The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

None Of This Is Real (except love, it seems)

with 8 comments

As soon as Widmore mentioned his musician son I started hoping for Daniel!  Sure, I was with everyone else loving that we were going to get a Desmond centered episode – but all that faded for me at the mere chance of Daniel’s return.  I always thought his little skinny-tie outfit looked out of place on the island, but all of a sudden it made sense for his Alterna world, avant garde musician existence.  But we’ll get back to him in a minute.

While I usually get pretty tired of soppy love plots pretty fast, I tend to find myself more able to enjoy them with Lost.  It’s an old theme for the show – what makes us love someone? Why do we feel immediate connections to some and not to others?  But it hasn’t ever received the focused attention it did last night.  Certainly the relationship between Desmond and Penny, and the one between Daniel and Charlotte have both had mystical overtones to them.  Desmond chases Penny across time as she chases him across space.  Daniel loves Charlotte based on a memory that hasn’t happened yet.  But Charlie and Claire’s relationship (if that is the blonde he described last night) always seemed a bit more natural, less supernatural.  Last night all three got caught up together, becoming the keys that began to unravel the reality of Alterna-world.  The bond each man felt to these women, real or imagined, felt more real than reality, triggering other deeply buried memories of another existence.

What was particularly interesting about this to me was that each man trusted these experiences enough not only to start tracking them for himself, but also enough to share them with the others – and in some startling ways!  Charlie forces a recreation of his old “not Penny’s boat” moment for Desmond, risking both their lives to wake them up.  Daniel finds a knowledge of quantum physics embedded in his psyche that convinces him he’s set of a nuclear bomb and distorted time (really?!) and then he goes telling Desmond this crazy theory!  Well, crazy to most folks – we of course know it’s true.  And we close with Desmond asking for the passenger manifesto, presumably to track everyone down and create the same shock waves of recognition for them too.

These are not contemplative men, thinking their way carefully through the insanity of these new experiences.  They are reactionaries, leaping to action based on something quite crazy.  Sure, they’re right – but I’m amazed that they don’t have some sort of second thought about it all.

I like the story – it’s fun.  But on the other hand, I’m a little dubious of a plotline that relies so heavily on the feeling of romantic love – even or, perhaps especially, cosmic romantic soulmate love – as the linchpin of existence.  Not to put a buzzkill on the smoochiness, but that just seems a little corny and a little far-fetched to me.

But perhaps that’s because I just think the idea of a soul-mate is pretty corny to begin with.  So while I struggle with it on Lost, there is a way that it also intrigues me.  These soul-mates aren’t so much mystical connections as they are a hidden awareness of a relationship existing throughout time of which the lover is not conscious.  In other words, Lost fills in the work of creating a relationship to the notion of a soul mate.  Deep connections are felt to others not because ‘it was meant to be’ but because it once was, because that relational work has already been done.  The freshness of new love is infused with long-standing, developed love.  I guess I kind of like that idea because it’s deploying the language and imagery of soul mates while simultaneously undercutting it.

So, a few things we should mention – in Alterna-world Daniel has been raised by both parents and enjoys his career in music as his mother has not pushed him to live in service of the island as a physicist.  But, strangely, Eloise does seem to know about the island – and she still seems to have knowledge and control over those who are attached to it.  So even in Alterna-world we’ve got the island’s magical influence!  And Eloise remains this type of meta character – living beyond the rules that apply to everyone else (cue some reflection on her relationship to Jacob and MiB).  But whether or not Widmore knows what’s going on in this world, I’m not sure?  He and Desmond are good buddies in Alterna-world.  And I, for one, was pretty happy to see Desmond finally get that glass of McCutcheon.  But I was also haunted both by Eloise’s awareness that Des had gotten what he always wanted most: Widmore’s approval – not Penny’s love – and her repetition of the chilling line, “what happened, happened”.  Pair that with the continual insistence in Alterna world that “none of this matters” (Charlie) and “none of it’s real” (Desmond, ironically speaking the truth), and you’ve got a pretty heady episode in terms of questions like what is real and what is existence?

I’m left wondering what it means that Desmond finally meets Penny at the stadium steps where he originally met Jack (but where he also had a heartbreaking conversation in the parking lot with Penny).  And why did he faint when he shook her hand?  What is Widmore wanting him to do on the island and why is he so weirdly compliant now?  And finally, oof, Sayid sure is back!  What happened elsewhere to wake him up too?

I just want to close by mentioning that last night’s episode really rocked my world, and I think it gave us a hint of what’s to come.  This wasn’t an ‘answer all our little questions’ episode.  This was an episode that focused on the characters, their connections, and the spinning of a great story.  And it was deeply satisfying.  However this whole thing wraps up, I think it’s going to be in this vein – good, deep, satisfying storytelling – and not in the vein so many want: explanation of all the mystery.    At the moment, I think that’s good – but check back in with me after the final episode!  I might not be so enlightened as I think!

Preview for next week: will Libby come back too??  Eee, I hope so!!  I can’t wait for our Hugo-centered episode!!

