For eight months, those questions have nagged at millions of viewers who got hooked on the television series Lost, then were left in the dark after watching the cliffhanger episode that ended the show’s fifth season in May.

Now, relief is on the way, especially for Lost fans at the University of Louisville. The university’s students, faculty, staff and their guests will have one of the best seats in the house when the sixth season of the Emmy Award-winning drama begins Feb. 2.

Two UofL offices, Information Technology and Communications and Marketing, are throwing a Lost party on campus that night at 7:30 p.m. in the iTechZone on the lower level of Miller Information Technology Center. The big draw? A flat-panel, high-definition video wall measuring 10 feet by 6 feet.

We’re talking Sawyer, up close and larger than life, said Denise Fitzpatrick of Communications and Marketing, who is helping organize the event.

The long-awaited premiere will be shown free on the huge screen, said Sande Johnson-Byers of IT.

We constantly try to make people on campus aware of the technology resources our unit has available, she said. We thought this would be a fun way to do that.

The three-hour season premiere starts at 8 p.m. on WHAS-TV, ABC-TV’s station affiliate in Louisville. A one-hour episode recapping all five seasons of Lost will be shown first, followed by two, new one-hour episodes, LA X, Parts 1 and 2, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Partygoers are encouraged to come dressed as a Lost character, Fitzpatrick said. The person with the best costume will win two tickets to the Feb. 6 UofL-Rutgers men’s basketball game.

It would be great to see someone come as the smoke monster or the four-toed statue, Fitzpatrick said. But there’s an easier option for people who don’t want to spend time on their costumes. If they show up barefoot and dirty, they’ll look just like one of the ‘Others’.

Lost follows the lives of survivors on a mysterious tropical island after their passenger jet crashes between Sydney and Los Angeles. As they try to stay alive and attract rescue, they must negotiate a killer cloud of black smoke, wild boars, an unpredictable group of prior occupants and strange other-worldly characters.

The show, which first aired in September 2005, has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon. References to Lost have appeared in other TV series and commercials, comic books, video games and song lyrics, and it has spawned tie-in novels and alternative reality games such as The Lost Experience.

It’s a cult-type show with mass appeal, said Tom Byers, a UofL English professor who specializes in pop culture. On one hand, it has the eccentricity and richness of detail to create geek-type fans. On the other, it’s not just for insiders.

The show may be the first mainstream network hit to understand a new audience saturated in all kinds of new media, Byers said.

Lost creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have said the sixth season will be the last and that they will tie up all of the show’s unsolved mysteries in the final 18 episodes. Still, that hasn’t stopped fans from speculating on websites and blogs about how the drama will end.

In early January, ABC released a promotional photo depicting the show’s cast in a Last Supper pose. Writers for The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly and other media organizations have pored over the photo for clues to what might happen in Season 6, which has provoked lively debate among fans.

On Jan. 8, a White House spokesman announced President Obama would not schedule his State of the Union address on Feb. 2 after Lost fans complained the speech would preempt the show’s season premiere.