Ok, has everyone else left? Good. So much happened it's hard to know where to start. How about in sideways world, which boiled the show down to its original conflicting relationship: Jack and Locke. In sideways world, it's Jack who's the believer and Locke who's the cynic. And turns out Locke's alternate path was chosen by a familiar event: a plane crash. Instead of restoring his legs, a previous plane crash took his ability to walk away.
We know Desmond's plan to make Locke remember the island worked to some extent, as he flashed to his time in the hatch while unconscious. And certainly Jack saying aloud Locke's own posthumous words, "I wish you had believed me," made a difference. So while Desmond may be the link between the two worlds, it's Jack and Locke who are the center, the ones all the other characters are flocking to.
All that said, the sideways story wasn't anywhere near as riveting as the island story, which was easily the most suspenseful and most upsetting episode of the season, if not the series. All of the island characters (minus chronically MIA Richard, Ben, and Miles) converged at Widmore's camp and made a break for the plane. With Locke declaring the plane unsafe, claiming Widmore was trying to bring them into a contained space and kill them, the back-up plan became the sub....an even more contained space.
As soon as the sub dived and everyone realized "wait, why did Jack let Locke put his backpack on," things got fucking nuts. Of course Locke put the bomb in the backpack, but why? Oh, because he was the one who actually wanted to get everyone in a contained space and kill them so there would be no candidates left to stop him. But Jack had a solution: Locke can't kill the candidates, so if they do nothing, it will be like Jack lighting the dynamite on the Black Rock. Nothing would happen. But Sawyer didn't believe him, and the clock sped up.
Then the show's resident Iraqi Jack Bauer did what Jack Bauer always threatened to do: sacrifice himself to save everyone else. While it was certainly rough to see such a fan favorite go, Sayid's death made a lot of narrative sense. He hadn't been himself ever since coming back from the dead in the Temple, and he's been going through the season like a zombie. But he showed signs of humanity when he didn't kill Desmond (nobody really believed he did), and has been getting more normal since. So by taking one for the team, he proved Ben and MIB wrong in their continued insistence that he's just a killer. A noble death for one of the show's strongest characters.
While Sayid's death was at least understandable, Jin and Sun's just hurt. As many times as Jin insisted he could free Sun, it was clear what was going to happen: he would stay to die with the woman he spent 3 seasons trying to find again. Talk about a Joss Whedon move, killing them off one episode after their reunion. Sure, it was a bit Titanic with the water level rising, but Jin and Sun easily made for one of the saddest death scenes of the series to date. It was also a lot like Charlie's death, which was also under water. Man, Lost characters really need to stop going underwater.
So between Sayid, Jin, Sun, and I suppose Lapidus as well, this was Lost's deadliest episode ever, and a clear set-up to the end of the series. There's no more question about which of the island gods is good or evil, or what side to choose. It's survivors vs. MIB at this point, and at all cost. We know Desmond will play an important part given Sayid's final words to Jack. And while despite the episode title we didn't find out who will actually replace Jacob, it seems pretty clearly to be Jack. Next week should provide some major answers that were in shorter supply this week. But for an action and character packed episode, this one seems bound to stand up with some of the series' best. I'm gonna miss this show.