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TELEVISION REVIEW

'Lost' season finale deepens the mystery

Reprinted from late editions of yesterday's Globe.

''Lost" fans lusting for a few good answers Wednesday night were disappointed.

Not that the season finale of ABC's popular cult series wasn't most excellent. The two-hour episode never skipped a beat as it raced from island intrigues to Michael's raft to assorted flashbacks of the major characters on the day of Oceanic Flight 815. While most supersize finales are bloated with stuffing, ''Lost" was admirably tight and well-written, with hardly a filler scene.

We got an exploding neurotic, and a few explosive face-offs among the survivors, including a tense butch-fest between Jack and Locke that cut to the philosophical underpinnings of the series. ''I don't believe in destiny," Jack spat at Locke. ''Yes, you do, you just don't know it yet," Locke spat back.

We got a plot twist that led to the single creepiest image of the show so far, as a boat approached the jubilant rafters and its hollow-eyed passengers announced, ''The boy, we're going to have to take him." Rousseau had told the survivors she'd heard ''the Others" whispering about taking a child, and everyone assumed the child would be Claire's ''bay-bay," whom she named Aaron. But surprisingly, little Walt, with his psychic bent, was the real target, and the Others wrested him away from his raftmates amid screams and flames. Will any of the rafters -- Michael, Sawyer, or Jin -- survive the summer?

We got a number of reminders that Sayid, not Jack, may be the true hero, as we saw him firmly defuse Rousseau after she stole Aaron to barter for her own son with the Others. And we finally got a glimpse inside the hatch, which Jack, Locke, Hurley, and Kate opened with the convenient help of some dynamite. What we saw: a seemingly endless tunnel leading straight into the ground -- to hell? -- with a broken ladder along it.

But ''Lost" continued to withhold too many clues to its mysteries. Despite the flashbacks, we didn't get a real sense of whether these people were -- as the show has teased -- together on the downed plane by design. We didn't get hints about the significance of Hurley's lottery numbers, which he believes could be the source of bad luck. We didn't get good information about the noisy Spielbergian monster that killed the pilot, even while it nearly drew Locke into its clutches. We didn't get an explanation of why Walt was so fearful of the hatch, or what it leads to.

And we didn't get any insight into why the island seems to attract travel vehicles -- boats, planes, and perhaps even the hatch with the porthole -- and then hold on to them.

''We were brought here for a purpose," Locke said to Jack during their confrontation. The ''Lost" writers might have thrown us a few solid whys and hows, to get us through the summer believing they know where they're going with all of this. Really, we'd hate to think that the ever-thickening plot of ''Lost" will ultimately turn out to be quicksand.

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