Monday, December 29, 2008

Lost – Season 4 Review

US Airdate: January 31st-May 21st 2008

In the fourth season of the hit series, the islanders are getting closer to home but with new enemies and more divides, things aren’t as straightforward as they were hoping for them to be.

Remix – You’ve really got to hand it to this show. After eighteen months of listening to viewers endlessly complain (I’m not excluding myself from that generalisation) about the lack of answers and the dangers of things becoming too formulaic, the fourth season actually decides to remedy these problems more head.

To be fair the third season was doing a pretty good job in giving us some answers about the series but this season went a little further by proving that some of our heroes aren’t going to be rotting on the island for the rest of their lives.

The introduction of flash forwards meant a revamp for the series and Hurley is the second person to experience them in the opening episode, “The Beginning Of The End”. Given his previous mental problems, perhaps it’s not too much of a shock to the system that back in the real he would be one of the Oceanic Six to really crack under pressure.

The Hurley we meet in the future is one desperately trying to get himself sectioned and even having moments when he’s talking to Charlie when he’s not having a hostile confrontation with Jack or talking to the mysterious Abbadon bloke.

On the actual island itself, we’re still dealing with the consequences of Charlie’s death, Locke murdering Naomi in cold blood and the arrival of the freighter crew. While many people wouldn’t want to believe a word that comes out of Ben’s mouth, his warnings about the freighter people isn’t without justification. Upon meeting Daniel, you just know that something isn’t right with these people.

Daniel doesn’t exactly come alone as “Confirmed Dead” introduces his team-mates, Charlotte, ghost whisperer Miles and Frank, all of whom in flashbacks are selected by Abbadon and Naomi and once they meet up with our divided gang, there’s more hostility. Charlotte finds herself nearly killed by Ben on Team Locke, while with Team Jack, Juliet is nearly placed in danger when Frank realises that she’s one of the Others.

For a while in the season there does seem to be that divide with the newcomers and “The Economist” might see Charlotte being traded for Miles but it also shows us a bleaker version of Sayid as his future self becomes under the employ of Ben of all people. Trust Ben to find an opportunity with a broken man. “Eggtown” is a little better, mainly because we finally see Kate exonerated for all of her crimes and also because it eliminates the pregnancy by revealing that her future kid is in fact, Aaron (which obviously can’t mean anything good for Claire, right?).

The best episode of this season however belongs to Desmond with the mind bending, “The Constant”. It’s in this episode that sees both Sayid and Desmond investigate the goings on of the freighter but it’s also the genius use of flashbacks and flash forwards as well as the further strands in Desmond and Penny’s love story that keeps this episode at such a riveting level. The same can’t be said about “The Other Woman”, a flashback episode focusing on Juliet but it’s nice that we got some confirmations here. Ben’s unhealthy obsession with her was keenly addressed as are her feelings towards Jack – the two of them even get to share a kiss while Charlotte and Daniel even stop the island from destructing at one point.

Along with Sayid, Jack, Kate, Aaron and Hurley, Sun is then revealed as the last of the Oceanic Six in “Ji Yeon”. As a fan of the character, the episode certainly doesn’t disappoint, what with her and Jin having it out over her former affair and of course, in the real world, Sun giving birth to a daughter and her and Hurley possibly attending Jin’s funeral. In other words, both Jin and Claire don’t seem to have rosy futures ahead of them.

Speaking of unpleasant, the return of Michael in “Meet Kevin Johnson” really should have more of an impact but it feels like the character is wasted. Basically he’s on the freighter to sabotage things for Ben and via flashback, he seems to have suffered for killing Ana-Lucia and Libby (the latter appearing briefly in the episode) but overall it’s the arrival of the murderous Keamy on the island that has the most problems. In the space of two minutes both Karl and Danielle are killed and by the time “The Shape Of Things To Come” airs, Alex also kicks the bucket at Keamy’s hands. If ever there was a time in which some sympathy could be conveyed for Ben, I guess it’s now. Still he does vow to get Widmore back by putting a bounty on Penny and you just know that Keamy is a dead man walking anyway.

Flash forwards might have shown that Ben lives to manipulate another day but they haven’t done wonders for Jack. “Something Nice Back Home” briefly teases the idea of happiness between him, Kate and Aaron because his deep seated obsession to go back to the island tears them apart yet again, while “Cabin Fever” delves more into Locke’s specialness, gives a return from Richard and has a gloriously creepy moment with Claire and Christian.

The three part finale, “There’s No Place Like Home” is certainly the series at its best. Seeing the lies the Oceanic Six have to come up with in order to survive being back in the real world certainly doesn’t put them in an enviable position nor can the moving of the island indicate anything really good. There are some moments of satisfaction, namely in Keamy’s death and the reveal of Locke being the man in the coffin that Jack saw back in the third season finale. Overall though, this is one season that despite its reduction in episodes delivered the goods in a big way. Looking forward to see how the fifth season keeps the balance between island and real world stuff.

EXTRAS: There must be something weird in the water because we’ve actually gotten some better commentaries compared to previous releases and on important episodes too. Evangeline Lilly and Jorge Garcia are on fine form on their chat track for “The Beginning Of The End” while Mark Goldman, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse aren’t too annoying with “The Constant”. Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim and director Stephen Semel provide one for “Ji Yeon” and Lindelof and Cuse are back again for “There’s No Place Like Home Part 2,” though why commentaries for parts one and three couldn’t have done is a wonder. The fifth and sixth discs are littered with extras ranging from the usual array of deleted scenes and bloopers and behind the scenes filming on key episodes. There’s a wonderful set of other features however – “The Right To Bear Arms” delves into the show’s various use of guns while “The Freighter Folk” pretty much does what it says on the tin. “The Oceanic Six: A Conspiracy Of Lies”, “Soundtrack For Survival”, “The Island Backlot” and “Offshore Shoot” all add to the fun here.


4x01: The Beginning Of The End = 9/10, 4x02: Confirmed Dead = 8/10,
4x03: The Economist = 6/10, 4x04: Eggtown = 8/10,
4x05: The Constant = 10/10, 4x06: The Other Woman = 8/10,
4x07: Ji Yeon =9/10, 4x08: Meet Kevin Johnson = 8/10,
4x09: The Shape Of Things To Come = 9/10,
4x10: Something Nice Back Home = 8/10,
4x11: Cabin Fever = 9/10, 4x12: There’s No Place Like Home Part 1 = 9/10,
4x13: There’s No Place Like Home Part 2 = 10/10,
4x14: There’s No Place Like Home Part 3 = 10/10.

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