Lost Season Five (2009)

Composed by Michael Giacchino

Season 5 of Lost might be the most over-the-top season of the show, thought it is still greatly entertaining. The plotlines go all over the place, for reasons I will explain once I get into spoilers. I find this to be the in the bottom third of my season rankings. It’s not bad, just not as great. Giacchino’s music also seemed to be affected for the fifth season. I think the issue was that 2009 was the year where he started taking on major film score assignments. While scoring Lost, he was also creating scores for the Star Trek reboot and Pixar’s beloved Up. His creative energies seem to have flowed more to these properties, and understandably so. While season 5 of Lost has some new concepts and a couple new characters, Giacchino could easily just insert his pre-established material.

Even on album, parts of Giacchino’s music are lifted whole or nearly wholesale from previous cues. This creates a lack of originality in places and makes avid listeners wonder why a few of the more unique pieces were not chosen for album space. The trade-off is that season 5’s album is the most thematically cohesive. The themes for Locke, Ben, and Jack are prominent throughout the disc and two of the main themes also recur fairly regularly. As for new themes and motifs, this season still has a good amount. The only one to have a lasting impact through the remainder of the show is the mystical theme for Jacob (“Tangled Web”). The new love theme in “La Fleur” also grabbed fans’ attention. Otherwise most of the themes and motifs were singularly suited for just this season. The most memorable of these is the bomb theme (introduced in “Sawyer Jones and the Temple of Boom” at 2:44), which appears to be built out of the second phrase of the main Lost theme.

Before getting into the rundown and some major spoilers for those who haven’t seen the show or at least its final seasons, I will say that the album for season 5 is still a strong listen with some great material. As with season 4’s album there’s a heavy emphasis on the last few episodes, which are cinematic in scope. Of special interest is the presence of music not heard on the show in “Crash and Yearn,” “For Love of the Dame,” and “Dharma vs. Lostaways.” Evidently large parts of these tracks were edited over and I can venture a good guess as to why. The action in them gets very harsh and dissonant and perhaps the producers thought they would be too much. Now onto the rundown

The album starts reflectively with “Making Up For Lost Time.” Locke’s Emotional theme opens alongside Ben’s. The more determined iteration of Ben’s theme, from season 4’s “Locke of the Island,” returns but is soon joined by a new rhythm (1:28). This rhythm is a Time Travel motif that reappears in “Your Kharma Hit My Dharma.” This is one of only cues from the first third of the season. These episodes were very skittish, jumping from place to place with rapidity. “The Swinging Bendulum” exemplifies this. This five-minute cue goes through ghost-like ambience, Hurley’s “Mess It All Up” theme (1:03), a couple brief suspense cues (1:52), a heroic return of Locke’s Spiritual theme (3:21), and finally the introduction of a new dark theme for Eloise Hawking, a mysterious old woman (3:42). Her theme intertwines with the main Mystery theme before some suspenseful noodling closes things out.

“Locke’s Excellent Adventure” is mostly dark ambience, though it does break out into some action with Locke’s theme and wailing trombones. What follows is a quartet of cues from “316.” After some more of Locke’s themes in “The Science of Faith”, Giacchino takes a dramatic flourish from season three’s finale and transforms it into a recurring motif for Jack’s desire to return to the island (the Jack Melancholy motif around 1:10). ‘More Locke Than Locke” highlights a variation of Jack’s suspense motif and mixes Jack’s Melancholy motif with an eerie synthesizer motif. “Together or Not Together” has the 316 motif at 0:44. This little string ditty also shares a couple notes with the Life and Death theme to lend more emotional weight. Giacchino inserts it into a retreated of season 4’s “Can’t Kill Keamy.” “Through the Window” once again focuses on Jack’s Melancholy motif, along with a reprise of the main Lost theme from season 2.

“Dharma Delinquent also reprises a bit from season 2 with the main Mystery theme. Fast-paced suspense ensues, leading to, finally, the appearance of Sawyer’s theme on album (1:39). This is a simple theme built around two-note segments and was understandably passed over for more emotionally compelling or complex material. Still, it’s nice that one of the most popular characters of the show finally got his theme onto album. Normally it was played in a low-key manner to represent the con man’s dark criminal past. Here though Giacchino turns it into something of a fanfare. “La Fleur” showcases a new love theme for Sawyer and Juliet, the pairing I never knew I would like. It’s a lovely melody and one of the season’s few notable new themes.

“Crash and Yearn” puts the Lost theme through a suspenseful alteration. Adventurous rhythms break out along the normal Lost theme (0:34). At 1:06 things take a more perilous turn, incorporating pieces of season 4’s “Bobbing For Freighters” with some very aggressive rhythms. I believe this section was edited over with part of “Bobbing For Freighters.” The rhythms in the last 30 seconds were likely deemed too much though I personally love this bit. “Your Kharma Hit My Dharma” brings back the Time Travel motif, along with a quote of Ben’s theme about 30 seconds in. “Alex in Chains” mixes the skittish motif for mad Frenchwoman Danielle Rousseau with Ben’s theme. “I Hear Dead People” presents Miles’ theme with an ambient undercurrent. The first part of “For Love of the Dame” presents a simplistic emotional theme for wacky scientist Daniel Faraday. Nearly halfway through the cue gets into more aggressive rhythms, some of which was edited over in the finished episode.

