Wednesday, April 28, 2010

God is Not a Rapist

I wrote this essay exactly one month ago, when things were very bad. Some of it touches on personal issues behind the scenes here that are nobody's business. But the specifics of my circumstance, though slightly alluded to, are not necessary to understanding this piece as a whole. I stand by everything I've written here.

Everybody knows the Christmas story. We all cheerfully recite as Mary is visited by an angel who tells her she will be the bearer of God’s seed. We praise Mary for her willingness to accept this challenge; to be the mother of God made flesh. And rightly so. But with this willingness comes the realization that God allowed her the choice. He had already handpicked her. He could have just implanted himself in her with no warning. “You’re gonna do this, Mary, because I’m God and I say so.” But God didn’t do that, did he? What was the purpose of the angelic pronouncement? Was it just to give Mary a heads-up? “Just so you know Mary, you’re gonna get pregnant with my baby. I’m telling you now so you don’t get all freaked out.” No, I don’t think so. Certainly it is an announcement (the Catholics call it “the annunciation”), but we all like to believe that Mary had a choice in the matter.

Mary is not alone. Throughout the Bible and Christian history God comes to people and gives them choices to be his man or woman. So often God’s favor is predicated on an “if - then” statement. If you follow His commandments He will prolong your days. But it’s always offered to people that these are the terms. God always tells his people what he’s doing, or what the rules are. If he wants you to do something, he will tell you, but you still have the option to back out. Moses was told to lead the people out of Egypt. Moses wasn’t exactly keen on the idea, and tried to present reasons why he might not be the right guy. Here’s what I like about God: he’s willing to negotiate. In this case, Moses doesn’t back out, but does get a concession: Aaron can speak for him. An overbearing god might demand Moses do what he said or else. God didn’t do that.

In Christian circles I’ve often heard the phrase “the Holy Spirit is a gentleman”. What people mean by this is that He doesn’t force himself on you. He will convict you, he will impress you, he will move you, but you still control what that means. Paul said that in Christ we live and move and have our very being, but that doesn’t mean we are all God’s puppets. God doesn’t just sweep in, take what he wants from us, throw out what he doesn’t, and get on with his plans. He keeps us involved as active participants.

I say all this to say that I got to thinking about God and the way he works. I got to thinking about how he came to Mary and essentially asked her for her consent before impregnating her. Right now, my world is upside-down. Everything that I’ve known as “normal” is being thrown into upheaval. The only things I’ve ever cared about are disappearing around me. My world has been raped. It’s all being taken away in one fell swoop. There are those out there who want me to believe that this is all God’s doing; God has some wonderful plan out there, but he has to do all this first. I should be glad. They couch it in feel-good easy words like “transition” and “direction”. But none of that changes the fact that my world has been raped. I cannot think of a single instance in scripture where the rape of one’s world was some wonderful plan of God’s. At times God does exact judgment. When the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, this was an act of judgment. It was awful because it was supposed to be. And even then, that was a last resort. God didn’t just out of the blue wipe Judah off the map; he sent prophets for decades with warnings. That’s what God does: he gives a heads-up. Just like he gave Mary a heads-up. What we do with that then determines the rest. But God is not a rapist. I’m sorry, the God I know does not just come in and rip everything apart for the sake of his own purposes. God didn’t rape Mary. Why not? He could have. Because God is not a rapist.

Furthermore, I have to say that in the midst of this nonsense, I am under definite spiritual oppression. Everything feels wrong. These things that others are couching in “transition” and rainbow daffodils do not leave me with good feelings. Maybe they think that I’m just not in tune with God like they are. Well, I’m going to say that’s wrong. I know God. I’ve felt God. I’ve had God literally hold my hand. The best way I can describe it is that what I feel so often now is not a God feeling. God feelings are like a needed rest. The Holy Spirit feels like radiation. He feels like warm soup in an empty stomach; it’s a good feeling. This other feeling is not. I walk around in darkness. This feeling is oppressive, dangerous. It feels like drowning. It feels like fear and hatred. Is this of God? No. God has not given me a spirit of fear. God is not a rapist.

