The Flashbacks

“Walkabout” is only the fourth episode of the series, and remains one of its finest hours. It’s the episode that confirmed we were watching some truly historic television unfold, it’s the episode to show non-believers to get them hooked, and it’s the episode that proved the flashback structure was gangbusters, sparking an overzealous use of the narrative device in many a succeeding series. But the device that was, for a time, the show’s bread and butter began to falter fiercely in the third season.

By season three, good flashbacks were becoming rare. It became painfully clear that Darlton were straining to continue to create character-centric flashbacks that resonated and enriched the castaways back-stories. Flat tales like the story nobody really wanted to know about Jack's tattoos, Locke being a gullible fool for the 47th time, and Sayid facing a personification of his shady past yet again, left the once rapturous audience bored.

Meanwhile other characters were saddled with increasingly ridiculous additions to their bios: Kate was once married? Desmond was a monk? Still others offered character twists that the audience guessed back when Michelle Rodriguez was still around, like Claire’s not-so-secret relation to Christian Shephard. Aside from standout hours like “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” and “The Brig,” which by no coincidence, abandoned the standard flashback format, the device suffered a dishonorable death, giving way to the much juicier flashforwards.

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