Posted by Natalie

Written by themothchase

April 7, 2010 at 9:16 am

8 Responses

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  1. Widmore seems to believe that Desmond is the replacement of Jacob. I wonder if he has seen Jacob’s list and knows about the candidates. If he does, does Desmond serve a purpose different than Jacob and one that will require his life? Or is Widmore just working on a flawed assumption. I want the happily ever after for Desmond very badly.

    BUT!

    The biggest deal of the whole episode is the echo of Jacob we see when we find out that Desmond’s making a list!

    Thunder Jones

    April 7, 2010 at 9:27 am

    • Woh! I did not make that connection – thanks Thunder!! But is he ‘making a list’ or will he be working (essentially) from Jacob’s already created list…ack, that’s more confusing than I can handle just now.

      themothchase

      April 7, 2010 at 9:51 am

  2. I viewed the episode as a Man of Science v. Man of Faith approach to understanding love. Island Charlie reverted to being a man of faith. Island Daniel was a man of science. Island Desmond was somewhere in between in his search for the meaning of his “flashes.” Yet they all come to the same conclusion when they experience life in another reality: Love is what makes life worthwhile and they believe in it wholeheartedly–even without any clear evidence of its existence. They rely on “feelings” and “intuition,” and it doesn’t seem unrealistic or “overly girly” at all. I like the Des/Dan and Des/Charlie ties across time and space.

    Lynnette Porter

    April 7, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    • Thanks Lynnette – I like your spin on it! I continue to wonder though why we see these stories all from the male perspective, thus making the women into their love objects. Why don’t we have a narrative where the woman is the central figure tracking her love? Sure, we’ve got a very active Penny – but we don’t see it from her perspective in the same way we see it from Des’.

      themothchase

      April 7, 2010 at 12:38 pm

  3. Desmond and Penny are really the only two characters that I hope have a happy ending. Although there are other relationships on the show, this is the only one I care about.

    As you say, the “cosmic romantic soulmate love – as the linchpin of existence” is quite corny. I don’t buy that myself either. The explanation of that concept in this episode was intriguing though (i.e in another life we grew to know each other)…but I hope to God this isn’t what this show will be all about.

    The idea of alterna worlds that we’re watching is all consistent with the many worlds theory in quantum mechanics, to name one of many that the show uses. Have you ever had deja vu or vaguely familiar flashes like in this episode? In Lost, it’s because they actually did happen in another timeline/world (as you say and as we know). I think the reason why they know this is because the crash showed them a different reality that they wouldn’t have known otherwise. At the very least, it’s clear that whenever the issues on the island get settled it’s going to affect/determine everyone’s “real” life – we just don’t know how or to what extent or which life is the real one.

    In my mind the question remains, is the life we know of the Oceanic 6 from past seasons real or is that really the alternate reality/world? I could see the happy ending to Lost being everyone finally getting the good parts of the life we know (but that really is the fake one) in the true reality (what we think is the alterna world) once everything gets settled on the island. For example, Desmond and Penny in last night’s episode getting together with Widmore’s approval and everyone lives happily ever after. That, or the real and alterna lives are really what we think they are but that the characters will be able to cherry pick/decide/effect their real lives based on their knowledge/time on the island.

    This is many theories thoery. 🙂

    Aaron

    April 7, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    • Thanks for the many theories theory, Aaron – yeah, i’m still wondering what will be ‘real’ too! No one existence is perfect in this show; they all balance aspects of good and evil, joy and mourning, etc., based on the sets of decisions made by the characters. Each has constants as well as shifting aspects. In the end, I wonder if none will be proclaimed as the ‘real’ and each will have its own relative meaning…an ending I would actually find to be quite satisfying!

      themothchase

      April 7, 2010 at 12:40 pm

  4. I didn’t find the whole soulmate thing corny as it has already been set up in “The Constant” and given a scientific (by Lost standards at least) explanation. It makes sense that Penny is Desmond’s constant across timelines as well as within them. The “Constant” theory also accounts for why Daniel’s so quick to open up to Desmond, his own constant.

    We still need confirmation, but I’m convinced that Desmond became fully aware of both realities when he touched Penny. The “something important,” at least in Desmond’s opinion, is getting the other Losties to awake, and he can that whether he’s with Sayid or Widmore.

    Which still leaves the question of what, exactly, the other timeline is and why it’s so important that people become aware of the “real” one? I’m thinking that bringing the universes together is bound up in stopping FLocke. For me, this is the only way the alta-verse can matter.

    Another question, if love is the bridge, what happens to those who’ve got it in the fake world but not in the real one? I’m thinking of Locke in particular. Why would he even want to wake up?

    jrcwoodward

    April 8, 2010 at 11:10 am

    • Great question – and what I’m left wondering is, if love is the bridge, does it need to be romantic love…or can good familial love or the deep love of profound friendship work too? Does Jack get it because he finds love for his son, for example? Will we see a solid friendship develop that lets us see another angle on love? I hope so – romantic love is important, but love is so much more than that too (and I think recognizing that will go a long way to also undermining the corniness!).

      themothchase

      April 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm


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