I'm going to have to watch that again.
Even taking notes, even looking at a few scenes a second time, I'm not 100% sure what I just saw, and I have a feeling that's exactly what Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse were aiming for. Mission accomplished, gentlemen, because I'm hooked right back in, a junkie who didn't even realize he was jonesing until that first taste, and now I wish I could just download the whole season into my brain tonight so I could start sorting out exactly what they're up to.
There's a short recap at the start of the episode, and instead of trying to condense the entire mythology of the series into a few minutes, they carefully just highlighted a few key ideas and characters, starting with Jacob and the Man in Black sitting on the beach. I think this sort of proves they're going to be the lynchpins to this final season. Then we see Ben and the Alterna-Locke in the scene where Jacob is killed, and we hear the ominous line, "They're coming." Then quickly, we're at the end of last year, and we're looking at Juliet in the base of that shaft, the bomb next to her, and as she hits it one last time, there's a flash of WHITE...
... and we're back on Oceanic Flight 815. There's Jack, looking out the window. The moments before the crash that started this whole thing. We watch the build-up to the crash as he talks across the aisle to Rose, and then the plane starts to shake. Here we go. The whole thing's going to happen again...
... and then it doesn't. The plane levels out. Jack looks over at Rose, relieved. "Looks like we made it."
"Yes," she responds. "We did." Bernard comes back from the bathroom, shaken up but no worse for wear, and Jack goes to wash his face. He finds an odd cut on his neck. When he comes back to his seat, Desmond is sitting in his row now, tired of his seat where some guy's been snoring since Sydney.
Wait a minute... Desmond's on the plane? What the hell is going on? Obviously something's been changed, but how did Desmond end up on the plane? That was never part of the timeline in the first place. He and Jack have a moment of deja vu, but then as it passes, we look out the window, then race out, down through the clouds, into the ocean where the Island should be. We keep moving. Down. Down. And we realize that what we're seeing is the Island, but it's completely underwater now. We see familiar buildings, completely submerged and rotten, and then just after the Dharma Shark swims by (nice callback, everyone), we finally stop moving, staring right at a giant four-toed statue's foot.