Gotta give ABC and the “Lost” producers credit for the best viral marketing of a TV show ever. In addition to the official site (complete with streaming video of the last few episodes, including the season finale), the creative team has also come up with a site for The Hanso Foundation, complete with bios and background on all the fictional characters who created the Dharma Initiative, some of whom haven’t been introduced on the TV show yet. There’s also a separate tie-in for job opportunities at Hanso.

They started a phone line that supposedly contained the automated voicemail system for Hanso. Hanso even showed up in “Mission Impossible 3,” which was directed by “Lost” creator JJ Abrams. And don’t forget the interactive “Lost Experience” game and the Oceanic Flight 815 site.

Then there’s the “Bad Twin” book, which showed up in print for real after Sawyer was seen reading the manuscript a few episodes ago.

And that doesn’t even begin to include all the unofficial fan sites and blogs where fans are adding their theories of what the hell is going on.

The one thing they’re not very good at is providing answers. It seems they take great joy in provoking ten more questions for each one they answer, and even that is usually incomplete. Here are some questions of my own:

  • Is it possible that The Others are actually the Dharma research team overseeing everything that happens on the island?
  • Why did The Others make Michael bring along Hurley if they were only going to release him immediately?
  • What did Henry mean when he said The Others got “more than we bargained for when Walt joined us”?
  • When Desmond turned the key, did that trigger a nuclear blast?

Listener John Koester’s theories and questions:

  • Walt and Michael’s Escape: No way the Dharma people will let them go. They value their privacy too much.
  • Letting Hurley go: The most reasonable idea I have is a combination of warning to the others and part of the Dharma mind games. Is the subject (Michael) properly programmed to obey all instructions?
  • I think the others are the remnants of the Dharma project. A bunch of mad scientists following the precepts of B. F. Skinner. They have a comfortable hideaway someplace near the dock. The raggedy clothes and the beards are props for dealing with their test subjects. I suspect they spend their free time trying to psychologically manipulate each other.
  • The two guys at the end were hired by Desmond’s girlfriend (he called her ‘Pen’ also). She has the will to find him and the money to pay for the search. Daddy’s really rich.
  • Charlie was within tens of feet of a major explosion. He should be completely deaf (at least temporarily) and have his brain rattled as well. I think he was doing good to be able to walk and to find the camp.
  • “Our Mutual Friend” was Dickens’ last completed novel. According to Wikipedia, it was full of amazing coincidences to gather the various characters together.
  • Who or what is paying for the resupply drops that have apparently been going on for the last twenty years? Air freight is expensive, paying off the pilots and/or the aircraft owners to not ask questions or remember what they do is even more expensive.

A friend reminded me of some connections to Widmore, the ultra-rich businessman who may be behind the whole deal (his daughter was Desmond’s girlfriend and appeared in last night’s final scene):

  • The video for Charlie’s band, Drive Shaft, was shot in front of a Widmore construction site.
  • The pregnancy test Sun used was made by Widmore Laboratories
  • On the Widmore Laboratories website, they claim to be “the exclusive manufacturer of all Dharma and Infinity brand foods and pharmaceuticals for over three decades.”
  • Widmore Labs sponsored the hot-air balloon of the real Henry Gale
  • The box company that Locke used to work for was a Widmore subsidiary
  • The website says “Sociometeorological Solutions For Biomagnetic Climates”

The best news about “Lost” this week is that next season will be practically rerun-free. They’ll air 7 episodes in October and November, then break until late January, when ABC will air 16 straight weeks of new episodes, which will take them through May sweeps again. Of course, that gives us less than five months to muse about where the season finale left us.