Claire, clearly

So much still to be found on Lost

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TV EYED Still stuck on Lost? Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are counting on it, and it's about half-past the time to finally wrap it up, because the time-travel device and the many dead people who flitted around the island were starting to make it seem like very little was at stake. The revelation that the Lost crash survivors appeared to simply be chess pieces in a cosmic bout between the blonde, sad-eyed, and benevolent-seeming Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) — who intercedes in the islanders' destinies — and his murderous-minded Smoke Monster/Man in Black/anti-Locke nemeses (played by Titus Welliver and Terry O'Quinn) didn't help matters either

So despite the attractions of brawls between Sayid (Naveen Andrews) and Dogen (Hiroyuki Sanada); the dryly smart-ass, geek charm of the intuitively gifted Hurley (Jorge Garcia) sparring with the telepathically talented Miles (Ken Leung); the promise of seeing killed-off faves like physicist Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies) and rock star Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) again; and the weird mixed personal pleasure of seeing Oahu haunts standing in for, say, downtown South Korea (an effect that usually jars my Honolulu-bred self straight out of the story) — I must confess that the most intriguing and chilling character this season is Claire (Emilie de Ravin). She gave birth on the island to a son who, an Aussie psychic prophesied, was surrounded by danger. She then becomes the focus of the latest rescue mission embarked upon by Kate (Evangeline Lilly), who has a thing for saving moms.

Bestowed with a name that seems diametrically opposed to the smoky obfuscation veiling Lost, Claire also embodies the cyclical patterns of the island. She's "gone native" in the madly violent, Col. Kurtz-style survivalist swagger of the French woman Rousseau (Mira Furlan), who also gave birth on the island and, after the disappearance of her baby, likewise took leave of her senses. Claire's ax murder of a captive Other truly shocked: both in its prime-time bloodlessness — the death of Boone (Ian Somerhalder) was gorier — and uncharacteristic cold-bloodedness. We're not in the Kansas of the guileless, sweet-faced single mom anymore.

Claire also embodies more than a few of the themes critical to Lost survivors: she has a missing-daddy issue, much like the father-challenged Jack (Matthew Fox), Locke, Hurley — hell, who doesn't have problems with Pops on this show? Much like Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sayid, she was also an abduction victim, and she's in the thick of the current crisis between good and evil. Despite Lost's references to dharma and Ram Dass, this battle between the island god-titans seems to be disappointingly flattened into a kind of Judeo-Christian light vs. dark, do-gooders vs. sinners sort of dichotomy. Claire upsets that tidy apple cart as the little nut-bag lost who is locked into a deal with the gloom and doom team.

www.abc.go.com/shows/lost

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