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October 6, 2015

Lost: Flashes Before Your Eyes

by Erin Martell, posted Feb 15th 2007 1:21AM

Henry Ian Cusick and Fionnula Flanagan

(S03E08) I cannot remember the last time two equally awesome episodes of Lost aired back to back, but here we are. "Flashes Before Your Eyes" was almost better than "Not in Portland." At the very least, it was more complex, and left me with even more questions than last week. I would even hesitate to call this a Desmond flashback episode. At first I thought I was watching a flashback within a flashback, but the writers of Lost had something far more mindbending in store for poor, tragic Desmond.

This episode had a serious Donnie Darko feel to it, and I highly recommend that amateur Lost theorists check that film out after watching "Flashes Before Your Eyes." The movie also involves the notion of time travel and free will versus a predestined path. Desmond embodied that debate tonight, with some fascinating revelations.

The opening scene seemed fairly run-of-the-mill given the twists and turns yet to come. Desmond came upon Charlie and Hurley raiding Sawyer's stash for supplies, and led them to Locke and Sayid in the forest. I had completely forgotten that no one at the beach knew about Eko's death; that seems like a million years ago. Locke wanted Charlie and Hurley to present a calm front for the other crash survivors' morale when word of Eko's death got out, an explanation which caused my eyes to roll involuntarily. After all the abductions, deaths, and polar bear attacks that the other island residents have dealt with, are they not fully aware that they are in a dangerous and unstable place? Is morale even an issue at this point?

During the conversation, Desmond suddenly ran for the beach. He arrived just in time to save Claire from drowning, an event that instantly turned Charlie into a possessive jerk. Welcome back, Jerk-Charlie! Haven't seen you in a while. Hurley, putting two and two together, determined that Desmond can see into the future. He and Charlie came up with a hilarious plan to both figure out Desmond's deal and prevent him from "foreseeing" their intentions: get him drunk. No offense to those two, but this seems like the kind of scheme concocted by Marc and Amanda on Ugly Betty. Nevertheless, the plan moved forward.

Desmond initially refused Charlie and Hurley's lame apology attempts, but changed his tune when he saw the MacCutcheon whiskey they brought with them. Flash forward to drunken male bonding, and the following song lyrics: "swore like a docker with a crackin' set of knockers." Sounds like the work of Driveshaft. Charlie went from drunk to confrontational in 0.5 seconds, and sent Desmond into a violent rage by calling him a coward.

Then it got interesting.

Viewers were given another look at the hatch scene of the Season Two finale, in which Desmond deployed the fail-safe. Suddenly Desmond was awake in his flat, covered in red paint. Penny entered the room, apparently having just moved in. At this point it was clear that we were no longer in traditional flashback mode. Desmond began to remember the moment, and was aware that something was off. I hope this wasn't ABC's way of making it up to Taye Diggs after the Day Break fiasco.

Still in the faux-flashback, Desmond noted that the clock in his bedroom read 1:08. Where have we seen those numbers before? Desmond also heard a familiar beep, not unlike the one in the hatch, but it turned out to be the microwave. All signs continued to point back to the island, and Desmond's "interview" with Mr. Widmore was no exception. At the reception desk, the deliveryman had a parcel for 815, which caused Desmond to have a weird hatch-flash again. This episode was full of these Easter eggs, and I have a feeling that many people will be dissecting it all week (including me). Once in Caleb Nichol-Meade-Widmore's office, Desmond spotted a polar bear painting, a model sailboat, and a bottle of MacCutcheon whiskey. This last discovery led to a pretty brutal scene in which Mr. Widmore berated Desmond and denied him his blessing to marry Penny. If you're going to dash a guy's hopes, you should at least give him a drink, right? That's apparently not how the Widmores roll.

Charlie made a brief, but meaningful, appearance in the non-flashback, singing Oasis covers in the streets for money. Desmond began to recognize Charlie, and to understand his psychic ability/deja vu. Fortunately for Dezzie (best new nickname ever) he had a scholarly friend in an octagonal building to consult. Donovan refused to believe Desmond, especially after he incorrectly predicted the future of a soccer match and a subsequent barfight. Donovan's advice? Marry Penny.

