After last week's kind-of-mystifying episode, this week's episode was so full of awesome that I don't know where to begin. Rather than recap the whole episode in order, I'm going to break it down into the three main areas of interest: Jacob's group (with Jack, Hurley, etc.), Ben's group (which met up with Flocke and Widmore) and the flash-sideways universe.
Let's take the last one first. This week's flash-sideways opened up with an iconic Jack eye shot as he's waking up. There's a nice happy family scene with his son (oh, and to get this out of the way, we still don't know the identity of his mother) and Claire, at the end of which, Jack gets a call from Oceanic Air about locating his lost cargo (aka his dad's body). Only it's not Oceanic calling, it's Desmond.
Desmond continues to manipulate everyone in the flash-sideways universe into seeing their "true" reality. He goes back to the school where he ran over Locke, but before he can run him over again, he's confronted by Ben. Desmond whoops on Ben much like he did at the dock a couple seasons back, and Ben gets glimpses of that beatdown. After that, Desmond goes to the police station -- the one with Sawyer and Miles -- and turns himself in. He gets locked up in a holding cell, where he meets Sayid and Kate. Man, this guy is REALLY connected.
It's fun to see Desmond working like this, and realizing just how powerful his Widmore connections are. They had to establish him as a connected man in this reality, otherwise all this stuff that's going on now would just seem absurd.
Eventually the three jailbirds all get loaded on to a van to get transferred, but Desmond has other plans. He convinces Sayid and Kate to trust him, and when the van stops, the driver -- Ana Lucia! -- lets them go and asks about Desmond's "man", who turns out to be Hurley in full believer mode. He pays off Ana Lucia (who isn't "ready" yet, according to Desmond), then Sayid goes with Hurley and Kate goes with Desmond.
There were two non-Desmond LA verse scenes that were important too. The first involved Ben, post-beatdown, visiting Alex and her mom (Rousseau) at home, where Rousseau admitted that Dr. Linus is the closest thing Alex has ever had to a father. The other was Locke visiting Jack and rehashing their history before admitting that it might be time to get out of his chair. I loved how while Locke was talking about all the strange ways their paths had crossed, Jack said "I think you're mistaking coincidence for fate." It was a perfect Jack-Locke interaction scene with a nice callback to their relationship in the earlier seasons.
On the island, Locke was still pissed that his submarine explosion plan didn't work, so he went to track down Ben in Dharmaville. Only Widmore and crew got there first. I loved the scene between Widmore and Ben, the old rivals. Before Widmore could spill all the beans about everything, Locke made his move. Widmore and Not-Tina-Fey hid in Ben's secret room, while Miles ran off into the jungle and Ben and Richard waited outside for Locke. Richard thought he could talk with smokey, but instead he got knocked into the jungle (and I doubt he's dead, since he's been unkillable in the past and we didn't see any corpse).
Rather than talking to Richard, Locke decided to talk to Ben, who brought Locke right to the hiding Widmore and associate. Not Tina Fey started to talk, but Widmore warned her not to talk, so Locke slashed her throat. Locke promised that if Widmore told him everything, he wouldn't hurt Penny. Widmore didn't want to talk in front of Ben, so he whispered something to Locke, at which point Ben shot Widmore three times. "He doesn't get to save his daughter." Man, Ben really holds a grudge, and now he wants to get his murder on.
Their story wrapped up with Locke and Ben arriving at the well, where they discovered that Desmond's dead body was not at the bottom, and in fact, someone had helped Desmond escape. But, no, that person had in fact helped Locke. "Desmond was a failsafe. Jacob's last resort in case I managed to kill all his beloved candidates. One final way to make sure that I never leave this place." But now Locke can use Desmond to do exactly what he wanted to do all along... "destroy the island."
Of course, Jacob's got his plan too, in what was THE MOST IMPORTANT SCENE IN "LOST" HISTORY! I dub thee... "Happy Q&A Fun Time With Unkie Jacob":
Wow, that was awesome. And Jack finally embracing his destiny? How sweet is that. In the next scene, Jacob took Jack to the "Magic River of Becoming Jacob", and told Jack how to find the secret light in the middle of the island. So with so many people out of the way, we're really down to an on-island showdown of Jack and Locke, with Desmond in the middle, representing the island or love or something.
I'm not sure how the flash-sideways universe will eventually connect with the on-island universe, but given how this episode put people together (in both universes), I'm sure they've got a plan. Now we've just got until Sunday to wait, and then everything most things a few things maybe nothing at all but maybe a whole bunch of stuff will become clear.