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"Flashes Before Your Eyes"

February 14, 2007
Running time
Production code
Centric character(s)
Directed by

Episode transcript
[[{{{transcript2}}}|Part Two]]

[[{{{audiotranscript}}}|Commentary transcript]]

"Flashes Before Your Eyes" is the eighth episode in Season 3 and the fifty-seventh produced episode of the series as a whole. It was originally broadcast on February 14, 2007. A suspicious and determined Charlie enlists Hurley to help him wrestle the truth out of Desmond, who has been acting strangely ever since the implosion of the hatch.

The flashback in this episode is unusual compared to others within the series. Desmond flashes back to his part in the hatch's implosion when he became "unstuck in time" and traveled back to the past. This "time slip" appears as a single narrative that almost stretches the entire episode. The only other episodes to present flashbacks in this way are "Meet Kevin Johnson", "316" and "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham".




Desmond wakes up in London.

The countdown timer reaches zero and goes into system failure mode. Desmond tears apart the bookcase and finds the fail-safe key. He goes under the floor, says "I love you Penny", and turns the key. His world turns to white and his life flashes before his eyes. ("Live Together, Die Alone")

He wakes up lying on a wood floor with what looks like blood all over him. He looks around and sees a spilled can of red paint and a fallen ladder. Penny runs over to him and asks if he's okay. He realizes that they are in his old flat in the past. Delighted to be back with Penny, he kisses and embraces her.

Desmond later fixes his tie and glances at the clock, which reads 1:08. Penny helps him as he tells her how glad he is that she just moved in. They discuss Desmond's impending meeting with her father, and Penny says that if it doesn't go well it won't be "the end of the world." This phrase disturbs Desmond, especially since he hears the sound of the countdown timer beeping - but it turns out to just be the microwave. Penny asks if he's alright and he says he just has déjà vu.

Widmore scans Desmond's resume, during his job interview.

Desmond checks in with the Widmore Industries receptionist. A delivery man then arrives with a 'parcel for 815". The mention of "4-8-15" brings up a flash of the numbers in Desmond's mind, and momentarily unsettles him again.

In his office, Mr. Widmore discusses Desmond's resume with him. When Desmond compliments Mr. Widmore's ship model, and Widmore says that he is sponsoring a race around the world, Desmond has another flash of him on his own future boat. Widmore offers Desmond a position in the administrative department, but Desmond tells him he isn't there for a job. Instead, he wants to ask his permission to marry Penny.

Widmore calls it a noble gesture and takes out a bottle of MacCutcheon whiskey and two glasses. However, he only pours whiskey into one glass, saying that one swallow costs more than Desmond would make in a month, and sharing it with him would be a waste because he will never be a great man. Not being worthy to drink his whiskey, how could he ever be worthy to marry his daughter? After exiting the building, Desmond throws his tie on the floor in frustration.

Desmond spots Charlie singing on the street.

On the sidewalk, Desmond comes upon Charlie playing guitar and singing "Wonderwall" to the crowd for change. Desmond claims to recognize him, and flashes to Charlie during the hatch system failure. Desmond has more flashes and begins freaking out, remembering the time he has just experienced and how it started to rain. Just then, it begins to pour.

Desmond goes to a research library and finds his friend Donovan, a physicist, to ask him about the concept of time travel. Desmond questions if it's possible that he's reliving part of his life, but Donovan suggests his mind is just reacting to his failure with Widmore by giving him a role of importance on the island. Donovan says that if he is reliving his life, he should be able to predict what happens next. Desmond says he can't remember everything, but then the song "Make Your Own Kind of Music" comes on the jukebox, and he gets another flash. Looking up at the soccer game, he says that Graybridge comes back from two goals down in the final two minutes of the game to win. Desmond then adds that immediately following, Jimmy Lennon will come in and hit the bartender with a cricket bat. They watch the game, but the team fails to score. Desmond, disappointed, accepts Donovan's advice to get on with his life and marry Penny.

Ms. Hawking demands her ring back.

Desmond comes home and tells Penny he didn't get the job. To console him, she suggests they go out and celebrate the occasion. He asks why she loves him, and she replies that it's because he's a 'good man,' and in her experience, those are hard to come by. They kiss.

