ABC Studios // 2004 // 802 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Erich Asperschlager // August 26th, 2010
You can let go now.
When LOST premiered on ABC in 2004, few expected it would last. Although heavily serialized dramas had a foothold in pay cable, networks were wary of dumping money into shows that required viewers to tune in weekly to keep up with the story. In fact, the only thing riskier than a serial drama was anything that might be thought of as science fiction -- another strike against LOST. Then, something amazing happened. The show became a hit. Viewers alienated by the glut of police procedurals and multi-camera sitcoms flocked to LOST, convening after each episode around watercoolers both real and virtual to discuss the show's mysteries.
As the seasons passed, LOST moved into strange and befuddling places and casual viewers started abandoning ship. Eventually, the audience was mostly the LOST faithful, many of whom filled time between episodes reading books that were referenced in the show, or in online chat rooms dissecting the ever-deepening mythology.
Season Six began with a double-length episode that introduced a brand new storytelling mechanic -- a twist on the flashbacks and flashforwards of earlier seasons that show producers were calling "flash sideways," a parallel story set in what appeared to be an alternate timeline. Throughout the final season, viewers were left wondering how the on- and off-island plots would come together. That answer came in the much hyped two-hour finale, a controversial capper that left fans as divided as the two storylines that made up the final season.
Whether you loved it, hated it, or have been waiting to watch it, LOST: The Complete Sixth and Final Season is out on DVD, Blu-Ray, and as part of a mega complete series set. It's no easy task to end a hit series. It's even harder to satisfy all of your fans. Those looking for mea culpas from executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse won't find any here. Their promise of radio silence continues (at the expense, unfortunately, of any real discussion of the finale). But if you're willing to accept LOST's final season for what it is, and not what some fans wish it had been, this Blu-Ray release is a fitting send-off.
(It should go without saying that a review of LOST Season Six will include some spoilers, if not for this season then certainly the five that preceded it. You've been warned.)
Season Five ended with a bang, as 1977 Juliet detonated an atomic bomb in a bid to prevent Oceanic 815 from ever crashing on the Island. The 16 episodes of Season Six focus on the aftermath of that explosion as Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, and the rest of the survivors come to grips with the truth about the Island and their destinies.
LOST's sixth season was also its most divisive. From the first episode, there were fans who loved the mysterious "flash sideways" world and those who thought it was a distraction taking precious time away from the Island and its mysteries. The debate over the sideways story and the rate at which the show's countless questions were getting answered dominated the discussion as the weeks counted down to the series finale. Given the love heaped on the series during the first five seasons (except, perhaps, for season two), the negative fan reaction must have come as a surprise to the writers, producers, and cast. Then again, they may all have been too busy making the show to pay much attention, at least until the series finale aired and the internet exploded.
I said it immediately afterwards and I'll say it now: I loved the finale. I thought it was a fitting close to the series. Without spoiling anything, I liked the way it let the audience pay tribute to key characters without undermining the sacrifices they made throughout the series. Looking back, the payoff might not have been worth the long set-up, but I respect that Lindelof, Cuse, and team stayed true to their vision until the end.
It would have been easy to cherry pick ideas from messageboards to create a safe, focus-tested final season. Instead, the writers struck out in a new direction. Adding the flash sideways story was a bold choice, as was boiling the Island narrative down to an ancient conflict between island protector Jacob (Mark Pellegrino, Dexter) and the nefarious Man in Black (Titus Welliver, Deadwood), both of whom made their first appearances in the last episode of Season Five.
Even with those changes, though, LOST's final season is -- at it has always been -- about the relationships between characters. Acting has long been a strength of this show, and the cast has never been more impressive than they are here, especially the actors tasked with playing two different versions of their characters. Not since the first season have there been so many characters in play. That the show never feels overstuffed is a testament to everyone involved. Thanks to the flash sideways storyline, Season Six features not only the survivors still on the Island, but also beloved characters we haven't seen in years. In many ways, this season mirrors the beginning of the series. So why did disappointed viewers complain that the show had abandoned its roots?
By trying to balance character drama with sci-fi mythology, LOST created a paradox far more dangerous than anything in Daniel Faraday's notebook. LOST spent five seasons asking more questions than it answered, and when the final season rolled around, fans expected that they would get the rest of those answers. They didn't. At least, not all of them. True to the spirit of the show, the writers answered only the questions important to the story they wanted to tell. That lack of resolution, coupled with a finale that favored character over mythology, left many fans angry and confused.
Your reaction to the final season will likely depend on where you fall in the character vs. mythology debate. I'm satisfied with the conclusion. Enough of the big questions got answers that I didn't feel cheated at the end. If this review seems more like a justification for liking LOST's final season than a critical response to it, that's probably because I approached the endgame without any real expectations. Over five years, LOST had become my favorite television show, and as far as I was concerned, the writers had earned the right to finish the story however they saw fit. Is it a perfect collection of episodes? No, but it's how LOST ends. Feel free to take it or leave it. Just make sure that you watch it.
