Veronica MarsI should go ahead and confess here: I've just IMed a friend to explain that I'm having trouble writing this particular Watercooler because "I literally can't figure out how to, like, grasp the awesomeness that is this show." That's about as eloquent as it's gonna get this time, folks, so consider yourselves warned.... Seven weeks between new episodes. Seven. I'd complain, but frankly I needed every last second of that excruciating stretch to dry up my delightfully unexpected holy-crap-Wallace-is-back tears of joy. (Uh-oh, I shouldn't have started thinking about it again the dehydration's really starting to take its toll.) At any rate, after TPTB pulled that yuletide shock-a-rooney on me, I figured I'd be fairly spent in the jaw-dropping department for a good long while. Silly me. Series creator

Rob Thomas pulls out all the stops with his first-ever "written and directed by" credit from completely hoodwinking us with a mock Veronica-Duncan breakup, to bringing in Xena the Warrior Princess herself, Lucy Lawless, as a no-nonsense FBI agent. Duncan's kidnapped the baby! He's in Mexico! No, he's in Big Bear! No, he's really in Mexico! And while the plot's hairpin turns made for a fantastic ride, it was the depth of the performances that absolutely slayed me; in particular, Enrico Colantoni's ability to take the basic "I'm disappointed in you" speech they hand out at Dad School and turn it into honest-to-goodness heartbreak. We thought Veronica's latest hurdle was being dumped by her beau, but it turns out the real relationship in crisis is the father-daughter one. Oh, and just to pour a little sweet, sweet honey on that open wound? Two, count 'em, two Old 97's songs in the same episode. That's the kinda pain me likey. Something to file under "Did you notice?" the Mannings called the baby Faith, but it looks like Duncan's renaming her after his dearly departed sister. Which means, at long last, we've got another Lilly Kane mystery on our hands. Chana Shwadlenak

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Since I know next to nothing about religion myself, I'm going to refer all of you to my colleague Nerina's item in next week's magazine for a rather intriguing look at all things Christian in this show and these days it's no longer just a subtext. So I'll skip ahead to all the other questions raised tonight and I won't even complain that not a single one was answered, 'cause I like it that way.

Is Charlie using? Signs point to yes. He's sweaty and irrational and wearing that dead-man makeup (though it's not as bad as his green brother in the flashbacks). But two weeks ago, we saw that he'd hidden six Virgin Mary statues, and there were still six when he went back to look at them tonight. Unless maybe he had more stashed elsewhere. Or is this all still part of the island's hallucinatory properties? Charlie said so himself: Kate sees a horse, everyone sees Walt all over the place (he didn't even mention the polar bears), but Charlie sleepwalks and kidnaps a baby and... oh  that does sound worse than the rest. His vivid, surreal dreams were really well done. Better than his flashback story, which told us very little we didn't already know, except that he was a talented pianist as a kid and that his mom was that English tramp from Homefront. The fact that his brother Liam had to abandon his daughter because he was using heroin doesn't really explain why Charlie wants to save Aaron. The important question here is: Which keeps babies drier, Veronica Mars' Wuvs or DriveSHAFT's Bubbies? Speaking of dryers, Libby's throwaway comment about the washer and dryer seeming newer than everything else in the house struck me as rather suspicious. And I don't buy that she looked so familiar to Hurley just because he stepped on her toe in the plane. His stricken look said it was something more.

Other questions: Since when is Locke so mean and violent? What was Eko planning to do with those marked trees? Did Charlie fail to tell anyone else about the totally freaky coincidence of Eko's brother being in the heroin plane? Where the hell did they get all those blue tarps? Did FEMA stop by? And why did Ana Lucia's question to Jack "You hitting that?" seem so outlandish? Why aren't people hooking up all over the place?   Sabrina Rojas Weiss