I was thinking about LOST the other day (something I do quite a bit) and noticed that all of the seasons have flowed pretty much exactly the same way. Every season has ended with something important being destroyed or ended and something important being opened. (not always in the physical sense of “open” but in the metaphorical sense.) Whatever is opened at the end of the previous season, determines the first half of the next season. There is a “turning point” about halfway through the season, which determines the second half of the season, which leads to a climax, something getting destroyed, and something getting opened during the finale. We’ve also seen that the flashes, whether they be back, forwards, or sideways, have been important, for the most part. Let’s look specifically at each season to see this theory at work:
Since there was no Season Finale before Season 1, we’ll have to consider the plane crash the “something important being opened” for Season 1. The plane crash was the defining moment for the beginning of the season, and determined the direction of the show. The Losties struggled to survive on a tropical island, and struggled to survive amongst complete strangers. They also began to explore their surroundings. Most importantly, they started to try and find ways to get rescued. The turning point of Season 1 that changed how the season flowed was Locke and Boone’s discovery of the Hatch, during “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues”, the 11th episode of the season, pretty close to halfway through. The discovery of the Hatch led to many important things happening during the latter half of Season 1: the discovery of the Nigerian drug plane, the discovery of the Black Rock, the death of Boone, and provided the location for the survivors to hide when they heard “The Others” were coming. The end of the season saw one of the main storylines of the season-getting rescued-get destroyed when Tom and the Others destroyed the raft. However, a new storyline that would be explored during the subsequent was opened with the dynamiting of the Hatch.
The flashbacks for Season 1 were important because they established the basic backstories of the characters and showed us why each of the main characters were in Australia. The flashbacks climaxed with the final flashback of "Exodus" showing all the flashbacks converging into one-- everybody boarding the plane.
The opening of the Hatch provided the main storyline for the first half of the second season. The survivors began to learn about the Dharma Initiative and were wrapped up in the pushing of the button. Rescue, one of the main storylines of Season 1, wasn’t on their minds as much anymore.
The turning point of Season 2 was during the 14th episode, “One of Them,” with the introduction of “Henry Gale,” better known to us as Benjamin Linus. With his introduction, the Others became a more pronounced worry for the survivors, more so than pushing the button. Ben told Locke that he hadn’t pushed the button during the Lockdown, and Locke’s faith in the importance of pushing the button began to erode. Locke’s visit to the Pearl station only strengthened this feeling. The main storyline of the season, the Hatch, was still the main storyline, but it took on a different feeling.
The end of the season saw Desmond turning the fail-safe key, and effectively destroying the Swan station, and negating the electromagnetic energy that had kept so many survivors in front of the Swan computer. The turning point of the season, Ben’s arrival, directly links to this as it was Locke who engineered the plan to let the timer run down, necessitating the turning of the failsafe key, and destroying the main storyline of the season. However, at the end of the season, the capture of Jack, Kate, and Sawyer by The Others opened the next big storyline for the next season: Meeting the Others.
The flashbacks of season either continued the stories of the survivors, or started new stories (Ana Lucia, Eko, Bernard, Rose, and Desmond). The flashbacks climaxed with Desmond's flashbacks during "Live Together, Die Alone" where it was revealed that Flight 815 crashed due Desmond failing to push the button on time.
The first half of Season 3 let us get to know the Others in a lot more detail than we had ever been given to this point as the Others' plot to use Jack, Kate, and Sawyer to heal Ben of his spinal tumor was revealed. The other main storyline of the first half of Season 3- Locke and Sayid rescuing Jack, Kate, and Sawyer, also directly links to this.
The turning point of the season (it came a little later than halfway through because a lot of Season 3 consisted of the writers dicking around not really knowing where they were going) came during the 17th episode, “Catch 22,” and it was the arrival of Naomi of the Island. This changed the focus of the season from the Others to rescue.
The end of the Season saw the deaths of many major Others, and the effective end of the Others’ dominance over the survivors. This was accomplished with the battle at the beach camp, which climaxed with the death of Tom, and Ben’s capture by Jack. However, in the finale, Jack was able to call the freighter and tell them that they were there, opening the new storyline of the freighter for the next season.
