Lost Season Three (2006-2007)

Composed by Michael Giacchino

Season three of Lost was the last of the show to run for a full 20+ episodes. From what I recall it’s my favorite season, though it also sported the single worst episode in “Stranger in a Strange Land.” In this season the show digs deeper into the mysterious Others, the other inhabitants of the island. At the same time more aspects of the greater conflict start to appear, of course in mysterious tidbits. Giacchino’s music definitely went on an upswing this season. With the dramatic stakes escalating the emotional cues have more power. There’s also a lot more in the way of action scenes and a couple smoke monster attacks, so in contrast to season two there’s more excitement and intense rhythms to be had. In a welcome surprise, Varese Sarabande opted to release two jam-packed discs. There were so many musical highlights and thematic development that this was definitely a wise move. The first disc contains music from the first 20 episodes, while the second has the complete score for “Through the Looking Glass,” the season finale, and an abundance of material from the preceding episode.

The first disc is definitely superior, featuring selected highlights. By this time the music was much more lush and exciting and at certain points positively cinematic. The second disc is a different story. It is fascinating to get a complete score from one of the episodes, but the end result is a good amount of material that simply isn’t that engaging, from slow, underdeveloped emotional signatures to ambient suspense. There’s lots of slow string twanging and long pauses between notes. The sound quality on the second disc also seems to be hastily taken from the initial recording sessions. A better release would have had both discs be highlight-centric, with a few more cues from the first 20 episodes and a more rounded 40-50 minute presentation of music from the last 3. Still, it’s hard to complain when one considers how much great material would have been left off a single disc.

One problem with the season two album was that it lacked anchoring themes. The extra disc really helps avoid this problem. The main Lost theme is actually very underrepresented on the first disc, though it has a major recurring presence in the finale. It appears very briefly in “Awed and Shocked” and is weaved throughout “Claire-a-Culpa.” The main Mystery theme is also reduced in appearances. With the exception of a truncated four-note variation in “Eko of the Past,” it doesn’t appear until “Naomi Phone Home” near the end of the second disc. The Life and Death theme, by contrast, makes three very notable appearances following its absence from the last album. I’ll get more to these in the rundown.

Though the three main identities take a backseat, the album is held together by two groupings of themes. The first is for the Others, the central source of exploration this season. Their more primitive winding theme from the finale of season two opens up the album (“In With a Kaboom!”). Accompanied by tropical percussion, it represents the image of the Others from the first two seasons. After this track it vanishes, though the slow primal beat for the faction remains present throughout the season. A new, more action-oriented rhythmic theme takes over. This theme first appears in the opening scene on soft strings (0:47 “In With a Kaboom!”). Its real break-out comes in “Fool Me Twice” where, after it breaks out in full action mode. This theme is frequently heard on the second disc in many variations. The standout appearance from the finale is “Hold the Phone,” where Giacchino constantly puts it through different modes as main protagonist Jack is pressured to make a timely decision.

The other Others theme from season two does remain as a general motif for the group, but also serves as a character theme for Benjamin Linus. The leader of the Others, Ben was a surprise breakout character of the show and even received his own episode complete with flashbacks. Ben’s theme actually appears in the first cue of the show, but on album it’s replaced with a final iteration of the primal Others theme. It thus returns instead in extended form in “Fool Me Twice.” The theme effectively serves as a brief villainous signature in the midst of such cues as “Under the Knife” and “Beach Blanket Bonding.” But the one cue that fans really latch onto is “Dharmacide.” The track starts in typical villainous fashion as Ben’s theme backs up his first notable act of murder. At 1:11, however, the theme is suddenly transformed into a sad piano melody that then reiterates on strings (2:00). After some fragmentary statements on the theme, it returns to its villainous roots (3:18).

