Dr. Nick on "Lost": No Man is an Island, Even When He's On One

No man is an island, even when he’s stuck on one

Jack, Sayid, Hurley and Sawyer, with friend

By Nick Gorini

Well – here it is. This week was the official beginning of the end. The biggest puzzle piece remaining now locked into place. Thus begins the mad tumble to the show finale, questions answered, issues resolved, lives lost, souls saved, and most important, solving the biggest mystery nagging us all: What happened to that damn dog Vincent?
I could go in-depth and recap this week’s episode, but I think “Happily Ever After” spoke for itself. Other than adding a couple of new questions, it used another deck-shuffling Desmond episode to lay down the law.
Let’s quickly state what we know/don’t know as of today:
What we know:
Love Matters. It certainly matters more than magnets, more than anything. It is love that redeemed Desmond. It is love that opens Desmond’s heart and this week, his mind. It’s clear that each character’s capacity for love, in its many guises (for your spouse/partner, for your friend, for your children, for your humanity, for yourself, even for your enemies) will determine the fate of this universe we’re experiencing.
Whatever Jacob may be, and he is most certainly not God-like, his power is in his capacity to love. Is Smokey the personification of evil? Not by a long shot, but what he represents is the inability to love. This might be something Smokey was born with, but I doubt it (and we will find out in a few weeks when he get his backstory).
As I think back on the Alpert episode, ‘Ab Aeterno’, I understand why Jacob couldn’t grant Richard his first two wishes (to bring Isabella back, and for absolution). Both wishes were only something Alpert could resolve (notice I do not say ‘grant’). Sometimes, love is holding onto something no matter what may come to pass. But sometimes, love is also about letting go. Jacob couldn’t give Alpert Isabella, because she really is gone, and Alpert needs to love her enough to let go. And Jacob couldn’t grant Alpert absolution, because true absolution comes from within. Absolution is an incredible, powerful act of love. However, Jacob can give Alpert all the time he needs to sort this stuff out, right?
Maybe that’s how the island is serving our heroes: It’s the therapist’s couch, with no time-limit.
With Desmond, he experiences the essence of love – love has no boundaries. We can forget about Jacob/Smoky and Faraday physics – these are the Lost McGuffins (McGuffins are plot devices that to keep our eyes glued to the screen. Think of McGuffins as the candy coating on a chewable aspirin). Love transcends time, space, squabbles between two petty island-bound brothers, even mortality. Thanks to Charlie’s not-so-gentle nudging, Desmond’s pursuit of love will cause two worlds to collide. The end result? Well…
For much of the show’s run, we were lead to believe this show was about survival (even Sawyer said so). But it’s about the survival of love.
Science vs. Faith? I think we know their answer now. This Desmond episode is the official pronouncement of the Lost team: they’ve hung their coat and hat on the rack of faith.
The Sideways World Ain’t No Epilogue. For all the folks out there who began to doubt our storytellers, or worried that what we were witnessing in the ‘Sideways World’ was nothing more than some sort of ‘Flash Forward’, this episode put all of that to rest. Instead of thinking about everything so linearly in terms of events and actions happening in a specific order, look again at our beloved characters. Their internal character arcs, the journey towards love (or currently, in the case of someone like Sayid, running away from it) is the linear line to follow. It doesn’t matter what timeline or location it’s taking place at/on/when – the souls of these characters are evolving or devolving in a straightforward way.
Nearly everyone is merging consciousnessesesses. We’re seeing all of our characters flashing to their other lives. What will be interesting is what these folks do with this information. If you have a good sideways life, why would you want to give it up? Or merge it with your lousy one? Or vice-versa?
Jacob and Smokey aren’t Good vs. Evil. Not quite powerful enough to go that far. They have issues like the rest
What we don’t know:
Who knows how much. For me, the only big twist in this episode was that Eloise appeared to know everything. How? Why? I understand why she wants to keep Desmond away from the other world. She finally has a reality where she didn’t kill her son. But she also told Desmond he “Wasn’t ready yet.” Does this mean she’s stalling? Coming to terms with what must be done? Or is there some specific time frame in which Desmond’s crossing over will allow Eloise to keep her wish intact? And how much did ‘sideways’ Widmore really know? If he was as knowledgeable as his wife, he certainly seemed tight-lipped about it. And are there other ‘Sideways’ folk who know?
I know it hasn’t come up lately, but what the hell is the ash? I really don’t obsess over many of the little mysteries of the show, but for crikey’s sake, could someone definitively state what he Smokey-containing ash is?
Widmore’s motivations. Sure, he pleads with Desmond about saving his daughter and grandchild, and laments the loss of his son, but he was pretty dry-eyed when one of his people became chicken fried. And he certainly sheds no tears over abusing his son-in-law. Is he seeking island power, immortality, or trying to pull ‘sideways’ Faraday back into his world (so he can play that game of catch that never transpired)? Or is he really trying to save us all? We don’t really know.
Where are Penny, Eloise, and any of the other remaining living folk? We saw them in the sideways world, sure, but where are they in our timeline? Same goes for Walt, Ji Yeon and Aaron. Are there any other off-island power players I’m missing?
When two worlds collide, Iron Maiden makes a song. But more important, what happens to Aaron and Ji-Yeon? Do they cease to exist? And if Ji Yeon turns out to be a candidate, how does that get handled? Huh? Tell me that! And where’s sideways Michael?
Why is Widmore’s team on a timeline?
Why is it so important when some of these things happen, and even more odd, why to they all so readily chuck their plan out the window after arguing about rushing things? Could it be that Widmore knows exactly what’s taking place in the Sideways world, and wants to time everything with Desmond’s actions? And what is the specific sacrifice he’s expecting from Desmond?
Where did Sideways Desmond’s wedding ring go? In the season premiere, he suddenly appeared next to Jack. Desmond was wearing a wedding ring. So why doesn’t he have one when he seem picking his baggage up at the airport in this episode. Maybe scores of women throw themselves at Desmond’s feet, and he wears a fake wedding ring to hold them back, all the better to focus on his job for Mr. Widmore. Nah. Maybe it’s a mistake? Nah. So, what’s up with that?
What rule is Desmond violating? Apparently, free will gets in the way of a lot of power-playing, does it not? Eloise doesn’t like anything that falls out of her juggling two worlds routine. And why couldn’t Charlie see his own death in his visions?
What happened to Rose and Bernard when Jughead may (or may no
t) have exploded?
Did they blow up? Did they time travel? The two of them had made peace with what they had, and seemed to be content – did that mean the island was done with them?
Some fun little factoids, hints and ‘Easter Eggs’ worth noting:

