Wednesday, April 7, 2010

LOST 049: Avoid The Solenoid

"He was the sacrifice the island required."
-John Locke

And so, as the (probably) triptych of Desmond-centric episodes is (probably) complete, and it seems more and more likely that Flashes Before Your Eyes, The Constant, and now Happily Ever After form the load-bearing pillars of the entire series. Charles Widmore snatched his son-in-law out of the hospital, drugged him, dragged him to the island, and then shot him with 1.21 jiggawatts.

And now Desmond knows something. But what do we know?

What, indeed?


First of all, we know a few things about Sideways World which tie it directly and irrefutably to the main narrative. Exactly how it is tied is not entirely clear, but it is reasonable to assume that this is a reality that was created by the bomb. I don't think that this means the bomb has failed to have its impact in Real Island World, by the way. I still think the energy of that bomb coupled with the energy of the Swan pocket is what Desmond released way back in Season 2's finale.

But even more to the point, this is the fulfillment of the theory (not mine) that I posted here a couple weeks ago. Here it is again:

You know what might end up being the central episode of this whole damn series when all is said and done? “Flashes Before Your Eyes.” Remember how Desmond returned to the world before he went to The Island, and how Mrs. Hawking told him he had to snap out of it and resume his responsibility? Not only am I going to predict (tentatively, of course) that the “flash-sideways” will resolve in much the same way they did for Desmond, with Hawking or someone similar shocking the Alterna-815ers back to “reality,” but I also predict—as many of you already have—that this resolution has already occurred, and that the season-opening scene at the imploded hatch takes place after our gang has given up their other lives and jumped back. I could be way off here, but that’s my sense of things. After all, it can’t just be a coincidence that The Hatch was the site of two of these reality-splits. (By the way, if I’m just repeating a theory that some of you have already espoused, I apologize. I do read the comment section extensively every week, but it’s hard to keep track of everything that’s been proposed.)

Yep. This is exactly what is going on. Now look at that bolded part up there. The "someone"? Is Desmond.

Let's recap. Desmond was right on top of a "catastrophic electromagnetic event," and he found himself in what he believed was his past, with a chance to fix the mistake (leaving Penny to gain Widmore's respect, and maybe his self-respect) he'd made prior. He was about to do just that, when he was confronted by Hawking, in her first appearance on the show. Hawking, apparently acting as some sort of guardian of destiny, convinced Desmond that his destiny lay on that island. That he was the sacrifice the island required. Desmond returned to the island, believing that he could see the future.

Except that Desmond didn't travel into his past, and he couldn't see the future. He traveled, and could see, sideways.

Desmond, and everybody else, was in a reality in which Charlie Pace died in a freak lightning strike. Desmond perceived that, and perhaps a smattering of other potential ramifications, and saved Charlie.

Which moved him, and everybody else in that reality, sideways.

Not far, really. They were now in a reality in which Charlie Pace drowned trying to save Claire. So Desmond moved them sideways again, into a reality in which Charlie died with Rousseau's arrow in his throat. Desmond moved them sideways again, and again, and again, until he finally moved them into the NOT PENNY'S BOAT reality. Charlie's actions in death created a rift between the Oceanic survivors just as Widmore's scientists and mercenaries were coming to the island. All the ramifications of that split, which are too many to count, stemmed from that split. And Desmond David Hume moved them there.

Here is what Desmond is. A man who can perceive in four dimensions. He doesn't see forward in time. He sees through it. Move the island? How about move the universe?

And I suspect that what happened when Desmond found his way to Constant Penny with an assist from Hooray! Faraday!, Sideways Desmond and Island Desmond became aware of each other. What exactly happened with them is yet to be seen, but it's clear that neither Island Desmond nor Sideways Desmond stopped existing. Perhaps they switched minds. I think it's more likely that each is simply fully aware of the other. What they could see through a mirror darkly, they now see clearly.

Desmond is going to find the Sideways Losties, the ones that perhaps the Nemesis intended to banish to Sideways world all along, and he's going to be to them what Hawking was to him. A call to return. A reminder of destiny. What did Jacob tell the Nemesis as he died? "They're coming," he said. I think that the moment we see them outside the Swan pit is the moment they returned from Sideways reality.

And, if Desmond is going to be the Oceanic's Hawking, it raises all sorts of questions about the nature of Hawking, who still seems to be very aware. To be more specific, doesn't Hawking appear to be able to perceive four-dimensionally? As it becomes more and more likely that this game of Jacob and Nemesis has played out many, many turns of time's wheel . . . might Hawking have once been the pawn that became a queen? The Desmond of a previous game? Has Desmond just graduated into her order? Hawking wanted to keep Desmond from the truth, but not because she was against his knowing the truth, at least not by her admission. Simply put, she felt he wasn't ready.

I hope he's ready now.

