Now it is clear the writers just saw them as kewl high concepts.
So did, apparently, some of the audience. Heck, I thought they were all fun additions (except maybe zombie Sayid). But the main emphasis at the beginning (and while admittedly there were some missteps, continuing all the way through the finale) was character.
And Season Two is a perfect example of the series playing to theme and character above all else (Man of Science v. Man of Faith). If anything (for Season Two, at least) plot was sacrificed in the name of character.