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Warning: this look at Lost's season finale discusses major plot points in case you haven't seen it yet

Jack stands over Locke box; Kate and Aaron. ABC photos

Can the island's recuperative powers -- whatever they are and wherever it is now -- serve to resurrect a presumably dead John Locke?

Except that he's Jeremy Bentham now. Or was.

Lost's two-hour, fourth season finale, in parts both preposterous and spellbinding, ended with a "flash forward" foreshadowing a blast to the past/present.

A still distraught Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox), whose ridiculous, glued-on jet black beard got a facelift for later scenes, broke into a mortuary to get another look at what turned out to be Locke/Bentham (Terry O'Quinn) reposing in a coffin. Inevitably, the nefarious Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) popped up, too.

Locke/Bentham, said to have committed suicide, "told me that after I left the island, some very bad things happened," Jack related to Ben. "And it was my fault for leaving."

Jack has been desperate to return ever since. But Ben told him the island will force all of the evacuees to return, including the deceased.

"How?" asked Jack.

"I have a few ideas."

Doesn't he always? Ben is the most complex, vexing villain cum good guy ever to inhabit the small screen. But he also can be a ridiculous figure, never more so than when "moving" the island near the climax of Thursday night's temporary farewell.

To do so he had to descend deep into the earth, where a giant, frosted, handled wheel was frozen in place. He strained mightily to move it, befitting the last labor of Hercules or something. But move it he did. And the island then magically poofed out of sight just as a conveniently oversized inflatable raft with the "Oceanic 6" and two other survivors rowed back toward its shore.

Well, you can't make this stuff up. But unfortunately Lost's creators sometimes do. Still, it's all so damned transfixing most of the time. The show's late season episodes, after settlement of the writers' strike, have given the faithful a supercharged series of head-spinning twists and turns. Lost doesn't dally anymore -- or at least it hasn't of late. But how do they come up with this stuff?

Lest we forget, the Oceanic 6 are Jack, Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly); Sayid Jarrah (Naveen Andrews); Sun Kwon (Yunjin Kim); Hugo "Hurley" Reyes (Jorge Garcia) and baby Aaron (multiple kids).

All have lied about their pasts on the island, ostensibly to protect their remaining colleagues from annihilation at the hands of sinister Charles Widmore (Alan Dale).

But in truth, only three Lost regular characters of note remain unaccounted for. They would be James "Sawyer" Ford (Josh Holloway), Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin), mother of Aaron and -- as it turns out -- sister of Jack.

Another survivor, long-suffering Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick) was reunited with his beloved Penny Widmore (Sonya Walger) after she and a crew searched for him on a boat not so imaginatively named Searcher. It also served as the vehicle to take the Oceanic 6 back to a real world of denial, tribulation and cover stories.

Comically, the motorized little boat initially used to shuttle island denizens to an ill-fated freighter was heavily stocked with stick figures that never emerged as identifiable characters throughout Lost's first four seasons. Who were those people? Oh well, they're all dead now, along with hapless Michael Dawson (Harold Perrineau), the traitor turned would-be rescuer.

There's no telling how all of this will shake out. Lost remains at high risk of being too mystical and therefore absurd. But its revelations and studies in human frailty are still powerful magnets. Those of us in for the long haul -- just two more seasons to go -- can continue to marvel at the balls-out ingenuity of it all.

Whatever awaits, Lost will go down as one rich broth, the most debated, dissected serial drama in broadcast TV history. Its island -- whereabouts now unknown -- remains an intoxicating place to visit every week. You just wouldn't want to live there.

Added note: As teased during Lost's season finale, ABC's Friday edition of Good Morning America showed two alternate endings. One had Sawyer in the casket, the other, Desmond. They were filmed to prevent leaks. Unlike anything else about Lost, that's a conventional tactic dating back to the "Who Shot J.R.?" season of Dallas.