I have to hand it to the brothers Darlton; most of this ep was a bizarro version of Flashes Before Your Eyes, but because of a few tiny intriguing elements and actors who had chemistry all around (seriously, would you ever have bought Widmore and Des having a friendly relationship?) it actually worked.
Island!Widmore still needs to be punched in the face. Repeatedly.
Speaking of punching, Desmond is kind of indestructible now, isn't he? I'm not even talking about him surviving the generator trip without his clothes burning off (lalala, logic, what logic?), but he seemed to be doing pretty well for someone who had just been shot three days ago and was now getting beaten up.
So, this is more or less conformation that the Sideways-world is fake, right? It's basically the Matrix version 1.0, the one where everyone gets all the happiness? Only that whoever or whatever built this (I'd want to say Smokey, but somehow I think this is not his style) doesn't quite get it right - having Widmore's respect is (was?) obviously important to Desmond, but just as obviously it's not the most important thing in the world for him.
The thing is, I still like most of this world better than version 1. Desmond's life as Widmore's No. 1 lackey is probably a bit much, and obviously, I don't want Sun to die or Sayid to be a depressed killer (...well...) but Daniel as a musician is pretty great and a happy Locke and a mostly happy Ben... not to mention Sawyer and Straume, Police Detectives!
Back to the episode though, what on earth is Eloise? She again did that thing where she seemed to have a lot more information about Desmond than she should have (see also: FBYE, bizarro version).
I guess the dialogue for this needed to be anvillicious and exposition-heavy, but "Guess that's why you're the boss' right hand man and I am the driver" seriously wins the prize. Poor Fisher Stevens (who was very smarmy, btw. Was Minkowski 1.0 this smarmy?).
I loved all the returns in this ep, but big thumbs up to Dominic Monaghan, who was on throughout the episode! Yeah, I can't believe I'm saying that either.
Penny Milton! What a cool name is that?
The island ending completely cracked me up, since not only did Sayid sweep in like a hero saving his lady love, he and Des were both so placid and non-reactive (one a zombie, one enlightened or mad or whatever), it seemed they had found JJabrams' secret stash of dried mushrooms.
I think what really sold me on the ep in the end, was them finishing in the altverse - it elevated that universe to being on one level with the island more convincingly than the whole preceding storyline.