Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lost Season 5 Half Point Rewind

Lost is taking a short hiatus tonight, airing instead a rerun of the fabulous LaFleur episode from last week. I thought that in lieu of an actual review/synopsis of an episode I would instead take a look back at this season so far. We're roughly halfway through season 5 and on the cusp of what seems like another change in tone and structure. So, how does this season stack up? Hit the jump to find out!

With the last episode everyone is back on the island aside from Desmond. Lapidus, Sayid, and Sun are the only characters we don't currently know the location of. The last episode truly felt like a culmination of the storyline. With Jack, Kate and Hurley meeting up with Sawyer and the gang. This first half of the season felt like a truly well thought out mini-season. Unlike the supposed mini-series first half of season 3 that felt...well, like a plodding mess.

So, what worked and what didn't? Surprisingly(for the cynic in me, at least) a lot of this season worked. I really have very few gripes. So, lets list them out.

What Worked:
  • The time traveling island story was fun and amazingly enough made sense most of the time - If you had told during season one that four years later Lost would completely change into a full blown genre show and have the most interesting closed-system time travel this side of Babylon 5, I'd tell you to cram it somewhere painful. The fact is that it takes cojones to pull the rug on your audience and completely change the premise of your show four years in, but the producers of Lost have done just that. It's especially perilous when you can't guarantee that your audience, weened on four seasons of mostly traditional drama with flashes of weirdness, will accept the new tone. How do you make your audience care? By not emulating Heroes method of time travel. I.E. make sure it's comprehensible. Despite jumping around through time all nimbly-bimbly the story is relatively easy to understand and very fun to watch.
  • Sawyer is a character to root for, finally - I've always had a very hard time accepting Sawyer. Sure, he was initially meant to be an opposing force to Jack's boyscout leadership role. Once we realized that there were other people on the island, Sawyer became a snarky jackass. You can tell that the writers were going for the charming rogue archetype with Sawyer, hell, Lindelof and Cuse have compared him to Han Solo. But after the halfway point of season one Sawyer was either The Incredible Nick Name Generator, or a total dickhole. But for the majority of last season and this season, Sawyer has been away from Jack and Kate--forced to take on a leadership role. When a leader, Sawyer finally finds his true potential. Yes, I like Sawyer now. Too bad Jack and Kate returned to the island...of course it'll go to shit now.
  • The story feels more like a whole, rather than a story-of-the-week - Lost has always been pretty serial, but even it had a tendency to do stories which didn't facilitate the main storyline. Part of that was because the plot needed padding, but when the producers and ABC announced the series would end after season 6(and the seasons would be shorter) they no longer had to languish the pace. Quite the contrary, they actually had to shunt some planned stories in order to keep everything in order. Yeah, it sucks that we will never get to see Rousseau's story aside from the small time travel snippets, but now the series finally feels like it has a purpose and places to go.
Yeah, not so much:

  • The stuff on the mainland has been bor-bor-boring - I don't really like Kate and the sun has set on the days when I considered Jack a great character, so a focus on them is always hard to swallow. With all the fun things happening on Craphole Island, it was hard to follow the Oceanic 6 trying to get back. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't interesting. Thankfully, with all the primaries back on the island the flip-flopping shouldn't be THAT difficult.
  • Seriously, what a waste of Desmond - Sure, it was great that ol' Des got three years of a happiness with Penny and I'm adamant in my praise of their relationship. His search for Penny and conversely her search for him has been one of the keystones of the later seasons. As much as it would pain me to see something befall either of them, I really want to see more. The first eight episodes of this season have seen Daniel alert Des in the past that they need his help in the present. Des was told to find Mrs. Hawking and help the people on the island. He did find Hawking, only to tell everyone to shove it and leave. Hawking mentions that the island isn't done with him. While I do believe that(maybe Des will be responsible for the people stuck in the '70s returning to their present) he still has some work to do, why-oh-why re-introduce Desmond only for such a small role? It's a disservice to Henry Ian Cusick and his fans.
  • Despite all the time hopping randomness, it has been sorta predictable - It seems like you can troll the boards on any Lost community and find some crazy theories. Some of these were downright absurd, like the island time traveling. For a while there it felt like the writers were perusing these boards too, because it was eerie how dead on some of these theories were. After being a old-school spoiler whore(X-Files community boards on AOL represent) I shucked the habit and went cold. No spoilers, no previews, no commercials. The only thing I allow is checking out the Lost message boards occasionally. Sadly it feels like a spoiler board sometimes because half the theories are coming true. It's not because any of us are prescient, Lost is just tying up some loose ends and well it's just a little predictable. Here's hoping that with the Oceanic 6 being back on the island, the predictability will wane a bit.
Could Go Either Way

  • It doesn't exactly feel like Lost - Ok, this one is admittedly a nit-picky toss up. On one hand, I relish the new feel of the series. It's invigorating to not have people running out in the jungle JUST as it begins to rain(it's how you know something important is about to happen on that damn island!). But I'm an obstinate hater of change(no offense Mr. President, still love ya) and this just isn't the series that I fell in love with back in 2004. Nothing the series has done has ever been as good as the first eight episodes of season one. The raw potential and the looming dread of unknown has been lost(seriously, no pun intended) since the old days. I can't help but look back on the early episodes and think how great the series might have been had JJ Abrams not left to direct Mission Impossible 3. I don't think too highly of Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and while they may have helped start the series with Abrams, I have a striking feeling that the guy who created Alias would have done a better job showrunning than the guy who created Nash Bridges.

So, that's where we stand. I'm excited with the momentum that the series has had since the end of season three. There hasn't been any big complaints that completely derail the series for me like there were in the latter half of season one, season two and beginning of season three. I'm excited by the cohesiveness of the series in the last two years and can't wait to see more!

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