Lost: The Final Season (2010)

Composed by Michael Giacchino

Lost’s final season was entertaining and in some ways emotionally satisfying. However it failed to provide a cohesive explanation for all of the show’s mysteries. It was evident that the writers and producers did not a hundred percent know what they were building. The on-island stuff, despite some ridiculousness, is very engaging, but the new flash-sideways are a sore point for me (more on that in a couple paragraphs). Any flaws in the season were helped by Giacchino’s wonderful score. After focusing more of his creative energies on major motion pictures in 2009, he came back with a vengeance, capping off his television masterpiece with suitably amped up material. While the story was not resolved to viewers’ satisfaction, Giacchino successfully weaved all of his thematic material for an epic conclusion. Almost every theme of note appears across the four discs (the outlier is the Freighter theme from Season Four, which did have a brief iteration in the series finale but not on disc; same for the heartwarming Rose and Bernard theme).

The release of music for season six was both surprisingly extensive yet also confusing. The Season Six soundtrack itself only contains material from the first 13 episodes (12 if you count the first two as one like the album booklet). This was soon followed by a limited “Lost: The Last Episodes” release. However Varese Sarabande, the record label, neglected to clearly state that there would be two double-disc albums and many buyers were legitimately concerned that an abundance of great material would not be released. Not helping is the presence of two “bonus tracks” on the first set. These include “The Hole Shebang” and “Moving On,” the action and emotional climaxes of the series finale. Varese Sarabande likely intended these for those who would not buy the limited edition Last Episodes release. This is curious thinking as anybody who picks up the first album would likely be familiar with the show’s music and not be worried about shelling out more money for the epic conclusion. I will not be covering the two bonus cues until my review for the Last Episodes album. As always there will likely be spoilers.

One source of discontent in the season is the flash-sideways. While action ensued on the island, viewers were greeted with an alternate story where the characters safely land in Los Angeles instead of crashing on the island. However, many of the characters’ back stories are altered as well. Fan theories ran the gamut from an alternate timeline created by the nuclear bomb in Season Five to the afterlife to an illusory world manufactured by the main antagonist. The reveal, and way in which it was handled, was controversial and in my opinion renders the flash-sideways scenes very uninteresting to view on rewatches.

Surprisingly Giacchino did not use his familiar repertoire of character themes for these sequences. Instead he created whole new themes for most of the major characters! Many of these themes do bear some similarities to the more established versions, such as the two-note melodic line for Locke. The counterpart to the main Lost theme is the LAX theme (“LAX”). It’s a gorgeous melody that suggests the end is near in a comforting way. Unfortunately it doesn’t get much play throughout the season. The new Mystery theme is actually the same as the main Mystery theme but with a slight alteration of the last note. The main Mystery theme actually appears far less in the island sequences as most of the mysteries themselves have been resolved or will be. The new take on the Mystery theme comes right off the bat in “A Sunken Feeling.” The track picks up speed towards the end with a tense and swift version of the Lost theme.

The various alternate character themes aren’t as memorable to me as the originals, but they are good. One common thread is that they are happier, without the heavy sadness inherent in the original melodies. This is probably why they aren’t as engaging as much of the dramatic heft is missing. “Locke at It This Way” introduces the Alternate Locke theme with the aforementioned two-note melodic line. “Peculiar Parenting” gives us Alternate Jack’s theme and “My Orca” Alternate Kate’s. The starkest departure in style comes for Alternate Ben at the start of “Karma Has No Price.” Since Ben’s theme was originally conceived as a villainous motif and found expansion in tragic sadness, Giacchino has to start from scratch as in the flash-sideways he’s a rather noble high school teacher. Hurley’s is a highlight, actually incorporating his long-running humorous motif with a happy melody in “Hugo Reyes of Light.” The most notable flash-sideways theme is not for a character, however, but for the flashes experienced by Alternate Desmond. This repeating four-note motif has a notable spiritual component. As Desmond starts going around trying to induce flashes of the island timeline among the other characters, the theme gains more prominence.

I will go through the Island material (and a bit more of the flash-sideways material as well) in a roughly chronological run-down. There are plenty of new themes and some fresh takes on older ones. After the flash-sideways is introduced in “A Sunken Feeling,” Giacchino deals with the aftermath of Season Five. “Heavy Metal Crew” provides Juliet’s theme in tragic context. “Doing Jacob’s Work” establishes that despite events in the previous season, Jacob still has a presence through his theme. “Smokey and the Bandits” starts off with more of Juliet’s theme on piano and then strings. The middle is taken up by Hurley and Ben’s themes. Things takes a darker turn at 2:54 with an evil version of Locke’s Emotional theme. This is called the FLocke (Fake Locke) theme. The line of two-note increments from the theme is turned into a string march that perfectly represents the main villain’s drive in cues such as “Richard the Floored” and “Jacob’s Ladders.” 4:12 introduces a new motif for the Smoke Monster, a growling piece that heralds its attack.