The other set of themes are for Jack Sheppard. Surprisingly, despite his status as the designated main protagonist, Jack never had a distinctive character theme. Giacchino would use the Lost theme or more nondescript emotional ditties for the character and his flashbacks. Season three finally provided a proper theme that was introduced in its premiere. It’s one of the more multifaceted themes, with even longer iterations not always utilizing all its parts. This wonderful theme first appears on album in “Achara, Are You Glad to See Me?” It doesn’t have all the parts of the theme, focusing more on its long notes before transitioning into dark tropical flourishes. “A Touching Moment” features the other side of the theme on cello, with the long notes appearing on piano. “Beach Blanket Bonding” features the theme in more complete form and pieces of it are scattered across the finale on the second disc. Jack also has a suspense motif that actually dates back to the first season. It first appears on harp in “Under the Knife” (1:09) and makes many appearances afterwards. It’s rhythmic structure allows Giacchino to escalate it for cliffhanger moments, such as the conclusion of “Claire-a-Culpa.” I actually initially confused it with the Others’ theme, as both are based on repeating rhythms. Repeat listens will show that Jack’s is a little simpler.

I’m getting to the rundown which will contain some spoilers, so skip to the end if you wish to. The first several tracks reintroduce the Others. In the midst of these cues is “Awed and Shocked,” an aggressive cue with a distinctive use of the trombones and percussion. It sounds like something from a 60s or 70s spy show. The first emotional cue comes with “Pagoda of Shame” a soft version of Sun & Jin’s theme. Locke’s Spiritual theme was very present this season, but is scarcely heard on album. Its sole appearance on the first disc comes in “The Island,” a quirky piece for one of the character’s visions. The next trio of cues focuses on Nigerian priest Eko. “Eko of the Past” is a suspense piece from another dream sequence that starts with what I believe is a truncated version of the main Mystery theme. After some suspenseful noodling, Giacchino picks up the pace with eerie piano notes and aggressive strings backed by tropical percussion. “Church of Eko’s” is a brief iteration of Eko’s theme that’s a tad unnecessary. “Leggo My Eko” is the climax of these tracks. The first half is slowly building suspense that culminates in a whirling rhythm associated with the smoke monster. The second half is another reprise of Eko’s theme.

The first six episodes aired in the fall of 2006, with 2007 holding the rest of the season. Thus episode six ended on a major cliffhanger. In “Romancing the Cage” a variation of Kate’s theme builds into a love theme (0:45). This melody was actually heard for an uplifting moment in season one. Giacchino often took some notable one-off melody and reappropriated it as a recurring theme. This is a shining example and the theme was a major component of season three. “Under the Knife” has a distinct suspense motif with pieces of Ben and Jack’s Suspense themes appearing within. Around halfway through the suspense motif disappears into aggressive percussion. The first two notes of the Life and Death theme appear, repeating over and over until a full statement at 2:23. This was the first time the Life and Death theme was significantly weaved into a larger piece. Around 3:15 the first two notes start to repeat again. Long notes work with Jack’s suspense motif to rebuild the tension. The trombone/plane overhead affect closes this awesome track out.

“Teaser Time” starts with a very eerie suspense motif. This motif actually preceded “Under the Knife” in the show and it would have been economical for the producer to have just put it there. Still, this is a cool track that gets into a fresh reprise of “Under the Knife.” “Here Today, Gone to Maui” starts with a lush melody (actually a tragic motif for a recurring character). At 1:18 the Others’ theme comes in for some suspense. After this dies down, the rest of the track is spent with a great fresh version of the Life and Death theme. “Distraught Desmond” was something fans were clamoring for. After a minute and a half of dark material Desmond’s popular theme appears in full for the first time. This is from one of the show’s absolute best episodes. It is followed by two tracks from its worst. Ironically these are both great. One is the aforementioned album debut of Jack’s theme. The other is “Ocean’s Apart,” a soaring dramatic piece greatly at odds with the episode’s filler-heavy nature. Giacchino of course had to turn it into a recurring theme and gave it to the character of Juliet.

Hurley’s season three episode gets a whopping four cues. “The Lone Hugo” brings back his major emotional themes. “Fetch Your Arm” is another comedic chase cue based on his quirkier theme, though this time it concludes with the dark Numbers motif. “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Nothin’” sees the new love theme in piano form while “Shambala” is a guitar-backed instrumental of the song of the same name. “Claire-a-Culpa” sees Claire’s theme interweave with the main Lost theme in a lengthy dramatic piece. It starts on piano, but builds up emotion with a new string accompaniment for Claire’s theme. As with many such cues in the series, the uplifting music is countered by a suspenseful end.

