I think as a lifetime comic book fan, who knows a bit about alternate universes, I have maybe been a bit impatient with Lost. Because I had a hunch where this was going, and was eager to get there. I think my frustrations with the last two episodes — which a lot of people, Sun’s bump on the head aside, liked — stemmed mostly from this. When I heard there was going to be a Richard-centric episode, that was the one where I expected some radical narrative left turn. The one that followed that, The Package, kept repeating the same beats from the ones earlier in the season (everyone is someone, they end up at the hospital). With “Happily Ever After” I finally got what I wanted. Of course it was a Desmond episode.
Desmond is escorted by Widmore against his will to a big machine that moments earlier killed someone. Team Widmore switches the machine on (Desmond will be ok because he survived a magnetic explosion or whatever at the end of season 2). We go into the Alt U and stay there till the end. Desmond, happily working for Widmore, is instructed to deliver Charlie, of Driveshaft fame, to play with his musician son Faraday at an event hosted by Eloise Widmore (nee Hawking). But Charlie, after giving a speech about love at first sight when he saw Claire as he was dying on the plane, crashes the car into the water and BAM! Desmond sees “NOT PENNY’S BOAT” written on his palm. In a CAT scan machine (which involves magnets) at the hospital he sees other flashes of Penny. At the party he hears her name but Eloise will not let him investigate because “he is not ready.” Faraday comes to his rescue because he also had a vision of love at first site with a girl at a museum (Charlotte) — and he had a much bigger revelation, writing down insane quantum mechanic science stuff; he even knows about the nuke. Faraday points him toward his half sister Penny and Desmond meets her at the stadium and they agree to go out to coffee. Desmond faints and goes back to the machine where he is ready to help Widmore with whatever. Sayid interrupts, kills someone, and convinces Desmond to come with him. Back in the Alt U Desmond is ready to wake up the others, and asks Fischer Stevens to get him the manifest for flight 815.
Let me talk very briefly about what I did not like, because I am about to fawn, kind of a lot. Charlie’s speech about love — the actor cannot quite pull it off and it came off really cheesy. Also the women of Lost continue their descent into utter uselessness, as they serve merely to inspire their men — three in this episode — onto greater deeds, without actually doing much.
Even with that, this is one of the great Lost episodes, alongside The Constant, and The Shape of Things to Come and Walkabout. Start with the simple things. Just like The Constant, Happily Every After anchors an insane science fiction story in some pretty basic and cheesy ideas about love. Like the Constant it got to have its cake and eat it too, using all the cliches of love but using the sci-fi to reinvigorate them. Love is beyond time and the only thing that can save our lives — literally true in The Constant. Love happens at first sight — because you knew that person in an alternate universe. Love is so powerful you will faint with joy — because it is time for your mind to return to the machine that propelled you into another world. Love inspires musicians — to write quantum mathematics. The mother of the woman you love will stand in your way — because she has some mystical sense that the universe cannot allow Penny and Desmond to meet.
Lost needed some mad science to balance out the fantasy elements, and here ya go — you don’t get more mad science than the box Desmond was put into, with the giant electric coils. Lost needed to do SOMETHING else with that Alt U, which up until now had just been this big everyone -is-someone one trick pony — and now it has a thrust, a direction, something to get involved in and root for. What better fix than have one of your best characters on a mission to wake everyone up — to get everyone in the Alt U to know about all the things we are invested in in the main U? And what a wonderfully conflicted mission given how happy everyone is in the Alt U and how miserable they are in the island U. Are they supposed to give up happiness to stop the Man in Black? And we have the recent island conflict Desmond knows nothing about right now — an innocent at the mercy of Camp Man in Black. This is as good as it has ever been.
Thank god the Alt U is not somehow to end of the show, as some had theorized; that Jacob was going to reward everyone by fixing their lives and that the Alt U was not the result of the bomb going off, but some magic he will work in the finale. It really looked like that was what it was for a minute. I don’t know why I did not want it to be that, but I didn’t. I wanted universes to collide, and now they are.
Fischer Stevens is taking on the Abaddon role Lance Reddick had — Widmore’s mysterious driver who “get people where they need to go” as he told John Locke in Season 5. I loved Fischer Stevens being cast in season 4 — having a small bit in The Constant — and was sad the writer’s strike meant he did not get as much time. This made up for that a bit. Also — remember when he was the Indian in Short Circuit (look him up on YouTube to remind yourself)? Wow you would not be allowed to do that today.
That coffee shop Desmond and Penny are going to? Juliet will be there with Sawyer “going dutch” or whatever she said to Sawyer as she was dying at the start of this season.
Next week, about Hurley, looks to be a massive guest star smash week, in which every actor who played a dead person comes back. Awesome.
Who is Penny’s mom? Does it matter?