Buena Vista // 2008 // 604 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // December 9th, 2008
"Checkmate, Mr. Eko."
To try and sum up Season Four of Lost, you have to go back to the end of Season Three and the line that Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox, Speed Racer) yells to Kate (Evangeline Lilly, The Long Weekend): "We have to go back!" It was clear that Jack and Kate made it off the island, but what happened? How the hell did they get back to civilization? Did anyone else go with them? How's it look on Blu-ray?
"We have to go back!"
With that line, show runners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof accomplished one of the more brilliant swerves in recent episodic television. The "flashbacks" we were used to seeing for three seasons became "flash-forwards." Just when we thought we knew most everything about the Lost timeline, Cuse and Lindelof regained a bit of control over the story and fates of these characters, and there was no way they were going to give it back. We weren't going to know for sure if what we were seeing was occurring before that seminal Jack/Kate moment, after it, or somewhere in between.
Consider episode five, "The Constant," where Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick, Hitman) is flashing back to 1996 in sporadic bursts. There he attempts to reach Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies, Rescue Dawn), one of the freighter folks, to help him with these lapses in time and consciousness. Or a more emotionally effective episode, "Ji Yeon," where Jin (Daniel Dae Kim, Spider-Man 2) appears to be trying to find Sun (Yunjin Kim, Iron Palm), who has been hospitalized, about to deliver their child. The storytelling was effectively clever and, while a lot of people didn't appreciate having the rug pulled out from under them, it was the editing and direction of Stephen Semel (a three-time Emmy nominee for editing on the show) that pulled it off without a hitch.
Even with challenges faced by the existing characters, some new blood was brought back into the mix. Oddly enough, it looked a lot like old blood, with Michael (Harold Perrineau, The Matrix Reloaded) returning as one of the freighter people due to pick up the Oceanic survivors. How could this be? The last time we saw him he was receiving instructions from Ben (Michael Emerson, Saw) before boarding a boat that was going to get him and his son off the island. But now he's back...and he's helping Ben? What gives? Well, that backstory is given room to breathe in "Meet Kevin Johnson," an episode which also shows just how powerful the island is.
Ultimately, whether it's literal or implied, the island's grasp on its inhabitants is sometimes mystical and other times downright mysterious. With much of the season focused on Jack, Kate, and the rest of the Oceanic Six rescuees, we see some seek out a suicidal finish to their lives -- Michael and Jack being the most obvious, but in different ways under different circumstances -- but are unable to finish the deal. Why? Because the island needs them to come back, to bring closure to unfinished business. That was the underlying theme of Season Four: The island and its allure. The non-linear storytelling in both directions was excellent, and can only get better as the series reaches its climax (Season Six will be the show's last).
Season Four's 13 episodes are spread out over four discs, with Disc Five devoted exclusively to bonus material:
* "The Beginning of the End" (commentary by Evangeline Lilly and Jorge Garcia)
* "Confirmed Dead"
* "The Economist"
* "The Constant" (commentary by Mark Goldman, Damon Lindelof, and Carlton Cuse)
* "The Other Woman"
* "Ji Yeon" (commentary by Stephen Semel, Daniel Dae Kim, and Yunjin Kim)
* "Meet Kevin Johnson"
* "The Shape of Things to Come"
* "Something Nice Back Home"
* "Cabin Fever"
* "There's No Place Like Home" (Part 1)
* "There's No Place Like Home" (Parts 2 & 3, with commentary by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse)
I might be showing a mild fanboy tendency when I say this, but the widescreen presentations of Lost are from the 1.78:1 broadcasts and -- presented here with an AVC encode -- look just as good now as they did in high definition. What I love about viewing the show in HD is that it possesses a ton of background depth, both to presumably show the vast isolation of the refugees and Hawaii itself -- because it looks so damn good it should be shown off properly. You're not going to find any better-looking television show on Blu-ray, that's for sure.
Conversely, the PCM soundtrack left me feeling a little hollow on the inside, so I often flipped between that and the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, for a little low end punch on the action stuff. Overall, you can't go wrong with either track.
The extras mirror what's on the standard definition set with just a few wrinkles.
