As the Feb. 2 première date for the final season of Lost draws ever nearer, speculation among pop-culture’s most annoying fan base has only become more and more intense, as both diehards and skeptics wait to see whether the long-awaited ending will be more “mind-blowing coup de grace” than “um, destiny and metaphysics and so forth—also, magnets” copout. For the impatient, dubious spoilers abound—mostly of the well duh variety (SPOILER ALERT: Yes, Kate and Sawyer will interact! Also, the première is apparently “awesome”!)—but even the show’s creators have gotten into the act and begun dropping a few typically maddening oblique hints within the last few weeks.

One of the bigger revelations that we neglected to pick up on for some reason (probably because we were too busy watching this video of Senator-Elect Scott Brown’s wife giving a handy to a sunscreen bottle): Cast members Harold “Perchance, has anyone seen Walter?” Perrineau and Cynthia Watros have both signed up to reprise their roles as Michael and Libby, respectively, which either means we’re in for more flashbacks, or the whole “let’s drop a nuclear bomb on time, man” plot device from last season will, in fact, rewrite history, with the previously deceased castaways making a return to the land of the living, hopefully emerging from the jungle arm-in-arm in a splashy kick line to the tune of “One (Singular Sensation).” Today it was announced that Titus Welliver will also return as the mysterious “Esau/Man In Black,” who assumed mostly-dead John Locke’s appearance so he could finally follow through on his centuries-old plot to kill his (rival? brother? father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate?) Jacob. This probably means we’ll finally get to see just why he and Jacob have such a contentious relationship, other than the fact that Jacob just seems like kind of a smug know-it-all.

As for the season itself, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof are already hedging their bets in that usual, charmingly self-deprecating way they have, saying of the première, “Get ready to scratch your heads, America!” (Whee!) Various cast members seem to agree—like Emilie de Ravin, who said, “I think I had to read it three times before it made sense.” And of the finale, all Lindelof would say was, “There is certainly a hope that everybody universally loves the ending, but I don't think it would be Lost if there wasn't an ongoing and active debate.” Those magnificent bastards then stoked the flames further by releasing this teaser trailer, which features approximately .10 seconds of new footage: a quick shot of Claire holding a rifle and looking very Rosseau-like. Decipher that as you will.

BONUS VIDEO: The entire run of Lost thus far, done “guido-style.” [HT to Gawker]