Even though we got an extra six minutes for the episode, I feel like we needed another sixty to get the full story of Locke's time off the Island. Although we got all the "necessary scenes" of Locke interacting with the Oceanic Six to complete the storyline, they all pretty much played out like we expected without any huge surprises... and all were condensed into three minute scenes. If this is the only time we'll see Locke's off-Island escapades (which I'm assuming), I guess I'm a little confused by some of the reactions we saw in the aftermath of Locke dying (being murdered!)
For example, I know that Jack was being "haunted" by visions of his dead father, telling him the same stuff about "going back to the Island" that Locke told him... but why would Jack finding out about Locke's "suicide" lead him to nearly committing suicide himself? Kate's visit with Locke seemed pretty friendly, yet she slapped Jack and freaked out when he attempted to say his name at the airport in the Season Three Finale / Season Four Premiere. It was probably just a plot device to keep the identity of the person in the coffin a mystery - but looking back on it now, it doesn't really seem to mesh well together.
But I nitpick. This was still a great episode, with a lot of stuf to digest. Most importantly, it advanced the storyline like it needed to do, allowing us to get to the "good stuff" that hasn't happened yet on the Island, rather than focusing on telling the story of what already happened off the Island.
Here's what we need to discuss:
Time. Even though everyone is back on the Island, it looks like our characters aren't quite all "back together" yet. It just wouldn't be Lost without flashes between multiple storylines / timelines, would it? Here's what it's looking like:
1970's - Jin, Sawyer, Juliet, Jack, Kate, Hurley
2008 - Locke, Ben, Sun, Sayid, Frank
(Why did some skip and others did not? You've got me!)
Futhermore, we've got all these new Ajira Survivors on Alcatraz (note: they didn't land on the "runway" - which was a pretty ridiculous theory when you think about it). Personally, I am SHOCKED that the airplane actually crashed on the Island. The "skip" of our Survivors out seemed like a much cleaner storyline to me. But what would Lost be without super complicated storylines?
Lastly, Caesar and Ilana may have sketchy backgrounds (it's Lost - everyone does!), but as of now, it's not looking like either are actually Outcast Others or working with Ben.
Ben. There's a chance the writers are just really setting us up for a huge surprise when we find out Ben is a "good guy" in the end - but if they are, they're doing one hell of a job. Once again,this week's episode made Widmore seems like the good guy, Ben seems like the bad guy - BIG TIME. We can now confirm that he has pretty much lied about everything off the Island (intentionally lying to Sun about Jin being alive, MURDERING John Locke, killing Abaddon, etc.) I know Lost is all about blurring the line between good and evil, but it seems pretty obvious right now. Ben is one bad dude.
There's also the question about motive. Upcon learning (or confirming) that Locke was working with Widmore / Ms. Hawking, Ben killed him - as if he was an "opposing side" in the "war". However, he worked to accomplish the same goal as Widmore - getting the Oceanic Five back to the Island, even going so far as to work with Ms. Hawking, which Widmore would have done as well (so it seems). So what's the deal with this war?
Widmore. So we confirmed this week that Widmore used to be the leader of the Others (who he just calls "his people") - at least in his mind, until Ben tricked him into leaving the Island. Apparently Widmore was in charge of his people for over three decades, putting him in charge from 1954 to at least 1984... and maybe right up until the Purge, when Ben took over. This makes us question the logic of Alpert reaching out to Ben in the first place. Was he dissatisfied with Widmore as a leader, and thought that Ben could do a better job? Only to find out that Ben sucked too, leading him to reach out to Locke?
According to Widmore, "A war is coming, and if you're not back on the Island when that happens, the wrong side is going to win." As well as stating that he is "deeply invested in the future of the Island."
Abaddon. I guess we all should have seen this coming, given that Abaddon is currently starring on another show on another network (in fact, I guess we were lucky Fox let him do this episode in the first place). According to Abaddon, he gets people where they need to go... and now we understand how and why Abaddon was in the rehab center with Locke back in the day. Since Widmore met Locke at the age of 17, once he "grew up" and got "tricked" off the Island, he probably was on the lookout for this "John Locke" character - and sent Abaddon after him to ensure he ends up on the Island (although, again - if you can't change the past, there was really nothing to worry about, right?)
Third Boat. This episode seems to confirm that the Skipping Survivors killed one of the Ajira Survivors, who chased after them when they suddenly appeared - but who? The good news is, with "the Pilot and a girl" taking the third boat (who I assume is Frank and Sun), they seem to be safe. This leaves Ben, Locke, Caesar, Ilana, or some stranger as the potential casualty of Juliet's return fire.
Walt. I hate to say it, but I think we're done with the Walt storyline. Locke said "he's already been through enough" and seemed to make the executive decision to spare him from any future trama with returning to the Island. If Locke is indeed the future leader, I think he'd have the authority to make such a decision, just like Ben could decide that Michael and Walt were allowed to leave the Island. Although, it's scary forshadowing that Walt talked about having visions of Locke in a suit being chased by people (or something along those lines). It doesn't seem like it's going to be an easy return to the Island for Locke.
So the big question is - where do we go from here? If we have half of our characters in the "present" (2008) and half in the past (1970's), it looks like Faraday working to get our characters back into the proper timeline will indeed be the major storyline to carry the rest of the season. As for characters like Desmond, Walt, and Aaron? I'm afraid they're going to be delegated to the background for now. I have a hard time believing the writers will juggle a THIRD storyline , location, and timeline in the mix right now... but again, Lost thrives on super-complicated multiple storylines - so you never know. I would bet they are bigger players next season than this one.
Holy crap - that was basically a full analysis of the episode. My bad. I'll try to think of something new to write for the analysis :)