After an absence of nine episodes, Desmond makes reappearance in the world of Lost in this week’s episode as the series moves towards its conclusion.
Desmond was a missing subject from much of Seasons Four and Five, and his main appearances were centred firmly in Season Two as he guarded the button in The Swan hatch and subsequently saved the Island from destruction when the electromagnetic energy stored in the Island was released.
So what has been happening to Desmond since he was last seen so long ago? The reveal begins immediately in episode 11, as he is awakened from sleep by Zoe, Charles Widmore’s right hand woman who we saw running errands around the Island on his behalf in the last few weeks. As Desmond asks to see his wife, Charles appears and tells him that since he was shot by Ben Linus (back in Season Five in one of his very short appearances) he had to be sedated to be brought back to the Island.
Desmond attacks Charles, telling him to take him back home. Charles tells him that the Island is not done with him and he cannot go home. Desmond is then taken to a generator room to be tested. Without needing any more information than that it is apparent that Desmond’s previous exposure to electromagnetism is about to play a part in his future.
Before Desmond is taken there though, one of Widmore’s men is caught in the way of a mistimed test and is killed by the power surge caused by it. They continued with the test, strapping Desmond into a chair next to the machine that has just killed someone in front of him. Charles tells Desmond that if everything he knows is correct then there is nothing to fear, but once it’s over, he tells Desmond that he will need to make a sacrifice to save them all.
After struggling to break his bindings, Desmond tries to escape the room but finds he cannot.
Back in the Generator room, Jin demands to know what they are doing. Charles tells him that as Desmond is the only man known to have survived an electromagnetic explosion and he needs to know if he can do it again. As the electromagnetic force takes over the room Desmond is in, he is flooded with light and we find ourselves back in LAX as the Oceanic flight lands.
We have seen this many times already as a flash sideways with many of the characters currently on the Island, but now we are with Desmond. Those who remember the aftermath of Season Two’s finale will remember that after the explosion at the Swan, the same thing happened to Desmond as he found himself flashing back to before he was ever on the Island.
Is this similar? In this flash, whether it be sideways or backwards, Desmond is in LA to meet Charles Widmore. He works for Charles, and in this particular instance he is being tasked with babysitting a certain Charlie Pace, former Islander, current druggie. There were rumours that Charlie would be making an appearance in the series and it seems this is where it begins. After picking Charlie up from the Police Station (remember he was arrested on the flight to LA after choking on his heroin packet in the toilets), then end up in a bar across the street.
Charlie talks about having a moment on the plane, just as we was dying, that was beautiful. He tells Desmond there was a woman and they were together. Then he was saved from dying and was back on the plane being arrested. Obviously another feather in the cap of those who believe the Island is a kind of limbo for the dead, but if that were the case how have people always been coming and going via submarine.
Desmond convinces Charlie to go with him to the hotel he is being paid to take him to, but on the way Charlie dives for the wheel of the car and causes them to crash into the Harbour. As the car sinks, Charlie remains locked inside. In an eerily familiar moment, Desmond attempts a rescue during which Charlie holds his hand up to the window, giving Desmond a flash of seeing Charlie do the same thing just before he died on the Island. Desmond does manage to get Charlie out of the car and it seems that like Ben and others previously Desmond is being given a second chance to do something he failed to on the Island.
At the hospital Desmond is checked over following the crash, and is given a CAT scan. As he goes in he is given a button and told to press it if he needs to. As the scanner activates, Desmond has several flashes of his life as we have seen it before. He presses the button and gets out of the scanner.
Desmond tries to find Charlie, during which time he meets up with Jack (obviously working there) before Charlie appears running down the corridor. When he finally catches him, Charlie asks him what he saw. He says that they felt something and it is the only thing that is real and matters – he says the most important thing is that Desmond has to find Penny (who it seems he does not know in this reality) then leaves.
Desmond goes to the Widmore residence to tell Charles’s wife, Elouise, that Charlie has escaped and will not be attending her charity ball. While there, Desmond overhears Penny’s name being read out on the guest list. When being overheard, Elouise takes Desmond to one side and tells him that he has to stop doing what he is doing.
We’ve seen this kind of scene before, when Elouise appeared to Desmond during his previous flash. She tell him that he is not ready for what he needs to do and he has to stop looking for whatever he believes he needs to find.
Desmond returns to his car, but before he can leave there is a knock at the window and the man previously known as Daniel Faraday, but here known as Daniel Widmore, returns to the story. He asks Desmond if he believes in love at first site? He says he saw a woman a few days earlier and instantly fell in love with her, but also felt he had been in love with her before. He then shows Desmond a notebook in which he has written a quantum equation. He tells Desmond that he wrote it one night after waking from a dream even though he knows nothing about quantum physics.
We know Daniel was a quantum physicist on the Island, and the notes he has in the book are details about how to detonate a nuclear bomb. Daniel asks Desmond if he would believe it if he said that this was not meant to be their life and releasing a nuclear bomb was done to stop something catastrophic happening? Desmond asks if he wants to set off a bomb, to which Daniel replies he thinks he already has.
Daniel asks Desmond why he was asking Elouise about Penny. Desmond says he doesn’t know. Daniel tells him it’s because they have to meet and tells Desmond where he can find her.
Desmond goes to the stadium where Penny is training and introduces himself to Penny in a scene we have seen before.
And then we are delivered back to the Island where Desmond is coming to after the test. As Charles Widmore tells Desmond he will explain, Desmond says he does not need to explain anything. He says they are here to do something important and when to they start.
Desmond is lead away from the experiment site, but they are ambushed by Sayid who tells Desmond that the people he has been with are dangerous and he must go with him. Desmond agrees and goes along with him.
In another brief flash, we pick up immediately after Desmond has met Penny. He asks her to meet him for a drink, which she agrees to and the rest of that flash is history as we know where his life goes from here. Before we leave the flash, Desmond asks his driver to get him the manifest for Oceanic 815 because he needs to show the passengers something.
Although the episode does not give direct answers to any of the major questions, it does give some idea of where the flash sideways could fit into the story and where Desmond also now fits into Charles Widmore’s plan to prevent the Man in Black from leaving the Island.
Through Daniel, we know that the people in the flash sideways can be reminded of the alternate, and potentially true, reality where Oceanic 815 crashed on the Island. Could it be that the detonation of the nuclear bomb has caused all of those on the Island to black out and the flash sideways is a mass hallucination that all the passengers are sharing? It is but one of many theories currently still being touted.
We also know that Desmond is going to be at the centre of something catastrophic which could signal the end of the Island and possibly be the event that sees it sunk to the bottom of the ocean as seen in the opening minutes of the season. All will be revealed over the next 7 episodes as we approach the closure of the story, beginning with the next episode in which Hugo has to decide what the group’s next move is and Locke is curious over why Desmond is back on the Island.