‘Lost” is essentially a show of questions, not answers. That is part of its frustration, its mystique and its powers to captivate both a cultish following as well as scare away those who can’t deal with the neglect of answers. This much is made clear in the opening sequence of season five. Who are we watching? Why does he have yet another name? Why is Daniel there of all places? And, most importantly, when the hell are we?
‘Lost” has a talent for giving the audience a glimpse into what the entire season will be about within the first five minutes of the show. Season one opened with a man deserted in a jungle and running through the woods to reveal an awful plane crash. Who is the man? Will they get help? How will they survive? There it is, season one in a nutshell survival.
While this cult favorite has always delved into the realms of science fiction (smoke monster anyone?), I can now say that it has surpassed the question of whether or not it can be classified as sci-fi. From the moment that record started skipping in the first several minutes of this season’s premiere, ‘Lost” revealed that its penultimate season would explore the ever-deepening mythology of the island, and yes, that includes time travel.
Despite the seemingly scientific turn the show has taken, it retains its roots in character development. Sawyer, shirtless for a swooning full hour, has the audience’s common-sense perspective fully intact, a kind of ‘Time travel? Hell no!” view of this change.
Meanwhile, Hurley continues to appeal to the more sympathetic and comedic side of the story, while Desmond and Penny hold their position as the true romance of ‘Lost.” My new favorite character, Daniel Faraday, continues to impress me as the twitchy scientist with the ability to explain what the hell is going on.
a little too well (how does he understand all of this so intimately?). And then there is the ever elusive, manipulative genius Benjamin Linus, who knows how to keep viewers on their toes.
In the past, ‘Lost” has outdone itself as a show that has rewritten how television stories can be told. The first few seasons explored the central idea of flashbacks in order to tell the stories of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. We learned about the pasts of these individuals who they are, where they came from and what brought them to that fateful plane.
After realizing the stories of these characters may have been told thoroughly enough to start losing an audience, the executive producers approached the network. They made an unprecedented deal with ABC, which allowed them to put an end date on the run of the show. Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, executive producers, along with theABC network, chose to end the show after its sixth season. From there, the show took off. The episodes became more compelling, and the story finally had a real direction to take. This brings us to the story-telling technique that changed the show’s dynamic once again: flash forwards. We began to see the future of these characters once they were off the island.
And that brings us to season five. The Oceanic 6 have returned to the mainland and left the rest of their group behind on an island that seemingly disappeared into thin air at the end of the fourth season. Now the story-telling technique seems to have changed yet again. We are now presented with parallel story arcs. One presents us with the Oceanic 6 living three years after their return from the island and the consequences they have been forced to acknowledge due to their departure. The other storyline follows the ones left behind on the island directly after its ‘disappearance” three years earlier. Confused yet? Well, that might explain why the ratings have dropped in recent years. But despite what numbers may say, ‘Lost” is definitely the most compelling and interesting prime time show to follow.
The new story-telling technique, with the island-bound survivors bouncing around in time, allow us to view the show in a remarkable way. Not only are the first two hours insightful, but they are also ridiculously exciting and gripping with many gasp-inducing moments. Many of the intakes of breath and out-loud exclamations are caused by moments that we have seen in previous seasons but revisit now through a new perspective, due to our on-islanders skipping around in time.
Whether I’m watching Sayid kick some serious ass with kitchenware or admitting that Sun actually scares me a little bit, every character plays an important role on this show. That is not something that comes with your average drama. Each character’s story is significant and intertwined with one another, which is beautifully demonstrated as Hurley pulls away from a gas station while Kate pulls up immediately after.
While the opening two hours of season five may not have answered all of our questions, it answered enough to satisfy at least my liking while also offering even more questions for us to ponder in our free time.
Now, if you’re looking for a new show to occupy your evenings on Wednesday nights, I can’t say that I would tell you to start watching ‘Lost.” Yes, I believe it’s the best show on television. But do I think you can jump in at this point and have a clue about what is going on? Probably not. I would advise a nice binge-watching of the first four seasons; I can tell you from experience, it is painstakingly entertaining. With appearances from past characters, Ben’s connections to seemingly everyone as well as Locke’s questioning of what a compass does, I’ll have plenty of questions and theories to pour over before next’s week’s episode. So while we wait to see Jack’s proclamation of ‘We have to go back!” fulfilled, I know I’ll be tuning in on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Will you?

Rosenberg is a member of
the class of 2012.

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