Thursday, October 15, 2009

3.08 Flashes Before Your Eyes

Follow along! The episode guide for “Flashes Before Your Eyes” is in Finding Lost — Season 3, pp. 60-67.

I think you already know the reason why I loved this episode. I remember before this one aired Damon made some comment that they would be doing a flashback like nothing we’d ever seen, and he worried that if people were on the fence about leaving Lost (season 3 was the great “fickle fan” exodus from the show), this might push them over the edge. But for me, it was awesome. First, there’s the naked Desmond part. Then topless Desmond. Helpless Desmond. Angry Desmond…. OK, seriously now. Rewatching this one is fascinating because this was the first episode to seriously suggest that time travel might play a role on the show. Fans were divided about what really happened – did Des time travel, or did he have an out-of-body experience that flashed before his eyes? Now, in light of The Constant, it would appear he consciousness-traveled in a way, but in a different way than he would later.

Fun things I noticed:
• Wow, Des. That’s one serious tan you’ve got there. I can just see Henry Ian Cusick getting this script and spending the next 10 days on a tanning bed knowing he’d be shirtless.
• For some reason I was feeling rather creative the week this one aired, and wrote up two fake deleted scenes for it. The first one, where Claire talks to Desmond, is here, and the second, where Charlie and Hurley are in Sawyer's tent, is here.
• I mentioned this in my S3 book, but I still have no idea why Charlie calls Desmond a coward, other than the fact he’s SERIOUSLY pissed that Desmond was the guy to save his girlfriend.
• While Charlie’s rendition is as painful as Liam Gallagher’s live version of “Wonderwall,” I love that he sings, “Maybe you’re gonna be the one that saves me” as Des is walking over to him. Or, in light of the S3 finale… maybe not.
• It still drives me NUTS that the word “honor” is misspelled on the Scottish poster. Any good member of the Commonwealth knows the proper spelling is “Honour.” ;)

Things that have new meaning:
• I might have mentioned this before, but Desmond says he took care of his three younger brothers (whom I would LOVE to meet… hint hint) “after my father…” and then he’s cut off. After his father what? We’re to assume he was going to say “died” but what if it was something else? Disappeared? Time traveled? Was his name Jacob? Will he turn out to be important or no?
• So why does Eloise (who in the picture above appears to be singing the Twilight Zone theme, "Doo doo do do"... hehe) appear to Desmond here? I suggested in my S5 book that maybe she had Daniel’s journal after Dan died (by her hand) and then for his entire life she was able to anticipate what would happen next. In that case, she could have made Des go to the island so he’d be there to get her son’s message when Dan time traveled and banged on the hatch door, and he’d be there as her son’s constant (and for all we know, SHE scrawled that note in the journal about how Desmond Hume would be his constant). Is that how she knows to be there at that time? Or did Widmore call her?
• Eloise tells Desmond that if he doesn’t get that very tanned ass back to the island, “every single one of US is dead,” and she puts an emphasis on the word “us.” Who does she mean? Every person in the world? All of the Others? The time travelers? The islanders?
• So at the time, I never looked beyond Desmond’s nakedness as anything but… glorious. But now we need to step back and wonder if it means anything. Why is Desmond naked? Is it a sign that he really left the island physically? Could it be a signal of a rebirth?


Marebabe said...

It’s hard for me to keep straight the differences between being “unstuck in time” with or without a constant, Desmond having a vague feeling of déjà vu or having total awareness of what’s happening to him, and full-on time travel as opposed to flash-forwards, flashbacks, or flashes before your eyes. I’m doing my best to keep up, but I may need a tutor.

Henry Ian Cusick is such a brilliant actor! It’s hard to convey the small, subtle things. In the scene where Desmond is having a hard time putting on his tie, he looks at the digital clock, and it’s 1:08. You can see that he’s noticing the number 108, but he can’t quite place why it’s significant. He has another déjà vu when the microwave timer goes off. I love watching the moment when the fog clears, and he can suddenly remember all the Island stuff. (Side note: The checkout scanners at our local Wal-Mart stores have exactly the same beep as the countdown timer in the Swan. That was such a gas the first time I noticed it.)

Even after watching the time-travel season of Lost, I can barely wrap my head around all the know-it-all stuff that Eloise says to Desmond in this episode. Remember when we first saw this? We had no idea who this mysterious and freaky woman was. Even now, our understanding of her is very sketchy.

