Fire+Water is rated 7.9 whereas S.O.S. is on 8.7. Now I know many people are turned off by the really unique style of F+W, but as far the storyline goes, there was more progress in F+W. I hate it when people say Lost is a soap opera, because it isn't. But this episode had soap opera aspects to it, for sure.
The entire Rose and Bernard flashback was heart warming, and finding out Rose haD a terminal illness(cancer) was surprising at first, but then, not so much. We knew the island has healing powers, it's been proven, so it's proven again. Okay. I'm fine with that as long as we get something new. But no. Nada. Zilch. Blah. The backstory started off well with the revelation, but ended up like a shipwreck, as it contributed nothing to the island story. We already guessed that the island is a special place. Thanks Isaac.
The island storyline, not much better. The giant SOS sign idea wasn't that bad, I didn't really understand why people laughed at Bernard, I think he was right: they don't want rescue. Well they do, but the writers really messed up because they wanted Bernard to have a stupid idea but a giant SOS sign isn't. Based on the flashback, Rose could've started with telling Bernard what she told him in the end... what I'm trying to say is that the entire episode felt like a unneccessery side dish. The only valuable part was Jack and Kate going to the borderline the others specified to trade Henry for Walt. Predictable as hell, but still, it was nice to see... MICHAEL come back. But since he didn't say a thing, his return was just a huge tease.
Overall, a very slow, sometimes painful episode that was saved by Jack/Kate scenes, Locke's struggle and the great acting by Sam Anderson(Bernard).