Why I don't like Lost's "flashforwards"

Ever since I saw the season three finale I'd been saying that I didn't like the Lost new "flash-forwards". Of course, after the finale I wasn't sure where they were going with the idea so I cut them some slack. Then we had that first batch of S04 episodes and the writers' strike and I didn't like them but I couldn't quite put my finger on why until last week. Now I should be clear, this is not "I think Lost is falling apart" just a "I wish they weren't doing this".

Warning: the rest of this post will contain spoilers about Lost season 4 up through episode 10, titled "Something Nice Back Home".

What I really don't like about them is that building the chronology in my head is detracting from watching the episodes. When the episode started my first thought was "Is this a flashback or a flashforward?" Then we see Kate. OK, now we know it's a flashforward, but we don't know where it fits with the other events we've seen in flashforwards. I spent the rest of the episode mainly focused on that question. I think they answered it fairly clearly right at the end, but I would have rather watched the show for it was instead of working on timeline theories in my head.

The episode that was the worst for this in my mind was Ji Yeon. In that episode a Sun flashforward was combined with a Jin flashback. I realize this was on purpose to attempt to confuse the audience, but early in there was a scene where Jin is attempting to buy a stuffed panda and the shopkeeper tries to sell Jin a dragon instead since it's the year of the Dragon. I thought about it said, "Wait that doesn't sound right". Eventually I paused the show, went to my computer and Googled the Chinese Zodiac which confirmed Jin's story was taking place in 2000. Now there's an argument that it's cool that I was so invested in the show, but I would counter-argue that I'd rather watch the show without having to fact check obscure items. "Something Nice Back Home" did something similar with baseballs scores in the newspaper but I didn't bother to try to figure out what time window was represented there.

The flashbacks have never had this problem. I don't recall worrying whether a given flashback occurred before or after another one. Usually it never mattered and if it did I think the order is made clear early on. But the flashforwards have always had this element of playing with the audience and making the viewers not trust what we're seeing.

There are other aspects of the flashforwards I don't like as well. The coy way everyone talks around "them" is just annoying. It sounds artificial and the only purpose of the construct is so that the characters can have a conversation that the viewers can't completely follow.

All in all, I still really enjoy watching Lost and it's not a matter of me thinking the show is falling apart or anything. There's just a major difference between the way the flashbacks and the flashforwards work and I find it distracting. I have some hopes that the flashforwards we've seen so far are in fact just to the end of season 4, and that something else screwy will happen in the S04 finale. I'm sure there will still be flashforwards in seasons 5 and 6 but I'm hoping the writers won't play with identifying the chronology proper as a puzzle element.