Widmore: “You really do have the life, son. No family, no commitments… Ah, to be free of attachments!”
Desmond: “I’m a blessed man, Sir.”

• To be free of all attachments is to lead a Monastic existence. We’ve already seen that such a life doesn’t truly agree with Desmond, as illustrated by his stint with the Brothers of the Mount Moriah Monastery. While that kind of distance is prized in Eastern Religion, it’s also arguably a way of avoiding the “real world.”

What’s interesting to me here about the off-Island universe is how it’s given Widmore the family he says was denied to him in the on-Island universe. And yet, when we see Widmore with the family he claims to wish he had, he seems envious of Desmond’s freedom. This is a pretty good (and pretty subtle) way of suggesting that for both these universes, the grass might always be a little greener on the other side.

• Desmond gets his second “reflective” moment when he approaches the LA police station where he picks up his package – one Charlie Pace.

• Charlie and Desmond’s interactions during Happily Ever After are a kind of mirrored riffing on their past Island relationship. At this point I don’t think I need to point out to you that Desmond’s attempts to keep Charlie out of trouble and get him to his concert mirror Desmond’s attempts to keep Charlie alive back in Season 3.

• The bar that Charlie and Desmond visit is named “Jax.” Why is this significant? Well, Jax is an uncommon first name – one that means “Son of Jack.”
Charlie: “Have you ever been in love?”
Desmond: “Thousands of times.”
Charlie: “That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about spectacular, consciousness-altering love. Do you know what that looks like?”

• To repeat my earlier question:

What is it that dissolves the boundary between the self and the other (or “Other”)? What is it that allows the self to transcend itself and connect to the Oceanic feeling according to the correspondence between Freud-dude and Romain Rolland and according to traditions like Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and a host of other belief systems? Why, that’d be Love – the emotion/sensation that’s so thoroughly discussed throughout Happily Ever After.

Consciousness-altering love: a necessary ingredient in accessing the “Oceanic” state of being and transcending the self in order to “converge” (but not the only ingredient). Let’s call this concept “The Love Snake” because it sounds dirty, makes me laugh, and involves both the emotion that’s key to piercing the figurative veil between worlds, as well as the idea of Love snaking “backward” through time and connecting consciousnesses across vast subjective distances. That connection is made possible among a very select group of people. And these people (with what might be two exceptions) all have one thing in common. And that one thing is…just a little further down in the column.

Desmond: You want to know the real truth, Pace? Right now you have a choice – you can keep on drinking, or you can come with me.”

• Is this the “real” truth? In a sense, it is. Choice, and the ability of our conscious selves to make those choices, is a large part of what makes us human, allows us to do “good” or “evil” depending on the day, the motive, the inclination.

Charlie: “Doesn’t really seem like a choice.”
Desmond: “There’s always a choice, brother.”

• Desmond’s offer to Charlie mirrors the sorts of choices that Jacob and the MiB have offered the castaways. Jacob’s choices – the choice that doesn’t seem like a choice but remains a choice in fact regardless – and the Man in Black’s choices – choices that you make freely, but which appear to invite you to isolation, to loneliness and past pain.

• This is the same Marina that Ben, Jack, Kate, Sayid and Sun meet at in Season 5 isn’t it?

• How creepy/cool were those first “flashes”? Desmond again tries to save Charlie’s life, and this time he succeeds.

MRI Technician: “Are you wearing any metal? Carrying keys or change? Any metal inside your body–pacemakers, pins, bullets, steel plate inside of your head?”
• And here we have the echo of Widmore’s technician, who asked Desmond the same question before placing him in the Electromagnetic Murder Box. This makes sense, since the MRI is a device that was developed out of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance research – that resonance being “a property that magnetic nuclei have in applied electromagnetic pulses.” Two electromagnetic devices in two “separate” worlds. Do they act as mechanical “constants” – sending Desmond’s mind back and forth?

Desmond: “The button?”

• No, Des. Not THE Button. A button. Nice resonance though – no pun intended.

• Lost appears to be approaching a notion of the “Afterlife” that fuses the faith of religion with the speculative realities of Quantum Mechanics. Near-death experiences seem to trigger visions of a better, happier place – perhaps a place where the consciousness travels after death or – more brain-bendingly – a place where the consciousness never truly dies at all, because (as we learned in Seasons 4 and 5), the past, the present and the future aren’t separate states. All three are happening simultaneously. If there is more than one world, then, then consciousness itself cannot die. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and as this columnist suggests, this means a kind of pseudo-religious enternal life.

Wild, right?

These “flashes” before Desmond’s eyes also recall notions of “past lives” and reincarnation – concepts that Lost has been playing with from the get-go (Remember “Canton Rainer”? I’ll bring it up again shortly). Notice that Desmond’s flashes take him to points in time that are “past” for him, referencing the “past lives” aspect. Why is this happening? And what does it mean? We’re almost to that, so hold on….

