Now, on to "Happily Ever After"...
The episodes of Lost that center on Desmond Hume have been some of the very best of the show's entire run: witness "Flashes Before Your Eyes" and "The Constant". "Happily Ever After" is likely the last time we'll see an entire episode devoted to Desmond and the Lost showrunners went all out to make this an electrifying episode (yes I'm being quite punny tonight :-).
(Part of me wants to say that maybe this episodes should have been titled "Flashes Between Your Eyes", in keeping with the names of some of this season's episodes and how they're a play on words of past seasons' episodes. 'Twould make heaps o' sense, but at this late in the game I can understand it.)
So apart from the prologue (featuring Desmond breaking bad on Charles Widmore's ass and didn't EVERYONE holler "GO DESMOND!!" when we saw that?) and the extreme beginning and end of the episode, "Flashes Before Your Eyes" was all about Desmond in the flashsideways timeline: a universe where he's seemingly a happy globetrotter who gets treated at last to Charles Widmore's 'spensive bottle of booze. As such the more longstanding mysteries of Lost were barely addressed at all, which with seven hours left for this show to wrap up everything is ordinarily a bit troubling. But "Happily Ever After" did give us hard answers at last to this season's biggest quirk: the flashsideways-es showing us what the world would have been like had Oceanic 815 landed in Los Angeles.
I thought this was a brilliant episode. And it would be destined to be a fan favorite even if it hadn't seen the return of so many familiar faces, like Charlie Pace and Daniel and Eloise (who just as in the regular timeline apparently knows more than most) and even George Minkowski. And then there's Penny: anyone else catch how without stating as much, that she is Desmond's constant even here in the alternate reality? Is that related in some way to why Widmore had Desmond brought back to the Island?
Can you tell I've watched this episode a few more times since it aired yesterday evening? :-)
I'm gonna say that "Happily Ever After", when all is said and done, is going to prove to be one of the most pivotal episodes of Lost's entire run. And for that alone, it gets the full 10 out of 10 from this viewer.