SPOILER ALERT: Before you read this post, buy some cord from the hardware store--no, don't do that with it!--hook it up to your TV and watch last night's Lost.
I'm not going to write too much tonight about the mythology implications of last night's episode of Lost. Partly because we knew the general shape of what was going to happen--minus the little bit about Locke coming back to life, which answers our question from the last LDG--and partly because we can speculate on that in the comments. But mostly because I want to talk about how awesome Terry O'Quinn is.
John Locke is Lost's man of faith. But he's not, really, not entirely. He certainly has faith, in the Island, in the unexplained, but he also has doubt; his faith is constantly shaken and never as absolute as he wants it to be. When he goes to persuade Jack that he needs to go back to the Island, you can see in his searching popeyes that some part of him also wants to persuade himself--that he is special, that his "destiny" is not a mistake, that he's not being swindled again. (Think about it: if one character on Lost has reason to have no faith, in anything or anyone, it's John Locke.)
Take a look at the scene where he gets ready to hang himself. He's not going into this calmly, as some sort of stoic sacrifice. He's been told by Richard Alpert that he must die to save the Island, but he doesn't entirely believe it, doesn't entirely want to. You can see the despair in his eyes, the fear. He wants to die; he doesn't want to die. The man of faith is a man of doubt.
I was going to write that this undermines the Christ parallels that some have drawn for Locke, but thinking about it, it makes him more Christ-like--in the sense that you can feel him wishing, if I remember my Gospels correctly, that this cup could pass from him. Faith for him isn't some Zen-like impermeable armor. It's an ill-fitting burial suit. Faith is hard, and O'Quinn's every-nerve-ending-exposed performance shows us that. You can feel every hurt, from the physical pain to his heartbreak over Helen. You know when you watch a Locke episode that your heart is going to get kicked around for a while; O'Quinn is just the athlete for that job.
Now for the story stuff. It is indeed getting tough to tell the players without a scorecard, with not only the Oceanic Six back but two new regulars and a whole new team of redshirts. So let's bring on the hail of bullets...
* ...starting with the ones that offed Matthew Abbadon. I don't know if this one was always in the works or necessitated by Lance Reddick's work on Fringe, but I didn't see it coming, which made that burst of blood on the rear window that much more surprising. (Reminded me of the accidental shooting in Pulp Fiction, but from the outside.) Probably not a bad idea to get rid of a ches piece with the board getting this crowded, but I'll miss Reddick.
* So what's up with Caesar? Mrs. Tuned In tried to hash it out after the episode. I maintain that the first scene implied that he was deliberately looking for something--something he wanted to conceal--and thus that he knows a thing or two about the Island. Is he working for someone? Was he on that plane on purpose?
* Meanwhile, a lot of questions, and some hints of answers, about the rivalry between Ben and Widmore. The O.G. Others, Charles says, defended the Island for "more than three decades." So this doesn't extend their lineage back to the stone-foot days--raising the question of who and what preceded them on the Island. And Ben supplanted Charles as leader by tricking him into leaving the Island. This still leaves the question: why does each of them want it?
* Waaaaalt! Good to see him back, even if it was fleeting (and the "he's been through enough" seemed like an offhanded way of explaining why he isn't returning to the Island. I don't expect Lost to answer every question it has raised, but if it leaves Walt's specialness hanging, I'll be ticked off.
* I'm assuming that Ben ends up killing Locke (called it! along with half the Internet) because the info about Jin means he knows he can get Sun without Locke's help. If I'm mistaken, let me know. Also, Ben's voice breaking when he tells Locke he really will miss him was yet more proof of why Michael Emerson is so crucial to the show.
* Oh, and speaking of the little matter of Locke being alive again--did he come back to life inside a sealed coffin? It must have been hard to resist the temptation not to show that scene.
* Liked how "Jeremy Bentham's" naming scene, for once, had fun with making the philosopher-name intentional. Also loved the scene with Hurley--terrified that John isn't a ghost--and Locke's rejoinder to Jack about Christian, which injected a little humor into a fairly somber episode. "Well, he didn't look dead to me!" Neither do you, John. Neither do you.