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It’s difficult to write reviews for Lost more than a day after the episode has aired unless you plan on watching it several times to soak in all the details. Unfortunately, I’ve slacked off on my writing duties as of late, and for the last three episodes of Lost, I’ve fallen behind, forgotten key details that I look back on and curse myself for not remembering and just written some sloppy sentences. I decided that tonight, I would try and write a review while the details were still fresh in my head, and I must admit, it helps quite a lot. Every stand-out scene, line of dialogue and plot development stands out to me, and tonight’s episode was filled with plenty of them all. While I wouldn’t consider “Happily Ever After” the best episode of the season, it certainly is in the upper echelon of Season 6 episodes.
The biggest complaint that I’ve heard this season is how unimportant and lame this alternate universe is. Every time a season of Lost ends, it’s impossible to predict where the story will lead us next, but I’m certain that there were very few if any people at all who could’ve predicted these “sideways flashes.” There have been some good ones (“The Substitute,” “Dr. Linus,” even “Lighthouse,” which gave us our first solid Jack episode in a long time) and some real clunkers (“What Kate Does,” and “Sundown” jump to mind). However, for the first time in tonight’s episode, we were given a story that hints at this universe being something more important than a new story-telling technique; it proves that the writers have planned on letting these two universes converge at some point in time. “Happily Ever After” was the beginning of this, and it was compelling to watch. Desmond has been the catalyst of some of Lost’s greatest episodes to date (the Season 2 finale, “The Constant”) and tonight, he brought the same intensity that he brings to every episode that focuses on him.
This was also the first episode all season that was had an interesting foray into the alternate universe. The premise is this: picking up where “The Package” left off, Desmond is told by Widmore that he’s back on the Island for an important task. This task involves testing Desmond’s electromagnetic capabilities and seeing how much he can handle. In the middle of this experiment, Desmond goes unconscious and wakes up in none other than the infamous alternate universe. However, this isn’t “Island Era” Desmond; this is the alternate universe version of him. We learn that Desmond has never met Penny and that he has a very “father/son” type of relationship with Widmore. The changes just keep on rolling in: Hurley’s rich and happy, Ben gives up power to help the ones he loves and Sawyer is a cop, not a criminal. If I wasn’t so confused by this alternate universe, I’d be compelled to say that I wouldn’t mind seeing an entire season of these characters. However, we seen the first sign of cracks in this universes’ façade: Charlie mentions that when he died, he saw a glimpse of a blonde woman who was “rapturously beautiful” and that he felt as if he had always loved her. In other words, he saw Claire. It’s not long before Charlie is driving Desmond’s car off of a dock into the marina and Desmond is seeing glimpses from the episode “Through The Looking Glass,” when Charlie placed his hand on the window with “Not Penny’s Boat” written on it. Some really powerful stuff here.
The episode remains in this universe for nearly forty minutes, and throughout, we get to see the two Desmonds clashing with each other: the consciousness of Island Desmond converging with the consciousness of Alternate Universe Desmond. Desmond begins to remember more and more things from his other life: his son, Charlie, the first time he met Penny and other memories that are dear to him. His search eventually leads him to Daniel Faraday (now named Daniel Widmore), who confirms what all of us have been thinking: this “alternate universe” is not real, even if some people are happier in it. It’d be a shame to ruin too much of what happened; I mean, this is a recap, but there should be at least some element of surprise going into a Lost episode. I will say this: “Happily Ever After” is filled with some great guest-stars and some old faces that were fan favorites. There is a lot of twists and a lot of scenes between characters that will remind you of why Lost is one of the greatest television shows of all time.
There may not have been a lot of intensity or action, but the power was in the dialogue between characters. You can’t watch the scene between Desmond and Charlie and not be thinking exactly what Desmond was thinking: "That's like poetry, brutha." Regardless of who writes what episode, whenever you see the names "Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof" as the writers of the episode, you know you're in for some really interesting dialogue, as well as some well-written scenes that not only work well on their own but help us understand the show in terms of the big picture. Tonight was certainly one of those big picture episodes, and Carlton and Damon (or "Darlton," as they've come to be known in the Lost community) hit a home run. In what is perhaps one of the best scenes of Lost in the last few years, Desmond and Charlie sit at a bar, talking about Charlie's near-death experience on the plane to Sydney. I'll post a passage from the scene that Charlie said, one that sums up what the episode what was about and how wonderful the writing was:
You can probably head to any website dedicated to re-capping television shows and find this quote reiterated word for word. It's an incredible piece of dialogue, and opens up the door for the two universes to converge. It also is clear that Charlie is talking about Claire, which makes it even more exciting. He doesn't even need to say her name, but we, the audience, can infer what he's getting at.
I find myself slipping into some sort of endless cycle of praise, so I'll leave you on this note: "Happily Ever After" is not only one of the best episodes this season, but it completely restored my faith in this alternate universe plot. We got to see some very familiar faces, faces we haven't seen in quite awhile. In the midst of this ongoing "war" that we still don't know much about, some of our favorite supporting characters have gotten shoved to the side, so this episode gave us a chance to see some old friends. Next week is a Hurley episode, which should be interesting, considering his new role on the Island as Jacob's translator, but I have a feeling that right now, "Happily Ever After" is the episode to beat.