Quick Hits: LOST S6, E11— “Happily Ever After”
At what point do you think the producers made the decision that LOST was not a pure drama, a sci fi thriller or mystery show? When Bad Robot first optioned the script, did JJ Abrams know that LOST was a pure love story? It’s hard to say just when such a turning point was reached; however, what is clear is that the little snippets of true love have all been building toward that very tale so central to the core of the series and the characters on the Island itself.
Desmond and Penny hardly operate in a vacuum with respect to romance and love. Nonetheless, they are at the core of it all, even though they’ve only appeared together in a handful of scenes. In honor of the Large Hadron Collider ramping up to 3.5 tEV this past week, let’s talk in the terms of black holes. The collision of various of the 80 or so survivors of Flight 815 has spawned little miniature black holes… some more strong than others, but none truly capable of reshaping the galaxy of characters and interactions.
We’ve seen brief romances and true examples of love in the relationship between Bernard and Rose. We’ve lived through Sayid’s mission to reunite with his dear Nadia. Heck, even the somewhat forgotten triangle between Jack, Sawyer and Kate presents a lesson in exploration of feelings, as did Boone’s forbidden love for step-sister Shannon and Sun and Jin’s re-dedication toward their marriage. Even Charlie’s unconsummated love for Claire could be considered a triggered micro black hole; however, the super-massive black hole around which the show’s galaxy rotates is the love between Desmond and Penny and it is no secret that the finest episode in the series run (“The Constant”) focused on that love.
This episode may not have quite reached the heights of “The Constant” or the handful of other episodes that have completely changed the game and flipped the Island world on its head; nevertheless, boy did Darleton deliver this week. The Damon half of the production team promised via Twitter that “the conversation is going to change [with "Happily Ever After"]“. It did.
Find out my quick hits on how, after the jump.
- The stark differences between Desmond’s interactions and relationship with Widmore in his Island and alternate universes were rather well done. Perhaps moreso than any other character, Desmond is like night and day. His alternate personality is not the romantic vacillating between fatalistic and hopeful; he is a stone cold right-hand man who mixes a bit of Paik-servant Jin with no-ties Sawyer. Seeing him share the scotch and embrace Widmore was just downright creepy.
- We finally saw, at least possibly, a truly tied through connection between the Island world and the alternate universe. The mystery isn’t gone, as I think we still have no idea how it’s going to play out, but we now have the fledgling connection. It started, somewhat ironically, not with Desmond but with Charlie; whose love for Claire bled through from the Island to his near death experience with choking on his heroin packet. He saw a vision of her and realized what love truly is. Later, in the episode, we learn that Daniel has experienced a bleed through of love upon seeing Charlotte in the museum where she works with Pierre Chang [AKA Dr. Marvin Candle, Dr. Mark Wickmund and Dr. Edgar Halliwax]. Desmond has a bleed through upon a) a near death experience involving drowning spurred by Charlie, b) an MRI on his head and c) actually meeting and shaking Penny’s hand.
- It’s not clear exactly how these two universes will play together, but the head fake that something was there — first indicated by Jack’s taken-aback glance at Kate in LA X, which was a bit more than seeing a pretty girl. There wasn’t anything definitive back then, but I know people took it, at least partially as Jack recognizing Kate. If the tie-together is love conquering boundaries, it is at least somewhat interesting that Kate did not seem to share that recognition and that Sawyer and Kate didn’t recognize each other.
