SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading now if you don’t want to learn that last night’s show revealed that Eko is actually the reincarnation of the polar bear killed in the pilot episode. Just kidding. Although it would be cool. But seriously, stop reading.
Last night’s episode of Lost was titled "?," which if nothing else is truth in advertising. The punctuation mark in question was smack-dab in the middle of the island map Locke saw illuminated against a wall of the hatch; last night, we learned it stood for yet another hatch, "The Pearl," an observation station for monitoring a "psychological experiment," which, we assume, involves the numbers the survivors were told they must input into that Carter-era Radio Shack computer to forestall the end of the world.
It will be a little disappointing if the most obvious explanation for the numbers — the Skinner box theory — turns out to be right. But the story advanced the season’s long-running arc: Locke’s gradual loss of faith. By the end of the episode, the man who seemed to have the island-spirit on speed-dial in season one was convinced that the Dharma Initiative had bamboozled him like his kidney-swiping father, and that his efforts on the island–indeed, his whole life–have been purposeless.
Will Locke rebound? Will Eko, who’s getting visits from more of the dead than John Edward, become the new, improved Locke, with extra super-priest powers? And will Libby — apparently dead after failing to choke out the information that Michael shot her — be his next apparition? Open a hatch named "?" on Lost and a dozen more ?s are bound to fly out. Such as:
* What does it mean that Claire’s psychic–the guy, remember, who sent the pregnant Claire to fly to LA to have her baby, thus ensuring her stranding on the island–told Eko in his flashback that he was a fraud? Was he sending Claire off on a fake hunch? Was he setting her up, perhaps in the employ of Dharma or The Others? Or is he actually a fake fake psychic, since it turned out that his daughter’s resurrection–which he said his wife concocted using the same techniques he did to fake readings–may actually have been real?
* Is the computer number-code really useless? Is it, as Eko says, more important than ever as a test of the castaways’ faith? Is it actually preventing doomsday, a fake within a fake?
* As long as the Dharma Initiative has been air-bombing the island with resupplies of cereal and salad dressing, couldn’t they have parachuted in a decent inkjet to replace that dot-matrix printer in the observation hatch?
These and other questions will be hinted at, teasingly half-answered or more likely out-and-out ignored in the remaining two episodes, but you’ll stay tuned anyway. Thank you, and namaste.