I can't remember the last time two equally awesome episodes of Lost aired back to back, but here we are. "Flashes Before Your Eyes" was almost better than "Not in Portland." At the very least, it was more complex, and left me with even more questions than last week. I would even hesitate to call this a Desmond flashback episode. At first I thought I was watching a flashback within a flashback, but the writers of Lost had something far more mindbending in store for poor, tragic Desmond.
The opening scene seemed fairly run-of-the-mill given the twists and turns yet to come. Desmond came upon Charlie and Hurley raiding Sawyer's stash for supplies, and led them to Locke and Sayid in the forest. I had completely forgotten that no one at the beach knew about Eko's death; that seems like a million years ago.
During the conversation, Desmond suddenly ran for the beach. He arrived just in time to save Claire from drowning, an event that instantly turned Charlie into a possessive jerk. Hurley, putting two and two together, determined that Desmond can see into the future. He and Charlie came up with a hilarious plan to both figure out Desmond's deal and prevent him from "foreseeing" their intentions: get him drunk.
Desmond initially refused Charlie and Hurley's lame apology attempts, but changed his tune when he saw the MacCutcheon whiskey they brought with them. Charlie went from drunk to confrontational in 0.5 seconds, and sent Desmond into a violent rage by calling him a coward.
Then it got interesting.
Then it got interesting.
Viewers were given another look at the hatch scene of the Season Two finale, in which Desmond deployed the fail-safe. Suddenly Desmond was awake in his flat, covered in red paint. Penny entered the room, apparently having just moved in. At this point it was clear that we were no longer in traditional flashback mode. Desmond began to remember the moment, and was aware that something was off.
Still in the faux-flashback, Desmond noted that the clock in his bedroom read 1:08. Where have we seen those numbers before? Desmond also heard a familiar beep, not unlike the one in the hatch, but it turned out to be the microwave. All signs continued to point back to the island, and Desmond's "interview" with Mr. Widmore was no exception. At the reception desk, the deliveryman had a parcel for 815, which caused Desmond to have a weird hatch-flash again. Once in Widmore's office, Desmond spotted a polar bear painting, a model sailboat, and a bottle of MacCutcheon whiskey. This last discovery led to a pretty brutal scene in which Mr. Widmore berated Desmond and denied him his blessing to marry Penny. If you're going to dash a guy's hopes, you should at least give him a drink, right? That's apparently not how the Widmores roll.
Charlie made a brief, but meaningful, appearance in the non-flashback, singing in the streets for money. Desmond began to recognize Charlie, and to understand his psychic ability/deja vu.
Cut to the jewelry store of mystery. I have no decent guess as to the shop lady's role in the big picture, but she knew Desmond's name, present, and future. Her only interest was getting Desmond to dump Penny, go to the island, and apparently save everyone's lives. She introduced Desmond to the notion of "course-correcting" by letting a red-shoed man get creamed by scaffolding right in front of them. This woman possessed a power Desmond now possesses--the ability to foresee the deaths of others. The trick of it is, neither of them can stop the deaths from occurring.
The shocking twist? Desmond's premonitions were not of Claire's impending death, but of Charlie's, a fact that Desmond was kind enough to communicate to Charlie. I will not even pretend that I saw that coming. As with Juliet, Desmond became far more intriguing with his flashback