The second half of LAX starts with a medley of several themes in “Temple and Spring.” After this the episode’s material is centered around the Temple theme (“Coffin Calamity”). In its softer iterations it evokes the ancient mystery feeling of Jacob’s theme, but more often it’s presented in a semi-villainous, mischievous way. The main melody usually appears amidst long, repetitive notes. The theme works along Jacob’s nicely in “Trouble Is My First Name.” The longest track form this sequence is “Death Springs Eternal.” Mischievous notes lead to more of the Temple theme as the location’s inhabitants set up a ritual. As the ritual is performed, Giacchino uses his trademark suspense. The results are borne out at 5:08 with a lengthy, yet still heavily truncated version of the Life and Death theme. “The Rockets’ Red Glare” sees the Temple theme rise to its most bombastic before FLocke’s material closes the episode out.

“Temple and Taxi” does not have the Temple theme, but is an awesome, frenetic, and heavily sustained chase cue. The Locke-centric episode has “Jacob’s Ladders,” a deliciously sinister cue that accompanies a climbing scene. FLocke’s theme matches the descent of the villain before he and another character are imperiled by raucous terror music (0:45). “The Substitute” uses the new version of the main Mystery theme in a slow but effective cue. Synthesizers and FLocke’s theme create sinister ambience as another mystery is peeled back. “Door Jammer” is a neat short cue of tropical adventure from Jack’s episode. It presages “The Lighthouse,” from one of the most important scenes. Jacob’s theme goes through multiple moods as Jack investigates one of his haunts. Nearly two minutes in ghostly sounds and long strings introduce Jack’s theme as he makes a startling discovery. Jack doesn’t take things so well as first, represented by his Suspense motif (2:25). Jack’s Suspense motif builds to an abrupt climax.

Sayid’s episode is represented by the last 9-10 minutes of music. “Sundown” gives a final appearance for the Temple theme. As the leader of the temple explains his backstory, Giacchino does a masterful job accompanying the beats of his pre-Island life The Temple theme here is reflective as the leader starts his tale. The Life and Death theme makes a brief appearance when he gets to a tragic point in his life (1:31). At 1:50, when a mysterious figure comes to the rescue, Jacob’s theme arrives. The tale is concluded about 3 minutes in. Then harsh and creepy strings work together in a terrifying flourish. The Temple theme exits on sinister low strings (3:41) and then all hell breaks loose. At 4:47 villainous action material kicks off with the new Smoke Monster Attack motif. The Lost theme and some of Kate’s theme also appear. “Catch a Falling Star” features the sole vocal work of the television score. Emilie De Ravin, Claire’s actress, sings a lullaby with the support of dark instrumental music. Once she’s done FLocke’s theme cements the villain’s victory.

Disc one ends with a pair of cues from Ben’s episode. “Linus and Alpertinent” has its own motif which builds to emotional heights with fragments of Ben’s theme. “Karma Has No Price” begins with Alternate Ben’s theme. After the 1:10 mark the scene shifts to the island with Ben’s original theme. The major development in this cue is the return of the Oceanic Six theme. Originally meant to represent the departure from the island at the end of Season Four, it now represents the bond between the characters and plays a significant role in the series’ finale. Of course this is Lost so the track ends on a dour note as an old antagonist resurfaces. Disc two begins with a pair of cues from Sawyer’s episode. This episode isn’t as full of highlights so the producers opt to just put in a couple action/suspense cues. “Recon” is effective suspense with lots of neat tropical percussion. “Crazy Town” is more notable for its opening portion, where Locke’s Spiritual theme merges with a dark piano melody from Season Five’s “Jacob’s Stabber.”

More interesting are seven tracks from one of the only two flashback episodes, this one focused on the backstory of Richard Alpert. Alpert was a side character who caught on with fans, both for presenting a different side of the Others faction and for the realization that he doesn’t age. Giacchino gives him a very distinctive theme for this episode and quotes it frequently, first in “None the Richard.” This episode also introduces a proper theme for the Man in Black, Jacob’s nameless nemesis. This dark theme graces “The Fall of Man” and is notably suited for tragic iterations down the line. Giacchino also has the opportunity to use more of Jacob’s theme as he meets Richard in “Jacob’s Advocate.” Richard’s theme plays off both of these identities as he has to choose who to align himself with.