I know people are well-intentioned and want to see the bright side of everything. Yes, I believe God can bring good out of anything. I believe God wants to bring good. But I don’t think he does it by causing chaos, anarchy, dysfuntion, and pain. Jesus said that his yoke is easy and light. The Spirit came to be our Comforter, that is, He brings us comfort. So sure, God can work this all out eventually. Does that mean He is the originator of the situation that ruins my life? I have to look back on the evidence in scripture. When God has the opportunity, he speaks first then acts. He leaves choices to his people. He even negotiates. Therefore, I must conclude that it is NOT God who has raped my world, nor is God behind it, because God is NOT a rapist. I venture to point out that just because a Christian comes out proclaiming some endeavor in God’s name it doesn’t necessarily make it so. Nor does it mean that all consequences are just God’s stops on the way to glory. God allows trial, yes. God brings judgment, yes. But does God CAUSE these things? I think the text is on the side of no.

In Matthew 12:43-45, Jesus tells of a demon being cast out of a man only to return bringing with him seven more. He concludes with the statement “so shall it also be with this wicked generation.” The man’s heart was seemingly made clean, but it was temporary. The demon wasn’t gone for good. He looked back at that clean house and said to himself, “I bet I could fit 7 more guys in this place!” And that’s what he did. To me this speaks of well-intentioned people manipulating forces they do not really understand. It is a wicked generation that believes itself impervious to invasion by dark spiritual forces. I may seem like I’ve rambled a bit. Maybe I have. But this scripture illustrates to me that Satan is a rapist. He comes to take what he wants, to change things to his way of thinking. He makes things worse than they were before. And if he sees the opportunity, he will bring in more with him. Man is flawed. This is a fallen world. We delude ourselves if we believe we are great because our demons have been cast out. If we are not careful, we open ourselves to be refilled with the not just the thing that beset us before, but now he brings his friends. I do believe this still applies in the Christian world. Maybe Christians are not possessed by evil spirits. But we are certainly under attack, and churches and Christian organizations are susceptible to infiltration. I worry that many have forgotten these verses, and believe any change to be from God. Christians are sometimes the worst about discerning spiritual forces for good or ill.

The turbulence of my life is a terrible frustration. The worst thing about it is knowing deep in my soul that it is not the work of God. God has allowed it for some reason, and I’m hoping to come through the other side victorious. But that does not change the fact that in essence mankind has allowed seven more spirits in and called it the Holy Ghost. My church is in ruins, my people are wounded and scattered. My life is upturned. My home is gone. My parents are phantoms. My fountains are dry. And My God is present, but not responsible. God is not a rapist, and if my world has been raped the blame rests squarely on the rulers of this present darkness, and the fools they have found to do their bidding.

God save us all.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

LOST: "The Last Recruit" Reflections

We are told in this episode that it was indeed the Smoke Monster who was impersonating Christian Shepherd. On one hand, this certainly makes sense. It was Christian we saw in the cabin, and he was a dead guy walking around. He also convinced Locke to leave the island. But on the OTHER hand, it contradicts things they've said THIS SEASON. Claire said that she was told the Others had her baby by her father AND her friend. We learn at the end of the episode that the "friend' is Smokey John. That implies they are two separate individuals. Had she just not been told yet they were the same? She seemed to be able to recognize Locke as something else though. And what about the TWO figures we saw in the cabin when Hurley peeked in? There was one in the chair, and ALSO Christian's eye at the window. ...Are we also to believe that Smokey John can become invisible? Anyway, I've long known they were working together, but I am annoyed that they are the same being. It would have made sense had they not thrown in bits to make us think there are two.

Also, Jack remembers things wrong. He did not chase his father through the jungle on the third day there. He first saw Christian on day 5, before the memorial service, and didn't chase him through the jungle until the following day. Some continuity is sticky, but come on, that part was NOT hard to get right.

Claire says that Jack already sided with John by letting him talk. The end of the episode leads us to believe that isn't the case, but I'd like to know is there anyone left on the island who HASN'T let Locke talk to them? Jack, Claire, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Sayid, Desmond, Sun, Jin, Lapidus, Ben, Richard, they all did.

We learn that Sayid was promised Nadia back in exchange for helping Locke (or did we already know that? I guess he must have made that promise in "Sundown". Boy, my memory is failing). So Sayid is working for the Dark Side because of some deal? I guess that means Sayid is the Lando Calrissian of Lost. I am waiting for him to say "This deal is getting worse all the time."

