Ahh, there’s nothing like a Desmond episode, is there? There’s something to be said about a character who wasn’t introduced until the second season of the show, who wasn’t even on Flight 815, and yet has ended up becoming the heart of Lost. I can’t speak for other viewers, but I know I reached a point in the show where I didn’t really care if the Losties ever got off the island, but I wanted desperately for Desmond be reunited with his beloved Penny.
In “Happily Ever After,” we find out two things. One, Desmond has been taken back to the island, against his will, by Charles Widmore. And two, in the sideways timeline, Desmond doesn’t know Penny exists, and he is in fact working for Widmore as his right-hand man. How close are they? Enough for Widmore to trust Desmond to transport Charlie Pace of Driveshaft fame from the police station to a charity concert. To celebrate Desmond’s indispensability, Widmore gives Desmond a glass of his 60-year-old scotch. “Nothing’s too good for you,” Widmore tells him.
Desmond finds the task of taking Charlie to the concert to be more difficult than he expected. Due to his near-death experience on the plane, Charlie is of the belief that the world in which he finds himself is a sham. He’s seen the real world, and he’s also seen love. Yep, and it looks a lot like Claire.
I liked the scene when Charlie drove Desmond’s car into the water, and the cross memory of Charlie’s hand on the window and Charlie drowning in the Looking Glass station at the end of Season 3. Nicely done. And was that THE same marina where Ben shot Desmond? On this show? Probably.
Desmond meets another dead Lostie — Daniel Faraday, or as he’s known in the sideways world, Daniel Widmore. Since the island is under a few thousand of feet of water in this timeline, Daniel’s mother didn’t force him into a life of quantum mechanics. Now he’s a successful musician who caught a glimpse of a redhead at a museum (the flash-sideways Charlotte) which in turn led Daniel to write out complicated science equations that he couldn’t explain.
A freeze-frame look at the diagram in Daniel’s notebook reveals mention of something called “imaginary time.” Is that what the flash-sideways really are? Glimpses of a world in which the Losties get what they really want? Hurley feeling blessed by his lottery win instead of cursed? Sawyer working as a cop instead of a con man? Desmond as Charles Widmore’s hatchet man instead of the guy who isn’t good enough to drink his scotch or marry his daughter?
It’s hard to say. The theory doesn’t really hold up when you look at some of the other characters in the sideways timeline. Kate? Still a fugitive. Jack? Has a son, but still pretty miserable. Locke? Still in a wheelchair (although he does have Helen).
I had to rewatch the episode again to catch Penny’s last name in the sideways world. It’s Milton. There are some juicy connotations to that name, but I don’t think we know any actual characters on the show with that last name, so for now it seems that the identity of Penny’s mother will remain a mystery for the time being. The only other mention of her on the show was in Ben’s Season 5 flashback episode, “Dead Is Dead,” when Widmore was banished from the island. Ben said Widmore had broken the rules by leaving the island regularly and having a daughter with an “outsider.” This is obviously Penny’s mom, but who is she?
Desmond episodes tend to be game-changers, and “Happily Ever After” was no different. The format was similar to the Season 3 episode “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” in which Desmond’s conscious bounced back and forth in time. In both episodes, Desmond met Eloise Hawking, who seems to be some sort of High Sheriff of Time and Space. In “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” she wouldn’t allow Desmond to buy a ring for Penny. In “Happily Ever After,” she wouldn’t let him even see Penny. She called this a “violation.”
Of course, that didn’t stop our man Des. He finds Penny at the same stadium where they spoke to each other in the original timeline right before Desmond went on Charles Widmore’s boat race. The one that resulted in him being stranded him on the island and away from Penny for three years.
By the end of the episode, Desmond is back and seems to have a purpose, one he isn’t sharing with anyone else just yet. He appears calm and confident, and although Widmore may be right about Desmond having to make a sacrifice, I don’t get the impression it will be a fatal one. Desmond didn’t have the look of a man who wasn’t going to see his wife and son ever again. If there’s anyone who can take on the Smoke Monster and win, it’s Desmond. And even if he doesn’t survive, the sideways timeline has shown us that there are other worlds out there. Or as Desmond would put it: “See you in another life, brother.”