By Jeff Jensen
April 06, 2010 at 12:00 PM EDT

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! A MILLION TIMES I SAY, “SPOILER ALERT!” (Although I hope we can let these three declarations stand in for the rest.) Seriously, I’m sure I really don’t need to be saying this, because you are not stupid people. If you’re reading these words, you watched tonight’s “Happily Ever After” episode of Lost, and so you’re ready to talk and critique and theorize. If you’re reading these words and you didn’t read tonight’s episode… well, you are strange. But we’ll take your eyeballs, anyway. Okay, enough with the preamble: This one was gooooooooood. And downright essential. “Happily Ever After” was the episode we’ve been waiting for all season. At last! Contact! Connection between the Island world and the Sideways world—a close encounter of the Sliding Doors kind. The moment came in ingeniously unexpected form—an ironic reprise of Charlie’s unforgettable sacrificial death inside the Looking Glass. The scene was simultaneously unsettling and exhilarating, and next to Jacob’s allegory of the wine bottle, it stands as the most significant moment of season 6 so far. For Sideways skeptics, I’m guessing the episode either won you over or scared you away for good. Let me more provocative: If you’ve been a Sideways hater, and you remain one after last night’s episode, you may as well call it a wrap on your Lost interest and skip ahead to the rest of your post-Lost life.

For the rest of us, I’m guessing “Happily Ever After” moves into the arena where Best Ever Episodes are debated. I thrilled to see old friends again, including Daniel Fara—err, I mean, Daniel Widmore, Eloise Hawking (sporting a poofy cloud of parachute ball hair and a new symbolically loaded broach), Charlie Pace, and the woman we knew once as Penelope Widmore, though I believe I heard her Sideways iteration identified as Penelope Milton. (As in Paradise Lost author-poet John Milton?) “Happily Ever After” was an episode that will force us to reconsider everything we’ve seen in the Sideways world to date while also directing our attention to the end game of the show, which appears to be some kind of psychic exodus out of Island captivity into the quasi-Canaan of Sidewaysabad. Which souls will make the transmigration? Can some decline the opportunity? Indeed, the most intriguing possibility to come out of “Happily Ever After”—just a smidge more intriguing that the possibility that Charles Widmore could actually be a good guy—is that the castaways might actually have a choice in their fate, and even a choice between happily ever afters. See Juliet? Free will does exist on The Island, after all!

I’ll be back in the morning with a full recap of the episode. Remember: please send any burning questions for my Friday Doc Jensen column to If you wish, tap out an instant reaction on Twitter and include @ewdocjensen so I can see it. And of course, the message boards are yours.