To be fair, J.J. had nothing to do with this year's Lost
finale - it was all due to the showrunners, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. They're clearly in charge. J.J. directed and co-wrote the pilot and attaches his name for marketing purposes, but it's not his baby.
That said, the format was
criminally over-utilized on Alias
. It's not the reason I stopped watching - that would be turning the best plotline they had, Rambaldi- into a vehicle for Night of the Living Alias
- but it contributed. Yet it's not the device's fault. Any storytelling contrivance can get tiring if it's overused, including the flashbacks in Lost
The producers (Lindelof and Cuse, who have been the faces for the show since the beginning) were at Comic-Con and they were pretty open about the finale. They knew that the flashbacks would get stale after a while and would need to be retired for the sake of the show. They chose flash-forwards as the replacement because
a lot of the action in the last couple/few seasons takes place after they get off the island.
Personally, I liked the finale, and still do weeks later, which is a sign that my initial reaction wasn't merely the reaction of a starving man thrown a piece of raw meat. I really hated the middle of Season 3 and wish the season were about 2/3 its size so they could focus on the good stuff. Fortunately, that appears to be exactly what will happen over the next three years (16 episodes per year, starting in January each year and running uninterrupted each time). Bully for them, I say! It's good to see networks realizing what's required to make a serialized show work and stepping up to the challenge.
As for Charlie's death... eh. The biggest problem I have with it is that we don't get to see more of him with Claire and that's debatable since they can do a lot with her on her own as a facet of that doomed relationship (Greatest Hits, anyone?). Even if the death was pointless - and I'm not in the camp that believes it was; he did, after all, complete his mission, even if it's not something the castaways may want in the long run - it was still well handled.
I'm looking forward, pardon the pun, to future seasons. So far, I'm not sniffing anything even remotely like the stink coming off Alias
in its final three seasons. In fact, much the opposite.
EDIT: Watch my blog over the next day or two for a mega Comic-Con post - complete with pictures, and with more about Lost