Overall, I thought it was just an okay episode, but we viewers have been spoiled with rewards this season (the writers have actually been answering our questions), so of course this episode is going to seem slow in comparison with the previous episode. But surely the rest of the season cannot play out in such a fast pace. My only issue with this episode is that it was Jack-centric. Not only has Jack had more (unnecessary) flashbacks than anyone, but there wasn't a conflict with his character. He was the only one who wanted to back to the island, so, as Alan Sepinwall noted, "This was, essentially, an hour of watching Jack pack for a trip to the airport."
• On the other O6ers: Sayid is the new Kate. He is apparently being escorted by a marshal and, as we know from earlier this season, he's a bit of a wanted man. Eloise said that they needed to recreate the circumstances as closer as possible, and if Locke is replacing Jack's father in the coffin, I think it's perfectly acceptable that Sayid would adopt Kate's old character, the "fugitive with the heart of gold." As for Hurley, I definitely think Charlie reappeared to him again and told him to get on the plane. How else do you explain Hurley carrying around a guitar? It's safe to say that Hurley "saw" someone who told him to go to the island -- though it could very well be Libby -- but my money's on Charlie because of the guitar.
• Also, on the flight, Sun is twisting her wedding ring, which mirrors Rose's concern for Bernard on the Oceanic 815 flight. And Ben showing up late mirrors Hurley's panic run to make it to the Oceanic 815 flight on time.
• And with all of these connections, why is no one concerned about bringing Walt back to the island???
• The episode's title is obviously referring to the Ajira flight number (and also alluding, yet again, to the mysterious numbers), but any Christian who sees the numbers 3 and 16 together will automatically think of the oft-quoted passage John 3:16. (Personally, I get really annoyed by how often John 3:16 appears in everyday culture because it's like the Cliff's Notes version of Christianity, and, personally, I find it very reductive. But for the purposes of Lost, and having a character named John playing the Jesus role, I think it's appropriate.) And for those of you unfamiliar with John 3:16, here it is:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."Loosely (and not literally) applied, this is pretty gosh darn appropriate, isn't it?
• The Lamppost "station" is a reference to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, as the lamppost was the intermediary between the wardrobe/real world and Narnia. (Also, though I don't know how significant this is to Lost, in Prince Caspian the children come across mysterious ruins... though there are no four-toed statues in sight.)
• James Joyce shout out! Ben is reading Ulysses, which I think most people know as a modern (perhaps postmodern...?) retelling of The Odyssey. Leopold Bloom walks around Dublin for a day... but the significance here is that the last chapter of Ulysses is titled "Penelope." And Ben is reading this book. There is no doubt in my mind that Ben has killed Penny at this point -- or at least attempted to kill her. (I'm inclined to think he's already killed her since he's on his way to the island, presumably to never return to the world again. I don't think Ben is interested in living outside of the island. He only left so he could exact revenge on Charles Widmore by killing his daughter.) So although Ben's bloody face is disturbing to look at, it's that much more appalling when you make the connection that he's done something to Penny.
• Jack, our recovering alcoholic, is seen with a drink twice -- but he never drinks. Redemption overload!
• The photograph of the island is dated 23 September 1954, the same year that the United States military brought Jughead to the Island. It is also classified as for "U.S. Army eyes only." So, (1) what does Eloise and Dharma have to do with the U.S. Army (which just adds fuel to the theory that Eloise and Ellie from "Jughead" are indeed the same person), and (2) seriously, no one has a more updated photo?
• The painting at the church -- The Incredulity of Saint Thomas -- is by Caravaggio and is housed in Germany, not LA. Of course, it's appropriate that Lost's own Doubting Thomas, our dearest rational Jack, is the one who is lectured/schooled on the skepticism of faith.
• I think most people's favorite exchange from the episode comes between Jack and Ben. Jack asks him, "How can you read," to which Ben deadpans, "My mother taught me." It's funny because it's a creepy lie -- a lie because Ben's mother died at childbirth, and creepy because Ben sees and talks to his mother, so he very well could have been taught by her -- but there were better lines. Like Frank's delivery of "We're not going to Guam, are we?" But my favorite? Jack asks what's going to happen to everyone else on the flight, and Ben (the self-serving Henry Gale version that I grew to love) responds, "Who cares?"
• As for Frank being on Ajira flight 316... Frank was always supposed to be on the island, first as Flight 815's original pilot and again as the chopper pilot and the final time as the pilot of Flight 316. Chalk this up to course correction.
• And lastly, Jin is totally working for Dharma. I'm expecting some awesome Dharma-Daniel-Jin storylines coming up. (Speaking of time-travel craziness -- as is usually the case -- remember that Sawyer found an Ajira bottle in the Swan station. This leads me to believe that in the 70s, when Jin is working for Dharma, and might have been working for them for years, Ajira actually crashes or interferes with the Swan station in some way. I think the bottle Sawyer holds is in fact from Flight 316 and from the present-past. Remember that in the last episode we see Locke "correcting" the wheel axis, so perhaps there are no more time jumps and everyone -- Sawyer and Jin and Daniel and them, and also those on Flight 316 -- are all stuck in the 70s.)
• One more thing... that Jack-Kate kiss? Puh-lease. The inconsistent character melodrama, I can do without. When I saw her laying on the rock in the island, I held my breath in hopes that... could she be dea-- Nope! (As long as they keep writing her as a woman who only exists to fulfill some need in the plot -- specifically the males' plots -- I will continue to hope that she dies.)