Lost/Flashes Before Your Eyes

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Flashes Before Your Eyes
Season 3, Episode 8
Airdate February 14, 2007
Production Number 308
Written by Damon Lindelof,
Drew Goddard
Directed by Jack Bender
← 3x07
Not in Portland
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Stranger in a Strange Land
LostSeason Three

Flashes Before Your Eyes is the eighth episode of the third season of Lost, and the fifty-seventh episode overall.

A suspicious and determined Hurley enlists Charlie to help him wrangle the truth out of Desmond, who has been acting strangely ever since the implosion of the hatch.

Starring: Naveen Andrews (Sayid), Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond), Emilie de Ravin (Claire), Michael Emerson (Ben), Matthew Fox (Jack), Jorge Garcia (Hurley), Josh Holloway (Sawyer), Daniel Dae Kim (Jin), Yunjin Kim (Sun), Evangeline Lilly (Kate), Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet), Dominic Monaghan (Charlie), Terry O'Quinn (Locke), Kiele Sanchez (Nikki), Rodrigo Santoro (Paulo).

Guest Starring: Sonya Walger (Penny Widmore), Alan Dale (Charles Widmore), Shishir Kurup (Donovan), Fionnula Flanagan (Ms. Hawking).

Co-Starring: Jeremy Colvin (Delivery Man), David Cordell (Jimmy Lennon), Katie Doyle (Receptionist), Michael Titterton (Bartender), Stephen Quinn (Photographer).


Plot Overview

The Island

At the beach, Charlie and Hurley go through Sawyer's stash on the pretence of how the rest of the survivors need it. Desmond asks the two to follow him into the woods where they meet Locke and Sayid. The two reveal that Eko was killed the previous day and they buried him. Seeing as how the other survivors will look to Hurley and Charlie on how to react, Locke asks them to help keep everyone calm when Eko's death is revealed. Hurley notices Desmond acting a bit strange, but then Desmond bolts towards the beach and dives into the water after someone drowning - Claire. Desmond manages to get her back to the beach and resuscitate her. As Desmond carries Claire away to one of the shelters, Charlie yells at him, demanding to know how he knew she was drowning. That night, Charlie and Hurley attempt to get Desmond really drunk and find out how he knew Claire was drowning. Desmond says he heard her calling for help, but Hurley believes he was too far away to hear anything. Charlie then brings up the coincidence of Desmond's lightning rod and the lightning strike. Tired of their questions, Desmond tries to leave but Charlie needles him on and calls him a coward. Desmond tackles Charlie, choking him, and yelling at him that he doesn't want to know what happened to him. Hurley manages to get Desmond off of Charlie and Charlie helps Desmond to his tent. Once there, Desmond tells Charlie that, when he turned the fail-safe key, his whole life flashed before his eyes and he woke up in the jungle. But the flashes didn't stop. He reveals to Charlie that Charlie dove in to save Claire, but drowned in the process. He saw lightning hit the roof of Claire's shelter, but it electrocuted Charlie. He's been trying to save Charlie, but Charlie is going to eventually die.

The Flashback

  • Flashback: Desmond

Inside the Swan, the timer has counted down past zero. Desmond retrieves the fail-safe key from his book and descends into the crawlspace underneath the geodesic dome. Making his way to the fail-safe device, Desmond inserts the key and activates it, but wakes up on the floor in his London flat in a pool of red paint after apparently having fallen from a ladder. Penelope rushes over to him with some ice for his head and asks if he's okay.

Later, Penelope helps Desmond get ready for a job interview with her father, Charles Widmore. Penelope tells him he doesn't need a job from her father, but Desmond wants her father to respect him. At the interview, Widmore offers to give Desmond a job in the administrative department, but Desmond tells him he came to ask for permission to marry Penelope. Widmore pours a small glass of MacCutcheon whisky, relaying to Desmond the story of its namesake, Admiral MacCutcheon. He tells Desmond that one swallow would cost more than Desmond could make in a month and, after finishing the glass, tells him that it would be a waste to share it with him and a disgrace to MacCutcheon. Desmond will never be a great man and, as he isn't even worthy to drink Widmore's whiskey, he could never marry his daughter.

Desmond leaves Widmore Industries, but finds Charlie outside playing covers of songs for money. Desmond tries to remember how he knows him, then remembers Charlie inside the Swan during the electromagnetic event. He begins to remember events that have already happened before including it raining, which it then starts raining. Desmond finds his physicist friend, Donovan, to ask him about time travel. The two go to a pub where Desmond tells him about the island and the hatches, but Donovan doesn't believe him. Donovan asks him what's going to happen next, but Desmond tells him he can only remember bits and pieces. Just then Desmond remembers what's going to happen that night: a football team is going to come back from two goals down to win and Jimmy Lennon is going to come in and hit the bartender with a cricket bat. However, events don't go as Desmond foresaw. Returning to his flat, Desmond tells Penelope how it went with her father. Penelope decides they should go celebrate him not having to suffer a job with Widmore Industries, but Desmond asks her why she loves him. She replies that it's because he's a good man.