Cut to the jewelry store of mystery, run by Fionnula Flanagan, the original Other. I have no decent guess as to her role in the big picture, but she knew Desmond's name, present, and future. Her only interest was getting Desmond to dump Penny, go to the island, and apparently save everyone's lives. Does this mean that Desmond actually saved the world, or was this just Desmond's subconscious, as he suspected? Fionnula introduced Desmond to the notion of "course-correcting" by letting a red-shoed man get creamed by scaffolding right in front of them. This woman possessed a power Desmond now possesses--the ability to foresee the deaths of others. The trick of it is, neither of them can stop the deaths from occurring. Isn't that always the way? She informed Desmond of his unavoidable path, and told him it was "the only truly great thing" he would ever do.

Ultimately, Desmond's attempts to resist his fate failed, and he continued on his path away from Penny, who also called him a coward. It was heartbreaking to see Desmond's realization that his choice would separate him from the woman he loved. Things began to fall into line, including the soccer match and the barfight. This time, however, the cricket bat that was meant for the bartender met Desmond's head. That's what happens when you interfere with fate.

The shocking twist? Desmond's premonitions were not of Claire's impending death, but of Charlie's, a fact that Desmond was kind enough to communicate to Charlie. I will not even pretend that I saw that coming. As with Juliet, Desmond became far more intriguing with his flashback. A couple of side notes:

  • Hurley called Desmond "Desmondo" in the opening scene. I believe that Kelvin first gave Desmond that nickname in the hatch.
  • "Bearded wonder" is my new favorite phrase.
  • Was Desmond lying when he told Widmore that he had no military experience, or had it simply not happened yet? Desmond wandered by a military recruiting station later in the episode.
  • Charlie's street musician sign listed his name as Charlie Hieronymus Pace. Hmm.

Just some food for thought. See you next week!

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bash, the thing about Desmond and the jeweler wasn't that Desmond had already fulfilled his destiny it's that the universe continues to repeat itself. So even though Desmond had turned the key, he was now "reset" and doing things again. If he married Penny he wouldn't have entered the boat race and ended up on the island. The "Brief History of Time" easter egg was actually an important point in understanding what they were saying here. Not only does that book discuss the theories behind black holes but it also talks about the idea of an expanding and contracting universe. Hawking doesn't actually agree with it, but he mentions it. The idea is that like a bouncing ball, the universe goes through an expanding cycle followed by a contracting cycle followed by another big bang leading to an expansion cycle.... In other words, we've been here before, done this and will do it again and again and again. Now look at the ideas in the other easter eggs from this episode specifically David Hume the Scottish philosopher who had developed ideas about free will vs. determinism. Put those two ideas side by side and it looks as if the producers are asking a question here about free will vs. predeterminism... or destiny. If Desmond really is now able to see the past, does he have free will to choose to continue as he did in the past? Does the universe really "self correct" as the jeweler said? If so what does that mean about Desmond and his choice - or lack thereof?

I think the Easter eggs are intended to add another layer to the show and to make you work a little for the answers. Instead of simply being handed the answers to all of the questions I think the show gives you ways to make it more interesting. The clues are there - whether you want to use them or not is up to you.

February 19 2007 at 3:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have a question about whether Desmond was actually saving Charlie. If the group was so far away from the ocean where Claire was drowning then how would Charlie have made it to that spot to save her? We know that Desmond had a vision or something that drew him to the beach. But what would have drawm Charlie to the same spot on the beach? And from the looks of it, Claire was moments away from dying. I doubt that Charlie could have know where Claire exactly was, reached her in time and then be able to save her life. I could see Charlie drowning but I think if it was left up to Charlie, Claire would have died as well. I wonder if Desmond was telling the truth to Charlie?

And to Bash, I read your posts and have to agree with most of it. I don't get worked up about Easter Eggs anymore because they have not led anywhere. I mean what good is it to know that a polar bear is in a painting in Widmore's office if you don't even know what the significance of the damn polar bear on the island means?

