Picks and Pans Review: Lost

updated 10/31/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/31/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

ABC (Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET)

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The fact that Gilligan's Island star Bob Denver died as the second season of Lost began has no significance. Right? Or will it someday be revealed that the castaways of Lost existed in some evanescent fragment in the mind of the actor—that the disastrous island crash of Flight 815 splintered off the SS Minnow's three-hour tour? Or maybe it's a scenario being pitched with saliva-spewing urgency by the Ancient Mariner to a studio assistant. Lost is true to its title: You're always tantalizingly disoriented, hunting the path to an answer. Last season some French lady, caked with dirt and living on the island for years, emerged like a longed-for prophet. But she was crazy. She seemed to have been sucking napalm fumes from a bong.

Anything goes on Lost. For that matter, anything comes. In the baffling-fascinating new season, the plot continues to be as densely knotted as a banyan tree. The survivors have recently begun exploring a bunker that may or may not be a doomsday trap. A second set of survivors has turned up, including Michelle Rodriguez with a curled lip that could scare back the tide. And the digits 4-8-15-16-23-42 keep recurring. They started as the lottery ticket that made an unhappy millionaire out of slacker Hurley Reyes (Jorge Garcia).

This is what tugs us along, these teasing threads. But the audience's deepest emotional connection comes from flash backs of lives pre-crash. They're easily the best segments of the show, or just about any TV drama. I've never cared for the zealous manliness of John Locke (Terry O'Quinn, with his cold pigeon eyes). But on the Oct. 5 episode we saw Locke back when he still had enough hair to manage a comb-over. He was pathetically vulnerable as he tried to choose between loving a decent woman and hounding the father who'd taken his kidney. Yes, kidney. A crazy story, but somewhere on Lost the truth will be found. Won't it?


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