"Everything happens for a reason."
Such a phrase is about as generic an ideology as they come, but as utilized on one of television's most fascinating series in recent memory (LOST), it took on a whole new meaning entirely. Ever since the promos began rolling out for the second season, it transformed into one of the most cleverly executed thematic ideas in televised history. As a result, not only have fans acquired the expectation that every little mystery on the island would be explained in full, but they've spent a great deal of time combing through each episode frame by frame to make sure no clue, no matter how miniscule, would escape in their quest for answers. However, for some of the LOST-ites out there, the rabbit hole eventually descended to depths far greater than they cared to follow - The premise of the island became too fantastical, some couldn't handle the pressure of being faced with an onslaught of cliffhangers week after week, and others simply grew tired of a single question being answered by five or ten more. Indeed, Lindelof and Cuse have essentially polarized their audience in very much the same way Jack and Locke had polarized the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 - Certain fans, much like Jack, would dare not defy something as sound and proven as logic. Disenchanted, they felt the show would inevitably collapse under its own weight. Those like Locke however, 'just knew' that with a little bit of faith, their patience would eventually be rewarded when the show's ultimate destiny was finally revealed. Watching the two camps battle back and forth over the last six years has been a lot fun, but ultimately it doesn't really matter who 'wins'. The only thing that's truly inevitable when a show like LOST comes along, is that not everyone is going to walk away satisfied.
That being said, the sixth and final season holds true to what's made LOST such an exhilarating ride all along. With perhaps the boldest move of their careers, Lindelof and Cuse have decidedly gone against the expectations of their fans, once again taking the show in a direction that no one was able to predict. Everyone, myself included, expected LOST to drop the formalities and get right into the thick of things. I expected all the big guns to be pulled out during every single episode, because I was afraid that if they didn't opt for dropping a revelatory bomb around every turn, the numerous questions left hanging in limbo at the close of season five would never be answered in time (and I'm sure I'm not alone in this regard). However, my expectations were countered with a more intriguing scenario with the sixth season's opening scene, as we see our favorite cast members once again flying aboard Oceanic Flight 815... only this time, there are some curious differences. People who were never aboard Flight 815 are now seated comfortably alongside the rest of the castaways, and the island which was once 'shared' by a murderous smoke monster and the Dharma Initiative is now resting on the ocean floor. Nope, definitely not the LOST I had anticipated at all.
No, instead of playing it safe, the final season of LOST once again keeps us scratching our heads from beginning to end with the slow burn technique the series is infamous for. Some fans out there thought this was a considerably sized middle finger to the masses, or perhaps at the very least an opportunity to say, "I told you they made it up as they went along!" But if you ask me, this is exactly the note that LOST needed to go out on. There are plenty of new clues to wrap your head around, such as why the sound that accompanies an oncoming flashback now has a familiar mechanical twist to it (more on this in a bit), or why the castaways seem to subconsciously remember each other on the newly realized Oceanic flight. You can certainly think of all the possibilities these clues could finally culminate into until the polar bears come home, but LOST's final season will prove to be just as unpredictable as the rest. Now, I can certainly understand why some people would want the final batch of episodes to be nothing more than an unrelenting assault of answers, but in the end, wouldn't that have made LOST just as plain and predictable as the rest of the junk on television nowadays? No, this series has been so much more than that, and considering it's consistently remained fresh season in, season out, I would expect nothing less for its final hurrah.
