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Back Through the Veil: Lost Questions, More on "Happily Ever After"

I don't always discuss a single Lost episode twice in one week but after this week's episode ("Happily Ever After") brought up so many reader questions and seemed to offer some tantalizing answers to the season's overarching mythology, I felt like it more than merited another post.

While I discussed "Happily Ever After" in full over here (along with theories about sleepwalkers, invisible threads of fate, Marvel Comics' "House of M," and more), I thought I'd answer some reader questions from the episode that arrived via comments, Twitter, or email.

So without further ado, let's head back through that veil once more.

Not Penny's Mom. Rockauteur asks, "Who is Penny's mom? To me, she always seemed older than Faraday, which begs the question if her mother is an Other, or was someone just in the regular world. Could she be related to any other castaways?"

Penny's mom is not an Other. We're told in the mainstream reality that Charles Widmore is exiled from the island because he conceived of a child with a woman who wasn't an Other, apparently a crime in the society living on the island. (I'd still love to know just what this tribe of Jacob's followers call themselves.) While we've still never seen this woman, we did learn that her name is Milton (again, a reference to John Milton, author of "Paradise Lost") in this this week's episode, given that Penny's full name in the Lost-X timeframe is Penny Milton.

I believe that Lost-X Charles Widmore either had a relationship prior to Eloise and had a child with this woman... or that he had an affair during his marriage to Eloise and Penny Milton is the offspring from that liaison. I'm leaning toward the latter, given that it's likely that Charles and Eloise have been married for some time (given Daniel's age) and that Widmore and Penny's mother had an affair together. As for Penny being related to other characters on the series, I'm hoping not. It's enough that she's the half-sister of Daniel Faraday and the daughter of Charles Widmore without wishing another sibling on her. I'd be really displeased if she somehow ended up being an estranged relative to another Lost character. But that's just me.

Reunion. An anonymous commenter (grumble) asked, "Why waste time (which, with only 7 episodes left, we probably don't have) tracking down everyone when Desmond in the Lost-X universe can just go to either the hospital where Jack works or the police station where Sawyer works and find all the important people?"

My answer would be: define the "important people"? Yes, Jack works at the hospital and Sawyer and Miles work at the police station, but what about everyone else? What about Hurley? Or Locke? Yes, we'll begin to see the invisible threads that bind these characters tighten a hell of a lot more over the next few episodes, but there's no reason to believe that if Desmond turns up at one of these places that everyone will be there. Besides, Desmond isn't aware of who is "important" in the grand scheme of things yet. He can barely remember who else was on that plane, which is why he needs Minkowski to get the passenger manifest for the flight. It's going to be trial and error--and likely Fate--that will lead him to the candidates and those he needs for his mission.

Layla Miller. Over on Twitter, several people agreed with my thoughts that Lost's sixth season--vis-a-vis the Lost-X alternate timeline--shared certain similarities with Marvel's "House of M" storyline, in which heroes get their heart's desire in a world that's not "right" and must band together to put the world back again.

One follower, @iamwesley, felt that I had incorrectly cast Desmond as truth-awakening character Layla Miller and that Desmond was more analogous to Wolverine's role within the "House of M" storyline as he remembered the world as it was before and couldn't contemplate how his memories of this world and the other could overlap one another.

I'd disagree with Wesley. While Desmond does seem to retain some memories of the mainstream timeline, his entire purpose--as seen at the end of the episode with his scene with George Minkowski--is to awaken the other passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 and show them what he had seen: the truth about their world and the other one and the memories that he couldn't possibly have as they hadn't happened. To me, Desmond's role here--as the one doing the waking up--immediately drafts him into the Layla Miller role, while Wesley gave that part to Eloise Hawking. But the Lost-X Eloise seems determined to keep Desmond in his slumber at least for now, based on their conversation and her insistence that he stay away from Penny and stop looking for her, saying it was a "violation."

The Matrix. Scott S. asked, "Doesn't The Matrix predate 'House of M' -- a fake world where people get the life they want, in order to keep them docile?"

Yes, The Matrix predates "House of M" but The Matrix didn't posit the warping of reality in order to ensure that people got what they wanted, rather placed them into a virtual reality that was little more than a computer construct, a digital dreamland that was definitely less real than the actual world.

Here, as in "House of M," both worlds are "real," just one of them has been seemingly altered. The dead are once again alive, old enmities healed, new alliances formed, loves regained. In The Matrix, Neo had to be awakened but it was from an actual dream and he's thrust into a real post-apocalyptic battlefield. Here, they're being forced to reckon with two very real worlds, one that's "right" and one that's "wrong."