LOST: The Complete Sixth and Final Season hits Blu-ray in a five disc set wrapped in somber black cover art. The bulk of the episodes are on discs 1 Ð 4, with the finale and most of the bonus features on disc 5. As in season sets past, there are audio commentaries for select episodes -- though maybe not the episodes you'd expect. Show runners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse sit in for two commentaries: one for the first half of the "LA X" two-part premiere, and another for the mythology heavy "Across the Sea" (one of the most polarizing entries in series history). I give Cuse and Lindelof credit for tackling such a divisive episode. Even though they recorded their commentary before the end of the season, they acknowledge the controversy and do a good job of both defending the episode and explaining its importance to the series as a whole. The "LA X" commentary was recorded even earlier, so it's more of a straightforward discussion of the flash sideways mechanic and their ideas for the season (though if you ever listened to the pair on the official LOST podcast, you know there's nothing "straightforward" about them). Both commentaries are entertaining and enlightening, which makes the lack of a finale commentary all the more frustrating, as does the fact that they mention their plans to record one a couple of times. Maybe they didn't feel up to it after the reaction to the finale, or maybe they just ran out of time (having less than three months between the end of the season and its home video release can do that). Whatever the reason, the omission leaves a gaping hole in an otherwise thorough set.
The other two episodes to get commentary tracks are fan-favorites "Dr. Linus," recorded by episode star Michael Emerson with writer/producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, and "Ab Aeterno," with Nestor Carbonell and writer/producers Melinda Hsu Taylor and Greggory Nations. While not as informative as the first two commentaries, it's nice to hear from some of the show's other creative voices.
This set's most eagerly anticipated bonus feature was hinted at soon after the finale aired. "The New Man in Charge," which runs about 11 minutes, is a brand-new "episode" written by Cuse and Lindelof set after the events of the series. Although it doesn't significantly change show mythology, it is fun to watch and addresses several lingering questions, including (minor spoilers) where the DHARMA food drops come from, why pregnant women die on the Island, and what DHARMA was doing with the Polar Bears.
The longest extra is "The End: Crafting a Final Season," a 38-minute documentary about the show's final season, made up of on-set footage, interviews with the cast and creators of other hit shows that came to a close, and an oddly engrossing video of Jorge Garcia reading the finale script for the first time.
Next up, a couple of nine-minute featurettes that tackle individual elements of the LOST story. "A Hero's Journey" examines the characters through the lens of Joseph Campbell's writing. It's not terribly enlightening, but it underscores some of the show's main themes. "See You in Another Life, Brotha" is all about the flash sideways world. In addition to behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, it connects events from this season with moments from seasons past, showing side-by-side video of similar scenes. It's cool to see some of the subtle differences between what happened on Oceanic 815 in seasons one and six, or how an old Sawyer con was repurposed for this new story; I just wish they included more examples.
Rounding out the extras is another collection of episode-specific "LOST on Location" shorts (for "LA X," "The Substitute," "Recon," "Happily Ever After," and "The Candidate") that run 28 minutes in total; about ten minutes of deleted scenes; a blooper reel; the "LOST in 8:15" series recap, which comes up as an option before the main menu on disc 1; and, for those equipped with BD-Live, the interactive Master's Program offered by "LOST University."
All six seasons of LOST are available on Blu-ray, and given the cinematic feel of the series, hi-def is definitely the way to go. The series was a stunner on TV, and this final season makes the jump to Blu-ray with mostly positive results. The 1080p AVC-encoded video is rich and detailed, from sweeping tropical panoramas and ancient monuments to character close-ups. Because LOST is shot on 35mm, there's a persistent film grain, which, as many a cinephile will tell you, can be a good thing. In certain scenes, however, the grain is so strong that it looks like a haze over the picture. Also, in certain episodes (most noticeably the finale), there are inconsistencies in overall color and contrast, going from bright yellows and greens in one scene to muted colors in the next. I didn't notice any of these things when I watched the show in HD on cable. Maybe the Blu-ray is so true to the source material that it's just easier to notice these visual quirks. They're minor nitpicks, though. The overall image quality, warmth, and detail are stellar, especially for a TV show.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is subtle, yet highly effective. Everything from dialogue to sound effects to Michael Giacchino's iconic score comes through crystal clear and perfectly balanced. That you might not always notice the surround sound mix is a good thing. It's immersive without ever getting in the way.
Even an unabashed LOST fan like me can admit that Season Six wasn't perfect. Then again, I can't think of a way the show could have ended that wouldn't have left me wanting more. The same can be said for this Blu-ray release. Given the explosive reaction to the finale, it's a shame there's no audio commentary, and while the addition of a brand-new chapter to the story is a gift to fans, the tidbits it reveals are a reminder that if your favorite mystery hasn't been solved by now, it probably never will be. Still, the six seasons of LOST stand as some of the richest and best that television has ever offered, and Blu-ray is great way to go back to the Island.
Now you are like me...provided you liked the ending of LOST. Not Guilty!
Review content copyright © 2010 Erich Asperschlager; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ABC Studios
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 802 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "The New Man in Charge"
* Episode Commentaries
* Deleted Scenes
* Series Recap
* Blooper Reel
* LOST University