'Lost': Sacrifice, Time Travel, and John Updike References



This week's Lost took a break from wrestling with good and evil and followed the alternate time lines of Desmond, Charlie, and Daniel. In contrast with real time, alternate timeline Desmond is Charles Widmore's second in command. But back on the island in real time, Widmore kidnaps Desmond, subjects him to a shocking burst of electromagnetism, and then tells him he doesn't know anything about sacrifice.

Sacrifice becomes our major theme in this episode and provides a connection to the other characters' experiences in the alternate time line. Desmond just lays it out more clearly for us. In the original timeline, he's a devoted husband and father, sure only of his wife Penny's love for him, and desperately seeking her father Widmore's approval. In the alternate timeline, he has the approval. Widmore feeds him 60-year old whiskey and tells him: "You really have the life, son. No family. No commitments. Free of attachments."

Yet Desmond senses there is more and his interaction with Charlie, still a drug addicted musician, and later Daniel begin to link the two timelines. Charlie drives Desmond's car off a pier in the Los Angeles port and the epic drowning scene that ensues triggers a vision for Desmond of Charlie drowning in the Looking Glass station on the island, in the original timeline. Charlie's hand, pressed to the window, reads, for an instant, "NOT PENNYS BOAT" just like Season 3.

After speaking with a groggy Daniel (poor guy is the musician he always wanted to be, yet dreams about physics and his "true love") about a catastrophe "changing things", Desmond starts to get it. He finds Penny doing a tour de stade (man, Lost characters sure like to run up and down stairs), asks her on a date, and then tells his Widmore-provided driver, George, to get him a list of the passenger names of Flight 815 because he "just needs to show them something."

And Desmond, our "constant", sets out to connect our characters between timelines, even while Eloise—Daniel's mother, now Widmore's wife, and a character who definitely knows more than she's revealing at the moment—tells him "Whatever you're looking for, stop looking for it....Because you're not ready yet!" Ready for what?

Did ya see it? Moment of the week: On the island, we see a white rabbit named Angstrom who apparently is being subjected to Widmore's electromagnetic tests. Harold C. "Rabbit" Angstrom is the main character in five John Updike novels and represents the struggles of mid-century middle class Americans, with many problems surrounding his family life. Angstrom is also a unit of length equal to 1 X 10−10 meters.

Far-fetched theory I hope comes true: Is anything far-fetched at this point? Penny—reflecting the fact that most female characters have some connection to motherhood—is Jack's alternate time line ex-wife and the mother of his son.

Props of the week go to: Widmore. Sure, he's been portrayed as our exemplar of bad guyness. But did you see the scale on his desk? Perfectly balanced, in contrast to Jacob and Smoke Monster. Maybe he knows what's up.