…Lost, Season Three and Four.
Season 3 kicks off with Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly), and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) held captive by the Others; Sayid (Naveen Andrews), Sun (Yunjin Kim), and Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) on a mission to rescue them; and Locke, Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) in the aftermath of the electromagnetic pulse that blew up the hatch. Spinning the storylines away from base camp alone wouldn’t have felt so disjointed were it not for the new characters simultaneously being introduced. First there’s Juliet, a mysterious member of the Others whose loyalty constantly comes into question as the season goes on. Played delicately by Elizabeth Mitchell (Gia, ER, Frequency), Juliet is in one turn a cold-blooded killer, by another turn a sympathetic friend; possibly both at once, possibly neither at all. (She’s also a terrific, albeit unwitting, threat to the Kate-Sawyer-Jack love triangle, which plays out more definitively this season.) On the other hand, there’s the now-infamous Nikki and Paulo (Kiele Sanchez and Rodrigo Santoro), a tagalong couple who were cleverly woven into the previous seasons’ key moments but came to bear the brunt of fans’ ire toward the show (Sawyer humorously echoed the sentiments by remarking, “Who the hell are you?”). By the end of the season, at least two major characters die, another is told he/she will die within months, major new threats are unveiled, and–as mentioned before–the two-part season finale restores your faith in the series.
Season four of Lost was a fine return to form for the series, which polarized its audience the year before with its focus on The Others and not enough on our original crash victims. That season’s finale introduced a new storytelling device–the flash-forward–that’s employed to great effect this time around; by showing who actually got off the island (known as the Oceanic Six), the viewer is able to put to bed some longstanding loose ends. As the finale attests, we see that in the future Jack (Matthew Fox) is broken, bearded, and not sober, while Kate (Evangeline Lilly) is estranged from Jack and with another guy (the identity may surprise you). Four others do make it back to their homes, but as the flash-forwards show, it’s definitely not the end of their connection to the island. Back in present day, however, the islanders are visited by the denizens of a so-called rescue ship, who have agendas of their own. While Jack works with the newcomers to try to get off the island, Locke (Terry O’Quinn), with a few followers of his own, forms an uneasy alliance with Ben (Michael Emerson) against the suspicious gang. Some episodes featuring the new characters feel like filler, but the evolution of such characters as Sun and Jin (Yunjin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim) is this season’s strength; plus, the love story of Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) and Penny (Sonya Walger) provides some of the show’s emotional highlights. As is the custom with Lost, bullets fly and characters die (while others may or may not have). Moreover, the fate of Michael (Harold Perrineau), last seen traitorously sailing off to civilization in season two, as well as the flash-forwards of the Oceanic Six, shows you never quite leave the island once you’ve left. There’s a force that pulls them in, and it’s a hook that keeps you watching.
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