Some time later, Desmond looks at diamond rings in a shop. Ms. Hawking, the shop keeper, aids him in his browsing, finding him the perfect one for his price range. He says he'll take the ring, but is taken aback when she says "no, you won't." Ms. Hawking tells the astonished Desmond that he isn't supposed to take the ring, because his not buying it led to his original fate of ending up on the island and turning the fail-safe key. She also states that "if you don't do those things, Desmond David Hume, every single one of us is dead."

Ms. Hawking points out a man wearing red shoes.

Ms. Hawking decides that Desmond needs persuasion and brings him outside. She buys some chestnuts from a street vendor and points out a man wearing red shoes. Desmond theorizes that she is really his subconscious but she only smiles. Desmond says he is determined to marry Penny, but Ms. Hawking is confident that that won't happen. Suddenly, scaffolding falls on the man wearing red shoes, and Desmond accuses Ms. Hawking of knowing what would happen, asking why she didn't try to stop it. She says it was his fate to die and that no one can change their fate. If she warned him about the scaffolding, he would have been hit by a taxi, and if she had warned him about the taxi, he would have fallen in the shower and broken his neck. If someone manages to forestall fate, the universe will "course correct" itself and find another way of forcing them back on their prescribed path. Desmond, however, refuses to concede that he is a slave to the universe, and takes the ring anyway.

Desmond recalls the upcoming events that already happened.

Desmond goes to meet Penny and is unsettled by a Royal Scots recruitment poster. He meets her near Westminster bridge and is propositioned by a photographer. Penny convinces him to get their photo taken together. They change the pull down background scenes until they find one Penny likes, and he takes off his coat so that they end up matching the photo that Desmond carries with him on the island. Desmond stares at the photo and comes to a realization about his fate. He tells Penny that he isn't the man he needs to be and that they aren't supposed to be together. She runs off crying, but not before calling him a coward, and Desmond throws the ring into the River Thames.

Desmond returns to the Island, and runs by the destroyed hatch.

Desmond is back at the pub and spots the MacCutcheon Scotch whiskey but goes for the cheap stuff instead. He tells the bartender he thinks he's made the biggest mistake of his life, and that he thinks he's made it before. "Make Your Own Kind of Music" starts playing on the jukebox again, and Desmond sees another football game on the television, but this time the team makes the goal. Excited that his vision of the future was correct (he had simply been remembering the wrong night), he decides that he might have a chance to change his fate after all. The third part of his prediction comes true as well, when and a cricket bat-brandishing Jimmy Lennon storms into the bar to accost the bartender. Jimmy swings the bat at the bartender and Desmond yells for him to duck; he does so just in time, causing the bat to hit Desmond instead.

Desmond's world fades to white. He wakes up naked in the jungle with injuries all over. He has returned to the Island, just after the hatch implosion, but also still hurting from where he was just hit with the bat. He runs to where the hatch was and is dismayed at seeing the hole in the ground. Among the debris he finds his photo. He cries and pleads to be given another chance to change the past.

On the Island

Desmond returns to the beach with an unconscious Claire.

Desmond finds Hurley and Charlie ransacking Sawyer's stash and brings them to the jungle to meet Sayid and Locke. Locke tells Hurley and Charlie that Eko is dead, and that they need to act unafraid to keep panic at the camp at a minimum. During the conversation, Desmond begins to act increasingly nervous, and suddenly runs away from the group toward the shore. Desmond throws off his shirt and dives into the ocean where Claire is drowning.

Desmond saves Claire, resuscitating her on the beach, while Charlie stands on the side, trying to help and see if Claire is okay. After, Charlie wants to know how Desmond knew Claire was drowning, and thinks that by getting Desmond drunk he can get him to talk.

Hurley and Charlie start drinking MacCutcheon Scotch whiskey with Desmond, sharing stories and drinking songs. Charlie then makes his move, asking him how he knew, but Desmond simply walks away. Charlie calls after him, saying that he is a coward, prompting Desmond to return the insult by slamming Charlie to the ground and trying to strangle him. As Charlie chokes for air, Desmond screams "you don't wanna know what happened to me," recalling what happened after he turned the key.

Charlie learns from Desmond that Claire isn't the one in danger, but he is.

