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'Lost' descends, and reaches a new high

Lost airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on WFTS-Ch. 28

Published September 23, 2005

They opened the hatch, and Lost is a whole new show.

ABC's hit drama series returned to television Wednesday, picking up where its May cliffhanger left off and reaching one of every five television households in America (23-million viewers, according to ABC) with a season premiere that finally delivered an answer.

And plenty of new questions.

But that's okay. At least viewers got one deeply satisfying answer: There is a guy living under the hatch, apparently wiping away speculation that the stranded survivors of fictional Oceanic Flight 815 were actually dead and moving through a spirit world, and replacing it with speculation that they are victims of human conspiracy. Or not.

The Internet buzzed with fan chatter Thursday, filling chat boards with theories.

"I am so incredibly adrenalized sic right now! I am pumped! I want more," a poster at wrote. Another site, was so overloaded, the server couldn't keep up with demand.

What's next for castaways trapped on a tropical island with a polar bear, a mysterious smoke monster, a crazy French woman, a pile of heroin and a band of bearded pirates? And who is this guy in the hatch?

Viewers met the hatch dweller, Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick), and learned of an apparently random encounter he had with Dr. Jack Sheppard (Matthew Fox) years ago, tending to the doctor's twisted ankle while offering advice: "You have to lift it up" (the injured ankle, that is).

Imagine Sheppard's surprise when he encounters a gun-toting Desmond in the bottom of the hatch, and isn't it odd that John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) seemed to know Desmond as well?

If the title of Wednesday's episode - "Man of Science, Man of Faith" - is a hint (it's a hint), the coming 21 episodes look poised to delve into the relationship between spirituality and rationality, challenging viewers to choose between Sheppard and the shamanistic Locke.

A few extra mysteries to ponder, from assorted Internet postings:

- On the syringe Desmond injects into his arm in the opening scene, there's the series of numbers that kept popping up last year: 4-8-15-16-23-42.

- Sheppard, exploring the hatch, walks by graffiti scrawled on a wall. The number 108 - the sum of those figures - is prominent, painted inside a sun looking down on a village.

- Walt (Malcolm David Kelley), the boy who sailed on an ill-fated escape attempt last season appears in one castaway's hallucination, whispering something unintelligible. Play it backward, and it sounds like "Don't push the button. The button is bad."

- And what about this Desmond guy? Is he from "above?" In their first encounter, he tells Sheppard he had some medical training, and he seems to encourage the doctor to believe in miracles. Later, viewers see the patient Sheppard was treating appeared to benefit from a miracle. Cusick played Jesus in two films, 2003's The Gospel of John, and a yet-to-be-released production, The Gospel of Mark. The song Desmond is listening to as Lost opens, Make Your Own Kind of Music (sung by Mama Cass Elliott) was the theme song for a short-lived, 1970 TV series, hosted by . . . the Carpenters.

* * *

ABC also unveiled a new show Wednesday after Lost. Called Invasion, the story revolves around life in the Everglades in the weeks after a hurricane. Before the premiere, the network offered a warning: "This family drama contains images of a fictional hurricane and its aftermath," read the advisory. "Due to recent events, viewers may be sensitive to some of the following images."

[Last modified September 23, 2005, 12:16:39]

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