What, you were expecting answers?
No, Wednesday night's season premiere of ``Lost," as any good fan might have guessed, offered precious few clues to those late-spring cliffhangers. An hour into Season 3, we don't know the fate of Eko and Locke (except that both actors are listed in the opening credits), the whereabouts of Michael and Walt, or the meaning of that statue with four toes. We don't know any more about Desmond's girlfriend, who seemed, in the Season 2 finale, to be searching for the island.
What we do know is that the Others live in a mid-island suburban enclave, where they wear
Oh, and that guy who isn't Henry Gale? He's actually named Ben.
OK, there's one answer. But most of Wednesday night's episode was a means of introducing a whole new set of questions. The main character was Juliet, a rank-and-file Other we'd never seen before (if I missed her in a freeze-frame in a previous season, I formally apologize to the masses in cyberspace). The first shot we saw was a close-up of her eye -- a reference to Season 1, which began with a similar shot of Jack. The first thing she did was pop a Petula Clark CD into a modern CD player -- a reference to Season 2, when Desmond shook the world with a vinyl recording of Mama Cass.
She looked sort of sad, in a Libby sort of way. But menacing, too, in a Libby sort of way.
Pity, in short, to anyone who tries to catch onto ``Lost" midstream; the show is layered with so many references, clues, and inside nods that it seems to be daring neophytes to buy the DVDs. On the other hand, in this episode, the story has shifted so much that the mysteries are new to everyone.
``Lost" producers have said that, while last season focused on uncovering the secrets of the hatch -- and ended with the news-flash that the button was important, after all -- this season will be more about the Others. They've also said they're aiming for a broader audience, adding a little more action, a little more romance, and a little less cerebral stuff.
So what are loyal Lostophiles to do? Forget about all of that Dharma stuff? And be patient with a season of flashbacks? Last night, for instance, we learned a variety of things old hands already knew: that Jack is jealous, his ex-wife is mad, his father -- while drunk -- still loves him. Stay tuned to learn that Sawyer is a con man and Charlie needs a heroin fix.
Such is the tricky balance ``Lost" has to reach: drawing in the newbies, appeasing the die-hards who helped make the show a hit, keeping the mythology from sinking under its own weight. When it came to drawing new folks in, Wednesday night's episode might have been a tough sell.
On the other hand, a little delayed gratification won't drive away the hard-core fans. That's what the Internet is for: If they don't get their mysteries solved, they'll just come up with theories of their own.
Joanna Weiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org