Desmond didn't seem all that hurt for a guy who just fell 10 feet down a well. And didn't it seem like a longer fall the last time? I guess Locke really wasn't allowed to kill him and had to just throw him in a well and make Sayid do it. Speaking of which, it's hard to read spooky-Sayid now, but it's reasonable to assume Desmond still lives.

Kate gives this big speech to Claire about how she never should have raised Aaron. I have a sickening feeling this is supposed to be the "resolution" to the "raised by another" stuff from the first season. What, because Aaron was raised by another Claire went feral and nearly helped evil escape the island? Is that what we're supposed to think? Because so much of the first couple seasons (especially two) intimated that AARON was in danger. But he's never really been in danger, has he? And why would baptism make a difference? Aaron's living comfortably with his granny. So if this is the answer to that whole story, then that is one thread that was BADLY tied off.

The moment when Jack is forced off the boat is interesting, because it is something of a reversal of when Sawyer leaped from the helicopter. Sawyer has an interesting argument because he has never left the island; he was stuck there for three years. Jack has a different perspective, having gone and come back. So it makes perfect sense that Jack would get a sense about turning back which Sawyer wouldn't have and wouldn't care. Just as Jack did whatever he could to get on that chopper, Sawyer will do anything to get on that sub. He missed his opportunity in "The Incident" and it cost him his woman. So he's not going to do any more waiting.

And just like Sawyer, Jack is able to swim all the way back to shore. My my, the Losties really are good swimmers aren't they? ...Except for Joanna who was a scuba diver (!) and Boone the lifeguard!

Widmore really is a double-crosser. I wonder what will become of Sawyer's group. I'm glad at least Sun and Jin were finally reunited (and her English came back).

Now that Locke has saved Jack's life, what will happen? It didn't seem like Widmore's barrage was very effective, did it? Is he trying to kill Locke, or just everyone with him?

There's really not a whole lot for me to say about the flash-sideways this week. It was interesting that we finally got a last name for Ilana.

I really liked the scene with Kate and Sawyer in the police station. Their personalities really played off of each other, and in a way that worked better for me than some of the other Sawer/Kate scenes on-island. Kate in her own way is a lot like Sawyer, and he sees that.

It seems that things move really quickly in the sideways universe. Things that it took four years to reveal (Jack and Claire's relationship for example), are all brought out in a week.

I wonder why Sun seems to recognize Locke in the hospital. She seems very afraid of him, shouting "It's him! It's him!" Is this another flash from the island life? That's curious because so far most of those have been around loved people. ...I highly doubt Sun has feelings for John Locke!

There were a lot of scenes in the sideways and a lot of characters, but really nothing happened. It was just one more instance of moving chess pieces from there to there. It was a little underwhelming, and I hope that when they all get together it will be worth this wait.

Finally, who was the "last recruit" of the title? From all indications, it would seem to be Jack. He's the only one who purposed to remain on the island. Does this mean that he's going to stay there forever? That's quite a change from the Jack who not long ago was convinced he was supposed to detonate a bomb to prevent him from ever coming.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Great theme song

For this week's entry in the "great annoying songs that I love" category, I'm straying a bit from that original intent. Instead of a repetitive song like the pickle song from Pontoffel Pock, I'm going to the realm of TV theme songs. It's unfortunate that TV theme songs now seem mostly of a bygone era. The lamest of TV themes can become great catchy tunes to keep in your head. And there's always the gold standard of annoying, repetitive theme songs: the Gilligan's Island theme. A song like that is instantly recognizable, and I feel like there are others that deserve such recognition. I also love when rock bands do covers of TV themes. In the '90s there was a whole album of saturday morning cartoon themes covered by popular bands. The Dickies' version of the Banana Splits theme was recently used (to perfect effect) in the movie Kick-Ass (my thoughts on Kick-Ass may warrant another post in the near future).

The subject of this post is one of the few modern TV theme songs. Most shows have just a title card now, or a brief few seconds of score. At most, it's dramatic notes under the titles. That's why this song is so great; it's a throwback to when TV shows had catchy songs you wanted to hear and sing; themes that invited you into the show. The show to which I refer is the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. His theme song is PERFECT.

