The first seasons' flashbacks now seem utterly quaint. And the more recent flash-forwards? Relatively simple. As promised, previewed and teased by the producers of Lost ever since Season 4 came to a close, the next cycle of episodes introduce a new storytelling "device" of sorts that might make you want to keep a notepad and pen next to your TV remote.
But enough about that. No, really — that's enough. I can't say more, given the confidentiality request that prefaced the first two Season 5 episodes made available to the press.
Instead, I will simply note that the episodes "Because You Left" and "The Lie" offer compelling twists for both the half-dozen "survivors" of Oceanic flight 815 as well as those who are still on the island (wherever it may be).
The first hour is the stronger of the two, as it sends the mind reeling and uncorks infinite possibilities. Picking up soon after the events of the season finale, "Because You Left" reiterates Ben's claim that Jack et al must return to the island to make things "right" (as Michael Emerson shares in this video, there's a "scientific need" for that reunion to happen), then lets slip a bit of insight — from the perspective of those left behind — as to where the island moved. Alas, just as they figure it out....
Next up, "The Lie" revolves around a major predicament for one of the Oceanic 6, setting the stage for a twist that significantly staggers Ben's plan to "get the band back together." Meanwhile, Sawyer, Juliet and the others are subject to old island problems, new revelations and surprise saviors, with the showstopper being one of Lost's most electric and intense action scenes ever.
Familiar faces return. New faces create new problems ... or perhaps offer solutions (hello, Fionnula Flanagan!). People die. All told, the foundation is laid for a pivotal penultimate season.
Before I go, a few more teasers to whet your whistle until the new season arrives Wednesday, Jan. 21.
• Within the first minutes, Daniel Faraday turns up in a most unexpected place.
• Jack shaves his strife beard ... in the premiere's second such shaving scene. (And no, you'll never guess the first familiar face to take razor in hand.)
• There's "another" plane crash.
• Someone gets a nosebleed. (Uh-oh.)
• Kate is haunted by a decision she made.
• As previously spoiled, a dead gal briefly resurfaces — in a somewhat surprising (and somewhat ironic) capacity.
• Did someone order a big helping of frogurt...?
• Every theory I have read about how Desmond might remain in the mix, even though he and Penny were free and clear at the end of the season finale? No one got it right.
• Someone dares call Sawyer an "inbred." That can't end well. And it doesn't.
• Speaking of Sawyer, he remains shirtless for the entire first hour plus the first eight minutes of the second episode. (ABC, you owe me big time for spreading the word on that.)
Crave TV scoop? E-mail senior editors Matt, Mickey and Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.