There's nothing less real about the people in the Lost-X timeline or their lives. These are real people with real relationships and issues, living lives that are no less "real" than the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 who did crash on the island. But the flashes of memory, the repeated sense of deja vu experienced by several characters now, and the fact that certain patterns are repeating themselves would point to a thinning of the barrier between these two worlds as well as a dawning recognition on the part of the dreamers that something is not right here, that the world is inherently wrong and that something is off.

After all, if this world was designed--perhaps by the Man in Black himself--to keep the Losties docile and complacent, they're less likely to ask questions about the nature of the universe and their place in it. It's far harder to sacrifice a seemingly idyllic life where you've achieved your perfect happiness than one where you've lost everything. Which would make their journey all the more heartbreaking, no?

Eloise. KateL posited a theory that had the Lost-X universe created by Eloise Hawking herself: "Perhaps she decided that she didn't want to sacrifice her son, and wanted a world where that was no longer required. There are signs that she dotes on him in the Lost X timeline - allowing him to follow his desired path of becoming a musician, indulging his crazy rock/classical request for the charity event. Of course, this could simply be out of gratitude for getting what she most wanted, her son alive, as opposed to being required to sacrifice him, but I can't help but wonder if there is something more intentional going on. If this is the case, I wouldn't be surprised to see a connection between her and the Man in Black in this timeline."

An interesting theory, Kate, and one that is certainly tantalizing but I don't know that Eloise Hawking herself had a hand in creating the world. Certainly, she too received her dearest wish--that her son was alive and safe--and may be aware of the other world, as seen from her scene with Desmond at the site of the party, but I don't know that she has actually created the Lost-X timeline. If she's aware of the chasm between the worlds, then I can see why she might want to ensure that Desmond doesn't want to rip down that sheer veil that separates them: she stands to lose everything, from her husband (Charles Widmore) to her son (Daniel).

Her entire life in the mainstream reality was an attempt to ensure that things played out according to plan, including the death of her own son, sacrificed in order to ensure the safety of the island. I can see why, given a second chance, she might have second thoughts. After all, in this timestream, the island is deep underneath the ocean. Daniel can follow his own dreams of music rather than physics, he needn't travel to the island, flash backwards in time, and be murdered by her own hand in 1977. But if Desmond starts asking questions, starts pulling at those strings, he risks undoing everything that she's managed to grab a hold of here. Hmm...

Desmond's Doughnut of Doom. Rockauteur wrote, "I also had a weird theory that maybe Desmond actually died in Widmore's test, and is now embodied by Jacob, who used the test as a loophole to find human form again. I don't think its right but something to float anyway."

I'd disagree with this. Given Desmond's expression and his outstretched hand when he emerges from the solenoid chamber, there's no other possibility other than it's Desmond whose consciousness has connected or been momentarily transferred between timelines. There's no evidence to support that Jacob was able to take a hold of Desmond's form or that he's even capable of this ability. While Jacob's Nemesis seemed to be looking for a loophole to escape, I don't think we've seen anything that suggests that Jacob himself was looking to once again find human form.

The Mission. Frank1569 writes, "Widmore's plan appears to be to send Des back to stop The Incident and, hence, the splintering of the 'mirror' Timeline, his 'sacrifice' being that he'll be stuck in 1977?"

I don't think that we've seen that Widmore's plan involves anything having to do with The Incident or 1977, though that's likely the year that the timeline split from the mainstream reality. I don't know that traveling back to prevent The Incident is at all on Widmore's mind. After all, he claims that "whatever happened, happened." I don't think he wants to get mixed up in any time travel mayhem.

Rather, his mission for Desmond is definitely related to preventing Jacob's Nemesis from leaving the island and shoring up the island's defenses using the electromagnetic pockets that Zoe is attempting to use Jin to find. We've seen that Desmond can withstand a catastrophic electromagnetic incident and survive and I still maintain that Widmore is (A) aware of the existence of the alternate timeline, (B) using Desmond to send a message, and (C) looking to stop the Man in Black from unstopping the metaphorical bottle and escaping his island prison.

Wedding Band. Another anonymous commenter asked, "Why was Desmond wearing a wedding band on the plane?"

