Is Desmond Dr.Manhattan?

Desmond from Lost

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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57 Responses to Is Desmond Dr.Manhattan?

  1. MasterPo says:

    The time in circles concept is also a key element in the early part of the “Lexx” sci-fi series. Time begins, then time ends, then time begins once again. The Time Prophets look into the future-past, not very clearly mind you (had to say that!)

    If so, that would mean Desmond had a future-jump too that we have yet to see.

  2. Andreas says:

    This passage regarding David Hume from Wikipedia also points to what I wrote above:

    Inductive inference says that the past acts as a reliable guide to the future. For example, if in the past the sun has risen in the east and set in the west, then, inductive inference suggests that it will probably rise in the east and set in the west in the future. But how can we justify such an inference, known as the principle of induction? Hume suggested two possible justifications, but rejected both:

    1. The first justification states that, as a matter of logical necessity, the future must resemble the past. But, Hume pointed out, we can conceive of a chaotic, erratic world where the future has nothing to do with the past – or, more tamely, a world just like ours right up until the present, at which point things change completely. So nothing makes the principle of induction logically necessary.

    2. The second justification, more modestly, appeals to the past success of induction – it has worked most often in the past, so it will probably continue to work most often in the future. But, as Hume notes, this justification uses circular reasoning in attempting to justify induction by merely reiterating it, bringing us back where we started.

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  4. sukotto says:

    the time theme presented here does share much with the theme of King’s The Dark Tower series. With JJ rumored to be handling that project and kings admiration of lost suggests that they might have much in common thematically.

    For those who know the story of the dark tower, roland (tower’s main char) and desmond’s storys are similar, to be both ensalved to fate (or ka). Desmonds struggle to change the cycle also shares much with roland own quest in the Dark Tower series.

  5. downthehatch says:

    That was a very insightful post. I was a bit confused by the episode, but I think it is because LOST is creating a story that we have never seen before. I can see how the producers think that this episode will either pull you in or lose you completely. I think it’s because they aren’t sure if they can take a television audience in directions that they may not be familiar with.

    Themes that exist in Watchmen or The Third Policeman, are very difficult to portray outside of the literary medium, I would imagine. Not to say it can’t be pulled off, as LOST is seemingly able to do. I think we are going into territory now where you just need to stop thinking this is going to be a “normal” story and go with it.

    I do like the theory of trying to change your destiny. We all know that Locke thought he was changing his destiny, but he ended up pushing a button.

  6. cog says:

    Andreas, good post. I especially like what you said about time being in a loop.

    I wonder if it’s possible that Desmond has been on the island several times, but that this time is the first time that he failed to push the button. In other words, he did something different this time around, and that’s why he’s come “unstuck” in time and is jumping all over the place.

    If this is true, another question is–did he screw up this time around, or did he finally get it right?

    It reminds me a little bit of Donnie Darko. In that movie, Donnie does something that disrupts destiny, and the universe performs a “course correction” that results in a temporary time loop. Donnie goes through the loop, knowing all the while that the alternate world that he’s created is “going to end.” He sees how his one action screws everything up, then goes back in time to correct the mistake and let the universe go on as usual.

    In Lost, we may have a similar loop. But did Desmond screw up here, or did he finally get it right? Maybe all the previous times he’s been on the island, he’s just pushed the button obediently. But the universe didn’t want that–it wanted him to stop pushing the button just once, so that a planeload of people who were “fated” to crash might end up the island.

    Whoa rambling. Carry on.

  7. zwoodz says:

    The creators always said they were Stephen King fans. This reminds me of The Dark Tower.

  8. Hammer says:

    Yes Andreas…it appears that the focus of Lost is not what or where the island is…but why. We have seen clues of people changing what they are and are then excused from the island. Maybe Dez is the key to Lost. If he changes himself, which changes destiny, which changes the numbers, which saves the world (over the next three season…he he) the island will no longer be needed.

  9. Ashley says:

    I have a little side interjection about Charlie’s band, DriveSHAFT. I did a little Wikipediaing my self and found out that this band, Low Stars, actually does the singing for the band on the show. I just thought that was cool. Maybe they would be interesting to check out.

  10. Tina says:

    I think we need to start imagining this story as unfolding within the context of a nonlinear time and in expanding multiuniversal space.

    You know, an oscillating universe and nonlinear time makes Lost much more interesting to contemplate.

  11. Lost Damery says:

    I think the writers really feed the desire of viewers to see and perceive these various supernatural themes but in the end it may all be an elaborate dream, like the Bob Newhart TV series.

  12. Pam says:

    [quote comment=”39717″]I think the writers really feed the desire of viewers to see and perceive these various supernatural themes but in the end it may all be an elaborate dream, like the Bob Newhart TV series.[/quote]
    I think ending the series as a dream would create terrible distress, not the dream part itself but all the complaints to ABC from the loyal fans. Explaining the weirdness of the show with a dream would be taking a short cut.

  13. sb says:

    This may have been mentioned before– and I apologize if so– but given the stuck on an island (and you could extrapolate wierd sorcery a la Circe), boat crash, the name Penelope… at some level is this a retelling of the Odyssey?

