Ater that, each episode became a flashback showcase for one particular character, giving us a glimpse of their life before they boarded Flight 815.
Some characters had several flashbacks in the first season, Jack most of all; while Shannon had to wait until Season Two for hers. (Fat lot of good that did her!)
The flashbacks continued throughout the second year of the series (and the producers have said they will continue throughout the run of the show, as they are the best way to construct the puzzle of 'Lost'.) But with the sophomore season, the show's creative team began to play with the format.
There were still the straight-ahead flahsbacks that filled in the blanks for various characters, like Mr. Eko, Ana Lucia, and Bernard & Rose; all of which also provided more links between the characters.
But now there were variations.
The episode "... And Found" was a shared flashback between Sun and Jin. For the most part during the show, the flashback would lead out from one character and when the focus in the flashback shifted to the other, it would lead back into the present situation for that half of the Korean couple.
"S.O.S." was also a combined flashback, for Bernard and Rose. The emphasis was on Rose, though, as it dealt with her struggles with her terminal cancer.
In "Dave", we got two flashbacks for characters that were not yet a couple: Hurley and Libby. Most of the episode was about Hurley's time in the sanitarium. But at the end of the episode, we got to see a very quick flashback for Libby; seeing part of Hurley's story from her perspective.
After the cataclysmic finale of the episode "Abandoned", we got "The Other 48 Days" which was just one long flashback in itself. It related teh story of the "Tailies" after they survived the crash, leading up to the three intersections with the original survivors: radio contact with Boone; the encounter with Jin, Michael, and Sawyer; and the fateful collision with Shannon and Sayid.
Claire's second flashback episode, "Maternity Leave", was the first to deal with events that happened on the island for the original "Lostaway" cast. In it, we learned what happened during those few days after Ethan abducted her. But it wouldn't be the only island-based flashback, as we also learned what happened to Michael after he took off in search of Walt in the episode "3 Minutes".
Finally, the two-hour finale was given over to be a flashback showcase for Desmond, who was introduced at the beginning of the season and then not seen again until the finale. (It certainly paid off for the actor, Henry Ian Cusick, as he was the only actor from the show to be rewarded with an Emmy nomination.)
But for all those two hours, there weren't that many connections to others from the island. We did get to see Jack prior tohis meeting with Desmond; and Inman from Sayid's flashback played a pivotal role in Desmond's life in the hatch.
But aside from Inman, the most important flashback link was made to Libby who provided Desmond with his sailboat. She also appeared in Mr. Eko's second flashback episode as well. Both of these flashbacks happened after the actress Cynthia Watros had already left the show because her character had been murdered.
And they serve as an indication of even more variables to come for the third season, because her entire back story will be played out via the flashbacks of other characters.
What other flashbacks might we expect? Perhaps the fake Henry Gale or young Alex from among the Others, maybe even Tom aka Mr. Friendly and Zeke might get their own flashback episodes. Maybe there will be a flashback that is totally off-island as would be the case if we got an episode centered around Penelope Widmore, the love of Desmond's life. And it would be the perfect showcase to expose more secrets about Widmore Labs and the Hanso Group.
And who knows what kind of technology the Dharma Initiative has at their disposal? Now that the Others have captured Jack, Kate, and Sawyer, perhaps they can engineer flashbacks via dreams which can then be transmitted for all to see.
Sound familiar? That same technology was developed by "the Village" to find out the secrets of 'The Prisoner' Number Six in the episode "A, B, & C". I wouldn't be surprised if the Dharma Initiative utilized their research and incorporated it into their own projects.
At any rate, I'm looking forward to seeing the variations which the creators of 'Lost' will come up with for the third season flashbacks.
Just so long as they don't have flashbacks within flashbacks. That's the kind of bad storytelling you get in movies where the bad guy is played by Emmett Kelly......
*NOT the Electric Boogaloo.....