Brian's One Word Review: Outsmarted.
At the end of this episode, it was clear that Desmond - both on the Island in Reality #1 and in the Flash Sideways of Reality #2 had an epiphany about what was going on, what he needed to do, and why it was all so important. Clearly, Desmond David Hume is far smarter than me because my feeble brain isn't there yet.
Special. We discovered what makes Desmond special is that he can survive exposure to a "catastrophic electromagnetic event", which is going to be critical in saving the world and all of existence. This seems to narrow down Desmond's "purpose" on the Island to getting really, really close to the electromagnetic core of the Island and doing... something - something which is going to cause another one of these "catastrophic events", that will result in the sinking of the Island. Widmore told Desmond that he's going to ask him to make a sacrifice, and I'm guessing it's going to be the ultimate sacrifice. Desmond is the only one who can do it, the only one who can forever trap Anti-Jacob underwater on the Island - he's special.
Love. Love is a many splendor thing. Love lift us up where we belong. All you need is love. Turns out that every songwriter in human history was correct - apparently it all comes down to love in teh end. Is it a coincidence that when Charlie experienced a near death experience in the Flash Sideways, he had a vision of Claire, a vision which brought him total happiness? Or that Desmond's meeting with Penny caused him to "jump" back to Reality #1, and be totally enlightened to everything that he needed to do... and not only that - but also calmly accepting of what might be a death mission? Or that Faraday saw Charlotte for only a minute, and it inspired him to subconsciously write a formula that mathematically explains the science behind these Flash Sideways? He told Desmond:
"Imagine something terrible was about to happen - and the only way to stop it was to release a huge amount of energy, like setting off a nuclear bomb. What if all this wasn't supposed to be our life? What if we had some other life, for some reason, we changed things? I don't want to set off a nuclear bomb Mr. Hume. I think I already did."
Based on everything we've seen this season, I've already determined that the Jughead didn't cause the creation of Reality #2 (due to all the events that took place before the Jughead went off that are totally unrelated to the Island), but maybe it simply caused the consciousness of the characters to jump from Reality #1 (where they were supposed to be) to Reality #2 - where they are seemingly happy... but without love.
Faraday (er... Daniel Widmore) also told Desmond:
"It happened to you too. You felt it. Love."
Earlier in the episode Charlie explained this sensation of "true love" to Desmond as being "what you've always been, and you always will be."
In a super sappy, totally head over heels romantic way (that I am totally a sucker for, by the way), it shows that love conquers all - including space, time, and alternate realities. Once a character interacts with their true love, the feelings come rushing back across space and time, linking their memories to those that took place in a different world.
At the end of the episode, Desmond told Minkowski to gather the manifest for Oceanic 815, telling him "I just need to show them something". What could this possibly be? How can Desmond "prove" the existence of Reality #1, a place that all our Survivors are supposed to be, using a concept as intangible as love? He seems pretty calm and confident about it, but I haven't a clue how this is all going to play out.
Eloise Hawking-Widmore. The curious thing about this episode is that it continued to paint Charles Widmore as the "good guy" on the Island - someone who was forced to kidnap Desmond and perform tests on him for the sake of all existence. On the other hand, in the Flash Sideways, Eloise Hawking-Widmore seemed very concerned that Desmond meeting up with Penny would be a very bad thing. She told him:
"Whatever you are looking for, you need to stop looking for it. You have the perfect life, and the one thing you wanted the most - the approval of Charles Widmore."
When Desmond asks how she knows all of this (a question I think most fans have about Eloise Hawking-Widmore's seeming omniscience), she replied with "because I bloody do." If that's the extent of the explanation behind how she knows so much, I'll be pretty upset.
But the bigger question is - why does she want to keep Desmond from finding his true love? Is there some negative repercussion to realizing that he is in Reality #2, a place where he doesn't belong? Will that somehow "reveal the secrets of the universe" and bring about the end of the world? From the start, more than any other character on the show, Eloise has been concerned with keeping order in the universe - although at the same time she's said that even if things changed, the universe would course correct. But yet again she seems to be getting herself involved in things (like Desmond's life) which seem totally unnecessary if this were really true.
Here's hoping this discovery of love in the Flash Sideways doesn't cause our characters to start skipping back and forth between realities, like a Desmond without a Constant - or else he might accidentally be bringing about the demise for all of them by "showing them" what he has learned.
Also - did you notice the painting in Widmore's office? With the balanced scale with white stones on one side and black stones on the other? I was disappointed the Namaste Polar Bear painting wasn't there, but this one was equally cool.
So in the end, I know it sounds like I understand this episode - but I really don't. At least not yet. Given what we saw, what Desmond experienced in the Flash Sideways, I don't understand how he suddenly understands and accepts what Widmore has requested of him on the Island. As I already said, I also don't understand how his knowledge about love and the existence of the alternate reality is going to help the Survivors in the Flash Sideways.
This is one of those episodes that makes me feel dumb, because we were clearly given enough information to figure out the Flash Forwards and where the storyline is heading... but I'm not there. I think we've got all the pieces to the puzzle. Now it's just a matter of putting them together in a way that makes sense and shows us the big picture.
It's time to get thinking.