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Wednesday, 22 of September of 2021

Lost – “Happily Ever After”

There’s always a choice, brother.”

Call this one “Greatest Hits (Flash Remix by Desmond Hume).”

Throughout “Happily Ever After,” Desmond relives (if that’s even the right word) his best moments from the Island-existing reality in the flash-sideways, albeit slightly scrambled. The episode provides a place to wriggle into the narrative idea of what “caused” the flash-sideways and how it can be reconciled with the rest of the show.

And what’s the thing that reconciles it? The same things that you need to make a good a film: a girl and a nuclear weapon. Wait…

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2006, at the end of season 2, Doc Jensen of Entertainment Weekly proposed a theory that I really responded to at the time: All You Need Is Love (and Desmond) Theory of Lost. And now it turns out that he may be right all along (I haven’t read Doc Jensen that much since season 3 (he’s crazy scientist brilliant, but the dude makes my head hurt), so if he’s reneged on this (or totally forgotten about it), I think he’s crazier still). Two quotes:

In fact, you can forget Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Locke, and the dozen other characters that we’ve come to know intimately well over the past two years. When Lost is all said and done, it will stand exposed as the story of Desmond and Penelope, two people we barely know, and the lengths these crazy kids will go to in order to be together again — and the lengths to which Daddy Big Bucks will go to keep them apart.


Lost is the Desmond-and-Penelope show now. And I think the series will be better for it. By introducing a more embraceable romantic hero to root for, and by recontextualizing the entire Lost saga around a more emotional narrative arc, the producers have given us something that we kinda desperately needed: a more conventional rubric for their unconventional ideas. The Desmond/Penelope storyline opens up the show and suggests new possibilities, not the least of which is this: the prospect of a happy ending. Through Desmond and Penelope, Jack and company now have reason to hope.

Think about how much truer this idea is now, 4 seasons later. And if we open it beyond Penny and Desmond, it turns out that love is all these people really need. I know that Myles is a bit “Eh” on the whole love thing, and I don’t blame him. Love is a(n) (easy) way out of thorny philosophical and scientific questions that show addresses, but like Jensen in 2006 and James Poniewozik now, I have to ask: Is that so bad?

And it’s not that love is the answer, but it’s the way to get at the answer. Because love, in some way or another, has been the driving force of the show (goodness knows it’s been the driving force of the show for the Jack/Kate/Sawyer people), and now it turns out that love is what may give us a way to understand what the hell is going on. Like Jensen wrote, it gives us a way to conceptualize all the other crazy stuff, to organize it and understand it. It is, in fact, clarity.

Sideways-Charlie  proposes the idea first, claiming to have seen what I can only assume was Claire just before Sideways-Jack saved his life on Oceanic 815. And it gave him this moment of clarity, this idea that perhaps there’s more going on. Sideways-Charlie doesn’t suggest he remembers the Island (perhaps the dead can’t?). But Desmond remembers. Flashes of the Island come to him as he struggles to save Sideways-Charlie from drowning, flashes of Island-Charlie drowning (“Not Penny’s Boat” still chokes me up, even in quick flashes).

And Desmond remembers because he’s special, as Charles is clearly aware of (Eloise maybe spilled the beans?). Even in the flash-sideways, the universe course corrects or, perhaps better put, “All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.” Desmond, upon meeting Sideways-Penny wakes up on the Island while fainting in the flash-sideways. His constant has been met again, and he’s able to act independently in both realities. And now Sideways-Desmond and Island-Desmond can work to try and do whatever it is (t)he(y) think(s) (t)he(y) needs to do.

Which leads to the last big thought: the flash-sideways clearly are a happily ever after for everyone (save for Kate, who is in jail). And if Sideways-Daniel is correct, it’s because of Jughead’s explosion. Everyone, in fact, gets what they want from Smocke. Sayid is with Nadia (to a degree). Claire is with Aaron. Sawyer is off the Island. But Jack is relatively happy, or is at least on the way. Locke has come to grips with himself. Ben’s love of Alex, a love he may not even be aware of, motivates his actions to stay an unappreciated European history teacher. If the realities have to be reconciled in some way, merged into a single timeline (which I don’t think is the case), who makes what choice? Because there’s always a choice.


  • So, Eloise and Charles in the flash-sideways. Eloise clearly knows what’s going on. Does Charles? Notice the choice of artwork in his office: A scale balanced by black and white rocks. Yeah, you run with that.
  • And while you’re at it, run with Sideways-Penny’s maiden name being Milton.
  • I’m glad Fisher Stevens gets more screentime this season than back in season 4. I love Fisher, and to have him strapped to a bed and dealing with nosebleeds was a waste.

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