For me, “Flashes Before Your Eyes” was one of the best episodes of Lost. It was the first time we’d seen the flashback formula used in an entirely different way. This wasn’t just a case of us seeing Desmond’s past; he had somehow traveled back to relive it. He was aware that he was in his own past, he could interact with it, and he could try doing things differently to try and change his fate. But this wasn’t just about Desmond. The story of his past (or was it his present?) also introduced us to a brand new character: Eloise Hawking.
When we first met Eloise, she was something of a mystery. How did she know so much about Desmond and Penny? Why did she know that the man in red shoes would die? And how did she know about the button and The Island? It was inevitable that she would return to the show at some point, but I don’t think any of us expected her to play such a large part in the overall story. Much of her life is and will always be a mystery to us.
To me, Eloise Hawking is one of those characters that’s extremely misunderstood. When you look at her story chronologically, it’s actually one of great tragedy. I’ve seen a lot of people insist that Eloise is one of the show’s villains, but I’m not convinced. I have a lot of love for this character, which is why I tend to see her as a force for good. This is what led me to take a look at what we know of her life and try to fill in some of the blanks with my own theories.
We know virtually nothing of Eloise Hawking’s life before she became the leader of The Others at a young age. Where was she born and raised, and how did she get to The Island to become one of The Others? While the show itself told us nothing, its tie-ins offered one important piece of information on Eloise via Mysteries of the Universe, the promotional videos for the final season. The information was revealed while discussing the church and its takeover of The Lamp Post station by Eloise. After doing some digging into her background, the show discovered that she didn’t have a birth certificate. It would be easy to overlook this as nothing, but if that was the case, why was it pointed out to begin with?
I have two possible explanations. The first is that it could be an indication that she was born on The Island. It would be unlikely for any of The Others to be given birth certificates or any form of official identification. They wouldn’t need it for the life they would lead. The second possibility is that any record of their former life is destroyed when they are chosen to go to The Island by Jacob. Once they go to serve him, their life prior to The Island becomes irrelevant. It’s being on The Island that should be the most important thing people do with their lives.
This explanation would also tie in with why Eloise Hawking has such a strong British accent. Had she been born and raised on The Island, I can’t see how she would have had this accent. This makes it more likely she was born and raised in Britain and then selected as an Other at some point in her teenage years. The casting call for teen, middle-aged, and older Eloise Hawking all stated about her being British and needing to have a British accent. I think we should take this as a sign that her heritage is an area of importance.
When we first saw Eloise on The Island, she was 17 years old and one of The Others. Despite the fact that she seemed to be in charge of a small group of them, it’s unclear whether or not she was in her full leadership position. I’d say that, given her age, she wasn’t. At this point, she was likely being trained to see whether she had what it takes to be a leader. But why was she selected to come to The Island in the first place?
It’s hard to say, but Jacob obviously saw something in her, and perhaps she was once a Candidate. The majority of characters that were chosen by Jacob were chosen because they were like him: alone and flawed. Eloise Hawking’s family was never mentioned, and considering she was on The Island at a young age, we can assume that she was very much alone in the world. Everyone that Jacob chose played a part in the way the future would play out. It’s almost as if he had a sense of what was going to happen and how people’s lives would go once he selected them. Even after Eloise left The Island, she continued serving it to ensure everything happened as it was meant to.
Another character whose mission was to get people to “where they needed to be” was Matthew Abaddon. He and Eloise both had similar goals yet were never seen together. It’s possible Matthew also served Jacob at the same time as Eloise, which would be how he knew not only where to be but when. But how did they gain this knowledge of the future?
Eloise Hawking continued her life on The Island till the 1970s. At this stage, she was in a relationship with Charles Widmore, and it appeared that they were joint leaders of The Others. It’s strange to think of these two together, and it is something I still can’t imagine because they’re both so similar. However, there were some clues that they had different styles of leading people.
When a young Ben Linus was shot and needed to be healed by The Island, Kate and Sawyer took him to Richard. After Richard agreed to it, one of the other hostiles told him that they should ask Eloise first. They then implied that when Charles found out…we don’t know what he would do, but it clearly won’t be good. I find this a really interesting comparison to be made between them both. Suggesting they should ask Eloise means that she’s likely someone that can say yes or can be reasoned with in some way, whereas there’s no asking Charles; he just isn’t somebody to be crossed. It’s only after hearing that it was Jacob’s wish that Ben be saved that Charles accepted it.
