Season 4 was the first full season where the producers knew exactly how many episodes they had left, and knew how they could allow the show to unfold perfectly over 48 more episodes. And, as such, it was a lot tighter than any season before it. The title of the season 4 opener, “The Beginning of the End,” was absolutely perfect, since it really is the beginning of the rest of the series. Season 4 is the one where we see the brilliant episode “The Constant,” that contains in it the notions of consciousness-travelling, and the immense amount of importance Daniel will have in the series. Within that episode were SO many elements integral to the rest of the series: time travel; death by time travel; manipulating the future by doing something in the past; contact with the outside world; and love conquering all. In the equally brilliant “The Shape of Things to Come” we see the other side of the wormhole that will be located at the Frozen Donkey Wheel when Ben flies through it and into Tunisia. We see the war between Widmore and Ben that will only escalate in season 5. In “Cabin Fever,” Richard Alpert steps up as an important figure, and the mega-questions raised in that episode will be illuminated in season 5. The finale left us breathless, with the castaways hanging in the balance, and all of us desperate for season 5 (and having to wait 8 months for it!!)
Just looking at season 4 on its own, however, the big thing that happened was the flashforward. For the first three seasons we could see their lives now as a culmination of what we would later piece together in their flashbacks. Each flashback gave us more understanding of why the characters acted the way they did, and even the most villainous character (yes, I’m lookin’ at you, Ben) could garner sympathy from us just by us seeing what they’d gone through in their early lives. But in season 4, we know what’s going to happen to everyone in the future: Jack’s going to end up with Kate and then go off the rails; Kate’s going to raise Aaron as her son; Hurley will make it off the island but will be constantly visited by the island dead; Sayid will become a hitman working at Ben’s behest; Ben will vow his revenge against Widmore; and Sun will mourn the loss of her husband while returning to Korea to take revenge on her father for how he’s treated her and Jin, and will give birth to a baby that she will raise in Jin’s memory.
What an amazing story device this was! Season 4 showed audiences what a brilliant writing team was attached to Lost. In season 1 these were mysterious characters whose actions weren’t always clear, until we saw their backstories. Now the writers have decided they’ve got this idea to get them off the island, but they also know that in season 5 they’re going to plant us three years in the future. They don’t have time to cover off what will happen to the castaways off-island for those three years in season 5, and they have to cover that now. BUT they want to end the season with the Oceanic 6 actually being rescued. What to do? Cover off those three years using flashforwards. It’s a solution that was both risky and genius, and it paid off. By the end of this season we are able to put together what happened after the island moved, who got off the island, and what happened to them when they did. We’re given just enough information that by season 5 they’ll be able to jump ahead with everything and not have to fill in the blanks for us.
But what about those who didn’t leave the island? We’ve got Claire going AWOL and leaving Aaron in a move that still has Lost fans scratching their heads. Locke finds the cabin and his instructions to move the island, but Ben takes them over. Locke’s leadership has been a difficult one, yet at the same time, he’s the one who was right. He told Jack that the freighter folk were there to kill them. He told Jack that he would move the island, and he did. He told Jack they were going to have to lie, and they do. Everything he predicted has come true.
Ben moves into center stage in this season as the ambiguous villain of the series, and Widmore becomes something other than just Penny’s dad and Desmond’s nemesis when we find out he sent a freighter of people to the island. We meet all 4 of the freighter folk this season, and all of them are still around by next season, with Miles, Charlotte and Dan becoming essential characters. Michael redeems himself by helping delay the bomb long enough to get the helicopter off the boat.
This was also the season where people’s belief systems began changing. Sawyer’s “every man for himself” mantra disappeared as he began worrying about other people first, and becoming part of the team. That will only grow in season 5, when he’ll become head of security of a group of people. Jack went from Mr. “Locke-is-a-stupidhead-and-there’s-no-way-I’m-ever-returning-to-this-godforsaken-place-I-hate-Locke-I-hate-hate-hate-him” to the guy trying to lure everyone else back to the island. Ben went from the confident leader to the man who’s realized John Locke is usurping him, a belief that will only grow stronger in season 5 until he kills the very man he used to worship.
Season 4 was a pivotal turning point, a glorious turn in an already near-perfect series that sent us toward the even more extraordinary season 5. (Can you tell I like this show?) As we move on to season 5 with season 6 coming to us in just over a month, the excitement is building. I can’t wait.
Can you believe that we’re already moving on to season 5?! Where did the rewatch go? For some fun, here are the season 4 bloopers. There are some classics in here.
And for the one person left who I haven’t foisted this video upon, go and check out this fantastic trailer for season 6 that was compiled by one of our very own! Of all of the prep videos for season 6, this one is officially my fave: