With a little luck, I'll be able to finally write about this season of LOST in more depth some time this weekend, but I want to offer some quick thoughts on tonight's paradigm-defining episode before I hit the hay:
At the start of the season, Juliet--delirious and near death after attempting to alter history by setting off the Jughead bomb--said, "It worked," and tonight we got confirmation of that. I'm glad that it did. For the last two months, people have been speculating about just what the "flash-sideways" segments are supposed to be. The most common theory was also, to me, the least satisfying or interesting: That the off-island segments were really what was going to be the end of the story, the end result of whatever our heroes do on-island in the season finale, their reward or afterlife.
Instead, tonight's episode seemed to lend some credence to the idea that the two timelines we've been following this season are more akin to what Desmond experienced in the classic episode "Flashes Before Your Eyes": The characters living through their lives, attempting to do things differently, only to ultimately end up at the same situation, "course-corrected" as Eloise Widmore put it in season three.
And where will their courses correct them to? Probably to the site of The Hatch, post-explosion, in 2007, around the same moment that Jacob is killed.
This episode also brought back the science-fiction elements that had taken a back seat to the mythic and religious elements this season. The timelines coming back together at the moment of Jacob's death seems to offer the hope of the two coming together in a surprising way, possibly mirroring Jack's learning to synthesize being a Man of Science and a Man of Faith.
Now, when is Hurley going to get to talk to Real John Locke's ghost?