Dominic Monaghan courtesy ABC Dominic Monaghan courtesy ABC

Nine months ago, I was almost convinced that Lost had lost its way and I chronicled my concerns right here in this blog. Meaningless peripheral characters, wimpy love triangles, and VW joyrides dominated the island landscape. The Dharma initiative was as confusing as ever, Mrs. Claus was annoying everyone but Jack, and I couldn't get my tailies, Others, parachutists, or any other new characters straight.

But what a difference a final few episodes can make. The two-hour finale, which will re-air this Wednesday night, is almost as good as the original pilot. That's lofty praise. I pride myself on figuring out television's mysteries, but I didn't see that flash-forward coming at the very end. Lost did the impossible: It became exciting to watch again.

And now the show couldn't ask for a better situation. When it comes to new scripted drama (or new scripted anything, for that matter), there's nothing out there to watch. Fan interest is climbing toward pre-hatch levels. Expectations are high, and deservedly so.

The big question: Can Lost live up to the hype? I'm nervous.

Let's go back to Season 3. The first six Lost episodes aired in the fall, and the show returned in February to avoid any weeks off or confusing repeats that occurred during Season 2. If you remember, those first six eps were not the best and plenty of viewers left the island behind for good. If the survivors of Oceanic 815 fail to hit the ground running this time, ABC might not wait to see how everything turns out.

However, unlike Mr. Eko, I have not lost faith.

I believe the creators have learned their lesson and will stick to stories about the characters we fell in love with. No more tailies. No more Others (except Ben). Just more Sayid, Jin and Sun, Jack and Locke. Bring back Michael. And Walt. Toughen up Kate again. Mourn Charlie.

Flashbacks and flash-forwards. A rescue helicopter on its way. Some will stay, and some will go.

The mystery is still there. Let's hope Lost comes through this time.