Serialized shows like Lost are by nature difficult to watch and very polarizing for most viewers because they require a great deal of patience and commitment in return for a payoff that is ultimately more satisfying than what you’d get with a sitcom. Since every episode begins where the previous one left off, the characters are given time to evolve and grow and our attachment to them becomes more profound than that of a sitcom character who stays the same episode after episode, season after season. The entire series almost becomes one long movie. Because of the loyalty required to keep up with the story and characters over such a long period of time, serialized dramas generally split the audience right down the middle. You’re either a diehard fan or someone who hates or has never seen the show. It would be impossible for someone to start casually watching Lost from mid season and enjoy or even understand anything that’s going on without having seen the previous seasons. That being said, Lost: The Complete Fifth Season is a release that will appeal mostly to fans or those who are interested in becoming fans and prepared to watch the series from start to finish.
Lost follows a group of plane crash survivors who are marooned on a mysterious island. Members of the group include Jack, a spinal surgeon with daddy issues, Kate, a wanted felon, Sawyer, a seasoned con-artist, Hurley, a cursed lottery winner, and Locke, a miraculously cured paraplegic, as well several others. Together they struggle for survival in hopes of being rescued, but soon realize that not only is help not coming, but they aren’t alone on the island.
As you might recall, Season 4 dealt with the survivors trying to get off the island via their new friends from the freighter and also introduced the flashforward storytelling device which revealed “The Oceanic Six,” the six survivors who make it off the island. Season 5 picks up exactly where season 4 ended, following the journey of two separate groups: The Oceanic Six back on the mainland and the rest of the survivors still stranded on the island.
The Oceanic Six—comprised of Jack, Kate, Claire’s baby Aaron, Hurley, Sayid, and Sun—struggle individually with their newfound fame, their public lie, and the guilt of abandoning their island friends. In summary, Jack hits the bottle, Hurley goes back to the mental institution, Kate fights for custody of Aaron, Sun seeks revenge for the loss of her husband Jin, and Sayid becomes a hitman for Ben. Their lives off the island begin to slowly fall apart until Locke makes surprise visits to all of them. Eventually they become convinced that the rest of the survivors are in danger and that the only way to save them is to return to the island. With help from Ben, who was teleported back to the mainland after turning the donkey wheel, the Oceanic Six (minus Aaron) find a loophole that takes them back to the island. They are, however, shocked to find that the year on the island is 1977.
Back on the island, Locke, Sawyer, and the rest of the survivors find themselves stuck in a kind of timewarp, skipping to various points in time on the island. Faraday, a physicist from the freighter who happens to specialize in time travel, explains that after Ben moved the island it was tweaked into acting like a broken record, constantly skipping through the 4th dimension. As they journey back to the Orchid Station in an attempt to fix things, they bare witness to the history of the island first hand. The constant time traveling begins to have negative side effects, however, and induces nose bleeds and debilitating migraine headaches. John Locke knows something has to be done and selflessly volunteers to turn the wheel, fix the island, and bring the Oceanic Six back. At the Orchid Station, he turns the wheel and fixes the island, and in the process is teleported back to the mainland where he begins his mission of reuniting the Oceanic Six.
With the island now stable in time, Sawyer and the rest of the survivors discover that they are trapped in 1977. At this point in the island’s history, a scientific research group/cult known as the Dharma Initiative has overtaken the island and holds an uneasy truce with “the others,” a population of indigenous people who protect the island’s secrets by any means necessary. Sawyer and the rest assimilate into the Dharma Initiative and live relatively normal and fulfilling lives—that is, until the Oceanic Six arrive.
Reunited once again, Sawyer and the other survivors help Jack, Kate, and the rest of the Oceanic Six join the Dharma Initiative for the time being until they figure out how to get back to their proper time. Faraday also returns from his stint at Ann Arbor with the revelation that detonating the dormant hydrogen bomb on the island may reset the timeline and return everyone back to the present. Things eventually come to a head, however, when the Dharma members discover that Sawyer and his new friends are not who they say they are.
There’s plenty of story that I’ve omitted, but it would be impossible to cover every aspect of the season without filling up pages and pages of summary. That’s actually one of the things that make Lost so special: its rich storytelling and expertly crafted mythology. A lot of shows have since tried to imitate Lost, but they’re always lacking when it comes to building up the mystery and mythos behind the story. What Lost also does so well that lesser shows often fail to do is perfectly tread the line between mystery and needless confusion. Anyone who watches Lost knows that the show leaves you with 100 new questions every episode, but they never feel pointless and always seem organic to the enveloping mythology of the series.
Season 5 was arguably one of Lost’s most compelling seasons for two reasons: 1) this season embraced the science fiction elements of the series (namely time travel) more than any other and 2) this season answered almost as many questions as it posed each episode. One of the most delightfully frustrating aspects about Lost is piecing together the mysteries (i.e. the others, the Dharma Initiative, the smoke monster, the time traveling) to comprehend the story as a whole, and this season in particular really helped the viewers form a more complete picture of the island and its history. Though this season was perhaps the most chronologically complex, with episodes jumping around to multiple periods in time, it did a good job of keeping the story tied together dramatically and thematically so that even if you couldn’t grasp when an event was taking place, you still understood the overall dramatic arch of the story.
