Ok, this episode was long-anticipated on my part, so I was definitely on a bit of a high as I started watching it. I experienced edge of my seat tension when Sawyer and Kate hugged, a thrill when he told them that it was 1977, impatient seat-bouncing when the episode player shifted to a commercial (stupid Toyota Tundras urg), and then finally settled down enough to watch the episode calmly after that. This was another strong one in my opinion… one thing I have to say for the Lost writers, is just when you start figuring out a trend and getting comfortable (like, oh ok, so they’re all going to be part of the Dharma initiative now for a while…), they throw in something completely unexpected (like, oh WOW, Sun and the others are in a different place in time altogether…).
Question 1 resolved: Juliet is not pregnant. A little disappointing, because I know she must want a baby, but I'm ok with it because if she had been pregnant than the stakes would have been even higher in the Sawyer/Kate/Juliet triangle.
Note: for a split second of cynicism in that scene where Jack/Kate/Hugo were getting their work assignments, I thought Juliet had left Kate off the list on purpose to eliminate her as competition for Sawyer's affections. The thought was low, and unworthy of me, and I'm relieved Juliet took the higher road.
Question 2 resolved: Sawyer isn’t going to go running back to Kate… at least not right now. Which is probably to be expected, since this episode emphasized that he’s a thinker and a planner… something we should have known already from the elaborate cons he was capable of devising and executing in the past. Also, why would they waste a plot point of such a potentially high level of tension when they could drag it out for a good long while? I’m still holding strong to the hope that he knows a good thing when he sees it, and stays with Juliet. Ever since the start of this season she's seemed to have a calming, centering effect on Sawyer; I'm crediting his new strength of character to the fact that she brings out the best in him. As far as I can tell, this Sawyer is a far cry from the man who told Charlie to fake Sun's kidnapping, and then pronounced of himself, "I'm just bad, through and through."
Question 3 resolved: Youthful Ben is indeed currently on the island as I had suspected. Which means Jack will be working with Ben’s worthless drunken father… that should be interesting.
Other random observations: I loved the long-awaited face-off between Sawyer and Jack, and I think that Sawyer makes an excellent point; Jack does tend to react rather blindly to whatever comes his way. “Thoughtful” or “insightful” haven’t ever been words I would use to describe him, and now I guess we’ll see if Sawyer can’t do better. I also am really curious to know if Christian is actually alive again, as Locke seems to be, or just kind of undead. What with his connection with Jacob in past seasons, I’m leaning towards the latter. Lastly, it seems like Ben would have recognized Juliet when she came to the island in the future – it seems to be a fairly small community, and he is at least fourteen. She’s even going by the same name, so surely he knew something was up with that when he met her as an adult. For that matter, he must have remembered the others too, when he was captured and met them all, way back when.
Otherwise… this episode didn’t resolve a whole lot else. In fact, when it ended, I was kind of in shock that 40 minutes had already gone by, because it felt really short. New questions from this episode include: How the heck did a large group of people all in the same place end up getting sent to two different places in time? Did Sun and the others just stay in the present when the plane crashed? The island can’t be in two places in time at once, so that doesn’t make sense to me. Also, where did Faraday go? Sawyer said he’s not on the island any more, yet in a flashback from another episode we saw him participating in the construction of the Swan, so he's got to come back at some point. Did he recover from Charlotte's death, or did he stay the emotional wreck he appeared when we last saw him?Not quite as much progress as I would have liked, but some satisfying developments none the less... As always, lookin' forward to next Wednesday! Episode to be cryptically entitled, "He's Our You," and promising that one of the Losties will go renegade and "take matters into his own hands..." Dun duh DUH!
EDIT: Oh my gosh. I was just totally struck by how symbolic Sawyer's new name "Jim" is ("Don't call him James... he hates that."). New name for a more or less new person? Almost a rebirth, if you will?
Another EDIT: If you haven't already, definitely look here to try to see if you can see Claire lurking in the shadows behind Sun in the cabin scene. Personally, I think its one of those gaffers or best boys, or whatever you call the television crew ppl, but check for yourself.