The following day, Desmond enters a shop to look at diamond rings and is helped by the shop's proprietor, Ms. Hawking. Ms. Hawking shows him a diamond ring in his price range and Desmond decides to buy it, but Ms. Hawking tells him he won't. He is supposed to have second thoughts and leave without the ring. Ms. Hawking tells Desmond that she knows his name, that she knows he doesn't ask Penelope to marry him. He breaks her heart and thus enters her father's sailing race, which puts him on the island for three years of entering the numbers into the computer until he's forced to turn the fail-safe key. Ms. Hawking tells him that, if he doesn't do those things, then every single one of them is dead. She realizes Desmond is going to be difficult and takes him outside for some chestnuts. She points out a man wearing red shoes, but simply tells Desmond she thought it was a bold fashion choice. Desmond believes that Ms. Hawking is his subconscious trying to talk him out of marrying Penny, but he's going to spend the rest of his life with her. However, Ms. Hawking tells Desmond that he isn't. Just then, scaffolding collapses and kills the man wearing red shoes. Desmond realizes that Ms. Hawking knew it was going to happen and didn't do anything to stop the man, but Ms. Hawking simply replies that it wouldn't have mattered. The universe has a way of course correcting - if she stopped the man then he would have been killed some other way the next day and if she tried to save him the next day then he would have killed another way later on. Ms. Hawking explains that it was the man's path to die, just as it is Desmond's path to go to the island. Desmond believes he can choose to do whatever he wants, but Ms. Hawking tells him that pushing the button will be the only truly great thing he will ever do.

The next day Penelope meets Desmond along the River Thames. The two get their picture taken in front of a fake marina backdrop. As Penelope pays for the picture, Desmond looks at their photograph and realizes he can't go on with their relationship. Desmond tries to rationalize his decision, but Penelope tells him not to make it about what she does or does not deserve. She wants him to admit its because he's a coward. Desmond apologies, telling her that they're not supposed to be together. As Penelope walks away, Desmond takes out the engagement ring and throws it into the river.

Later, at the pub, Desmond grabs a drink to celebrate making the biggest mistake in his life. Just then "Make Your Own Kind of Music" plays over the jukebox and the football team on the television comes back from two goals down — just like Desmond predicted earlier with Donovan. Desmond realizes that he's not crazy, that he was only off by a night, and that he can still change things. However, Jimmy Lennon comes in and, as Desmond tries to warn the bartender, is hit in the head with Lennon's cricket bat. He regains consciousness but finds himself naked and in the jungle of the island. Running through the jungle, Desmond discovers the imploded Swan and some items that were once inside it - including the photograph of Penelope and himself.



  • Is Desmond really going back and forth in time, or is the island giving him that experience?
    • Answer: On the February 20, 2007 Official Lost Podcast, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof confirmed that Desmond traveled back in time and that it wasn't a dream.
  • Is Charlie going to die?


  • Desmond's life flashed before his eyes when the fail-safe device was used. He ended up reliving a portion of his life and has been experiencing flashes of the future since then. (2x23 - Live Together, Die Alone)
  • Desmond knew about Locke's speech because of his flashes. (3x03 - Further Instructions)
  • Desmond's "experiment" was to prevent lightning from hitting Claire's shelter and killing Charlie. (3x04 - Every Man for Himself)

The Cursed Numbers

  • Desmond's alarm clock reads 1:08 PM. 108 is the sum of the numbers. 8 is one of the numbers.
  • The London Central Delivery man delivers a package "for 815". "for" (pronounced like 4), 8 and 15 are three of the numbers.
  • Desmond has flashes of the Swan's computer prompt reading "4 8 15" and the timer resetting to 108. 4, 8 and 15 are three of the numbers; 108 is the sum of the numbers.
  • Penelope pays for the 5 quid photograph with a 20, thus receiving 15 quid in change.


