By Jeff Jensen
February 09, 2010 at 12:00 PM EST

SPOILER ALERT! THIS POST CONTAINS MUCHO INFO ABOUT TONIGHT’S LOST. IF YOU HAVEN’T YET WATCHED — AND WEST COASTERS, I’M TALKING TO YOU — YOU REALLY SHOULDN’T READ THIS. YET. JUST WAIT AND WATCH THE EPISODE FIRST. THEN COME BACK. DON’T WORRY. WE’LL BE HERE. Lost has a habit of following up its premiere extravaganzas with scaled-down follow-ups that seek to ground the audience and orient them to a more deliberate pace for the season. “What Kate Does” conformed to the second episode mold, and I’m going to hazard a guess and say that not everyone here appreciated that choice, especially those who came to the final season expecting Lost to be all We’ve Got A Lot To Do And Not Much Time To Do It So Let’s Just Rip Into This! Nope. Still, I give the episode an admiring B, and if you ask me again in a few hours, I might add a + to it, because the more I think through this deeper-than-it-appears affair, the more I’m stimulated by it. Granted, it’s my job to think about Lost, like, a lot, but put the episode’s good stuff on a scale and I’ll wager it’ll outweigh the lame stuff.

Josh Holloway’s wrenching acting as he revealed the heartbreaking disclosure that he intended to propose to Juliet. The intrigue of “infected” and “claimed” Sayid. The hilarious irony of Dr. Ethan Goodspeed. Crazy-scary mother-gone-wild Claire. The notable camaraderie of the Temple castaways, determined to survive their latest ordeal with “live together, die alone” idealism and great, knowing humor. And don’t look now, kids, but is Jack Shephard actually getting likable again? I loved his sincere concern for Kate and Sayid, his willingness to accept Sawyer’s seething heartbreak, and his humbled self-awareness. I loved his smiles, his knowing laughter, his warmth. “You take care of Sawyer, I’ll take care of Sayid,” Jack told Kate, the castaway dad huddling with the castaway mom on how to handle their troubled castaway kids. When he told Dogen, “I don’t even trust myself,” Jack may have uttered the most heroic statement of his wannabe hero life, because it was so painfully honest. Superman of Science? No. Superman of Faith? No. Just Jack. And in the end, one wonders if that’s exactly what he needs to be to save the day for himself and his friends.

But I’m not as blind as Lady Justice; I saw and was bugged by the weak stuff, too. I felt the absence of Richard, Ben and The Locke-ness Monster. I’m not yet bowled over by the new crop of Others; Temple Master Dogen and his hippy sidekick Lennon are growing on me, but Aldo and Justin were a dopey combo that undermined the ominous mystique of the entire Others crew. Also, I’m already counting the minutes until the castaways escape yet again from Others’ captivity. Unless the Temple gets super-interesting next week, my guess is that we’ll be starting with the season 3/Hydra Station comparisons next week. And there were some plot contrivances that bugged me. I don’t care if it was destiny or some hazy past-life recognition of Sideways Kate as a trustworthy woman, but it was pretty hard to believe that Sideways Claire would get into that cab after Kate had carjacked her at gunpoint hours earlier….

Like I said, though, the more I pushed into the dark subtext of this deceptively nifty “Death Cab For Cuties” episode, the more I liked it, and better, the more I became convinced that it contained some extremely valuable ideas for making sense of the season’s risky flash-sideways storytelling device. The recap I’m currently writing captures that process of discovery. Until then, post here, or sleep, or watch the new episode of “Totally Lost,” super-sized with the presence of Matthew Fox, Terry O’Quinn, and Michael Emerson!