Perseverance and patience are two of the qualities that constitute moral virtue according to 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume. For Penelope Widmore and Desmond David Hume, those virtues paid off. Even if only for a few short moments…it was enough.
I’ve been obsessed with this show for quite some time now and the biggest reasons why are because of the quality of the writing, the incredible acting, and the way you can find a bit of yourself within each of the characters. It may be kind of silly because they’re only TV characters, but I am so incredibly happy for Desmond and Penny. The scene where they finally speak on Christmas Eve 2004 was filmed brilliantly with an intense number of cuts back and forth between the two characters as they expressed their love for one another.
Well, in the words of the late George Minkowski, “I’ve just been on a Ferris wheel.” This episode may have confused some people, but I think they filmed it so well and kept bringing us back around to help explain what was going on in as simple terms as they could. They left us no more baffled than poor Sayid who was just as confused as we were…probably more.
Thanks to Juliet for saying, “Maybe if you talk real slow, we’ll be able to follow” because Daniel Faraday said just enough (for now) to try and explain what happened to Desmond and Sayid during their trip to the freighter and the 1996 version of his character at Oxford Universities Queens College Physics Department was excellent at providing us with some insights as to what consciousness time travelling is all about.
I could go on and on about how awesome this episode was, but I’d rather bullet out some key occurrences in this episode, thoughts about what they mean, and speculate on next week. However, before I get to that, I thought it’d be nice to get a timeline on our favorite ex-monk:
1. 1988 (estimated) – Desmond starts dating Ruth.
2. 1994 (estimated, probably early in the year) – After six years together, Desmond ends up leaving Ruth a week before their wedding because he gets piss drunk, passes out, and is helped to his feet by a man in a robe. He had asked God for guidance because he wasn’t sure if he should go through with the wedding and decides that being helped to his feet by the monk was the equivalent of a “calling”.
3. 1994 (for about a two-month time period) – After joining the monastery and keeping his vow of silence for a month, Desmond becomes a monk in training and has a visit from Ruth’s brother who punches him while he is helping bottle some wine. Afterwards, Desmond goes to see Ruth to explain why he left (because of his “calling”), but Ruth just calls him a coward. Desmond gets drunk on the wine he was bottling and the monk who has been looking out for him, tells him that the monastery is not his path and “fires” him. As he is getting ready to leave the monastery, he helps load some cases of wine ordered by Charles Widmore and meets his beloved Penny.
4. 1994 to 1996 – Penny and Desmond are together for two years and they move in to Desmond’s flat together. Desmond wants to marry Penny, but when he goes to ask her father for permission, Charles tells Desmond that he will never be a great man and that he will never be good enough to marry his daughter. Desmond decides to go buy her a ring anyway. According to Ms. Hawking (the jewelry store lady), he originally has second thoughts and walks out without purchasing the ring, but in the version we saw in “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, he buys the ring, but keeps seeing flashes of his future (on the island) and starts to doubt himself and whether he can control his own destiny. He breaks it off with Penny and joins the army (The Royal Scots).
5. 1996 (not sure how long) – Desmond is in army training camp. We don’t know exactly what transpired the first go around, but from what we witnessed, his consciousness kept traveling to the future (2004) and Daniel Faraday instructed him in 2004 to find him in 1996. He does find him and is told that he needs a “constant”. He believes Penny is his constant and he goes to see her to get her phone number, so that he can call her on Christmas Eve 2004. She thinks he’s crazy and is trying to make a clean break from him and move on with her life, but there’s still some part of her that knows they are meant to be with each other and she gives him her number. She then pushes him out the door and tells him to stay out of her life. He goes back to the army.
6. 1996 to 2000 or 2001 – During his time with the army, Desmond does something to get himself dishonorably discharged and winds up in prison. He gets out sometime around 2000 or 2001 and is still determined to prove his worth to Penny’s father. He decides to enter a solo boat race around the world sponsored by Charles Widmore’s foundation for which he’ll have eight months to prepare for. While in prison, he had written to Penny many times, but Charles kept intercepting the letters, so Penny never received them. The day he got out of prison, Charles told him to stay away from his daughter. We’re not sure what compelled Penny to have a change of heart, but she apparently spent a lot of time and money in an attempt to locate Desmond and she finally finds him in the parking lot outside a stadium where he is about to go for a run (and coincidentally meet Jack). He tells her that he needs to get his honor back after she asks him why he didn’t write (he did) and he asks her when her wedding is (Charles told Desmond that she had moved on and was getting married). He is also conveniently provided a boat by Libby (Elizabeth) to enter the race in 2001 and runs into a storm during the race and ends up on the island.
7. 2001 to 9/22/2004 – He spends three years in the Swan Station helping Kelvin enter the numbers and push the button every 108 minutes to save the world. He learns a little about the DHARMA Initiative and also learns about the fail safe key and an invisible map of the island on the blast doors. He stays insides while Kelvin makes frequent trips outside while wearing a radiation suit. Kelvin tells him it’s too dangerous for him to go out, but he is lying to Desmond. Desmond’s boat is actually salvageable and Kelvin is fixing it up so he can leave. On 9/22/2004, Desmond notices a tear in Kelvin’s suit and decides to follow him outside. When he sees his boat in one piece, he gets in a fight with Kelvin and accidentally kills him. He then realizes that he has to get back to the Swan to push the button. He rips the fail safe key from Kelvin’s neck and sprints to the station, but the 108 minutes were already up and everything is going haywire. He keeps pounding on the keyboard trying to get it to respond to the numbers until it finally resets itself. Unbeknownst to Desmond, Oceanic Flight 815 crashes on the island during this time due to the fact that he was late in pushing the button.
