or, HOLY...! BEST EPISODE!!
The direction was amazing, creepy as all get out, certainly helped by the fact that I watched it IN THE DARK. Scary music and very scary acting. So many questions raised -- not to mention goosepimples on my neck! The dialogue avoided cliches (THANK HEAVENS), and was refreshingly witty in many places as well.
(An aside: I was really disappointed by 1x09, so I didn't bother blogging it. Suffice it to say, it had some tense moments set against messy plotting.)
The psychic saying that it "has to be this way" (paraphrasing), whenever you're dealing with a story of some kind, set off alarm bells in my META META META.
Someone posited Claire's stupidity in not realizing sooner that the psychic had set her up. To which I respond: META! That is, in a show where history and biography are de-stabilized and sometimes erased, the act of narrating the story enacts the story, bringing it into existence. To bring this into Claire's situation, she couldn't have realized that the psychic was maneuvering to get her onto the doomed flight until she flashed back to certain moments that provided the information to make this realization. Granted, it takes Charlie to figure this out, and yes, I saw this development probably 10 minutes before its reveal -- NEVERTHELESS, this tendency towards performative being engages in some complicated narrative epistemology, and again, incorporates my thesis of eradicated biography.
I'll try to outline some issues and perhaps leave them only half-explored since I've been grappling most of my academic "career" with such questions. The psychic involvement (yet another gratefully subtle moment -- the psychic admits that he simply doesn't know how his gift works) leads to notions of fate; if someone can see into the future, that means that that future is already written -- compare with theories of time as a fourth dimension, and humans lacking the perceptual equipment to notice time as a dimension like length, depth and height. If we managed somehow to 'get above' time (cf. Kate "sinking" on the beach, and the deepening mystery of the island), then we'd be able to see it just like the psychic. To map this hermeneutic figuration onto fictional worlds -- which future is, in certain respects, already written (e.g. in the presentation of the given episode, and a number of episodes after that episode, not necessarily the entire season/series) -- characters in a text are unable to perceive certain narrative superstructures, and it's left to the audience to make these connections. In this particular case, Lost's island flattens out its characters' personal histories into that good old perpetual now (hey... since there's an Australian presence, does that imply the notion of Aboriginal Australian conception of the Eternal Now?) that becomes unseeable to other characters, and sometimes even to the person to whom that history belongs.
But the already-writtenness seems to contradict my lost biography idea, hm? How I might respond: the island is perhaps writing itself (and its inhabitants) constantly yet impermanently -- e.g. Danielle who was surprised to hear that her distress signal was going on for 16 years because she had lost track of time. It's hard for me to theorize anything beyond this because I CANNOT SEE INTO THE FUTURE.
Veering away from Claire, the moment with Kate "sinking" into the beach was lovely. Understated, none of the usual "Bludgeon the viewer with this painfully heavy-handed metaphor" trope indicating a stasis that is at the same time annihilating.
Oh and Locke suddenly looks all sketchy and evil again. His dark aspect riseth -- again!