At the time this was considered one of the weakest episodes -- probably because they stiffed us on finding out what Kate's crime was -- but in terms of Jack, Kate, and Sawyer, it's one of the best.
Ok, I'm tired and not really capable of being eloquent, but here's my thoughts.
Seeing it again tonight was great. It's much richer, knowing what we know now about all of them. Jack's twisted hero complex and the fact that his father has just died, Sawyer's haunted past and the fact that he's just botched *another* killing. And Kate -- well what else do we know about her at this point? Not her original crime, but that she's torn between a life of deceit and manipulation and her urge to do the right thing. JKS gold!
I appreciate Michael and Walt more now too, knowing their full arc. And Harold Perrineau's face when it stops raining and he has to go look for Vincent is priceless. And the run-in with Sun, also another great moment for him.
In retrospect, a much better episode than it originally appeared. Although I was onboard from the pilot and got hooked by the polar bear shooting and the French transmission, I think the marshall shooting scene is what really convinced me this was a show to be reckoned with. It didn't play out as I'd expected at all and was just so dark and unexpected. A magnificent showcase of Jack, Kate, and Sawyer and how they dealt with the situation. And Hurley standing by, adding commentary. And of course, that destroyed look on Sawyer's face when he realizes he's completely fucked up the mercy killing. I know for a lot of people this was the moment they first decided there was more to Sawyer than just an arrogant asshole.
I can get the Jack dislike here. He is on the annoying shade of indignant about his looting mission vs. Sawyer's. But watching these two interact with a fresh, slashy eye is almost like getting new episodes.
(Afterthought: Just how big is Sawyer's stash? I'd assumed it was quite large, but here we see him toting away only a backpack full of "smokes, some Playboys." We know he got the airplane booze. And the manifest. So did he make several trips?)
And I laughed out loud when Charlie - ever self-absorbed - mentions to Locke (who is whittling a dog whistle) that he once used tribal flutes in a recording session. Ah!
Man, I can't wait for the DVDs, with deleted scenes and commentary and all. I can't recall ever being into a show this much that I wanted to pore over every detail and just enjoy episodes over and over again. Not even X-Files or Buffy or Angel.