Where Does ‘Lost’ Go From Here: Debating the Structure of Season Four

So, Lost went “Through the Looking Glass” [Full Review of Last Night’s Episode] to tremendous effect: the show hasn’t had this much buzz since the first season, and the contrary voices are suddenly few and far between (Even Matt over at Be Something has seen the light again). One of the things that Lost has always thrived on is questions: questions of its future, questions of the island. And, well, we’re now left with a fairly big one to ponder.

Where do we go from here?

The largest source of disagreement that I’ve seen is over what structure the show takes in the coming years. Here’s the two most plausible, in my view, options:

Option 1 – Lost: The Real World

Central Narrative: Jack, Kate et al. attempting to get back to the island for whatever reason Jack wants to return. They all have their reasons (Maybe someone becomes ill), and wish to return.

Flash Narrative: Flashbacks to their time on the island which provides context for their “present” day activities, and what exactly occurred which makes Jack so darn torn up about it.

Option Two – Lost: One Step Forward, No Steps Back

Central Narrative: The Island, as it stands. We pick up where we left off: Jack and Kate’s group at the radio tower, Sawyer/Juliet/Hurley/Sayid at the beach, Desmond at the Looking Glass, and the Others gathering at the temple.

Flash Narrative: Flashforwards which show the events of the “future” where Jack and Kate and others are off the island looking to return.

There’s really no other way to go about it, other than these two. And people fall on either side. We’ve got no confirmation from the producers: In an interview with TV Guide, Carlton Cuse side-stepped questions regarding any of the finale’s other big developments, preferring instead to let “fans digest it without our further interpretation or explanation.”‘ So, looks like we’re on our own.

For me, personally, Option Two is the only way to go. The Island has too many mysteries left: Jacob, in particular, is a big one. You can’t tell that story in flashback form: it just doesn’t make sense. The Island still holds the bulk of the questions that need to be answered: the four-toed foot, the incoming threat, the Others’ big plans, and just about everything else. Plus, there is a clear narrative moving forward: the effect of the colonization of the incoming individuals who Ben fears so much.

For Option One, those developments would be mere sideshows to standard drama…and the show can’t operate that way. Plus, we’ve basically seen all we really need to know about the past of these characters. I think that the show can still do flashbacks for certain characters whose journeys we haven’t quite finished, but I’d say that Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and most other characters have basically completed their stories.

Using the flashforwards, the show can build tragic narratives better than ever before. They can show us something happening on the island, and then in the flashforwards show us part of that action’s consequences. They can introduce new mysteries for these characters, new things we’re dying to find out; it can keep the show’s character drama fresh for the next three shortened seasons.

For now, we’re dying to find out what structure the show takes on from here on out [And we’ll be doing so until Producers break their vow of silence or February comes along]. Anyone have any thoughts on the matter? Alternate structures? Feel free to leave a comment below.

10 Comments

Filed under ABC, Lost, Television

10 responses to “Where Does ‘Lost’ Go From Here: Debating the Structure of Season Four

  1. One of the challenges the show faces if they intend to have more “flash forwards” is that while we may know most of the off-island pasts of our main characters, there’s lots of stuff in the past that we know very little about (mostly dealing with the history of the Others and Dharma). I’ll be curious to see how the show manages to tell those stories.

  2. I’m thinking maybe a split between on-island flashbacks (For the Others/Dharma) and off-island flashforwards wouldn’t be a terrible compromise. I think, however, that our core characters have been tapped out, even as others remain strong territory for future flashbacks.

  3. Ben

    I’m completely addicted to bacon sorry

  4. Ben

    So is Lost season 4 not back until February or am I not understanding? Also I was told the seasons were going to be shortened but my how much I wonder?

  5. Lost isn’t back until February, and for a shortened 16-episode season. There will be three of them, after which the show will end.

  6. Joe

    There will be 3 more seasons at 16 episodes per season, and the next one starts Jan-Feb of ’08.

  7. "Jack"

    Hello lost fans this is Matthew Fox and I can answer any of your questions.

  8. Bobby

    Here is what I think will happen. There will be flashforwards for most of the main characters, while keeping the minor characters in flashbacks (so we will not be sure who is dead). There will be a timeline made that will connect flashbacks, the island, and flashforwards. But the flashforwards will have alternate paths. Meaning there will be choices on the island that will change the future that we saw. I do not see the show endng with Jack being completely miserable. Oh and one last thing, the guy in the casket in the last episode of season 3 is def Locke. Watch it again and you will get it

  9. Locke's Kidney

    I agree…the future episodes will follow the old format but with alternate futures depending upon what choices the Losties make. It should confuse that hell of people for a while.

  10. Pingback: Cultural Learnings Prepares to get ‘Lost’: Season Four Premiere and LiveCast Tonight! « Cultural Learnings

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