won't be a cliffhanger-- at least, not unless they want rioting in the streets the next day.
Why did Widmore bring Desmond back to the island? Because he's planning another Incident, and since Desmond is the only person he knows of who survived the first one, he'll probably be the key to pulling it off this time. It's notable that Widmore seems to have softened considerably toward Desmond, but whether or not that's because he needs the guy or that he's honestly changed his mind now that Desmond and Penny are happy together, we don't know just yet.
Why is Zoe investigating electromagnetism? Because a giant burst of energy, just like Jack and Faraday predicted when they set off the bomb last season, is what it will take for a course-correction. That bit of information actually comes in this week's adventure in the alternative universe, when Desmond runs into Faraday-- Daniel Widmore, actually, in this world where his parents didn't split up post-island and may have never even been there. Faraday realizes in a dream state that, once upon a time, he set off a nuclear bomb to change universes. And now he thinks it needs to happen again.
How will the universes finally unite? This question has been driving me crazy for weeks, and we've finally got an answer that part the usual Lost "find your constant and your purpose," and part Harry Potter "love is the greatest power of all." The first part of the answer came from Charlie, who had a vision of Claire as he was on the verge of death and realized that, even though she was a stranger, he had loved her in another life. Charlie then tries to crash Desmond's car to give him the same experience, and near-drowning, Desmond flashes both to Charlie's "Not Penny's Boat" hand message and Penny herself. The final piece of the puzzle is Faraday, who glimpsed Charlotte from afar and had the same feeling as Charlie. What is all seems to equate to is that love-- soulmates, really-- is the connection between the two universes, and Desmond and Faraday are determined to get back to the loves they don't have now by telling the rest of Oceanic 815 about it. We'll see how that goes over with Sayid, who has his love in this timeline but not the other one.
Will Desmond ever get any MacCutcheon's whiskey from Widmore? In this alternative universe, yes-- Desmond isn't Penny's beloved but Widmore's right-hand man, whom he tells "nothing is too good for you Desmond." It's a touching moment, really, even if we know it's coming at the expense of Penny and Desmond not being together yet.
Why is Desmond so blissed out toward Widmore when he wakes up on the island? Sure, in the alternative universe he and Widmore are pals, and his encounters with Charlie and Faraday demonstrated that some serious electromagnetic activity is about to take place, but Desmond hates this guy. Is this going to be one of those things like when Sayid woke up in the temple and just wasn't quite the same? And speaking of Sayid…
Why did Desmond just peacefully go along with Sayid? Especially when he just shot a dude at point blank range, and especially when Desmond just seemed to peacefully accept that he was part of Widmore's mission. Is he just bound and determined to make this super complicated for everyone?
What on earth was Eloise Hawking/Widmore going on about in the tent? As she's always done when appearing to Desmond in alternative universes, she spoke in cryptic warnings-- "I want you to stop." "It's a violation." "Whatever it is you think you're looking for, stop." But how much does she know in the alternate universe, and what is Desmond looking for that she's referring to? In the alternate universe he's clearly looking for the Penny he saw in the vision, but in life he's always been looking for Widmore's approval, and in this world he has it. Eloise, why can't you talk straight for once!
So, electromagnetic pulses cause you to remember the old timeline? As do near-death experiences? As does true love? It all seems a little fuzzy, but then again, so did the notion that the Oceanic Six had to "recreate" the circumstances of the original crash in order to get back to the island. This may be a slightly vague sci-fi concept that we just have to go with.
How did Desmond connect his experiences to the other 815 passengers? And what does he plan to tell them? When Desmond runs into Jack at the hospital while on the hunt for Charlie, it's clear he sees some kind of connection with them all having been on the flight. But Faraday isn't connected at all, and he has the key to the whole thing, so why would that encourage Desmond to gather all the 815 people? And for that matter, what on earth is he going to say to them to get them all to come? Give them all near-death experiences? I have a guess that what he and Widmore are up to on the island will come into play before Desmond knocks on too many doors, but who knows, really.
Where We Go From Here
The cameos-- keep it up! WIth appearances tonight from Minkowski, a.k.a. newly minted Oscar winner Fisher Stevens, plus Faraday and Eloise with a serious hairdo, watching all these people show up in the new timeline is becoming a real treat. We're clearly running out of time in this universe, so the more randos you can cram in there-- Libby, get in here!-- the better.
Organize the on-island characters into some coherent groups. After spending an hour this episode with Desmond and only Desmond, I've already lost track of who's with SmokeLocke and who's with hallucinatory Jacob, and when Sayid popped out of the jungle it definitely took a while to remember what he was doing there. Complicated plot is good, of course, but we're nearing levels of confusion like season three, when Sawyer, Kate and Jack were stuck in cages and everyone else was on the beach doing, well, does anyone remember what they were up to? I realize the battle lines are effectively drawn between SmokeLocke and Team Jacob, with Widmore on the side as a spoiler, but the groups need to cohere a little more before I'll remember all that.
Organize the alternative universe characters, but quickly. Desmond's "Get the whole band back together" plot is pretty much exactly what Ben and Jack were up to two seasons ago, and the last thing anyone needs is a repeat of all those scenes where someone tells Jack/Desmond they're never going back, but capitulates anyway. It's possible there's something entirely different planned here, and I'm willing to hang on to see how it goes, but whatever happens, make it fast.
Please don't kill Desmond. I was convinced it was going to happen this week, with the bound-to-be-ironic "Happily Ever After" title, but we were spared. Still, Widmore is asking for a sacrifice from Desmond. I'm not getting good vibes here.