Not much new to report, you know the drill.
The sideflashes piqued my interest a little more than usual though, since we're starting to flesh out just where the timeline changed. Ben did still go to the island and such. Looks like he has a better relationship with his father, at least. Interesting that Alex still ends up a part of his life too.
Best stuff with the altnerate flashes was watching Ben-2 and Artz-2, probably two of my favourite characters. But still, ultimately, so far, throwaway stuff. Sure, it's doing character stuff, but why should I care? As the ending to this flash shows, these are clearly VERY different versions of the characters. They don't inform the people we know. This is NOT the Ben we've been watching so far. I could skip this entire flash and still get everything I need for the story.
I've long talked about doing a chronological re-edit of Lost, and while the time travel last year would have made that annoyingly difficult, I thought that the alternate flashes would make it downright impossible. Where do I put those? They take place in September of '04, concurrent with the first season events, so how do I fit them in? With each passing week wasting time, I become more and more certain that I could leave the alternate flashes out entirely of such a project and lose NOTHING.
I really really hope I'm wrong. I want there to be a point to the alternate flashes. I hate bitching about them every week, since they're nice stories, I just don't *care* in the Grand Scheme of Lost.
Anyways...hey, it's the Black Rock again, yay! I think that all but cements it as Richard's means of coming to the island. And very interesting to hear he's been touched by Jacob, and that's why he can't die. Was he maybe *literally* touched by Jacob? When we saw Locke touched in last year's finale, I figured that's what kept him from dying by falling out the window. But what if...what if all those touches to our cast in the flashbacks, what if all those moments are the VERY REASON that they all walked away from a horrendous plane crash? What if none of these people can die under most circumstances, like Richard? The creators went to great lengths to point out how odd it was that Jacob touched everyone in last year's finale. They even noted that he did NOT touch Juliet. And lookee, she's dead. She also came to the island via normal means.
There's still some details to work out there, like Jacob visiting Hurley and Sayid after they got off the island, but we don't know what else happened in their lives.
Overall, a very strong episode, mostly thanks to Emerson. The flashes are pointless, but the cast is still fun to watch in them, especially him, and his continuing manipulations.
Some good character stuff, and some outright answers, although delivered in a roundabout way.