Previously Spoken on Lost: Recurring Dialogue

“The journey is the thing, of course.  We could have been told six years ago the exact manner in which this epic would end.  But the journey is the thing.  We have found new ways of relating Lewis Carroll and Stephen King and Shakespeare and Greek and Egyptian myth into our way of looking at the world.”1

So said Pearson Moore last week in his incredibly enlightening analysis of “Ab Aeterno.” And in response to Moore’s bit of wisdom, I offer a brief literature lesson here as a device to examine “Happily Ever After.” Also featured are some speculations about the three Charlies (my “Charlie Trinity” theory) and a bit of commentary on true love and John Lennon.

When analyzing a work of literature, it’s always important to identify any recurring images, words or phrases. The repetition draws attention to a particular theme or character and deepens the meaning of a narrative by connecting different points in the story. The same holds true for any narrative, including the televisual kind.  But no one needs to tell this to a Lost fan. We all know that any given episode, especially in season 6, reveals ample evidence of the overarching themes of the show. “Happily Ever After” is unique in that it also  features a barrage of regularly spoken phrases.

Here are just some of them, in no particular order, with their corresponding themes in parentheses. Notice that the themes are packaged neatly within the phrases (or images–see below):

  • Desmond: “It’s always a choice” (free will)
  • Charlie: “Not Penny’s boat” (impending doom)
  • Eloise: “What happened, happened” (predetermination versus free will)
  • Desmond: “What (the bloody hell) do you know about sacrifice?” (sacrifice)
  • Driveshaft: “You all everybody” (collective conscious? Meaninglessness of modern man?)

Images and other themes….

  • Framed picture on Widmore’s wall: the scale (balance, dualism)
  • White rabbits (mystery, scientific innovation, the nature of time)
  • Dreams, visions—Charlie’s, Daniel’s (prophecy and fate)
  • Repetition of Names: The Charlie Trinity

Although we have seen duplicate names throughout the series (two Thomases, two Sarahs, two Emilys, etc.), none of them are as significant as the Three Charlies. The presence of this trinity has a great bearing on the shape of Desmond’s life, whether in one universe or the other. The most famous trinity known to modern Western civilization is, of course, the holy Trinity, but certainly the term can apply to any three-fold entity or triad of significance.  This particular grouping of three, in respect to Desmond, certainly can be compared to the sacred version: Charles Widmore is “the father,” Charlie Hume is “the son” and Charlie Pace, the Holy Spirit.  Charles is very much like an Old Testament god and father, committing questionable acts of violence and aggression for the “greater good,” especially towards Desmond. Charlie Hume represents the child as savior (of Desmond) and love in its purest form, and Charlie Pace acts as a guiding spirit, relaying important messages in mysterious, and even cryptic, ways. Recall, too, his ghostly (or angelic?) visitation to Hurley.  In the original time line Charlie saves Desmond and connects him to Penny, as bearer of her message. In the so-called ‘alternate time line,’ Charlie tries to save Desmond by telling him about “the truth,” which apparently is “spectacular consciousness-altering love” (indeed, love across the universes) and providing revelation through sudden, violent chaos, a la Flannery O’Connor style.  Again, he steers Desmond toward Penny by acknowledging that she’s out there for him to find. This metaphysical family is a web that at once supports Desmond and also frustrates him. Desmond is not at all “free of attachments” as sideways Widmore suggests, but very much bound to this triad of Charlies. Think about this: after leaving little Charlie behind in the original time line, Desmond travels to the parallel universe only to be charged with babysitting another Charlie.

  • Romantic Love

Lastly the theme of “true love” should be addressed. I suppose it is possible that “consciousness-altering love” might turn out to be the savior after all. If ever there were “soul mates” we can find them here. The idea that Desmond falls in love with Penny in a completely different universe, before ever meeting her, is extraordinary. Although this kind of love is even less likely than John Locke rising from the dead, I can’t help but hear John Lennon singing “Limitless undying love/ which shines around me like a million suns/ It calls me on and on across the universe.” So here is a sentimental tribute to Penny and Des, courtesy of the Beatles.

Images of broken light which
dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box
they tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Essentially, nothing can change Desmond’s world; he will always find Penny, no matter the universe. Personally, I don’t think the theme of romantic love (or any mushy stuff) blends well with cool narrative devices like the manipulation of the space-time continuum. But considering there is a trinity of star-crossed couples in this episode—Daniel and Charlotte, Charlie and Claire, Desmond and Penny—it is certainly significant to the shape of the plot.


1. Pearson Moore’s “Cultural Inversions”


10 Responses to “Previously Spoken on Lost: Recurring Dialogue”

  1. […] Hello, Doc Arzt fans! I’m fairly new here as a contributor, but you may have read my theory on this site last week, “Self as Savior,” which can be found here. This week, on my own Lost blog, I posted a menagerie of musings on “Happily Ever After” including commentary on recurring phrases, a note on the romantic love bit, and an idea about  the significance of the “three Charlies” (yes, that includes Widmore, though he is clearly a Charles kind of a guy). The “Charlie Trinity” passage is featured below, but you can view the full post here. […]

  2. b.a.youngerman Says:

    Thank you for this and for your review last week. You are brilliant.

  3. cousinbrandon Says:

    I’m really glad you wrote about the “three charlies,” as I made a similar observation in my blog:

    Des is in Widmore’s office admiring his model of a boat (of course). Widmore makes reference to his son who’s a musician (we recall Daniel Farraday plays piano), and says that he’s incorporating a rock band’s music into the piece he’s working on for Widmore’s wife’s gala. Widmore asks if Des is familiar with Driveshaft, as their bass player was arrested. Widmore needs Des to get Charlie out of police custody and to the event. He tells Des he envies him, as he’s got “no family, no commitment.” In other words, Des isn’t married to Penny here, nor does he have a son, obviously. The two share a glass of MacCutcheon, the beverage so associated with Des and Charles. (Let’s realize, too, that we’re watching, in a way, three generations of “Charles” in this scene, as we’re seeing Charles Widmore referencing Charlie Pace to Desmond, whose son in the actual storyline is Charlie Hume. Again, this is not accidental; not a chance.)

    You can read the whole thing at

  4. lilybelle Says:

    Thanks for the great post. I love the observations of Des’s 3 Charlies. I never make it thru a Desmond episode without crying, and I hope that is not an omen of the end! Will there ever be another show like this?

  5. Thanks for such a fascinating article! Enlightening and intriguing. Much appreciation from a fellow English major 🙂

    • lostandlit Says:

      Thanks for reading—if you’re interested in “Lost and Lit” keep an eye out for my book (Literary Lost) which should be out by January!

  6. Re: Love

    I agree, Romantic Love is kind of a letdown compared with Lost’s other major themes/mythologies. However, Agape (love as defined in Christian Theology, I looked it up on Wikipedia this morning) complements Lost’s other themes pretty well.

    • lostandlit Says:

      True. I think some of the more powerful scenes of the show are when characters demonstrate forgiveness and/or mercy, a sure sign of what Christians would describe as “Christ’s love.” The scene when Ilana seems to accept Ben (for all of his faults) at the end of “Dr. Linus” reveals evidence of the best that humanity has to offer in terms of love.

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