"Lost" settled a few questions — sort of — while posing many more on the premiere of its third season Wednesday.
While ABC's mystical adventure series focused on three members (Jack, Kate and Sawyer) of the stranded community, the rest of the group (many unaccounted for after last season's finale) were unseen and unaddressed during the hour.
The episode began at the compound of the Others — a normal-looking collection of homes in a clearing in the middle of the jungle. During a book club meeting, of all things, the participants experienced what seemed to be an earthquake and then watched Oceanic flight 815 descend overhead with a thunderous roar. The plane broke up before crashing elsewhere on the mysterious island. It was a flashback to the pivotal event that had launched the series.
Back to the present: After being taken prisoner in the last episode, Jack (Matthew Fox), Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and Kate (Evangeline Lilly) awoke separately, each in a different type of captivity.
Kate was taken to a meeting with the Other who had gone by the name of Henry Gale (Michael Emerson). He handcuffed her but also served her a nice breakfast.
"Kate, the next two weeks are going to be very unpleasant," he said evenly.
Meanwhile, a young man held captive across from Sawyer managed to pick his own lock, then open Sawyer's cell. As an alarm announced "Subject Escaped," Sawyer took off. He was quickly recaptured.
A lovely member of the Others (new cast member Elizabeth Mitchell) approached Jack in his cell. Growing more and more agitated, Jack sparred with the calm, comforting Juliet.
"You can trust me, Jack," she told him. "I'm not going to hurt you."
"What the hell is going on here?" he asked through the glass wall separating them.
Probably romance, in their future.
But first, Juliet gently let Jack know she had a full dossier on his life.
"Is it just about me," he asked, startled, "or is it about my family, too?"
"It's pretty much about everything," Juliet replied.
In a series of flashbacks, Jack obsessively tried to find the man to whom he had lost his wife, Sarah (Julie Bowen). Delusional or on solid ground — who could tell? — he decided the cuckolder was his own father (John Terry). But then he learned from Sarah he was wrong. She had found someone else.
Back in the present: "What," Juliet asked Jack, "would you like to find out?"
"Is she happy?" Jack haltingly inquired.
"She's very, very happy," Juliet replied, as Jack wept.
Outside of Jack's sight, the creepy Other leader who had posed as Henry told her, "Good work, Juliet."
Coldly — and revealingly — she responded, "Thank you, Ben."
But did desperate dad Michael (Harold Perrineau), who betrayed his friends to save himself and his son, Walt (Malcolm David Kelley), sail to freedom in the motorboat they commandeered on last season's finale? Did Locke (Terry O'Quinn), Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) or Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) die in the hatch explosion? And what became of Sayid (Naveen Andrews), left patrolling in a sailboat?
For answers to those and other pressing questions, viewers were kept waiting a bit longer.
This season opener was the first of six new weekly episodes that will air before "Lost" takes a hiatus until February, when it will continue without a break through May.