It was great to see Charlie again last night, and an interesting thematic echo to see him leading Desmond towards true love, instead of Desmond trying to save poor doomed Charlie…

Oh, wait a second: Mimi was telling me about some pals of hers who were really liking reading these columns, but haven’t been following Lost as closely as I have, so she suggested I do a little recap. As if it’s even possible to do “a little recap” of what’s happened on the show so far. Then I remembered Hurley’s speech to his mom last year:

“Okay. See, we did crash, but it was on this crazy island. And we waited for rescue, and there wasn’t any rescue. And there was a smoke monster, and then there were other people on the island. We called them the Others, and they started attacking us. And we found some hatches, and there was a button you had to push every 108 minutes or… well, I was never really clear on that. But… the Others didn’t have anything to do with the hatches. That was the DHARMA Initiative. The Others killed them, and now they’re trying to kill us. And then we teamed up with the Others because some worse people were coming on a freighter. Desmond’s girlfriend’s father sent them to kill us. So we stole their helicopter and we flew it to their freighter, but it blew up. And we couldn’t go back to the island because it disappeared, so then we crashed into the ocean, and we floated there for a while until a boat came and picked us up. And by then, there were six of us. That part was true. But the re… But the rest of the people… who were on the plane? They’re still on that island.”

Really, when you see it all laid out like that you kind of hear Sawyer, don’t you? “Yeah, because that would be ridiculous.” Anyway. Let’s get to this one. That was a pretty dense and rewarding episode, and there’s a lot of stuff going on, here, at the end:

1. TELL ‘EM A HOOKAH-SMOKING CATERPILLAR HAS GIVEN YOU THE CALL: Usually I’m not so on-the-nose with my paragraph-starting song-and-movie quotes, but there wasn’t just a white rabbit allusion this episode; there was the return of the actual time-travelling rabbits. This one didn’t have a number branded into his side, but rather a name: Angstrom. Which cracked me up, because that’s the name of the protagonist in John Updike’s famous Run Rabbit Run: Rabbit Angstrom. My parents sure are getting their money’s worth from my B.A. in the American Literary Renaissance, they are.

2. MY PAPPY SAID, “SON, YOU’RE GONNA DRIVE ME TO DRINKIN’ IF YOU DON’T QUIT DRIVIN’ THAT HOT ROD LINCOLN:” When Widmore’s goons are man-handling a struggling Desmond into the Tesla coil shack outside the Hydra Station, as they’re strapping him into the chair, one of the goons says, “Do you have any metal on you? Keys? Change?” and the other one says, “Of course he doesn’t, you idiot.” which I thought was pretty harsh since that seems if not likely at least not out of the realm of possibility. Metal zipper on his pants? Metal buttons on his shirt? But later, when parallel structure demands a similar scene and a tip off to the audience that the MRI is going to trigger alternate universe knowledge, I wanted to scream at the TV: “Of course he doesn’t, you idiot!” to the lab tech asking Des the same questions. Brotha’s wearing a hospital gown slit up the back; where do you think he’s hiding all those jangling keys and his fifty states quarters collection? I did like how when Desmond passes out in the Tesla coil room after getting blasted with a huge amount of electro-magnetic energy, that the screen goes full-white exactly as it did when Jughead went off at the end of Season Five. It looks like Widmore and Zoe and the rest of his team are just about able to throw their own cosmic reset switch, and Desmond’s the (dare I say it) key to it all.

3. I HOPE YOU KNOW THIS WILL GO DOWN ON YOUR PERMANENT RECORD: Mimi had a great observation this morning that just as all The Crazy was revealed in a subtle manner, so too are the answers. At first you think the story’s just about how all these pretty people are going to address a real-world sort of Survivor game, and then all of a sudden there’s polar bears in the jungle and black smoke monsters and frozen donkey wheels and time-travelling rabbits and it all makes a kind of sense if you’ve been following along but there’s almost no way to sum it up without sounding like you need to go back to the Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute.

4. I GUESS I’VE BEEN IN LOVE BEFORE AND ONCE OR TWICE I’VE BEEN ON THE FLOOR BUT I’VE NEVER LOVED NO ONE THE WAY I LOVE YOU: It was really cool to have Minkowski be Desmond’s limo driver in Dimension X, since, if you’ll remember, after being mentioned for several episodes, we finally see him in the Season Four turning-point show “The Constant,” which, unless you’re some sort of soulless zombie assassin in thrall to a vaporous, murderous cloud, you’re going to recognize as the Desmond and Penny True Love episode and arguably the best single episode to date. Minkowski, in our timeline, was the doomed communications officer on Widmore’s freighter who after trying to get to the Island without using the proper coordinates, became unstuck in time and eventually died the nose-bleeding brain hemorrhage death you do when that happens. But in that death, Minkowski helps Des understand he needs Penny, his constant, to help his time-travelling consciousness stay grounded. You all see where this is going, here, at the end, don’t you? Like my good pal Gib Bickel said: “Even a nuclear explosion can’t kill True Love!”

