While watching “Flashes Before Your Eyes” last night I was once again reminded of Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof’s favorite graphic novel “Watchmen”.
You see, Desmond’s strange abilities, or his destiny if you will, seems very similar to the character Dr. Jon Osterman aka Dr.Manhattan in Watchmen. Take a look at this quote about Dr.Manhattan from Wikipedia:
After his transformation, Jon begins to experience time in a non-linear, “quantum” fashion; it is implied that Jon is aware of and experiencing all the moments of his life simultanously. Jon is not omniscient; he remains reliant on his intellect to reach conclusions, but his range of sensory data has been abruptly extended, in proportion to the lessening of his emotional capacities. This often leads him to arrive at conclusions greatly different from those available to normal humans. His already weak will (marked by his apparent submission to his father’s career plans, whatever they might be) becomes sublimated further during this time. He increasingly has difficulty acting in what those around him consider the present moment, leading to many accusations and even the public perception that he is emotionless and uninterested in human affairs (for instance, he does nothing to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, even though he is aware it is going to happen). However, during the course of Watchmen he displays powerful emotion several times. His apparent lack of sentiment is more a matter of radically altered priorities, owing to a colossal, unbridgeable gap of perception between Jon and the rest of humanity.
Quite a few similarities to what happened to Desmond in last night’s episode, huh?
Push the button, save the world!
So what really happened to Desmondo? Did he just have a flashback or a dream, did he travel in time or is he experiencing past, present and future all at once?
The way I interpreted “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, Desmond has discovered that time is a repeating cycle. This is probably the second or third time Desmond has been on the island, and every time he has to do the exact same things to save the world and make sure that everything goes on as usual until the world ends, the universe dies and everything starts over again.
When Desmond turned the failsafe key, something happened that enabled him to see glimpses of the past and the future but he clearly doesn’t remember everything from the future (or past, depending on how we look at things), that’s why he doesn’t know how Charlie is going to die yet. And if this is the second cycle, did he save Charlie from the lighting in a previous cycle but fail to save him from drowning?
Free will versus Destiny
A major theme through Lost has been free will versus predetermined destiny. Desmond’s story in “Flashes Before Your Eyes” clearly points to everything having a predetermined destiny. Desmond has to give up Penny and save the world. The thing is, Desmond is a coward, and he knows it. Previously he has done everything that was predetermined for him to do, but this time he is rebelling against his destiny and changing it by saving the bartender and saving Charlie. Desmond is growing as a character and is starting to overcome his obstacles.
When Lost moves closer to the end, I think we are going to see that everything has really been about a fight against the characters’ destiny and the predetermined the end of the world as foreseen by the Valenzetti Equation. This time, the world will be saved, and Desmond is going to play a vital part, he just has to take control of his destiny and prove that he is a great man.
Remember, only fools are enslaved by space and time!
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