Lost: Flashes Before Your Eyes
(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!