After the perfect set-up episode, "The Beginning of the End", it was now time to move the plot forward considerably the introduction of four new characters and with it new plot threads and situations on the island. Once again LOST manages to inject itself with fresh ideas and concepts, at theright time, keeping audiences interested in the overall saga unfolding. Despite fans knowing late in Season 3 that a Freighter load of new characters would be arriving to the island in the future, the fact that it has now happened hasn't lessened its impact. Each season has had its own focus, both thematically and characterization. Season 1 was focused on the survivors of the Fuselage camp, introducing the basic themes and mysteries of the island, that continue to expand as the series went on, and also focused on the general relationships between this camp of survivors and their attempts to survive on the island and to escape from it. Season 2 focused on the Tail-End survivors, led by Ana-Lucia, the Swan Station and introducing the DHARMA Initiative, more about the Others and the survivors struggles to live on the island on a long-term, perhaps, permanent basis. Season 3 was the focus on The Others and much of the plot threads dealt with them, their lifestyle, their relationships, their intentions and their history. It gave us much more insight into the DHARMA Initiative and how much of an impact they have had on the locations on the island, three new stations and the introduction of time travel and possible salvation from the island, in the form of Freighter lady, Naomi Dorrit. Season 4 is about the Freighter Folk, and like The Others in Season 3, are likely to be the driving force behind all the main plotpoints. But the season also hints at the future when at least six people escape the island.
The four new characters introduced here are all very unique, the best, perhaps being nervy, scatty Daniel Faraday, whose scientific expertise is likely to tap very strongly into the island's mysteries pretty soon. Being spoilery it is surprising that the other characters haven't revealed as much about the island, as is to be expected. That gripe aside, the new characters are great additions.
"Confirmed Dead" does go straight to the ultimate question: "What the Freighter Folk want?" and they answer it: Ben! the episode does leave more room for questions, but this is a good start and proves that the writers are not going to dillydally too much before revealing things, as they have done. One of the most interesting plot points of the whole episode and was likely the most discussed part on the forums was the DHARMA Polar Bear skeleton found in the sands of Tunisia!!! Not only did fans question how the polar bear, evidently the sole property of the Island and the Hydra Station we saw at the beginning of last season, got there, arousing all sorts of theories from time travel, teleportation and black holes, but Charlotte's reaction to discovering it. Alot of people rightly guessed that she recognised the Hydra DHARMA logo and was ecstatic to see it, almost as if that is what she had been looking for. Tie that together with the following scene where she loosens herself from dangling from a tree on the island, and whilst in the water, we can see her beaming and almost laughing in delight as she examines her surroundings. As we would discover in Season 5 [Spoiler ahead], Charlotte was once a member of The DHARMA Initiative.
Also interesting is the opening scene which shows footage of the wreck of Oceanic Flight 815 in the Sunda Trench. This would naturally back up Naomi's story in Season 3, but the writers quickly poke holes in that theory when Frank Lapidus questions the identity of the Pilot. We all know that this is a fake wreck, as we saw the remains of the plane in the last episode as the backdrop for the split amongst the survivors. Perhaps, if we hadn't seen that we would be less inclined to scoff at the news footage. The flashbacks are just as good as the island footage and this is not usually the case. On first viewing, I wasn't sure about the episode. Maybe it was getting used to the new characters and the new situation. But after a couple of re-watches I love it and I think it is a better episode than the premiere.