Office Building: Desmond arrives and is sent right in to the office of his boss -- CHARLES FRICKING WIDMORE. Chuckles says, "Welcome to Los Angeles, my friend," and gives Desmond a big back-slappy hug, and warmly fond smile. A white light flashes before my eyes. Oh wait, that's just the commercial.
Sideways Des is Sideways Widmore's righthand man, and Chuckles has a job for our laddie. Des must pick up junkie Charlie Pace from the airport courthouse, where he's being arraigned on drug charges, because Charlie and his band, Drive Shaft, are to play at a charity gig arranged by Charles Widmore's wife. It seems young Master Widmore, a classical musician, has conceived of this concert that combines classical music with rock-n-roll. Desmond's all, "Say no more; it's done, Charles." Their relationship is characterized by an easy, but deep respect. Widmore remarks that as a single man, not shackled by commitments and attachments, Desmond really has the life. When Des says he's blessed, Widmore says, "Ah no. It is I who is blessed -- to have you in my employ." Before Des leaves, Widmore pours him a generous shot of MacCutcheon's. "A drink to celebrate your indispensability... Nothing's too good for you." As soon as I pick my jaw up off the floor, I'll start the next paragraph.
Des arrives at the "Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, Airport Courthouse," and for the second time in this episode, we're treated to a nice, long look at his reflection. I wonder if our double scoop of Des is significant somehow -- perhaps representative of his special snowflake nature? Anyhow, just then Charlie exits with his lawyer. Des introduces himself, but Charlie walks off -- paying Des little to no mind. Charlie strolls down the stairs and right into the heavily trafficked street -- nearly getting run down umpteen times, but he never flinches. He heads straight for the bar, "Jax," across the street. Is that a kangaroo on the sign? Des looks at his watch, grumbles and follows after his delinquent charge. Inside, Des tells the bartender, "I'll have whatever he's having." A bad attitude and haircut to match? No Des, don't. Once his drink arrives, Des turns to Charlie. "One drink, then we go."
Charlie asks Des how he lucked into this babysitting gig. "What are you, Mr. Widmore's chief lackey -- henchman?" Des says he doesn't have a title but gets plenty of perks. Charlie asks, "Such as?" Des deadpans, "I get to meet charming people." Hee! Even surly Sideways Charlie has to smile and raise his glass at that. "Tell me, Perky, are you happy?" Des says he is, but Charlie tells him he's wrong. "Have you ever been in love?" Des, who just told Charlie he has a great job, a lot of money and travels the world, says: "Thousands of times." Fresh! That's not what Charlie's talking about. "I'm talking about spectacular, consciousness-altering love. Do you know what that looks like?"
Charlie says he saw it on the way back from Sydney. Seems he felt he was made by Kate's Marshal, so he ducked into the lav and swallowed his bag of heroin, but just then, the plane hit massive turbulence. Charlie inadvertently choked. And in that moment, after everything went dark, he saw this beautiful blonde woman and just knew they were together, like they've always been and always will be. Just as he was engulfed in love, he woke to find some sodding idiot (Hi, Jack, I still love you) asking him if he was okay. When Des mocks, "Well, that's just poetry, brother; you should write a song about that," Charlie rejects the poor, suicidal rock star mantle. "I've seen something real. I've seen the truth."
Sidebar: Now, I think (and I imagine many of you are with me) that Charlie's spectacularly beautiful blonde is some reality's Miss Claire Littleton
Shephard. EW.com's Doc Jensen thinks otherwise. He thinks Charlie's true love is Our Lady of the Poppies. Sure, Charlie's description, and his demeanor while he gave it, certainly don't make us forget the boy is a junkie, but I just don't think this show is that cynical. And I certainly don't think it would give us a Charlie that cynical, since our original Charlie willingly sacrificed himself for his loved ones. If Sideways Charlie's vision had anything to do with the Virgin Mary at all, wouldn't it be tied to the faith of original recipe Charlie's youth? Remember, before Drive Shaft, that Charlie was a fairly devout young man. Still, I think it's some Claire (and where this narrative is concerned, I think it ought to be some Claire) who somehow managed to reach Charlie in this reality, just like original recipe Claire's vulnerability and sweet nature was somehow able to reach the first Charlie through his heroin haze -- long ago and far away, in season 1.
Back to Jax: Desmond says what's really real are the two choices he's presenting to Charlie. He can keep drinking or go with Des. "Now before you make your choice, realize that if you stay here, it will very likely result in the extermination of your musical career." Charlie: "And if I go with you?" Des: "Twenty minutes, you'll be luxuriating in a five star hotel, right on the harbor front. Charles Widmore, one of the most powerful men in this town, will owe you a favor." Charlie doesn't think that sounds like a choice. Desmond says, "There's always a choice, brother." Charlie looks at Des carefully. His eyes light up, but the rest of his face remains neutral.
As Des drives Charlie toward their destination, Drive Shaft's "You All Everybody" comes on the radio. Charlie spares Des his season 1 falsetto and instead tells him some Drive Shaft backstory. "You All Everybody" was "The beginning of everything great." Des says he likes it, "for what it is," but mostly I think he's just trying to get his nasty charge to his final destination. Charlie then tells Desmond he feels sorry for him -- thinking he's happy -- thinking he's got it all. Acting like you're stupid people, wearing expensive clothes.