We're in prison, a new-looking military prison, with a clean-shaven, short-haired, and consequently almost unrecognizable Desmond getting his personal effects: a set of keys, gold-plated pocketwatch, and a photograph. Desmond picks that last one up and looks at it for a moment -- it's of him and a woman, apparently from a less-incarcerated time. There's also a book: Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. Given the hype surrounding the finale, I'm mildly surprised they didn't go with Great Expectations. The master sergeant asks why Desmond didn't bring that book in with during his sentence. Dude, do you know what they do to guys who read Dickens in prison? Desmond gives this sounds-profound-but-is-really-kinda-stupid speech about how he's read "every wonderful word" written by Dickens, except that book so he's saving it, because he wants it to be the last thing he reads before he dies. Ugh. I guess he figures he'll know when his death is coming, huh? The guard makes some sort of comment along those lines too, before formally dishonorably discharging "Lance Corporal Desmond David Hume" from the Royal Scots Regiment of Her Majesty's Armed Forces. "Long live the Queen. Enjoy your sodding book," he finishes. So...no hug, then? All right. But we had some good times, right? Remember that time you pulled that surprise cell inspection and found that shiv tucked into a bedpost and you beat me into concussed submission and then threw me in the hole for a week? And I don't think any of us will forget that time Jerry "The Bugger" Bugofsky hung himself. Good times.
Outside, it's pouring rain as Desmond leaves the prison. There's a black sedan waiting for him. The driver gets out, and the rear passenger window powers down as some old bastard menacingly asks Desmond if he needs a lift. "Not from you," sneers Desmond, but the old guy doesn't have time for this, and just orders him into the car.
Desmond complies, sliding into the passenger seat next to the guy, played by Alan Dale, who is apparently on The O.C., which I suppose I'd know if I could be bothered to watch that show, but I know him a little better as Vice-President Jim Prescott from Season 3 of 24. If you don't know the type, just imagine Lost called up Wealthy Industrialist Central Casting and asked for a self-made man. There's a couple of boxes on the seat between them, and Desmond asks if Old Bastard brought him a present. Two presents, actually, says the guy. One box contains Desmond's past, the other his future. Desmond opens up the Past box, presumably. It's crammed with letters, in orderly rows and bunched with rubber bands. Desmond gives a snort, and picks up a bundle, rifling through them, and we see they're all addressed to a "Penny Widmore," with the return address bearing Desmond's name. Sounding not exactly shocked, he says, "You're a bastard, you know that?" That's what I said! Old Bastard says as far as Penelope is concerned, Desmond's forsaken her, and that's they way it's going to stay. O.B. says she's getting married. But hey, it's not so bad! Remember, I got you another present? Old Bastard lifts the lid on the other box, and it's full of cash. "This is for your new life, away from my daughter. The conditions are simple: no contact, no calls, no post. You just...run away, Desmond." Desmond wants to know why Old Bastard thinks he'd just run away. Old Bastard leans in close: "Because you're a coward," he says. Desmond stares at him, but doesn't say anything. Stand up for yourself, Poindexter!