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OK, so now that we have gotten the rotten eggs out of the way, we can focus on the good. LOST captivated, infuriated, and mystified fans through 121 episodes and six seasons. Making a list of the top 25 episodes would be a daunting task, so 5 is almost impossible. Like always this is a personal list, but I tried to take into account the opinions of the massive LOST fandom. While you may not agree with the list I welcome comments and discussion. Here we go…
So you had to know that it was going to be on this list; the episode that started it all. It holds the record for most expensive TV pilot in history and it puts that money to good use. Before we knew about the hatch, the Others, the statue, or even that the plane crash was real, we fell in love with the show. With one of the most diverse casts in television history all giving strong performances and a story that had us irrevocably hooked, it is hard not to remember The Pilot in a good light. The thing that prevails even to this day is just how strong it was. The show would become heavily serialized, but for this two hour episode, the mysteries were constructed. We knew the motivations of the characters and why they were taking certain actions on the island. The flashbacks only strengthened the notion that this was a collection of unrelated, save for a few, characters thrust into a terrible situation. While we were still being introduced to the cast, the episode started, quite possibly, the most important mystery of the show. The monster. The creature was never shown and would not appear until the season 1 finale Exodus¸ but it was introduced and in doing so, gave the show its first real game changer. Not only were they trapped on an island, but they were not alone. Charlie’s immortal line, “Guys where are we?” became the mantra for the show and remains one of the defining quotes of LOST.
Shape of things to Come
Ben is one of the most enigmatic characters on the show and because of this, his few episodes are considered to be some of the best. While it would be easy to pick The Man Behind the Curtain from season 3, I think this episode is stronger. Ben wakes up in the middle of the Tunisia desert wearing a thin snow coat; that’s it. We would get no explanation for another five episodes as to how he got there. The episode was strong all round, with every character playing a part. Events quickly lead into a shootout at New Otherton, that finds a couple of extras with bullet holes and Clair’s house literally getting blown up. The majority of The Shape of things to Come focuses on Lock, Hurley, Sawyer, Clair, and Ben in one of the cabins. Keamy and his mercenaries give Ben an ultimatum; either come out or watch as they kill his daughter. Television often leads one to expect a deus ex machina to solve the problem; there is however, no magical solution and Alex is killed in cold blood. Ben then says something about broken rules and sneaks away into his hidden room. It is there that we first see hints of the ancient Egyptian symbols, a mystery that would spring up again and again but would ultimately never get solved. Then it happens…….Ben tells everyone to get ready to run right before the Smoke Monster comes barreling out of the forest and attacks the mercenaries. The monster can be summoned? The episode is capped off by an intense conversation between Ben and Widmore. Widmore implies that Ben has what is rightfully his, “I know what you are boy, and I know everything that you have you’ve stolen from me”. A truly epic episode.
Oh John Locke how we loved you so. Personally, I thought the show was interesting from the pilot, but I knew I was sold on LOST after Walkabout. Before this episode, Locke seemed like a retired military man with knowledge of survival. He was silent and only really talked to Walt, for reasons he never elaborated on. He appeared to be a man dealing with shock and the episode played with our notions of who Locke truly is and in doing so, created one of the best characters in the show. We were shown a beaten man who could not catch a break; a depressed loser, whose life had passed him by. People were rude to him and generally didn’t think he could accomplish anything and we were left wondering why. On the island, he was obsessed with hunting a boar; it consumed him. He originally had a hunting party, but when Michael got hurt he decided to go off on his own. This is when we first heard the phrase, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do”, which went on to be used not only by John, but a handful of characters, even MIB said it. It is not untill the very end of the episode after he succeeded in catching the boar and saw what we can only assume was the monster, that we were given the answer to our question. While in Sydney he was supposed to go on a walkabout but the guide would not let him go (again we ask why?) it is at this point that the screen pans back and we see that he is in a wheelchair. The amazing LOST musical score fades in and we see him waking up on the beach after the crash with working legs. The rules of the show were changed again and with it, many people, myself included, were sold.
The constant could have had nothing to do with LOST and would still have been an amazing hour of television. This episode was so strong and well received that even co-creators Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse, have stated that it is their favorite episode. The main focus is on Desmond, as his consciousness is thrown back and forth between 1996 and the island time of 2004. Desmond is literally unstuck in time and he needs something to anchor himself, a constant, or he will die. The episode moves very quickly, with not only Desmond being transported back in time without warning, but also we the audience. Desmond attempts to find the only thing that matters to him in both times, Penny Widmore. The only problem is that he had become estranged with the love of his life. Before he seeks her out, he visits Daniel at Oxford where we are first introduced to the rules of time travel within the LOST universe. After Desmond accepts the fact that he is traveling through time, he seeks out Penny’s father, Charles Widmore. This was before The Shape of things to Come so we did not know the role he played yet. He seemed to know exactly what was happening. On the boat Sayid is desperately trying to get Desmond to the phone on the freighter so he can contact Penny. In the past, Desmond finds Penny and asks her to, no matter what, answer the phone when he calls on December 24, 2004. When Desmond makes the call, our hearts are in knots and we are just hoping she listened. She finally does answer and what follows is one of the most emotional and, dare I say, sweet moments in Lost. It has been known to bring people to tears. Don’t look at me though, I don’t cry………ok I may have had something in my eye. The episode is a masterpiece that was only topped by one other episode…
Through the Looking Glass
If you ask any fan to name the defining episodes of LOST, Through the Looking Glass would definitely be near the top. The episode capped off what many considered the worst season of the show. We really did not know what to expect beforehand and what we got was the most complete, well paced, and meaningful episode in the history of the show. While The Constant packed a deeply emotional punch, Through the Looking Glass did the same and all the while advanced the story to places we did not think they would ever go. In the flashback we see a beaten down Jack, as his life spirals out of control. He attempts to kill himself, is addicted to pills, seems genuinely miserable, and has a beard. We wondered where in his history this part came in. On the island, the story was divided among four groups. There was Jack’s group heading toward the radio tower, Charlie and Desmond in the Hydra attempting to shut off the communications jammer, Ben and Alex trying to cut the losties off, and Locke as he sees an apparition of a more grown up Walt. Also Jack’s group is split up, as some stay behind to spring the trap they set for the Others. Many characters die in this episode, about ten of the Others and Tom, Naomi, and sadly Charlie. Charlie had the best death in the show. I have already discussed the fan hatred for Charlie in the second season and this was his ultimate redemption. He died doing something he believed in and went out a hero (a lot of people point to the sign of the cross he makes as he drowns as one of the best moments of the show). The intense standoff between Jack and Locke is the last time their competing ideologies are tested, at least the last time whilst Locke was alive. Jack ultimately got through to the freighter and rescue was on the way. Everything appeared to be solved and the story appeared to be at a close….but then, we return to the flash back. Kate gets out of the car to greet Jack and he tells her about the funeral and how his life feels meaningless, and then he drops the bomb, they have to go back. Yes my friends, it was a flashforward the entire time. We were seeing the future of the characters and not the past. In that one moment we learned that not only did they leave the island, but that something else is going on to make Jack desperately want to return. It is my opinion that “We have to go back Kate. We have to go back” is the best quote in Lost. Through the Looking Glass is the definition of a game changer and set the tone for the rest of the show.
I know we are all not going to agree with the list and I welcome comments. Feel free to post what you think the best episodes are. Just like always though we can agree that we are still…