February 18 2007 at 7:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

@82 Penny is played by Sonya Walger.

BTW: Almost everything you want or need to know can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/22fyc8

February 18 2007 at 11:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who is the actress who plays "Penny"?

February 18 2007 at 3:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does anyone think that maybe the ring will turn up on the island? That shot of it landing in the river where Desmond threw it seemed unnecessary unless it's a plot point...

February 17 2007 at 7:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

@72... I am POSITIVELY glad you are so BORED by this episode.

More, I'm grateful you had to BORE us with such a long post telling us about it.

Funny thing, that boredom - something so damn boring can make one write a so-damn-lengthy-it-is-obvious-I-am-better-than-the-writers comment like you seem to choose anymore.

Look - this blog is getting crowded and filled with writers who have no clue. But you sir, already wasted more of my life than I wish to admit - in one day alone reading your drivel.

This was a good episode of a good series that - by and large - has been entertaining if you let it for well over two years.

Your post? Boorish.

Oh, and BORING.

Write your own blog if you honestly think we care, Sir Bash.

February 16 2007 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The woman in the jewelry store tried to make Desmond do the same thing he did the first time because she thinks that if he changes anything and doesn't follow through "they will all die". She also stated that the "universe course corrects" and that it is inevitable. This seemed a little off to me until Desmond actually did something different this time. He took the ring. Yes, he didn't give it to Pen, but he took it. Also, I think the first time around, he didn't talk to Charlie and didn't talk to his friend at the bar and the bartender was the one that was hit in the head. In this trip to the past, having done things differently, Desmond ended up getting hit in the head. In my opinion, I think he has changed the "course" and at least his own destiny with Pen because now that he told his scientific friend about the island and everything connected, that information will enable her to find him...... Remember the monitoring station in the North Pole (or Siberia or wherever it was) that found an electromagnetic anomoly and they called Penny? I could never figure out how she knew to look for something like that. This might explain it.

Also, if what I said was true, then the woman would also be wrong about the person's destiny to die if she tried to save them. She told Desmond the only truly great thing he will do in life is to press that button. She was wrong about that. Turning the key was a heroic act and risking his own life to save Claire in Charlie's place was heroic as well. I think Desmond keeps changing the "course" by these acts.

Just my theory.

February 16 2007 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bill, I understand the reasons you give but why on earth is it impossible for him to give up the idea that he has to be a great man to be loved?

Isn't she now in fact searching for him - having failed to finish the sailing-race? She seems to be in love with him no matter what and I get the impression that this has nothing to do with her but solely with him. HE thinks he needs to be a great guy for her while she ALREADY thinks he is a great guy. This is all just because he feels inadequate.

Now if she would have been nagging, criticising and trying to change him as a person because of this I might understand. But wouldn't it be just as much show strength if he'd just gone through with it? Proposed, married her, TRY to be a good husband?

Instead he runs away, is even more of a failure, comes back, and then hops on a boat to show what kind of a super guy he is. Sailing a boat. Yeah right. That's what women want. A tough sailor. Not maybe a husband and caring father maybe who might be the perfect stay-at-home dad if she'd decide to take over the family company. Also I thought that her dad thought he was good enough to take a job in the company - but just not good enough for beeing her husband. The reason I could accept would be him beeing a hopeless drunk which wasn't shown that much in this episode although mentioned two times (him dropping to the floor while painting and later on on the beach saying he was a little bit too often too drunk these days - problem with that is that nowadays people tend to get drunk all the time so that didn't really make me raise an eyebrow). So it felt a little bit like he only ran away because her father told him he wasn't worth it. Oh and I fond that whiskey-reference totally cheesy. Signgle sip worth more than a month's pay (ridiculous even if he only made 400 quid a month that would make the whole bottle worth a couple of thousands and they just find that on their plane *sigh*) at a certain point I simply can't take the coincidences anymore. Fresh strawberrys at the beach for Kate... TNT in an old ship in the center of the large island... drugs on a plane with Echo's brother in it. What's next? New wheelchair for Locke dropping out of the sky? Just in case he loses his walking ability again. *sigh* I'm just glad they found so much food from Dharma or from a certain point on some people (guess who) might've actually LOST some weight *dry laugh*

