Well, I managed to completely lose the notes I took during the show and then used in my discussion with the lunchtime sci-fi group so I'm completely winging it here and it's going to be spare.
I see this episode as a set-up episode for the finale in which some things are revealed and a lot of things are put in place for what is certainly going to be a crazy, insane, wild, frantic, intense three-hour finale.
I liked the episode, especially for the interesting revelations about the history of Locke and the people who have interacted with him. Including Richard Alpert! We've heard the hints that Richard is very long-lived, but the question of time travel rears its head. For some strange reason I'd prefer long-lived, as a side effect of the special properties of the island.
And what about the appearance of Mister Abbadon? In the present of the show, he works for Widmore, but what about the past? Did he have a connection to Dharma or the Others? He certainly believed that Locke was someone very special.
I was dead wrong with my prediction that the copter would not come back, and I was very surprised with the appearance of the zodiac. But the zodiac makes a lot of sense in terms of only getting six people (five adults and a baby) off the island.
I was right with my prediction that Claire would be at the cabin! She was certainly in an extra-creepy mode. There has been talk that Claire is actually dead. This lent some weight to those arguments, but there's some details that have to be worked out. I'm not in that camp yet, but Claire has definitely changed in some way that says she's willing to leave Aaron behind.
Last episode, I wondered if Jack knows Claire is his half-sister. The scene in the cabin could be how that is enabled, if Locke somehow figures out that Jack and Claire have the same dad. I'm betting this plays out in the finale.
Even more so now, Martin Keamy is the baddest most awfulest villain of all, and you have to think he will meet a nasty end. At least, I'm sure all the viewers hope that's the case.
Michael Emerson continues to do a fantastic job with the character of Ben. He is just really fun to watch. The Ben/Hurley scene with the candy bar was marvelous.
At first I wasn't too keen on Locke not remembering meeting Richard Alpert or drawing pictures of a smoke monster. But other fans have convinced me that it works just fine - those moments are a long time ago for Locke.
Richard Alpert's appearance after Locke's birth (in the late 50s) means that Richard could get on and off the island *before* the Dharma project arrived in the 60s/70s. That is *very* intriguing, if you believe that Richard isn't time-traveling but just very long lived.
The whole "time travel" question bugs me, because I think there's the potential to treat it like magic and allow anything to happen. LOST has been pretty rigorous in keeping things real beyond the few "impossible things" like a mystical island and the smoke monster. I'd hate for the show to get all loosey-goosey all of a sudden and pull magic out of everything.
The doctor's death is a big example of my concern as, no matter how you look at it, his body traveled backwards in time from the point of view of either the island or the freighter. It did it not through interacting with anything on the island, but just by floating in the water. This seems to contradict the "delay effect" we saw with the rocket and the helicopter trip. I'm a little worried about this one.
What does it mean to "move" the island? It could move physically, temporally, or even in spirit (ie, get it all "excited" and in motion to fight back). Whiel I like the idea of physically moving the island (almost like a powerboat, with Locke standing at the wheel drinking a beer and listening to tunes and pulling a couple folks in innertubes), I don't think it's going to happen. The "spirit" could work - rouse the spirit of the island (as symbolized by the smoke monster) to fight back. But I'd bet it means temporally, which is again another possibility for "time travel" to be a little squirrely.
Now we see that the Oceanic Six come back in the zodiac. Do they come back to the freighter and get rescued from there? Do they float in the ocean until they are picked up by a boat? The mechanics of this will be intriguing.
So, what could happen in the next episode (the first part of the finale)? Some sort of Commando/LOSTie confrontation, definitely. Seems like the commandos should have the upper hand in that one. Jack and Claire learn the truth? Maybe. Locke starts the process of "moving" the island. That will be interesting. Do Desmond and Michael and the crew take over the freighter. I'm expecting this to happen (why else leave Desmond and Michael behind)?
It would be fun to have the finale start with the Oceanic Six off the island (the opening of the cargo plane door) then play things back from there. No matter what, it's going to be chaotic and messy. I guarantee it. And I'm really looking forward to it.