Lost gave us its most baffling storytelling device yet, but we were too busy coping with the overpowering guilt, grief and recrimination among our island castaways. Spoilers ahead...

As "LA X" begins properly, it's 2004 all over again, and Jack is once more on board Flight 815... with what looks like a terrible case of deja vu. Jack gets some fortification for his drink from Cindy the flight attendant. And it's nice to see Rose again, to remind us that it's always something with these people. And yay, Rose and Bernard are reunited instead of Bernard being stuck with the tailies.


Jack's got something on his neck. And Desmond's on the plane this time! Plus more deja vu, which is becoming a theme.

And then the huge shocker... we dive through the clouds, into the water, and past a swarm of fish, to see the Island underwater: Dharmaville, three-toed statue and all. And the Dharma Shark! So I guess the Island sank around the time Jack's bomb went off?

And we're back at the site of the Incident, in 1977. With some footage from last year. Oh man it hurts to see Sawyer lose Juliet again — I am a Jeweler. I totally believe in Sawyer and Juliet's enduring love, and think Kate should wind up with Frogurt or whoever.


Oh man, Kate's up a tree and she has hearing loss. That happened to me when I saw the P-Funk All Stars in Greensboro.

Now Kate's hearing has come back, and she's on top of Miles, who doesn't seem to dig it. She gets up and they find the hatch. They're not in 1977 any more, but it seems like nothing's changed for them. They find the remains of the Swan Station, after Desmond blew it up.


Jack is looking the worse for wear. And history has continued just as it always did for this version of our heroes - a point Sawyer makes with a boot to Jack's face. "You put us right back where we started, except Juliet's dead."


Back on the plane in the parallel world, Jack has a moment of dubious chemistry with Kate, who's locked to a federal marshal. And then Sawyer has his own moment of Kate chemistry. Doc Arzt asks Hurley to do his silly Australian accent, because in this timeline, Hurley is famous for doing a silly Australian voice in the commercials for Mr. Clucky's chicken. Sawyer tries to give Hurley advice, but Hurley doesn't need it. Hurley is "the luckiest guy alive" in this alternate timeline, to whom nothing bad ever happens.

Jin figures out pretty quickly that they've time-traveled thanks to his copious previous experience in that department, and then tracks down Sawyer and Jack by following the sound of Sawyer's continuing freak-out. Sayid needs help, but then they hear someone else who's in even worse shape — Juliet, who's miraculously still alive down there. Sayid feels as though he deserves a highly unpleasant afterlife, after having tortured and murdered so many people. And then Hurley hears a noise in the jungle and makes completely unconvincing gun threats.


It's the ghost of Jacob! And he wants to talk to Hurley!

On the plane, Sun is envying the happiness of Rose and Bernard, and Jin is being his old uptight self. Locke is pretending to be an expert on airplane safety, and Boone has a totally random explanation for why Shannon isn't there. And Locke talks up his failed Walkabout in somewhat grandiose terms.

Finally back at the temple — Flocke cleans his Jacob-killing knife and tells Ben that Jacob's gone. He didn't fight back because he knew he was beaten, Flocke says. And then Flocke sends Ben outside to fetch Richard, who's busy squabbling with Bram and Ilana. Frank isn't convinced Ilana and company are actually the good guys.


Arriving with the Others, Ben lies and says that Jacob's fine, because lying is second nature to him. (A better lie would have been that Flocke killed Jacob, leaving Ben out of it.) And then Richard drags Ben over and shows him the real Locke, who's in exactly the same state that Ben put him in, back in Los Angeles.

Can I just say that Cop Out, the buddy-cop movie starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, looks hideous? I am so glad it's not science-fiction, so I never need to talk about it again. There's also another buddy-cop movie, with... John Travolta? WTF?

Annnd... back at the Swan site, where Jack and the others are trying to dig out what's left of Juliet. Nobody cares about Sayid, who actually has a shot of surviving? Speaking of which, near Sayid's body, Jacob isn't interested in answering Hurley's questions, except to mention that he died an hour ago. "I was killed by an old friend who grew tired of my company." And Hurley needs to save Sayid, by taking him to the temple — and Jin turns out to know a back door to that building.


And Sawyer says if Juliet dies, he'll kill Jack. Promises, promises.

Meanwhile, on the plane, they need a doctor, and Jack volunteers. Sayid karate-kicks the bathroom door, to reveal the nature of the medical emergency... Charlie, in the throes of an overdose! D00d!

I can already tell it's going to be fun to see the less-angsty, less worn-out versions of these characters in the "landed safely" timeline. Especially non-guilty Sayid. And less-guilty Jack. Even Kate could be more fun in the timeline where she's still a criminal instead of a professional pouter. (Not that I'm knocking pouting as a career. I'm just having sour grapes because my "professional pouter" resume keeps being turned down.)


Turns out Charlie didn't OD — he just tried to swallow a big baggie of H. Too bad Jack didn't actually have to give Charlie a tracheotomy — that would have opened up whole new avenues of character development.