Several momentous things happened along the river. Penny said an odd thing right after she slapped Des: “Don’t you dare rewrite history!” Desmond throwing the ring into the river was a course correction for the fact that he was never supposed to have bought it in the first place (if Eloise was right). And it’s so sad that the precious photo of Penny and Des was taken about a minute before they broke up.

People often mention the fact that, even though the photographer only took one shot and gave Penny and Des one print, there are other copies around (on Penny’s night stand, in Naomi’s book when she arrived on the Island), as if this is a major discrepancy. Well, it’s easy to get copies of photos. Modern color copiers make duplicates that look almost identical to the originals. Just not as glossy, if glossy paper was used for the original.

Remember the YouTube video from a couple years ago showing all the times that anyone in the cast said “What?” Well, lately I’ve been noticing how often people get bashed in the head and knocked out. Rifle butts seem to be the favored weapons, but any old club will do. Remember Aldo, guarding the station where Karl was being brainwashed in Room 23 in “Not in Portland”? Knocked out cold. In this ep, Desmond got hit with the cricket bat in the pub. Whoever is making those wonderful Season 6 Prep videos on YouTube should definitely do one showing all the times people have been clubbed into submission in Seasons 1-5. I’m thinkin’ that will be a longish video!

Gillian Whitfield said...

How much did I cheer, then groan when Ms Hawking showed up? She was so pivotal in season 5, but murdered her son and she didn't try to prevent it. Her son happens to be one of my favourite characters.

Jenn said...

Okay, it's been awhile since I've posted, so I'm just going to go for it, and post a far-out theory.
Maybe Desmond DID save Charlie. Sometimes, classically, submersion into water stands for some sort of re-birth, cleansing, or renewal. Although I've always been so so SO sad about Charlie's death, I found consolation in the fact that he died a true hero. So, while Desmond certainly didn't save Charlie in the physical sense, maybe you could consider that he 'saved' Charlie in the more metaphorical (perhaps religious) sense?

Also, I agree with Nikki about the poster. HonoUr!

Joan Crawford said...

"So why does Eloise (who in the picture above appears to be singing the Twilight Zone theme, "Doo doo do do"... hehe"

Ahahahaah! She's a sexy grandma though, I'll give here that. And I know my sexy grandmas.


Susan said...

Why does Charlie call Des a coward? Because calling people names is what Charlie does when he's mad.

This is a theory of mine, and I guess it can fit with this episode, but my idea is that Des is given these flashes about Charlie's deaths in order to save him so he can survive to make the Looking Glass trip. Don't know if it's true, don't know if we'll ever find out for sure, but it's what I think fits the evidence so far.

Ali Bags said...

"It still drives me NUTS that the word “honor” is misspelled on the Scottish poster. Any good member of the Commonwealth knows the proper spelling is “Honour.” ;)"

Will love you ever for that comment :)

JS said...

Love this episode!

2 seasons later, there are still several very interesting unanswered questions for me solely from this episode, a few I’ll list here:
- Did Widmore dis him (for the first of several times) so he would end up on the island or because he truly hated him? Or both?
- For course correction, I wonder what would have happened if Eloise didn't tell him not to do it?
- She is so very confident of her knowledge of the future. Is this is her past/future too - how does she know everything that is going to happen up to pushing the button? How many times has she been through (I find it hard to believe it is just from his journal, for which I have other questions about that we will wait until S5 to discuss)? How does she know EVERYONE ON EARTH will die? If it is everyone on earth, it would certainly explain her willingness to sacrifice her only son. What huh?

Other interesting stuff:
- Eloise to Des - "You've never done this before, have you?" But he has. Kind of.
- Desmond is wearing a red shirt in the picture with Penny

- I picked this up somewhere else on the lostweb – Desmond did have a bff, Donovan, who was a physicist (who must know Faraday), whom he told about the island - IN THE PAST. How will that come back in season 6?

The Question Mark said...

The way i comprehend this flashback (and I coul be TOTALLY wrong) is that it IS indeed a flashback, i.e. all of this happened to Des before the Island.

However, something Hatch-related began giving Des memories of the future, if that is at all possible. He had an out-of-body experience where he was back in the past, but at the same time the future came rushing forward to meet him.
It's a tricky subject to pinpoint.

Did anybody notice that when Mrs. Hawking first appears in this ep, you can hear the sounds of a clock chiming in the background? The same thing happens when we see her in the church in Season 5. It's almost as if her character represents time itself.

Also, I have a great idea for a Lost spin-off:
"The Advnetures of Jimmy Lennon". He just goes around hitting people with a cricket bat a la Shaun of the Dead, but he does with FLAIR!

The Bench Coach said...

