And we whoosh back to Desmond looking at the photo from earlier in this episode (I wouldn't have minded someone announcing, "earlier tonight, on Lost," like they do for "previously on Lost" scenes) with Claire beside him, and we hear Charlie voiceover: "How'd you know Claire was drowning?" and then Desmond's drunk on the beach, saying he could hear her calling for help, and Charlie asks if he could hear the lightning, and we see the scene of Desmond setting up the lightning rod, keeping the lightning from hitting Claire's tent.
And again, a drunken Desmond gets up to walk away, and Charlie calls him a coward. Desmond jumps him, which I don't mind watching again, and yelling about how Charlie doesn't want to know what happened to Desmond when he turned the key. Hurley manages to finally pull Desmond off Charlie, and Desmond yells, "You can't change it! You can't change it no matter what you try to do. You just can't change it." Hurley makes the little finger-twirling "crazy" gesture, and Charlie says they should get him to his tent.
They lift him up, and Charlie drags him over to a tree by the tent, while Desmond drunkenly calls Charlie a good man and apologizes for trying to strangle him. Charlie says he's sorry for calling Des a coward, but Desmond says he's right. "Desmond," says Charlie, squatting down, "you are going to tell me what happened to you," says Charlie. Hey, now's as good a time as any, right? Desmond says when he turned the key, his life flashed before his eyes. "And then I was back in the jungle and still on this bloody island. But those flashes, Charlie, those flashes -- they didn't stop."
Charlie deduces that Desmond saw a flash of Claire drowning, which is how he knew how to save her. Desmond: "I wasn't saving Claire, Charlie. I was saving you." Whuh? "This morning, you dove in after Claire. You tried to save her but you drowned." Charlie, not currently drowned, is understandably confused. "What are you talking about? I didn't drown."
No, thanks to Desmond. The lightning rod? Desmond saw Charlie electrocuted. He drowned going after Claire; Desmond went in himself so Charlie wouldn't have to go in.
"I've tried, brother. I've tried twice to save you, but the universe has a way of course correcting, and I can't stop it forever." Desmond, you magnificent bastard, are you saying what I think you're saying? "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, because no matter what I try to do... you're going to die, Charlie."
Santa did get my letter!