by Sarah Carbiener
“I want to punch Damon Lindelof in the face.”
“Get in line.”
“I miss when the show was about polar bears.”
Clearly, a few of my fellow viewers were not fans of tonight’s episode even though it featured everyone’s favorite constant, Desmond Hume. I don’t know that I was as consistently and vehemently disappointed as the rest of them, but tonight’s episode, “Happily Ever After,” moved at a snail’s pace for me. The direction of each scene was immediately obvious, and yet everyone took their sweet time getting there. This is particularly disappointing as there were some really interesting, satisfying moments buried between the suspense-less hypothetical speeches where everyone took way too long explaining things we already know.
Because I don’t want to get in line to punch Lindelof in the face (while I could take Lindelof, the frighteningly tall Carlton Cuse would end me), let’s start with the good. One of my all-time favorite parts of Lost is the relationship between Desmond and Charlie after Desmond survives the hatch explosion. In large part because of Desmond, Charlie grows up. He becomes a man, the man Claire and her baby need him to be, and he willingly sacrifices himself to save them all from Widmore’s men. Desmond reluctantly gets close to a man he knows is doomed to die and tries to save him anyway. The scene in tonight’s episode where Charlie crashes Desmond’s car into the water to show them their other lives on the island, and the shot-for-shot recreation of the moment of Charlie’s sacrifices were an enormous and thrilling payoff.*
Everything around this payoff, however, bored me to tears. Lost’s love triangles and romantic troubles are a study in extremes. They’re either gut-wrenching in the best way or annoying as hell. If you’re Desmond and Penny or Sun and Jin during the first four seasons, you’re in a gut-wrenching relationship. If you’re Kate or anyone who loves Kate, you’re annoying. But those relationships can only be one way or the other when the action revolves around the relationships and not hypothetical conversations about love at first sight. There were three long scenes where characters essentially asked, “Do you believe in love at first sight?” That’s not drama. That’s killing time until Desmond puts two and two together and decides that the rest of flight Oceanic 815 needs to know about this other amazing reality they’re missing out on.
Desmond is important. Desmond is aware of more than one reality at once and has the ability to slip through time and space. Desmond loves Penny more than anything. Desmond is not going to die between some big electromagnets because he survived the hatch explosion. Knowing these things, I thought it was incredibly obvious where everything was headed tonight. I love that they’re using Desmond to bring the sideways reality and the events on the island together, but this should have happened sooner. It doesn’t make up for all that time I spent not knowing why I should care about what was happening off the island. Besides, no matter how relieved I am that the sideways flashes aren’t simply an epilogue in advance, I expect more from my Desmond episodes.
Maybe I’m holding a grudge against this episode because of all the terrible ones I’ve sat through leading up to it. I feel like Lindelof and Cuse are going to bust down my door in the middle of the night and scream, “What the hell do you want from us?”
To quote the little boy on the tricycle in The Incredibles:
“I don’t know. Something amazing, I guess!”
*In five seasons, weren’t there enough moments like this to mirror in the sideways flashes prior to this episode? Seriously epic things have happened on Lost. Why did they wait this long to do something this awesome in the sideways flash? WHY?