Jack, Chad: Greetings from Vancouver. There is an alternate universe—one where ABC decides to spend less money on location shoots—in which Oceanic 815 crashes into the Canadian woods instead of a South Pacific island. Once they track their way to civilization, the Oceanic Six never return to British Columbia. Waaaay too cold and rainy.
Jack, it doesn't surprise me that you'd be won over by the Sawyer/whiskey/Iggy scene. First, anyone who knows you would agree you're a punk rocker disguised as a journalist. But it also occurs to me that, until now, you have been the Sawyer of this TV Club. Pissed off. Not afraid to offend. Lashing out at the meaninglessness of it all. (I think that makes Chad our Daniel Faraday, the crazed genius digging for answers. And I'd like to think I'm our Hurley—Falstaffian provider of comic relief and good cheer—but I may be our Paulo.)
Chad, I didn't miss the zombies this time. By which I mean the zombie-ish affect that afflicts Kate and Dr. Jack whenever the story turns romantic. The absence of Kate and Jack from the entire episode meant no furthering of the love triangle stuff and thus fewer dead spots in the teleplay. In general: Less Kate, please!
But more Katey Sagal, please! So nice to see Peggy Bundy again show up as Locke's fiancee. I like this casting for a couple of reasons. 1) According to Wikipedia, Sagal's father worked on The Twilight Zone in the 1960s, so it's only fair his daughter should appear in our era's TV descendant of the Zone. 2) I enjoy picturing Locke's mainland life as a much weirder version of Married With Children, in which Locke is Al Bundy—forever frustrated and hemmed in, longing for freedom, passion, and excitement. How very Locke to crave a walkabout as a means of delving deeper into his spiritual identity and how poignant that he wasn't allowed to go because of his wheelchair. But I wonder, did he really need to bring an entire checked bag full of hunting knives? Wouldn't one or two have sufficed? Maybe just a Leatherman?
In plot-resolution news, we're starting to get a better picture of the conflict at the center of Lost. It is a battle to control the island. It has been going on forever—sometimes between Jacob and Smokey, other times between their proxies. When Smokey needs a breather, he steals Locke's body. Meanwhile, Jacob is searching for an heir. Or is it six heirs? One corresponding to each of the numbers? Does each number slot have a different, specific role to play in this struggle? What does it mean that Jack is 23 and Sawyer is 15? The writing on the cave wall ("23-Shephard, 8-Reyes, 42-Kwon") sort of made Jacob seem like a baseball manager filling out a lineup card.
As Chad noted, this episode also seemed to confirm that there are rules. Of course, there have always been rules in Lost—press this button every 108 minutes; don't cross this electric fence or you'll get shocked; if you have a flashback about your mainland life, make sure all locations can be portrayed by Honolulu—but they were constructs created and enforced by the people on the island. The rules we're learning about now—e.g., Smokey wants to kill stuff but sometimes he's not allowed—are something different. More like natural laws. They appear to have been created by the island itself.
This is the secret that intrigues me, more than the fight between Jacob and Smokey. (By the way, I thought the scale with the white and black rocks in balance was cute, but maybe a little too on the nose.) I want to know what it is exactly that everyone's fighting over. What is the island's power? Where does that power come from?
For now, I'm off to catch the men's snowboard halfpipe finals. I think there's an alternate universe in which Hurley is played by defending gold medalist Shaun White.