Lost - Season 5
Starring Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Jorge Garcia, Terry O'Quinn, Elizabeth Mitchell, Henry Ian Cusick, Michael Emerson, Daniel Day Kim, Yunjin Kim, Alan Dale, Ken Leung
Developed by Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof
Transmission season: Spring 2009
ABC, 17 episodes, 43 mins.
Plot: Oceanic 815 vs. 1977!!!
NOTE: THIS REVIEW IS WRITTEN WITH THE ASSUMPTION YOU HAVE FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE EVENTS THAT TAKE PLACE IN SEASON 5, SPOILERS BELOW.
Wow. Just wow. A few hours ago, I finished the show's fifth season, and I'm absolutely blown away. In two days - the quickest I've went through a season of a show - I've watched some of the most amazing, awesome, brilliant, and moving episodes I've ever seen. Yah ever get that feeling, watching something, that a particular episode or entire program was crafted specifically for you? That was my experience with this year of Lost.
As the end date of the show approaches ever nearer, the writers have created a complicated season full of time travel mumbo jumbo, character reversals, major twists, major amount of destiny vs. free will fights, and some of the best storylines the show has ever crafted. And by the end of this season, we get a glimpse of the larger picture that encompasses the entire Lost universe, and it is phenomenal.
Basically, I'm so enamored with this season I'm rushing off and picking it up on Blu-Ray ASAP. I will leave no bonus feature or commentary unturned. This season calls for multiple rewatch, and damn if I don't comply.
Alright, last season introduced the freighter, the flashforwards, the characters Frank, Charlotte, Daniel, and Miles, and the concept of time and movement. This season, as a ramification of Ben moving the island, a hiccup effect occurs and the island "flashes" and moves through diverse time periods; Locke embarks on a mission that could very well cost him his life; the "Oceanic Six" are faced with a extremely difficult choice, although it may not be a choice at all if fate has anything to do with it; the freighter folk find hidden connections to the island they've never known before; and the mysterious Jacob, the Dharma Initiative, and the Others shed a bit more detail about themselves, but of course not the whole picture.
With 17 episodes, a lot happens and it doesn't feel like a single episode was wasted.
With the whole time travel aspect, time is quite the important factor this season, moreso than others. The trademark Lost gimmick of introducing something amazing in one episode and paying it off with the resolution three or four episodes down the road is used here, but not as often as prior seasons (thank God). But it's still around: the opening scene of the season with Dr. Change and Daniel Faraday springs to mind, as resolution to that doesn't come until the end of the season. But anyway, time is a gorgeous thing: the whole Locke telling Richard to tell a wounded Locke something blew my mind, and it took a few brain cells to finally 'get' that whole sequence of events once it's explained before the finale; the whole thing with Eloise and Daniel in 1954/1977 was also particularly well thought on. Basically, the Lost writers did a amazing job coordinating all these different time-lines, deciding what they can and can't do according to quantum physics and general sci-fi rules of time itself.
I also think they did a fantastic job with meshing all these time periods together. Before I even watched the series, I knew about this whole 1977/2007 thing the show was doing, and I was confused as hell but simultaneously interested in how they would pull it off. Well, brilliantly simple. Everything changes but them - they are the constants (throwback to a season 4 episode), but the environment alters according to said timeline. For example, the Swan hatch not existing, then existing, and then blown up - all three instances shown in the season. As far as why the island goes through these multiple time periods without being some sort of plot contrivance, it's a nice ramification of when Ben moved the island, it started to go a little haywire, zapping from period to period. The only part I didn't get is why getting the Oceanic Six back would basically save the day (since the time looping ended when Locke zapped himself to Tuscany or wherever), and I hope that gets explained someway somehow before the finale.
But anyway, I love the reveal of Miles, Sawyer, Juliet, and a well-sounding English speaking Jin working at the Dharma Initiative, stuck in 1974 with not much else to do. The only other Oceanic survivors who are still around on the island, Rose and Bernard, have set up came somewhere else and really don't give a damn about what new plot to save the day Jack & Co. have in store. Obviously I don't know if this whole time table scenario was part of the original mega-mythology plan created by Lindelof and Cuse, but it seems so effortlessly tied into everything established thus far while simultaneously wonderfully setting up elements for what's to come, I can't help but think that perhaps these guys really have had a master plan all this time.
And furthering the mythology big time this season, the writers finally, finally, finally give us a glimpse of Jacob (Supernatural's Mark Pellegrino), the enigmatic powerful figure that's been mentioned since, I believe, season 3. The downside to this great reveal? He's only featured in the two-parter "The Incident." But overall, that's OK: the first scene of the finale gives us the set-up for the big events that will unfold in season 6, and presents to the audience the bigger storyline of Lost and what everything has been about from the beginning. Turns out that the island has been a battleground between two brothers, one dressed in white and brights (Jacob, the protector), and the other made up all in black and plotting to kill his broheim (because the "rules" dictate he can't kill Jacob). It's a grand Shakespearean tale of betrayal and tragedy laid out on a mystical island.
Way freakin' cool!
In previous reviews, I've sorta complained about a lack of movement with a lot of the characters. I get that the flashbacks are done, so further insight into their past and what makes them them is not gonna happen anytime soon. But as far as on the island, unless there's a death threat, everyone is very reactionary and aren't given a moment to grow as a character. Well, this season changes all that. Everyone gets to shine, and I mean everyone.
There's two characters who particularly go through quite a change - Ben and Sawyer. Introduced in season 2, Ben/Henry Gale was always the 'man in charge', even when held prisoner by John and Jack. Throughout season three, he further solidified his power of manipulation and utter malice, and in season four we began to see his exterior break a little, but tragic events in his life hardened his shell back into a force of calculation and murder. But here in season five, Ben is completely out of his element, a broken version of who he once was. When he gets back on the island, he is nothing more than a rodent compared to greater powers, and at the very end of the season it is he who is manipulated. A very nice reversal of character three years in the making.
Sawyer matures and becomes a leader, making the tough decisions, maintains a stable relationship, and is all around a new and improved version of the broken down man he was in seasons three and four. Now he has a great relationship with Juliet (super shocker), is the Chief of Security at the Dharma Initiative, and is rather living a pretty good life. And when the Oceanic Six return to frak things up for him, he thinks things through, contemplates multiple solutions, and acts quick on his feet. This isn't the Sawyer we all knew - this is a grown man, and it's awesome to see Josh Holloway allowed to do this character like this. It's also quite awesome to see Sawyer take a anti-Jack stance near the end, effectively trying to stop him from going through with his Jughead plan. That was some super riveting stuff, and Sawyer's transformation is definitely one of the major highlights of the season.
Speaking of Juliet, I did find her more likable this season, but Elizabeth Mitchell honestly can't seem to convey a single emotion on her stern, seemingly glued expression. With the sole exception of her final scene at the Swan Station, Juliet maintains the exact same expression on her face the entire season. Happy, mad, sad - doesn't matter; that expression don't move, dude.
Miles, Daniel, and Charlotte are given the opportunity to explore their pasts. Turns out Daniel has a lot of connections to the island stemming from his parentage (LOVE the twist with his mom on the island and the BOOM!), and I loved every sequence with him in it. Charlotte lived on the island as a young girl, but her storyline and character is unfortunately not given enough material to really care - with the exception of Daniel's agony over her decreasing health with each subsequent 'flash'. Miles' background isn't paid off till the final episodes, and it's delicious to find that a recurring character from since season 1 be integral to a season 4 character.
Locke gets the short end of the stick big time. His 'leadership' over Richard's gang doesn't exactly last too long, and he's immediately thrust into the time game as the island flashes at random intervals. And then he seems to discover his purpose - to reunite the Oceanic Six and save the island. Enter Ben, doing a deed that I still don't understand and effectively destroying Locke's life. Um, why? And damnit, that's just cruel. I half wish the twist at the end of "The Incident" involving Locke didn't happen, and that everything that happened on the island after 316 crashed was actually him. But I can deal; it sucks that it happened, and I feel a little short-ended by the producers, butt it's also a delicious twist that even I as a show runner couldn't pass up. Plus, it directly ties into the show's overall mythology.
Another great thing about the time travel element - it allows the audience to get a glimpse of the Asian man who hosts all the Orientation videos: Dr. Chang. And it turns out Dr. Chang has a connection to one of our Lostites. This season allows the opportunity for characters who have been briefly seen in flashbacks to be fleshed out, given greater dimension, and also see the beginnings of certain things/projects/places that will be very important to the Oceanic 815 crew.
I could honestly bask in the brilliance of this season in a ginormous blog, and write about how much I love certain aspects of every friggin' episode, but I won't and I'll just say that season 5 is the best season yet, and I'll probably analyze it over and over and over again. For those who want to join in the fun, I recommend the book Finding Lost: Season 5, by Nikki Stafford (who wrote books on Buffy, Xena and Angel, as well). That woman leaves no clue unturned, delves into the books the characters read (e.g., Ben's book given to him by Locke in Season 2; Sawyer's book he's reading in 1977 at Dharmaville), poses questions, reveals goofs and hidden Easter eggs in each episode - it's a goldmine of Lost information. My apologies if this sounds too much like a TV ad - it's simply that this lady has done her research and written a magnificent series of books that unlocks even deeper layers of Lost awesomeness, and shouldn't be skipped by any means.
I could go on and on and on and on about the brilliance of Michael Giacchino and how the series couldn't be nearly as powerful as it is without his majestic score, but I won't. I'm simply going to say that you're doing a disservice to the show if you don't go out and try to iTunes or buy the CD of his work, you positively won't regret it. Or hell, before you buy it, give it a listen on YouTube.
- It's great to see Richard Alpert get a even bigger role in events this season.
- Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking had a "complicated" relationship!
- The Smoke Monster and The Temple!
- Jin is alive, rescued by a important [now deceased in 2004 timeline] character!
The best season by far, it has everything I could ask for: riveting plot, beautiful character development for everyone involved (even the minors get their time to shine), plenty of surprises, brilliant cinematography by Jack Bender (as always), and a game-changing new direction for the show to take in its sixth and final season. But the true essence of why this season should be seen are these two names: John Locke and Benjamin Linus. Yeah, you knew it. Well, onward to re-watching season 6.