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Featured Blu-ray review: Lost - Season Five

December 5th, 2009

Lost - Season Five - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

The final season of Lost starts at the beginning of February of next year, but season five hits the home market on DVD and Blu-ray this week. It's a little early for those who like to watch the previous season on DVD / Blu-ray just before the next season starts, but it is perfect timing for the holiday shopping rush. The show debuted on September 22nd, 2004 and was instantly hailed as one of the best shows on TV at the time. Since then, not every plot twist has made sense, not every new character was greeted warmly, not every episode moved the story forward in a satisfactory manner, but overall the quality level of the show has remained amazingly high. Does that continue this season? Or is there a reason why next season will be the last?

For those who don't know the basic setup of Lost...

At the beginning of the series, Oceanic Flight 815 crashes on "The Island" and several survivors have to band together to survive the island's many threats, which include a polar bear, smoke monster, and a group of people they refer to as, "The Others." While exploring the island, they found a mysterious hatch with several numbers on it: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. As the show continues in season two, they meet more people, including the survivors of the tail section of Oceanic Flight 815, and, while exploring the Hatch they learn of the DHARMA institute and learn why their plane crashed. The third season was generally considered the weakest so far with far too many new mysteries added, and far too few answers. (It felt like the writers had lost control of their creation and had no idea where they were going or how they were going to wrap it up. Also, Nikki and Paulo sucked.) That said, there were a number of key developments, including introducing several important characters, including Richard Alpert, while there were more than a few deaths, including what is arguably the most dramatic up to this point in the show. Season four has the arrival of the freighter Kahana, who may or may not be there to rescue them. Meanwhile, six survivors from Oceanic Flight 815 manage to escape the island, dubbed the Oceanic Six by the media back home, and we get to see their exploits through "flashforwards" throughout the season. A technique that is 50% cool and 50% unnecessarily confusing.

So we arrive at season five. And from this point on, consider everything else in the review of the show a spoiler. I will try and avoid revealing the really big twists, but if you don't want to read any spoilers, then click here.

As with every season in the past, there are plenty of new characters introduced this time around. As I've said previously, for a group of people marooned on a tropical island, they sure do meet a lot of interesting people. This time around, part of the group travel back to the 1970s and become part of DHARMA, which at the time is a relatively new and growing scientific community. Here we are introduced to Horace, who is the leader at the time, Dr. Pierre Chang, who recorded the DHARMA introduction videos the survivors found previously (among other things), and, perhaps most importantly, a young Ben Linus.

Meanwhile, John Locke manages to leave the island, but he is told to reunite the Oceanic Six and bring them back to the island, at any cost. And the cost for him is a huge one. While most of the Oceanic Six have not done well off the island (Jack is on drugs, Hurley is in a mental institute, etc.), none of them want to return. But thanks to the help of Charles Widmore and Ben Linus, working on opposite ends to the same goal, they return to the Island, but they are not sure where it is, or when it is that they have landed.

This is where both of these storylines meet up, which leads and very fast conclusion to the season, which has more answers given than in the past, but still ends with a great cliffhanger.

On a side note, one of the best parts of season five of Lost was the re-introduction of Rose and Bernard (and Vincent the Dog) near the end of the season. They, along with several other survivors were stuck in 1974 and had spent three years hiding in the juggle trying not to be captured by The Others, DHARMA, or even their fellow survivors. ("We spent months looking for you." "We know.") It turns out that the constant drama was just too much for them and they wanted to live their lives on the island in peace. It's a heartfelt moment, but also a little jab at the show by the writers. While it is a great show to watch, you certainly wouldn't want to live through it.


The following piece of speculation is just that, speculation. However, if I am correct, it would be a massive spoiler for one of the major reveals of the show. Be warned: you might want to skip this part.

Personally, I think that Jacob is not the good guy that Richard Alpert and others think he is. His Nemesis says that bringing people to the island will only lead to fighting and death, and this got me to thinking. What if Jacob is like the Snake in the Garden of Eden? The Island and its powers are like the Golden Fruit and Jacob is tempting the Others, DHARMA, etc. into using it. His Nemesis can't kill Jacob directly, because he's the good guy, and the good guy has to follow the rules. Bad guys don't have to follow the rules, because that's what makes them bad guys. Does this mean The Others are the bad guys because they follow Jacob? No. They seem to genuinely believe he is the good guy, the one who will save them all as Richard says. But I think they were deceived. I am not the only one to float this theory, but I couldn't write this review without at least mentioning it.

And here endth the spoilers.

So how was season five of Lost overall? Better than season three, that's for sure, and I think most would consider it on par with seasons two and four. If not on par exactly, any decline is marginal enough that fans of the show will still be hooked from the start of the season right through to the end. (In fact, I did watch the entire season in one marathon sitting.) I would go so far as to say that if you gave up on the show during season three, it is time to come back. The low point was an aberration and it looks like the show will be worth sticking with right to the end.

I only have the Blu-ray and not the DVD for season five, but it shouldn't be too hard to figure out what extras are Blu-ray exclusive, especially since they mention that right on the Blu-ray slip-cover.

Extras on Disc One start with a Starter Kit, which has become standard for ABC shows, and it is most appreciated here. There is also an audio commentary track on "Because You Left". On a side note, they warn you about spoilers, twice. And they are serious. As always, good energy and a lot of information. There are no extras on Disc Two, but Disc Three has another commentary track, this time on "He's Our You," which is a title that makes grammatical sense when you hear it spoken in the show. This is an incredibly important episode, as it is the one that helps tie the two storylines I mentioned above together. Disc four has the 19-minute featurette called Lost 100, which is about the making of the show's 100th episode, as well as the celebration that includes an Ace of Cakes cameo. This is exclusive to the Blu-ray edition. So far it's not a lot, but what we get is worth checking out. Fortunately, there are a lot more extras to come.

Disc Five starts with another Blu-ray exclusive extra called Lost University, which doesn't start until Tuesday, which is a pain if you are a critic trying to review the Blu-ray before it streets. Mysteries of the Universe is a 26-minute featurette that gives background information on DHARMA. It's filmed like it was a short-lived show from the 1980s and is presented in terrible video and sound quality, like it was recorded on a VCR 25 years ago. I could literally hear my Blu-ray scream in agony as it was playing. Making Up for Lost Time is a 14-minute featurette on the time travel aspect of the season, and not just the narrative troubles, but the production difficulties that happen when you have to film the same set in two or three time frames. An Epic Day with Richard Alpert has Batmanuel himself giving a behind-the-scenes look at filming the season finale. Building 23 and Beyond is another behind-the-scenes featurette, this time looking at the Burbank office where they write the shows. Lost on Location is nearly 40 minutes long and looks at the filming of several scenes from episodes throughout the series. Finally, there are eight deleted scenes (total running time: 13 minute and 43 seconds) and four minutes of outtakes.

As for the Blu-ray's technical presentation, it's as good as the previous Blu-ray releases, which is saying a lot. I've reviewed every season of this show on Blu-ray, and I have to say that it is the best TV on Blu-ray show out there. The video is flawless and the surround sound speakers are given a workout more than on just about any other show. Additionally, there are Blu-ray exclusives and the Blu-ray costs less than 30% more than the DVD. Add it all up and the High Definition option is clearly the better choice.

Lost's first season felt like it was completely planned out from beginning to end. By season three that feeling was diminished, but now it is back. Season five isn't the best the show has been, but it is still among the best shows on TV at the moment and one that thrives on the home market. The DVD and Blu-ray have incredible replay value and either one is worth picking up, while the Blu-ray is a contender for DVD Pick of the Week.

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