So Minkowski dies to help Des understand Penny’s The One; Charlie dies helping him understand Penny’s out there trying to find him; Faraday dies (at his own mother’s hands!) because she loves the timestream more than her own son; Charlotte dies because Faraday’s love for her can’t save her; I mean it goes on and on. Basically, the only people who die on this show from anything other than Too Much Love or Not Enough of It are redshirts on the beach being hit by flaming arrows out of nowhere.

5. AND I DON’T REMEMBER CHURCH BELLS OR THE MONEY I PUT DOWN: OK, all that Love stuff was getting kind of heavy-syrup. Let’s look at some of the crazy eye colors and set changes and stuff that makes me friggin sea-sick while I watch this show, because once you buy in, you can’t not see this stuff. After Minkowski delivers Des to Widmore, as Desmond enters the office, there’s a painting of slightly-tipped scales to Desmond’s left as he enters and Widmore greets him warmly. We go to commercial on that, because even if this is your first episode of Lost and you’ve never seen a minute of the show, Desmond is hugging the guy who just tried to fry him Tesla coils ten minutes before. So that’s a bit of a shock. But we come back from the commercial with Des contemplating the ship model, and the painting is now on the opposite side of the room, to his right. This kind of stuff kills me; it’s like the poster whose text changes and the eyes blink as Des throws down his tie in the awesome first time-travel ep “Flashes Before Your Eyes.”

…and then of course there’s the obligatory eye color swaps; this week’s most egregious one was when Charlie is talking to Desmond at the bar about his vision of Claire, and says “…rapturously beautiful…” he has one brown eye and one blue eye. Particularly fitting since their whole exchange is about seeing truth and having a choice. Heh heh. Mimi may think the answers are being revealed in a subtle manner, but I’m getting to think it’s about as subtle as looking into a mirror and seeing a head wound that used to be on your neck.

I also liked some of the little nods: when Charlie and Desmond are in the car and “You All Everybody” is playing on the radio, they hold the camera for an extra beat as they pass the marina where Ben shot Desmond in our timeline. And then when Charlie grabs the wheel, he says, “I’ll show you what I’m talking about” and then nearly drowns them both proving to Des that something’s amiss. When Des asks Minkowski for the 815 passenger manifest at the end and explains, “I just need to show them something” that callback makes that sound particularly ominous.

But here’s one I loved, because of the three months I lived in LA: there’s no coffee shop on Melrose & Sweetzer. Not in this life, brotha.

6. TO THE EXTREME I ROCK A MIC LIKE A VANDAL: I could keep going on this episode; it was particularly dense. Like the MRI tech telling Des “You’re going to need the button” being an obvious callback to when Desmond was in the hatch hitting the button every 108 minutes for three years, or that Charlie seems actually a little miffed at Desmond with “I wasn’t trying to kill you; I was trying to show you something!” But I like to drop one crazy theory on you all each week, and this one’s a doozy: I love that Eloise is panicked when she sees Desmond arrives at the charity ball she’s throwing, and then she gets bent at him: “Someone has clearly effected the way you see things This is a serious problem. It is, in fact, a violation.” Come on! A “violation”? Of what? The rules? Uh oh. Who’s all worried about that sort of thing? Jacob, and… what if that’s not Eloise at all, and is… the Smoke Monster?

Now before you go nuts, think about this: “On top of it all, you’ve managed to attain what you wanted more than anything: my husband’s approval.” That sure does sound like Smokey giving everybody what they want.

Anyway: next week, a Hurley ep! Let’s hope Michael apologizes for killing Libby and Libby and Hugo get some closure, because there’s only five episodes left.

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Sean Maher 07 April 2010

Is Desmond the only living character able to survive “a ballistic electromagnetic ass-ram,” as Widmore put it, because of all those years he spent injecting himself with DHARMA juice? Does it have anything to do with 108 minutes?

DHARMA appeared to be largely based on psych-outs and mental games; I mean, Christ, what does it do to a person’s brain to be unable to sleep for more than 107 minutes at a time for three years? Does it, for example, prepare one to be ready for mental time jumps all over hell?

Could DHARMA be the dark horse of the season, their experiments with time forming the foundation of Our Heroes’ ability to finally prevail over MIB? Is that why MIB, fooling Ben into thinking MIB was Jacob, convinced The Others to annihilate DHARMA, for which we’ve been given no other really good reason? (If so, why didn’t Jacob let Richard know what was up?)

