Lost: Season 5 Post-Mortem

Ever since the agreement was made with ABC to end the show with the sixth season, the writing on "Lost" has been out of this world. It was already quite good to begin with, but now there is a lot less fluff. The plot is moving along at a blistering pace, and there's a renewed sense of energy and purpose. Where once it seemed like the show would never be able to provide answers to the questions raised in the first few seasons, it now seems like a foregone conclusion that the writers know what they're doing.

There are plenty of naysayers that claim differently, but many of them are still judging the show on the pace and content of the second and third seasons. Both seasons had their problems, but most of them were related to the unexpected success of the show itself. Like any network, ABC was ready to milk "Lost" for all it was worth. That meant that the loose "five year plan" for the series had to be stretched out, and the writers struggled to keep the momentum going.

That is no longer a valid criticism. The fifth season was about as driven as it gets, and the structure of the show was a lot more flexible. Gone was the relatively predictable flashback/flashforward structure. It was replaced by an ever-changing context of certain time periods: the heyday of the Dharma Initiative in the 1970s, the days leading to the return of the Oceanic Six to the island in 2007 and the aftermath, and several other points already established in the series' timeline.

For some, it was confusing, but fans of "Lost" have always been conditioned to consider the temporal context of the material presented. Flashbacks rarely took place in chronological order, and how they intersected and interconnected was one of the compelling aspects of the story. The time travel was no different, especially as it revealed connections between seemingly unrelated events hinted in episodes as far back as the pilot.

The season was roughly split in half. The first half of the season told the story of the Oceanic Six and their attempt to return to the island, culminating in the fateful Ajira 316 crash in 2007. At the same time, so to speak, those left behind on the island were moving through time at random, setting the stage for future plot elements or answering lingering questions in the process. The result was the perfect mix for those as interested in the character development as the mythology.

The second half of the season was just as involving. The main action took place in 1977, in the days leading up to "the incident", referenced way back at the beginning of the second season in the Swan Station orientation film. The concurrent action in 2007 featured a renewed John Locke and his assumption of control over the Others. When the plot threads culminated in the season finale, the revelations that resulted profoundly changed the context and meaning of much of what has happened in the series since the very first episode.

None of which would matter without the trademark character exploration that has always been at the heart of "Lost". Amidst a time travel bonanza that struck at the heart of the philosophical debate over free will and predestination and the ongoing examination of identity, the original theme of redemption shines through. Several key characters were presented with opportunities to change and grow, and even among the mythological revelations, the choices made by the characters were front and center.

Based on all those strengths, the fifth season of "Lost" earned a Critical Myth Rating of 8.3. This is the highest rating given for a season thus far, and represents a season that was well above average. The series started to gain momentum in the second half of the third season, once the end date was announced, and it's clear that the brisk pace and innovative storytelling will continue into the sixth and final season. The fifth season has clearly been an important part of that process, both in terms of plot and chara


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