  14. Andreas says:

    I think it has many similarities to the Odyssey. In a way Desmond’s repetitive journey reminds of the long and perilous journey of Odysseus. I would be surprised if he doesn’t find Penelope (who is waiting for him) in the end.

  15. Reggie says:

    If Desmond is somehow traveling through time, like it was made to seem last night, and he has these new insights because he is reliving the experiences again and that they have happened before — and if he needs to keep on with his destiny of saving the world — how is he supposed to do that now — if there is no button anymore to push??? Is anyone else confused about that? If the hatch exploded and it doesn’t seem like anyone is remedy-ing the fixing the button thing — what then is really going on? Really confused about that…

  16. amnesiascope says:

    i really loved this episode – even though it was confusing. in reply to downthehatch’s comments about the producers comments that this episode may lose audience, i think it’s primarily because the notion of time travel, fate vs. destiny, non-linearity, etc is a difficult idea to become confortable with. as much as i liked this episode (but i’m one that believes in what i’ve seen referred to as ‘postalgia’ – although i’ve read a few different definitions for it), there were aspects that bothered me. for example, it seems as though desmond’s ‘flashbacks’ include things into the future – he knows about charlie’s ultimate death (although that could be just a reference to the old woman’s comments about the man in the red sneakers) – desmond only really ‘relived’ the portion of his past up to the guy clubbing him in the bar.

  17. Andreas says:

    The way I see it, just because the fatalist lady said that everything has to happen in a predetermined way, she doesn’t have to be correct. I think Des will realize that he can change the future.

    A major part in this is that David Hume, the philosopher Desmond David Hume is named after, reasoned that free will and determinism can co-exist.

  18. amnesiascope says:

    [quote comment=”39717″]I think the writers really feed the desire of viewers to see and perceive these various supernatural themes but in the end it may all be an elaborate dream, like the Bob Newhart TV series.[/quote]

    i don’t think it’s wishful thinking on my part to doubt that there will be ‘newhart’ ending. the dream ending works on newhart because it’s a comedy. lost has really tried to develop a deeper storyline with interlaced characters/stories that i really think it’ll have more of a ‘twilight zone’ ending.

  19. JeffM says:

    So, in regards to the whole time travel thing. Now it seems that the ‘old lady’ in the episode might be part of a group whose job it is to minimize paradox effects. Notice that she says that if Desmond doesn’t go to the island ‘WE’ all die. ‘WE’ might mean herself and all the others from the future. They won’t exist if Desmond does not go to the island. She lies to him (and possible other people) to try and correct timelines. The universe can only course correct so much before major changes are allowed to creep in.

    This has also got me wondering if all the flashbacks we have been watching all this time are meant to show what leads to each characters death is NOT set in stone, but is a result of their lack of control over their emotional selves.

    Looks like from the preview that the gray haired lady’s younger self is going to reveal something to Jack (she asks if he knows what his tattoo means).

  20. Lone Mountain says:

    Fascinating and knowledgeable web blog. Yes, Lost is a vast weaving of Homeric mythology, Buddhist religo-philosophy, and New Physics/metaphysics, with name references, anagrams, and so forth. Do you suppose, as a mechanism, that this nonlinear time / time information effect is due to the containment of a micro-black hole on the island? In addition, some of the paradoxes of the Heart Sutra seem to be in play….. Last half season of Lost almost bored me away, but this half has me glued. Keep up the good work on this blog. Thank you.

  21. Dennis says:

    Hi,

    I have been reading all your theories and I am starting leaning toward the theory that the Island is a “Kharma” machine.

    Everyone on the Island has made mistakes/faults in their life!
    Desmond is a coward! He did not propose to Penny, he (for some unknown reason) deserted the Royal Scots and end up in military jail and so on.
    Kate, Sawayer, Jack, Lock everyone made mistakes.
    Mr. Eko made a mistake, but he did not agree with the “Island” on that, well he died!

    The “Island” give everyone a second chance, and the Others are the chosen messengers, remember Ben and Tom saying – “We are the GOOD people!”

    Dharma means=”moral duty” – literally “to hold” a person to his/her purpose.
    Well, Island is holding people on the Island till they will achieve their purpose.

    For exemple: What was Michaels purpose? Maybe to care about his son, to be a father figure? Well, he for the first time did care about his son, and the Island released him.

    I hope you get where I am trying to get with the theory.

    One more thing, was it me or, but Ms Hawking looked as older version of Juliet. Look at the eyes!


  22. Lost Damery says:

    [quote comment=”39747″][quote comment=”39717″]I think the writers really feed the desire of viewers to see and perceive these various supernatural themes but in the end it may all be an elaborate dream, like the Bob Newhart TV series.[/quote]

    i don’t think it’s wishful thinking on my part to doubt that there will be ‘newhart’ ending. the dream ending works on newhart because it’s a comedy. lost has really tried to develop a deeper storyline with interlaced characters/stories that i really think it’ll have more of a ‘twilight zone’ ending.[/quote]
    What drew me into Lost was the reality of the show and then we encounter strange things we cannot explain and we fear them but they may all be explained in a rational way. Now the series is moving in the direction of in search of and I will be very upset of some fantastic reason that its all under control of a mad scientist with alien and supernatural ties to a alternate universe in another time and space.

