Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lost—Flashes Before Your Eyes

This episode was co-written by Damon Lindelof and Buffy alumnus Drew Goddard, aka the Ultimate Drew (I believe this moniker was invented to differentiate him from Drew Z. Greenberg, also on the Buffy staff and now working on Dexter). I met the Ultimate Drew once. He's really tall. And cute.

It was an interesting episode, too. I spent most of the hour trying to second-guess the writers, without much success, and by the end I still wasn't entirely sure where they're going with this little side trip. I've pretty much decided to just go with the flow on this show, rather than trying to figure things out. When they do explain things, it seems to make sense more or less, so might as well enjoy the ride. And since tonight the ride involved a lot of Desmond and his dead sexy Scottish accent, I'm okay with that...

Front story: Of which there was surprisingly little. This was a flashback story in more ways than one. After the discovery of Eko's body, Locke states that the island killed him. Fair enough--that fits with what I remember happening before the century-long hiatus. But our focus today is on Desmond, who seems to know Claire is drowning without being anywhere near enough to see it happening. In any case, he rescues her, leading Charlie and Hurley to interrogate him about how he knew she needed rescuing. This eventually leads to drunken fisticuffs and Desmond saying they don't want to know. Which takes us to--

Back story: First we drop back to Desmond using the key in the hatch after they didn't reset the timer at the end of last season. Then, in a nice visual cut, we transition to Desmond's flat where he lived with Penelope. He's been painting the walls red, and has fallen and gotten a concussion.

The flashbacks get weird right away, with even this first scene overlaid with sounds and elements that tie it back to the hatch and the island. Here's where I start speculating: Did the explosion at the hatch actually send Desmond back in time? As the flashback continues, Desmond relives his futile attempts to gain Penelope's father's respect so he can marry her. Penny's father humiliates Desmond with a bottle of very expensive whiskey--the exact same whiskey that, to Charlie on the island, was not a status symbol but just an expedient way to get Desmond pickled. Afterward, Desmond makes with the crazy. He sees Charlie singing on the street and says he knows him, though Charlie doesn't recognize him. Desmond starts to recount events from the island, even though we're in a flashback. Next speculation: Did the hatch explosion knock him unconscious, and now he's experiencing his backstory as a dream/hallucination?

Convinced he's been thrown back in time to relive his life, Desmond approaches a friend, Donovan, a physicist, with questions about time travel. But his attempts to prove he can "remember" the future don't work out--he miscalls the result of the footie game on the telly in the pub. (Why is it always a come from behind victory in sports that people use to prove they're time traveling? What if you time travel and you don't like sports? Or the games are boring that day? Are you SOL?)

Desmond decides to soldier on in his plans to marry Penny, and goes to buy her an engagement ring. But the woman in the jewelry store says he's not doing it right--he's not supposed to buy the ring. He's supposed to have second thoughts and go on to the boat race and get stranded on the island, or things won't proceed as they ought and everyone will die. She seems to actually have some kind of precognitive ability. Desmond's fate is spelled out and thrown in his face--pushing that button is the only truly great thing he will ever do. Desmond refuses to accept this and buys the ring, anyway, determined to change his destiny and marry Penny. At this point I'm still sticking with my unconscious/having a dream/hallucination theory.

Of course that doesn't work out, and a few scenes later, after we're shown the origins of the picture Des showed Claire at the beginning of the episode, he decides he can't go through with marriage because he can't look after Penny properly. They have a confrontation in the street, and he throws away the ring. Seems like he should have at least gotten his money back.

Back to the pub, Des has a pint and commiserates about making the biggest mistake of his life--again. He realizes he did remember the footie game right--it was just the wrong night. A man comes in with a cricket bat, angry, demanding his money. Knowing he's about to clock the bartender in the head, Desmond interferes with him and takes the bat in his own face instead. He wakes up back on the island, lying naked on the palm leaves, and we're back to his return after the hatch explosion. The hatch has been blown to hell. He wants to go back and try again, but of course he can't.

This returns us to the episode frame, as we cut back to the confrontation with Charlie. Hurley drags Desmond off Charlie. Desmond is ranting about how you can't change it, no matter what you do, saying they don't want to know what happened to him. But finally he relents with an explanation. When he turned the key, his life flashed before his eyes, and then he was back in the jungle. But the flashes didn't stop. He wasn't saving Claire, he was saving Charlie. Because the first time, Charlie went in and tried to save Claire, but drowned. When the lightning hit the roof before, he was electrocuted--Desmond saved him from that, as well. He's tried twice to save Charlie, but the universe has a way of course correcting (per the woman in the jewelry shop from the flashback), and he can't stop it forever. No matter what Desmond does, Charlie is fated to die.

So all my theories were wrong. Sort of. And sort of not. I do hope they find a way to have Charlie not die. This would make sense, actually, since they threw it out there so blatantly. Most of the deaths on this show seem to come out of left field, so to have one predicted and then play out would be against pattern. I'm guessing this will serve as a setup for another subplot, that'll have something to do with... well, something. It's a little early to tell which of the major arcs this could play into. But I suppose we'll find out.