  • Shot Reversal: In the opening shot of Widmore's office, Desmond is seen sitting in the right-most chair and Widmore's lamp and clock are on the left of his desk. The camera cuts to Desmond looking to his right at the polar bear painting, but now Desmond is sitting in the left-most chair and the lamp and clock are on the right side of Widmore's desk. When the camera cuts to overlooking Widmore's shoulder, Desmond is back in the right-most chair and the lamp and clock are back on the correct area of the desk. The problem arises because the shot of Desmond looking at the painting has been flipped horizontally.
  • Join the Royal Scots: Desmond stops briefly outside a military recruiter and looks at a Royal Scots recruitment poster that advertises the chance at honor and adventure. However, "honor" should be spelled "honour" if it were a real British recruitment poster. In addition, the pictured soldier is aiming a M4A1 Carbine with various accessories from the Special Operations Peculiar Modification Block I kit. The Royal Scots would be much more likely to be seen carrying a rifle from the SA80 family of arms.
    • On the February 20, 2007 Official Lost Podcast, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof confirmed that this was a production gaffe and does not have any significance for the story.
  • Several other details about the London scene are incorrect - neither the taxis, nor the pub, nor the building on the South Bank of the Thames look authentic. This could be a prop oversight, or a hint that the flashback is not taking place in real life.

Arc Advancement


  • Desmond reveals to Charlie that he's been experiencing brief flashes through time.


  • Charlie learns that he is going to die.



The Show

  • Jumpsuit: When Desmond wakes up on the floor of his flat, he's wearing a jumpsuit and boots similar to those as part of his uniform while pushing the button inside the Swan.
  • Microwave Timer: Desmond's microwave has the same beeping sound as the Swan's timer.
  • Widmore's Office: Widmore's office features numerous pieces of interest. One piece of artwork features a polar bear and the word "namaste." Polar bears have appeared in several previous episodes and namaste is a phrase used in The DHARMA Initiative's orientation videos.
  • Mama Cass: At the pub, Desmond hears the song "Make Your Own Kind of Music" by Mama Cass. This is the song Desmond plays when he wakes up inside the Swan in "Man of Science, Man of Faith."
  • Advertising: Advertisements can be seen in the football games at the pub. They include Apollo Candy, a subsidiary of The Hanso Foundation; Oceanic Airlines, the airline the survivors crashed on; Butties Diapers, the product Drive Shaft was filming a commercial for in "Fire + Water"; Mr. Cluck's Chicken Shack, the fast food place Hurley used to work at; The Hanso Foundation; and Gannon Car Rentals, which was seen on the back of the Oceanic Airlines tickets.
  • Wonderwall: After Desmond leaves Widmore Industries, his attention is caught by Charlie singing "I said maybe/You're gonna be the one that saves me?" This is the song "Wonderwall" by British band Oasis. As it turns out, Desmond does end up trying to save Charlie when they meet again on the island.
  • Missing in Action: Jin, Nikki, Paulo, Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Ben, and Juliet do not appear in this episode.

Behind the Scenes

  • Lost Scenes: Promotional images for this episode show Locke spearfishing along the beach and Hurley talking with him. This scene is not present in the aired episode.
  • Location, Location, Location: The exterior shots of the Widmore Industries building is Fort Street Mall in Honolulu, HI. The library Desmond grabs his friend from is Ali'iolani Hale, the home of the Hawaii State Supreme Court, in Honolulu, HI. The pub Desmond frequents is O'Toole's Irish Pub in Honolulu, HI.

Allusions and References

  • Laughter in the Dark: As Charlie goes through Sawyer's stash, one of the books seen is the 1989 paperback version of Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov. The novel was released in 1932, translated into English as Camera Obscura in 1936 and with the more common name Laughter in the Dark in 1938. The novel features a respectable, middle-aged man and aspiring filmmaker, Albinus, who abandons his wife for a lover half his age, Margot. Margot wishes to become a movie star herself. When Albinus introduces her to Axel Rex, an American movie producer, disaster ensues. The two resume a previous romantic relationship and plot to get Albinus out of the way while robbing him of his wealth.
  • Playpen: Charlie discovers a men's magazine named "Playpen" in Sawyer's stash. Playpen is a fictional magazine seen in other shows such as Scrubs and Married... with Children.
  • Admiral MacCutcheon: Charles Widmore says that MacCutcheon whiskey is named after Admiral MacCutcheon, an admiral in the Royal Navy who retired with more medals than anyone before or since. Admiral McCutcheon is a character in the 1997 TV movie remake of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Lost actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje played a character in this remake.
  • Ouroboros: While talking with Desmond outside, Ms. Hawking is seen wearing a brooch of a dragon forming a circle. This is an Ouroboros, an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon swallowing its own tail and forming a circle. It generally symbolizes ideas of cyclicality or the vicious circle. In the case of Ms. Hawking, she tries to explain to Desmond that things cannot be altered as the universe is able to course correct.
  • The Man with Red Shoes: Ms. Hawking points out a man with red shoes who is subsequently killed by collapsing scaffolding. Only his red shoes are visible from under the wreckage, pointing upwards. This is similar to the death of the Wicked Witch of the East in the movie The Wizard of Oz (1939). She is killed when Dorothy's house is dropped on her. Only her ruby slippers appear from underneath the house.

Memorable Moments



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