Much better episode than last week's Across the Sea, but again some puzzle pieces felt hammered into place and not carefully inserted where they would naturally fit (Widmore's sudden death, Anna-Lucia pops up, Ben's turn to evil)
Jacob Explains It All For You worked okay - yet his driving force was to atone for some guilt about throwing his brother ManInBlack into the Golden Cave - yet he seemed to have no problem with spending 30 years with some crazy Earth Mother Hippie who killed his real mom and forced him to take on the horrible responsibility of guarding the reverse Pandora's Cave: goodness, but also an evil wind (to contrast with Pandora's Box: all the world's ills, but also hope)
Yin and Yang, baby, that's where it's at with LOST ... black & white ... loose and tight ...
As Ben is humanized in the Alt+B parallel timeline (fighting on behalf of Locke, warm-hearted feelings for Delenn, oops, I mean Rousseau, and her daughter) he becomes more
d e l i c i o u s l y evil "I want to watch" in the island reality [clearly, what goes up in one reality must come down in the other] and even viciously shoots Widmore dead. Yea !, bad Ben is back! And Billie Jean King was Jason-ized, shut-the-hell-up with a teen-slasher-film slash [nod to Potiphar, you called it ... or you know things].
Sawyer shows a little puppy-dog I fucked up face to Jack since he got the sub blown up and people killed but Jack lets him off the hook - he [Locke] did it, Jack growls. So deathlist for this ep includes: Widmore, annoying glasses lady (BJK), and maybe Richard. I'll bet Claire and Miles (and Pivotal Penny) get to join the list in the finale, and SmokeMonster may thrash Kate, Sawyer and Hurley just for fun.
All those names written on Lighthouse light-base (I guess that's how Jacob found his lost souls to bring to the island) and on the cave ceiling, not so mysterious after all. Kate, you can be the one, if you want, but since you're an adoptive mommy now, I crossed you off.
And when the moment came for the Candidates they didn't even try a To Tell the Truth fake step-forward - no one besides Jack even expressed the slightest interest in the job. So, as completely expected, Jack took the job (and took the drink of the stank river water - or maybe it tastes of golden light?)
Was Richard killed? Just like that, an unceremonious quick Smoke-Monster-tendril thrash ... almost off-camera? Laaaaaaame ... if that's really the end for him. They give his character one of the best episodes of the whole series Ab Aeterno - almost cinematic in its beauty - and this is his end?
Desmond is a busy little bee over in Alt+B, lining up all the kiddies to fracture island reality (jail breakout - well transport van, actually) ... it seems Widmore's little magnet experiment let him see the view to the other side as I said a few eps ago [note: re; 'Beautiful View' image of window at left - I had it in my huge image folder and lost track that I had saved it from a wonderful Greek photographer's site called toomanytribbles - apologies for lack of credit and here is the photo link]
We finally catch up with Miles, Richard and Ben and we end up at the condos - Miles feels all twitchy because he's standing on the ground where Richard thoughtfully buried Ben's daughter (pound in another puzzle piece), then Miles decides he'll race around the jungle alone rather than hide from Smokey/Locke. Ben shows his special place in the closet and then says howdy to Smokey/Locke and leads him to where Widmore and BJK were hiding and gleefully watches/participates in their murders. He is desperate to know what was whispered about Desmond.
Back in Alt+B wheelchair Locke goes to see Dr. Jack and is ready to "let go" and be operated on to perhaps restore some leg function ... after good Ben tells him that Desmond didn't want to kill him really but for him to let go. In the Yin-Yang what-goes-up-must-come-down equation of the two time-streams if Locke does this in Alt+B, then Smokey/Locke will lose power on the island.
And at The End, when the show creators re-set the story, who else will join the intrepid cast on their journey on Oceanic 815 for the movie version?
Even if all was obliterated but the Alt+B timeline by the end of the tv show, the same scenario would manifest again albeit a bit differently for the film version because you can't really change things.
Epilogue: It seems there has been a long cycle of humans who were brought or somehow made it to the island and always one that figures out the golden light needs protecting and this mission overrides all sense of morality and other human and social imperatives in order to uphold the mission.