NOTE: I'm taking a new approach, where I don't read *any* spoilers before watching the episode. I used to be a big spoiler junkie, but I avoided spoilers for the last episode of season 3 and was truly surprised by the big reveal near the end. So, I'm spoiler-free so far and liking it.
Overall, I've been enjoying this season of LOST. The pace is quick, the new characters are interesting, there are some new reveals and it really feels like things are happening. Sure, we're not getting as much information about how everything "works" but it's starting to feel to me like we're getting there.
Episode comments below. There be SPOILERS in all the text behind the cuts below.
"The Beginning of the End": The freighties are coming, the LOSTies split up, and in a flash-forward we see what Hurley is up to after getting off the island.
Because of Charlie's final message ("Not Penny's Boat") and Ben's warnings, the LOSTies aren't sure what to think about the freighter people. Really, there shouldn't be any blame here. Charlie did what he thought was the right thing, and did get the jamming signal turned off, and the freighter people are coming. Not Penny's Boat? Well, no one could have foreseen that (OK, Ben did but who trusts him?)
Michael Emerson continues to impress me with his acting on Ben especially the "oh look what's happened here" facial expressions he can give, for example when Naomi disappears. Ben as the master manipulator of any situation is working really well.
In the future, Hurley is one of the "Oceanic Six", the crash surivors. He is essentially going a little crazy and gets put back in the home. Mr. Abbadon visits, supposedly from Oceanic, and asks Hurley if he thinks they are still alive. I'm guessing "they" is whoever he left back on the island when he got off. The circumstances under which the "Oceanic Six" get off the island is going to be the big secret of Season 4, I think.
"Confirmed Dead": The freighties arrive, we get a glimpse of their backstories and goal, and the LOSTie clans move towards destinations.
The freighties are interesting folks, but what's interesting is that getting their backstories and seeing how easily the LOSTies dealt with them removed a lot of the danger from these four freighter people. They felt a lot more harmless to me by the end of the episode, especially because they look like a near-random group of folks brought together in order to get Ben. And why would you use a team like this to get Ben? Why not a paramilitary-style strike team? What is Mr. Abbadon and Naomi's company thinking?
There was a lot of "learning" going on in this episode. The freighties learn there are "natives" on the island, the LOSTies learn the freighties want Ben, we learn a bit about the freighties, we learn Ben has someone on the boat. Of course, with all this learning comes even more questions.
We also learn that there is a fake Oceanic Flight 815 in the bottom of the Indian ocean off Indonesia. That is *seriously* off-course for a Sydney-LA flight.
So, someone is trying to cover up the true location of the island. Oceanic? The people who send the freighter? Who? Another big question for Season 4.
"The Economist": It's all about Sayid. He figures out how to get a ride on the copter, trades Miles for a Charlotte (a good trade), and in the future kills people for Ben. For Ben! Who, BTW, is Off The Island!
The end was a real Holy Cr*p moment, especially after Sayid said in the present that he would sell his soul before he would trust Ben. And when you hear a statement like that, you know it's going to be reversed real soon. My guess is that Sayid's actions are protecting whoever is left on the island (ie, Not The Oceanic Six).
Meanwhile, we get information about a weird time effect related to the island (a projectile takes longer than anticipated) and Desmond also secures a place on the chopper. Good thing that neither Daniel nor Charlotte wanted to go back or Desmond might have been SOL.
The main core of this episode was Sayid's future relationship with Elsa, a woman who works for an economist, an economist who Sayid must eliminate. They have apparently fallen in love, but shoot it out at the end. The woman loses. Don't mess with Sayid, that's the lesson. And, of course, we don't learn who the "economist" is. And we weren't going to. Another secret in the box, one that surely relates to the first two (how the Oceanic Six get off the island and who tried to cover up the crash).
"Eggtown": Kate connives and reconnives and it affects her relationship with Sawyer and Locke. In the future Kate is raising a baby, a baby you don't expect, and Jack lies through his teeth.
Again the flash forward noodles around a bit, with Kate on trial for her pre-island crimes, before it hits you with two big items. One, Jack goes on a witness stand and lies about big-time what happened on the island. More on this in later thoughts. Two, Kate has a baby but it's Aaron. That's Claire's baby Aaron. WTF?
In the present, Kate mainly connives in order to find out what Miles knows about her (ie, that she's a criminal). Her conniving consists of arranging for Miles to meet Ben, wherein Miles says that he'll take care of things and lie about Ben's existence for 3.2 million dollars. Ben basically says that his checkbook is in his other pants but he's good for it.
Kate and Sawyer get all lovey-dovey, but then Kate decides to take off and Sawyer is hurt but tries not to act hurt. Those two, they just can't get along can they?
Some interesting stuff with Ben and money and Miles, along with Jack's lying in the future which I think might be the biggest shock of all.
I'll put my overall thoughts on things so far in a separate post, because this one is done. Suffice to say that LOST is being fun, and I'm having a good time watching it.