The Episode Guide is one part of a laminated Oceanic flight safety card, a nice touch for devotees. "Lost in 8:15" is just that, a montage covering the show's events through Season Three, with a subliminal clue for Season Four built into it. The commentaries are fun but, aside from the Cuse and Lindelof ones, not terribly informative. That is, unless you want to hear Evangeline Lilly sound REALLY Canadian. The Cuse and Lindelof tracks are excellent, as they talk about their theories on the Lost universe, the rules of game, and any relevant production stories that come up, along with their usual jokey nature. They also tease some things about Season Five. And if you ever meet the boys, feel free to tell them "Red Ribbon."
From there, the other material is quality stuff for a TV show. "Lost on Location" (41:54) shows a lot of the production stuff like driving, fighting, and other stunts, while the cast shares their thoughts on what they do. Jack Bender, who is also an Executive Producer, gets a lot of screen time here, as we see some green screen to finished effects shots, and Michael's return (with Perrineau's thoughts). "The Island Backlot" (17:53) talks about the versatility of Hawaii to double as many different global locales and the challenge of putting them together. In particular, they show the how the Iraq set came together. "The Right to Bear Arms" (11:15) is not some gross feature on polar bears, but instead covers the impact of guns on the island, and the one guy who is "assigned" to track who has what weapon. "Soundtrack of Survival" (26:21) covers Michael Giacchino's score and its importance to the show. The Honolulu Symphony Orchestra performed some of the score in an orchestral form in September 2007 and there's even some footage of the performance (16:07).
A disappointing blooper reel (3:22) is next, followed by nine deleted scenes (9:11) which don't reveal all that much. "The Oceanic Six: A Conspiracy of Lies" (21:16) is a funny look at the theory which brought those survivors back to the mainland, and whether or not their story of survival is legitimate. It looks at everything from the crash itself to the ocean currents which would have made their journey to Membata almost impossible. My wife found it a little intolerable, but I thought it was pretty awesome. "The Freighter Folk" (12:40) is biographical information for those aboard the Kahana, along with thoughts on what the actors contributed to the show. "Offshore Shoot" (7:50) looks at filming on the boat and the difficulties it brought, while "Course of the Future" is a look at the flash-forwards of the season. When you put 10 clips together in chronological order, it unlocks longer clips which you can play all at once (52:49) or by surviving individual. You can also play them with script notes as subtitled, picture-in-picture.
"Lost: Missing Pieces" is a series of "mobisodes" (31:22) which fill in some small gaps from previous seasons and, while they're hardly revelatory, their inclusion is nice. Lindelof provides the best explanation of Jack's role on the island...ever. And a few other surprises (like who else they shot for the coffin sequence finale) lie in wait as Easter Eggs.
You know, it's hard to put an asterisk on what happened in Season Four. When a lot of shows were dealing with the writer's strike, Lost seemed to be one of the few that didn't lose any creative momentum. A few secondary storylines had to be cut but, to paraphrase Cuse and Lindelof, "we'll get back to them," including what should be an entertaining backstory for Rousseau.
Season Five sounds like it should bring the awesome. At Comic Con, Lindelof said "When Season Five starts, you won't know when or where you are. And the way we tell stories will be different too." Combine that with writer Brian K. Vaughn's recent quote that it will be "the strangest thing that's ever [going to be] on network television. Ever." January 21, 2009 can't come soon enough.
To answer the questions I posed earlier in the review: "Not sure," "Who Knows," "Maybe" and "Pretty damn good." The writing continued to pick up steam. The discs look great. There's bunch of fun extras. So why not grab this? With the price point, you're magnetically compelled to buy it on Blu-ray anyway.
Not guil...Hey! Where'd my courtroom go?!
Review content copyright © 2008 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Buena Vista
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 604 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Select Episode Commentaries
* "LOST in 8:15"
* "The Right to Bear Arms"
* "The Freighter Folk"
* "The Island Backlost: Lost in Hawaii"
* "Oceanic Six: A Conspiracy of Lies"
* "Soundtrack of Survival"
* "LOST on Location"
* "Course of the Future"
* "Offshore Shoot"
* Blooper Reel
* Deleted Scenes
* Easter Eggs
* Official Show Site
* Official Network Site
* TV Verdict Interview with Cuse and Lindelof
* TV Verdict coverage of Cuse and Lindelof at Comic Con
* Lost Links Collection
* Jay and Jack's Lost Podcast
* Unofficial Fan Site
* Lostpedia's Season Four Entry