Once again, I find myself going back to the book title metaphor I used when reviewing LOST: Season 3. This one, could have a couple of titles. It could be "Relocation," perhaps. Maybe "Rescue." However, my strongest impression after seeing LOST: Season 4 would be to title it "Whoa."
LOST: Season 4 is where things really start to churn. There's more action than ever before. Characters are killed-- a lot of characters. The rest are nicely felshed out with the help of a new tool: the flash-forward. The freshness brought to this series with its new format adds a great sense of urgency.
The writers revealed partway through Season 3 that they had plotted the rest of the series out, and that it would all end with Season 6 (still on the air with a few episodes left to tell). Season 4 shows a streamlined format, not because of the writer's strike that shortened it to 13 episodes, but because the writers are working with the end constantly in mind. It was a smart move that keeps the show from ever experiencing the occasional lagging moments of Season 3.
Aside from all that, what more can I say? Everything gets turned up to 11, and every character experiences some earth-shattering stuff. Ben Linus and Charles Widmore butt heads together enjoyably, and when you throw the survivors and a great cast of freighter folk in with them, there's some real magic to be had. Is it weird? Yes. Is it head-scratching? Yes. Is it addictive and incredibly well-produced? Oh yes.
Some favorite episodes of mine:
The Beginning of the End: Well, sort of. More like the end of the beginning. Rescuers arrive on the island, but who sent them? And why does the safety of the survivors not seem to be their greatest concern?
The Constant: Once again, proof of why Desmond is one of my favorite characters on the show. Time travel is utilized here in a different way than before, and it's done so to great effect. It's tense, exciting, illuminating, and emotional. One of the great midseason LOST episodes.
Meet Kevin Johnson: Some of you might know him by a different name. But he's done some terrible things, and he gets hired by some shady Others to do more terrible things. Things the island seems to require of him.
The Shape of Things to Come: Charles Widmore has changed the rules of the game. And Ben isn't happy. Lots of action, the death of a major character, and more puzzling pieces to put together. Heart-stopping.
Cabin Fever: It's almost season finale time, and that means it's time to go chat with Jacob again! Or at least someone who can speak for Jacob. Someone we've seen before. Someone who makes a bizarre and impossible demand.
There's No Place Like Home: The survivors have called the island home for almost 100 days. Now, six of them will get a chance to leave. But it's not going to be easy. Perhaps an even better season finale than the one from Season 3, and there's more action than there's ever been before on this show. Jaw-dropping, and there's a bit of a surprise waiting Jack in a coffin...
Here's the final verdict: LOST: Season 4 is the best season of the show since Season 1, with episodes that move the plot along at a frantic, unstoppable pace. It's a marvel that a show like this manages to get better as it goes along.
My rating: 10/10
Coming Soon: The Warded Man.