6.11 Happily Ever After
Ever since Desmond was revealed as the man in the hatch in Lost‘s first ever season-opening brain-twist, we’ve come to expect big things from his episodes, and this one exceeded those expectations, revisiting Desmond’s tendency to come unstuck in time in a new way. This time, he wasn’t slipping just into flashback, but into the sideways-verse.
For many, it’s confirmation we’ve been waiting for that the sideways-verse isn’t quite as distinct from the main timeline as we’ve been encouraged to believe. As the season opener suggested, Charlie’s in on the true nature of things. Daniel Faraday/Widmore is also in on it. And now Desmond’s in on it.
Personally, the part of the episode I was most interested in was Eloise’s assertion that Desmond had gotten “what he always wanted”. That suggests, for the first time beyond subtext, that there’s an element of the sideways-verse being the ‘happy ending’ for each of the characters, shaped not by causality alone, but by their own desires and self-image. And if you needed any further proof that this is a major part of what the sideways-verse is, it’s right there in the title: Happily Ever After.
Although, obviously, it isn’t entirely happy. Apparently, there’s a price to getting what you want. In Sayid’s case, the woman he loved was still alive, but married to someone else. In Locke’s case, he was in a happy relationship, but had to give up ever hoping to walk again.
And in Desmond’s case, he has Widmore’s respect, but at the cost of his relationship with Penny. Desmond seems to be the first person in the sideways-verse to re-acquire that which he traded away. The question is, what effect is that going to have?
This episode was particularly rich in characters who had previously disappeared from the series. As much fun as it was to have Charlie around, stuck in crazy rock-star mode, it was undoubtedly the appearance of Daniel that will have brought a grin to most people’s faces. And he got the best line: “I don’t want to set off a nuclear bomb. I think I already did.”
And then there was the driver – communications officer on the freighter in the main timeline, comic relief, Mr. Fix-it in the sideways verse. How can you not love a show that turns what is essentially an Easter-egg for obsessives into a memorable character role in itself?
And speaking of harking back to long-past episodes, the end of this one restored some of the eerie certainty to Desmond’s character that he used to have, back when he had seen a bit more of the universe than one man should. Interestingly, Eloise made her return as Desmond’s temporal guide, seemingly far more aware of what’s going on than anyone else. It’s another piece of a puzzle Lost introduced a long, long time ago, and chances are we’ll learn something very interesting about her nature before the series is out.
Plot and mysteries aside, there were plenty more awesome moments in this episode. Nothing like the sheer, unadulterated insanity of Ab Aeterno, but cool nonetheless: Desmond being subjected to a “Severe Electromagnetic Event”; Sayid’s brutal, necksnapping entrance; Desmond attacking Widmore with an IV drip; and, of course, the moment where “NOT PENNY’S BOAT” first flashed on screen. More than enough cool stuff to make this a fun episode even if you don’t like Desmond (though, does anyone not like the man? I’ve yet to encounter anyone who wouldn’t put him in their top 5 Lost characters.).
It’s rare that I’d call an episode of Lost ‘perfect’ but, all things considered, this was pretty damn close to it.
The only real criticism I can offer (except that, similarities aside, it fell just short of being as good as The Constant) is that, simply, it was too short. Clocking in at barely over 42 minutes already puts it at the briefer end of Lost episodes, but even accounting for that, it seemed like things were only just getting going when they were already over.
We’ve finally scratched the surface of the true nature of the sideways-verse, and that means the desire to start gouging chunks out is stronger than ever.
Check out our review of episode 10 here.