Great title.

And a great episode.

Is it just me, or has "Lost" really set a whole new pace for itself this year?  The information we got out of this one episode tonight would have been five episodes back in season three.  And the show's better for it, too.  We're five episodes into the season, and next week looks like the moment where everything's going to come together and we're going to get the Oceanic Six back to the island.  That means we'll still have another... what?  Eighteen episodes for the season?  That's a hell of a lot more material we'll have time for, and I'm guessing that if they continue moving at the same clip they have so far this year, we're going to learn most of the big answers about how things work and why this year, so that next year can be all about the emotional payoff.  How great would that be, and what a slap in the face to everyone who loves to claim that this show is all tease and no follow-through.

The time-skipping continued tonight, and it started to get more chaotic, quicker, more violent.  The effects on Sawyer, Juliet, Locke, Miles, Charlotte, Jin, and Daniel were fairly intense from the start, building to the evening's big moment, the end of Charlotte.  "I'm not allowed to have chocolate for dinner."  Her reveals to Faraday during her final moments were not surprising, but they were fairly powerful.  Now we know what one of the connections between them is, and since time on "Lost" works in a circular pattern, where you can't change anything because whatever happens has always happened, the love that Daniel expressed for Charlotte a few episodes ago... well, it sounds like it started a long time ago, when Charlotte was very young.  Could that be the same period of time where we saw Faraday in the first episode of this season?  I'd be willing to bet on it.  And that means that's going to be the time where the Skippers end up landing now that things have stopped skipping.

[more after the break]

Or have they?  I mean, we saw Locke turn the Donkey Wheel, which had been knocked off its axis.  That, by the way, is one of the coolest images of the entire series, IMO.  I thought the wheel was a little wacky the first time we saw it at the end of season four, but seeing it now, and seeing the image of it skipping like a record in a scratch, it brings this opening movement of the season to a really fitting crescendo.  The writers this season and the directors... they're all nailing it, painting in big broad strokes that work.  It's a creative team that has found their groove in a big way.

I loved that moment with Ben in the car with Jack and Sun.  I would think eventually, it must really play hell with your nerves to have people talking about killing you while you're sitting two feet away from them.  However sincere he sounded in his mini-meltdown, though, you have to give some weight to the declarations of Christian Shephard, Jack's Dead Dad, as he appeared to Locke tonight at the bottom of the well...

... uhhhh... I just looked back at the last sentence I typed, and I'm starting to realize just how gloriously weird this show has gotten.  But seriously, Christian had a good point when he pointed out to Locke that very little good ever results from listening to Ben.

Oh! How great was Smokey tonight?!

Seriously.  Dragging the French guy through the forest and into what looks like a hole underneath the Temple?  Awesome.  That fight for the French guy?  Awesome.  The one arm that gets left behind?  Sooooo awesome.  And now it looks like Smokey gets all possessy if you spend enough time with it, and Danielle sniffed it out in her people after they came back from beneath the Temple.  Is it possible that Smokey can get inside you and make you believe things or even control your behavior?  Because if so, that's a pretty big puzzle piece we haven't seen before.  And a creepy one, too.

And about that Temple... I remember hearing talk at the end of last season that one of the major sets that we'd be seeing this year would be a Temple, and that it's the one Ben told his people to use as a hiding place last year.  I think that was a pretty significant discovery this evening, but they didn't overplay it or make it into more than it should be.

I love that the ring Jin means to have serve as a warning to Sun is instead used as bait.  Fiendish.

I'm really ready to learn more about Daniel's mom, the creepy Mrs. Hawking.  I love the glimpses of her room we've seen already, and that we saw in the previews for next week's episode, with the giant pendulum making the chalk marks.  I have a feeling getting back to the island is going to be less about magic wheels than about precise navigation, flying in somewhere at just the right heading.  The island is findable.  It's been findable throughout time in the past, so it can't stay hidden forever.  A friend of mine e-mailed me tonight about the "Mama Ex Machina," but I don't think she's just an easy out.  I think we're about to meet a fairly important player in everything, and I'm excited to see how they define her role in things.

Anyone have any guess when the Skippers are at when the episode ends?  Because I'm clueless.

Charlotte's hints about her childhood tonight hardly constitute a full monty reveal.  Instead, it's all just fodder for thought.  What else are we going to learn?  I'm just thinking about her speaking Korean, and the way they carefully don't mention who her father was.  I have a feeling they aren't done playing with our expectations regarding both of those characters and Daniel.  They've all become too majorly woven into what's going on.

Jack really is just Mr. Stand Around and Look Ineffectual a lot this season.  I'm hoping when he gets to the Island, he's gonna shake all of this off and get to the business of putting the Survivors together as a group again.  And I hope he gets serious about it.

On the other hand, Locke has once again stepped forward as one of my favorite characters in anything ever.  And a huge part of that is Terry O'Quinn, who's always been good in everything, but who has responded to this character with work that remains electric even this many years into the series.  Every single week, he brings it.  John Locke believes he is meant for something, and so he throws himself over every waterfall as soon as he can, recklessly looking for his destiny.  When he staggered across that chamber tonight, bone sticking out of his shin, knowing full well that he's going to die if he moves that wheel back onto its axis, he's a goddamn hero, an epic galoot embracing a fate that he thinks gives him meaning he otherwise lacked.  That's what makes me love Locke so much... he has no idea how much meaning he's had since the moment we laid eyes on him, how much he is the source of gravity in every scene.  He's arresting.  He is, to quote the philosopher Vince Vaughn, "so money and he doesn't even know it."  He thinks he has something to prove, but it's that zeal to matter that has long since proven him.  And the damnable thing is that he's right... he is important.  The way the Island interacts with him sort of confirms that.  When Jacob/Christian scolds him for not turning the wheel like he was told and sending Ben instead, it seems sincere.  Maybe John was meant to turn that wheel.  And maybe things would have been different.  And if so, how responsible should John feel for, say, the death of Charlotte or the effects of the skipping on everyone else?  He seems willing to pay for what happened, ready to make a sacrifice to pay for whatever mistakes were made.  That makes him so much stronger than most of the characters in pop culture right now, where everyone's almost expected to have a touch of the weasel in them.  Locke is many things, but he's not a weasel.  And that's to be admired.

Can't wait for next week.  Curious to hear what you guys thought about it.

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