Hurley pulls Desmond off of Charlie. Desmond begins to sob, and Charlie takes pity on him and escorts him back to his tent. They apologize to each other and Desmond tells Charlie he is a good man. He says that when he turned the key, his life flashed before his eyes, but when he woke up back in the jungle, the flashes didn't stop.

Charlie asks if Desmond saved Claire after seeing a flash of her drowning, and Desmond chillingly says that Charlie is actually the one that he saved. It was Charlie who he had seen being electrocuted by the lightning bolt, and he whom he had seen drown trying to rescue Claire. He says that although he has saved Charlie twice already, the universe will inevitably "course correct." No matter what he tries to do, Charlie is going to die.



Production notes

Bloopers and continuity errors

  • Just after Desmond resuscitates Claire, when Charlie is asking how he knew she was drowning, there is an editing mistake with Hurley's position behind Charlie. Hurley starts to walk up to Charlie, then he is back where he started and then it cuts to him standing behind Charlie again.
  • In front of the Widmore Industries before Desmond throws his tie, an old man in a blue suit walks towards Desmond. After the camera angle changes, a young man with a different suit appears where the old man should be. When the camera angle changes again, the same old man is in the background.
  • When Desmond meets with Widmore in his office, Desmond glances at the Dharma painting on his right. In all other scenes, the painting and the desk lamp are on his left. The word "Namaste" at the top of the painting is spelled backwards in the first shot, but correctly in subsequent shots (on the left side), indicating that this was a reversed shot.
    • In the scene where Desmond meets Charlie, exactly when the camera shows the sign "Donation", the location changes. There are two locations, the first begins when Desmond is going out the building and finishes at the moment he listens the sound of guitar; the second begins when it shows the sign "Donation". The main differences are:
      • The green newsagents shop: previously is closed after is open
      • The text on the green newsagents shop: the text and the font are different.
      • The position of the green shop: the position respect at sidewalk is different.
      • The weather: in the first, it's quite cloudy and there are no shadows; in the second it's sunny. The shadows are clearly visible.
      • The lamppost: after has 2 banners on both sides
      • The Widmore building: seems different after. Behind Desmond and the other people, there is a grey wall with horizontal lines.
Royal Scots Poster
  • A large number of inaccuracies are present in the "London" scenes - e.g. the US style taxi beacon, a small dome and other unidentified building on the South bank, a totally US-style British pub, style food carts that are part of the idealized tourism image of London, etc.
    • This is a production issue as LOST is filmed entirely in Hawaii.
  • The Royal Scots recruitment poster spelling uses the American English spelling "honor" instead of the British English "honour" that would be used in the UK. The soldier pictured is carrying a US rifle (not a British SA80A2) and is wearing a US style helmet. As well as this, the soldier is wearing a Scottish flag on his shoulder when, as a part of the British Army, he would be wearing a Union Jack. These are mistakes by the (American) props department, acknowledged by the producers on the February 20th official Lost podcast.
  • In that scene with Charlie, the taxi directly behind him clearly has a 2001 registration number 'AE01***', which in England does not even exist, 2001 registration plates on has the number '51', it was only in 2002 when they introduced the number with a zero in front '02', therefore this is a fake number plate. A red "New" Mini drives past in the background and a "bendy" bus is seen which was not introduced until June 2002.
  • The ambulance siren is not an English version.
  • There is an ad for Exposé at the game in 1996, but the show's fourth season was filmed in 2004, making it unlikely that Exposé would be around then.
  • Eloise was clearly aware of The Swan and the significance of the protocol in her meeting with Desmond, yet the Others appear unaware of the station's existence in 2004.
  • Desmond's photograph is different to the one used before and since. Here he is wearing a different shirt, orange in color compared to the bright red on the original. The original covered his neck while here it is bare. The background of the marina is different as is Penny's position and her facial expression.