8. 9/22/2004 to Mid-November 2004 – Desmond is alone in the Swan after Kelvin’s death and is really starting to lose it. He turns to Charles Dicken’s ‘A Mutual Friend’, which is the last book he plans on reading before he dies. As he opens it, a letter from Penny falls out. Penny had written the letter before he even went to prison and asked him if he read it while he was in prison when she saw him outside the stadium back in 2001. Well, now its three years later and he reads it for the first time. The main part goes like this, “Please don’t give up, Des. Because all we really need to survive is one person who truly loves us. And you have her. I will wait for you. Always. I love you, Pen.” He breaks down and then hears a banging noise and a faint voice. He turns on a flood light from inside the station. He doesn’t know who it is, but John Locke is banging on the hatch door that leads to the Swan. They both view this as a sign to never give up on what they believe. Once the LOSTies meet Desmond inside the Swan, Desmond runs off and gets on his boat. He spends the next two and a half weeks going in circles around the island until the LOSTies see his boat. He explains that they’re stuck in a bloody snow globe. Locke, who has now lost his faith, convinces Desmond that the button is a psychological experiment and they decide to not push it. Just as the time is about to run out, Desmond realizes that he caused the plane crash and he runs to the book shelf to get the fail safe key from inside ‘A Mutual Friend’. Time runs out and the electromagnetic anomaly is getting stronger. Desmond turns the fail safe key and the Swan station implodes.
9. Mid-November 2004 to Mid-December 2004 – After Desmond turns the fail safe, he goes back (or at least his consciousness goes back) to 1996, right after Penny moves in with him and right before he joins the army (explained in 1994 to 1996 – above). When his consciousness returns to 2004, he wakes up naked and desperately wants another chance to go back so he can change his fate and be with Penny. Instead he is left with “flashes” of the future and they seem to center on the death of Charlie Pace whom he saves four times before Charlie decides to sacrifice himself so that Claire and the other LOSTies can be saved by a freighter off shore. Just before he dies, Charlie receives a video transmission from Penny Widmore. Penny says she doesn’t know anything about the freighter that they believe she sent to find Desmond. Charlie mentions that Desmond is there with him, but Mikhail detonates a grenade that blows a hole in the underwater Looking Glass Station. Charlie seals himself from the rest of the station and drowns as Desmond looks at him through a glass window. Charlie warns Desmond with a palm written note that simply says, “Not Penny’s Boat”.
10. Mid-December 2004 to 12/24/2004 – Desmond warns the LOSTies that the people on the freighter are not who they say they are. The LOSTies split into two groups and four “rescuers” come to the island in a helicopter. Sayid and Desmond get a ride on the helicopter to the freighter with a compass bearing of 305 (not 325 as Ben had instructed Michael to take with Walt to find rescue). They go through some sort of storm and Desmond experiences “side effects” that send his consciousness from 1996 into the year 2004, so he doesn’t know Sayid or anyone else. He is given instructions by Faraday on what to do the next time his consciousness returns to 1996 (explained in 1996 (not sure how long) – above). Thanks to Sayid for fixing a telephone and for the faith that Penny and Desmond have in each other, Desmond places a phone call to Penny on Christmas Eve 2004. It was a short call, but “it was enough.”
I hope you enjoyed that even though it was a lot to read. I kind of wish we could have chronological recaps of every character to help sort things out, but this will do for now. Here are other thoughts about the episode and events in general:
– Penny’s address in 1996 is 423 Cheyne Walk, but in the letters Desmond mailed her from prison that Charles intercepted, her address was 23 Denismore Gardens. Either this was a mistake OR Penny moved and still kept the same phone number, maybe due to what Desmond said.
– The executive producers have said in their podcast that they are paradox averse. In other words, this is not like Back to the Future where you can disrupt the space-time continuum and alter future events. As Ms. Hawking says, “the universe has a way of course correcting.”
– Daniel Farady is definitely having some memory issues. The card scene with Charlotte in the previous episode gave us a hint of this and it seems that if you’ve been exposed to a lot of radiation or electromagnetic energy, you can experience “side effects” when travelling to and from the island. Daniel may have protected his body when conducting his tests on Eloise (the mouse), but not his head as Desmond conveniently pointed out. Why is Desmond his constant? I don’t really know.
– Apparently the incoming call from Penny that Charlie answered in the Looking Glass was also being sent to the freighter, but they were under strict instructions to NOT answer the call. I’m still guessing that’s because the freighter folks work for Charles Widmore.
– Charles Widmore definitely has something to do with the island. We discover that he buys the journal belonging to the first mate of the Black Rock. This is NOT a coincidence because the journal was previously owned by the family of Tovar Hanso. Perhaps, it was owned by Alvar Hanso? So, the Black Rock set sail in 1845 and the journal was found in 1852 along with pirate treasure in Madagascar. I’m not a geography expert, but Madagascar is NOT in the Pacific Ocean.
– The executive producers mentioned in the latest podcast that there are other “special” places (with strong electromagnetic energy) around the world, such as Ayers Rock in Australia (where Rose went to a faith healer) and a certain location in Tunisia (where recent polar bear remains were found in the desert). Perhaps Madagascar is “special” as well.
– Aaron is NOT one of the Oceanic 6. The executive producers confirmed this on their podcast and said he doesn’t count because he was not born yet. They also said that it’s not important to the story that Jack said Kate saved 8 people, but there’s only an Oceanic 6. They said that two people could have easily died after the crash, but before they were rescued.
Next week is Juliet-centric (The Other Woman). From the coming attractions, it looks like they are in another Station, presumably The Orchid. It might be good to watch the Orchid orientation that I posted a while back at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bTvAUVPyLI.
Is anyone else exhausted? 🙂