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''Lost'': Back on the Roller Coaster

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 6, 2005

Last week I griped about the season's second episode, which felt like a time-filler after the season premiere. So I am obliged to admit that Wednesday's episode was a great improvement, getting us back into an ongoing narrative and actually telling us things about the island and its environs.

Not that I am at all sure what it's telling us. I'm more than a little paranoid about the information provided in thrillers and so am unwilling to take something like the Dharma film strip at face value. And I am more than willing to believe that the new people encountered are not the Others, but -- for want of a better term -- other Others, whose agenda is not clear.

The whole issue of the different cultures on the island keeps making me think of H.G. Wells's ''The Time Machine,'' or maybe just the movie version starring Rod Taylor, with the above ground/below ground societies, only in ''Lost'' they've been turned upside down.

And I like the idea that maybe this is a grand psychology experiment, where people are put in dire circumstances to see what it takes to get them to perform an act to prevent consequences entirely of their own imagining. If my admittedly hazy memory of Skinnerian psychology is correct, that puts the whole fact-vs.-faith argument in a hat because what you do is important -- not what you think while you do it.

And at this point, I am probably over-thinking the whole thing, which is what the makers of ''Lost'' want us to do. They want us to think they are deviously clever and detailed. And they probably are. They want us to seek clues, to freeze-frame images to see the title of a book or what's written on a blackboard in a flashback.

They want us to wonder. OK, I'm wondering. I'll be back, gleeful, in a week.

And from my reading of my freeze frame, Locke was in an anger-management class. You could figure that out from the dialogue, too. But I wanted to know what's on the board.

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