You can find a recap of tonight's seemingly game-changing episode of "Lost" after the break. There are spoilers, so don't click through if you don't want to know.
"Happily" was, in many ways, akin to "Flashes Before Your Eyes." Once again, we saw Desmond -- who has the most flexible relationship with time and space of any of our characters -- experience a lengthy flashback/hallucination/travel in time/whatever after being exposed to a level of energy that could kill a lesser man. But what does it mean?
The blast of energy comes courtesy of Charles Widmore who, true to bastard-y form, kidnaps his wounded son-in-law and drags him to the island before zapping him. Apparently, he and his team want to see if Des can survive another blast like the one in the hatch. But why? What are their plans for him? And what is this "sacrifice" Charles speaks of? What's going on?
At any rate, this episode did offer a few clues into the sideways world and what it means. Alt-Desmond's "flashes" of his island life -- and of his life with Penny -- seem to confirm the idea that what happened on the island really did happen. Charlie and Daniel have similar flashes -- meaning that they, too, remember snippets of their "old" lives. So what is the sideways world? Is it a true alternative universe? Or is it something else -- a hallucination, maybe?
Alt-Eloise tells Desmond that he now has wanted he wanted most -- Charles's approval. So, is the alt-world a sort of twisted wish fulfillment? Indeed, we've seen many people in this world get a sort of version of what they want, but a cruel one. In Sayid's alt-world, Nadia is alive, but married to his brother. Alt-Locke is with someone he loves, but will probably never walk again. Alt-Sawyer is an upstanding citizen and police officer, but he's still so angry and wounded by his past that he can't love anybody. Alt-Jack is working out his own daddy issues by trying to be a good dad to his son, but he's still divorced and still struggling with his savior complex.
And Alt-Desmond is materially successful, but desperately lonely.
So how did this happen? Was it just the bomb, as Alt-Daniel seems to think? Or is this some sort of fallout from the Jacob/Smokey war?
And what has happened to Desmond by episode's end? He seems totally unfazed when Sayid takes out Zoe's crew, and blindly follows the newly soulless smoke zombie into the jungle. Is it just his renewed faith that, no matter what happens, he and Penny will always be together? Did the machine, as Zoe guessed, fry his brain? Or is he so sure of what he needs to do that nothing else matters? I don't know, but at least this seems to be going somewhere.
Here are some more thoughts on "Happily Ever After":
* Even without the forward movement, I would have liked this episode. Why? One word -- CHAHHHHHLEEEE! Nice to see Dominic Monaghan back, and happy that he was given more to do than choke on a bag of drugs and spew hate at Jack. His sprint through the hospital in a dressing gown was an instant classic. And I'll never turn down an opportunity to hear "You All Everybody."
* I don't know if you heard it, but every Jack hater simultaneously cheered when Charlie referred to him as a "sodding idiot."
* In more serious news, Desmond, Charlie and Daniel are all "awakened" to the idea of their alternate, Island life by visions of women they love. Desmond glimpses his life with Penny while in the MRI machine, and sees the now-iconic words "Not Penny's Boat" written on Charlie's palm during the accident. Charlie reveals that, while choking on the drugs, he had a vision of a blond woman (presumably Claire). Daniel is awakened to his past as a physicist after seeing Charlotte in the museum (well, I assume it was Charlotte. But maybe Daniel just has a very specific type). So is there a tie between love and "seeing through" the alt-world? Is that why Jack and Kate flinch when they see each other? Is it why Eloise wants to keep Desmond away from Penny? Or am I just imagining things?
* Funny to see the fairly different relationship between Charles and Desmond in the sideways world. Des is totally devoted to Charles. Chuck, meanwhile, likes Desmond enough in this world that he shares his 60-year-old bottle of MacCutcheon with the Scot. That's the same bottle, you'll remember, that he refused to share when Des came to him asking for permission to marry Penny.
* Charles's driver is George (played by the magnificently nerdy Fisher Stevens), the freighter denizen who had time travel sickness in season four. Unlike Des, he failed to find a constant and died. But he looks much healthier in this world. He's still working for Charles, though, so that could change. I wonder -- what will Charles think if he finds George looking for that flight manifest? Will George get the manifest for Desmond, or betray him to Charles? And what does Desmond want the manifest for anyway? What does he want to tell the other Oceanic passengers?
* When Eloise and Des talk, she tells him "what happened, happened." She's referring to Charlie and Driveshaft not being able to perform, but this is also Daniel's theory about time travel. Does this imply that the alt-world isn't real and that no event -- not even a bomb -- can change the past?
* Nice to see Jeremy Davies again, even if he was mainly seen from the back, wearing that ridiculous hat.
* The stadium where Desmond sees Penny is the same one where he meets Jack in season two. Anyway, when she agreed to meet Desmond for coffee, my husband bellowed "Not Penny's Coffee Shop!" at the screen. Not important, but kind of cute.
Well, that's all I've got. What did you think?