What's even more impressive, is just how well the writers were able to implement these new puzzles without sacrificing attention to character development, or the central running themes that have prominently been at the forefront of the series in its entirety. As a matter of fact, thanks to some brilliant writing, both of these terrific aspects of the show are now one and the same. Whereas the fourth and fifth seasons introduced time travel into the island's mythology, the final chapter of LOST opens us up to the possibility of alternate realities. The formula of each episode remains familiar enough, as we feverishly watch dramatic events unfold on the island with the occasional flash that takes us to another 'when'. The only difference however, is that we're not seeing flashbacks anymore, but as a result of the alternate reality that's been introduced, we're seeing what's been coined as flash sideways instead. This might sound like a pretty minor change on paper, but this new storytelling technique actually adds multiple new dimensions to the show. For those of us that have followed LOST since the beginning, we already know the castaways almost as well as we know some of our own family members. We're well aware of their history and how crash landing on the island changed their lives. However, now we're able to see another aspect of their lives that we never thought we'd be able to - What would things have been like for them if the plane never crashed? This very question alone makes all the central themes of the show seem more relevant than ever before. Are we the masters of our own fate and destiny, or merely puppets? Does everything, indeed, happen for a reason? Was Daniel Faraday's guess that 'everything that happened, happened', accurate? Not only does this alternate reality we're now privy to tie all of these themes together in a neat little bow, but it even puts an interesting spin on some of the central characters that you would never see coming. Some of the differences in our beloved castaways will immediately be noticed (if not jaw-dropping), yet others will be more subtle. In typical LOST fashion however, all of the clues at our fingertips will only seem obvious after all is said and done.
I know, I know. I've been giving this season a lot of praise for continuing the tradition of being fresh and original, but that's not to say that the buildup to the final curtain is perfect... because it isn't. Although I'm more appreciative of the slow burn technique being utilized than if it hadn't, there were too many new questions being introduced near the end of the season for comfort. As a result, things just felt as if they had been rushed in the final four or five episodes. The final showdown with the Man in black (posing as Locke) although epic in its own right, wasn't as large in scope as I had hoped. And the big reveal as to why our beloved castaways were chosen for the island? Shockingly brief, and not nearly as clever as it should have been. Other disappointments include Claire's transformation into a crazed and frizzy haired lunatic, the lack of the badass Sayid we've been waiting to see fully realized, as well as anything that has to deal with the fabled temple on the island... and that includes all of its corny inhabitants that seem a little too clichéd for their own good.
Does that make the final season of LOST a disappointment after all is said and done however? Not in the least. Sure, there are some loose ends that will have some of the naysayers bragging, "See, not everything happened for a reason!" If you want to nitpick all the little details that we've been presented with over the years, I'm sure it's a statement that's fair enough... but so what? Would any of us have been happier if we knew exactly where the island came from, or where it gained its mystical power? If there was a definitive answer to the deepest darkest secrets of all, I guarantee you that nobody would have been happy with the series finale. It's reminiscent of what happened when The Sopranos came to a close - Everyone was crying foul, but nobody knew how they would have ended the series if given the opportunity. Besides, I'd like to argue that if people stop scrutinizing the insignificant details and focus on the big picture... everything did happen for a reason, but, perhaps that's a discussion that's too big for this review. In the end, the final season of LOST struck all the right chords with me. The mystery felt just as new during the final season as it did in the first, there was a great wealth of heart and emotion (as I admittedly was brought to tears, both happy and sad, throughout all sixteen episodes), and the series gracefully closed out with a sense of coming full circle. Despite a few missteps in the final four or five episodes, the journey has proven to be as fulfilling as it needed to be. It doesn't matter if you're the show's biggest fan or if you absolutely loathe it, because one thing's for sure - LOST was anything but typical from day one, and there's no doubt that it's going to continue to spur thoughtful discussion and debate for years to come... and that's a compliment we're not really able to honor many series with nowadays, is it?
Now that the series is over, want an even more fulfilling experience? Go back and watch it again from the beginning. So many clues that you never even noticed will now leap off the screen and smack you in the face, and will make your second complete series viewing just as exciting as the first. LOST may be over, but I'm certainly not done watching, not when there's so many insightful clues that I may have overlooked!
