Want to understand what’s going on in this week’s episode of Lost? Should have paid more attention in Physics class.
Previously on Lost...
To really get into the mood for this week’s episode, you must think back to the season 3 episode, “Flashes Before Your Eyes.” In this episode, we see what happened to Desmond when he woke up after the hatch imploded/exploded. He goes back to the time where he was about to ask Penny to marry him, and thinks he’s been given a second chance with her, that the island never happened, and now he can be with her. He runs into a strange woman when buying the ring, named Mrs. Hawking, who tells him that he must let fate run its course, and if he tries to change the past or the future, there will be a “course correction” that will happen to change things back. That episode led many fans (including myself) to read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, a book on Ben’s nightstand and a favorite of one of the Others, where Hawking discusses black holes and time travel. I’d recommend it to anyone trying to understand that episode, or the this one. (I wrote a brief summary of the book in Finding Lost — Season Three: The Unofficial Guide, pp 67-72.) I won’t pretend to know a lot about time travel and parallel universes and wormholes, but some of the readers on my blog know a lot about it, and we’ve spent the last week chatting about various possibilities. I was thrilled to see some of them seem to come true this week.
Mindblowing episode. This is the reason the hardcore fans love Lost. When Sayid, Frank, and Desmond are flying to the boat in the helicopter, Desmond suddenly finds himself in the Army in 1996. Just as he begins convincing himself the helicopter ride was a nightmare, his consciousness moves back to himself in 2004 . . . but that self no longer has any memory of anything that’s happened after 1996. Throughout the episode, Desmond tries to reconcile his two worlds and find a way to make his time travel stop, and his answer lies in finding a constant, something that is part of both worlds and means a lot to him: Penny.
• Faraday in 1996 . . . he’s almost as unhinged as he is now.
• Daniel putting on a radiation vest and Desmond saying, “So what do you put on your head?” (That suddenly explains a lot.)
• Daniel saying, “I’d be careful crossing the street if I were you!”
• The phone call at the end, and Desmond finally making contact. I was so scared that he was going to suddenly die, I was holding my breath.
Biggest “GASP!” Moments:
• Dan saying that their perception of time on the island is not necessarily the same as to those on the helicopter.
• Desmond not recognizing Sayid.
• Daniel telling Desmond to go and find him in 1996!
• The Black Rock journal.
• Penny and Desmond FINALLY making contact!
• Daniel’s mysterious journal entry. I guess now he and Desmond need to be reunited.
Desmond is travelling 8 hears back in time. Dan’s machine has to be set at 2.342. The Black Rock painting is auction lot 2342; the bidding opens at £150,000. Penny’s new address is 423 Cheyne Walk. The numbers in Penny’s phone number add up to 46, which is 23 x 2.
Did You Notice?:
• Frank’s “cheat sheet” says he has to go North bearing 305. Michael was told by Ben that he had to bear 325. I’m still convinced that he’s going to be Ben’s man on the boat.
• Sayid leans forward to chat with Desmond about what Charlie said (that it wasn’t Penny’s boat) and he’s talking to him as if Frank can’t hear, but Frank is also wearing the headphones, and can hear everything they’re saying.
• There seemed to be an inconsistency with what happens to Desmond when he moves from one time to another. In the army sequence, he’s standing and saying he’s not supposed to be here when his consciousness moves back. When he returns to his consciousness in the stairwell and the auction house bathroom, he’s unconscious on the floor.
• Daniel in 1996 says he’s going to “unstick” Eloise in time. That’s a reference to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, where the protagonist is “unstuck in time,” bouncing around to various moments in his life.
• At this year’s Comic-Con, Damon and Carlton showed another of the hatch orientation videos for the Orchid Station, and in the video Marvin Candle (going by yet another alias) is holding a rabbit with a 15 painted on it. Partway through filming something shoots by him, and he looks up to see the same rabbit sitting on a shelf above him. He cries, “Don’t let them see each other” and runs to the side of the room, as if it’s the same rabbit, one in the present and one time-travelling from another era. In this episode, it appears only Desmond’s consciousness is time travelling, but the rabbit was doing it physically.
