I hear you on the plausibility problems, Jack. Another: After thrashing their way out of the wreckage of an exploded submarine, then buddy-breathing to the surface, then fighting through saltwater breakers, and then finally hauling themselves up onto a beach, Hurley (morbidly obese!) and Kate (recently shot in the upper torso with a rifle!) looked no more fatigued than if they'd climbed a flight of stairs. I happily suspend my disbelief for Lost's supernatural and sci-fi elements. But occasionally this simple scene-to-scene discontinuity is so absurd that it yanks my attention away from the narrative.
On a semi-related note, I've given up trying to understand the rules governing Smokey. He morphs into the monster to lay waste to one set of baddies, but then stays in human form and wields a handgun to mow down another. If he's immune to bullets and can snap necks with a flick of his wrist, why even bother with that elaborate smoke show? If bullets go right through him, why can Jack push him off a dock? And was Sawyer suggesting that getting him wet could have a powerful effect, à la Gremlins? I may need an authoritative rundown on this stuff.
More important: What are the bylaws regulating Smokey's behavior with regard to the candidates? Last night seemed to suggest that while he's not allowed to kill them, it's okay for him to plant an armed explosive in their midst and then cross his fingers that they'll detonate it themselves. He's following the letter of the island's law but certainly not obeying the spirit of it. Is the idea that the final, intentional act causing the Lost-ies' deaths can't come directly from Smokey? If so, there's a lot of room for picayune lawyerball. "I didn't stab you—you chest-bumped my knife!"
Jack, you inquired about Catch a Falling Star. There is very little nondiegetic pop music in Lost, and not much diegetic pop music, either, so the very fact that this song has been employed both ways, repeatedly, suggests that it's significant. I can't divine any obvious messages from the lyrics. Could it be a reference to Satan, heaven's fallen star? (In which case, why does it appear to have latched itself to Claire?) Or does it mean that Jacob is actually Perry Como? (In which case the castaways are more doomed than we could have imagined.)
But this is all trivial compared to this episode's major plot advances. Not one, not two, but three central characters died. Four if you count Lapidus—who may or may not have died, and may or may not be a central character.
After following the ins and outs of Sun and Jin's relationship for six seasons, I should have been riveted by their last goodbyes. Instead I was bored. Here's my faithful transcription of their tragic parting:
Sun: "Save yourself."
Jin: "No, I'm going to get you out of here."
Sun: "Please go."
Jin: "I'm going to get you out of here."
Sun: "Please go."
Jin [in subtitled Korean]: "I won't leave you. I will never leave you again."
Jin [switching back to English]: "I love you, Sun."
Sun: "I love you."
I want to care. I want to be wracked with sadness and moved to streaming tears, as Hurley and Jack were. But how can I surrender myself to emotion when the script is so jarringly flat? I'm sure the writers are trying hard, but this scene reads like zero effort was put into crafting specific, memorable dialogue.
We've just learned that Lost's final episode has been extended by 30 minutes. Good news for those who don't want this season to end. But given disappointing moments like the one above, my feeling is that the last thing the show needs right now is more time to fill.
I know I sound cranky. I'd always believed the show could ratchet up its quality level for its last several episodes, as it has in past seasons, with an energetic sprint to the finish. Now I'm starting to despair that Lost has nothing left to give, and is struggling to drag itself across the end line with its dignity intact.
On the promising front: The preview of next week's show (though made up entirely of previously aired footage from old episodes) suggested a high-level, metaphysical confrontation between Jacob and Smokey. This is exactly what I've been waiting for. More scenes, please, involving the only two characters who actually know what's going on.