It's short, but it's memorable and totally singable. It has a classic jazzy feel, reminiscent of older shows, yet maintains a certain modernity. It's lyrics completely fit the tone of the show. There's a great sort of synergy between host and theme song. The song really gets you in the mood for a jovial Scotsman. It's almost like a rowdy drinking song, when it gets late and everyone in the pub cheers together. The "hey hey" chorus bits really work for it. And I like the cheeky jokes about how we know the show is on late, but who cares? Enjoy it anyway! And then he caps it all off with "tomorrow's just your future yesterday", a lyric that is a little greeting card-like, but at 12:30 am sounds kind of profound. In terms of TV theme songs it is sheer perfection, and I hope it has the long-lasting legacy that the Sherwood Schwartz songs have had. I reproduce the lyrics below; be aware, this is only for reference. I'm sure the song is copyrighted, and no infringement is intended.

It's hard to stay up, it's been a long long day
And you've got the sandman at your door
But hang on, leave the TV on
And let's do it anyway, it's okay
You can always sleep through work tomorrow
Okay, hey hey
Tomorrow's just your future yesterday

The following video is a full-length version of the song, which is also great. But the short version works just fine for it's purpose.
Oh yeah, and I love the puppets.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

LOST: "Everybody Loves Hugo" Reflections

I'm very aggravated right now, because I got through half of my post and suddenly it disappeared. Now I have to try to write it all over again. There's a half hour down the electromagnetic well.

Like "What Kate Did", this episode title references a previous title, which as it is was a reference to a sitcom title. Everything comes full circle.

It was good to see Michael again. I guess the dead are forever directing Hurley now. I liked that he was remorseful about LIbby. It would be nice if he could see Walt again (they had BETTER pay off the Walt thing).

I was confused by Jack's actions early on. Two weeks ago he told Sun that he was not going to blow up the plane, and he was going to get her and Jin off the island with it. So color me confuddled when he's cheerily marching to the Black Rock to get dynamite to blow up the plane!

When Ilana blew up, it was more sudden than Arzt. I had to reassure myself of what had just happened. On the one hand, it's a bummer that it seems the whole Ilana thing was kind of a waste now. But on the other hand, I was glad to see it. Not because I wanted her dead, but because of the dynamite. When we first got the dynamite, someone exploded almost immediately. But since then, people have been carrying it all over the jungle and not being careful with it at all. It has bothered me that there's been no sense of danger around it anymore, so when someone finally blew up, I have to say it's about time.

And then Hurley went and blew the whole ship up! You know what this means? Hurley is the new John Locke! He's now taking mysterious orders from the island, trying to become a leader, blowing crap up to suit his own agenda. I hope the island isn't playing him, and I hope Hurley isn't in for the same end Locke suffered.

Speaking of which, who is manipulating Hurley? He trusts the ghosts, but who do the ghosts answer to? Because we saw Christian Shepherd take Michael from the freighter. Michael is directing Hurley. But Christian Shepherd was in cahoots with Smokey. So is Michael working with Smokey? Hurley does seem to be leading them directly where Smokey wants them.

On that note, I was glad when Hurley told Jack maybe he's not supposed to just let it go. Back at the lighthouse, Jacob seemed to indicate he had work for Jack to do. What was that? We don't know. But might it be that Jacob's plan for Jack is to NOT follow Hurley down this rabbit hole? Passive Jack may be a breath of fresh air, but I wonder what will come of all this.

I wonder who that boy is. We saw him again this episode, and he seems to be terribly important but we have no idea why. Where did he come from? Is he dead too? Is he an apparition like Walt? Is he the soul of Kate's horse? Who the heck is he??

It was good to see the Whispers recur. Unfortunately, if what we are told here is true, it's resulting in the most terrible retcon since Battlestar Galactica and the Kobol opera house. The Whispers are GHOSTS? Seriously?That is just plain dumb. Where does Walt fit into that, then? Because way back in season 2, the Walt apparition appeared at the presence of the Whispers. Was he being carted about by ghosts? What of the connection to the Others? As late as last season Ben told Rousseau to run if she heard Whispers. Or what about Harper in "The Other Woman", who also appeared out of the Whispers. We were led to believe all this time that the Whispers were the others. Could TPTB just not come up with any way to expain it? Was Harper a ghost? Can only Hurley see the ghosts? Because Juliet could see Harper, but Harper was supposedly at the Temple, and we didn't see her there. To make matters worse, if Michael is to be believed, the ghosts are trapped on the island for things they did. So at least for them, the island really IS hell or purgatory or whatever. Who else is there, and who is not? Does Christian Shepherd count? I don't think so, since he was able to appear on the freighter. Apparently Libby was an innocent so she's not. Are Nikki and Paolo walking around whispering? It makes no seeeeeeense!!!

