One of the most intriguing events in the episode was appearance of Ethan, who was a major player in Claire's story earlier in the series. In the off island story, Ethan is a baby doctor (or whatever the technical name is for that) and talks to Claire about giving her drugs so that she does not have to give birth so early.
One of the trends in this alternative timeline (the producers have said that they don't like using that term, saying that this new off-island story is not a secondary or lesser than the island events, but for a lack of better term, I will use it) is that the characters are more or less in the same scenario as they were at the start of the series and that this timeline explores what would have happened without the plane crash. The archetype of the characters are essentially the same. Hurley is still a lottery winner. Jack is still a spinal surgeon, Kate is still a fugitive, etc. More to the point, Ethan can be assumed that he is filling a role that he had in the original timeline and that is on the island, he was also a baby doctor. This may also imply that he knew what he was doing with Claire on the island and not just taking orders, but rather he was trying to protect Claire through his medical training. The drugs he was injecting into her when she was taken away from the other castaways was to prevent the baby from being born on the island because of the fact other pregnant women have died. It may indicate that he really did have Claire's best interest in mind.
Another major event in this episode links Sayid to Claire's fate. I had always assumed that Claire did in fact die in the attack by Keamy and his fellow mercenaries on New Otherton. When she woke up that night and saw Christian, this was when she was "claimed" like Sayid is. Now, I had assumed that maybe Claire was another one of the forms of the monster like Christian, but this episode seems to indicate that Claire and Sayid are different than merely a form of the monster, but rather raised from the dead for the sake of fulfilling the monster's purposes. The monster has been associated with the idea of Cerberus, who was the guardian of the underworld in Greek mythology. The reason Dogen wanted Sayid dead was because of the tainted nature that Sayid inherited from this second life. What would Dogen fear so much about Sayid. I think the answer lies with another one who may have been claimed and that is Rousseau's team members. In the episode where Jin was with them, he witnessed the team member who was romantically connected to Rousseau try to attack her in a way that is out of sync of his character. We know that the team members were in contact with the monster and may have been "claimed" at that point. It is possible that once "claimed" the monster can take over the body and do as it will.
The question then is, what is the difference between the state Christian is and the state that Claire is in? Is Christian and Locke under the same thing curse that Claire and the Rousseau team members are under?
It's clear that this season is about defining who is on who's side and which side is the good side and which one is the evil side and I believe the original timeline and the alternative timeline are actually connected in some very major way. Aside from the producers actually saying so, it is also clear in the way Claire and Kate talked about the baby's name being Aaron.
That's where I'll leave it for now. I know I said I was going to talk about the smoke monster more, and I want to actually walk through what Jacob's nemesis' plan was and see if that sorts out some issues, but I was more interested in the role of Claire and Ethan. And now I'm about to fall unconscious. Good night.