Some more thoughts:

* I am going to consider the reality that Desmond entered in Flashes Before Your Eyes to be a Sideways reality. Probably not THE Sideways World of Season 6, but of the same ilk nonetheless. That said, do you notice the difference between the seemingly all-knowing Eloise Hawking of the Sideways worlds ("this is a violation"), who seems to be some kind of Rule-Keeper, and the knowledgeable-but-still-limited Eloise Hawking of Main Reality ("for the first time in years, I have no idea what's going to happen."). I don't know what it means. I'm just noticing.

* Widmore-as-good-guy is really starting to gather steam. Ben truly thought Widmore was a dangerous guy, and he obviously is. Ben also thought that Widmore wanted to destroy the island and kill everybody on it. Of course, we now know that Ben was getting his information from the Nemesis, who makes the most delicious lies. He wraps each one in a truth. He calls them lies-in-a-blanket. Take a handful, they are the yum.

* Sayid is truly scary without a soul. He burst in killed the red shirt, shot Zoe in the face, and then kidnapped Desmond. Oh wait, no. He let Zoe go, and for no perceivable tactical advantage. Huh. Maybe Sayid's soul is only mostly dead. In any event, scary.

* Seriously, Charles, if Desmond is your secret weapon without which we're all dead? Maybe a little bit more security around him than Random Dude and Liz Lemon as you walk him back through the Island of Friggin' Mystery.

* There are bands that probably could not play a gig by replacing their errant bass player with a studio pro. Driveshaft does not seem like that band.

* I bet Daniel (Faraday) Widmore's band sounds a lot like Weezer.

* So cool to have Charlie back and snarky. The moment underwater flashing back to "NOT PENNY'S BOAT" was powerful.

* Desmond, though, is in no way scared. He's just as happy to go with Sayid to the Nemesis as he is to stay and help Widmore. Either he's brain-addled (doubt it) or he knows more than anybody.

Theory 1: Sideways Desmond wants to make all the Sideways Losties aware of their true identities and destinies, and the false nature of the reality they find themselves in. But, turtles upon turtles, what if that is true of Main Reality as well?

Theory 2: Desmond is the Universal Constant for all these people. He can snap them to full understanding.

* What is the nature of the sacrifice Widmore hopes Desmond will make? Who is the man that whispered "Help me" to John Locke, the spirit trapped in the cabin? Are those two unrelated questions? Didn't that shed with that giant rabbit-fricassee in it look an awful lot like a shack? Who is the sacrifice the island requires? OK, I'm rambling.

* Widmore said something about Desmond, along the lines of "He's the only person on earth that I know has survived a catastrophic electromagnetic event." This makes Desmond special, we've seen, because he can perceive -- and choose -- other realities. But guess what? Everybody who was on the site of the Swan bomb? They've survived a similar catastrophe, from the same pocket of energy, and they, like Desmond, were sent to a Sideways world, from which they needed to be called back, and from which I'd say we know they have been called back. Because here they are.

Miles. Jack. Jin. Sawyer. Kate. Hurley. Even Locke, who was on site when Desmond blew the hatch.

What if they are all now like Desmond?



SirFWALGMan said...

Hey can we start a blog war now? It has been a while: I expect you to swear and rant properly if you choose to do this.

Mike Maloney said...

"What did Jacob tell the Nemesis as he died? "They're coming," he said. I think that the moment we see them outside the Swan pit is the moment they returned from Sideways reality."

You sir, get a cookie.

And I'm glad I'm not the only one that thought the EM chamber looked like the cabin.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to lob out a few idea grenades:

1)The reason Desmond has such a goofy smirk when he joins Sayid is because he's achieved such a heightened state of awareness that he now knows how to make the perfect choices to navigate seamlessly through that reality toward the ideal outcome (whatever that might be);

2)theoretical physicists will tell you that when you go back in time and change things what you're really doing is creating an alternate reality - if time is like a stream of water, you're just forking off onto a new stream, but the stream you left remains the same;

3)the jughead explosion in 1977 created a "new stream", but the losties stayed in their existing stream and just got re-inserted into the 2007 timeline that they left via the same forces that yanked them back to 1977 in the first place - this proposition assumes that there were young 1977 versions of the losties co-existing off the island who we are now observing in the sideways realty that they grew up in;

4) I think the time stream we're witnessing as the focal point of the whole series is "special" amongst all the other infinite timeline iterations, hence the sideways losties feeling those weird tugs toward it;

5) the electromagnetic forces at the island obviously have the ability to move people backward on their stream, we rarely see anyone move further in the future than the natural progression of the timeline that they left (behold, the power of free will!) - in fact, the only instance I can recall is where Locke moved forward to the point where Richard tells him he has to die;

6) while these forces can move people backward and forward to where they left (plus the intervening time that passed), Desmond remains the *only* person we've seen who can move sideways from stream to stream (though I agree there is evidence that Hawking may share this gift); and

7) I reject your theory about Jacob's "they're coming" quote referring to Desmond bringing the sideways back to where we saw them in 2007 following the jughead explosion, I thought the whole point of the smoke monster's plan was to leave the island with them in tow? However, I am more comfortable with the loose idea that Desmond is attempting to bridge the awareness gap between the sideways losties and regular losties and that Jacob's foresaw this.