• Jack Shephard pops up to be potentially instrumental yet again. Claire, Desmond, and (presumably) Jin and Sun have or will all converge on the hospital where Jack works. Jack’s a busy man, no?

Charlie: “None of this matters. None of this matters.”

• Does this off-Island universe “matter”? Both universes contain people who pine for something more/different/better, after all.

• I find Fionnula Flanagan intensely amusing on this show. She’s the only actor who consistently goes for full-blown theatricality in her performances, and I often find myself chuckling at her line readings. I suppose you could say that she’s miscast, or that her style’s too incongruous with the rest of the ensemble, but I wouldn’t trade her. She’s just fun to watch, flouncing about so authoritatively with that snowy sculpture of hair atop her head.

• When Desmond first met Eloise Hawking (now Eloise Widmore), she was wearing an Ouroboros pin – a symbol for eternity, for no-ending and no-beginning. Notice that she’s not wearing that here. Instead, she’s wearing two “star” pins. Is this significant? Hells yes. When we first saw her wearing the Ouroboros pin, Eloise was attempting to maintain/create a time-loop, neatly symbolized by her broach. Here, we meet her in another potential “universe,” and her broach has changed to reflect that fact: Two stars, two “universes.” And what was the song that Claire sang to Aaron, and that we heard repeated this season in truly creeptastic fashion? That’d be “Catch a Falling Star.” Is the on-Island universe “falling”? Does it need to be caught before it shatters, releasing the contents of Pandora’s Jar into Quantum Worlds?…

Eloise: “Whatever happened, happened.”

• Obviously, “whatever happened, happened” is a hugely significant piece of Lost dialogue. More interesting to me is that Eloise utters the words one episode after the Man in Black uses them.

Eloise: “Someone has clearly affected the way you see things. This is a serious problem. It is, in fact, a violation. So, whatever you’re doing, whatever it is you think you’re looking for….You need to stop looking for it.”

• Eloise Hawking/Widmore…. Mistress of Space and Time? In Flashes Before Your Eyes, Hawking was the woman who confronted Desmond when he began to violate what she considered the “natural order of things.” It was Desmond’s destiny, or so she claimed, NOT to marry Penny, and instead to sail to the Island. Changing the past, so Eloise told him, would be catastrophic and lead to terrible consequences.

Only, she also talked about the concept of “course correction,” of how the universe will act to put “right” anything that goes “wrong” according to the set course of time. The warning and this information contradict each other. Either Desmond can change the past and cause catastrophe, or the universe will “course correct.” Which is it?

This line of thought lead me to wonder about all we’ve seen of Eloise Hawking – her determination to have things happen “just so,” her willingness, however sorrowful, to doom her son to a death she’d already witnessed, had already caused. Was Daniel a sacrifice? Was that sacrifice designed to lead the castaways to create a universe where Daniel doesn’t die, where he has the musician’s life he wanted? Do Desmond’s questions threaten the stability of what she and Widmore have perhaps, somehow, engineered or at the least benefitted from?

Or is there a nobler, less selfish purpose? And has she actively caused all of this? Or is she simply somehow aware of the ‘violation’ that Desmond is committing? If so, how?

ELOISE: “I don’t know why you’re looking for anything? You have the perfect life. On top of it, you’ve managed to attain the thing you wanted more than anything–my husband’s approval.”
DESMOND: “How do you know what I want?”
Hilarious Eloise Delivery: “Because I bloody do!”

• Again: HOW does she know what Desmond wants? And how does she know/why does she think that Widmore’s approval is what Desmond wanted more than anything? Because that’s what truly motivated Desmond’s race? A desire to be wanted, embraced, by a father figure?

“By recognizing me, the loving authority of the father enables me to be.” That’s what Freud thought, to bring the conversation back toward him for a moment, and it’s a kind of riffing on the ideas of Others and Othering, of the Hegelian dynamic that was so emphasized and underlined in Lost’s first three seasons, and which continues to be emphasized. Desmond set sail to prove his worth to Widmore, not Penny. He needed Widmore’s approval, precisely because Desmond had no sense of being without it. He had Penny, love, a roof over his head and food in his belly. But without the validation of Widmore, those things didn’t seem to matter – not ultimately.

Daniel: “As soon as I saw her, right, right in that moment, it was like, it was like I already loved her.”

• That love apparently allowed Daniel’s sense of self – his consciousness – to push through the barrier that separates his mind from what could be called Oceanic feeling, and could also more scientifically be called an awareness of “Quantum Worlds.” Lost appears to believe in Romaine Rolland’s idea of the Oceanic, but they’ve tempered Rolland’s conception with a scientific means of plausibility – a connection of consciousness through scientific means and explained via scientific concepts.