Feeling Lost? If you don’t have a better-than-normal memory, you could be as stranded as the castaways when ABC’s island drama returns Wednesday 21 for its fifth season. It’s flattering, actually, that ABC expects its audience to remember what happened eight long months ago, but for the easily forgetful, a quick reminder (or catch the clip show airing an hour before the premiere): When we last left the intrepid crew, six lucky (or not) Losties had escaped the island. Two big bangs punctuated the finale: a boat explosion that killed father-to-be Jin and a booming gulp that swallowed the island after Evil Ben turned a magic wheel. If that doesn’t jog your memory, well, it doesn’t really matter. This show is not exactly known for being easy to follow.
With only two seasons left in the creators’ grand scheme—that’s 34 hours of sci-fi action-adventure until the series’s planned 2010 finale—you’d think we’d start getting some answers. Instead, the Season Five two-hour premiere kicks around some flashbacks before picking up where season four left off. The rescued Oceanic Six’s lives are all in a shambles; all consider the prospect of return to the island, but with varying degrees of desperation or repulsion. Alan Dale is back as the mysterious Mr. Widmore, and Naveen Andrews’s straightened hair shines as brightly as it did last season.
Back on the island, quantum-physics babble and time-travel talk is all the rage among the left-behinds. For a show that revolutionized the flashback and flash-forward, When am I? has never been a more apropos catchphrase. (Tip: If you’re still working your way through season four, pay special attention to that year’s knockout ep, “The Constant”—it remains as relevant as it is touching.) But Lost’s own constants remain: Sawyer’s still mean and topless, Locke is still rocking a Jesus complex, and the matter of Richard’s eyeliner has yet to be resolved.
As the crash victims have been learning for years (or is it months?), opening a door on the island does little to explain what’s next. Confusing? A bit. But the new season will provide fodder for hours of intense speculation to match the soundtrack’s shrill violins. The countdown to the end of this mind-boggling series is going to be as exhilarating as anything the show has ever thrown at us.