My theory is that the parents of our heroes (Christian, Widmore, & Eloise in particular) are all aware of the roles they must play and how things must shake out. They all act as guides coaxing their children and the other players into the right places and situations. They are setting the stage just as much as Jacob that plays into the larger question of what's really happening, I don't know.

Teebore said...

...this might push them over the edge.

Huh, I never heard that the first time around. It's interesting, because had I ever been wavering on Lost this episode would be the one that pushed me to STAY.

the proper spelling is “Honour.”

Oh, you crazy Commonwealthers and your extra "u"s. ;)

After his father what?

Speaking of unresolved Desmond mysteries (that I should have brought up when discussing the season two finale), have we ever found out the details of his dismissal from the army and time in jail, other than the vague references to cowardice?

@Marebabe Well, lately I’ve been noticing how often people get bashed in the head and knocked out.

This is a recurring theme in many TV shows that my buddy and I also notice and laugh at: in the TV worlds, should you ever need to knock someone unconscious but not kill them, a strong blow to the head with a blunt instrument will do the trick.

Whereas in the real world, unless you're specially trained, you probably run the risk of either just really hurting the person or killing them.

Our favorite Lost example of this is when Charlie knocks out Desmond with an oar at the end of season three. How does Charlie know he didn't just brain Desmond to death, or that Desmond won't fall while unconscious into the ocean and drown? Because in the TV World, Charlie just wants to knock him out, so that all that happens. :)

Kevin said...

It's funny everyone's bringing up the "honour" misspelling...

I remember back on an S3 podcast, someone wrote in to ask what the deal was with that -- it just HAD to be intentional, because the production designers are always SO GOOD... they would NEVER have let that happen if it wasn't supposed to be there.

Darlton answered that while they agreed the production designers were first-rate... no, it did not mean Desmond had gone to a parallel universe, or that this was an elaborate ruse to convince him he had traveled back in time, a la "The Prisoner" (two theories they had heard from other fans)... it was just a simple spelling mistake.

I guess when your show is so complicated -- and excellent! -- you can't help it when people react that way...

Jazzygirl said...

LOL I remember when I first saw this episode, Eloise seemed like such a sweet older lady. Ya right!
Ugh, I have no idea what to make of this. I like everyone's ideas...I hope they explain it. Although they may not since the whole point of the episode was to explain course correction. But also, I didn't like one thing she said...and moreso, it's not true...she said "Desmond, pushing that button will be the only worthwile thing you ever do." (paraphrasing) Um, no...what about Penny and his son Charlie?

SonshineMusic said...

Just have time for a couple quick comments. Be back later for more. Busy week :P

Random thought, what if the Island was out to kill CLAIRE and Charlie was collateral damage or someone It had to get out of the way to get to her... think about it. Claire's tent is the one to be hit by lightning, Claire is the one drowning originally. Yes there are other Charlie instances, but maybe the Island/MiB/whoever realized that Charlie had to be gotten out of the way first so they could get the Claire. Or Aaron.

If Eloise only knew what happened up to the point we see where Daniel ::sniff sniff:: dies, then how does she know that Desmond will do nothing else great other than push the button? Was he supposed to die at some point? Was Ben supposed to actually kill him, but something or someone protected him?

Marebabe said...

@Sonshine: Your idea about Claire and Aaron doesn’t seem random to me at all. I think you may really be onto something hugely important! Assuming that Aaron is the prize that the Island/MiB/whoever wants, well, Claire (and Charlie) were both protecting Aaron, and Charlie was protecting Claire. (Is Claire alive or dead?) If what you suggest is actually the case, they’re simply being methodical in their conquest. But why, oh, why do they want Aaron? (We wonders, yes, we wonders.) Fans have been speculating about his cosmic importance since before he was born.

Anonymous said...

While I've heard complaints that Season 5 didn't answer many questions, I thought the trio of The Variable, Follow the Leader, and The Incident answered tons of questions. You just have to be willing to put together the puzzle pieces.

WRT to this episode, I think The Variable answered your Eloise question just the way you said: she had Daniel's journal, Daniel's journal mentioned Desmond and his role on the Island, and she (and Widmore) were making sure that everything the journal said would come true.

Why did they want the journal to come true? I expect that to be answered in Season 6, and to be related to Jacob's buddy on the beach and his quest to kill Jacob.

Debi said...

This one does remain one of my favorite episodes, mainly for the mysteries solved and introduced. However, I can't believe that Eloise found out about Desmond just from Faraday's journal. As I remember, they barely met, so why would Daniel have all sorts of details about the boat race and Penny? There has to be another source of information for Eloise, perhaps her own time traveling.

