With only four new episodes remaining before the series finale, the producers of the award-winning and popular ABC drama Lost have shocked fans by announcing that Ted McGinley (Happy Days, Married With Children) will be added to the cast, portraying Jackson Ford, handsome small-town lawyer and ne’er-do-well cousin of Josh Holloway’s James Ford a.k.a. Sawyer.

“We are very excited to have an actor of Ted’s stature and charisma join the cast,” says producer Carlton Cuse.  “From the start, we always saw this show as having a beginning and an end, and part of our vision for that end always included Ted.  I think fans will be excited, because the character of Jackson Ford is a key figure and will tie up many ‘loose ends’ and see Lost through to an unexpected and shocking finish.”

Neither Cuse nor fellow producer Damon Lindelof would elaborate on the role McGinley’s character would play, or how a character who’s never even been mentioned before let alone appeared on the show in either the regular timeline, flashbacks, or flash sideways could be so pivotal to the plot this close to its end. Predictably, Lost fans are abuzz with speculation on fan pages and chatrooms. Here is a sampling of the theories being floated as to what the addition of McGinley might mean for the show:

-Kate Austen, whose on again/off again relationship with Sawyer has added much sexual tension to the series, will be romanced by McGinley’s Jackson Ford, who exhibits a similar albeit nicer charm than his cousin

-McGinley will be revealed as the husband of Charles Widmore’s henchwoman Zoe, although their rocky relationship is revealed by his treatment of her, in particular his habit of comparing her to a squawking chicken when she’s angry

-answering a question that has long puzzled fans of the show, McGinley’s character will reveal that the antagonism between the Others and the Dharma Initiative was due to the Others’ conviction that the Dharmas were “nerds”

-McGinley will trick the Man in Black, intent on waging war against Charles Widmore and his followers and leaving the island, into a risky water-ski jump over the genetically-modified-shark infested waters off Hydra Island

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