On the beach, they find the body of the ship's doctor with his throat cut, then hear the claim that the doctor is fine back on the ship, catch Davies in a lie, and force him to admit they are not here to rescue them. Locke's camp is attacked by soldiers looking for Ben, Ben's daughter is killed in front of him when he refuses to cooperate, and so he unleashes the smoke monster on them all. In a flash-forward possibly involving time travel, we learn how Ben recruited Sayid, and we see him confront Widmore -- Widmore "changed the rules" when he killed Ben's daughter, Ben cannot kill Widmore for some mysterious reason, and so Ben is now setting his sights on Penny, as Widmore has his sights on the island.
I had low expectations for the first post-strike episode, but this was as good as Lost has ever been, one of my favorite episodes yet. The only weak point was the fakeout discussion that turns out to be about Risk. I have seen that gag before on Buffy and I am pretty sure LOST has already used it in an earlier episode (when the discussion was over the golf game). I think they just wanted Hurley's "we're all going to die" for the commercial.
The body of the doctor may be bringing up the "copy" problem from the teaser video for season 4 -- but that is out of my scope this week. Two things about the beach plot. One. Nice that Bernard, the guy who built the SOS, would know morse code; that was a nice call-back when a lesser show could have just had some random guy know morse code out of nowhere. Two. I think the fact that Jeremy Davies still has a tie on is one of the best costume design choices in recent memory -- in an instant, I know what that character is all about.
With the degeneration of Locke, Ben has become my new favorite character, and not just because of his awesome hair, his array of exciting outfits on display in this episode, and his collapsable baton -- what an interesting choice for him, non-lethal but cruel being the point I think. His motionless reaction after his daughter was killed was stunning -- he was genuinely surprised that his verbal tricks could not get him out of this. He pulls of kicking ass in the desert equally well. The calling of the Smoke Monster was a thing to see.
"He changed the rules" is a great new mystery, and simply stated. Widmore's claim that the island has always been his and that he wants is back is intriguing; perhaps he is the origin of Dharma, and their feud is from when Ben killed all the Dharma people and went native. Why Ben cannot kill him I do not know, but I wonder if they are not both going to be overwhelmed by the true "owners" of the island in the end. And you have to love that Ben appears in a winter parka in the desert shaking -- was he transported through space and/or time like the polar bear? And why is he wounded and wearing Halliwax's jacket (Halliwax is the name of one of the Dharma guys right -- the guy from the videos, I think). Just the costume choice creates this whole mysterious back-story I look forward to hearing about.
Finally, I have one of my favorite visuals that encapsulates everything I love about Lost. Ben, in the nice suburban house, goes through a door that opens into a minimalist grey metal bunker of James bond suits and passports, then opens ANOTHER panel behind the suits to reveal ancient stone carvings. That is everything LOST is about, in 45 seconds.