Recurring themes

Recurring themes in Lost
Black and whiteCar accidentsCharacter connectionsDeceptions and consDreamsEyesFate versus free willGood and bad peopleImprisonmentIsolationLife and deathMissing body partsNicknamesThe NumbersParent issuesPregnanciesRainRebirthRedemptionRelationshipsRevengeSacrificeSecretsTime
Desmond predicts the rain
  • The episode is titled Flashes Before Your Eyes. (Eyes)
  • Desmond's "flashback" starts with a close-up of his left eye. (Eyes)
  • Desmond cries over the picture and says he's sorry and would like to change it. (Redemption)
  • Right after Desmond and Hawking see the man in the red shoes, he is killed when the scaffolding collapses. (Life and death)
  • Penny tells Desmond something about her father being "too daft to understand", implying her relationship with him is far from ideal. (Parent issues)
  • Desmond talks to Charlie in his flashback. (Character connections)
  • It rains after Desmond talks to Charlie. (Rain)
  • Penny tells Desmond she loves him because he is a "good person". Desmond calls Charlie a "good man". (Good and bad people)
  • Desmond sees a clock that says 1:08. Also, in Widmore's lobby, the delivery man states his delivery is "for 815" which to Desmond sounds like "4 8 15". The PLAYPEN issue in Sawyer's stash contained a '15th Annual Girls of Fiji Pictorial'. Lastly, the photo stand where Desmond and Penny have their pictures taken has a number 15 on the side of it. (The Numbers)  (Time)
  • Desmond catches Charlie singing the line "Because maybe, you're gonna be the one who saves me". Desmond in fact, will try to save Charlie's life. (Salvation)
  • Desmond meets Ms. Hawking in the antique store where he attempts to buy Penny's ring. He is warned that he must not propose or else he will cause the end of the world. (Apocalypse)
  • One of the soccer field ads is for KRONOS, which is a phonetic match for "Khronos", the Greek word for time. (Time)
    • Kronos is a company that makes Time Clocks. [1].
  • The company that made the red paint that Desmond was using to paint the walls of his flat with was called "FUTURE" paint. (Time)
  • Ms. Hawking specifically mentions that Desmond will spend 3 years on the island until he has to turn the fail-safe key. (Time)
  • Ms. Hawking's room is filled with clocks of various types. (Time)
  • Desmond saves Charlie's life twice, but is convinced Charlie is fated to die. (Fate versus free will)
  • Desmond buys the ring against Ms. Hawking's instruction, takes Jimmy Lennon's hit originally intended for the bartender, and apparently prevents Charlie's death twice. (Fate versus free will)
  • Ms. Hawking tells Desmond things in the universe happen not by human choice, but because they are naturally supposed to. (Fate versus free will)

Cultural references

Cultural references in Lost
(direct references only)
ArtBooksCarsGamesMovies and TVMusicPhilosophyReligion and ideologiesScience
A polar bear, Buddha, and the word "namaste" appear in the painting Desmond sees in Charles Widmore's office.

Literary techniques

Literary techniques in Lost
ComparativeIronyJuxtapositionForeshadowing PlottingCliffhangerPlot twist Stock Characters:  ArchetypeRedshirtUnseen character
Story:  FlashbacksFlash-forwardsFlash-sidewaysRegularly spoken phrasesSymbolismUnreliable narrator 
  • Desmond had a lucid flashback in which he interacted with Ms. Hawking. (Plot twist)
  • Coming in at over 25 minutes, Desmond's flashback was the longest of any character until "Meet Kevin Johnson". (Flashbacks)
  • If what Ms. Hawking says is true, the line "Because maybe, you're gonna be the one who saves me" from Wonderwall is quite ironic. Desmond could never save Charlie. (Irony)
  • Charlie insinuates Desmond is using drugs by saying " This why we don't do drugs.", during their meeting at the Widmore building. Charlie, we know, becomes a heroin addict after this meeting.(Irony)

Episode references

  • The microwave in Penny's flat makes the same noise as the alarm in the Swan station. Also, in Ms. Hawking's shop, the clocks ticking sound notably similar to the machinery in the Swan computer room. ("Three Minutes")

Unanswered questions

Unanswered questions
  1. Do not answer the questions here.
  2. Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.
More details...
For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: Flashes Before Your Eyes/Theories
  • Why did Desmond's flashes begin after he turned the key?
  • Why does she describe pushing the button as the "only great thing" Desmond will ever do?
  • Why does she tell Desmond "if you don't do those things, every single one of us is dead"?

External links

  • Episode Press Release

This article uses material from the "Flashes Before Your Eyes" article on the Lostpedia wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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