All Desmond needs is love. That seems to be the takeaway message of Tuesday's episode of Lost, which is cheekily titled "Happily Ever After," in which Des, Charlie and Daniel all pined for women they barely knew. Our beloved Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) and Penny (Sonya Walger) do finally reunite — again — but that's only the beginning. Cusick tells TVGuide.com who else he'll be consulting, what Mrs. Hawking's role is in the chaos, and the answer behind Lost — well, what he thinks it is anyway.
TVGuide.com: How does it feel knowing that Desmond is the key to everything?
Cusick: Desmond certainly is a part, but is he the key? There's not one character that is the key. There are many characters that will have to step up and do things before this is resolved. Desmond has a part to play, a significant part, but there are many others that will step up.
TVGuide.com: "Happily Ever After" was very similar to "The Constant."
Cusick: It was an interesting episode. Compared to the other Desmond-centric episodes, it wasn't so high-stakes and angsty, with Desmond running through the jungle and shouting for Penny. This was a bit slower, I thought. The Desmond in the sideways was very different from the Desmond on the island.
TVGuide.com: Would you say that Desmond is everyone's constant?
Cusick: No, I don't think that's right. In the flash-sideways, the characters are all slightly different from the characters on the island. They're all slightly hypnotized or haven't seen the truth. Like Desmond, he's slightly dead in this life. He's just a hollow corporate guy until Charlie [Dominic Monaghan] comes along. Desmond also recognizes that everyone in that sideways world — there are clues when you look in the mirror — when they look at their reflections, they go, "Hang on, what is reality?" They're aware something is not quite right, but they can't put a finger on it. Desmond now knows he's alive again and knows his purpose.
TVGuide.com: And now he wants to find everyone on Oceanic 815 to show them that truth.
Cusick: Yeah, at the end [of the episode], Desmond says "Where's the manifest? I need to show them something and it's going to be beautiful." When they get to see this other world, that's when their hearts will open and know what they have to do; they'll know the truth.
TVGuide.com: Based on what Desmond, Faraday (Jeremy Davies) and Charlie saw, their flashes seem to be based in love. Would you say that's a strong theme of the series?
Cusick: Yes, you're absolutely right in a sense that the driving force of Lost is love. Desmond is totally driven by love. What's interesting is how they see this other world. Charlie and Desmond both had near-death experiences and they recognized their loves. It's sort of spiritual, the thing they have to get to at the end of this, what Desmond has to do.
TVGuide.com: Since it appears that one has to almost die to see the alternate universe, does that mean everyone in the sideways universe has to die to fuse the two timelines?
Cusick: We don't know which is the real universe at the moment. We don't know which universe the show will end up in. Desmond is going to show them a glimpse of the other world and we'll see how and if they collide, and what will happen when they do.
TVGuide.com: Desmond changed his fate in the sideways universe by meeting Penny. Does the fact that he suddenly then woke up mean their fates are determined by their upcoming choices?
Cusick: Desmond says to Charlie that there's always a choice. He's only out for a very short time when he's given that electromagnetic charge, but when he comes back to the island, he is enlightened and knows exactly what his mission is. He embraces that and now knows what he has to do, so he follows Sayid [Naveen Andrews] because that is a way for him to further his mission. He's not struggling with anyone; he knows what has to be done. It's a very odd moment with Sayid, but this is the way for him to fulfill his mission.
TVGuide.com: Is Desmond claimed like Sayid and Claire (Emilie de Ravin) are?
Cusick: No, absolutely not. He's not claimed at all. It's the polar opposite. Sayid and Claire have been claimed by the Man in Black. Desmond, on the other hand, has had an epiphany. He's enlightened. He has no fear of the Man in Black.
TVGuide.com: Eloise (Fionnula Flanagan) seems like she knows what's going on in the sideways universe and even tells Desmond that he's not ready. How is it that she's conscious of this?
Cusick: She is a law unto herself. She's working on a different timeline. She always seems to know more than everyone else. She's like the oracle. If I was a fan watching it, how she seems to know wouldn't bother me just now, but hopefully these things will be addressed. She's opposed to the idea of Desmond trying to bring everyone together. She's trying to cover everyone's eyes.
TVGuide.com: What's the mission that Charles Widmore (Alan Dale) wants Des to complete?
Cusick: Widmore and Desmond are on the same mission. Basically, Widmore says if Desmond doesn't survive the electromagnetic blast, we're all going to die, so Desmond is there to help make sure that people don't die, along with a lot of others. There will be more explosions.