I’m going to assume that you’ve seen tonight’s kick-ass episode; stop here if you haven’t.
Pieces are starting to snap into place. Desmond’s Billy Pilgrimage has been the longest, strangest trip of the people whose destinies are entwined with the island’s, yet they don’t understand how or why. I won’t bother recapping the episode. Just want to note some of the things that I think were important and sink my teeth into some new questions which may point to the direction, at long last, the ending of the series will take.
I’ll start with the wilder speculations. Desmond’s unique ability to withstand “electro-magnetic” events is the key to all this, obviously. I was deeply gratified to have some good, geeky sci-fi stuff since going in a much more mystical direction for the majority of the season. Cuse and Lindelof once promised that everything on their show would be explicable by science. I always believed that their statement was sometimes taken too literally to mean “modern or near-modern science” as opposed to radically advanced science of the sort that Arthur C. Clarke famously described – that any sufficiently advanced technology will appear as magic to a less advanced society.
This approach, which Doctor Who uses, might give them the ability to fulfil this claim. The Doctor is a purely science fiction creation; an alien member of an incredibly advanced race, able to see and do things that seem magical through science too advanced for human brains to even comprehend. This is why the show uses the mechanic of the human companion. They often face classic horror and supernatural villains (like werewolves, witches and vampires) that are given alien or technological origin stories in response to questions from the companion.
I always thought that the show’s mentions of the Cassimir effect and super-massive objects pointed to this; it’s radically speculative in actual physics, but these are effects that could be used to create an object that is bigger on the inside, like the TARDIS. This precisely explains the difficulty of getting to the island; they’re effectively looking for the small door into the TARDIS, only it’s an unmarked spot on the ocean, not a police box door. Science this speculative (and even more so) is fair game, in my opinion. On this track, I’m not sure if Cuse & Lindelof ever directly stated that aliens won’t be involved. Let’s assume they didn’t so we can have some fun with it.
Former Lostie Elizabeth Mitchell used the incredibly loaded Lost catchphrase “Don’t tell me what I can’t do” on this week’s V, a major event series on the same network that had an unusual airing schedule which happens to overlap Lost’s final episodes. Interesting if aliens are involved, but if you want to get really deep into the conspiracy theory, I just read Stephen King’s latest, Under the Dome, which is set in the very near future – late 2010. He casually mentions a character who’s looking forward to The Forgotten Ones, a “clever follow-up to Lost“. Did the Lost-obsessed and J.J. Abrams-friendly author get a tip for his new book, and V is the way it will manifest?
Enough with the extravagant Time Lord speculations and bringing it back down to mere speculation: it appears that Eloise Widmore – and most likely her husband – have some knowledge of both timelines, though not necessarily both versions of the characters at the same time. I can’t remember if we’ve ever seen original-timeline Charles do anything bad, because he sure seems on the side of the angels. I think our dislike was just built on his treatment of Desmond, and it’s becoming clear that he was probably doing it for a good reason. The sailing race he manipulated him into attempting was probably the major reason, in order to get him to the island at the right time. He possibly even understood Penny’s destiny as Desmond’s constant and had to keep them apart until the timing was right.
I’m beginning to believe the mirror imagery we’ve seen so much of may not be a plot point, but rather a stylistic device. Did you get the impression Sideways Desmond has complete memories of the original Desmond’s timeline, but the original Desmond’s memories of Sideways World cut off at the moment he shakes Penny’s hand? This seems indicated by original Desmond waking up at that moment, along with the absence when he got zapped at the beginning of the episode of the familiar whooshy “timeshift” sound effect they used before his last Sideways appearance asking for the 815 manifest.
On that topic, I’m not sure how Desmond is going to go about restoring the 815ers memories. For the characters we met tonight, Desmond’s flashes were triggered by Charlie re-enacting his death. Did Charlie know he was doing this? It appears not, since that would assume he had a memory of it himself, and he didn’t recognize Penny’s name. Both Charlie and Faraday appeared to have their memories triggered by seeing the woman they love, but it’s possible that Charlie’s was also linked to the drowning sensation he had when choking. Meeting and knowing people in both timelines is clearly not enough, as many of the characters have met and talked with each other in Sideways World – even had close relationships, like Ben and Alex and Jin and Sun, or physical contact after new introductions, like Kate and Claire.
What of the sacrifice that Desmond will need to make (and which he appears to not even be concerned about)? That’s where I see a possible ending for the show. Let’s start with some assumptions.
In Sideways World, where the plane didn’t crash, the island is underwater. Let’s assume that Jacob’s metaphor and facts are correct – the island is like a plug in the Hellmouth and Smokey needs to remain on the island for it to continue this job, or the world ends. Let’s also assume that being sunk underwater in the 1970s will kill or contain Smokey and the island will continue to work just fine. Since the Sideways World hasn’t gone to hell, it seems a pretty safe assumption.
This leaves alive the very real possibility that the ending for the show is that our familiar timeline has to be the one that’s wiped out, and the Sideways World needs to become the only world. This implies that Desmond’s sacrifice won’t be too bad; that it’ll be the wife and child he already has vs. the wife and child he could have.
This also provides a happy ending for most/many characters. Countless characters that were killed off are alive. Locke is happy, Ben is a good person. Possible reunions of Charlie/Claire, Jack/Kate, Juliet/Sawyer, Daniel/Charlotte, Hurley/Libby, and Sun/Jin (if she survives Keamy shooting her). I could go on – the Sideways World in general is a happier place for most of the characters, or appears to be anyway.
This, of course, is built on yet another assumption; that it’ll have a happy ending, and I’m by no means ruling a dark ending out. What I find more likely is that it will be dark for some characters and happy for a lot more, and that meshes fine with my proposal. The method of doing this will probably still involve needing to stop Smokey Locke in the original timeline, so perhaps some noble character (Jack seems a likely candidate) has to forfeit his happy Sideways existence to stay on the island and be the new Jacob in an isolated, never-ending pocket of time.
Sayid, for a long time, has just had the vibe to me of a character who’s going to have a bad ending. A big part is that while others on the island did bad things in the original timeline, none did it with his brutality and scale, and he appears to have a dark history in Sideways World too. A bad ending for him, in both worlds even, seems possible, and I’m sure they’ll throw a few shockers at us in this respect.
At any rate, we’re in the final chapter now, and the shape of things to come is starting to come into focus, albeit still hazy through the cloud of black smoke. Can’t wait for next week.