Apparently there's more than one well. Did Dharma build a hatch at every well? I doubt there was a well at the Arrow. We also gain a bit of a time frame for when they were dug, since we know it was after the invention of magnetic compasses. Though that's not terribly helpful. If the wells were just holes dug for answers, why even bother making them wells? Why not just leave them as holes? Why brick up the sides? Why did the one by the Orchid have a rope? Why did they do the sides up first before digging down (as seen in the time flashes)? That's not at all an efficient way to dig a well! You dig it first, THEN you brick up the sides. ...or had it been filled in at that point? I'm a little confused and will have to check that again.

Did anyone expect Desmond NOT to be thrown into the well? It was obvious Locke was going to do that. I agree with Locke though that this new Desmond is odd; why ISN'T he scared? I guarantee Desmond is not gone. He will survive whatever anomaly is at the bottom of that well.

I didn't much comment on it before, but I have to agree with those who pointed out the difference in Sayid's voice. Naveen definitely seems to be downplaying the Sayid accent, making him sound more English. It's a little strange, and I'm not sure why that is. After 5 years, you'd think he would know his character. It bothers me because the same thing happened to Deanna Troi on Star Trek. She used to sound all exotic and kind of Israeli, but in the later movies and her Voyager appearances, it's just Marina being all british. Marina may be british, but Troi is not. Neither is Sayid.

Dr. Chang opens the episode. Does he work for Hurley now? I was hoping for proof that it's a Dr. Chang post-incident, but I couldn't tell if he had a prostethic arm or not. And he didn't seem to have aged very much, considering thirty years have passed.

I wonder if Rosalita ever showed up at the restaurant. And if not, why not? It's like she only existed as a plot device. But at least her name put one of the greatest Springsteen songs in my head.

Hooray, Libby's back! It was good to see her again. It's clear that they are continuing the love connections/second life stuff. It was also good to see her back at Santa Rosa. It seems in this universe she's been institutionalized for thinking she knew Hurley from somewhere. I guess we will never know why the other Libby was there.

I just knew that Desmond would make an appearance to Hurley somewhere here. Desmond in the flash-sideways is like a kind of Nick Fury, gathering his Avengers. You know, like the little scenes Marvel keeps putting at the end of their movies in preparation for the big Avengers movie. It's like that to me.

I like the scene with Hurley and Libby's beach picnic, though when it started I had a hard time focusing. There was that girl in the black bikini in the left-hand corner and I found her very... distracting.

I like Ben being on pervert alert with Desmond at the school. But I did not anticipate Desmond running over Locke. What is his plan? I have two theories. One, this will get Locke to Jack's hospital, Jack will fix Locke's spine, and then Desmond will gain both Jack and Locke as disciples of his second life/love thing. Or two, somehow this Locke will connect with the dead Locke in the other reality. Though I don't know how. But they are definitely gearing up for something.

Finally, I do not normally comment on promos, but this week they upped the creepiness scale by just flashing images accompanied b
y a seeming non sequitur: the audio from Willy Wonka! We hear the immortal and spooky "there's no earthly way of knowing" stuff. I wonder why they chose that bit. Did they have to pay Warner Bros. just to use it in the promo? Will that feature in next week's episode at all?

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Songs That Never End

Sometimes when I'm at work, I like to hum little things in my head. Or outright sing them. But as I work in a library, I can usually only get away with that in the children's room. I find some of the best things to sing while doing monotonous work are repetitive goofy songs. They also keep you in a goofy mood. I think the best of these are usually written for children, are things you remember from being a kid, and are things that you could never get away with singing very long among friends or relations before being told to shut up. ...or "Agh! You got that thing stuck in my head!"

Well, I for one like having some of these stuck in my head, much more than other songs. Given the choice between Beyonce's "Single Ladies" or "Elmo's Song", I'd much rather have Elmo in my head all day.