At this stage of the game, discussing LOST's video presentation on Blu-ray is merely a formality, is it not? Each of the five seasons before this have been nothing short of reference quality, and the sixth and final season is no different. This 1080p AVC encode (1.78:1) is flawless. You'll find no trace of any sort of digital anomalies - No digital noise reduction to make the castaways look like wax, there's no edge enhancement to blanket the jungle, digital artifacts are nowhere to be found, and banding is non-existent. There are a few shots here and there that either look a little soft, or look riddled with more grain than the rest, but this is clearly a result of how the show was filmed, as I specifically remember some of these very same shots leaving the same impression on me during their initial run on television. Other than that, definition and clarity are nothing short of breathtaking, and continue to deliver the immaculate depth and detail the series has become known for on the format. Much like the fifth season, the real star of the video presentation this time around is tied between contrast and color/skin-tone saturation. Everything as a whole looks so natural - Blacks are deep and inky and never crush, and every scenic shot of the jungle is just as impressive as the last when it comes to color saturation. Considering just how lush the jungle looks, you would think that skin tones would come off looking a little hot, but that's not the case at all. No, skin tones are always accurately represented, and when you combine this with everything else that LOST has to offer on this high-def set, you'll more often than not feel like you're looking at the events as they unfold through a window. Yeah, it's that good. But, if you're familiar with the series on Blu-ray (which most of you probably are at this stage of the game), you already knew that, right? I know there are some people out there that think that it's never worth upgrading their old DVD sets, but come on. LOST practically screams from the lush jungle mountaintops to be seen in high definition. Make the upgrade and don't look back. You won't regret it. I promise.
The back of the Blu-ray case advertises that LOST's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track will deliver theater quality sound.
They'll get no complaints from me on that one.
Just like the video presentation on this set, the audio is not only impressive, it's practically reference quality. Now before some of you jump on my back and ask how I can compare this with the likes of some other Hollywood blockbuster films on the format, just keep this in mind - LOST is a television show. Remember that as you throw these discs into your Blu-ray player, and it won't be long before you're wondering why every show doesn't sound this good. Pans never feel as if they've been rushed into the mix because they sound so natural, sound effects are always presented with pinpoint precision in directionality and depth , and the dialogue is crisp and clear as they come. It doesn't matter if ole' smoky is on the attack or the island is threatening to collapse with violent shakes. You'll never feel as if the important stuff has been drowned out by the action. Low frequencies are also fairly impressive for a television show, and adds quite a bit of weight to the major events that keep the blood of the sixth season pumping until the very last minute. Once again, if you're questioning whether or not it's worth the upgrade over the DVD, I won't keep you hanging on the edge of your seat like Lindelof or Cuse to make you find out - YES!
Audio Commentaries - LA X/Across the Sea (Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse) - Dr. Linus (Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, actor Michael Emerson) - Ab Aeterno (Melinda Hsu Taylor/Gregory Nations/actor Nestor Carbonell) - I guess we should be thankful for having four commentaries this time around. After all, the fifth season only had two. It would have been nice to see more discussion on the final season, but there's still a great wealth of information that's sure to tickle the fancy of any die-hard LOST fan out there. On episodes 'LA X' and 'Across the Sea', Lindelof and Cuse offer some refreshing insight into the creation of the series as a whole. For those that often debate if the Co-Creators had everything planned all along, look no further for the answer - They admit there were some changes that had to be made along the way, but seem to be rather pleased with the end result. Don't take that to mean they were smug or arrogant, just the opposite in fact. There was a light and humorous tone in the air discussing their own work. Want to know what they thought about the fans reaction to the series finale? That's here too. The remaining two commentaries more or less discusses what it takes to make a good episode of LOST, and considering the interesting conversations that take place behind the mic when the writers and actors are together, it's no surprise that the latter two commentaries on this set are just as entertaining a listen as the ones made by the Co-Creators. If you're a fan of the show, make sure you take the time to listen to all four of these commentary tracks.
The New Man in Charge - Without question, this is the most anticipated extra of all... but if you've come here looking for an in-depth description of this LOST epilogue, you won't find it here. Explaining it would be letting the cat out of the bag, and I've tried to make this review as spoiler-free as possible. That being said, this scene does answer a few additional (albeit minor) questions that were left unanswered. Do these answers add anything to the LOST experience in any way? Not really. Does that make them any less enjoyable to discover? Not at all. I recommend every fan sets aside a small portion of their day to give this a... ah, who the heck am I kidding. You were planning on watching it anyway!