One of my personal favorites is “Sweet Expose.” It’s a four and a half minute suite of material from the episode “Expose.” Season three tried to acknowledge the presence of the background extras that somehow never get involved in the major plotlines. The pair of Nikki and Paulo would sometimes appear to show what all those background extras are up to. However, since they barely did anything besides criticize the established characters and make useless comments, fans came to hate them. With nothing to lose, the writers put them into a dark crime drama full of intrigue and betrayal. Nikki and Paulo get a dark motif that recurs throughout the track, until it ends in horrifying, dark fashion at the conclusion. The episode was largely panned as filler, but Giacchino really delivered on fashioning a unique episodic score.

“Storming the Monster” is a harsh chase cue while “Heart of Thawyer” is a guitar driven iteration of the love theme that ends on a sour note. “Juliette is Lost” finally brings in the secondary Trek theme. This repeating five-note motif was a constant presence in the shows earlier years and its absence from the albums was questionable. Now it finally appears in its glory on heavy tinkling percussion and its accompanying lifting string motif. “Rushin’ the Russian” is a chase cue with the Other’s theme. “Deadly Fertility” has more of Sun & Jin’s theme. This uplifting material is soon followed by dark Others ambience. The first disc concludes with “Dharmacide.”

The second disc starts with 8 cues from “Greatest Hits,” the penultimate episode. My favorites from this section are “Paddle Jumper” and “Paddle Jumper Reprise.” These have an in-your-face presentation of the Others’ theme. “Paddle Jumper” also has a neat moment where the theme mixes in with the previous album’s “Mapquest.” Overall these cues center around Charlie and Claire’s themes. As Charlie faces a dilemma, Giacchino uses ethereal synthesizer notes and a more uplifting motif for the character. “Greatest Hits” is a less meaty reprise of “Claire-a-Culpa” with an ominous conclusion.

The finale proper starts with “Flying High.” Jack’s theme plays on piano for a couple minutes. At 2:17 it segues into a dramatic flourish that Giacchino would later turn into a secondary motif for the character. At 2:58 the scene shifts to the island, where the main Lost theme plays under a two-note percussive beat. It ends with the return of the primary Trek theme from “Hollywood and Vines (5:37). Starting with this season, Giacchino would use the popular melody in all his season finales and it appears on this disc with considerable frequency, such as in the following track “The Good Shepherd.” As said earlier many of the tracks just aren’t that album-worthy, however technically good. “The Looking Glass Ceiling” starts with Ben’s theme and then goes into some skittish suspense and action. “Jintimidating Bernard” is a unique percussive cue that introduces a new suspense motif for the finale. A lot of the other suspense pieces such as “Benomination of the Temple” and parts of “Torture Me Not” and “Patchy at Best” would show up as pieces of much better cues on future albums. Of note is the Contact motif (which plays with ether three or four notes) that would get a larger role in season four (the motif kicks off Code of Conduct”). The music for Jack’s flashbacks are mostly slow soft pieces of his main theme, though he does have a unique motif for this episode (“The Fallen Hero”).

One of the advantages of listening to a complete score from an episode is seeing how the various character themes might make a small appearance. Juliet’s theme appears in fragmentary form in “Sticking to Their Guns” while Hurley’s makes a heroic blaring rescue in the otherwise dull “Act Now, Regret Later.” I’ve already covered “Hold the Phone.” After this the next major highlight is “Looking Glass Half Full.” It starts with a racing iteration of the Contact motif. At 0:46 the expectant suspense triumphantly concludes with Desmond’s theme, only for sinister horror to swell up. The Finale Action theme ensues. Then the magic happens at 2:14. Giacchino brings in the Life and Death theme, but mixes it with a character theme, a scoring tactic he would repeat several times.

