Monday, May 25, 2009

Lost: Season 5

Lost: Season 5

Note: This will NOT be a spoiler-free post.

By now, everyone who watches the TV show Lost has seen the season 5 finale, so I am free to talk about it without anyone telling me I spoiled the show for them. If you haven't seen the finale, please see the opening disclaimer.
In short, season 5 was not their best season. (I give season 1 that honor, the only season to win the Emmy for Best Drama Series.) Turning into territory that will begin to wrap up the show, you'd think that they would answer a lot of questions and bring the whole mystery into perspective. Wrong. This season actually introduced more questions than it answered, making watching it week-to-week very frustrating. The episode where the Oceanic Six got on the plane was particularly frustrating to me because NOTHING was explained, it just all conveniently came together, and explanations just came later. Precious screen time was devoted to answering these questions that we did not care about, ("What lies in the shadow of the statue?" we care?) when we would rather see more story and more of our characters.
Last season left off with revealing how the Oceanic Six got off the island, with the boat blowing up with Jin (supposedly) still on board. It also reveals that Locke is the one in the coffin in the future, meaning somehow he will die. Jack is convinced that they must all return to the island. This season starts off only moments later, with Jack teaming up with Ben to find everyone, leading Kate to leave Aaron behind and everyone getting on the plane one way or another. Back on the island, Locke, Sawyer, Juliet, Daniel, Miles, Charlotte, and the rest of the survivors are experiencing flashes that transport them through time at random- forwards and backwards. Sawyer even witnesses Claire giving birth to Aaron. After- surprise!- Jin being found alive, Charlotte's death, and Rousseau's team landing on the island, they are reunited and Locke uses the wheel to leave. After that, they find out they are in the 1970's and they join the Dharma Initiative. Sawyer- who is being referred to more and more as James- takes on the alias LaFleur and leads the security force. Daniel leaves the island in the sub. Flash forward three years, and Locke ends up in the read world (he traveled through both time and space) and finds everyone who left, excluding Sun but including Walt, and unsuccessfully tries to convince them all to come back. Ben finds him and kills him after he gets vital information- the whereabouts of Eloise Hawking, Daniel's mother- and makes it look like suicide. The Oceanic Six return to the island with Locke in a coffin, but Jack, Kate, Sayid, and Hurley vanish and travel back to the 70's to rejoin Sawyer's group. Sun, Ben, and the now-resurrected Locke stay in the present with the new plane crash survivors. Daniel returns to the island and attempts to stop 'the incident,' a legendary Dharma happening that will kill lots of people. He intends to use an H-bomb to do this. He is killed by his younger mother, and Jack takes his place, believing it will change the course of time and reverse everything that's happened. Complications ensue, and Juliet sets off the bomb at ground zero, apparently killing herself instantly. In the present, Locke finds the myserious Jacob, who we see for the first time, and forces Ben to kill him. But, the people outside- in a reveal that copies and mocks the reveal at the end of the fourth season- show everyone Locke's body that was found in the plane, in the coffin. So, either the Locke that's walking around is a phony, or he got a new body. That's where the confusing season ends.
Let's start with the characters, which the producers of the show love to mistreat. Charlotte is killed fairly early on. Not one tear shed. Why? Because no one cared about her. She's one of the very few main characters that never got her own flashback episode. (Libby was another such unfortunate soul.) We never knew anything about her, and the fact that she hadn't been on the show that long made her death just a plot point rather than an emotional moment. Second, where the hell was Claire? Last season, she wandered off into the jungle to follow her dead father and left her baby on a rock. Sounds like something she would do. And she was in maybe one scene this season, just in a flashback. The producers have said they'll bring her back next season and explain what's been going on. Bullshit! They played the same game with Michael, who disappeared for season 3 and reappeared hastily in season 4 only to die a few episodes later. In that instance, his story was not worth the wait of a year, and I don't think Claire's story will be worth that wait either- they needed to explain it immediately, and they didn't. She's an important character and her absense is strongly felt. (Don't even get me started on Walt- the producers practically cut him out of the show after season 1, and he was one of the most interesting characters. Now the actor is too old to go back and film scenes from what happened to him while he was gone.) I like the new side of Sawyer- he did a lot of maturing this season and is a much better leader than Jack ever was- but I hate the Sawyer/Juliet romance. They are complete opposites, and barely interacted before this season. Totally contrived. Also, the one thing most audience members were waiting for never happened: the Sun/Jin reunion. Alas, after the finale, they are no closer to being reunited than they were at the beginning of the season. Even something that was given to the audience turned out to be a disappointment: we finally see Jacob but learn nothing about him, except that like Richard, he doesn't age and has seen the castaways at different points in their lives prior to the island. So, he's the leader and he sought them all out. Why? And why did they cast a young man with blonde hair to play him? He looks like he belongs on a biker gang, not the leader of this magical island. And then he's promptly killed off. How anti-climactic.
The finale was so muddled (and had so little action) that it really doesn't leave much for the final season. I'm a big fan of the show, but honestly, after that, do I really care what happens next? It seems obvious that Daniel was right- whatever happened, happened- and with the dropping of the H-bomb, they just caused the incident instead of preventing it. How did none of the characters see that coming? Most of the audience must have guessed it.
Still, with all its faults and audience-losing techniques, Lost is still great television. Witness: any scene with Hurley is bound to be the best scene in the episode. My personal favorite: when he is caught writing the screenplay to The Empire Strikes Back with improvements. ("Face it, the Ewoks suck, dude.") Its continued use of the cliffhanger ending makes the show addicting, and when it does have an action sequence, it's worth the wait. This season focused more on sci-fi and mythology than it did on characters or action, but the show's strengths still shine through its murky weaknesses.
Season 6- the final season- starts in January. Be sure to tune in, or you'll be lost in the crowd.

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