was baby wrangling while I watched this, so I probably missed a lot. I should watch again.
The white-hot fire of my hatred for Kate dimmed this episode. I was just as shocked as you are. Kate actually did something for completely for someone else. Not that she's never done anything for anyone else, but it's always had the added benefit of helping her. I'm not going to say I like her, but she did redeem herself ever so slightly this episode.
Jack, on the other hand was just as--excuse me--douchey as he's always been, maybe moreso. Why is it that I'm cool with Sayid shooting Ben, but Jack refusing to do surgery on him made me livid? I think it's because, first off, Sayid is awesome. He could bite the head off a puppy, and I'd still love him. But I also think it's because Sayid probably didn't just try to kill Ben for himself, but also to save a whole bunch of people. I'm not saying it's okay, but every time he's killed (that I can think of), it's always been for someone else. Even as a boy. He's a killer, but only in a defensive capacity--even if it's a preemptive defensive capacity.
Jack? Is just a smug, self-satisfied jerk. I liked him for the first few episodes of the series. I liked him a lot. But his character just went downhill almost from the start. I know I ask this all the time, but are we supposed to hate him? If I knew I was supposed to hate him, his character wouldn't bother me so much. Every show needs a jerk. What I hate is not knowing if the writers are screwing him up, or if they're writing him exactly as he's supposed to be.
This brings me to my next point. I'm going to take a leap and say that I have faith in this show and its writers. Minor errors I can expect, but slaughtering a character in this way by accident would be poor writing. And given the history of the show and J. J. Abrams's other work, I'm going to have faith that I'm supposed to dislike Jack.
I think Jack-as-hero is a misdirection. I don't think he ever was the hero of the show. In fact, in the end, I think he might be on the Devil's side. Hebrew Friend pointed out to me a couple weeks ago that Christian might not be a manifestation of Jacob, but that he might be opposed to Jacob. Jack is Christian's son. Is it significant that Jacob was one of the fathers of the Jews and Christian's name is Christian? Are they supposed to be opposed to each other, or is Christian the start of a new order that builds off the old order?
Who is the hero? Sawyer? Hurley (don't laugh; I think it's possible)?
Hebrew Friend and I were also talking about what, exactly, Richard Alpert is. If he's one of the good guys, I think he's analogous to the prophets of the Old Testament, like Nathaniel or Samuel. He speaks the word of "God" (The Island? Jacob?) to the king (Ben, Locke, etc...), and has power to anoint the king, but he himself does not rule. I say this because while doesn't seem to follow Ben's or anybody's authority, he also doesn't seem to have much direct authority of his own.
That's all I've got for now. I love how this show still has me guessing as to who's good and bad.