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Lost returns with double shots of intrigue (note: don't read if you still plan to see it)

It's two places at once for Lost's Jack Shephard. ABC photos

Aha, so Lost intends to have it both ways.

Tuesday's two-hour Season 6 premiere of ABC's ever-confounding conundrum conjured up a pair of each principal character from the show's maiden Sept. 22, 2004 voyage on Oceanic 815. Whether that turns out to be a complete flight of fancy will be determined over the next four months.

Viewers were left last season with a flash of white and the apparent detonation of a bomb aimed at preempting the crash of Oceanic 815 and therefore wiping out everyone's five-season tour on the mysterious island that bedeviled them. Did it work? Yes and no.

In a dual device that few fans could have envisioned, Dr. Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox); apprehended fugitive Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly); con man James "Sawyer" Ford (Josh Holloway); paralyzed John Locke (Terry O'Quinn); former torturer Sayid Jarrah (Naveen Andrews); lottery winner Hugo "Hurley" Reyes (Jorge Garcia) and husband/wife Jin and Sun Kwon (Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim) were all back aboard their Oceanic 815 flight from Sydney to L.A.

Drug-addicted former rock star Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan) also could be seen, although federal marshals soon had other plans for him.

But as the plot twisted, all of them -- except Charlie -- also were back on the island, circa 2007. Kate initially was high up in a tree and Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell), who wasn't a passenger on Oceanic 815, remained buried beneath the rubble of the bomb detonation site.

Both Mitchell and Monaghan were seen only briefly -- but memorably. They're otherwise occupied on the respective ABC series FlashForward and V, whose March returns were promoted during commercial breaks. Speaking of interruptions, there were an awful lot of 'em. But in the end, actual program content probably got more time than the products that paid for it.

Judging from the first two hours, Lost intends to split its time between the island and the aftermath of Oceanic 815's landing in L.A. Kate already has made more serious trouble for herself after escaping her federal escort at LAX. And Jack, who discovered a mysterious cut on his neck in the plane's restroom, has no idea what happened to his father's presumably on-board coffin.

Then there's Locke, who on Tuesday night emerged as someone else entirely in addition to being the all-powerful "Smoke Monster."

"I'm sorry you had to see me like that," he told a cowed Ben Linus (Michael Emerson), who's been reduced to his intimidated gofer while fake Locke has emerged as the island's brusque, sometimes brutal overlord.

The rest of the island's denizens eventually found themselves at The Temple, where a gutshot, nearly dead Sayid supposedly could be healed. Two new characters, a no-nonsense Asian leader and his interpreter (John Hawkes from Deadwood), emerged to make things even more miserable for Jack and crew. But Sayid predictably returned from the dead after being forcefully held beneath the Temple's healing waters. It took quite a while, though, with Tuesday night's doubleheader ending with the lifeless Sayid jolting awake and then wondering what had happened.

The trick now is to somehow merge the Oceanic 815 principals with their island counterparts. That presumably has to happen at some point during Lost's climactic back-and-forth trips through the Looking Glass.

Meanwhile, fake Locke has an entirely different motivation than murdered Locke, whose body still lays sprawled from its coffin on island beachfront property.

"I want the one thing that John Locke didn't," he told Ben. "I want to go home."

Good luck with that.

***Amid the glut of Lost commercial breaks were several for Republican gubernatorial candidate Kay Bailey Hutchison, who's been slipping in the polls. All were replays of Nolan Ryan's countrified endorsement of the sitting U.S. senator, who's still throwing a good deal of money into her race against incumbent Rick Perry. The guv didn't bother advertising during Lost. Perhaps he didn't like the title, which for now certainly fits Hutchison.