As soon as I finished watching tonight's episode, I walked through the house and kissed both my sleeping boys.  Good god, what an emotional rollercoaster this one was.

This is one of those episodes that is remarkably simple, and most of what it does is stuff that we probably already at least suspected, but seeing it play out makes all the difference, and Kate suddenly became a hero again, a character whose drive for returning to the island is so clear and so decent that she's given licence now to do whatever she wants.  She's not in this for herself, and that makes her right in every conversation.  So many of the characters on "Lost" have motives that are either (A) inscrutable (B) intentionally obfuscated or (C) entirely self-serving that to see someone make a whole series of choices that were the right choices for the right reasons is sort of refreshing.  And it brings her a loooooong way from where she started the series, something I really love about the way the show has evolved over the years.

Is it just me, or have the opening "Previously on 'Lost'" segments become absolutely indispensible this season?  Five years in, there's so much dense detail to keep track of that it really does serve as a crash course every week now.  "Hey, remember that woman who got totally hosed by Sawyer and then she had his baby and also Kate met her at one point?  Yeah?  Well, she's back."  I'm not surprised that the next clip they show is Sawyer whispering to Kate just before he jumped off the helicopter.  His "Just do it, Freckles" has been hanging out there ever since, and I sort of suspected it had to do with the woman and the daughter.  Whaqt other loose end was there for Sawyer at this point?  We also saw a bit of Kate when she decided to lie and claim Aaron as her own son, and again... I figured this was something that had to get resolved fairly soon.  And I suspected it would work like this.  She had to get back in touch with Claire's mother.  What I didn't anticipate is the way that story resolved with Kate's promise to Claire's mother.  And of course the scenes from earlier episodes ended with last week's cliffhanger, Sayid dropping the hammer on young Ben Linus.

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The first five minutes of the episode were great, leading up to that first big scene with Kim Dickens as Cassidy.  And I really liked first-act Jack, too.  I like that he's trying a different approach than last time he was on the Island.  Do I think he'll remain this passive?  No.  Not a chance.  But do I think they're ever going to bring back Jack as a man of action?  Of course.  It's in his nature.

How great was every single moment of screen time between Hurley and Miles this week?  Their conversations about time travel and the rules of it all sound like someone transcribed a story meeting with the "Lost" writing staff.  It's one of the most incisive attempts yet to explain the various schools of thought on how things work on the Island, and I love that Hurley's question stumps Miles.

And that the episode actually answers that question for us.  And I don't think the solution is a cheat at all, considering the various things that characters have said in the past that tie in to this episode's resolution.  Ben claims to have been born on the island, even though we know that's not true.  Well, according to Richard tonight, the process of becoming one of the Others wipes you clean.  Perhaps Ben was born on the Island as far as he's concerned, since nothing before that still exists for him.  If that's the case, then they've laid enough groundwork for me to believe that whatever happened, happened, and that the end of tonight's episode is a payoff, not a cheat.

Oh... anyone catch the Widmore reference?  Sounds like Widmore was a big bad wolf in 1977, pulling strings behind-the-scenes for the on-Island Others.  Also sounds like Richard isn't happy about the arrangement, whatever it is.

And as good as the first five minutes were, the last five minutes were better.  That scene between Locke and Ben is ultra-brief, but it suggests so much for next week's episode... and it's funny, I'd sort of forgotten about Locke the dead man walking around in the present day, and so it was a bit of shock when he showed up with Ben.

I mean, I'm sure Ben is more shocked than I am.  You see his face?  I'll bet he's wondering if John Locke has figured out how to tie a noose.  I sure as shit would be.

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