- It was interesting that they chose to return to electromagnetism, the source of the incident. It certainly makes great sense with respect to the established background of pockets of EM on the island; however, the science behind the massive solenoid device and the concept of time travel through the development of an EM field itself seems rather dubious. I did take the solenoid device to be somehow connected to the time travel experiments of the Dharma Initiative. The reference to popping the rabbit into the device seemed enough evidence of as much. While electro-magnetism can be used as a means of harnessing energy to bend space-time or however else they imagine to effectuate the Dharma experiments, it’s pretty much just bad science when it comes to what happened to Des. First off, the human body simply lacks any sort of magnetic influence that would allow even the strongest of magnetic fields to be sensed by the human body — this is one of the reasons that MRIs work. While the magnetic fields can be used to register phase/density shifts in the material within the field, so long as such material is human flesh, it cannot influence or impact the material (absent collateral objects). This is also why we’re not impacted by movements by or through Earth’s magnetic fields. Despite this, Desmond has his Dr. Manhattan moment in the solenoid box (which actually was somewhat reminiscent of the first Jurassic Park in its setup). In any respect, I don’t know enough about the science and, in any regard, one has to really suspend disbelief for LOST.
- The magnetic event was organized in a way that paralleled, to a degree, Desmond and Penny touching. That was well conceived and effective, as both events served to tie together each world. It’s not clear how, but I think we are expected to believe that Des’ joining up with Widmore is because of the confluence of the magnetic event and his meeting Penny. It appears that knowledge of some sort has been imparted in each universe. On-Island, Des agrees to fulfill whatever electro-magnetic task Widmore asks of him and, in the alternate universe, he has resolved to show something (presumably, the ties to the Island universe, to the would-be survivors of Oceanic 815.
- While the rules don’t apply to Desmond (as has been often stated), they really don’t apply to Eloise Hawking. I couldn’t help but be reminded of a Matrix type arrangement on her reaction to Desmond and her admonish of him for pushing to investigate his love. She seems to be a character that transcends the rules of time/space. She existed both in Island universe and the alternate universe, but also in the purgatory-like world to which Desmond traveled during the second incident on the Island. Further, her conscious awareness seems to be constant throughout — though she is hardly omniscient, as she was most unawares in the past time lines when, for example, she interacted with and then killed her son.
- It was great to see “The Variable” and “The Constant” together. Daniel and Desmond both were introductions to the cast, rather than initial core characters, and both have been played perfectly by their actors and developed well by the writers. Daniel’s alternate universe being was well constructed, though the actual circumstances of his interaction with Desmond was a little tough to chew on. I had the same problem with Charlie’s approach to Desmond. In each case, there’s no real explanation for why they act the way they do.
- In Charlie’s case, he has discovered love though a flash to Claire. Rather than becoming determined to find his love (who was only sitting a few rows back), he becomes suicidal and desirous of an additional near-death experience to share with Desmond in hoping to trigger a flash for him. There’s no reason to understand why that’s his reaction — other than the fact that it advances the storyline and gets Des to where he needs to be. And the drowning scene with “Not Penny’s Boat” was just fantastic to watch… so there.
- For Daniel, the interaction with Desmond was just so drawn from nowhere. He hears Desmond say Penny and somehow is triggered to believe that he says as much because she is his lost love — as Charlotte is for him. Going further than that, he chooses to share the story of his physics equations that he doesn’t understand and his completely bizarre belief that he triggered an electro-magnetic pulse by virtue of detonating a nuke. Notwithstanding the sheer ludicrous nature of all that, the actual scene itself was awesome.
- Fun cameo of the episode: George Minkowski (AKA, newly minted Academy Award winner Fisher Stevens) made a great appearance as the Widmore company driver. I never quite understood why Minkowski was so under utilized as part of the Telmarine crew in Season 3 (or was it 4?). He played a key role in this episode and I’m hoping he sticks around a bit. He’s certainly a far more welcome return than Zoe is as an addition.
- Zombie Sayid is still just bothersome and Desmond’s agreement to go along with him was just bizarre. Des actually seems somewhat zombified himself, post solenoid exposure.
Anyways, I’m out of time in typing these up. Something I wish I’d had a little more to spend on is the background of the name Hume. It is well established that it’s a reference to Scottish Philosopher David Hume, a man greatly influenced by John Locke, with respect to economic thought and liberalism, and Jeremy Bentham, with respect to political though and utilitarianism. I don’t really know enough about Hume to really speak intelligently on the subject, but it’s definitely something I might delve into if I ever get back to penning Lost Recaps (still waiting to do my “Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” essay).