  23. Jason says:

    I am leaning towards exactly what Dennis said. Ever since I have been watching lost and My name is Earl, I have had this feeling that Karma is what is going on on the island. It is a tool to right the paths of the survivors.

  24. Kevin says:

    As soon as I watched the last episode I knew that they were drawing from watchmen. There are a LOT of similarities between Dr. Manhattan and Desmond. I now have no doubt that they are drawing heavily on Watchmen and Planetary.

  25. Kevin says:

    Dennis, I dont think there IS a literal definitionn to the word Dharma. It dont think it is holding on. Wikipedia defines it as “refers to the underlying order in Nature and human life and behavior considered to be in accord with that order. Ethically, it means ‘right way of living’ or ‘proper conduct,’ especially in a religious sense.”

    This falls somewhat short, though. Dharma is more than just an ethical code or an underlying nature. It is, if you will, everything that exsists or does not exsist, both Nirvana and the cycle of Death and Rebirth.

  26. Ben Franklin says:

    Hi,
    i liked alot this article, and it made me start thinking about alot of issues…but there’s a simple thing that i don’t get, and i would appreciate if someone could help me “understand” it:

    How come Charlie doesen’t remember Desmond?
    I think, that even if it’s way past, someone who comes to you in the middle of the streets talking about strange island and buttons, it’s something you would remember.

  27. Lesley says:

    Great analysis everyone! Ben, I think Charlie did not remember Des because up until the hatch implosion they were on the “first go round”. When Mrs. Hawking pointed out it was Desmond’s first time I don’t think she was referring to the engagement ring. I agree Desmond shares many of Dark Tower Roland’s characteristics but I agree with Andreas that Des is slowly discovering there is a way to change things in order to get out of the loop and will end up with Penny in the end. I cannot quite figure out whether he finds Penny or she finds him – how will they cross that bridge? Maybe that is where the Others come in. I thought it prophetic that the photo background choices included a very snowy location. I am loving that we are back to discussing all the wonderful mysteries and look forward what’s coming next.

  28. Pam says:

    [quote comment=”39776″]Hi,
    i liked alot this article, and it made me start thinking about alot of issues…but there’s a simple thing that i don’t get, and i would appreciate if someone could help me “understand” it:

    How come Charlie doesen’t remember Desmond?
    I think, that even if it’s way past, someone who comes to you in the middle of the streets talking about strange island and buttons, it’s something you would remember.[/quote]
    Maybe what Desmond experienced after the hatch emploded was like a personal experience that only he conceived as reality. I think this could explain that it was a dream-type thing(metaphysical state/vision), therefore only Des really experienced it.

  29. Aussie says:

    Andreas, great job on the analysis and the tie-in with the David Hume entry from Wikipedia. When I watched the episode, I started to believe that the Lost universe is a repeating universe. Desmond does not foresee the future, he merely “remembers the past” from the prior repeating universe. Ironically, this is the plot of Daybreak, which was on Lost’s time slot (pun intended) a few months back. Hume’s theory: “Inductive inference says that the past acts as a reliable guide to the future” relates well to how Desmond uses his “past acts” as a guide to prevent a certain “future”.

    The cool part is that Dharma might have also done this “inductive inference” all along. They keep repeating the cycles with the perfect knowledge of what’s going to happen if they do this or that. Only recently Dharma knew that Desmond gained similar power, thus the Dharma lady approached him. Maybe everytime Dharma repeats the time, they tried to prevent “the end of the world” by altering the “variables in the world” using Valenzetti Equation? That explains why Dharma, including the Others, knows so much.

    Perhaps the events that we are watching in Lost are the events from the last ever cycle. After Dharma’s experiments with a variety of scenarios / course of actions during each time cycles, finally they arrived at the scenario where the world will be saved. And the saving of the world will have to do with the Losties crashing unto the island. Yay!

  30. Andreas says:

    Glad you all enjoyed the post! Some great thoughts in the comments, I like the dharma and karma ideas.

  31. Dennis says:

    Andreas, glad to hear that my fellow swede like the Kharma idea. =)

    Well, I gave the idea more thoughts and came to more evidence regarding the Kharma idea.

    Remeber the Ana-Lucia? She was an angry person, here life was about revenge. She couldn’t forgive people, she died.
    Remember Boone and Shannon? They couldn’t express their true feelings! They did not care for anybody else expect of them selfs, what happend, they died!

    Well, all people who died followed their destiny! Their purpose! But, wait.. People who still alive did have a “free will”, they tried to change their destiny. Like Dez in last episode. He did try to change his destiny… So have the Jack, by facing his fears by saving Ben. Sawyer, by caring about someone else (Kate) and so on…

    Lets then get back to what is Dharma! As Kevin sad “Dharma means ‘right way of living’ or ‘proper conduct”, well, the Island and the Others (messengers) teach people to live in harmony!

