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Saturday, January 17, 2009

"LOST" Confusing people even more in Season 5

It has been eight months since the island moved us. Yes, we know that's not island time — because we also know that we have no idea what island time is.

What we do know is that we, the "LOST" couch-potato castaways, saw Ben turn the wheel hidden in a room below the unfamiliar Dharma Orchid Station, the sky white out and the island vanish. All this was the culmination of a time-traveling, Emmy-nominated season of past and future stories that split up the "Lost" tribe — rescuing some people after 108 days, leaving some to linger on the island and killing others.

If none of the above makes sense to you, yes, it's too late to pick up "LOST" now. That's what DVDs are for.

For four seasons, LOST viewers have flashed backward and forward through a maze of puzzles. When the penultimate season of the ABC hit LOST premieres Wednesday (9 p.m., Ch. 7), executive producers promise that answers will come our way, but it might take fans a moment to notice — because the fifth season puts viewers on yet another narrative roller coaster.

"Although the show occupies the same world, we're always driven not by rules but by what is the best way to tell stories in any given season," executive producer Carlton Cuse said. "Viewers will have to adjust to a little bit of a different mode this year, but we think that in that challenge also is the excitement that keeps 'LOST' fresh."

First, we got to know our castaways through flashbacks to events that happened before Oceanic Flight 815 crashed in the South Pacific on Sept. 22, 2004. Then, viewers caught glimpses of them in the future, which revealed that some of them were rescued. The groundbreaking storytelling then took another turn when viewers became privy to future events that predated the future they'd already seen.

This season, the flashbacks and flash-forwards will continue, but another storytelling approach will dominate. And in classic "LOST" tradition, the producers won't explain ahead of time what they're doing.

"We're really happy with the scripts that we're writing, but at the same time, there's this complete sense of fear and second-guessing, in terms of whether or not the audience is going to groove on what we're doing," co-creator and executive producer Damon Lindelof said. "The show is taking on a new model, in terms of the way we tell stories, and finding a balance between what's happening off the island and on the island. Are the characters having an emotional experience no matter how crazy it is? That's the part we're focused on."

The first seven episodes of LOST will examine the aftermath of Ben's (Michael Emerson) pronouncement to Jack (Matthew Fox) in the last scene of last season that the Oceanic 6 must all return to the island, including Locke (Terry O'Quinn), who has died. Jack's challenge is to enlist the rescued castaways to go back, but that will prove tricky since he and Kate (Evangeline Lily) have broken up; Sayid (Naveen Andrews) is trotting the globe, killing people for Ben with Hurley (Jorge Garcia) in his custody; and Sun (Yunjin Kim) has gone rogue.

Viewers also will see what has happened to Penny (Sonya Walger) and Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) after she rescued him, and learn how Locke left the island and later died. The story of Walt (Malcolm David Kelley), who left the island two seasons ago, will continue, although his father, Michael (Harold Perrineau), died attempting to return to the island in the season finale. Sawyer (Josh Holloway), Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Charlotte (Rebecca Mader) survive on the island.

"The conventional thinking might be that we're going to spend the entire season telling the story of how and if these characters are able to make it back to the island," Lindelof said. "That's not what we're doing, not by any stretch of the imagination."

Because death on "LOST" is a relative term, as Cuse likes to say, fans can expect to see more of: Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), whether he survived the freighter explosion or not; the mysterious Christian Shephard (John Terry), whose death caused his son, Jack, to be on the doomed airliner; and Rousseau (Mira Furlan), who was shot to death. The ageless Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell) will pop up again. Although fans do not know what happened to Claire (Emilie de Ravin) — the actress does not have a regular role this season, mind you — she will appear during the season.

For that matter, so will Vincent the dog, the only character the producers have committed to keeping alive for the entire run of the series.

Here are some questions that arose from SEASON 4 of LOST


In the season-four finale, "Other" boss Ben (Michael Emerson) turned a frozen wheel and – poof! – made the island disappear, along with Sawyer (Josh Holloway), Locke (Terry O'Quinn), Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) and other "Lost"-aways; the Oceanic Six fled on a helicopter. Ben – landing in North Africa – aimed to protect the island from arch-nemesis Charles Widmore (Alan Dale), who seeks to control it. The show has been exploring the space-time continuum, and that theme will be heightened this season in the search for the island.



The cliffhanger revealed that Locke was "Jeremy Bentham." Under that alias, he apparently died after visiting Jack and some others who left the island with troubling news: They need go back. While visiting Locke's casket, a cryptic Ben tells Jack they must rally his fellow crash survivors – and return with Locke's lifeless body. Lucky for Jack, Ben always has a secret plan. Emerson tells New York magazine his bug-eyed alter ego will "carry on what seems to be his calling or his life's work or his war, whatever it is – I'm not sure exactly what it is." But it includes orchestrating a survivors' reunion.



Widmore is the wealthy industrialist who staged the fake plane crash of Oceanic 815 and ordered a team of mercenaries on a mission to find the island and kill everyone on it. Widmore and Ben appear to have a deep-seeded rivalry, deepened further after Widmore's agents murdered Ben's daughter in cold blood. Off the island, Ben recruited Oceanic Six survivor Sayid (Naveen Andrews) as an assassin; he also dropped by Widmore's home in the wee hours, vowing to kill his daughter as revenge. Whatever game they're playing, it has rules – and Ben says Widmore has broken them. One possible rule: Widmore and Ben cannot kill each other. That would be a very Harry Potter/Voldemort-esque plot twist.



We've never seen Jacob, though he seems to be the all-knowing island messiah. The shadowy character lives in a creaky cabin that moves around a lot, hates technology and has communicated to the Others through Ben. Last season, Ben brought Locke to the cabin; Locke could not see Jacob but heard him say, "Help me." After Widmore's men stormed the barracks, Ben and Locke visited Jacob again – this time, Jacob spoke to Locke through a representative, Jack's ghost-daddy Christian (John Terry), who said to move the island. Ben, sensing that he'd been replaced by Locke, did the deed and peaced out. As far as we can tell, Jacob has unknown powers, dead people for friends and a cabin fever that keeps him locked in. Online theories abound: Is Jacob an ancient supercomputer, a divine entity, a superhuman being? Expect the unexpected, and expect to see more of him this season.



Claire (Emilie de Ravin), who we recently learned is Jack's half-sister, seemed to survive a house fire – but then things got weird. She walked off in the jungle with her (un)dead father Christian. The next time we see them, she's in the shack with Jacob, acting creepy. As for Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Michael (Harold Perrineau), they presumably died on the freighter when it exploded. In an earlier flash-forward, Jin's wife, Sun, was shown at his memorial in Korea. Some bloggers speculate he'll turn up in early episodes, dead or alive, this season. If he perished in the blast, maybe we'll see him cavorting with Jacob, Christian and other ghost people.

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