As in "fate". That was definitely the central theme of the episode - that no matter how many chances you might get to re-live a moment in time, if something is meant to happen, it's going to happen.
I definitely need some time to digest the episode. But here are the discussion points for the morning after:
- Who or what was the older lady who wouldn't sell him the ring?
- Was the Island giving Desmond a chance to find his redemption, but he screwed it up (again), thus he returned to the Island instead of dying in the Hatch Implosion?
- Why did Desmond break things off with Penny when he seemed so hell bent on changing fate just moments earlier?
- Is Charlie doomed? Why can't it be Claire?!
- Does Desmond continue to "flash" both forward and backward in time - or was it once back, and now all forward?
Homework: research "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger (at the suggestion of tmcnew) and re-watch Back to the Future. Full analysis once the homework is done!