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