Mike said...

Here's a theory:

I think the show is building towards a "best of both worlds" ending, i.e., an ending in which only the Sideways World survives, but the people in it are infused with their memories from the original timeline. Desmond has realized that this is his job. He has to "awaken" everyone in the Sideways World. The reason he seems so apathetic at the end of the episode on the island (blindly following Sayid, etc.) is because he knows that the original timeline is doomed and the real work to be done is in the Sideways World. The sacrifice he has to make is his son Charlie, who only exists (at least so far) in the original timeline. If the Sideways Timeline supplants the original timeline, Charlie will blink out of existence, but everyone else, including those who died in the original timeline, will be alive and in a better place.

Anonymous said...

"Seriously, Charles, if Desmond is your secret weapon without which we're all dead?" ... I think Charles is allowing Desmond to go to MIB, it is part of his plan to defeat MIB.

Unless I have failed reading comprehension and being able to follow a story, the other electromagnetic event that Desmond survived is the electromagnetic event that caused 815 to crash land. The purple sky event, is this one of the pillars or would this be the fourth pillar?

Julius_Goat said...

@Waffles - Naaah, different strokes for different folks. Besides, Hoy loves LOST, he just hates Desmond.

@Maloney - I will eat that cookie with relish.

@Annon 1 - (1) I agree (2) I agree (3) I agree (4) I agree (5) I agree-ish, though our friends also wound up finding detritus from the Ajira crash and getting in a shootout with somebody in another skimmer, so hmmmm . . . (6) I agree. Are you sure you aren't me? (7) Aw, rejection hurts. The smokemonster is SAYING that he wants to bring them in tow. He stated to Jacob much earlier that he will kill any Candidates, so I am thinking that he is dealing with the Candidates he'd thought were safely out of the way the best he can.

@Mike -- It's all very up in the air, so your theory is totally valid, but it feels to me that Sideways world is the true dead end.

@Anon 2 -- I agree, and I did think of this only after I posted. It makes pretty good sense.

John said...

I am staying with my original theory. The main timeline and the sideways timeline will meet at some point in the future where they will become one. Desmond will be the one to make this happen. He will get them to the island somehow. We will see a split screen of the two timelines meeting where they will fuse BECAUSE IT IS THEIR DESTINY. THIS WILL HAPPEN IN THE FINALE.

It is not charlies destiny to be on the island because he died in the original timeline and because he is becoming such a nuisance in the sideways world. All the people in the sideways world that are on the island in the main timeline will get there somehow. God only knows how.

John said...

Also, my theory is based on what Hawking said wayyy back. She said everything course corrects. This sideways timeline is not what is supposed to happen but it will make the circumstances happen that will help correct it. Desmond jumping from the main timeline to the sideways world is the universe giving correct path a huge push.

Mike said...

For what it's worth (probably not much), allow me to express skepticism as to a couple of theories.

First, I do NOT believe we will discover that the characters near the bomb explosion all had Desmond-like Sideways World trips prior to waking up at the beginning of the season. Those characters clearly remembered nothing about such trips when they awoke, so such a resolution would not have much dramatic force. Also, there are clearly characters in the Sideways World who were not near the blast, but nevertheless are conscious of their original lives (Charlie, Farraday, Sun). There doesn't seem to be anything unique about the folks who were near the bomb in the Sideways World.

Second, while there are major hints that the Sideways World is in a sense manufactured, that some guiding hand (Smokey?) has attempted to give the characters "the one thing they always wanted," I'm still not convinced that we're head for a Matrix (or Menagerie) like ending where everyone just realizes that Sideways World is fake and wakes up. That's too derivative. I think there are some twists and turns yet to come and that the Sideways World may very well be where everyone ends up.

Mike said...

Food for thought. I just remembered this quote from Ben. Might be relevant to the Sideways World:

"Let me put it so you'll understand. Picture a box. You know something about boxes, don't you John? What if I told you that, somewhere on this island, there is a very large box and whatever you imagined, whatever you wanted to be in it when you opened that box, there it would be? What would you say about that, John?"

Redshirt said...

Ben's relationship to the Smoke Monster is an open question I hope gets addressed in some fashion. He's a smart guy, been on the island a long time. Surely he picked up whatever mythology about Smokey there was. But then, he - inherits? - a house that so happens to sit upon a calling device for the Smoke Monster. Ben seems familiar enough with the ritual to make me believe he'd used it before.

Ben "controlling" the Smoke Monster adds a lot of dimensions to his supposed rehabilitation. In fact, I don't see how he could easily be redeemed if he is in fact still concealing such a relationship.

One presumes Smokey allowed himself to be used by Ben in order to gain his trust, to then execute his grand plan.

John Smith said...

Great article, I will for sure be back to read more that you write.

SirFWALGMan said...

I am highly disappointed and skeptical of your answer.