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Reviewed by Jason Zingale
ife as a “Lost” fan used to be a pretty exhausting endeavor. Between the uncertainty of knowing how long the series would be dragged out for and the constant hit-and-miss selection of episodes, it was enough to drive away even the most fervent viewer. Those that stood by the show through its third season, however, were well rewarded when the ABC drama began to turn things around with a series-ending game plan that helped renew interest and shorter seasons that led to more focused storytelling. Though the change started to happen in Season Four, its effects weren’t fully felt until last year, when “Lost” transformed into something beyond water-cooler TV: a genuine American classic.
The fifth season picks up right where the last one left off, with the remaining survivors that weren’t on the rescue helicopter beginning to experience the effects of Ben’s (Michael Emerson) departure when the island starts shifting through time. Eventually, Locke (Terry O’Quinn) manages to stop the perpetual time warp when he uses Ben’s secret door to go back for help, leaving Sawyer (Josh Holloway), Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell), Faraday (Jeremy Davies), and Miles (Ken Leung) to fend for themselves in the 1970s. After discovering that Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) somehow managed to survive the freighter blast, the group heads into the Dharma camp and start their new life as recruits.
Back in the future/present, Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly), Hurley (Jorge Garcia), Sayid (Naveen Andrews), and Sun (Yujin Kim) are contemplating returning to the island following their escape. In order to successfully return, however, everyone has to go back together, but when they board a plane to Guam with Ben in tow, only some of them actually make the jump back to the 70s. Jack, Kate and Hurley are eventually brought into the Dharma camp thanks to Sawyer – who’s now in a position of power – while Sayid is mistaken as a hostile. Meanwhile, Ben, Sun and Frank Lapidus (who just so happened to be the pilot of the plane), crash land on the island with the rest of the passengers in present day, only to discover that Locke is now in charge of the Others.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to the story, but since information is doled out on a need to know basis on the show, that same principal will apply to this review as well. You really have to admire Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse for their incredible patience and confidence, because while most people would probably give away too much too quickly, these guys are masters of restraint. Case in point: the hydrogen bomb lovingly referred to as Jughead is introduced in the third episode never to be seen or heard about again until its eventual payoff in the season finale. Of course, even though Lindelof and Cuse remained sticklers when it came to divulging information, the fast-approaching end of the series pretty much forced their hand in giving away more than they were used to.
Sure, revelations about the island’s connection to the Losties provided plenty of “holy shit” moments for fans, but the best part about Season Five was the way it played with the notion of time travel. Though the series had previously dabbled in that arena before – most notably in the geektastic Season Four episode, “The Constant” – this season was based almost entirely around the concept. Thankfully, “Lost” has a character like Daniel Faraday among its ranks, who quickly laid out all the ground rules early on. The only one that really mattered, however, was the idea that you can’t change the future, although that didn’t stop anyone from trying. In fact, fans still aren’t sure if Faraday’s theory was correct. Was that fade to white at the end of the season symbolic of a clean slate or just the effect of a really big explosion? No one knows for certain, but it sure made for some great TV. Combine that with the show's talented ensemble cast (particularly Josh Holloway and Elizabeth Mitchell, whose romantic pairing this year did wonders for their characters and the story) and one of the strangest finales to date, and you don't just get the best season of "Lost," but one of the best seasons of TV period.
Special Features: Though the number of audio commentaries continues to decrease each year (this time around, there are only two, and neither of them are for the finale), the Season Five Blu-ray release is still overflowing with bonus material. Among the highlights include a look back at the filming of the 100th episode (“Lost 100”), a video diary of Nestor Carbonell’s final day of shooting (“An Epic Day with Richard Alpert”), a tour of the “Lost” offices with Michael Emerson (“Building 23 & Beyond”), and behind-the-scenes featurettes for seven pivotal scenes throughout the season. Rounding out the set are deleted scenes and bloopers, as well as the Blu-ray exclusive “Lost University,” a BD-Live feature that lets you take part in a "Lost"-themed college course.