Good question. If you remember back to the first episode of the season ("LA X"), astute viewers will recall that Desmond was wearing a wedding band when he was shown sitting next to Jack on Oceanic Flight 815. While it seemed to indicate that Desmond was married, perhaps to Penny or even to Ruth, Desmond seemed to invalidate this line of thought this week with his discussion of how he is unattached, with no family, and fixated entirely on his career. So what's up with the wedding ring? Is it a clue to the existence of another Desmond from another timestream (unlikely) or just a production gaffe?

Given how important this week's episode was and the struggle for Desmond to remember Penny and be reunited with her, I'm going to go with the latter. Either Team Darlton changed their mind about Desmond's story this season midstream... or it was just a production error and Henry Ian Cusick wasn't meant to be wearing his wedding ring on screen.

What do you think? Keep your comments, questions, and theories coming and be sure to come back Wednesday for my thoughts on the latest episode.

Next week on Lost ("Everybody Loves Hugo"), Hurley agonizes over what the group should do next, while Locke is curious about the new arrival to his camp..


Bella Spruce said…
You are truly a Lost genius. I don't think I'd enjoy the show half as much if it weren't for your great reviews, theories, and observations! Thanks!
Charlotte K said…
The wedding ring can't have been a continuity error because Minkowski makes a big point about it. Something is going on there...

Maybe there were two Desmonds on the plane (kidding, kidding)
Drunkelf said…
It's interesting to see that (most of) the losties get what they really desired in LA X and the MIB in the main reality keeps promising people to give them whatever they desire more in their lives if they join him.
Eric said…
I wish you did these every week Jace. Always fun to see your answers and get more theories.
OldDarth said…
I'm of the mind that of all the candidates, Hurley is the one that is going to be giving up the most.

In the sideways timeline his luck is all good and even he may have a relationship with Libby.

I think for Hurley the decision, and price paid, is going to be higher than for anyone else.
Anonymous said…
what if all of the losties are lulled into a complacent alternate reality - the what if it never existed/ happened-- by smocke.. of course, there are some groundrules ( which we hear about a lot).. but that it is his intention to keep them from remembering, and doing what they are intended-fated to do..

would-could eloise then be speaking with the voice of smocke-flocke when she "shifts".. trying to scare Des off from his quest?

also- jacob could also be allowing this to happen.. knowing that no matter what.. these people have been changed, and the events that have shaped them and drawn them together.. can't be undone, or forgotten....
"G" said…
My theory is that Desmond has a wedding band on the plane because...bear with me on this...he is so susceptible to time travel that when the other fellow died at Widmore's lab as the EM field was tested, Desmond *just momentarily* got "zapped" to the LA-X timeframe, appeared on the plane next to Jack, then just as quickly disappeared (as the test was shut down and Widmore discovered that the assistant had died). So yes, conceptually there were two Desmonds on the plane (although physically there was only one).

When Hurley encounters him in the airport at the baggage board, Desmond seems to truly be uncertain as to where he is, and why Hurley might be speaking to him...just for a moment. He doesn't seem to have any memory of having been on Flight 815 mere minutes ago.
Maury Souza said…
Philip K. Dick predates The Matrix and "House of M" and that is where I think I think the show owes a true debt.
Japan said…
Thanks Jace for another great post! I am starting to get used to read these twice a week now, perhaps you could even continue with it until the finale?

Maybe you already touched upon this, but I was thinking that Eloise Hawking is maybe aware of the two realities and perhaps she made some kind of deal with the Man In Black? And "if Desmond starts asking questions, starts pulling at those strings" he might make a violation to deal that the two have?
jeffsl said…
Great blog. I agree that the wedding band in LA X was probably a continuity error. I think the writers were so explicit with George as if tell us, "hey , sorry we goofed but we wanted to make it crystal clear that he's not married."

It can happen. Darlton admitted that the date on Claire's ultrasound was a gaffe.
Kimono said…
I don't think the wedding ring was a mistake. I think Desmond ultimately makes it back to his life with Penny where they are married. I believe Desmond becomes like the janitor (of sorts) for the final Lost time line. He must monitor and maintain. Perhaps he needed to flash back in time to plant those first seeds of Deja Vu in Jack. Especially if Jack becomes the new Jacob, that initial Deja Vu may prove to be very important to Jack's eventual awakening. I'm on the side of the "two Desmonds." Anyone agree/disagree? I get a very "all knowing" Quantum Leap "choose to keep leaping" sort of feeling from this. There and gone before he interacts with anyone and causes any ripples except for those intended.

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