    Regarding the Hanso Foundation. What is the purpose with it: to “reach out to a better tomorrow”. “To save the world” from it destruction. When did Hanso Foundation was created, well, just after Cuban Crises. And that crises was a MADNESS! We, human, almost destroyed our self’s from destruction.

  32. Dennis says:

    Just found one more thing…

    From Swan Orientation film. The alleged purpose of the Dharma Initiative was to create “a large-scale communal research compound where scientists and free-thinkers from around the globe could pursue research in meteorology, psychology, parapsychology, zoology, electromagnetism, and utopian social-”

    An “Utopian social..” and then the movie ended! What did they mean with that? The Utopian Social Engineering? What is Utopian Social Engineering?

    Well, it is:
    Social engineering is a school of political science whereby governments or private groups influence the acceptance or rejection of individual behaviors on a large scale, through passage of laws or creation of incentives/dissentives. Human efforts to create a better, or perhaps perfect society are called utopianism. In some ways, social engineering which attempts to place limits on human behaviors and attitudes is a constraint on free will!

    Free will my friends! Not destiny, Free will!

    I don’t believe that Dez went in Time, he did meet the “security system” which have Boone, Eko, Locke and everyone else meet.

    Remember the Boone encounter/hallucination with the security system, where he have seen Shannon die?

    Locke believed his destiny was to push a button, he made a choose, he had a Free WILL!

    My friends, the wise know how to use time and space perfectly; they lead free and harmonious lives. Fools are enslaved by time and space; they are busy running around all day. Wise or foolish, the difference is obvious. – from ‘dharma talk’ entitled the Buddhist Perspective on Time and Space.

  33. Ashley says:

    its also no coincidence that Desmond’s middle and last name are “David Hume.” He was a Scottish philosopher that concerned himself predominantly with predeterminism and free will. he was also largely influenced by John Locke (the philosopher). this show is just too clever!

  34. pkal says:

    According to “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” it is safe for us to assume this is (at least) the second time loop that Desmond has experienced on the island. He is seeing “flashes” of his conscious past, but his physical future. It seems logical to assume that he is on his third trip. That Charlie was hit by electricity, Desmond returned to the past, remembered Charlie would die, and saved him, only to have Charlie drown. Then Desmond sent back again, and saved him from drowning. Thus, Charlie will die again, Desmond will save him, Charlie dies, Desmond saves, etc, etc.

    However, what if this is only Desmond’s second time through time? But when he saved Charlie from electrocution, Desmond changed the future. Now in the future, Charlie drowns. And because the physical future has changed, Desmond’s conscious past has changed. Desmond now “remembers” Charlie drowning, even though he never actually lived through it before.

    Does this make sense to anyone else?

  35. Hammer says:

    Yeah…I don’t get how he knew about the drowning because I didn’t see any evidence that this is the third or more trip to the island. The episode seemed to me to show that this is only the 2nd go.

  36. Floorcookie says:

    I more with Pkal on this one. I don’t think this is Groundhog Day (as funny as that movie was). I think this is his first pass through it all. He just sees flashes of the “future” as he goes through it. Only the future is flexible depending on how things go in the present. The only real “rule” established in his flashback was that his flashes never went very far into the future. In most cases he realized things were going to happen only right before they actually did. The fathest forward he saw was the case where he saw the outcome of the soccer game a few days before it happened.

    Here’s the paradox that bothered me: if the “fatalist lady” is right that things always turn out the same and that the universe course-corrects then why did she even care about what Desmond chose? If he’s going to island anyway why not just sell him the ring and let him go? Why bother explaining things to him? Why try to convince him that he needs to push the button or everyone dies? He’s going to go push it anyway, right?

    I think she was lying. He obviously DOES have a choice or she wouldn’t have tried to convince him to make the “right” one.

    — Mike

  37. Lesley says:

    I am curious as to how the Others play into this. When Ben was captured by Danielle was he on his way to try to stop the button pushing in the hatch? I doubt he was looking for the good doctor because Michael Emerson was originally only to be a temporary character so the cancer portion of the story was probably not written then. I recall him taunting Locke about the button being a joke. Was the implosion Ben’s mission in the first place? Were the Others aware that it might be possible to bend time and change choices?

  38. Pam says:

    [quote comment=”39895″]I more with Pkal on this one. I don’t think this is Groundhog Day (as funny as that movie was). I think this is his first pass through it all. He just sees flashes of the “future” as he goes through it. Only the future is flexible depending on how things go in the present. The only real “rule” established in his flashback was that his flashes never went very far into the future. In most cases he realized things were going to happen only right before they actually did. The fathest forward he saw was the case where he saw the outcome of the soccer game a few days before it happened.

    Here’s the paradox that bothered me: if the “fatalist lady” is right that things always turn out the same and that the universe course-corrects then why did she even care about what Desmond chose? If he’s going to island anyway why not just sell him the ring and let him go? Why bother explaining things to him? Why try to convince him that he needs to push the button or everyone dies? He’s going to go push it anyway, right?

