The upcoming fifth season of ABC's sci-fi series Lost—and this season establishes firmly that it IS a sci-fi show—will put the show in "answer mode" and set it firmly on its trajectory to an expected 2010 end date, executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse told reporters on Friday in Universal City, Calif.
"We're much more in answer mode," Cuse said at a news conference during the network's portion of the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
The producers also offered clues to the coming season (major spoilers ahead!)
--The first two hours of the season will make explicit what's been implicit all along: That time travel is a key component of the series. "The show has been a time-travel show for the last four years," Lindelof said. The writers are just making it more apparent, he added: "We feel the audience is prepared to go on that journey with us."
--Viewers will learn a lot more about the history of the island and its inhabitants—including, possibly, an answer to the question "What's up with that four-toed statue?" "[We] hope to give the audience some greater sense of the island's history," Cuse said. The statue was placed there initially to convey the idea that the island has a history and people have been there for a long time, he added. "Part of what this season will explore as you've seen as they're skipping through time, ... we'll learn a lot more about what has happened on the island in the past," Cuse said.
--The season will heavily feature the main character of Sawyer, played by Josh Holloway. "Sawyer has a lot to do this year," Cuse said. For people who are not big fans of time travel, the producers also wanted to make sure that Holloway took off his shirt for a good part of the season's first episode, Cuse added, with tongue in cheek. Lindelof said that last season, with its focus on the Oceanic Six, was necessarily light on Sawyer, and this season is meant in part to redress that.
--Friday's press session was sponsored in part by the fictional Ajira Airways, whose motto is "Get lost in the world. Destiny calls." The airline and its Web site appear to be a rabbit hole into a new Lost alternate-reality game, but the producers wouldn't answer questions about it.
--Viewers will see more of Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), who is a series regular this year, though his character apparently perished last year when the freighter exploded. The producers wouldn't say how and under what circumstances viewers will see Jin. The character of Claire may also be seen, but cast member Emilie de Ravin is not a regular this season.
Here's ABC's official summary of the new season. "With only 34 original hours left until the final episode airs in 2010, Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Sun and Claire's son, Aaron—otherwise known as the Oceanic Six—have been rescued and continue to try and pick up the pieces of the lives they knew before the crash and to perpetuate the lie concocted to hide the truth of what really happened. But Jack and Ben must convince all of them to return to the island in order to save those left behind. This will prove quite a feat since Jack is still wrestling with his addictions, Kate won't speak to him, Hurley is in a mental institution, Sayid is an assassin, and Sun blames Jack for Jin's death when the freighter exploded. Adding to their worries is the fact that they also have to take the body of Jeremy Bentham—aka Locke—with them in order to make things right with the island. But locating the island may prove even more difficult since Ben moved it. It's not just a question of where it went, but when. Back on the island, the survivors who were left behind begin to play out the surprising events that inevitably lead to Locke's death.
"In the first part of the season premiere, entitled 'Because You Left,' the remaining island survivors start to feel the effects of the aftermath of moving the island, and Jack and Ben begin their quest to reunite the Oceanic Six in order to return to the island with Locke's body in an attempt to save their former fellow castaways. In the second part, entitled 'The Lie,' Hurley and Sayid are on the run from the cops after stumbling into trouble at the safehouse; the island survivors come under attack by unknown forces; and an old friend offers some shocking advice to Kate in order to ensure that 'the lie' remain a secret.'"
Lost returns on Jan. 21 and will air Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.