10.The Economist -- My biggest objection to this episode is that it's a bit dull and confusing to me. Remember, this was early in the season and we were just beginning to get Oceanic 6 flash forwards. Yes, we learn Sayid is one of them. Fine. The revelation that he was working for Ben was a bit of a shocker (especially since that meant Ben got off-island too). But for me when these types of episodes air with everyone double-crossing everyone and working for secret organizations I have a hard time following it. Sawyer episodes used to confuse me the first 2 or 3 times. And it's Sayid once more being a killer even after he claims he'll never do that again. That thread really becomes tiresome. At least in "He's Our You" he comes to acknowledge this fact. The episode isn't awful or anything, but looking back on it, it's pretty slight and confusing. So it's not the best. Not even the decent middle for me.
9. Hearts and Minds -- Also not too bad, but it sticks out as one of the lesser season one episodes. So much of that first season is really strong and this one basically stands alone as a curiosity having almost no connection to the rest of the season. We finally got our Boone and Shannon flashback, and yet again it was a confusion of con games. The brother/sister relationship was weird. We had the first real death on the show only to learn it was a fake. With so much of the episode being hallucinated, why do I even care? And Locke's tactic of leaving Boone tied up in the woods to "save himself" was ripped straight out of What About Bob?
8. Further Instructions -- I liked Locke's vision quest. The episode started out strong, even though it was very confusing for us to know what day this was supposed to be. Mute Locke was interesting. The imagery of the quest and the return of Ian Somerholder were good, but then the show devolved into saving Mr. Eko from polar bears. To make matters worse, Eko would be unconscious all next episode, and die after that. So why did the island need Locke to save him when the island would just end up killing him? Why not just let the polar bears get him?
7. Adrift -- Not terrible, but it suffers middle-chapter syndrome. Season 2's opening was very much a three episode structure, and this middle chapter slows things down. Time on the island jumps backwards a bit. The raft story is kind of boring. It's just two guys stuck in the ocean. Even a shark doesn't add drama. The flashback isn't too bad, but it doesn't add anything to the Michael story really. And this episode foisted upon the viewing audience the first of what would be many shouts of "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALT!!"
6. This Place is Death -- We do finally see what happened to Rousseau's team. Unfortunately, it now has to be done to serve the narrative structure rather than the flashback. So all of the events are compressed leaving what we see here to conflict with established statements of Rousseau's. The timeline is wrong, the distances seem far too short. The idea of the "sickness" from season one was finally brought back, but here it's clearly a different concept. Before, the Others were seen as carriers and they would Whisper. But here the "sickness" is that the Smoke Monster makes you an evil clone or something. Of all the time-jumping episodes last season, this is the most painful as there is so much jumping crammed into it. Mysteries answered, but it would have been stronger in flashback... flashbacks we should have gotten two years ago.
5. Stranger in a Strange Land -- A flashback that seems to exist solely to connect two points: Jack's statement he had been to Thailand, and the origin of his tattoos. The flashback story is a bit weak and Jack is even less likable in it. The present day story is just some ideas thrown together. Juliet is judged. Jack feels bad. Cindy and the kids are trucked out solely so the audience can be assured there's still a Cindy and kids. They serve no narrative function here.
4. Left Behind -- I never saw this when it was first run, and I didn't miss much. Kate's flashback isn't too bad, if a bit "been there, done that". But the rest of the episode has no reason for being. It's all just a foundation of lies that results in Kate and Juliet mud wrestling. Ho hum.
3. Meet Kevin Johnson -- It was great to find out what happened to Michael. The episode excludes almost everything else in order to tell this story. And that's fine. But it also hinges dramatically on Tom, and that created a significant believability problem. Because Tom had been on the second island the whole time, and then we see him playing football with Jack, there's really only about a week this could happen. And that's a shame because there was time otherwise to have stretched it out and given Michael a believable recovery period in hospital, not to mention a real space of time to spiral down enough to kill himself. What we're left with is a lot of necessary information, but a timeline far too compressed. I also find the idea that the island won't let you die to be laughable when everyone ON the island is supposedly going to die.
2. What Kate Did -- This episode has become infamous. For a year and a half we all wondered what Kate had done. Then finally we had an episode who's title proclaimed we'd find out. And when we did, it was kind of an "eh" moment, which it shouldn't have been. I think the problem with this episode is that it puts that event at the start of the episode, so the story has nowhere to go. Instead of being about what she did, it's about the events after she did it when she first started running, which is really just more of the same stuff we've seen from other Kate episodes. And the whole bit with the horse is almost a joke at this point. Kate seems a bit out of character in this episode, and the line between reality and fantasy is crossed too frequently.
1. Exposé -- Easily the worst episode ever. It centers around random people suddenly thrown on the show that no one knew or cared about. And they aren't likable people anway; we learn they are whiny jewel thieves! Besides Billy Dee Williams there's almost no reason to even watch the episode. The idea of placing them in the significant events of the show really backfired to me because so often they were there before anyone else. This "revelation" cheapened these events significantly. Why did Eko and Locke have to force the Pearl hatch open when Nikki and Paolo opened it easily? The long gaps in time also lead to ridiculous continuity issues I won't recount here. Major plot points are muddied. The rescue of Jack from the Others is delayed. The beach gang play Scooby-Doo. It's all just lame, and encapsulates all that was wrong with season three.