What a season so far.  What a run of episodes.  What a glut of information they've given us, one week after another.  It's almost too much to take.  They can't possibly keep up this pace from now 'till the end of the series... can they?  Can it all be moving like this, inexorably towards whatever wrap-up you can be damn sure they're already planning in broad strokes at the very least?  Because if they really are going to just sprint like this for the finish line, "Lost" has become a very different show indeed.

But isn't that part of what makes the show so interesting?  The fact that no two seasons are structured the same, or about the same basic situation?  This year, everything's about the Oceanic 6 and their adventures on the mainland or it's about the Time-Skipping Survivors on the island.  And so we'll either get all-Island episodes like last week or all-Oceanic 6 episodes, or some mix of the two, like tonight.  When they said that there were no more flashbacks and flashforwards this season, that's not quite true.  We're still bouncing backwards and forwards in the narrative, but now, some of the characters have been shaken loose with us.

[More after the break]

My favorite moment tonight had to be Locke standing in the jungle, looking at that shaft of light up into the night sky, knowing that a much more unmoored version of himself is standing just out of view, in terrible emotional pain.  That's followed closely by the scene with Sawyer watching Kate deliver Claire's baby.  These moments, as characters skip across scenes from their past like stones on a pond surface, are the things that time travel stories can do really well if they're constructed right, and I think "Lost" has earned these echoes now.  I'm just curious to see if they're going to pay off in some of the ways I think they are.

For example... are we all in agreement now that Charlotte is Daniel's daughter?  'Cause she toooootally is.

And are we all also in agreement that Miles was born on the island and that we heard him crying in the first few moments of this season's premiere?  'Cause we tooooootally did.

It's funny... even though tonight's episode was built around some big reveals, nothing really struck me as surprising.  Not even the reappearance of Jin.  I figured he would have to have some sort of presence this year on the show, since there has to be some reason to lure the perpetually-furious Sun back to the island.  I'm not sure I buy the way they're playing her as a menace... it's so out of character with who she's been on the series so far that it feels like there's a payoff coming that will reverse things from the way they look at the moment.

Ben, on the other hand, was gloriously in character tonight, and he had some great throw-away lines.  Michael Emerson has created something iconic with his performance as Ben, and more than anyone else on the show, I think this is pretty much his moment.  He'll work after this, but he'll always, always, always be Ben from "Lost," no matter what else he does.  This work is just that defining.

Young Rousseau is an intriguing sideline here.  I don't think she'll play a major role in the show, but we may get some answers that explain her story she told when she first met the Survivors, and if so, that may help fill in some major, major puzzle pieces for the mythology as a whole.  I'm amazed how much information they seem to be giving us right now, and even though there are things that aren't being addressed at all, it's still more in terms of answers than I ever thought we'd get at this point in the series.

I think that's crucial, though.  For the series to really pay off, we can't be worried about understanding what's happening in the home stretch.  They're going to need to explain what's going on before we hit that final run of 17 episodes, so those can all be about emotional crescendos, paying off everything we've learned about these characters over the last six seasons.  Coming loose in time and hopping around the history of the Island is the perfect way for the show to give us information and show us how things really came together.

Is it a bad thing that we're five years into this series and I'm still not sure if I think Evangeline Lily is a good actress or not?  It's the way they direct her as Kate... everything's a silent reaction.  She barely ever has a big emotion to play.  Instead, everything's about the internal reaction, the undersold emotion.  Maybe that's a choice.  Maybe that's just her whole range.  Until she plays something that's totally unlike her role here on "Lost," I seriously won't know, and that's sort of impressive.

Loved Hurley in the prison orange.  Positively Oompa Loompa.

Sayid is always dangerous.  Even drugged and weak.

Locke is finally realizing that he is free to invent his own fate now, and I think he's becoming the strongest character on the show as a result.  He has been paying close attention, and he has been set free by what he's learning.  His interactions with Richard, his visions of the Island's past... he is learning how things work, and as a result, he's starting to affect the way things happen.  When he mentions in the trailer for next week's episode that the Island needs a sacrifice, it seems to confirm a popular theory that everyone who arrives on the Island needs to be traveling with a dead body.  And if you know that the Island won't let you die until it's ready for you to die, you might be willing to sacriice your own life knowing your body would be brought back.  Meaning you might be, as well.  Locke's sacrifice becomes positively Messianic if this plays out this way.

It may not have been the biggest week so far this year, or the best, but "The Little Prince" continues to make this one of the most frantically paced of the seasons so far in the series run, and for fans who have become so used to the extended tease, it's both jarring and satisfying in equal measure.

Is it next Wednesday yet?