by Chris Carabott
Season 5 dives head first into weighty science fiction concepts with time travel playing a major role in the narrative for the entire year. There are inherent risks with introducing time travel into a story that is already as complex as the one Lost has become over the past few years. For the most part, the writers do a good job of keeping the time travel aspect of the story from becoming too complicated, but there is no dispute that it is the driving force of the season's narrative.
The first half of the season is comprised of two very distinct storylines. One of those being Jack Shephard's desperate attempt to reunite the Oceanic Six in order to return to the island and the other being the journey of those left behind as they find themselves inexplicably traveling through time.
The Oceanic Six storyline is definitely the weaker of the two. The story of the Six, hours before they return to the island was weakened by a slow start with the somewhat Hurley-centric "The Lie." This is an episode that featured a little too much of Hugo Reyes' wacky exploits as he transports an unconscious Sayid around Los Angeles. The rest of the Oceanic Six story is essentially a waiting game as we watch the pieces fall into place so that these characters can return to where we really want them to be - on the island. In fact, their return to the island in "316" feels rushed, almost as if the writers realized that the best place for these characters is back on the island.
Maybe if they injected more of the mystery into the off-island story that can be found on the island it would have been much more compelling but unfortunately only a few stories stand out. Desmond's quest to find Daniel Faraday's mother is an intriguing journey but isn't given as much screen time as the story deserved. In fact, Desmond fans might find themselves a little disappointed as he is woefully underused this season.
The aptly named "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" is the best episode that takes place almost entirely off the island. The story chronicles John Locke's attempt to convince the Oceanic Six that they need to return to the island in order to save those left behind. It's a tragic story for John Locke who has spent the last four seasons in the belief that the survivors of Flight 815 are tied by a single destiny but only in death does he finally make people believe. It's a well-scripted story and wonderfully acted by Terry O'Quinn who does a great job of portraying an interesting transition for Locke on screen.
Locke isn't the only one who goes through a transition this season as Benjamin Linus is forced into a situation that is quite surprising for the character. Without delving into too much detail, the dynamic between Locke and Ben changes quite a bit but the great chemistry between O'Quinn and Michael Emerson is still as exceptional as it has always been. Linus fans should not be disappointed by some of the great developments for the character this season.