Of all the shows on network television to be affected by the writer's strike, Lost is one of the few to come through with nary a scratch.
Of course, addicted viewers felt differently while last season was airing, forced to live with a truncated 14-episode arc in what turned out to be the best season since its debut, a barrage of flash-forwards, new characters, astounding deaths and revelations that were literally earth-moving. But after an eight-month wait, all is forgiven.
While a few lingering mysteries will reportedly be left untouched in season five (don't expect to see Emilie de Ravin's Claire again until the sixth and final season), gauging from back-to-back episodes in the season premiere, the good feeling between fans and the show's creators will continue.
Lost picks up where last season left the Oceanic Six, three years in the future, with Matthew Fox's Jack playing puppet for Michael Emerson's Ben Linus on his quest to get them all back to the island; Evangeline Lilly's Kate living the lie of motherhood with Claire's son Aaron; Naveen Andrew's Sayid running from employment as Ben's hired gun with Jorge Garcia's escaped mental patient Hurley in tow; Yunjin Kim's Sun plotting Ben's demise; and Terry O'Quinn's Locke resting peacefully in a coffin.
The series does the same on the island, where Locke is still alive and kicking, tracing the aftermath of Ben's decision to shift the whole land mass to hide it from marauding billionaire Charles Whitmore. This moves Lost into a new realm of time manipulation, where all temporal jumps are group activities.
Seemingly past going back or forth into an individual character's story, the series sticks with the Oceanic Six in their present. On the island, the group led by Josh Holloway's Sawyer and Elizabeth Mitchell's Juliet is hurtling into the past with each random, blinding white flash, adding the question of when to the what's, who's and why's that have accumulated there.
Physicist Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies) is the only one with a clue about what's happening, and fortunately, the actor's nervous energy and cryptic verbiage spice up the dynamic nicely.
By the second episode, Locke's messianic glow is gaining wattage, Ben's efforts to get the Oceanic Six back to the island assume a desperation fans should relish, and Hurley, though his sanity's still in doubt, is evolving into a force to be reckoned with.
While season five seems primed to reveal long-awaited information about some of the island's natural leaders, this also looks to be the time for exploring the oft-underestimated lottery millionaire's link to the place and its lucky numbers. That's as tantalizing a thought as an explanation of the smoke monster.
9 p.m. Wednesdays, ABC