THE END: Crafting a Final Season - I was surprised by how well this documentary (39 minutes) was put together. Usually these types of special features end up being a self-important promotional piece for the show it's about, but this really goes to great lengths to show the audience at home what it's like to wrap up a series as big, and controversial, as LOST. You'll see emotional behind the scenes footage, and some very surprising interviews you won't expect. Fan or not, it's in everyone's best interest to watch this supplement.
A Hero's Journey - What does it take to be a hero? This featurette (9 minutes) takes a brief glimpse at the story and characters over the entirety of the series to answer just that. It's interesting to see any aspect of LOST's story discussed for a mere 9 minutes, but you can take or leave this one. The fans who have been around since the beginning don't really need an explanation of what makes someone a hero on LOST. I wouldn't exactly call this 'fluff' material but, it's close enough.
See You in Another Life, Brotha - Now this is more like it. This featurette (9 minutes) takes a closer look at the alternate reality as seen during the 'flash sideways' sequences via interviews with cast and crew. This one's not to be missed.
LOST on Location - I'm definitely pleased to see LOST on Location once again make an appearance for the sixth and final season. For me, it's been one of the most important pieces of supplemental material to grace each and every LOST set that it's accompanied. Much like the seasons before it, this featurette (29 minutes) is the real behind the scenes material that any LOST fan should be foaming at the mouth to see. Episodes covered within are LA X, The Substitute, Recon, Ab Aeterno, Happily Ever After, and The Candidate. This is about as in-depth as it gets people, so make sure you take the time to check this out!
LOST in 8:15 - A Crash Course - Need a brief recap of the series before starting the final season? No worries. This featurette has you covered. New viewers to the series be warned though, as this should be considered a Cliff's Notes version of the LOST Cliff's Notes... if that makes sense. It's fast paced and covers most of the main story, but LOST has so many complexities, they can only be discovered by watching the series as a whole. For those of you who are familiar with the series however, you might find it pretty amusing to see the entire series summed up in just over eight minutes. Enjoy!
Lost University - Master's Program - There's not too many BD-Live features I've ever found to be worth my time, but LOST University has been the exception to the rule. Download the program to your Blu-ray player, enroll, and begin taking courses that will eventually give you a deeper understanding of the mythos that make up the LOST universe. Last 'semester', students were treated to courses that focused heavily on time travel. This time? Theology, as well as various other themes. Study up! However, in order to get the full experience, you're going to have to pass the courses offered on the fifth season Blu-ray set.
Also included in this set are some Deleted Scenes and lighthearted LOST Bloopers, as well as the ability to keep track of your season viewing progress via Season Play.
The final season isn't without its share of issues, but overall, it won me over with its ability to keep the series fresh and unpredictable after all this time. One only needs to mention the flash sideways, alternate reality concept to understand just how brilliant many aspects of the final season had been. As a result, the sixth season has some of the best character development in the entire series. True, perhaps the ending wasn't as perfect as all the fans had anticipated, but I'm satisfied with how things ended. It was graceful and it really brought a 'full circle' sense of closure to things. As I admitted earlier in this review, there were times throughout the final episodes that had me shed tears of happiness, and tears of sorrow, and that's saying something. I'm a subscriber to the belief that 'most grown men don't cry enough', but it's just something I hardly ever do. LOST however, was able to make buckets pour out of my eyes for a multitude of reasons anyway. I guess what I'm trying to tell you in short, is that if you're a fan of the series, you'd be doing yourself a great injustice to skip the boldest chapter yet. Need additional incentives to consider getting the Blu-ray over the DVD set? This should come as no surprise, but how about reference quality video and audio? How about top notch supplemental features that can only be outdone by the complete collection boxed set? After all is said and done, there's really no reason why this release would deserve anything less than the DVD Talk Collector Series rating. I only hope that after reading my review, not too much has been spoiled for your viewing pleasure (because as you can imagine, it's pretty hard to write a spoiler free review for this show).