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Tonight on ABC: The "Lost" Survey of Western Thought Continues

As usual, Alessandra Stanley's "TV Watch" column about supernatural serials like Lost and Heroes in this morning's New York Times is a subject of ridicule on Gawker–her comparison of such shows' fans to anti-abortion activists ("their intensity is in some ways more powerful than their numbers") has been recognized as a "Great Moment in Journalism."

When I read Stanley's column earlier, I caught something that I figured would end up in the "Alessandra Stanley Watch," Gawker's catalogue of the Times critic's factual errors. In noting that several characters on Lost are named after British philosophers, Stanley cites John Locke and Edmund Burke as examples. Indeed, the first two seasons of Lost have introduced characters named for Locke, David Hume and the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. (Even the father of Lost's John Locke was apparently named for Anthony Ashley Cooper, a patron of the 17th century philosopher.) I'm not aware of a Burke character, though.

As it turns out, the reference was not a gaffe but something of a spoiler. Though it probably isn't news to Lost's "passionate" and "devoted" fans, who've been trading intel about it online, tonight's episode–the first since the 3rd season took a three month break–introduces a character named Edmund (to be played by the awesome Zeljko Ivanek).

So pay attention tonight, class. The 18th century thinker could be the key to unraveling the whole magilla. Or it could be just another smartie-pants red herring meant to distract us all from the reality that the show's writers have no idea where it's all going.