After coming across some favorites on YouTube today, I decided that I would try on a regular basis to post about a particular annoying song that I love. It was a hard decision, but I think today's is going to be the opening song about pickles from the Dr. Seuss special Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You? I think this has also been released on DVD as Pontoffel Pock's Magic Piano. Either way, the pickle song is a great little song to sing while working because it is a work song. The best of these songs are songs you can sing forever, and you could do that with this one. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, take a look at the start of the movie:

It also closes the movie too!

I like the song so much, and every now and then there comes a day when it pops into my head. In fact, I was singing it just yesterday. Doesn't that look like a fun pickle factory? Even if it smells like pickle and you have to stand all day, you get to sing that song all the time! Oh, and it's a fun song to whistle too. Many good ear worms are great whistle tunes as well.

So get singing everyone!
A pull on the pull-um, a push on the push-um, and the pickles go into the jar!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

LOST: "Happily Ever After" Reflections

Widmore has brought Desmond to the island to do something important. We still don't know what that is. He's also got to "sacrifice" something, but we don't know what either. I hope it doesn't mean he dies or he never sees Penny again. When last we had seen Desmond and everyone, he was in hospital and Widmore was talking with Eloise about Faraday. I wonder if Eloise told Widmore to bring Desmond to the island. He seemed to regurgitate her words "the island isn't done with you".

Widmore says that Desmond is the only one to have survived a catastrophic EM event. I suppose he's referring to the implosion of the Swan. But what about Locke and Eko and Charlie? They were there in the hatch. It didn't effect them any? Or is he the last one LEFT to have survived, since those three are all dead?

When we saw that chamber with the generators all made of wood and the wooden chair inside, for a moment I wondered if this place had anything to do with the cabin. Like maybe the invisible Jacob was trapped HERE, and the generator made him appear for that brief second in the other location. Perhaps also that would have some connection to why you could not bring modern objects into the cabin. But the two probably are not related.

The generator looks like the iris of a giant eye. I wonder if this was intentional.

Desmond seems to actually travel to the sideways universe, like in "The Constant" or "Flashes Before Your Eyes", altough it's much subtler than those times. I wonder why Des is so complicit now. Now that Desmond is with Sayid, was that all part of Widmore's plan, or does Des have his own island agenda now? Also, we know he fainted in the sideways universe when he woke up on the island. So is this like the Constant, and does that mean he has passed out with Sayid now that we saw him back there? Or was that sideways-Des waking up?

I can't imagine what Widmore's plan is...

A number of things are once again turned on their heads in this flash-sideways. Desmond works for Widmore. We know why he was in Australia; it was a business deal. Minkowski also works for Widmore, which isn't a stretch. But Desmond doesn't know Penny here. Didn't people say he had a wedding ring on the plane? What could that all mean? It's interesting that Daniel did get to become a musician, and is raised as a Widmore. With all the variant surnames though, it's confusing as to how people are connected in our universe. Even if Widmore had nothing to do with him, did he have a father? His mother's name was Hawking. His name was Faraday. Did Eloise have a revolving door of men? And it seems Penny is here named Penny Milton (unless it's a different Penny, which I doubt). I guess that means we learned the surname of her mother, or perhaps it's her stepfather's name here. It's also interesting that Daniel knows they are related in this universe.

It was so good to see Charlie again! Too bad DriveShaft aren't going to play at the party. But then, couldn't they play without a bassist, or is that just tactless? The band don't even know about any of this, do they? I mean, Charlie isn't the whole band. We saw Liam at the station looking for Charlie a few episodes ago. Where's Liam in all this?

The Charlie/Desmond relationship is a little reversed, but also kind of the same. Here Charlie WANTS to die because of a flash he saw. He tries to convince Desmond he has to see this too. There's even another near drowning. Charlie's actions are a little like Soran in Star Trek Generations, doing anything and everything to get back to that feeling, his Nexus. Now Desmond has flashes of his other life too.

When Charlie first told the story about the blond woman he saw between life and death, I thought maybe it was Juliet. Maybe she was a connecting thread and that's the reason she was still alive in "LA X" and knew it worked. But as the episode progressed and ended up being about personal love, it seems clearer that it was Claire he saw. Daniel was after Charlotte, Des is after Penny, so it makes sense Charlie saw Claire. I also thought it was funny that when he started his story about "the woman", he began with looking over at Kate. Is this a little nod to Dom and Evie's previous relationship?

