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LOST Diary: Seasons 3 & 4

July 10, 2012

Before getting into my comments, I want to make a small confession. I finished watching the series months ago and I’ve been sitting on this post for months as well due to procrastination a.k.a. graduate school work. No hard feelings?

OK, now that Season Three is behind me, I’m confident that the season’s first half is where LOST started losing viewers. Despite having all of the episodes at my fingertips, even I could feel the series come to a screeching halt at times. Fortunately, the first two seasons were so darn good that their fumes alone were enough to keep me pushing the button every 108 minutes (or 43 minutes in my case) until Season Three could find its footing.

Season Three finds Jack, Kate and Sawyer in the clutches of The Others. “Henry Gale” turns out to be the cover name for Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) who appears to be in command of The Others. The hatch has been destroyed, leaving Locke with a lot more free time and meanwhile, the beach residents continue on without having Jack around as a leader.

There’s no mistaking it, the first handful of episodes here are a bit lacking. With Jack, Kate, and Sawyer all in captivity and Locke bumbling around without much direction, the season simply felt frustrating. Fortunatley, once the captives start making moves to get away from The Others, Season Three picks up quick. Speaking of Locke, I’m sad to admit that I may be getting a bit bored with him. Don’t worry, I won’t give up on him that easily.

The slower portions of the season are singlehandedly salvaged by Ben. Likeable, unlikeable, downright villainous yet always mesmerizing, Ben Linus is an incredible addition to the show’s regular cast and Emerson is wonderful in the role. He is just the shot in the arm that LOST needed to keep up the energy of the first two seasons.

The only new character of major consequence is Dr. Juliet Burke (no relation), played by Elizabeth Mitchell. She is a fertility doctor who has spent the last several years living on the island with Ben’s clan. It took me a while to warm to her. She was way too robotic in the early episodes and it wasn’t until she got her own back story episode that I was able to view her as a legitimate player in the story.

Another key to the third season, though it is mostly a “B” story, is Desmond’s brush with time travel. It’s unclear exactly what’s going on here, but Desmond appears to be lost in time on a few occasions and this is unmistakable foreshadowing for things to come on LOST.

Interestingly, Sawyer makes a great deal of personal progress in one particular episode which causes him to show his softer side. I like that he’s changing things up, but there’s a lot of LOST left for me and I don’t want to see a watered-down Sawyer, who has snuck his way up the rankings of my favorite characters.

The double-episode finale throws a new wrinkle into the double timeline structure of the LOST episodes. Here we get the first flashes forward. It was only a small taste and I didn’t even realize that they were flashes forward until the very last scene of the finale. Pretty cool stuff and I’m looking forward to this new mode of storytelling in Season Four.

A final note on Season Three, Charlie gets a fantastic redemptive arc over the last three episodes. I was pretty lukewarm on Charlie as a character for the first three seasons but he finishes Season Three in truly spectacular fashion and I couldn’t be happier about it. As tough a slog as the early part of the season was, the last few episodes perhaps marked a high point for the entire series, and Charlie’s heroics were a huge part of that.

Oh, and did I mention that the survivors make contact with a boat en route to the island? Are they about to be rescued???

***

Season Four actually maintains that breakneck pacing and desperation that its predecessor ended with. The survivors are apparently about to be rescued by a boat and have several visitors that land on the island via helicopter.

The flashes-forward continued in Season Four, many of which showed glimpses of what happened after the island rescue that was foreshadowed at the end of Season Three. Jack, Kate, Sayid, Hurley, Sun and Aaron appear to be the only ones to make it back and come to be known by the press as the “Oceanic Six.”

Jeremy Davies joins the cast as Daniel Faraday, one of three specialists who come to the island with ulterior motives. I am familiar with Davies from his stellar work on FX’s Justified. He’s good in LOST but I think it’s safe to say the Justified represents bigger and better things for him.

There are several notable guest stars in season four including the incomparable Jeff Fahey (Kill Bill) as Frank Lapidus, a veteran pilot and conspiracy-theorist and Kevin Durand (Smokin’ Aces) as Keamy, a ruthless mercenary leader. Eagle-eyed viewers will even notice Zoe Bell, Quentin Tarantino’s favorite stuntwoman, in a minor role. Michael (Harold Perrineau) also returns to the series in a key role in Season Four.

I’m happy to say that Sawyer hasn’t become watered-down. Yes, he’s more sensitive but he manages it without losing the gruff disposition that makes him so entertaining. The rest of the cast turns in strong performances and refuse to let anything feel old or retread. As usual, Michael Emerson as Ben steals every moment that he’s on screen.

It feels criminal to limit my comments on what is probably my favorite season yet, but the 13 episodes really zipped by and I think they only amounted to a few days altogether for the characters.

The new flash forward structure definitely freshens up the formula, which I suppose was risky since it never really got old for me through three seasons. Fortunately the structure is still distinctly recognizable as LOST’s.

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