This episode revealed two major things: Sayid is one of the Oceanic 6, and is working as an assassin for Ben in his post-island life; and there is some kind of time distortion operating on the island because when Jeremy Davies has a rocket sent from the ship to the island it takes far too long to get there, and the time-piece inside is 31 minutes off from the one he already had with him.
I have little to add to add in terms of discussion or reviewery on this one. I thought the episode was great -- not as good as the one before, but better than the season opener. A friend of mine who I got sucked into Lost said she did not care about the post-island stories, but I very much do, especially this one, which I suspect is the other half of the story we are now watching -- I wonder if "The Economist" is Lt Daniels, or someone above him, someone Ben is hunting down because of whatever horrible thing happened on the island that lead to only 6 people getting back and Jack to meet with Hurley to keep whatever they did secret. The post-island time builds a tremendous amount of slow burn tension about whatever story is lurking between the two time periods we are experiencing, something I imagine will be part of the season four finale.
There are only 9 more episodes until that finale. The season was supposed to be 16 episodes long. Eight were filmed before the strike. Post-strike, news is we will get only five more this season -- five more episodes that will condense the intended unfilmed eight and culminate in whatever basic material was going to make up the season four finale before the strike happened. I was initially dismayed by this -- I felt that, because of its smaller season, Lost should have been able to fully recover from the strike unaffected. Considering season five does not start until 2009, eight more episodes did not seem to me to be out of the question -- I thought maybe they could do them in the fall for example. Having to change your story for reasons external to that story reminds me of one of my least favorite things -- fill in artists in comic books. I think the problem may have to do with the expense of Lost, which films in Hawaii.
Three things made me feel better about this. The first is that NBC demanded Aaron Sorkin put some action into his West Wing. He did so under protest, but the results, the kidnapping of Zoe Bartlet, are some of the best TV I have seen. Second, while the second episode of this season was so action packed I thought it would be horrible to have to condense something like that, this third episode had sequences that, while I enjoyed, could have been condensed without really damaging anything. The whole Hurley tied up thing -- it reminded me that while I love Lost, and would never really complain about stuff like this, condensing material might work as well. Carlton Cruse said that season for was high-octane, and that the revised season four would be super-high octane, and maybe that will be great actually. Third -- the Lost writers know what they are doing, and I have some confidence that they will handle it gracefully.