The Great LOST ReWatch: Season 4
Some background: I’m not a fan of LOST, but I know many people who are. This year, I’m attempting to break down what it is about this wildly popular show that turns me into a raging hell beast, and maybe find a little appreciation for it in the long run. Read my analysis of season 1, season 2, and season 3.
Oh, LOST season 4. I actually finished this season more than a week ago, but have had a very hard time both finding the time to write, and figuring out what to write about, and because of that I feel like this post isn’t going to be quite up to the analytical par of the previous posts. Let me apologize in advance.
This season was … weird. In good ways and bad.
Ever since the first time I watched the show, season four has stuck out to me as the weakest of the seasons, largely because it neglects the story on the island for the one happening in the future. Don’t get me wrong, the flash forwards were a great idea, and they weren’t nearly as confusing mixed in with the few remaining flashbacks as they could have been, it was just obvious that the writers were running out of material for the folks on the island, but still had a lot of time to fill with what little there was.
Before the rewatch I referred to this season as the “long walk across the island,” and I wasn’t far off. The walking itself doesn’t actually last as long as I originally joked, but they do spend a great deal of time moving from one part of the island to another, choosing to spend at least some of the screen time for the castaways on shoe leather rather than plot. I can’t tell whether the season’s plotting was one of the many examples of story suffering due to the 2007 writer’s strike, or if the strike was a saving grace, allowing the writers to spend 6 fewer episodes getting the Oceanic 6 off the island than they normally would have.
Speaking of the Oceanic 6, I mentioned earlier that the flash forwards were a great idea and I meant it. The story of the six original survivors and how they dealt with (or didn’t deal with) their lives once they got back home was some of the most well plotted storytelling the show has offered thus far. They doled out information in a well-timed manner, keeping you guessing about who the others were, even working it pretty well into what was happening on the island. They even developed the characters in a way that made a lot of sense (though I still can’t come around to Jack). Honestly, other than the fact that I think they didn’t spend enough time developing Kate’s relationship with Claire to justify some of how the Kate/Aaron storyline plays out, I have pretty much no complaints about the decision to jump forward in time.
While we’re on the subject of things I like about this season: most of the new characters. Specifically, I’m a big fan of Daniel Faraday and Lupitus. Both have really interesting reasons for being on the island, and are either fun or interesting characters in their own right (and Daniel is a big science dork, which …). I like Charlotte and Miles too, but, at least in this season, they’re not really given much time or backstory (except for Miles’ whole Ghostbuster thing, which … okay?).
Of course, this wouldn’t be a LOST ReWatch analysis if it didn’t include me criticizing some of the more bizarre plot choices and, naturally, the weird or non-existent character development, and there is plenty of that here.
Let’s start with the island, which I really, honestly think was always a strange place full of sucking plot voids for the writer’s room. Where season 3 mostly abandoned the “science” aspect of the overarching plotline which governs the inner-workings of the island, for the more mystical Jacobs and smoke monsters of the world, this season brings it back with a vengeance, and does us the wonderfully confusing favor of adding time anomalies to the mix (something that’s about to basically explode come next season). While I appreciate the attempt to make sense of Desmond’s visions and unstuck in time-ness (by the way, that storyline was 100% the product of some LOST writer who was way too in to Vonnegut in college), the addition of time anomalies as part of how the island protects itself was … weak. It could have been very interesting, but it’s oddly developed, and the decision to “move the island” wreaks of a panicked writers room trying to come up with a big twist for the end of the season.
EP: WE HAVE TO SHOOT THE FINALE AND WE DON’T HAVE AN ENDING! QUICK, WHY CAN’T THEY GO BACK FOR THE REST OF THE SURVIVORS!
WRITER: BECAUSE THE ISLAND DISAPPEARED!
EP: WHY THE HELL WOULD THE ISLAND DISAPPEAR?
WRITER: BECAUSE IT MOVED … IN TIME!
EP: WHAT?! NO, NEVERMIND. I DON’T CARE. GO WITH IT!
Don’t even get me started on the implications of moving the entire island in time (we’ll destroy that bridge next season), or about the ridiculousness of an island defense mechanism that has to be triggered by a living person.
Finally, there’s all the death. This season was a bloodbath as every excess castaway was killed off in virtually one big raid on Locke’s camp, whittling it down to just our “main” cast members, and our new friends. Obviously, they had a reason for doing this, as the plan for the Oceanic 6, along with the fallout from the season finale would have been harder to deal with had there been a few dozen background actors to deal with, but man was it bloody. I’m not really sore over losing the majority of those characters, they were background actors to begin with, but I did think Alex and Claire should have been dealt with a little better. Alex, for one, deserved a death fighting, not as the casualty of her father’s stubbornness and cowardice.
Claire’s disappearance, meanwhile, felt like the biggest cop out of them all. There were obvious things the writers had to accomplish in the way they wrote Claire’s fate (for now). They had to make sure Aaron got off the island while Claire didn’t, but they had to keep her alive to guilt Kate into returning later. It’s a tough situation, yes, but having Claire wander off into the jungle after her father (who she knows isn’t on the island, but who has somehow bewitched her or something, because reasons) and leave Aaron behind with Sawyer and Miles was the laziest choice they could have made. Why not have her give the baby to Kate and then get separated from the group? What about have her disappear after her house explodes and have them assume she’s dead? Literally any other scenario that separates Claire from the baby long enough to force Kate to take him off the island without her would have been better than the choice they made.
And let’s not even get into the fact that despite having just as meaningful a relationship with him as Hurley, we only ever get to see Hurley mourn Charlie’s death (or get haunted by him, etc.). Other than a small moment when Hurley informs Claire that he didn’t come back from the Looking Glass Station, Claire is never really given the chance to wrap up her story with him, despite the fact that the season three episode, Greatest Hits, set up two different items she should have found at some point (the note and the ring).
I might have some residual feelings about Charlie.
We have to go back!