Nearly nine months ago Lost closed it’s third season in as nail biting of a place as it had ever closed a season. The survivors had made contact with a nearby force that could either bring rescue, or devastation, depending on who you ask; yet a glimpse into the future planted the notion that rescue may not be all it is cracked up to be, particularly for a despondent drug addicted Dr. Jack whose final words from the future were “We have to go back!”
What will the new people be like? Will Desmond get back to shore in time to warn them that it is “not Penny’s boat”? Will the show return to flashbacks, and if not will the flash forwards pick up from Dr. Jack’s pleas or will we get thrown for yet another temporal loops. Speaking of ‘temporal,’ what about that weird “Orchid Orientation” video that was shown at Comic Con? Without a doubt, “Through the Looking Glass” created the most forward momentum of any season closer to date, and with the end date announced there was a lot of anticipation over where season 4 would begin, where it would go, and how fast would it get there.
As a long time fan of the series, I was a little concerned about how the Lost writer’s room would deal with getting the characters back together, address the death of Charlie, introduce the newbies, and still leave enough slack to reconnect with the mysteries of the island including ‘Jacob.’ I soon found out that this fear was entirely unfounded.
The wisdom culled from three seasons worth of exposure to Lost’s alchemy are of no use here. While some things are as expected, Jack is still over confident, Ben is still sneaky, and Locke is still, well, Locke, the execution of the plot around them is all new, done with a serious score to settle with all the critics that kvetch about Lost’s “tease and deny” strategy.
As premieres go, “Beginning of the End” is nothing that Lost fans will expect. Instead of opening with a disorienting locale and characters we don’t know, Beginning of the End begins with a headlong slam into a fast moving vignette with characters we know very well. Instead of taking three or four episodes to address the splintered ranks of the Losties, all of the characters are addressed. Perhaps best of all, instead of servicing a single item like previous premieres, “Beginning of the End” does a remarkable job of tying up much of the overlapping issues from the latter quadrant of season 3 and an even better job of setting the pace for season four.
What you really want to know is what happens though, right? Well as of right now you have a little more than ten days to learn that answer for yourself, but what I will tell you is that virtually every theme that becomes important within the first quarter (assuming 16 episodes) of the season are introduced here in complete, well paced, easy to digest nuggets that have the strange effect of swelling within your consciousness and leaving you with the feeling that you have watched not one, but maybe three or four episodes of what you remember Lost to be.
“Beginning of the End” is a crushingly emotional, action packed introduction to the Lost story, proving that four seasons in – when you might expect to see the light at the end of the tunnel begin to fade – Lost’s groundbreaking protean form still has plenty of blinding ways to dazzle and entertain in a way that is none-the-less unique unto itself.