They finally get the wreckage out of the way so they can reach the dying Juliet. And I'm wondering, did the van travel through time with them? Or was it one of the old vans that was already nearby? Juliet is not looking good. Shouldn't they let Jack look at her instead of Sawyer?


Oh, Juliet is breaking my heart. "I wanted you to be able to go home. I wanted to make it so you never came to this damned island." I am missing her already.

Meanwhile, Jack is being totally useless with regards to Sayid — but luckily, Hurley is being all decisive and awesome. Hurley is one character who's just gotten more amazing during his time on the island, unlike the rest of them.


Meanwhile, Ben is still kind of a wreck, despite Richard's efforts to appeal to his friendship and get an explanation. And Flocke confronts Bram and his friends, who are "Jacob's bodyguards." Flocke says there's nothing left for Bram and company to protect, because Jacob burned up. Bram and the gang shoot at Flocke, to no avail. They even find a spent bullet. Then Flocke shows his other side — Smokey the unstoppable monster. Bram draws an ash circle around himself and it protects him — for a moment. Then he gets knocked out of his circle, and he, too, is toast.

"I'm sorry you had to see me like that," says Flocke to Ben, who's been spared for some reason. The look of vertigo and confusion on Ben's face is worth a million speeches.


So Sawyer's moving Juliet's body, which is probably not what you're supposed to do in this situation. Juliet's relationship with Sawyer, in these final moments, is so much more powerful and moving than the other relationships. Sawyer's tenderness... man. I am getting choked up. And Juliet never gets to tell Sawyer whatever she was going to say, that was "really really important."

So... now Sawyer kills Jack?

So Charlie, under arrest, thinks he was supposed to die. He's pissed to be alive. Meanwhile, Desmond's gone! Everybody's preparing to land, Sayid's got Nadia's picture, and Jin is looking at his fancy watch. Kate is dreaming of freedom. Charlie's led off the plane first, then everybody deplanes — and Jack gives Locke a sort of nod, before Locke's put in his wheelchair and wheeled off.


Somebody, somewhere, has probably written a dissertation on the use of pauses and slow musical moments in Lost. This show definitely lingers on stuff, a lot.

Sayid's still bleeding to death. And Hurley says it's not a guitar in his guitar case.


Kate wants to help bury Juliet - giving her the chance to touch Sawyer's hand in a creepy fashion and try to mack on the recently bereaved stud - but Sawyer wants Miles to help him instead. Sawyer is feeling alienated and ain't following nobody. I guess they can't transport Sayid in the van any more, because of how jungley the jungle is in 2007? But at least they've made a nice stretcher.

Meanwhile, at the airport, Jack is paged — there's been a coffin mix-up. I hate when that happens. Christian's gone missing! Start your daddy-issues zombie theories... now.


Hurley's still being take-charge guy, showing them how to take Sayid down into the cave opening where the French people got massacred, one of whom was reading Kierkegaard (according to commenters, anyway.) So why did Smokey kill the French again? Oh, and Kate's gone missing in the spooky tunnels. And now Hurley's been nabbed too. Guilt Guy's all on his own, with the skittering noises and whispering, until he gets punched out by a proxy for us, the viewers.

Everybody's been taken prisoner by the group of weird armed men with headbands and Sikh turbans, who I guess are the Other Others. And there's a giant ziggurat: the Temple.


The V ads are a lot more intriguing than the FlashForward ads, for what it's worth.

Meanwhile, Kate's getting a bathroom break with which to escape from her cuffs, but runs out of time to pick the lock. So instead, Kate decks Ed the marshal, and makes a break for it. Yay! I like Kate again. And Sawyer is macking on Kate in the elevator, who's amused by her cuffs. "Ladies first," says Sawyer, helping her make a clean getaway. Heh. Alt-Kate is way more fun than OG-Kate so far.


Oh, man. Miles is trying to help Sawyer, but it turns out Sawyer only wants one thing from Miles: to talk to dead Juliet. And it turns out Juliet wanted to tell Sawyer: "It worked." "What worked?" Miles doesn't have an answer.

At the Temple, it turns out Cindy the flight attendant is one of the Other Others. And the leader, Hiroyuki Sanada, is curious about these interlopers — but then decides to shoot them. Until Hurley says Jacob sent them. Prove it, says Hiroyuki. And Hurley does — with the guitar case, which contains a big ol' ankh. Hiroyuki promptly breaks it open and reveals a piece of paper, and asks for their names. (Which I'm guessing are on the paper?) But apparently the paper also says that if Sayid dies, "we're all in a lot of trouble."


At the airport, Jin is having some trouble with customs, especially after they find a ton of money — but Sun is still pretending she doesn't speak any English. Or maybe she really doesn't, in this timeline?

Back at the temple, Hiroyuki Sanada is perturbed because the water isn't clear, so he slashes his hand and puts it in the water. They ask who did this to Sayid, and Guilt Guy says it's his fault. They strip Sayid (just his coveralls, alas) and dunk him in the water until he stops struggling — they're drowning him! Jack tries to intervene, but the Other Others take him down easily. And then it turns out Sayid is dead. Which means, I guess, that everyone is in deep trouble. Guilt Guy starts giving Sayid CPR, but Defeatist Girl makes him stop.