    I think she was lying. He obviously DOES have a choice or she wouldn’t have tried to convince him to make the “right” one.

    — Mike[/quote]

    I agree, but I thought the night he predicted the win and the night that the win he predicted actually happened were back to back days.
    As for the “paradox” maybe she was trying reverse physchology on him. I tried to think about this, but couldn’t logically think of explaination. The thing is we can’t tell if Des believes in fatalism because of the jeweller (at least not yet). He knows Charlie will eventually die because he can’t keep saving him (he knows fatalism will run its course according to the jeweller), but that doesn’t mean he won’t choose and try to save Charlie again, and again (he might choose free will). People are thinking this Desmond thing is about determinism/fatalism and free will co-exisiting, so maybe the jeweller’s role was to introduce fatalism to Des (and to us) and begin the fatalism vs. free will relationship.

  39. Mark says:

    I’m surprised that every post I see here accepts that Desmond is a time traveler… I didn’t get that impression at all!

    Work with me here… this is what they showed us, that we know happened, in the reality of the island: Desmond turned the key. Big old nasty electromagnetic anomaly blows up right in his face. Then there’s the “flashback” event, which is open to interpretation, and could possibly be Desmond living out a time loop. Or it could be a flashback. Or a really weird dream. How about a near-death experience? This entire section of the show is subject to interpretation. Finally, we see him wake up in the jungle, run around a bit, then tell Charlie about it.

    During the flashback, there are all kinds of surreal clues sprinkled about. We see appearances of the #’s he entered into the computer. We hear all sorts of sounds from the hatch. When he and Penny are at the River Thames, the time on Big Ben remains at 4:04 and doesn’t change from scene to scene. When Desmond throws off his tie, the lady pictured in the poster/advertisement behind him follows him with her eyes, appearing to blink (see http://www.thetailsection.com/lost_news/lost_flashes_before_your_eyes_1.php for screencaps.) When Desmond is in Widmore’s office, the layout of the room changes (paintings reverse-image from one shot to the next, and switch sides of the room in the wide shots.) One of the paintings in Widmore’s office was the same painting done by Tom, Claire’s boyfriend, which we saw when Claire was pregnant, which had to be in 2004. Since Desmond arrived on the island at least three years prior to 2004, how could Tom’s painting be in Widmore’s office when Desmond is there? There are far too many surreal elements, which I believe is the writers communicating to us that what we are seeing is not to be taken as reality… neither as an historically accurate flashback (what we believe we’ve been seeing for 3yrs on this show), nor as Desmond reliving a period of his life.

    Finally, we have the Wizard of Oz allusions… something the writers have used before (the balloon, Henry Gale.) In the movie, Dorothy gets knocked out by a shutter, and is “transported” to Oz… but in the end, wakes up in her bed in Kansas to find out the whole thing was a fantasy that occurred only in her mind and populated with the characters from her reality (“You were there! And you! And you!”) Similarly, I think Desmond got knocked out by the blast and had a vision/hallucination/near-death-experience filled with references from the reality of his present island life and then woke up. I think the inclusion of the red Chuck Taylor sneakers on the guy crushed by the construction accident absolutely drives home the Wizard of Oz parallel (Wicked Witch of the East had the house dropped on her, killing her.) Are we to believe they chose red sneakers, sticking out from the wreckage, simply to illustrate the example of changing fate? I don’t think the writers could find a stronger way of driving home the Wizard of Oz theme here.

    I think the real question to be asking here is what is going on with the flashbacks? I think Desmond had a flashback, and incorporated elements of current Island life into the memories, mixing the past with the present (visions of the future, from the perspective of the past.) So what of Ms Hawkings? I propose this is some manfiestation of the Island or the smoke monster interfering with or influencing Desmond’s mind. The writers have already shown us an appearance as Eko’s brother Yemi, Jack’s father, Kate’s horse, and several visions of Locke’s. It doesn’t seem unlikely that Desmond would have a similar experience. I would also propose that is is this connection with the island/the smoke monster that is responsible for Desmond’s flashes of the future happening now on the island (ie, the lightning, the drowning.) I think all of this is suggestive that the issue may be the flashbacks, and how things from the survivor’s memories are appearing on the island (again, things like Yemi and Jack’s father.)

    Finally, we have what Desmond himself told us:
    “When I turned that key…my life…flashed before my eyes. And then I was back in the jungle. Still on this bloody island. But those flashes, Charlie? Those flashes…they didn’t stop.”

    Desmond himself doesn’t believe he went back in time, he says he had a vision. I think the writers are calling a spade a spade here, and so many people are complicating things. Time travel is a long limb to go out on.

  40. Mark says:

    [quote comment=”39902″]I am curious as to how the Others play into this. When Ben was captured by Danielle was he on his way to try to stop the button pushing in the hatch? I doubt he was looking for the good doctor because Michael Emerson was originally only to be a temporary character so the cancer portion of the story was probably not written then. I recall him taunting Locke about the button being a joke. Was the implosion Ben’s mission in the first place? Were the Others aware that it might be possible to bend time and change choices?[/quote]
    Remember that Ben pushed the button when Locke was stuck under the door though. He told Locke it was a joke, and that he never pushed it… but the S2 finale showed us what happened when the button isn’t pushed, so we know Ben lied. I don’t understand his motivation for doing so, but I think it’s clear–as evidenced by the fact that nothing happened and the clock reset–that Ben did in fact push the button when he was the only one able to reach it in the hatch.