Sun & Jin’s episode gets another two-track presentation. “Sayid After Dentist” starts with the titular character’s theme in dark fashion and then some mischievous suspense. “Shepharding Sun” takes the Lost theme, Sun & Jin’s theme, and piano fragments of the Life and Death theme, mixing them together into a lovely medley. “Tesla Tester” kicks off the Desmond episode. It focuses on a simple yet wonderful suspense motif as Desmond finds himself subjected to some weird science. This episode also introduces the Flashes theme in “George of the Concrete Jungle.” Throughout the episode Desmond starts having flashes to scenes from the show, represented by more familiar themes. These include Charlie’s theme (1:09 in “World’s Worst Car Wash”) and Desmond’s own (1:06 in “None the Nurse”). I have to say Desmond’s episodes always seemed to get especially good musical entries. This is probably due to the strength of his theme itself, as exemplified in “Happily Ever After” where it heartwarmingly comes in on piano. The distinctive and very malleable Flashes theme, which becomes a mainstay of the show’s last episodes, helps too.

Hurley’s episode debuts one of two themes associated with the final run of episodes, a dramatic rhythmic device in “Passing the Torch” (0:14). I’ll steal from Lostpedia and call it the Destiny motif. After this dramatic opener the track focuses on Jack’s original theme and the alternate take on the Mystery theme. “A Memorable Kiss” starts with Alternate Hurley’s theme and climaxes with his main original identity. The Flashes theme ends the cue on a misleadingly sinister note. “The Last Recruit” comes from the episode of the same name. The Oceanic Six theme forebodingly leads into the first hints of the Final Group theme, mixed in with the Destiny motif (1:22). After some statements of the Locke Emotion and Flashes themes, the pace picks up with fast percussion. “Kool-Aid Claire” sees the Destiny motif play dramatically with more accents of the Final Group theme. The Final Group theme finally appears in full in “The Sub Group.” The full theme actually incorporates Jack’s Suspense motif and Sawyer’s theme, fitting as the two take charge in this episode. The track ends with a long-awaited return of Claire’s theme. “Sunny Outlook” is a brief hopeful piece with the Lost theme. “Reunion and Reneging,” the last cue from the first 13 episodes, has its own suspense motif, but there’s more. At 0:32 lush strings bring in Sun & Jin’s theme. By 1:40 the suspense motif interrupts this happy reunion. A tense action portion with Jack’s Suspense motif and a portion of Locke’s Spiritual theme close things out. It’s not the best track for ending an album which explains the inclusion of the two bonus tracks.

Overall I’m happy that Varese Sarabande chose to release the final season’s score across four discs. There is plenty to like on the first volume, as Giacchino’s music for the show was on its highest level at this point. The two hours or so of available space allows one to soak in the web of themes and motifs, and even to enjoy representative sections such as the seven cues from Richard Alpert’s episode. The one problem is that absent of the bonus cues it doesn’t have the strongest ending, but this is understandable when “Reunion and Reneging” is viewed as the halfway point of a four-disc presentation. I give the first volume of Season Six a high but not perfect rating.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklisting

Disc One

  1. A Sunken Feeling (1:34)
  2. Heavy Metal Crew (1:01)
  3. Doing Jacob’s Work (1:58)
  4. Smokey and the Bandits (4:55)
  5. LAX (4:08)
  6. Temple and Spring (1:53)
  7. Locke at It This Way (1:37)
  8. Richard the Floored (1:55)
  9. Coffin Calamity (3:46)
  10. Lie Thou There (2:30)
  11. Trouble is My First Name (1:51)
  12. Death Springs Eternal (6:23)
  13. The Rockets’ Red Glare (3:34)
  14. Temple and Taxi (3:37)
  15. My Orca (0:40)
  16. Helen of Joy (2:00)
  17. Jacob’s Ladders (3:26)
  18. The Substitute (4:45)
  19. Peculiar Parenting (2:54)
  20. Door Jammer (0:42)
  21. The Lighthouse (3:33)
  22. Sundown (7:37)
  23. Catch a Falling Star (1:46)
  24. Linus and Alpertinent (2:27)
  25. Karma Has No Price (4:11)

Disc Two

  1. Recon (3:23)
  2. Crazy Town (2:01)
  3. None the Richard (1:20)
  4. Love in a Time of Pneumonia (1:35)
  5. The Fall of Man (2:58)
  6. Dead Man Talking (1:18)
  7. Jacob’s Advocate (5:50)
  8. Standing Offer (1:20)
  9. And Death Shall Have No Dominion (3:54)
  10. Sayid After Dentist (1:49)
  11. Shepharding Sun (2:16)
  12. Tesla Tester (2:33)
  13. George of the Concrete Jungle (1:09)
  14. World’s Worst Car Wash (2:00)
  15. None the Nurse (3:48)
  16. Happily Ever After (1:57)
  17. Hugo Reyes of Light (1:41)
  18. Passing the Torch (3:40)
  19. A Memorable Kiss (1:23)
  20. The Last Recruit (4:07)
  21. Kool-Aid Claire (1:19)
  22. The Sub Group (3:50)
  23. Sunny Outlook (0:40)
  24. Reunion and Reneging (2:58)
  25. The Hole Shebang (7:02) – Bonus Track
  26. Moving On (7:54) – Bonus Track

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