There were two big stories in the third season finale of 'Lost' - the flash-forward game changer, and the death of Charlie Pace, our Crossover Hall of Famer for this month. The musician, drug addict, and grifter, who found his calling as a family man with Claire and her baby Aaron, willingly gave up his life to fulfill Desmond's vision. In order for Claire and Aaron to be rescued, Charlie had to flick a switch to stop a jamming signal... and then drown.
Much has been made of whether or not Charlie had to drown. He succeeded in stopping the signal, but he could have sealed the communication room's door from the outside before Mikhail flooded the chamber. I think he wanted to make sure that it was locked from the inside so that nobody could access the room and resume the jamming signal.
Of course, he only had a moment to think this through; not enough time to realize that somebody in diving equipment could still get in with underwater torches and cutting tools. And while he was trussed up by those two Other-bitches, Bonnie and Greta, Charlie accepted that he would die after all in order to make sure the prophecy came true. It was a sacrifice he was willing to make for the two most important people in his life.
According to Spoiler Queen Kristin of E! Online, this will be a major issue of angst for Desmond in the fourth season. She quotes Damon Lindelof as saying:
"Desmond will have to deal with the aftereffects and the guilt of [Charlie's death]. He will question whether or not Charlie would have made this sacrifice, had he not told him that was what he was going to do? He will question the role he played in Charlie's death."
We've seen in the past that if people obsess or become fixated on something long enough on that Island, ultimately it comes to them. Charlie wanted his guitar, he got it. Jack wanted to find his father's body, he saw Christian Shepherd walking through the jungle. Ben told Locke that the Island was like a magic box which would give you whatever you wished for.
So what if Desmond's obsession ends up keeping Charlie Pace around, even though his body lies a-mouldering underwater? Perhaps others will be able to see him, perhaps not (Hurley comes to mind, especially after the episode "Dave".), but he could be a continuous presence who haunts Desmond. The future visions may have stopped with Charlie's death, but visions of Charlie might still continue.
He would be sort of the Island's version of "Lost Ghost: Coast to Coast".
In interviews after the finale aired, just before Herrs Lindelof & Cuse went into their self-imposed radio silence, the producers talked about the necessity of Charlie dying after establishing that it would have to ultimately happen because of the visions.
Damon Lindelof: "I think the audience and the character and even Dom as an actor would feel ripped off if we did not fulfill the promise of Desmond's premonition."
They also talked about the fact that they would miss working with Dominic Monaghan, but they didn't come right out and say they wouldn't be working with him again.
Carlton Cuse: "The irony of 'Lost' is that a lot of characters work a lot more once they're dead. Charlie could exist in someone else's flashbacks. Look, the Island is capable of conjuring up things from people's pasts. It is entirely possible that Charlie will appear in the show again. We've actually talked a lot about it, but to say more about that right now might blow the element of surprise."
For his own part, Monaghan danced around the subject about coming back to the series. When asked in an interview for Entertainment Weekly, whether he had "any desire to come back, be it in flashback or in some other trippy form", he replied:
"That's not really a question for me. That would be a question for Damon. I don't have that luxury of hindsight. If he would say hypothetically, 'Okay, Charlie's going to go, but halfway through Season 4, we're going to bring him back in a flashback that is awe-inspiring,' I would be all ears. But if that's not part of his master plan, I wouldn't want to put him under that type of pressure."
"Some other trippy form".... I get the feeling the interviewer was thinking along the same lines as I was.
I've said this before, and it's become sort of a mantra when it comes to 'Lost', but "whatever happens with this show, I'm in it for the ride." The possibility of Charlie returning to the series on a regular basis as a specter is an intriguing one, but if it doesn't happen, so be it. More than likely we will see him again on the show in somebody's flashback or dream sequence, perhaps also as one of the whispers heard in the jungle.
But who knows? Maybe in someone's flash-forward as well?
Just sayin', is all, Dude.