In its normal state, Betelgeuse is about 100 thousand times brighter than the Sun, but it burns up all its hydrogen reserves, so its life is very short - only up to 10 million years. Given that the state of the red supergiant is the last stage of Betelgeuse's life, I'd take the unusual changes in the star's brightness as the first sign of its imminent death and transformation into a supernova.
I think that's a logical explanation and I've heard that it will explode in the next couple millions years or in even 100,000 years. What we are observing could possibly be part of the stages of a star's final time. It would take the light from Betelgeuse about 642 years to get to us, and I agree with Michael Varn that I would love to see it.