• The painting at the auction is of the Black Rock. We already knew it was a slave ship, and that the Hansos had something to do with it (in the online ARG, The Lost Experience, it’s established that Magnus Hanso owned the ship; in the screen cap of the season 2 blast door map, we can see a spot pinpointed where Magnus Hanso is buried on the island). Now we know it had left Portsmouth, England, for Siam, and was lost at sea.
• As Widmore leaves the room with Desmond, you can hear the auctioneer say the next lot is a collection of Charles Dickens books, which is interesting since Desmond has read every book except one, which he’s saving for when he’s about to die. Also, Portsmouth, England (where the Black Rock departed from) is Dickens’ birthplace.
• On the calendar where you see the days marked off with X’s, there are no X’s over the dates October 20, 21, 22, or 23. The Boston Red Sox won the American League Championship Series on October 20, and went on from there to win the World Series. Could that have caused some seismic reaction in the world that made four days go missing on the calendar?
• Penny’s address and phone number were clues in the Find 815 online alternate reality game.
• At the end of the episode, after his consciousness moves back to 2004 and he’s talking to Penny on the phone, we see him in 1996 walking away from her apartment, rather than going comatose, which would suggest the zipping back and forth has come to an end because he’s found his constant. However, there’s a smile on his face, as if he actually has a “memory” of what is happening in the future.
So Many Questions...
• Does this mean Desmond’s starting fresh and won’t have any memory of his time in the hatch or any of the people on the island?
• Why is Desmond’s consciousness in 1996? In other words, why, by moving between the two time periods, does he have no memory of the future? In Hawking’s book, he says there are three arrows of time, and the psychological arrow is the direction in which we remember the past, but not the future. It’s in conjunction with the other two arrows, thermodynamic (entropy increases with time) and cosmological (the direction in which the universe is expanding, not contracting). If one arrow turns, it can turn others. I wondered in my book if, because Desmond had tried to go back in time to change his life, thus decreasing the entropy and turning his thermodynamic arrow, could he have turned his psychological one and that’s why he can remember snippets of the future? But in this case, things seem to have turned back, and now he can no longer remember that future. Interesting that in “Flashes Before Your Eyes” he could remember his time on the island when he went back in time, but this time around he can’t. Could it have something to do with the electromagnetic surge he was feeling during the implosion/explosion?
• What is in the sky that caused him to suddenly jump time, and why does Desmond’s exposure to the electromagnetic surge make him prone to it? Is there a wormhole surrounding the island, as I’ve suggested before, or one section of the bubble surrounding the island that is a wormhole, and the helicopter slipped through it?
• Why doesn’t Frank know why Desmond is freaking out? Charlotte and Dan both know about it, and on the boat everyone seems aware of it.
• George Minkowski tells Desmond that he was getting calls from Penny on his console and he was under strict instructions not to answer it. Why?
• George says to Desmond at one point, “You look a lot older now, huh?” Could this be the explanation for Walt? Maybe the Others exposed Walt to some radiation on the island, and then when he and Michael tried to leave on the boat, he began having the same experiences that Desmond is having. But . . . does that explain why he looks older to us? Hmm....
• Who opened the door to the sick bay. Could it have been . . . Michael?!
• How did Desmond know Mr. Widmore would be at the auction house? Why did he give Penny’s address to Desmond? He despises him.
• If it’s December 24 on the boat, does that make it December 25 on the island? The current timeline suggested the previous episodes were happening on Christmas Eve, so that would make it Christmas on the island. The episode moment I want to see: Jack drawing Locke’s name in the Island Secret Santa.
• So... if Desmond met Daniel in 1996, wouldn’t 2004 Daniel have a memory of it? Or could that be explained away by Daniel’s apparent memory problems? In last week’s episode, it appeared that Charlotte had shown Daniel three cards, turned them over, and then he could only remember two of them. Is he suffering from memory loss?
Next week: The action returns to the island, and Charlotte and Daniel appear to be risking their lives to reconfigure a computer. They also appear to be in the Orchid Station.