Wednesday, April 07, 2010

LOST - Where Are We? - 6.11 – Happily Ever After

Desmond has a history of mind-bending episodes with unique story-telling structures. In 3.08 (Flashes Before Your Eyes), the burst of electromagnetic energy that destroyed the Swan Hatch flashed Desmond's present consciousness into his past. In 4.05 (The Constant), the Island's time-disconnect barrier flashed his past consciousness into his present. Then, in 5.01 (Because You Left), Daniel Faraday was able to send Desmond a message in the future by speaking to Desmond's past self because the burst of electromagnetic energy that started all this for Desmond, apparently rendered him an exception to the rules of that limit everyone else. Now, in 6.11 (Happily Ever After), Charles Widmore has been made aware of Desmond's exceptional gift and -- having an as-yet-unknown need to send someone into the heart of an electromagnetic burst on the Island -- Widmore runs a test on Desmond to make sure he's truly electromagnetism-proof. Widmore's test is successful, but the test-burst is enough to flash Desmond's consciousness into his Altered Universe self, thus finally and officially closing the gap between this season's AU and Original Timeline story-telling.

The Altered Universe:
No more speculation: The AU characters can officially access their Original Timeline memories. And the link between the two universes seems closely connected with death: Since 6.01 (LA X), fans have speculated that Juliet's consciousness jumped into the AU briefly before dying -- inviting someone (most likely AU Sawyer) to coffee, and leaving Miles with the postmortem message that "It worked." This week, AU Charlie -- choking to death in the Oceanic 815 bathroom -- was given a vision of Claire and felt his OT love for her in full. He then woke AU Desmond up to the OT by granting him an underwater near-death experience that brought OT Penny to AU Desmond's mind. And, one MRI later, AU Desmond had experienced his OT love for Penny in full as well. It's important to note their gut reactions to these hidden memories: AU Charlie instantly determined that his vision was a window into a world more real, true, and important than anything in his current existence. Now this may just be AU Charlie's reaction to glimpsing a life better than his current crappy drug-addicted police-nabbed existence, but it also may be a hint at a "secondary" or "lesser" status being attributed to existence in the AU when compared to that of the OT. On the topic of the AU, Charlie may agree with naysaying fans that "none of this really matters," but if the general direction of this week's episode was any indication, both Charlie and those anti-AU fans are probably very wrong.

AU Daniel Faraday's OT wake-up call may have broken the "connection with death" chain that Juliet, Charlie, and Desmond forged, but it did share the "love connection" with the other characters' wake-up calls. AU Charlie flashed to Claire. AU Desmond flashed to Penny. OT Juliet may have flashed to AU Sawyer. And for AU Daniel, one look at Charlotte was all his subconscious needed to start whipping out complex physics equations from his subdued OT memories. Exploring the meanings of these equations further -- probably supplemented by further flashes of OT visions and memories -- AU Daniel actually figured out what his OT self had set out to accomplish, and offers at least his personal confirmation that the AU did indeed burst forth from the 1977 detonation of Jughead within the Swan site's electromagnetic center. Desmond listens, wide-eyed and disbelieving, but all it takes is one touch of his Penny's (his Constant's) hand and his mind is shot back into the OT.

Exactly how much of both universes' experiences the two Desmonds share is a matter for debate, but both seem to have arrived at an enlightened state. OT Desmond isn't frightened of Widmore; He isn't frightened of Sayid; He's seemingly "above all this" and ready to make whatever sacrifice the Island demands. AU Desmond is clearly gripped and thrilled by whatevever knowledge he now possesses of his OT existence, and most importantly: he's ready to spread the joy. He asks Minkowski to fetch him the Flight 815 manifest for the express purpose of "showing" the others what Charlie showed him: the truth. One-by-one, he's going to wake up the other AU characters to the existence of the OT, and the AU will NEVER be the same.

Eloise Widmore/Hawking:
Of course the biggest jaw dropper in the AU -- even bigger than characters finally recalling their OT memories -- was that good ol' Eloise STILL seemed to know EXACTLY what was going on. Is there any universe where this woman is as confused as the rest of us? This had me totally flummoxed at first, bringing back good memories of her first time-altering appearance in 3.08 (Flashes Before Your Eyes). But after thinking about it, I'm pretty confident that she's getting the majority of her apparent universal omnipotence from the same source now in the AU as she did then in the OT: Daniel's Journal. If you'll recall in Season 5, Daniel had the Journal on him when he travelled back to 1977 and was shot by Eloise on-Island. The Journal contained all manner of notes on the the Dharma Initiative, Daniel's experiences and conclusions (the results of his own dabbling in consciousness time travel), and of course that all-important note: "If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be MY constant." We saw Sayid use the journal after Daniel was killed to help dismantle/prepare Jughead, but after that, chances are that OT Eloise kept the book and used it all through her life in order to manipulate both Daniel and Desmond (and maybe even the Oceanic 6) to allow history to repeat itself and allow Daniel/Jack to go forward with their detonation of Jughead. Perhaps all for the single purpose of giving her son a posthumous chance at changing the future and finding a life for himself in an altered universe...