So, many parallels with older episodes this week. Charlie and Desmond sharing a drink (like they did on the beach years ago), Widmore telling Desmond the same thing Eloise did a few seasons back (“The island isn’t done with you yet.”), Charlie’s eerie underwater moments, Faraday again playing Chopin on the piano, etc. After reading several recaps, including Doc Jensen’s, and re-watching the episode, I counted at least thirty direct references to previous episodes. I don’t know how these writers keep track of all this?

As a side note, what is the significance that Penny and Desmond meeting in the same empty arena where Jack and Desmond met years ago?

Did you notice the painting in Widmore’s office? Scales of justice, with a black rock on one side, and a white rock on the other, evenly balanced.

If you get a chance to watch this episode again, be sure to pay attention to the brooch Eloise Hawking is wearing. Compare it to what we’ve seen her wear before. It’s a clue.

This episode had so much ground to cover, they dispensed with a recap and opening credits. More show for your dollar!

Henry Ian Cusick is a great actor – don’t know why I didn’t know much about him before, but he certainly sells his episodes. I’m always gripped by Desmond’s various plights. And looking back at his initial introduction, it was so interesting how he came about on the show. He was the first guy we saw in the 2nd season premiere, listen to a record, making breakfast and exercising inside the hatch before our Losties tried blowing it up. As a character, the flaws we saw with Desmond (inertia, self-pity, borderline alcoholism, slight madness), were slowly revealed to be part of a much bigger picture. A lot of credit goes to the writers for how they handled the growth and reveals of Desmond!

Penny’s dad Widmore’s is married to Eloise, who’s son Faraday loves Charlotte, who works with Dr. Chang, who fathered Miles, who works with Sawyer, who captured Kate, who helped Claire, who talked to Desmond, who sat next to Jack, who spoke with Sayid, who helped Jin, who’s trying to save Sun, who needs help from Jack, who was married to Juliet, gave birth to David, who played a recital along with the son of Dogen, who spoke to Jack, who was at the hospital with Sayid’s brother and Charlie, who’s brother Liam spoke to Sawyer at the police station, where Charlie was picked up by Desmond, who talked to Hurley at the airport, who gave Locke a job, where he works with Arzt and Ben, where Ben teaches Alex… Seems pretty clear to me. Got that?

Awesome, awesome references to Desmond’s time in the hatch. Getting the MRI with a panic button, much like the button the poor bastard had to endlessly press in the hatch.

“Let’s have a drink. A toast to our indispensability!” What a sweet boss Widmore turned out to be… But I bet HR would tell him to personalize his compliments a bit more.

Nice touch with Faraday not knowing how to translate all his time-travel scribblings.

Stupid Award this week?
Got to go to Sayid, who found no irony or humor in snapping two men’s necks and then telling someone that those guys were the dangerous ones…

Another really nice touch: Where Desmond and Penny met this week? It’s where he said goodbye to her as he trained to sail around the world!

The test bunny’s name, Angstrom, was a nice nod to John Updike.
So, what can I tell you about the next few weeks?

Again, Doc Jensen’s got an exhaustive post about, well, everything. My favorite Jensen tangent this week was declaring that George Minkowski’s character (hello again, Fisher Stevens) is a reference to General George Santayana, most often referenced in regards to his most-famous quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Wanna know how cool Lost is? Lost is so cool that the magazine Popular Mechanics covers the scientific elements of the show. They’re big fans, although this week they’re mad, or about as mad as scientists can get. Why? Lost’s use of electromagnetism is well, ahem, unrealistic. Read more here: http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/digital/fact-vs-fiction/lost-happily-ever-after-fact-check.

Again, the real end game has finally begun. Prepare to be heartbroken about some events. Very heartbroken.

Benjamin Linus gets a girlfriend, and it’s not quite whom you’d expect. Or maybe it is. Plus, Ben gets a shiner from a rather pissed off time traveler.

Some more surprises about our candidates are in store, and some surprises about Jacob and Smokey. I wouldn’t call them ‘Game Changers’, but I would definitely call them ‘Illuminators’.

More death! More romance! And yes, more humor, too.

On that note, don’t forget that Juliet plans to take Sawyer out for coffee… Even death can’t keep her from intending to keep her appointments!

As you noticed in the promo, Michael and Libby come back for next week’s episode, which is all about Hurley. One comes back on the island, and the other in the sideways world.
Thanks for reading and watching….