Lost Season 5 (2009) dir. Various
Starring: Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Naveen Andrews, Terry O'Quinn. Michael Emerson
By Alan Bacchus
Season 5 of LOST, now available on DVD, received arguably the most critical acclaim since its first season. It’s perhaps its most ambitious, a complex narrative which changed substantially the focused paradigm of the first four seasons.
When we last left our Losties, Ben and Locke had ‘moved’ the island, which we came to learn meant moving it back in time. Through the first few episodes we get to see some of our characters (inc. Sawyer and Juliet) in flux moving through time randomly, thus allowing us to see previous plotting from different points of view, before they settle in the 1970’s at the time of the Dharma initiative. Back in the real world, at the behest of the Locke, Ben assembles the Oceanic 6 (inc. Jack, Sun, Hurley, Sayeed, and Kate) and convince them to return back to the island. But how are they going to find the island if it’s disappeared? Thanks to Daniel Faraday’s mother Eloise, the island is charted and the losties are reunited – in 1977! The reunion of Kate and Sawyer brings much complications as Sawyer and Juliet are now in a three year relationship. With these allegiances divided they’re new mission is now to get out of the time warp and back to present day – at whatever cost that might be.
I think we all figured out that the ‘Lost’ showrunners have been playing catch-up to their high concept mysterious narrative shenanigans for a while now. Not everything was planned out in advance and the producers’ need to tie every loose end, mysterious happening and oblique easter egg is approached with more transparency than ever.
Arguably the fifth season loses its forward narrative thrust when the time shifting starts to happen. The notion of conventional reality is tossed out and we are forced to accept whatever we are told could happen on this island – including moving through time. In an earlier season Hurley once joked that they were in another time, and, as the audience, there seemed to be assurance that indeed, the show ‘wouldn’t go there.’ Indeed it did go there, which I can only assume was the only way to tie these loose ends.
So is Season 5 a cheat? Perhaps. Certainly having to keep track of where the characters are and why and tracking their individual motivations became very difficult in the ‘weekly’ viewing format. On DVD, this will be alleviated for the first time viewer and even the second time viewer. In terms of narrative, the central goals of the characters are weakened. Due to the time shifting there’s a narrative gap in Juliet and Sawyer’s storylines, as they find themselves on the island three years longer than anyone else.
Even the motivation of the Oceanic 6 to get back to the island is murky. Midway through the season we even forget why they’ve returned. Is it because Locke told them to? And with what substantial reason? To save the others? From what?
The season ends with a bang as the last 2 episodes introduce a baddie even higher up the chain than Ben or any of the Dharma people – Jacob. And that four-toed foot finally gets some attention after 3 years of teasing.
“Lost” is still as much fun to discuss as ever and thus one of the best shows on television. The final season with begins in the New Year is thus welcomed with both relief, excited and sadness.
“Lost Season 5” is on DVD and Blu-Ray from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment