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The final season of one of the top shows of the decade, Lost, begins in a few months. Now is the time to remember all the stuff from Season Five that you forgot. If you are like me -- you know, old and tired -- you forgot a lot.
Following Season One back in 2004, I was a firm believer that Lost could be one of the greatest television shows in history. It took off like a shot and sucked me into the great characters and island mystery. I was all nerded-up with theories and ideas and speculation. By the beginning of Season Five, though, I was merely hoping my many hours of watching an occasionally great, but at times confusing and inconsistent, show wouldn’t be wasted as the whole thing drove right off a cliff. Season Five gave me hope that the upcoming final season would cement the show as, if not one of the best of all time, at least one of the best in the last 10 years or so.
It’s not even possible to write down a coherent plot to this show or this season. Too many characters, too many mysteries still not dealt with, too much freakin’ time travel. If you are starting here in your Lost journey, go back to Season One and do this thing in order. You’ll never figure it out otherwise, and even then it’s iffy. Basically, the season was mostly spent jumping around from time to time on the Island, and then looking at the Dharma Initiative back in 1977 and the events that ultimately led up to Oceanic 815 crashing in Season One.
Although the time travel made the season as confusing as Hell at times, it is the “beginning of the end” for the show. Season Six will wrap this mother up, so the writers and producers couldn’t jog in place, waste time, run down rabbit trails, or experiment with crap that just didn’t work. They had to get moving on plot, plot, and more plot. No more Paulo and Nikki, no more Ben’s adopted daughter’s boyfriend’s dating issues, no more Locke’s father being killed by Sawyer in the storage closet. While the Island’s secrets didn’t exactly get stripped bare, the season spends more time on explanation and driving towards what is going to happen to these characters we love.
That’s what Lost comes down to, of course. It’s always been the characters and not the “What the hell is going on?” thing. We love Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly), Sawyer (Josh Holloway), Locke (Terry O’Quinn), Hurley (Jorge Garcia), Jin (Daniel Dae-Kim), and the rest, so we stick with this show even when it pisses us off with writers trying to be smugly cute. The rearranging of the power structure in this season, with Sawyer, Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell), Jin, and the hilarious Miles (Ken Leung) being three-year Dharma participants while Jack, Kate, and Hurley come in as novices is a brilliant move. In fact, the addition of Miles is the best thing the show has done since Season Two. For the past two years, he’s been spouting off like a fan might at every dumb decision the Islanders make. We finally have a voice on the show…and he talks to dead people!
It bugged me a little bit that the plot is coming down to magic and time travel. Maybe it will be something else when all is said and done, but doesn’t Jacob seem like a mythical being? Time travel, really? This show is better than that. But the performances of the leads, the epic scope of the undertaking, and the fact that some questions get answered, makes Season Five the best year since Season One and forgives the disaster that was Season Three. On to the finish line, I can’t wait.
While I found Season Five to be a great year for Lost, I’m a bit disappointed in this DVD set. One of the drawbacks (and great things) about Lost is its complicated plot. Throw in time travel and it’s just frankly confusing sometimes, and even a regular watcher (like me) can forget things or get a little lost in the timeline. So why not spend some time on the DVD straightening stuff out? Not giving away anything, but looking back and saying “Okay, here’s what happened chronologically and here are some connections between people.” This DVD set does almost none of that. Bastards.
There are only two commentaries, which is pretty odd, as it would seem like a show that would benefit from lots and lots of commentary. Both episode commentaries are done by the writer/producers responsible for the show, and that means we get to hear Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. They spent the first few years of the show, at least on their podcast, being smug and cutesy with their comments about the show, but in commentary for Episode One, they try to actually provide information. It’s nice to see them wise up, but it’s a too little too late.
Although the commentaries do provide some context and overarching theme discussion, the rest of the extras are pitifully weak in this area. An example is “Making up for Lost Time,” a 13-minute featurette that is supposedly about the show’s time travel. There are few comments about how hard it is to have continuity when you time travel and how the '70s are such a cool period, but is there anything concrete about what the hell is going on or who is in what period and how it all fits together? No. I’m not talking about the big answers, just clarification. Instead, we get a puff piece.
More puff pieces fill the bonus disc, though. Cast members Michael Emerson (Ben) and Nestor Carbonell (Richard Alpert) host separate “day in the life” of the writing room and on-set extras. While there is some “How does this whole thing work behind-the-scenes” coolness to it, it’s probably not quite worth the nearly 30 minutes the two featurettes total together.
There is one very cool featurette, and that’s the mis-named “Lost on Location.” It’s more a behind-the-scenes on big stunts like Locke’s car accident, the flaming arrows, the burning bus, the big crash, Sayid shooting young Ben, and the outrigger canoe trip of the Sawyer/Juliet group. It’s pretty frickin’ cool to see how they do all that stuff, and while it’s long enough in total, each event is pretty much just explained, shown, and then explained some more.
In the hard-to-explain category is a reproduction (a very well done reproduction) called “Mysteries of the Universe.” The show, which is like “In Search Of” in quality and style takes on The Dharma Initiative and talks about them in a way that incorporates some things we’ve seen in the show (not actual scenes, but locations and events that are discussed) as though it were a real thing to be investigated. The investigation is sensationalized and funny in some ways, but it does give an overall sense of The Dharma Initiative and its relationship to the so-far unseen Hanso and DeGroot.
There are also some short and random deleted scenes that just jump from episode to episode (why does no one follow the Office style of putting them right after the particular episode?). Again, the material isn’t paltry, but it doesn’t do what it should do, which is help clarify the show and bring things together in order to prepare us all for the slam-bang (that’s a Bing Crosby term) finale in Season Six.
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