“Naomi Phone Home” mixes one of the recurring suspense rhythms with the Lost theme. The excitement ends when Locke’s theme appears (1:14). After suspenseful and dark noodling the Raft theme makes its return (3:20). “Flashback” starts with dark twanging. 30 seconds in an eerie synthesizer motif starts up to create very dark, regretful ambience. Halfway through, Jack’s theme makes a final poignant statement. The album closes the end credits arrangement of the Mystery theme.

Lost Season Three is a major improvement over its predecessor. Giacchino’s careful cultivation of his web of themes and motifs really comes together here and the music is generally more thrilling in both its emotional character-driven cues and its sustained passages of action and suspense. The best part is that the music would still improve in the next season. The main drawback is the choice to present a complete score on the second disc. While the scale of music was greater (even with the small television orchestra), “Through the Looking Glass” had too much low-key suspense and emotion to present an engaging start-to-finish listen. I still highly recommend this album. The first disc is fantastic and one could always shorten the material on the second disc for a superior 100-120 minute experience.

Rating: (Disc One) 10/10 (Disc Two) 6/10 (Overall) 8/10

Tracklisting

Disc One

  1. In With a Kaboom! (1:56)
  2. Main Title (composed by J.J. Abrams) (0:16)
  3. Awed and Shocked (1:34)
  4. Fool Me Twice (3:18)
  5. Pagoda of Shame (2:02)
  6. The Island (2:57)
  7. Eko of the Past (2:45)
  8. Church of Eko’s (0:58)
  9. Leggo My Eko (3:12)
  10. Romancing the Cage (1:48)
  11. Under the Knife (4:18)
  12. Teaser Time (2:52)
  13. Here Today, Gone to Maui (4:53)
  14. Distraught Desmond (3:36)
  15. Achara, Glad to See Me? (2:25)
  16. Ocean’s Apart (3:02)
  17. The Lone Hugo (3:34)
  18. Fetch Your Arm (2:24)
  19. Ain’t Talkin’ About Nothin’ (2:05)
  20. Shambala (2:04)
  21. Claire-a-Culpa (5:21)
  22. A Touching Moment (2:34)
  23. Sweet Expose (4:36)
  24. Storming Monster (1:31)
  25. Heart of Thawyer (1:51)
  26. Juliette is Lost (1:28)
  27. Beach Blanket Bonding (1:54)
  28. Rushin’ the Russian (1:06)
  29. Deadly Fertility (2:05)
  30. Dharmacide (3:56)

Disc Two

  1. Paddle Jumper (1:16)
  2. She’s Dynamite (1:16)
  3. The Good, the Bad, and the Ominous (1:07)
  4. Charlie’s Fate (2:58)
  5. Paddle Jumper Reprise (2:12)
  6. Ta-Ta Charlie (1:28)
  7. Heirloom Holiday (1:21)
  8. Greatest Hits (6:03)
  9. Flying High (6:30)
  10. The Good Shepherd (0:58)
  11. Manifesting Destiny (0:40)
  12. The Looking Glass Ceiling (3:30)
  13. Ex Marks the Jack (2:10)
  14. Jintimidating Bernard (2:42)
  15. Benomination of the Temple (0:39)
  16. An Other Dark Agenda (0:36)
  17. Kate Makes a Splash (0:32)
  18. Diving Desmond (0:47)
  19. Weapon of Mass Distraction (0:50)
  20. The Fallen Hero (0:26)
  21. Sticking to Their Guns (0:58)
  22. Torture Me Not (2:44)
  23. Through the Locke-ing Glass (2:13)
  24. The Only Pebble in the Jungle (1:31)
  25. Early Mourning Mystery (1:54)
  26. Patchy at Best (2:04)
  27. All Jack’ed Up (0:12)
  28. Hold the Phone (3:49)
  29. Code of Conduct (1:42)
  30. Act Now, Regret Later (5:11)
  31. Just What the Doctor Ordered (1:24)
  32. Hurley’s Helping Hand (1:06)
  33. Looking Glass Half Full (4:16)
  34. Jack FM (0:30)
  35. Naomi Phone Home (4:01)
  36. Flashback (4:16)
  37. End Title (0:32)

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