Scott said...

Quite contrary to Eloise having time travelled, I believe she is somehow "fixed" (like all the others) and therefore sensitive to the variations of changing time streams. She knew that the death of the guy with the red shoes was a "constant". I think it was because she recognized Desmond as a "variable" that she took the extraordinary steps to ensure he stayed on course (fate) instead of putting that ring on Penny's finger (free will). When she remarked that he and Penny would never be happy together she was manipulating him, not telling him something she knew for sure.

SonshineMusic said...

I found it interesting that Desmond and Juliet have both been on the Island for the same amount of time - 3 years.

I will always wonder if Des actually COULD have changed things. Was it really just consciousness travelling, but his mind from now going back to his younger body? Whoa weird thought.

Or did he flash to an alternate timeline where things could have been different, but because he had memories from timeline A, he didn't know that he could do something different in timeline B and maybe Eloise was there to make sure that he didn't realize he had gone to alternate reality?

Fred said...

I didn't know whether to put this into this site or onto the Flashforward site? But I was reading a news article which dealt with some papers by physicists concerning the latest failure of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider)--this is the one searching for the Higgs Boson particle. Anyway, the papers claim that if the LHC were to create a doomsday particle (blackhole) then some future timeline would send back a retrocausality effect disabling the LHC.

Is this sort of what is happening in LOST? I keep wondering why a show about timetravel is so concerned with the past? Anyway, I don't see the LHC being at the heart of LOST (nor Flashforward), but I do think it somehow is in part an inspiration to the show. That is among all the other inspirations the show has.

Virgina Katz said...

I saw Eloise and I wondered if perhaps she is also Penny's mother? Is it established that Widmore had an off-island affair with some unmentioned woman and they created Penny, or is it possible that Penny and Daniel are twins separated at birth? I'm not sure what importance, if any, this would have but it is LOST.

Also, I must just say that Desmond is hard core. He ran a mile, swam, in jeans, out to save Claire, swam her back, carried her onto the beach and then gave her mouth to mouth!

JS said...

@Virginia - You're right he is hard core. Remember, when we first meet him, he is working out pretty vigorously. He went through training in the military. And he met Jack running the stadium stairs while training for the sailing race. I think that is why we love looking at him. :) That and the tan.

J.W. said...

In between watching Lost episodes of all thing, I saw this movie called "Darwin's Darkest Hour" on PBS where Charles Darwin was played by Cusick. It was really good, and so was he!

SonshineMusic said...

@Virginia: that's an interesting thought about Daniel and Penny. I don't think we ever see or hear anything about Penny's mother, do we? I will have to contemplate that. With all the other connections on the show I wouldn't be surprised.

My little pet theory is that Ben and John are half-brothers.

glf said...

Hi long long time reader and haven't commented for years but this one is a pivotal point for Lost isn't it.

QUESTION: Assuming I've interrupted this correctly -Desmond is flashing back to the past via his conscious and not physically..... he realises that he IS time travelling. He then talks to Donovan - do you believe in time travel and tells him about the island. This wouldn't have happened the very first time would it as he wouldn't know about the island before he had even been there? So if the first time is WHH (i.e. before he knew/went to the island) then he wouldn't have had been able to tell Donovan about the island and Donovan wouldn't have been able to tell Penny about how she could find the island? Are you still with me? If so what do you think? Perhaps its just a script discrepancy we have to live with.

OBSERVATIONS: Mrs Hawking – yes spooky but she is guiding as is Widmore I’m SURE that he’s deliberately provoking Desmond into going to the island. First time I thought how cruel to say that pushing the button is the only truly great thing you’ll ever do didn’t strike me as cruel this time – just you’ll you may do other great things but this will be the most important (worldwide) thing you will do in your life.
Charlie calling him a coward – I just see that one as the script writers connecting the flash story with the present time story. This is a common occurrence in Lost that I’ve come to terms with i.e. script writers being more concerned with balance in their individual episodes rather than satisfactory follow-ons or answers to do with the bigger story.

JW said...

Welcome aboard, glf! Interesting points :)

Blam said...

Nikki: It still drives me NUTS that the word “honor” is misspelled on the Scottish poster. Any good member of the Commonwealth knows the proper spelling is “Honour.” ;) • Then why does your own book spell the word "honor"? Is it SOP for books written and published by Canadians to defer to Yank spellings if said books will be distributed to the US market? (No, seriously.)

Blam said...

