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"Lost" Episode 8: "Flashes Before Your Eyes"

"Lost" Episode 8: "Flashes Before Your Eyes"

Well, the creators of "Lost" promised a crazy new flashback device in last night's episode, one that would blow some peoples' minds but might turn other viewers away. I, for one, am intrigued. At this point, you couldn't pry me away with Eko's wooden stick if you tried.

The episode explores Desmond's experience of the island: details of what happened before and an explanation for why he has been behaving so strangely ever since he turned the key in the Hatch and it exploded (or imploded). If you have not seen the episode and don't appreciate spoilers, do not read on! But if you want to dive deeper into the symbolism, mysteries, and philosophies of last night's episode,

In the first episode after the hiatus, "Not In Portland," there were ample references to time bending, black holes, and "lost time." In this episode it was slightly more spelled out, at least in regards to Desmond's story: Desmond has somehow been traveling through time.

He traveled backwards to his past when he turned the key in the Hatch, and once he got back to the island, to "current" time, he regretted not having changed his past. Thus, he seems to have vowed to change the outcome of things whenever he can, and this has included saving Charlie's life more than once. He's starting to understand, however, that "the universe has a way of course correcting," and that whatever is going to happen to Charlie will simply happen anyway, just as it seems that Desmond's "destiny" is to be on the Island.

This also means that Desmond has already lived the present and come back from some future plane. Or, as some theorists have mused perhaps the island is "operating on a time-loop, and that Desmond's experience in the hatch may have thrown him outside of that loop long enough for him to see a complete revolution of that cycle 'flash before his eyes.'"

This brings to mind question about Desmond's involvement in previous episodes. For example, in Jack's flashback, when he meets Desmond while running in the stadium, Desmond says, "See you in another life, mate." Could be just Desmond's favorite line, or maybe Desmond was time traveling then, too.

Plot-wise, time travel is a slippery slope toward hokiness. It was done deftly enough in last night's episode, but I'll be keeping an eye on you, "Lost."

Here are some more musings on the many bits and pieces that made up this week's episode:

In Desmond's "flashback," he glances at the clock, and it says 1:08. The numbers had to be entered in the Hatch every 108 minutes.

Delivery man at Whidmore Industries says "Delivery for" (or, 4) "8:15." The numbers entered in the Hatch started off 4, 8, 15... And, of course, the numbers come up plenty of times in the series. For example, their Oceanic flight number was 815.

Mr Whidmore's office has a painting which features a polar bear (polar bears have played roles in the show, off and on), as well as an upside down image of a Chinese statue, which was one of the images in the brainwashing scene from last week's episode. Also, there was the word "Namaste" painted backward in the painting.

Charlie in London, singing and playing guitar on the street, sings the lyrics from "Wonderwall": "You're gonna be the one that saves me..." just as Desmond walks up. "Wonderwall," was released in 1995.

You're a Great Man, Desmond Hume
There are tons of references to being a "great" man versus being a "good" man:

  • In the meeting with Mr. Whidmore, Desmond admits he's never served in the military. Later he passes a poster for the military: "Become a man you can be proud of."
  • Mr. Whidmore tells Desmond he will never be a great man.
  • Penny says, "You're a good man." Later, when Desmond is breaking things off with her and making it seem like it's her, not him, Desmond demands, "Being a good man isn't good enough?"
  • The jewelry lady says, "Pushing that button is the only truly great thing you will ever do."
  • Good man vs. Coward: Charlie and Penny call Desmond a coward.
  • Desmond calls Charlie a "good man."

You're A Good Man, Charlie Hieronymus
As has been seen before, but was prominently displayed on Charlie's cardboard sign this week, Charlie's middle name is Hieronymus. The most famous person with this name is artist Hieronymus Bosch, who painted famous triptychs about Earth, Heaven and Hell. According to Wikipedia:

Among his most famous is The Garden of Earthly Delights. This triptych depicts paradise with Adam and Eve and many wondrous animals on the left panel, the earthly delights with numerous nude figures and tremendous fruit and birds on the middle panel, and hell with depictions of fantastic punishments of the various types of sinners on the right panel. When the exterior panels are closed the viewer can see, painted in grisaille, God creating the earth.

Who's That Lady?
The jewelry lady? I have no idea. She can clearly time travel, just like Desmond can, or at least she has knowledge of everything that will happen and she knows that trying to stop it is futile, as "the universe has a way of course correcting."

After she spells out for Desmond everything he will do (the boat race, reaching the Island, entering the numbers, turning the key in the Hatch), she says, "And if you don't do those things, Desmond David Hume, every single one of us is dead."

Whidmore Like It
Penny's father is the powerful Mr. Whidmore, and when Desmond asks for Penny's hand in marriage, Whidmore proceeds to make Desmond feel as small as possible. The name Whidmore is all over "Lost" like a bad rash:

  • Whidmore Labs was on Sun's pregnancy test.
  • Whidmore Construction was on a sign or banner in one of Charlie's flashbacks.
  • Whidmore was on "Henry's" (Ben's) balloon.
  • Whidmore may have built the hatches on the Island.
  • When Desmond comes out of the building in this week's episode, it says Whidmore Industries.
  • Whidmore is like the Acme of the "Lost" world.
  • Libby's last name is, er, was Whidmore, though wasn't it her last name by marriage? Her husband had died, and she gave Desmond the boat he sailed around the world in, and which ultimately brought him to the Island.
  • Whidmore seems to have ties to Alvar Hanso himself.
  • In earlier episodes about the boat race, which Mr. Whidmore's company sponsored, there was something to do with the Dharma Initiative on the boat race brochure.

Hume-ongous Namesake

On "Lost," a name is rarely just a name. The jewelry lady says Desmond's full name: Desmond David Hume. David Hume was a great philosopher from the Scottish Enlightenment who was influenced heavily by John Locke. Particularly interesting are Hume's philosophies on cause and effect. From Wikipedia:

Hume coined the term 'constant conjunction.' That is, when we see that one event always 'causes' another, what we are really seeing is that one event has always been 'constantly conjoined' to the other. The reason we do believe in cause and effect is not because cause and effect are the actual way of nature; we believe because of the psychological habits of human nature (Popkin & Stroll, 1993: 272).

There is a lot more about Hume's philosophy, much of which can easily be applied to Desmond and the show itself. (See: The Bundle Theory of Self.) Then again, if you read far enough into anything, it can be applied to this show.

What do you think about this week's episode?

Photo copyright 2006 ABC Inc.

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