Wednesday, April 7, 2010

LOST Happily Ever After, first thoughts

After watching this phenomenal episode, only one sentence comes into my head.

Only one thing that I want to shout about in exultation, one thing that I want to say excitedly to my friends in the know about this phenomenal show...

I want to go up to people, look them in the eye, and smile when I say...

Desmond knows! Desmond knows everything! In both realities!

Of course, did you really expect anything else?

Faraday sets him up to learn what he needs to know. Daniel puts in motion (after seeing Charlotte) the events that will lead his Constant back to him ("If anything goes wrong, Desmond is your constant") and then sends Desmond to his Constant, Penny, setting up the first true connection between the realities, between the Sideways Dimension aka the LA X Dimension and the Original timeline on the Island.

Sure, Daniel knows that they shouldn't be where they are that something he did forced this change, and Charlie knows that there is another reality, a woman he loved (Claire) that he has memories of and that makes this reality where his dream of rock stardom is realized completely pointless.

And really, that's the point for everyone. This reality seems to offer them what they want, but truly, what people want and what people need are rarely the same thing.

I mentioned this briefly in an earlier post this season, speaking about Jacob and Esau/The Man in Black, Esau offers whatever he thinks the person that he is speaking to wants, regardless of whether it is good for the person or not, regardless of whether it will ultimately be harmful for the person or not, all that matters for Esau is that Esau gets what he wants and needs, and the other persons well being doesn't really seem to be that important at all.

Jacob, on the other hand, seems to want what is best for people. I know there are some people out there who have been under the belief that Jacob isn't really the good guy, but I think that what we've been told regarding Jacob and Esau is true, and so I think that my theory from a couple of weeks ago is true as well...

The LA X Timeline is Hell, not as in the stereotypical flames and eternal punishment sense, but in the way that Jacob described it to Richard a couple of weeks ago, "There are many other names for it, too. Malevolence. Evil. Darkness." It is the sin of being given what you want instead of working towards what you need. So far in the Sideways Universe, we know that Faraday, Charlie, and now Desmond are aware of what they are supposed to have (what they worked for in the original timeline) and are working towards it again.

But it brings up a bit of a question... In Dr. Linus, Ben worked towards redemption on the Island, finally facing the mistakes he has made, the poor decisions he has made because of his thirst for power. In the sideways universe, he made a different decision, didn't sacrifice Alex for power, so the question is, did that occur because it was what he wanted, what he wished he could have done and so he achieved it in the LA X timeline without sacrificing for it, without truly learning what he needed to be able to take that step like he did in the Island timeline, or was he able to make that choice in the Sideways Universe because of what he had learned in the Island universe? That's one of the few questions I still have after this episode.

I think that it is clear now that the LA X Timeline is a timeline where Smokey is out in the world and that it is a bad thing and a reality that needs to not exist, but it is in this sideways world that we get Ben's redemption, Ben's making the right choice instead of a choice for power, and it is in this sideways world that we get a Jack that is finally able to overcome his daddy issues and become a great dad himself.

This brings me to a bit of theorizing. It will be necessary for some sacrifices to be made to bring to a close the LA X timeline, Widmore said as much tonight, and I think that it will be Jack and Ben who have to make the hardest sacrifices.

Another question is Eloise.

She clearly knows what is going on (she always has), did she somehow manipulate Faraday into his Jughead plan in order to break herself and her son out of the cycle they had been trapped in, mother killing son. finding out it was her son, then being forced to set into motion the actions that would send her son back in time so that she would kill him. This would, of course, be full of irony, something that LOST loves, considering she told Desmond in Flashes Before Your Eyes that he couldn't change things, even if he wanted to, because it was his destiny to push that button, it was his destiny to be on the Island. Now that she's found a way to change her destiny, change the fact that she killed her son unknowingly then knowingly sent him on a crash course with the Island to be killed by her in the past, she is trying to keep that past changed, regardless of what that might mean. (And according to Jacob it means malevolence, evil, darkness, in short "Hell") What LOST has done is turn Widmore into one of the good guys and Eloise into one of the bad guys, and yet it is completely believable and makes perfect and total sense. That is why I love this show.

So, as to what is going on overall, it seems to me that with the death of Jacob and the explosion of Jughead (and I think now that both were necessary to create the LA X timeline), this possible reality of Esau's fashioning has been created. Currently it exists in concert with the Island timeline, but ultimately only one of them can survive (back to Donnie Darko). If Locke-less Monster is able to succeed and get all of the candidates to attempt to leave the Island with him and escape his prison, then the LA X timeline becomes reality and the Island sinks under the ocean and the Island timeline ceases to exist. Therefore, in order to make the candidates want to escape, Esau is promising them what they want (but not what they need).

So Desmond's task is to show the LOSTies the reality that they were supposed to live, show them that what they need, that which the Island provided them, is better than what they think they want, so that when Esau tempts them with the LA X reality, they will be able to turn it down with the knowledge that it really is too good to be true.

And that brings me to the title of the episode tonight, Happily Ever After.

What Esau promises is "Happily Ever After", except we know that that saying is related to fairy tales, fantasy, and ultimately, that is what Esau is really offering, a fairy tale, a fantasy. There is no such thing as an easy fix, no such thing as a blanket Happily Ever After. Any redemption earned by our LOSTies has been earned the hard way, and therefore has been truly rewarding, not fleeting as so many quick fixes often are.

I'm reminded of the ending of The Graduate. One of my favorite movies of all time. With the fairy tale ending of Dustin Hoffman's character running into the wedding of the woman he loves, stopping her from marrying the man she's about to marry, and they run out together, breathless with laughter, getting on a bus to start their happily ever after, and that is where a fairy tale would end, but The Graduate keeps the camera on the two of them. Slowly, the implications of what they've done dawns on them. Their faces grow more and more somber as they try and decide what comes next for them in their strange and disturbing relationship. It is a powerful ending and completely destroys the image of happily ever after that they so strongly felt just moments before.

LOST has always been about a number of interesting topics, one of the main ones being the idea of destiny verses free will, and while it seems that there is a lot of destiny for these characters, the connections that they have to each other throughout time and alternate dimensions, seem to make you believe they don't have much choice in the matter, but ultimately I think that the characters do have free will, and while they have been manipulated into place (by Jacob, Esau, Widmore, Hawking, Richard, Ben, and many others, no pun intended) ultimately they have been put in place to exercise their free will, exercise their ability to choose. Their ability to choose the hard road, which doesn't always seem as rewarding, but which strengthens who they are and ultimately makes them better people and arguably the world a better place, and the easy road where they seemingly will have whatever they think they want, but will have lost (again, no pun intended) all that makes them who they are, all that they have accomplished over the past five years, all that they have learned about themselves and each other.

And that is what I believe the show boils down to. And I love it.

Until Next Time, I'm glad tonight's episode was the game changer that we anticipated, we finally seem to have direction for the end of the show. Should be a hell of a ride.

Josh Man


  1. Any hypothesis on the limo driver? He seemed to act like a guardian angel or something.

  2. Desmond is everyone's constant!

    So much symbolism in this episode...

    You didn't mention George, the limo driver, dying from time travel in the original timeline.

    Or the MacCutchean whiskey...the symbol of Desmond's lack of worth to Widmore in the original and yet shared by them in the sideways.

    Or that he pushed a button in the MRI!

    Great analysis though...