At last, ‘Lost’ fills in viewers

Special to The Times

The return of “Lost” was something of a renaissance for viewers whose passion for the show has been bogged down by an ever-sprawling mythology and characters so numerous that many have ridden the bench since fall.

For the cult-like followers of its intrigues, Wednesday’s episode dropped clues to several new mysteries -- e.g. Alex, the presumed daughter of the Frenchwoman, calls Ben “dad” -- and revisited several old ones.

More than anything though, and for the first time this season, “Lost” gave a worthy back story. The hour devoted to Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell), the militant but compassionate second-in-command to Others overlord Ben, soared in its slow revelation of a fiercely loyal woman who wants off the island even more than the plane crash survivors.

Jack may be the resident doctor, but via this season’s strongest flashback, Juliet is shown to have some significant skills of her own. (Through unhappy coincidence she has been forced to stay on the island for more than three years.)


After she facilitates the resolution to November’s cliffhanger -- Jack had left Ben bleeding on the operating table in order to negotiate Kate and Sawyer’s release; she helps them get away -- Juliet confides to Jack that she helped them only because Ben had promised to send her home.

Rather than issuing the now-standard kill-a-character shock, the episode’s real surprise was its restraint -- the episode felt reminiscent of the first season, when a character’s impulses and motivations were enticingly exposed, like peeling away the layers of an onion.

Show Tracker is a column that follows television series through their highs and lows.