When Desmond was in the MRI machine, I was positive that that would be the thing that sends him back to the island. But surprise surprise, it just caused flashbacks.

Charlie tells Desmond "This doesn't matter. None of this matters." That's pretty much exactly my issue with the flash-sideways. And apparently, this is where the show is going. That the flash-sideways DON'T matter, and they have to be toppled. Honestly, I expected Desmond to somehow be able to end all that this episode, but it hasn't happened yet.

Eloise tells Desmond that he shouldn't be looking into things that don't concern him. Both she and Charlie suggest that he has everything he's supposed to want, but isn't happy. The episode wants us to believe that the sideways world is a fairyland where everyone gets the thing they wanted. To a point that's true. Jack never lands on the island. Desmond has the job and Widmore's approval. Charlie's band never broke up. But what about Locke, who's still in a wheelchair? What about Kate, who's still a fugitive? What about Sayid, whose brother married his girl? So that explanation seems a bit pedestrian to me. Maybe it's only relevant to Desmond.

And yet again, Eloise seems to have perception beyond the world as it is now. We are clearly shown that Desmond does in fact have memories from his other life. Is this just because other Desmond is somehow there occupying his mind? I'd say no. Charlie had a flash of Claire. Daniel had a flash of Charlotte and quantum equations he would not have otherwise known. This tells me that all the previous instances where people like Jack and Kate had moments of recognition were REAL. But this universe doesn't want them to believe that, they are supposed to just believe this is the only world. When Des told Claire her baby was a boy, was that a guess or did he really remember? Anyway, Eloise (I keep wanting to type Ms. Hawking, but she's not that in this universe) knows that Desmond has ideas of some other world and she knows he shouldn't. She says he's supposed to keep his place. This is similar to the conversation about the ring in "Flashes Before Your Eyes". Unfortunately, it seems the mystery of how she knows all this stuff will never be answered. I worry that the best answer we'll get was when she said, "Because I bloody do!"

The discussion with Daniel about the nuclear bomb seemed a little too neat for me. Okay, he didn't know these equations. And Okay, some physicist friend (and don't all reach people have quantum physicist friends?) told him it involved a massive amount of energy, like a bomb. To me, that's a big leap to go from that to saying "I think I already blew up a nuclear bomb". We the audience know he did, but it seems like connecting the dots for us a little too obviously. I don't know that the character would have been able to make that kind of a leap.

Also, since its 2004 here, it seems the sideways people have perception not just across universes but across time as well.

I like the parallel of Desmond meeting Penny while SHE's running a tour de stade. Not only is the scenario a flip of when he met Jack, but the whole image is even something of a mirror image. Here, Des is on her left, and she's running to the right, whereas with Jack it was the other way.

Odd how just her touching him woke him up on the island. It would also really seem the two experiences are connected because he fainted with Penny. Desmond has a kind of Captain Picard "The Inner Light" experience in this episode; he's blasted with energy, then lives another life in a matter of seconds.

I wonder what Desmond's plan now is with those from the plane. Does he have to gather them all up for one big action? Is he going to just go after principals, or will he be chasing down some of the socks too like Steve and Frogurt?

Does Desmond now have some kind of island plan that involves both working with Sayid on island AND finding everyone else in sidewaysland?

I liked this episode pretty much. It worked better for me than The Constant, though it played some similar beats. And it bore resemblance to "Flashes Before Your Eyes", only in that episode the mechanism never made sense to me. Nothing flashed before his eyes; he went back in time! That's not the same. So I felt like "Happily Ever After" succeeded in making the most sense of either of those. The title seems to suggest that the sideways world is supposed to be "Happily Ever After" but isn't. It reminded me of the song that originally closed the musical "Company" which included lines about how married life was "happily ever after, ever ever ever after... in hell." That sort of sums up the sideways universe. It's a happily ever after in hell (metaphorically speaking!). The one problem with this episode is that for all it said and did, it was very much set-up for another episode. We didn't really learn any more about Widmore's plan, we don't know what Desmond's going to do next, or how they connect. It was one long move to get Desmond from here to there. I hope it was worth it, or that will sour this episode for me.