And honestly naming people on the island after certain philosophers who's ideas you work into the storyline... just to pick up the weight think here I guess they should've named Jorge Garcia "Fatty Mc Butterpants" then. Or "Lonnard Tow" - You know. Lotto. Would that be slapping the audience in the face with the obvious? I don't know. Naming the characters after the people who took the ideas from seems totally cheesy to me. It's just "cool" because nobody actually knows that somebody already thought of all that and directly referencing it ruins it for me. It really does. Save that stuff for the audio-commentary, tell the viewer then where you got the idea from and how you thought it was good and everything. All this direct referencing is really getting on my nerves. Somebody here actually asked whether the chucks had the Dharma-Logo on them and another person added up numbers. This is starting to become "23" or that ridiculous 9/11 idea with the 11 letters. The total eyeopener for me was the interview on comic con last year where some woman plugged away for her website yelling at carlton for not admitting that the Dharma initiative was "real".

I hate the idea that I have to become some sort of lunatic hint-hunter to actually "get" Lost. The naming of the characters would be something special if they were one of few tidbits, fun fact and one of a few hidden easter-eggs. But they are virtually plastering easter-eggs all over the place.

I loved Twink Peaks for being so complex you actually had to watch it over and over again to get it. Same goes to Donny Darko. Lost just isn't like this anymore. I am getting fed pseudo-interesting items here and feel more and more like a caged animal waiting for the next little pellet while never seeing the end of the tunnel where the really BIG CHEESE is.

It still is interesting for me. It hasn't gotten old but my patience is running pretty thin here... there bette be some answers to big questions soon. If I'd start counting the open questions at the moment I could easily quadrupel the number of lines I already rambled on here :-)

February 16 2007 at 12:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

Its sad that more people don't watch Life on Mars, it's an awesome show. I will accept the homage angle of Desmond's time travel/flashback.

February 16 2007 at 11:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I certainly agree with Sam (#69) about Alias' quality dropping off, but JJ Abrams was involved with that the whole way. The problem, as it often is, is that the network asked them to make changes to simplify the show. So the double agent thing, which was the entire concept of the series, was written off in that awesome (but series changing) Superbowl episode.

Whatever direction the show was intended to go in was gone. With Sydney not a double agent, a lot of the things that made it great were gone. Though it still showed flashes of brilliance, it never returned to the quality of the first season and a half. And I did stick around til the end.

As for Lost, as others have mentioned, the creators have always said that they have a plan. Damon Lindelof has, as far as I can tell, been in charge of the show since the pilot (and has devoted so much time to it, that he couldn't finish writing his Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk comic, which disappointed me).

The only network interference with the storyline that I've heard of is Dominic Monaghan saying the network asked them to stretch out the storyline in the middle. Which could possibly explain the feeling a lot of people had in the first half of this season that things weren't going anywhere.

But during the hiatus, announcements came that the show has an end date already, and that makes me feel very comfortable that it's headed somewhere. And I have enjoyed the ride for the most part so far, so I have confidence that it's headed somewhere good.

And Bash has a good point about the easter egg hunt. I tend to not focus on that stuff. If when I'm watching, I'll notice something on occasion but I'm not looking for them, and I even check out http://losteastereggs.blogspot.com/ for random stuff like that (mostly to say "oh, neat" but not give it too much thought), but that's all secondary to the enjoyment of the story and the characters.

But as for Desmond's heroism... he gave up his own happiness. He could've tried, no matter what that lady said, to alter his destiny or whatever, proposed to Penny, that would've made him happy. But he was stung by the idea that he was not a great man, and that only a great man was deserving of her. When told that pushing the button and turning the key is the only great thing he'd ever do, he felt like he had no choice in the matter. It's not cowardly to give up your happiness for someone else or for the world or whatever.

This has turned into a long rambling post, so I'll just cut it off there.


February 16 2007 at 8:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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