Season 2 was, I would say, mostly about Dharma. It was the Season we were introduced to the majority of Dharma Stations, pushing the button was the anchor point and climax to the show and we began to understand that the Island was perhaps not as far ‘lost’ from the real world as previously imagined. (Indeed, the ending to the Season showed us the very first off-Island, post-crash event with the Listening Post.)
Season 3 was about The Others. It started off with the reveal of The Barracks, home of The Others nestled in the mountains, and through Jack, Kate and Sawyer we spent time in the company of The Others. Also, for the first time, we got scenes concerning The Others that didn’t feature any of our Oceanic survivors – like them talking amongst themselves in the Hydra Monitor Room, for example. Flashbacks for the likes of Juliet and Ben became a new aspect to the show, allowing us to understand more about them.
Of course, the reveal of The Others simply peeled back another layer of people known as ‘the hostiles’ – these pre-Dharma Island inhabitants that we don’t know much about. I’d say they will almost certainly be part of the next level of revelation. . .
Season 4 then, I would determine, was all about life after the Island. Following from the “We have to go back!” Jack flashforward reveal of Through The Looking Glass we were mainly given flashforward stories that completely changed the stakes of the show. No longer was the fixation about if our Oceanic survivors would ever get off the Island, it was concerned with the consequences of what happened when they did, and what sacrifices were made in the process.
There was quite the shift in perspectives regarding what was once considered the main focus. Take Ben and Widmore, for example. These characters didn’t exist in Season 1, and we didn’t even know Ben’s name by the end of Season 2 (and had just one Widmore scene, him in the car with Desmond, to know him by). By Season 4 they have stepped up to become potential chess grandmasters, vying for ownership of the Island. What has shifted here is the Island has not become a place to be stranded, rather it has become a desirable place to reside. Not a place to get away from, more a place to get back to.
Less like purgatory, more like paradise.
But yes, pegging Season 4 to one defining concept, the ‘Oceanic 6’ would capture it. We spent half the Season determining who these 6 were, and the rest of the Season watching what events had shaped their characters and motivations in flashforward land. Some of these were more successful than others. Jack’s descent from hero poster boy. . .
. . . was nicely conveyed. The stress of fulfilling his promise to get ‘his people’ off the Island lead him to dogmatically strive towards decisions that, in hindsight, would prove disastrous. But then off-Island the decision to lie, and to bear the burden of telling the lie, would erode his soul. Learning Claire was his half-sister, unable to trust Kate and thus becoming a failed father-figure turning to substance abuse (just like his dad, who continues to appear to him!) and then having Locke come back, tell him he made a mistake before winding up in a coffin. . . Well, yeah, it’s enough to send anyone to the brink.
Sayid and Sun each turning mercenary due to the deaths of their loved ones is, again, particularly for Sun, a nice plot turn that will serve to drive their characters into new territory for the next Season. Hurley, however, whilst intriguing in his visitations from Charlie and Mr. Eko, hasn’t really been as coherent as he could have been.
“I should never have gone with Locke,” he told Jack. I expected to see some dramatic validation for that statement. I never got it. And Kate, too, never really explained why she chose to be a mother to Aaron (and lie about it). As a fugitive, why did she not go with Desmond and Frank? Was it so she no longer had to run? Probably. But where did the maternal custody of Aaron come from? Was she mercenary enough to think he would offer a viable means of keeping her out of prison? Maybe. But it wasn’t clear. Or it could have been made clearer, perhaps, is a better accusation. Season 4 episodes were much more condensed and fast-paced than any other episodes of Lost have been.
Of course, in the real world Season 4 of Lost will be remembered as being hit by the writer’s strike. The net result was a long break between episodes 8 and 9, and a reduction in the number of proposed episodes from 16 to 14. At just 14 episodes long, Season 4 was over a third shorter than the other Seasons have been – so if it felt like it was rattling by uncontrollably I suspect that was the reason why.
To put it in perspective, episode 14 of Season 2 was One Of Us. That was the episode Ben (as Henry Gale) first appeared, caught in Rousseau’s net. As much as Season 2 may have felt like one where Ben really featured, he was absent from proceedings for as long as the entirety of Season 4!
With only two more Seasons left of the show, the focus now turns very much to the endgame. All plot threads and, for the online Lost community in particular, new concepts are jumped on and examined as potential machinations that will bring about the conclusion to the whole thing. This Season time travel, via Ben in the Orchid, has been established and, naturally, the online community has become transfixed by the idea that time travel will prove to be the driver behind the show.
There’s also the idea, as produced from the Orchid Orientation film that featured duplicate time travelling bunny rabbits, that the Locke here. . .
I should think that the big focus of Season 5 will be dominated by two plot threads. In ‘flashforward’ the story will be driven by the Oceanic 6’s return to the Island, no doubt furthering the battle between Ben and Widmore. On the Island, through Locke and his induction as the new Island Chief, we should come to know more about ‘the hostiles’, the original inhabitants of the Island and how that ties in with the pre-Dharma Island world of hieroglyphs and four-toed statues and Black Rock galleons in the jungle. . .
Personally, I have my own hunch about how it’s all going to end, especially after seeing the Island do its disappearing act in the Season 4 finale. We know that those who have left the Island (the Oceanic 6, Walt, Ben, etc) are either tormented to come back or have a will to return to the Island. And when we consider Michael, who was not allowed to die until he had completed a purpose for the Island, it becomes more apparent to me that the Island exerts a force outside of itself to retain and preserve itself.
What I believe is the Island will recall all those that have left (as Charlotte appears to have returned having been born there); everyone who knows about the Island and could hope to look for and find it again will be delivered back and remain there. Maybe they will live in a state of permanence, like Alpert, or never getting sick like Rose and Locke, or getting what they truly desire from the ‘magic box’. . . Whatever the way of it, once the Island has all that are connected to it back within its embrace it will disappear. Gone forever from the world to a place where not even God can see it. Truly and definitively. . . Lost.