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This was the most beautiful episode and scene of the series, and it was chock full of time travel–But not through a time machine or like device–through the stream of consciousness. From the moment he passes through an electromagnetic force field off the Island at the beginning of the episode, Desmond acted crazily and forgot where he was and who he was with. He believed it was still 1996, not 2004. This phenomenon started happening to other people on the freighter, and they also fell into insanity and died. Desmond Hume, as it is discovered throughout the entire show, is very special, on the island he had the ability to see events in the future through 'flashes' and was also able to withstand these cosmic and electromagnetic forces.
It was a really fantastic concept, as were many throughout the run of the show. Desmond was one of my favorite characters.