Spoilers. My blog about the most recent episode is up at Smartpop. Here is a sample you can click to read the whole thing:
The episode works by taking the elements of Lost and transporting them back to a smaller story with fewer characters in the distant past, suggesting they all radiate out from that source. The rivals, bad parents, stolen kids raised by someone not their parents, being special, not being special, outsiders landing on the island by accident, ghosts, magic power sources underground, guarding the island, wanting to leave the island, wanting not to leave the island, mysterious “Others,” people “researching” the island’s mysteries by digging into it, passing the torch to a new guardian of the island. Like Battlestar Galactica the idea is that all this has happened before and will happen again. There is a gag at the beginning where Janey tells Claudia, the mother of the boys, that each question leads to more questions and to just stop. So we are not to wonder how Janey got the job of guarding the island. We just go back this one (pretty big but still) step. Battlestar Galactica wanted to say stuff literally happens over and over. This is just a suggestion here, a kind of non answer. It sort of unifies a lot of the stuff — it all happened to a handful of people a long time ago. But it does not explain why it happens again.
Today, I am less sure how I feel. Basically I liked it but did not love it. I know at one point I wanted the island to balance the spiritual and scientific since keeping both elements has been a big part of the show's success. But like Battlestar Galactica it ends up being all spiritual.
More things in the category of "This has happened before and will happen again": the slaughter of the people digging in the ground looking for answers, waiting for a replacement, choosing the wrong destiny (both Locke and The Man in Black were supposed to be something else), the single mother crazy in the wilderness.
Brad was talking to me about how as the show winds down it motifs come back more and more quickly, and this seems to be where it was headed. If Claire is the new Rousseau, than Rousseau was the new Allison Janney.
It all points back to Aaron again, because he was the kid that like Jacob and the Man in Black was born on the island (though like them he was conceived elsewhere). Is he the chance to unify the power split in Jacob and the Man in Black?
At first I thought that messing with the Light explained not only why the dead could come back but why babies can't be born on the island - -but Ethan Rom was born there in the 70s. He is not a magic baby. So I have no idea what could have caused the baby problem after the 70s.
It is also interesting to realize that the two men we saw playing a board game in this episode are both dead -- and that The Man in Black was killed by Jacob before The Smoke Monster, assuming the form of Titus Welliver and then John Locke got Ben Linus to kill him. The Smoke Monster is as much Titus Welliver as he is John Locke, which is weird to realize because you think of him as being really Titus Welliver in the form of John Locke (not giving a name for the Man in Black makes this very hard to discuss because both before and after he gets tossed into the Light he has no name -- so there is no good way to make clear the change from the first incarnation to the second).
And a good point by Gawker of all places:
To me the most interesting aspect of the episode was that everyone pretty much sided with Esau, right? I mean, other than killing C.J., what he was doing sort of made sense. He was working with other people, trying to explore the outside world, not taking on blind faith what one lady (one lady who killed his mom, btw) told him. Jacob was the wimpy little mama's boy, he's the one who seemed to follow things on blind faith. In the show's long-running Faith v. Science theme, Science typically tends to be favored, and last night was no exception. But isn't it kind of a cop-out to kill ancient Science and switch him out with evil Smoke Devil so we sort of have to, by default, side with Faith? Obviously it's the show's prerogative to force our attention, our loyalties, to one side or the other, but the debate seemed to go pretty one-sided last night.
A twist should be surprising yet inevitable. I think the reason I am so-so on this episode was that the twist was certainly not inevitable -- and it probably could not have been given that they thought of this much later than season 1. But taking that into consideration, that was pretty good.