Shortly after this, a strange man walked into Eloise’s camp and threatened to kill Richard, prompting her to shoot him. As he lay dying, he said that she “knew this was going to happen and you sent me here anyway.” She then discovered that she had killed her future son, Daniel Faraday. His death was what provided Eloise with her knowledge of the future because she acquired Daniel’s journal—the same journal that she herself would buy him as a graduation present. Although we never really got to see inside the journal, it contained information on all sorts of key events and the people involved in them. This is how Eloise gained the knowledge to help people be where they need to be and at the right time.
Gaining this incredible knowledge of the future could be seen as an amazing gift that granted Eloise Hawking a unique power. But at the same time, she now knew how the rest of her life was going to be spent. This is when her story becomes tragic and quite heartbreaking.
During the next few months, she left The Island so she could give birth to Daniel. But why didn’t Charles leave with her? It was common knowledge amongst The Others that Charles and Eloise were having a baby together, so it’s unlikely he didn’t know it was his. My guess is that she shared the information of the future with Charles, which led to them falling out. He wouldn’t have wanted their son to die, whereas Eloise knew that it had to happen and in the way the journal set out. Charles would have wanted a full role in his son’s life before he died, but that wasn’t the way things were meant to be.
If Eloise Hawking was ever considered a Candidate, this is the reason she would no longer be seen as acceptable for the role. Jacob once told Kate that she could no longer be a Candidate because she had become a mother, and this would be the same for Eloise. However, after leaving, she could still do Jacob’s work and continue serving The Island.
Eloise gave birth to Daniel on the mainland and raised him in Essex, Massachusetts, away from Charles. As a young boy, Daniel had a keen interest in music and was exceptionally talented at it. Despite recognizing how gifted he was, Eloise knew that music wasn’t the path he could take in life. She had to push him into science so that one day he would attend Oxford University. It was during his graduation that he received a grant from his father, Charles, who went on to fund his research in time travel. It would appear that, by this point, Charles had accepted that he couldn’t physically be a part of his son’s life, but he could help out financially from behind the scenes. Obviously Daniel had no clue that the money came from his own father.
After some failed experiments on his girlfriend and himself, Daniel returned to Essex suffering from extreme memory loss. It was during this time that Charles offered him a job on a mysterious island that could cure everything that had happened to his mind. Eloise eventually persuaded him to take the job, telling him how proud she would be of him. It was in these moments that Eloise sent her son to his death at her own hands. She was never able to live a normal life with her son and create happy family memories together. The memories that she was allowed to create were already in place for her; she just had to make sure they happened as they were meant to. She had to dedicate her life as a mother to ensuring that her son went down the correct path to his death. It’s a truly heartbreaking story.
This is likely why Charles also hired Matthew Abaddon to assist in making sure people are where they’re meant to be. Their job wasn’t just to make sure that Daniel went to his death; they also had to help others along the way. This is how Eloise Hawking came to play a key part in Desmond’s story when she first appeared in “Flashes Before Your Eyes.” She knew that Desmond must go to The Island, she knew that he must press the button, and she knew that doing so would be the only great thing he would do with his life.
At some point in her life, Eloise was appointed the general manager of the church that hid the DHARMA Initiative station The Lamp Post. This was likely to have happened after the purge that resulted in the demise of the Dharma Initiative. Eloise used this station as a way of keeping track of The Island, knowing that one day it would tell her how to send the Oceanic Six back there.
I think it’s Eloise’s determination to stop Desmond in the flash-sideways world that makes people think she’s something of a villain, but it’s simply not true. She wanted to stop him because she was terrified that she was once again going to have her son taken from her.
As I said before, she didn’t get to live a dream life with her son. She wasn’t granted the luxury of being happy while she raised him. Instead, she spent a lifetime ensuring he would die. Now, in this new world (one where The Island doesn’t exist), she can finally have the life she always wanted to have. She is married to Charles in this new realm, which makes me think that’s what she wanted all along. Perhaps she always loved Charles and only ever left him originally because that was the way life was dictated for her in Daniel’s journal. She made more sacrifices than most people in the show, so it’s natural that she wants whatever time she can get with her son in the afterlife.
What’s interesting is that Eloise knows where she is and what that flash-sideways world is. Did she figure it out on her own, or was her knowledge of it a gift for the sacrifices she made in life? I like to think it’s the latter. Daniel is now following his dream of being a musician—the life he originally wanted—and she’s right there helping him. She can finally spend real time with her son creating memories that are real to her.
She’s finally the mother she always wanted to be.