  41. Lesley says:

    You are right Mark, Ben did push the button. However, Ben seems to have a need to manipulate other people into making choices, or rather wanting to make choices that ultimately land them with the responsibility for what happens. Therefore, Ben made the choice to push the button but needed to have one of the Losties make the choice not to. Just like he needed Jack to want to operate on his tumor rather than just manipulate him to do so. Both situations seemingly giving the other person the right to choose, to have the free-will to choose. And remember Juliet’s comment about free-will at the book club meeting? I am not so sure the jeweler is an Other for that very reason. But I like the idea that she is a smokey manifestation and as others have commented, she seemed eerily similar to Yemi when he confronted Eko. I do agree that the “flashback” sequence is subject to much interpretation. Could be a dream, could be time-bending of sorts, could be a concussion, could be….. But that is what makes LOST so compelling isn’t it?

  42. Mark says:

    Of course, Lesley, it’s the mystery of the show that first drew me in. I think the writers are brilliant in how they leave things so open-ended, such as with Desmond’s episode, leaving easter eggs everywhere that hint at all kinds of theories. The controversy and resulting debate is what makes it fun!

    Regarding Ben’s imprisonment in the hatch… I’m with you in that it drives me nuts wondering what his motivations were. The cynic in me agrees with what you said above, that it was probably just due to the whole story not being written yet due to Emerson initially being a short-term casting. So it could be that the writers couldn’t foresee his entire character arc, but I hold out hope that in the end they are smart enough to have a story in place that fleshes this all out. I mean, from what they’ve shown us, to stop pushing the button would have destroyed all of them on the island, including Ben, the Others, and possibly the whole world. Activating the failsafe obviously saved them, but they’ve shown us it has had unexpected consequences for the Others, who have said their communications are down and implied that they can no longer leave the island since. Desmond wasn’t around when Ben was at the hatch, and Ben didn’t know about his sailboat, so I’d venture that he was unaware anyone had a failsafe key to turn. It’s also pretty unlikely that Ben wanted the utter destruction that would have resulted without the failsafe (we know Ben values his own life, he’s counting on Jack to save him.) At some point, they have to reveal his motivations there, right? The whole EM anomaly/button/failsafe seems to be a fulcrum for the story as a whole, and I really hope they shed some more light on Ben’s rple here, considering he initiated the chain of events that led to Desmond having to turn the key.

  43. Lesley says:

    I agree Mark, and also have hope that the story when all told will reveal Ben’s role in a way that perhaps none of us imagined. In the meantime, what a fun ride!

  44. sashapotente says:

    Just a couple of comments on the episode:
    1-did anyone notice that when Desmond turns the key under the hatch to start his “flashback” the usual Lost flashback sound isn’t there? Just the jumble of images of Desmond’s past that was similar to the online psychological “test” which was part of the multimedia puzzle this past summer. I think that the bulk of the episode, with Desmond back in his “past” was not a flashback, but I don’t know as I believe he time-traveled.
    2-with all of the talk about time etc…I’m surprised no one’s pointed out that Ms.Hawkins was wearing a broach in her scene with Desmond after getting the roasted chestnuts–of an ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail symbolizing the cyclical nature of time…wiki entry says:”The Ouroboros often represents self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things perceived as cycles that begin anew as soon as they end.”
    3-I don’t know what this means, can’t yet make heads or tails of it, but in the previous episode Juliet tells Jack that she has been on the island for 3 years 2 months & 28 says. Desmond spent 3 years in the hatch before the Losties arrived. If they arrived together, or at least at the same time, what does that mean?

  45. dicamco says:

    [quote comment=”39791″]Great analysis everyone! Ben, I think Charlie did not remember Des because up until the hatch implosion they were on the “first go round”. When Mrs. Hawking pointed out it was Desmond’s first time I don’t think she was referring to the engagement ring. I agree Desmond shares many of Dark Tower Roland’s characteristics but I agree with Andreas that Des is slowly discovering there is a way to change things in order to get out of the loop and will end up with Penny in the end. I cannot quite figure out whether he finds Penny or she finds him – how will they cross that bridge? Maybe that is where the Others come in. I thought it prophetic that the photo background choices included a very snowy location. I am loving that we are back to discussing all the wonderful mysteries and look forward what’s coming next.[/quote]

    I keep going back to last season when Penny got the phone call. At some point in time, she’s looking for him (Desmond)? If so, and if Desmond is in a time loop, he and Penny may have talked about finding him. She certainly has the resources.

  46. Dana says:

    I LOVE where the writers are going. I think when all is said and done Lost will be a classic, epic tale. I am enjoying the ride more than I can say. Whoever Desmond is, I love him!!!!!

