The search for redemption follows many paths. For the lost souls on Lost, efforts at salvation vary from small acts of kindness that promote forgiveness to sudden acts of violence that promise freedom. For the show itself, redemption consists of a string of solid, and sometimes superb, episodes that has firmly re-established Lost in TV's top ranks, in quality if not popularity.
That climb to the top continues tonight with an excellent hour focused on Locke (Terry O'Quinn) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway). Where Locke seems to have lost his way, his faith turning to bitter doubt, Sawyer has begun to find himself and his place in the beach community.
Now their journeys cross, as Locke leaves The Others to seek Sawyer's help. What he wants from Sawyer and why he thinks Sawyer will comply are best left for viewers to discover. But it leads to one of the show's darkest and most morally complex outings yet, one few other shows would dare to attempt.
And since so many seem to have become fixated on this one point: It does provide an answer to an important, lingering question from the first season, along with a potential answer to the most important question of them all. Just remember, however, that answers are not necessarily universal or true.
Progress also is made on other fronts as the show speeds toward the finale and further explores the fractures in its beachfront solidarity. Jack learns a painful secret while revealing he has one of his own. And the mysterious pilot repeats last week's bombshell, the message that the wreckage from their flight was found and everyone on it was dead.
The good news for fans is that the producers seem to realize the show has to be accessible enough to keep a mass audience involved and has to focus on characters the audience wants to see. That means diverting attention back to the main camp and away from The Others. But that also means the story will last as long as the series lasts, a simple TV truth that seems to have escaped some of the show's more contentious, answer-eager fans.
Still, it's clear they've heard you. And as often happens, they've let Jorge Garcia's lovable Hurley humorously address audience concerns. As Sayid fiddles with the newly discovered transmitter, Hurley asks him, "What about the other part? The part about they found a plane and we're all dead?" "One thing at a time," Sayid answers. When "one thing" leads to an episode this good, why leave the path now?