A few notes about tonight's "Lost," with possible spoilers, after the jump ...
For a long time, "Lost" had no need to send preview episodes about to TV critics. The audience was large and loyal, and there was no sense in risking spoilers getting out from blabbermouth recipients of previews. But these are not the good old days of "Lost." Many viewers have become disenchanted, and it's clear the show is struggling to get them back. And to get them, "Lost" has become far more willing to send out preview discs, including one of tonight's telecast.
And it's a good one. Not only are we back with the original core of survivors, the episode focuses on Hurley, a favorite of many viewers, including me. Without getting into too much detail, the flashbacks provide us a little more insight into Hurley's life and attitiudes, and the stuff on the island reminds us of his importance to the community as a whole -- that Hurley is, above all else, the morale officer.
The episode is not without flaws. (When you watch, think what the jungle damp would have done to a set of tires.) But after weeks of crying and moaning and the Others, it was a great comfort to see "Lost" back where it belonged. (Good grief, I sound like an "American Idol" judge.) Tonight's show reminds us how engaging and touching the characters can be, and how we don't need a big mystery to keep watching them.