The first episode of LOST season four was solid. I have no complaints. The teaser to the the first episode of season four was not as striking as the openers to season's one, two and three, but it was not bad. This did what I want a Lost episode to do --
Introduce a bunch of random mysterious stuff: Why the Oceanic 6? Did only 6 people make it back? Kate, Jack, Hurley, and three more (one of whom may be dead)? Did Hurley make it back some other way, since he went with Locke -- he apologizes for that, which suggests they have not talked much since then, a period which would include the ride home, if they went together. What does Lt. Daniels from the Wire (!) want with Hurley? What is Charlie's status? What did they do that day that Jack is afraid Hurley will tell someone about? Why is Jacob communicating with Hurley now? Why did Naomi not tell the ship she was attacked? What is the status of the "rescuers?" My brain can see this is all dumb, but I love it. It is an irrational addiction.
Have great character moments: Jack firing the gun, the castaways choosing sides, Hurley telling Clare about Charlie, Hurley and Charlie, Ben worried about his daughter. And that patented LOST emotional King Lear rain, which is ridiculous, but which I have come to love. Got a serious moment? Here comes the shower.
And the whole thing of course moves us just the slightest step forward, which many people hate, but it is genius because it allows LOST to do so much that no other TV show can do -- tell a variety of stories (practical survival, ghosts, time travel, four guys fix a bus, Alfred Hitchcock presents [Paolo and Nikki]) because the "rules" are never clearly laid out as they are on Buffy. You cannot have a Buffy episode where everyone just fixes a truck.
Really the best thing about the new "flash-forward structure" (really still flashbacks, just with a newly established present) is that I now care equally about the two time periods, just as I did in the beginning. The show is refreshed, not an easy thing to do three seasons in. There was a while there, when the connection between the Island story and the flashbacks was often just thematic, and I would tune a bit out and be eager to get back to the island. Not any more.
I will say that I found myself a little less emotionally involved in this episode than in episodes past. I attribute that to the fact that I know this is all just going to stop, for no narrative reason, seven weeks from now, with no word on when it will return.