Back at the airport. Sayid, still toting Nadia's picture, is grabbing his baggage. Kate is still on the run, with cops searching for her. Good thing Kate gets the code for the door to the restricted area. Kate tries to get a taxi, but Frogurt is being peevish about her jumping in line. Kate gets in line behind Hurley, who's on the phone arguing about a legal claim by another Outback-themed restaurant chain against Mr. Clucky's. It's not like they own the whole Outback, he points out quite sensibly. And then the marshal almost nabs Kate, but she hijacks a cab — with pregnant Claire in it — at gunpoint.


At the temple, Cindy offers Jack a drink again. Heh. Captive Sawyer and Miles get dragged in, and Kate has another chance at trying to have inappropriate intimacy with Sawyer right after his girlfriend's death. Good old Kate. And then Hurley's summoned to go see Hiroyuki Sanada - and Hurley is clever enough to figure out that Hiroyuki can speak English perfectly, since he never needs Hurley's speech translated into Japanese before he responds in Japanese. Sayid was past saving, says Hiroyuki, who wants to know if Jacob is on his way to the temple. At which point, Hurley lets slip that Jacob's dead - and everyone goes on red alert, arming the defenses to keep "him" out. (By which, I'm guessing, they mean Smokey/Flocke?)

Finally we check in with Flocke and Ben again - Ben asks what Flocke is, and Flocke says he's a "who," not a "what." Ben points out the obvious fact that Flocke is "the monster," to which Flocke replies, "let's not get into name-calling." Heh.


And Flocke delivers a diatribe about how confused the real Locke was when he died, and how pathetic he was his whole life, and how broken and miserable Locke had been. And yet, for all that, there was one thing admirable about Locke: he, alone, did not want to leave the island. He, along among all of them, realized how pathetic his life back home really was. (And I'm wondering if that's a clue to the alt-universe thing? Jack and the rest are being allowed to see how pathetic it would have been if they'd actually gotten to Los Angeles?) And then Ben asks the big question: what does Flocke want? It turns out, he wants the one thing the real Locke didn't: to go home. There's no need to point out the irony, but he points it out anyway.

At the temple, Hurley says goodbye to Sayid, and says he's there if Sayid's ghost ever wants to talk. Miles gives Hurley a weird look, but won't explain. Kate is trying to get all cute with Sawyer, who is not impressed. And Sawyer's changed his mind about killing Jack - he wants Jack to suffer on this rock, like everyone else.

Meanwhile, Jack is at lost luggage, on the phone with his mother, who's upset about the funeral and the missing coffin. And it turns out Locke is at lost luggage too, because he's lost a bag. Jack's freaking out, and Locke says that of course, nobody knows where Jack's dead dad really is. The airline didn't lose Christian Shepard — just his body. All Locke lost, meanwhile, was a bag full of knives. Is Locke a salesman? asks Jack. "Something like that," he responds wryly. Jack asks what happened to Locke, and then explains that he's a spinal surgeon. Locke says his condition is irreversible, and Jack says nothing's irreversible. (Heh.) If Locke ever wants a consult, it's on the house.


Back at the three-toed statue, they see the flare from the temple, and it freaks them out. But not nearly so much as Ben and Flocke exiting the statue. Everyone aims their guns but Richard tells them not to shoot. Flocke greets Richard and says it's good to see him out of those chains. Richard's eyes widen. "You?" Flocke says it's him, and then beats the crap out of Richard. (And I'm guessing the "chains" thing is a Black Rock reference.) "I am very disappointed in all of you," Flocke tells the assembled multitudes, before putting Richard's senseless body over his shoulder and walking off — past the dead body of John Locke.

At the temple, the Other Others want to talk to Jack alone, but he says whatever they want to say to him, they can say right here, in front of everybody. They try to take Jack away by force, but he flips out on them - only to be interrupted by Hurley, who's noticed that dead Sayid has woken up and is paying attention to the world around him. "What happened?" asks Sayid. Which seems a fair response to a lot of this episode, actually.

Final thoughts... I'm not sold on the idea of introducing yet another group of mysterious people with silly outfits and guns this late in the game, even if one of them does happen to be Hiroyuki Sanada. It all just feels a bit like wheel-spinning, but maybe it'll turn out there's really a huge difference between Hiroyuki's Others and Ben's Others. (Update: Commenters are pointing out that they're all the same Others - Richard Alpert had mentioned that some of the Others were waiting back at the temple, and this is that bunch. Fair enough, I guess.)


The alt-timeline is definitely a lot more interesting at this point than the "everyone's wracked with guilt or grief except Kate, who's wishing someone would pay attention to her" timeline. And it's really true - this episode only really solved a couple of mysteries, while introducing a ton of new ones. It was also a bit slow-moving, in general, despite having a few huge shocks. Previous seasons of Lost have played way better on DVD, when you can watch a bunch of episodes in one sitting, and so far it looks like season six will be no different. Still, all in all, it was pretty intriguing stuff. Let's hoping the pay-off really is as awesome as we've all been hoping.