“Follow the Leader” sets a new record for longest Lost cue. The Jack Melancholy motif takes a more epic tone for the penultimate episode of the season. Drums introduce an emotional but not particularly engaging motif for Miles (0:55). The percussion continues to into the La Fleur theme (1:37). Unlike in its introductory track, it ends on a sour note with a dark iteration of Sawyer’s theme. After the 2:40 mark the episode shifts back to Jack. His Melancholy motif has its most dramatic appearance, morphing into a determined heroic motif. After some listless suspense which could have been trimmed down for album, Giacchino shifts location again with Locke’s Spiritual theme (5:11). At 5:47 the theme takes a new sinister tone. This evolution would stick around for season 6. “Sawyer Jones and the Temple of Boom” is another long, but not as long, piece that starts with a final reprise of the La Fleur theme. A real treat comes at 1:20. For a scene involving a submarine, Giacchino uses his U-Boat theme from the Medal of Honor games! He actually already reappropriated this tune in season 3 when the sub was first introduced. It’s a neat easter egg that allowed Giacchino to get more mileage out of one of his older themes. Dark bridging material leads to the introduction of the Bomb theme. The Hollywood and Vines theme makes its customary late season appearance (3:40). The track ends with the Mystery theme, ripped straight from the end of season 4.

The finale proper begins with “The Tangled Web,” a straightforward introduction of Jacob’s theme. Jacob’s theme effectively conveys ancient mystery and is the most enduring piece of music from season 5. “Dharma Disaster” starts with a short cue where Sayid’s theme laments a tragic incident. The scene shifts to the island, where Giacchino builds up suspense with the Bomb theme (1:37). Further suspense, along with the suspenseful alteration of the Lost theme, finally leads to a new version of the Finale Action theme. “Blessings and Bombs” is a short cue with Jacob’s theme and another aggressive rhythm that concludes with Jack’s Suspense motif. “Jack’s Swan Song” presents more of the Bomb theme, along with the Lost theme.

The next pair of tracks are top-notch finale material. “Dharma vs. Lostaways” is a good action cue that was unfortunately heavily edited over. As Jack tries to stealthily infiltrate a construction site, Giacchino plays the Bomb and Jack Suspense themes against some expectant rhythms. At 1:40 hell breaks loose with some heavy action. Around 3 minutes in the excitement continues with the Lost and Bomb themes as Jack comes to the conclusion of his mission. Around 4:00 the Life and Death theme makes a brief appearance. Things do not go as planned with “The Incident.” Long perilous strings lead to an equally perilous rendition of the Bomb theme. The second phrase of the Lost theme, which served as the basis of the Bomb theme, then takes over, the third notes being drawn out to convey the peril the characters now find themselves in. At 1:24 more perilous rhythms break out. Juliet’s theme joins in at 1:39 in harrowing fashion. At 2:24 the Life and Death theme breaks out, transitioning into another part of Juliet’s theme. This track is a real emotional powerhouse and one of my favorites.

The last track, “Jacob’s Stabber,” is surprisingly subdued by comparison, though there is still plenty of tense material to be found. The first act is mostly dark suspense, along with those creepy ghost effects. Over a minute in creepy strings take their time to lead to another shocking revelation. Said revelation is underscored by Locke’s Spiritual theme (1:45). Over two minutes in Jacob’s theme returns as some of the older cast finally encounters the man. At first it’s mysterious. At 3:00 it takes a far more sinister turn. Giacchino brings back a previous piano melody to chilling effect (3:40) as counterpoint to another statement of Jacob’s theme. The darkness is finally halted by a very sad interlude courtesy of Ben’s theme. This is abruptly shattered at 6:06 by a twang, followed by a harsh mix of literally stabbing strings and Ben’s theme. Jacob’s theme makes one final swelling statement and the album closes with a dark iteration of the Lost theme. Unfortunately the album did not end with the actual last music, a mix of the Bomb and Juliet’s themes for the cliffhanger.

The soundtrack for Lost’s fifth season is a good listen. As with season 4, the last act is wonderful with Jacob’s theme, complex multi-thematic cues, and some of the most invigorating action music of the show. The main problem is that some sections are almost entirely lifted from previously released cues. This of course means that some other new highlights were crowded off the disc. A particular missing highlight is a piano rendition of the secondary Trek theme. Some of the lengthier cues could have also used some editing to trim down on the bridging suspense. Still, this album should leave listeners emotionally satisfied and underscores the show’s later attempts to go big.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklisting

  1. Making Up For Lost Time (3:23)
  2. The Swinging Bendulum (5:43)
  3. Locke’s Excellent Adventure (4:01)
  4. The Science of Faith (2:19)
  5. More Locke Than Locke (3:13)
  6. Together or Not Together (4:02)
  7. Through the Window (2:07)
  8. Dharma Delinquent (1:51)
  9. La Fleur (2:36)
  10. Crash and Yearn (2:28)
  11. Your Kharma Hit My Dharma (2:05)
  12. Alex in Chains (1:35)
  13. I Hear Dead People (1:52)
  14. For Love of the Dame (3:17)
  15. Follow the Leader (7:50)
  16. Sawyer Jones and the Temple of Boom (5:14)
  17. The Tangled Web (1:41)
  18. Dharma Disaster (5:17)
  19. Blessings and Bombs (1:30)
  20. Jack’s Swan Song (1:15)
  21. Dharma vs. Lostaways (4:23)
  22. The Incident (3:07)
  23. Jacob’s Stabber (7:32)

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