  47. Jules says:

    I’ve just been doing some looking around on the abc.com website and ran across a screenshot of one of Desmond’s “flashbacks”. It was when he saw Charlie playing guitar in the street. In the screenshot, it shows Charlie’s name as Charlie Hieronymus Pace. Does anyone know the significance of “Hieronymus” as it applies to the show, theories, etc?

  48. sashapotente says:

    The name Hieronymus (probably) refers to the Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450 – August, 1516),(from the wiki entry) a prolific Dutch painter of the 15th and 16th centuries. Many of his works depict sin and human moral failings (Charlie all over, esp. his weird scene on the beach with Claire and his Mom as angels…). Bosch used images of demons, half-human animals and machines to evoke fear and confusion to portray the evil of man. The works contain complex, highly original, imaginative, and dense use of symbolic figures and iconography, some of which was obscure even in his own time.

  49. Omar Kamel says:

    I had to laugh when I saw the title of this post. I love Watchmen, and have loved it since I first read it when it was collected way back – what? 15 years ago now?

    Oh, well – on to the issue at hand 🙂

    No. Desmond isn’t quite a Dr. Manhattan. It’s conceivable that he’s a Dr. Manhattan in training, but I somehow doubt that. Dr. Manhattan was in no way confused by the time-space he was inhabiting because it was, to him, consistent. If anything, Desmond has been dazed and confused, clinging to memories, and hoping for clues. On the personal level alone, Desmond is one of the most human (read ‘frail’) of the main characters, and at this point does not seem capable of the detachment such absolute power conferred on somebody like a Dr. Manhattan.

    My reactions to this episode, as I noted in Lostpedia, are twofold: I either decide Mrs. Hawkings was a hallucination, and then accept her as a HUGE red herring, and am left with no clear explanation as to how Desmond, even if he hallucinated all this, could still ‘actually’ predict Locke’s speech and the lightning striking Charlie and Claire’s roof – OR – I accept that the Live-Flash – as I guess I’m comfortable to call it was real – in which case, I have to postulate the existence of at LEAST 3 total Live-Flashes occurring with Desmond. This one we saw in this episode and 2 others yet to come, one in which Charlie is struck by lightning and one in which he drowns. Let me rephrase – one in which he WAS struck by lightning and one in which he DID drown. This explains his powers, however, it leaves wide, WIDE open the question of who exactly Mrs. Hawkings is and whether or not she’s in anyway related to the Mittelos people…

    The only real ‘problem’ with the 2nd explanation is that I recall the writers specifically saying that there was NO time-travel going on. This, of course, throws an incredibly large wrench into the whole thing…leaving me once again confused.

    As for the role of the Losties and / or Desmond in saving the world by somehow mysteriously altering some factors of the Valenzetti Equation – well – I do recall, not sure if it was Carleton or Damon – saying something to the effect that Lost in basically a huge Rube Goldberg device where all the machinery is human. If he’s being literal – then we have to consider the possibility that the ‘end’ of all these machinations – the end result, that is – could actually be something quite simple, or mundane – in true Rube Goldberg Machine fashion. Seen from that point of view – altering a variable in the Valenzetti Equation to save the entire human race isn’t quite Rube Goldbergian by virtue of it’s actual utility.

    And now, I am most certainly rambling…

    Oh, well. Later 🙂

  50. Omar Kamel says:

    Sorry to leave a double post – just forgot to mention something else that’s been on my mind regarding the episode.

    Somebody elsewhere suggested that this Live-Flash, etc – could be used to postulate that in fact ALL the flashbacks are essentially ‘live’ and that the characters, if they could only ‘remember’ their futures – would also be able to try to alter their past.

    Quite a cool idea – but I am so far not satisfied that that is the intent – for 2 main reasons:

    1. The actual format of this episode was different – and other than the very first episode or two – the flashback format has been very, very, very consistent – to my mind – that means they are not intended to be understood as being ‘similar’ in nature.

    2. None of the other characters have in any way exhibited any awareness of ‘past’ or deja-vu moments, unless you go down the path of thinking they’ve manifested ‘past’ bits from thier memories onto the Island (Kate’s Horse, Jack’s Dad, etc..) – with the possible exception of things like Walt seeing the polar bear before it attacked, etc – however – and despite my previous mention of the Rube Goldberg connection – I prefer to leave things that COULD be explained by coincidence (no matter how unlikely) off the list of ‘must-be-able-to-explain-this’ items when I’m considering an encompassing theory.

    Now, enough ramble, and on to next Wednesday or whatever it is…

  51. Andreas says:

    I agree Omar, Desmond’s “live flash” was different to the regular flashbacks, so even if it could be a cool idea if all the flashbacks have been some form of unconscious “live flashes”, I don’t think we have seen enough to prove that concept.

    By the way, I’m glad you enjoyed the comparison to Dr.Manhattan. I agree that Desmond is in no way as powerful as Dr.Manhattan, but as I wrote, there are a lot of small similarities.

