After several episodes where the twists were coming fast and furious, here we find newly established storylines charging full-steam ahead.
The Happenings: "Namaste" opened with the infamous Ajira Air flight that would lead our survivors back to the island. From Lapidis's perspective in the cockpit we see the flash where Jack and company disappeared, but it quickly becomes clear that Ben and, more surprisingly, Sun, did not disappear with them. Instead, they crash on the island, and circle up with a new group of survivors. We then jump thirty years into the past where Jack, Kate and Hurley have landed in Jin and Sawyer's lap.
With some quick thinking, and with the help of Juliet, Sawyer is able to finagle it so that Jack, Kate and Hurley are accepted into the Dharma Initiative as members of the most recent crew infusion. They are hesitant, but understand it is the only way. Jin however, flies off to find out if Sun could have possibly landed on the Island. Instead, he and a Dharmite who had been manning The Flame run into Sayid, who is wandering around in the jungle. Sawyer and Sayid do not have the luxury of working him into the camp, and must treat him as a hostile.
Back in the present, Sun follows Ben, and they are in turn followed by Lapidis, to a beach where there are boats stashed. Just as Ben explains that he wants to go to the "main Island" as part of a plan to meet up with the rest of the survivors, Sun knocks him unconscious. She and Lapidis row over to the other Island where they dock, and may or may not have encountered the smoke monster.
They wandered into the ruined Dharma-ville, and there they do meet Christian, who shows them a photo of the other survivors that was taken in 1977. He tells them that they'll have a long journey ahead of them. Back in Sawyers's 1977 Dharma-ville, Jack and company are given roles to play in the Dharma Initiative. There are some suspicions on the part of some Initiative members, as well as some old jealousies that are reenflamed (Sawyer and Jack, Kate and Juliet). Sawyer is taken to a holding cell and left there till something can be figured out.
The Craziness: Jack is given the same position, "workman," as Ben's father received when he arrived on Island.
Juliet asks Horace's girlfriend/wife what they will be naming their baby. Her response: "We're going to name him Ethan." Dun, dun, dun!
The Dharma worker at The Flame frets to Sawyer that Sayid has seen his plans for "The Swan," along with the location. The Swan is the name of the station that will house Desmond, and which will also become a base of operations for the survivors in Season 1.
In the final scene of the episode a boy delivers a sandwich to Sayid. His name: Ben!
The Verdict: "Namaste" was by no measure a super-thrill-ride of an episode; not every episode can be. It was though, a well-paced and scripted episode that plausibly dealt with a lot of the tough situations that had been set up in the previous series of episodes. There are some pretty obvious conflicts that are being set up that will very likely not be resolved in a pleasant or clean manner. But while we can see these things coming, never in this episode did it feel like the writers were tipping there hand.
The Wild Speculation: We're being walked down a couple of divergent paths at this point. The big conflict from the first eight episodes (note: "Namaste" marks the halfway point of the season) -- namely, getting back to the Island, and also Ben vs. Widmore -- have largely been put to rest for the time being. Sure, Ben is still out there as a threat, but he's 30 years in the future, and our survivors have been put into a new and highly charged situation. What's interesting is that none of the existing history of the Island has changed, that is, everything that we know happens in the intervening 30 years could still plausibly happen.
In fact, if I were to make a wild prediction -- and why the hell not? -- it would be that Ben's actions of destroying the Dharma initiative in conjunction with the others could actually arise out of the survivors interactions with him as well as the Dharmits. Alpert or Ben or, hell, why not Jacob, could decide that the only way that the established order won't be completely obliterated will be for everyone who has interacted with Sawyer, Jack, Juliet, etc., etc. to be destroyed. That being said, it's made pretty clear that Ben has an existing fascination with the "others/hostiles." We don't know how or why, but presumably that will be explained. And presumably those other storylines -- hey, remember how Locke came back to life! -- will be revisited soon.
The more pressing situation will inevitably be the decision that Sawyer will have to make about his loyalties. He's cultivated a great life for himself in the intervening three years since last he saw his fellow survivors. Will he throw it all away to go back to living in the jungle with all the sexual tension that will bring with it? My wild speculation is that something big is going to have to happen to re-establish the "order" so to speak. Maybe Locke comes back in time, or something happens with the nuke that we know is buried. They very clearly worked The Swan in there for a reason, so we're likely to get some sort of explanation for The Button, and maybe even for the numeric code and all the other symbols and madness that went along with it. Of course, that could all go the way of the Statue, and frankly, that would be fine. But it is fun to speculate on.