The flashbacks from Season 3 weren't exactly as important as before, because again a lot of time was wasted as the writers didn't know the future of the show. The flashbacks climaxed during "Through the Looking Glass" when it was revealed that Jack's flashback was actually a flash-forward, and that at least Jack and Kate managed to leave the Island.
The first half of Season 4 was spent trying to get the freighter close to the Island, and sending survivors to the freighter (Sayid and Desmond) while sending members of the freighter to the Island (Daniel, Charlotte, and Miles). The arrival of the freighter caused a rift between the survivors, with Jack heading a campaign to get off the Island, and Locke heading the campaign to stay on the Island.
The turning point of the season came during “The Other Woman,” the 6th episode when we definitively found out that the freighter’s intentions weren’t for the good of the Island and the survivors. This was accomplished by Ben showing Locke the tape of Widmore and his men beating up an off-island Other. The remainder of the season was spent learning more about the freighter’s nefarious intentions (namely the secondary protocol and the order to kill everybody on the Island) and the harder time that Jack’s group had in getting off the Island.
The end of the season climaxed with the destruction of the Kahana, the major plot point of the season. However, with the destruction of the freighter came the moving of the Island, which opened up the major plot point of Season 5: time travel.
The flashforwards from Season 4 were important because they showed what happened to the Oceanic Six and Ben once they left the Island. The flashforwards climaxed during "There's No Place Like Home, Part 3" when we see that Locke was the body in the coffin, and was the man behind the "Jeremy Bentham" alias.
The moving of the Island sent the remaining survivors and science team on increasingly dangerous time flashes that defined the first half of the season. The first half concerned the fight to stop the Island skipping in time like a record, as put by Faraday.
The turning point of the season was Locke leaving the Island to recruit back the Oceanic Six, which was seen during the 7th episode, “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham.” This changed to focus of the season, because it brought the Oceanic Six back to 1977, or for the case of Sun and Ben, 2007. Time travel became less of a focus, and searching for the reason why they had to come back became the focus. This focus became clearer as the season went on, in both time periods: in 1977 it was to attempt to change the future, in 2007 it was for Jacob’s Nemesis to finally complete his plan to kill Jacob (although this wasn’t clearly apparent until the very end of the season)
The end of the season saw the detonation of Jughead, which was linked to the time travel aspect of the season and effectively ended it. However, two new storylines were opened up with the finale. The detonation of Jughead led to an “flash-sideways” timeline that is being explored during Season 6. Also, the death of Jacob led to opening of a “war” between Jacob and his Nemesis that is being fought during Season 6.
Season 5 had a combination of flashbacks and flashforwards. The first half of the season consisted of flashforwards up to the point where the Oceanic Six came back. Afterwards, characters got flashbacks. The flashes climaxed during the opening scene of the finale where we saw Jacob and his Nemesis on the beach, a scene that changed the entire game plan of the show.
The death of Jacob and the detonation of Jughead have led to the 2 different storylines being pursued during Season 6. One is on island, and concerns the 1977 Losties coming back to the present and being part of the war being Jacob and his Nemesis. The other is the showing of a reality where the Losties never crashed on the Island, and how their lives would be.
If Season 6 follows the patterns showed in the previous 5 seasons, sometime between episodes 6 and 12 we will see a major turning point that will change the focus of the season. And the season finale will show the end of the major storyline(s) of the season. This means we will see a resolution to the importance of the flash-sideways timeline, and we will see a satisfactory resolution to the war between Jacob and his Nemesis. Looking at the structures of the previous seasons can give us a spoiler-free way of determining what we can expect from the season. The thing also to remember is that as pointless as the flash-sideways may seem to some people right now, look at the flashes from previous seasons. They're there for a reason. I trust the writers enough to think that these flashes will be important, just like the flashes from previous seasons. Everything that rises, must converge. The beauty of it, being only 5 episodes in, is we don’t have the luxury of looking back like we do with the last 5 seasons. We’re in the midst of it, and have no idea how we’re going to get to the end point. I can’t wait for the rest of the season.