.The title of this episode is a reference to Dickens' classic tale,, and seems to be referring the two civilizations that have cropped up on the island. We've gotten a pretty clear idea of what the survivors of Oceanic 815 have built to over the past 66 days (and from this point on, we now have a pretty good idea how much time is preceding between episodes); now we get a look at the 'other' side of the coin.
There's a slightly more civil veneer of the Others little village, but from what we see in this episode alone, it's not any more solid than the one the Losties have built. The Other's may have nice houses, indoor plumbing, and book clubs (!) but they don't seem quite as joyous for all the miraculous things that they have.. The first flashback is the day of the crash from their perspective, specifically a woman named Juliet, who doesn't seem any happier on the island than anyone else. The feeling of a hierarchy is present, but it's pretty hard to believe in when she is trying to do the dirty work, that her heart is really in it. It's for these reasons (as well as her crying jag) that make us sympathize with Juliet. Elizabeth Mitchell's dazzling work doesn't hurt, either
The cliffhanger to Season 2 set up a LOT of questions, so perhaps it's not surprising that we only get one set of them answered. For starters, where are Jack, Kate and Sawyer. All three awaken in different place suggesting the use of drugs. Jack is inside in a cage surrounded by a hall of mirrors. Kate awakens in a shower with a bandage on her arm, and Tom (now known to be 'Mr. Friendly's real name) Sawyer wakes up in actual cage that seems set up for animals mixed with something out of B.F. Skinner, as we see when he tries to feed himself. Sawyer is the only one who wakes up with company--- a teenager across from him, who looks hopeful at the idea of another society to join. He manages to help Sawyer escape for a few fleeting moments, only to be recaptured, and forced to apologize to Sawyer. All we know about the boy is his name is Karl. What does he have to do with anything? More than you'd think.
However, the episode is Jack centered, which is sort of a shame, because we now know him so well, watching him struggle with his failed marriage or his lousy father doesn't really tell us anything. By now we know Jack can't let anything go. Wee that with his attitude towards Kate; we se it every time he dealt with Locke, and now we see that he's being dealing with it with the Others. For some reason, Juliet has been assigned to work with him, and unlike the others she takes a softer approach, for all the good it does her. It now seem as if all the struggles have caught up with, and the island seems to have completely worn him down. Yes, like Sawyer he does charge after Juliet, and tries to make an escape, but watch carefully what he does. When he hears that if he opens a door in the cage, they all die, he then shoves it open--- and water comes pouring in. Only when he sees that's he put someone in danger does he stop the charge to destroy everything--- which includes the island.
We do get one question answered--- the man who we spent half the time wondering was Henry Gale is actually Ben, and though he commands leadership, the Others don't seem to care for him any more than Kate does, when he puts her in a dress, invites her down for breakfast, and coldly tells her the next two weeks are going to be very difficult,. We don't know what the Others have planned, but they're probably not going to be discussing 'Carrie' with her.
Jack's flashback, while a little contrived, does show something that we didn't know. While he seemed a good moral person in his story, the breakup of his marriage with Sarah seems to have undone him. He starts lashing out at everyone, including Sarah and his father, and the consequences are disastrous. He drives his father back to the bottle (and even though he knows how horrible his problem is, he doesn't seem that sorry about it.) and now makes sure Sarah never talks with him again. This is a paranoid streak that will become apparent when he gets off the island.
We do get some information about the Others, but there are far more gaps in the limelight. Jack is being held in a Dharma station called the Hydra (which wasn't on the blast door map but Juliet seems to make clear that the two are not the same. Who are they? How did the Others get also the amenities--- books,, ovens, plumbing, etc For that matter, how do they have electricity? How is that they have all this information on the passengers? Some of this information could be found by a person with patience and a good internet site, so that's not as shocking. but they also seem to know things that the castaways haven't revealed to anybody. How willing a participant is Juliet? We can see she clearly doesn't much like Ben; is she doing this of her own will. And why is it that Kate and Sawyer seem to be getting less fancy treatment than Jack is? Do they think he's more important. Not to mention, we don't know what's happened to Sayid, Sun and Jin, or what the hell happened to the hatch when the sky turned purple. This is a good episode to get us back in the swing of things, but it could have been quite a bit better. What stick in the mind is the fine work by Mitchell and Michael Emerson. The last thing Ben told Michael was 'they're the good guys" and Juliet seems like one., but surely there are less violent ways to be good. Are the Others as united as they seem? This will be quite important the further along the season progresses.