There were a lot of great, enlightening episodes this season that incorporated intelligent sci-fi storytelling while building on the mythology of the show as well as several mind-blowing and satisfying revelations to some of the island’s strangest mysteries. A few major questions that are answered this season include how and why Locke died off the island, what happened to Russo and her team, what the smoke monster really is (sort of), and who Jacob really is. In particular, Jughead, The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham, He’s Our You, The Variable, and The Incident stood out as really solid, action-packed episodes with surprising twists and answers to important mysteries. In fact, there was hardly an episode this season that failed to deliver, with the exception of the somewhat boring flashbacks/flashforwards that were Kate/Aaron-centric. Overall, this season really kicked things into full gear with more plot-driven episodes that dug into the core of the mythology and proved to be one of Lost’s best seasons.
There’s no question that Lost‘s 1080p transfer by Disney is visually stunning and is a perfect example of a show that’s meant to be seen on Blu-ray. The colors are incredibly vivid, which is always noticeable in the lush greens of the island’s forest canopy, the rich baby blues of the Dharma vans, and the true-to-life flesh tones in the close-up shots. The image is sharp and the contrast level is perfect from the deep blacks of the island nights to the bright whiteouts of the time travel flashes. You really couldn’t ask for anything more.
A lot of credit should be given to the directors and cinematographers of the show as well. They have a way of bringing the island to life and utilizing various locations in Hawaii to make the island seem infinitely vast and mysterious. The visual style is on par with that of a high budget movie and gives Lost a degree of timelessness and polish that’s hard to find anywhere else on television.
I’ll keep this brief since I’m running out of room: the audio is superb. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track sends every deep THUD of an explosion or piercing CRACK of a rifle into your core and makes the viewing feel like a true theatrical experience. The moody orchestral soundtrack is timeless and appropriate to the tense, mysteriousness of the story and is more than partly responsible for defining the feel of the entire series (i.e. the crescendo thud at the end of each act break). It’s the way Lost was meant to be experienced.
There’s a veritable treasure trove of special features spanning all 5 discs, including:
- Lost Starter Kit
A rapid-fire summation of the previous seasons of Lost designed to bring viewers who’ve never seen the show up to speed and to refresh the memories of fans who’ve forgotten what has happened over the course of the last four seasons.
- Episode Commentary
The commentary from the executive producers and writers is insightful and really helped to place the characters and plot within the context of the overall story. They almost seem to have an infinite knowledge of the show and bring up a lot past events that tie into the episodes as well offer up interesting fun facts and tidbits relating to the series.
- Lost 100
A featurette documenting the behind-the-scenes of Lost’s 100th episode. We’re given a peek into what shooting the show is like, the relationships between the actors, and the motivations behind the 100th episode. There’s also a special appearance by the elaborate Ace of Cake’s Lost cake. In true Lost fashion, the featurette is edited into a series of flashbacks.
- Lost University
An interactive exploration into the deep mysteries of the island and it’s inhabitants (requires an internet connection).
- Mysteries of the Universe
A fake expose about the Dharma Initiative shot in the style of a 1980s TV show. I didn’t really find this to be particularly entertaining or enlightening, but it’s obviously meant to be a fun side-piece that attempts to add to the mythology of the series.
- Making Up For Lost Time
An inside look at Lost’s time travel philosophy with the show’s writers and producers. We get to see how the actors and crew deal with keeping track of all the temporal manipulation that occurs throughout the season. It’s interesting to see all the logistical and continuity problems the crew has to overcome to make the time travel work in a way that’s convincing.
- Deleted Scenes and Bloopers
- An Epic Day with Richard Alpert
A camera crew follows actor Nestor Carbonell around for a day of shooting, from his arrival to hair and make-up to wrapping for the day. Again, we get to see what it’s like shooting the show and how the actors and crew get along with each other. The biggest mystery solved here: Richard Alpert does not in fact wear eyeliner.
- Building 23 and Beyond
Michael Emerson hosts this featurette that takes us on a tour of Building 23 in Burbank where the show is written. It’s very cool to see inside the writer’s room and post production offices where all the writers, producers, and editors create the show.
- Lost on Location
Again, more behind-the-scenes on set footage from various episodes of season 5. This time interviews with the crew are included offering a different perspective on the difficulties of shooting on location.
Lost is certainly one of the best drama/sci-fi series on television today and will no doubt go down in history as one of the most influential shows of this generation. Many people credit it’s success as ushering in the return of serialized television to primetime, and though many shows try to immitate it, none even come close to matching it in scope, character, and storytelling. If your not a fan of Lost, it’s OK, I forgive you, but I would suggest giving it another try once the series concludes with it’s sixth and final season this year. It goes without saying that owning Lost: The Complete Fifth Season is a must for fans of the show. For non-fans: jump on the bandwagon, buy all 5 seasons on Blu-ray, and have a Lost marathon with your loved ones this holiday.