EJ Feddes 07 April 2010

Hey, we both came to the same conclusion about Eloise being Smokey! Great minds and all…

The bit about Widmore’s approval fits with the way the candidates (for the most part) have what they want most in Timeline X – they really have the one thing that they most literally want most. In some cases, like Desmond, I would say that Penny and Baby Charlie are more important than anything Widmore-related, but since they are a part of his life, they aren’t what he wants most. They’re what he has. It could be the same with Locke, who would probably put the Island any maybe his legs before Helen – they got what they wanted most, without regard to keeping what they actually had. Smokey is a tricky bastard.

Larry Young 07 April 2010

Hey, Sean: “ballistic electromagnetic ass-ram,” is hilarious. I dunno what was in the Dharma juice, but wasn’t that revealed to be a sham on Inman’s part? I just figured since they dropped it, it was saline or some other harmless thing. I sort of don’t remember about the injecting Aaron with the stuff and how they decided to stop. Just one of those Claremont-ian story eddies you’re not supposed to think too much about, I guess. I also love your Dharma/Others thing, but I don’t think that’s going to pay off. Sometimes you do a bunch of work, and it just ends up on the side of a hill with a bunch of other cannisters.

EJ: See! This is why I don’t read your stuff until after I’ve done mine! But, yeah, that Eloise stuff was wildly out of character, even for a know-it-all. I fully expect the both of us to transcend to another state of being like Decker and Ilia at the end of Star Trek: The Motion Picture when the LOST finale airs.

Larry Young 08 April 2010

Before it gets revealed next episode, it should be noted that Mark Herr thinks Eloise is the judge of the game being waged between Jacob and Smokey. And I will go one more and say that it’s the Island itself. BOOM!

Sean Maher 08 April 2010

Side though: I love how Widmore’s callousness used to be a reason why we thought he might be a villain, and now when one of his people gets fried and he clearly doesn’t give a SHIT, neither do we, really.

So, y’think they’ll just leave “Why is Desmond special?” at: “BECAUSE, that’s why”? It’s an easy enough answer at this point to make it a DHARMA thing, I think, and it would settle a lot of fanboy rampage. Admittedly, though, I’m increasingly sure the show will end with a lot of BIG questions unanswered, and I honestly have no idea how the final episodes will structure the plot.

I AM pretty sure that as a John Locke fan, I’m pretty much royally screwed, though. My man’s deader’n hell.

John Ross 08 April 2010

On Desmond’s (at least) first sideways jump, there was none of the typical sound. Another sign of his “specialness” in regards to time (and reality) jumping…making his different somehow from everyone else’s (where they were different previously in that he actually was conscious of them).

Eloise not Smokey, but think your boy is closer to it with his arbiter theory. She was an ordinary Other at one point, and even deigned to mate with Widmore. What changed her to be able to freak people out in alternate times AND alternate realities will hopefully be revealed.

My favorite thing about her remains the fact that she starred in the movie THE OTHERS.

Larry Young 08 April 2010

Sean, I never understood the fanboy outrage about Desmond. It always seemed clear to me that brotha was at ground zero of a massive electromagnetic event that blew so much energy into the space-time continuum that it fragged a plane out of the sky at 38,000 feet and yet safely floated about half the passengers to earth. Seems a small leap to make that maybe that accidental overdose of gamma radiation altered his body chemistry and stripped him of his clothes and had his chrono-genes scrambled or what-have-you. Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time, man.

John Ross: Good to see you here again! Yeah, Mark Herr is on it. I think she’s not just Eloise, though, mother of Daniel and former leader of the Others. I think Mrs. Hawking, who met Desmond in “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” the one that was guiding everyone at the Lampost Station, and the one giving Desmond shit in Dimension X, is really a manifestation of the Island. I won’t go all the way to saying the Island is Locke’s crazy mother, but weirder shit than that has happened on this show.

EJ Feddes 09 April 2010

I love the idea of Eloise as the judge – even in the main timeline she has the uncanny ability to know when somebody is doing something that would result in a change to the future, which is darned impressive. It’s interesting that in our timeline, she treats Desmond with compassion and explains her point about destiny at length, while in Timeline X, she yells at him and insults him.

I think that Ghost Christian is a manifestation of the Island – his appearances aren’t consistent with either Jacob or Smokey’s capabilities, and it seems like most of what he’s done has been about following the rules. (He sends Locke off the Island to bring back the Candidates, because the rule is that they need to leave together. He keeps Michael alive so that he can keep the freighter afloat long enough for the Candidates to get in the air, because you’re not supposed to kill somebody while they’re a candidate.) Christian is the scale and Eloise is the one who makes the rules that everybody is intent on following.

Larry – I’m with you on Desmond. I’m mystified that people are bent out of shape about his abilities. I actually love that he has a Marvel Comics style origin – he’s bathed in weird energies and becomes the Temporal Man.

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