DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: LOST: SEASON FOUR

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


© ABC Studios. All Rights Reserved
Lost Season 4 (2008) dir. Various
Starring: Matthew Fox, Terry O’Quinn, Michael Emerson, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway


Being a fan of LOST, whenever I’m overheard discussing the show I get comments like “Is that show still on?”, or “do people still watch that show?” Though LOST is not a top 10 Nielsen program, the series continues to intrigue and perplex for its loyal fans. After four seasons which take place over only 108 days of time in the reality of the show the series has showed remarkable staying power. For a series that relies on hiding and revealing key information to generate suspense even after four seasons our expectations continue to be subverted.

Season Four begins right where the phenomenal final episode of Season Three left off. We discover the some of the Losties indeed did get rescued from the island – six of them in fact, who have become minor celebrities dubbed ‘the Oceanic Six’. In the flashforwards to the future we come to learn these six have forced themselves to lie about what happened on the island. And for Jack especially this burden has taken it’s toll on his sanity.

Meanwhile in the present we watch as the heroes are split as to whether the new arrivals to the island are there to save or to kill them. The survivors are forced to choose between Jack and Locke’s differing ideologies. At the heart of the conflict is Ben Linus, the conniving “other” who continues to screw with everyone’s heads and manipulate them into getting his way. The season culminates with the dramatic reveal of how the Oceanic Six get rescued and an awe inspiring disappearance of the surviving islanders.

We are introduced to more wonderful and intriguing characters. The rescuers from the offshore freighter include more shifty scientists who can never give a straight answer - Jeremy Davies’ neurotic physicist Daniel Farraday, Ken Leung’s saracastic and prickily psychic Miles Straume, the red-headed Aussie beauty Charlotte Lewis (Rebecca Mader) and the kindly old helicopter pilot Frank Lapidus (Jeff Fahey). One the season's best episodes is episode 2 “Confirmed Dead” where the origins of this quartet are revealed.

Since there are so many main characters, it’s difficult for the producers to give everyone equally screentime. Other than Jack’s background story, Season Four's key character arcs are given to Desmond, Jin/Sun, and Ben. Even the underused Claire gets her first substantial plot participation since Season One. The coincidence of Claire and Jack being half-siblings becomes more significant towards the end of the season resulting in some of the most shocking individual moments in the season – including Claire’s perplexing association with Jack’s father and the mysterious Jacob.

The best episode of the season arguably is “The Constant” which finally reveals what LOST fans have suspected for some time, the involvement of time travel on the island. In the episode Desmond’s mind moves back and forth between past and present which helps him reunite with his long lost love Penny. It's make for the most emotional moments of the season.

One of the consistently impressive aspects of the series from a screenwriting perspective is how, despite such high concept scenarios the writers manage to avoid obvious exposition. This has to do with the constantly changing point of view. The flashbacks and flashforwards allow the audience to see the same action, or same period of time, from a different point of view, thus relieving the writers from excessive explanatory dialogue. Unfortunately in Season Four the producers do resort to this trap – specifically Friendly Tom’s explanation to Michael about the Oceanic cover-up and even Ben’s explanation to Locke of the Charles Widmore connection.

Season Four also suffers from the prevalence of guns. Every episode seems to feature one of more characters pointing guns at each other. It’s a shame the writers had to resort such easy conflict creation and resolution, but perhaps this was inevitable. As well the season was plagued by the writer’s strike which meant only 14 episodes were filmed resulting in a palpable lack of momentum.

These minor failings aside I still believe LOST is the best show on television – a near flawlessly constructed puzzle which continues to unfold unpredictably. Though many questions have to be answered – who is Jacob, where did the Island go, that Season Two mystery of the ancient four-toed rock statue – the end of near and visible. And I have confidence these two seasons will wrap up this series with complete fanboy satisfaction.

“LOST: Season Four” is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

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