  52. Hammer says:

    I’m sure of the signicance…but in Dez’s episode, there was only one copy of the photo he and Pen took together. But Dez carries a copy and Pen had one on her night stand in the scene when the Portuguese fellows called her.

    Another point, there have now been two different scenes where Dez learns about the race. Last season in the limo and last episode in Whidmore’s office. In the scene in Whidmore’s office, Dez is smirking when Whidmore tells him about it…as if he already knows.

  53. cakey says:

    There is an ancient Irish fairy-tale about a man who is seduced by a beautiful “woman” (actually a fairy princess) and gets her on her horse to go to the land of the fairies. He never ages… later when he begs to see his father, she instructs him to take her magic horse, but to never touch the ground. Of course, when he returns to Ireland, he finds out his father is dead. When he jumps off the horse in dismay, he instantly ages 200 years and soon dies. Maybe something like this will happen to Losties? If they return on their “horse” – a boat or plane…

  54. amber13 says:

    [quote comment=”39693″]Andreas, good post. I especially like what you said about time being in a loop.

    I wonder if it’s possible that Desmond has been on the island several times, but that this time is the first time that he failed to push the button. In other words, he did something different this time around, and that’s why he’s come “unstuck” in time and is jumping all over the place.

    If this is true, another question is–did he screw up this time around, or did he finally get it right?

    It reminds me a little bit of Donnie Darko. In that movie, Donnie does something that disrupts destiny, and the universe performs a “course correction” that results in a temporary time loop. Donnie goes through the loop, knowing all the while that the alternate world that he’s created is “going to end.” He sees how his one action screws everything up, then goes back in time to correct the mistake and let the universe go on as usual.

    In Lost, we may have a similar loop. But did Desmond screw up here, or did he finally get it right? Maybe all the previous times he’s been on the island, he’s just pushed the button obediently. But the universe didn’t want that–it wanted him to stop pushing the button just once, so that a planeload of people who were “fated” to crash might end up the island.

    Whoa rambling. Carry on.[/quote]

    first post: Thank You coz!!! this is not the first person/comment i’ve read that saw the Donnie Darko similarities…..When i first started watching this show (halfway thru first season) i kept thinking of that movie. Desmond is Donnie Darko? i see it.Patiently waiting for the 2 hour season finale and hoping i won’t be disappointed.

  55. amber13 says:

    [quote comment=”39693″]Andreas, good post. I especially like what you said about time being in a loop.

    I wonder if it’s possible that Desmond has been on the island several times, but that this time is the first time that he failed to push the button. In other words, he did something different this time around, and that’s why he’s come “unstuck” in time and is jumping all over the place.

    If this is true, another question is–did he screw up this time around, or did he finally get it right?

    It reminds me a little bit of Donnie Darko. In that movie, Donnie does something that disrupts destiny, and the universe performs a “course correction” that results in a temporary time loop. Donnie goes through the loop, knowing all the while that the alternate world that he’s created is “going to end.” He sees how his one action screws everything up, then goes back in time to correct the mistake and let the universe go on as usual.

    In Lost, we may have a similar loop. But did Desmond screw up here, or did he finally get it right? Maybe all the previous times he’s been on the island, he’s just pushed the button obediently. But the universe didn’t want that–it wanted him to stop pushing the button just once, so that a planeload of people who were “fated” to crash might end up the island.

    Whoa rambling. Carry on.[/quote]
    [quote comment=”39693″]Andreas, good post. I especially like what you said about time being in a loop.

    I wonder if it’s possible that Desmond has been on the island several times, but that this time is the first time that he failed to push the button. In other words, he did something different this time around, and that’s why he’s come “unstuck” in time and is jumping all over the place.

    If this is true, another question is–did he screw up this time around, or did he finally get it right?

    It reminds me a little bit of Donnie Darko. In that movie, Donnie does something that disrupts destiny, and the universe performs a “course correction” that results in a temporary time loop. Donnie goes through the loop, knowing all the while that the alternate world that he’s created is “going to end.” He sees how his one action screws everything up, then goes back in time to correct the mistake and let the universe go on as usual.

    In Lost, we may have a similar loop. But did Desmond screw up here, or did he finally get it right? Maybe all the previous times he’s been on the island, he’s just pushed the button obediently. But the universe didn’t want that–it wanted him to stop pushing the button just once, so that a planeload of people who were “fated” to crash might end up the island.

    Whoa rambling. Carry on.[/quote]

    first post: Thank You coz!!! this is not the first person/comment i’ve read that saw the Donnie Darko similarities…..When i first started watching this show (halfway thru first season) i kept thinking of that movie. Desmond is Donnie Darko? i see it.Patiently waiting for the 2 hour season finale and hoping i won’t be disappointed.

    sorry!!!! I meant cog!!! I can’t type. carry on

  56. Ron says:

    I sorta think Desmond’s story is similar to the deadzone

    des leaves and penny becomes engaged but is still in love with des

    Johnny smith is in a coma and when he wakes up he finds his girl is married and has another man’s kid.

    des discovers he has this power to which he can see the future but he has had it all along.

    Johnny’s powers blossom after he comes out of the coma but he has had them since he was a kid.

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