Written by: Rob Van Winkle, CC2K Staff Writer
I think I can finally say that Lost has won me over.
I was a mild fan of the show during season one, and I fully confess that season two had me utterly hooked; all that stuff with the button, the Dharma Initiative and "The Others" came together to create a mythology rooted in the relatively plausible that left me hungry for more after each subsequent episode.
However, as I wrote on CC2K last year , by Season Three I became convinced that the writers were just screwing around, without any idea where they were headed. Storylines were picked up and dropped without consideration, and characters were so disposable that an actor's real life arrest in Hawaii consistently resulted in on-screen death, no matter what plots were being developed around them.
For me, the worst thing about Season Three was that 80% of it felt as though it resulted directly from viewer feedback in chatrooms and on blogs. Upset that you haven't seen the smoke monster or polar bears since Season One? Here they are for no reason! Hate these two new characters? We were going to kill them off anyway! The problem here, again, is that these actions smack of a lack of direction. I will read enormous books or watch incredibly long movies featuring seemingly unconnected events, as long as I know that the people in control of the experience have an end game in mind. However, if I get the sense that the creators are just hurling stuff at me in the HOPES that they can find a way to make it work in the end, then I'm no longer interested at all. When I'm taking in something as potentially deep as Lost, I want to be in the hands of a MASTER, not an improviser.
After the season premiere of Lost Season Four, I think I can safely say that the masters are back in control.
For my money, the actual plot of the season premiere was a bit scattered, and I can't even really tell you with too much authority what happened. However, it was the new element they included that lets me know that we're in for great things.
By now, every single fan of this show – and probably many who weren't as well – know that Season Three ended with a surprise flash-forward, where we see a depressed and alcoholic Jack begging Kate to go back with him to the island they eventually were able to leave. It remained a possibility that this season could have started from that point and worked its way forward from there, or that it could have left the knowledge of Jack's change of heart alone, and let us watch the characters move their way toward what looked to be a very unhappy end. However, they have instead decided to do both. Now, along with the present day and flashback segments we've come to expect from Lost, they have also included flash-forwards, allowing us to see how certain characters fare after rescue (based on what we've seen, the answer is not well.)
I know I'm babbling, but here's why those flash-forward sequences make me so excited: you can't bullshit them! Flashbacks are character development; the writers can do anything they want to our characters pasts, and it doesn't have to have any bearing at all on the show. However, to have these characters in the future running from ghosts, referring to themselves as "The Oceanic Six," apologizing for actions we haven't seen them make yet, and staring at each other with the unbearable burden of shared knowledge we don't possess…these things are done with a PLAN! And I, for one, am excited once more to take this journey.
And now, having said all this…what did everyone else think of the Season Four premiere? What worked? What didn't?