In the good seasons of LOST there were two types of episodes, the fast past high action sort, and the complex mind numbing episodes. Last week’s episode and now this week's are a real return to form for the series. First, we get fast paced and action packed, along with a solid flashback, and now we get a fascinating and cerebral episode.
This was a Desmond specific story that’s been a long time coming. It actually answers a question; “what happened to Desmond when the hatch exploded?” Charlie’s jealousy and Hurley’s curiosity compel them to get Desmond drunk and interrogate him. They’ve decided that he can tell the future so they hope that getting him drunk will dull his abilities so he won’t know what’s coming until they’re ready for him. The assumption that he can tell the future is a reasonable one because he did build a lightening rod outside of Claire’s hut just before a lightening bolt strikes and in this episode, he saves her from drowning when nobody else has realized that she’s even in the ocean. Oh and he prophesized a speech from Locke about saving the kidnapped members of their group, which came true, even if we never saw him follow through with an actual rescue attempt during the first half of this season.
So, they drink, they sing, and Charlie pulls a Jekyll and Hyde and suddenly switches gears bad cop interrogation mode. After taunting Desmond and nearly getting himself strangled, Charlie does get Desmond’s flashback going.
First off we see Desmond switching the key again, which let’s us know this isn’t your average flashback, and then he appears in his loft lying on the floor covered in red paint. His girlfriend, someone we haven’t seen in way too long, appears asking if he is ok. She has just moved in and apparently Desmond is upgrading his place with a spicy new paint job. Immediately Desmond begins seeing flashes of his life on the island. He tries to ignore it, even though he quickly realizes that he’s re-living these days again but many things are different this go around. He sees people from the island, and while he does predict the weather, he fails to predict the end of a soccer game and repercussions in the bar where he’s drinking with a friend. Desmond meets with his wife’s father in order to get his permission to marry his daughter. The meeting doesn’t go well, to say the least,but Desmond apprehensively continues forward with his plans to marry his girl.
The episode gets truly bizarre when he picks out an engagement ring and the clerk behind the counter refuses to sell it to him. She tells him that he’s not supposed to buy the ring, that he’s supposed to change his mind, leave the shop, and break his girlfriend’s heart. She also tells him that if he doesn’t do this, everyone will die.
The idea of time travel has been approached in countless science fiction books, movies, and television, and while the approach here isn’t completely unique, the effects it has on Desmond and the island are fascinating. The jewelry store clerk offers Desmond a quite brutal example of how the actions of time can’t be changed; only delayed. When a man dies in the street, she tells Desmond that if she had saved him that he’d die some other way the next day.
Once Desmond accepts his fate and ditches his girl Penny, all the things he predicted that misfired before started falling into line. The soccer game ended as he knew it would and when a man came into the bar to beat down the bartend ant Desmond stepped in the way and took the pounding which sent him through all the events on the island leading right back to where he was on the beach after getting drunk with Charlie and Hurley.
Charlie presses Desmond for answers and that’s when we got a big plot twist. He in fact hadn’t been saving Claire, he had been saving Charlie. He knows that Charlie will die, but he’s been working to delay it as long as he can stepping in to save Claire where if Charlie had made the attempt he would have been killed, once by the lightening and again by drowning. As I said, this idea of not being able to stop death is familiar, you could even maybe call it a little Final Destination-ish, minus the time travel, but the effect on the characters, and especially Charlie is pretty intriguing. You want hints at how the series will end, well Charlie will eventually die and Desmond will play an important part in the saving of the world, which could be attached to the climax of the series. So, the series isn’t just about castaways getting off this bizarre island, it’s also about saving the world! I’ve already been seeing folks chatting about Desmond’s ability to see the future, but what if he doesn’t have this ability at all? What if he’s just already lived all the way to the end of the series and the events that lead up to it are coming to him in flashes? Desmond was a character I never cared about when he first appeared, but like Juliet; one episode makes him one of my favorites to watch.
Now, back on the island there was one clunker of a scene. I actually forgot that not everyone yet knows that Mr. Ecko was beat down by the smoke monster. Locke and Sayid want Hurley and Charlie in line with them when they tell the rest of the group what happened in order to boost morale. This scene was just dumb, and maybe just a reason to get a few more characters some screen time. It is over quick though and we get back to the meat of the episode.
This episode has everything die hard LOST fans expect, riveting plot twists, foreshadowing, and as many questions as answers. During Desmond’s “flashback” there are a ton of nods that cue Desmond’s flashes of the island, some obvious and a few not as much, fun stuff for LOST fans to analyze. I’m really starting to feel like LOST has found its stride once again pushing it back closer to the top of my must see TV list right behind Battlestar Galactica.