I don't recall if you mentioned this in previous FL entries on Desmond and Penelope, Nik, but her name is interesting in light of his boating adventure gone awry. Penelope was the wife of Odysseus (a.k.a. Ulysses), the woman who waited faithfully for her love to return from his seafaring trials.

Blam said...

@ Fred: Last year during the publicized concerns over whether the Hadron Collider experiment would tear a rift in the spacetime continuum, a friend of mine provided a link to the handy website Has the Large Hadron Collider Destroyed the World Yet?

Nikki Stafford said...

Blam: Then why does your own book spell the word "honor"? Is it SOP for books written and published by Canadians to defer to Yank spellings if said books will be distributed to the US market? (No, seriously.)

You got it, my friend. When a book is put out in the US market, and that's where the majority of books will be sold, we use American spelling. Regardless of how worldly the Americans are on this blog, you wouldn't believe the number of emails we get from people in the US who've gotten a hold of the Canadian books we distribute, saying, "I wanted to point out some serious spelling errors in your book: Judgement, colour, honour, favourite, practise, and travelling."


So we defer to US spelling to avoid any confusion.

The reason I added the winky face after my remark is simple: There's an OBVIOUS explanation for the misspell on Desmond's poster -- if you're using American prop guys, they're going to spell it correctly, the way they've always been taught to spell it: honor. The blooper comes in the fact that a poster would never have that spelling in England.

Blam said...

Once I made the connection between Penelope and her mythological namesake, I wondered if Desmond's friend Donovan had special significance. The only line from any of '60s pop star Donovan's songs that stood out at first blush was the refrain from "Sunshine Superman":

'Cause I've made my mind up you're going to be mine

... which could refer to Desmond's determined pursuit of his beloved Penneh. But then I looked up the lyrics for the totally psychedelic "Hurdy Gurdy Man" and came across these verses:

Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
I open my eyes to take a peep
To find that I was by the sea
Gazing with tranquillity. ...

Histories of ages past
Unenlightened shadows cast
Down through all eternity
The crying of humanity.

Desmond has certainly been thrown, been in a vast sleep, and been out gazing by the sea, as well as glimpsed the past. Even more interesting is an additional verse written by George Harrison left out of the song's radio version:

When the truth gets buried deep
Beneath the thousand years of sleep
Time demands a turn-around
And once again the truth is found

This likely never even crossed the minds of whomever named Desmond's pal, but I've apparently jumped too quickly back into these waters and contracted JOSS (Jensen Overanalytical Shock Syndrome, no relation to Mr. Whedon).

Blam said...

The reason I added the winky face after my remark is simple: ...
Right, no, I got that "honour" would've been proper for the poster and that it was a major oops for the US set dressers to use the American spelling. I appreciate the confirmation of my theory. One day, to digress, I would love to get a set of the UK Harry Potter editions, "torches" instead of "flashlights" and all. Did Canada's versions go with Philosopher's Stone or Sorcerer's Stone (he asked, instead of just Googling)?

Nikki Stafford said...

We are Philosopher's Stone all the way, baby! :) And we have all the British covers, too. Yet, I must say, I always preferred the US covers. :)

Blam said...

I prefer Mary GrandPré's artwork, but the US logos are a bit much, and something about the UK editions seem "purer".

SonshineMusic said...

To continue with the digression...

I have to say I've always loved the UK adult HP covers. I'm slowly collecting the series with these dust jackets. And I must say that the Sorcerer's Stone/Philosopher's Stone thing has always bothered me. As an American I've always found it insulting that they "dumb" it down assuming none of us would know the actual legend of the Philosopher's Stone. A minor pet peeve of mine.

humanebean said...

*sigh* I am SO far behind on the Rewatch at this point, still struggling to catch up.

One thing jumped out at me from this magnificent episode - when Desmond rushes into the rotunda at school to find his friend, Donovan is speaking to a student, saying "...The wild card part which is unpredictability - run the same test 10 times - you'll have 10 different outcomes."

So, when Desmond first imagines that he 'remembers' the night at the bar, football comeback, cricket bat, etc. ... and then discovers he has the wrong night - is this a different outcome? And, since Mrs. Hawking scolds Desmond, telling him that he doesn't take the ring at all ... but he DOES take the ring and eventually tosses it into the Thames ... is this different outcome a result of his consciousness-shifting? Or Mrs. Hawking's involvement on this second go-round, when she hadn't been there at all the first time?

Anonymous said...

You might want to check out Donovan's early 1969 hit "Atlantis", as in the "lost continent"