It’s now 10:00pm est, I’ve completed my umpteenth viewing of the first and second episodes of LOST’s fifth season and in a strange sense I wish I hadn’t seen them. Why? Because, first of all my hiatus has been extended by a week. Getting an early glimpse is great, but now I have to live with knowing that my steady stream of LOST goodness won’t settle into a regular rhythm until January 28th. Worse than that, though, is the fact that these episodes were so damn good, the wait is going to be infinitely more agonizing than it should be. Waiting for LOST is bad enough, as we all know, waiting when you know first hand that LOST has returned in top form, better than ever, to brighten up a blighted tvscape like a literal beacon of hope… well, direct me to the nearest cryostasis chamber – I’d like to sleep the next four-weeks off.
So, first the ground rules. The screeners beg that we protect the plot so I will do that. No spoilers will be given. Sorry. Maybe I’ll flirt with the edge of that a bit, though, so be warned.
Lost 5.01 – “Because You Left”
Lost season premieres are judged by, amongst other things, their opening scenes. Seasons 2 and 3 have always been my favorites, 4 was good but a little too loud and sudden for me – it lacked the illusory qualities of the others. Season 5 shares some similarities with 2 and 3 that are well worth noting. An alarm clock, someone going about a morning routine, and a subtle visual and audio clue that will echo with louder importance later on in the episode and probably the series. Where it excels is in revealing that the person we are watching is a character of mythic proportions for Lost fans, seen about doing things that we’ve always wanted to see him do and mixing with people we never thought we’d see him mix with, particularly this early in the season.
After the brain twister its back to the skeins left dangling last season, with one notable exception. Island side we are treated to a demented serving of beat the clock plotting with vignette after vignette of our characters dealing with the new rendition of the old ‘flash’ device. Some people are going to call the on-island events enigmatic, and in a way they are. Don’t worry though, there is a common thread of reason behind it all, but for the most part the on-island portion of the premiere is a fast paced, pleasingly weird, and entirely tantalizing demo of Lost’s new bag of tricks.
The tension resides off-island. How will they get back? Will they all want to go back? Slowly and surely we see these questions being answered, with some new questions popping into their place. Personally, I always suspected that Lost would not allow the ensemble to be apart for too long, and the premiere wastes no time in setting the stage for both the personal imperatives as well as the method of return.
Lost 5.02 – “The Lie”
With the premiere having recalibrated us to Lost’s mystical plot frequencies, 5.02 “The Lie” gets us back to more of a ‘character centric’ style. The episode is, in my opinion, a Hurley episode even though all of the plot threads are serviced. The consistency is incredible, reminiscent of season 4 but even more purpose driven. Maybe it is the lack of ‘conventional’ flashbacks-although, there are still a few-making the plot feel more condensed. Maybe it’s just the fact that I haven’t had any Lost in so long, regardless of what it is “The Lie” effectively quickens the pulse of “Because You Left” and ends with a character reveal that is stunning on the level of Sayid working for Ben.
“The Lie” is a stronger episode than 5.01 in the sense that it has a well defined ‘theme’ that permeates the plot, no easy feat when you are talking about a show that now has an a, b, c, d, e, and f storyline structure where most shows can barely manage the first couple of letters of the alphabet. After so many shows have seemed to be in some state of perpetual soul searching where their writing was concerned it was a relief to see that Lost’s gang of story slingers still know how to handle their six guns.
It’s hard after four seasons to stir the coals and try to find the same white-hot flame that Lost burned in season one. It would be cliche to say Lost has returned to form, or is continuing to live up to its own impossibly high standards-we hear these things all the time. At this point, it seems enough to say that I went into it full-out excited, and came out full-out satisfied. Things happened I absolutely did not expect, and the fog of between season speculation cleared in a way that was enlightening to how wrong we fans can be sometimes, and how brilliant the writers can be at out-guessing us. Lost still has it.