So if the two universes ONLY differ at the point when Jughead was detonated, and share a prior "Whatever Happened, Happened" history... then maybe AU Eloise has OT Daniel's Journal. She could have easily had it on her in 1977 when Jughead detonated, and maybe she has kept it ever since. This would make her fully aware of what her son and Jack accomplished with the creation of the AU, and fully ready to keep Desmond Hume away from the one thing that could definitely wake him up to the reality of the AU: his Constant.

The Importance of the Incident & The Ultimate Course Correction
So if Faraday was right, then when Jughead detonated, the Altered Universe was born. But if Eloise was right (in 3.08 [Flashes Before Your Eyes]) then fate has a way of course correcting so that no matter how you try and change the past, things work out the same. At the moment we know that this process of course correction is at least somewhat underway: afterall, even though the AU was created, the Original Timeline still exists. So if fate/time is attempting to make the ultimate course correction of Jack and Faraday's explosive causality violation, then perhaps only one of the two universes will be able to survive in the end if time/space is to be prevented from collapsing. And if so, then either one universe is going to have to do the noble thing and sacrifice itself for the sake of time/space, or else then it's every universe for itself. In the latter case, then perhaps the two Eloises are both at odds with each other, each the keeper of her own timeline and willing to do whatever it takes to make sure her timeline is carefully preserved (even if, for OT Eloise, this means sacrificing her son). I suspect this week's episode title, "Happily Ever After," will ultimately prove either prophetic or ironic. If prophetic, then the AU is the future for which our OT heroes will nobley and heroically sacrifice themselves. If ironic, then the seemingly "better lives" that many of our characters are living in the AU are doomed to be obliterated for the preservation of the OT, held aloft on the altar as an example of why the Island and its cork-function are so important to the preservation of life as we know it. Either way, the stakes are clearly bigger than just the agendas of either Jacob or the Man In Black.

And that's where we are!


k. sequoia said...

Excellent musing, as usual! I'm wondering about the that 'box' that fried Sim' Guy and rattled Des?

Is it THE magic box, that Ben told... was it Locke, whom he said something to about "imagine a box, where we could bring you anything you ever wanted" or some such...?

Mama Lost

Will said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rad said...

Nice write up Sagacious. I don't think it's possible (but we are talking about L O S T where damn near anything is possible) for the two timelines to differ from the point of detonation and forward. Mainly because of Ben. He would have been shot and already with the Others at the point the bomb exploded, he would have already been dipped in the Spring of Life and "changed forever" as Richard so eloquently says.

I think there had to be changes that occurred prior to the detonation as well.

I still think we're heading for a major reset, ala The Matrix (Desmond now playing the role of Morpheus, Jack would be Neo, and Smokey is Agent Smith....of course Eloise is The Oracle who directs everyone and knows all)

Sagacious Penguin said...

@ K.Sequoia - Thanks! I've always considered Ben's "magic box" to be something more metaphorical, but if it does turn out to be physical and science-based, then you might just be right! Of course, then maybe it could only work for Desmond, since it would fry everyone else!

@ Rad - Just my own way of looking at it, but I figure if the Island did take a while to sink in the AU, then Ben would have had time to be returned to Dharma just as he was in the OT. And while he may have already been "changed forever" in the Spring, perhaps that's only innocence-destroying if Jacob's around to get you to follow him. Without Jacob around, maybe Ben's just a normal guy... Well, as nomral as Ben could ever be ;)

Anonymous said...

"OT Juliet may have flashed to AU Sawyer."

I don't know, she seemed rather surprised to see him there, which makes me think she was talking to someone else in the other world. Only time will tell for certain, though.

Teebore said...

I'm really curious what happened to Desmond at the end there: did his two consciousness merge, and now both are operating with the same goal in mind? Is Island Desmond really Sideways Desmond now? Did Island Desmond see something in the future somehow that told him if he worked with Widmore and went with Sayid, everything would work out okay?

Time, as you said, will tell...