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This episode of "Lost" was a study in contrasts. The leadership skills, character styles, motivations and powers of persuasion of the show's original alpha-male pillars — Jack, Sawyer and Locke — were deftly dissected in an hour that was already so full of action and intrigue it made my head spin more than once.

A lot of it came together for me after I looked up the title of the seg on the ABC press site: "Follow the Leader." All in all, a hell of an episode from writers Paul Zbyszewski and Elizabeth Sarnoff and director Stephen Williams. It worked on many levels and demands multiple viewings, especially because it involved all of our key main characters. We're on the runway for next week's two-hour fantasmic finale fer sure.

Thursday update: A second viewing was incredibly helpful, particularly for all of the Locke stuff.

So what'd we learn tonight?

** Jack can't get Kate to put her faith in him for nothin'. And really, can you blame her?

** Sawyer has finally grown up enough to be a do-right, all-night man. (Of the many great versions of that song, it's the Flying Burrito Brothers' rendition that puts a lump in my throat every time. Thanks Gram.)

** Locke has more faith than sense. (OK, we already knew that.)

** Richard Alpert and Ben are still somehow in cahoots toward some common goal, or common enemy. Of this, I have faith.

It was disconcerting in several scenes in this seg to see the magical, mystical Richard Alpert looking very, very confused. (I'm confused about how his stubble manages to grow in such a perfect line across the bottom half of his face. Radiation side effect?) Ben describes him as an "a kind of advisor." Yeh, like Rasputin was to the Romanovs.

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