To support Fester's argument about how Lost is like a puzzle, I thought you all might enjoy this post from another board. Very insightful, I think.
The more and more I read peoples thought's on new episodes, the more I read disappointment.
I understand, I used to be with you.
We lost-fans, like any other fan, like our show to remain the same, untainted, and provide us with the same thrill that those first episodes we watched gave us. The show before this season developed two sorts of episodes; the epiphany episode and the motivation episode.
The epiphany episode was the first, and best type of style we see. In fact, up until midway through the first season, it was the only type we saw. These are the one's that make you smack your head and drop your mouth. Locke was actually in a wheelchair, Sun can speak english, etc. They aren't gone, simply fewer in number because you can't change your character's too much. Ana's episode is a testiment to their strong prevalence. Unfortunately we got spoiled with epiphany and now expect one to come every episode. In fact, that is part of the problem, most of us EXPECT to see a huge revelation every show, but if that were to happen, the show would become predicable, and the power from the revelations would dimish considerably.
The motivation episode popped up around the same time characters got a second go at flashbacks. Again, the reason behind this is simple, how many times can you change a characters stripes? Lost is a character based show, you need stability, not amorphous beings that could be anything. Hence this type of show developed. This the episode type, that a character does something seemingly "out of character" but there is backstory that supports this strange behavior. A great example of this is Charlie's second flashback. We don't know why the former druggie has attached himself to claire, it could be because he fancies her, but it is shown its more deep-seeded than simple affection. We liken these to "character building" but, all episode build the characters... but again we like this type because it gives us "new insight." We were spoiled because these were the only types we got in the first season.
Then there is the parellel episode. I used to hate them. They seem to be the wave of the future, and rightfully so. In fact the past four episodes have been this type. It is the kind of episode that doesn't reveal new information, but primarily plays with island dynamics while showing a parrelel story that already occurred. Technically, its good story telling, the kind you see in well-written novels and movies. Rather than following one facet of a character (the epiphany) or a reason (the motivation), this episode type follows a "theme" and will have parrelel plots with other characters echoing the theme.
Sayid's "One of them" episode is a prime example... it is extremely well crafted and subtle, if you have the patience to see the art of the story-telling. The theme could be manipulation, or better "compromising vs. uncompromising". Follow that thread and you see the beauty of the episode <[If you haven't seen 2-14 SPOILER ALERT>]: In the flash backs sayid goes from a seemingly uncompromising soldier (and is captured... ) to completely compromising himself and his ideals ... until finally he is who he is, a man who never compromises. We also see this trait echoed in Locke, not opening the door and then giving in to Jack, in Jack first giving in, and then making Locke choose, The uncompromising Henry Gale, and in a sideplot between Hurley and Sawyer that mirrors the hunt for truth(hunt for a frog) and a struggle of life/death... deals and bargans a pently.
The craftsmanship of these later episodes is actually higher and more interesting. I liken the epiphany episode to an M. Night Shamalan film; geared simply for a big finish... but they get tired if overused. Whereas parellel episodes are closer to films like Silence of the Lambs, with divided plots, that follow along a similar theme.
You simple have to stop watching this show for jaw-dropping revelations. We watch other shows with the same characters over and over, getting into different problems without looking for huge surprises, that don't have the same artistry that this show still provides.
Slice & Dice Chop Shop 2004