Although the following isn't quite connected to today's corresponding episodes, I figured I'd get some LOST theories out there just to prime the old John Locke pump:
First off, I read transcripts of the ubiquitous island whispers the other day, and holy crap, what's going on. The whispers (which are played on three separate audio tracks simultaneously - the transcribers singled out the left channel, the right channel, and I guess some channel in between in order to hear more clearly) seem to be coming from dead people, and the woman's whisper voice always wants to reveal her party to whichever survivor happens to be listening. WHAT ON EARTH! This is not a theory so much as an invitation to read Lostpedia's Whisper Transcripts. then tell me a theory because I want one.
I read somewhere (most likely the Memphish blog) that the characters (survivors, others, everybody else) and their lives can be thought of as a huge Rube Goldberg device. I am assuming that the device is meant to serve "the island" or Jacob or whomever it is that makes these lists and seems to have a plan in mind. This leads me to a larger, more important issue: is a Rube Goldberg device supposed to have an end in mind, or is it specifically a senseless, unnecessarily complex machine designed to do basically nothing? What is the island/Jacob trying to achieve? That answer might get us somewhere.
IF Jacob's obsession with progress is meant to imply anything, I would guess that it means Jacob is manipulating these people in order to take the island to a place it has never been before (not necessarily location-wise; more humanity-wise). But what is this progress? Has Jacob experienced all of this before, or has he just experienced bringing people to the island before? In that case, are we going to find out about the previous groups of manipulated people Jacob has tried to use? Were these previous groups a success or a failure, and howso? How can Jacob be so sure where his manipulations will go unless he has done all of this before (the entire thing. I'm talking the ENTIRE THING.)? And how does he research everyone, particularly when it looks like before the Black Rock crew, it would have been realllllly hard to find out anything about anyone (no internet).
IF the most recent season tells us anything, it's that there once was an electromagnetic incident and it's possible that the island doesn't want it to have happened. OR it's possible that it wants it to happen even BIGGER. What is going on with this electromagnetic incident, and is it actually important, or is it just a MacGuffin? I personally don't see how it would change anything. I'm not a believer in the "once the bomb goes off, we'll be right where we should be, landing in LAX" theory. There's something called the Butterfly Effect, which supposes (I think) that even the smallest change in the past (say, if a butterfly flapped its wing differently) can have the greatest effects on the present (a tornado could eventually form from that original butterfly flap). So if the survivors actually did effect change on the island with the bomb, it's not like they'd automatically be hanging out in the plane together again. Perhaps Widmore's plans would have changed, and he would have had a reason to raise Penny in Jakarta or something, where Desmond never would have met her, and then where would we be? At the very least, Desmond's role would be changed or even erased. Let's face it: the bomb didn't put anything back where it belonged.
So IF, theoretically, Jacob is looking for progress, THEN he won't find it just by having His Chosen Survivors come together to set off a bomb. Or at least, the progress he wants would be something else - like maybe Jacob wants the whole thing to just die (see: Bill Murray's repeated suicide attempts in Groundhog Day). What does Jacob want? What have these people been chosen to do? If we can answer that, we can look at the whole thing with a much sharper perspective, and I'm pretty sure my love for Lost will grow exponentially once I get that answer. JACOB, WHAT ARE YOU AIMING AT?