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The Great Lost Rewatch Project — More Thoughts on Season 1!

February 16th, 2010

Yesterday I gave my over-all impressions on Season 1 of Lost.  Today I’m going to get a bit more specific about some of my favorite and least favorite episodes and moments of the season!

“There’s a fine line between faith and denial.  And it’s much better on my side.”

Standout Episodes:

1.3  “Walkabout” — Our first spotlight on John Locke.  The ending, in which we learn the truth about his “condition,” still packs an emotional wallop even knowing what’s coming (and totally blew me away the first time I saw it).

1.14  “Special” — Michael and Walt get their flashback and it is HEARTBREAKING. It’s one of the strongest, most poignant flashbacks the show ever did, in my mind. Poor Michael gets screwed over by the cold, cold Susan (Walt’s mom) who leaves him, taking Walt and moving out of the country and eventually shacking up with her boss. Contrary to what we had assumed so far, we learn that Michael desperately wanted to be a part of Walt’s life but that Susan shut him out, going to the point of not even giving young Walt all the letters that Michael wrote him over the years. Then there’s the scene in which Charlie wrestles with himself over whether or not to read Claire’s diary — this is comic gold, and a terrific example of what a brilliant performer Dominic Monaghan is.

1.18 — “Numbers” — At last, a Hurley flashback!!  And it rocks.  If the purpose of the flashbacks is for us to learn things about the castaways that we wouldn’t otherwise expect, and to set the stories on the island in a dramatically different light, then this episode succeeds in spades.  The whole scene in the insane asylum (when Hurley goes to visit the fellow, Lenny, who gave him the numbers) plays a whole lot differently now that we know that Hurley was an inmate there.  (That also explains Hurley’s angry reaction here when Charlie tells him that he’s acting like a lunatic.)  It’s great to see Hurley succeed in finding Rousseau (and getting her to give them a battery to use for a radio in Michael’s raft) despite everyone’s disbelief that he could do so.  Hurley can charm anyone!!

1.23 “Exodus” Part I — A terrific, terrific episode. Through a series of flashbacks we get intriguing glimpses of each of the castaways (including Boone, back for this episode!) in the hours before Oceanic flight 815 launched. We also meet Ana Lucia (who will be such a key character in season 2) for the first time! (It was very clever of the writers to introduce her here, at the end of season 1.)  There are a ton of great character moments in this episode, as Michael prepares to launch the raft. I was impressed by what a nice job the writers did, here at the end of season 1, of bringing a lot of their story arcs to a good end-of-the-year conclusion. Sawyer begins to soften, going into the woods on his own to chop down a bamboo stalk large enough to serve as a mast for the raft (to help repair the damage that happened when they tried to move the raft into the water). Sun and Jin reconcile, and we see Jin being more accepted by the other castaways. Michael and Walt seem to have found a comfortable understanding of one another. Meanwhile, Walt gives Vincent to Shannon, as he can see she is still struggling with Boone’s death, because he says Vincent was able to help him after his mother died. It’s all very nice stuff. Then there’s the dramatic reveal at the episode’s end, in which we learn that the Black Rock is no rock at all – but the name of an old galleon slave-ship that is somehow washed up in the middle of the island. Awesome. I remember being so delighted by that clever twist when first seeing this episode.

“We’re in Hell, huh?”  “Don’t let the air conditioning fool you, son.  You are here, too.”

Episodes that could have used another rewrite:

1.6  “The Moth” — Charlie’s flashback (dealing with the corruption that comes from fame and fortune) is overly-simplistic, and all the goings-on with Jack trapped by a cave-in interested me not at all.  The whole thing felt like a writerly device (we need something to keep Jack and the gang busy this week while Kate/Sayid/Sawyer work on triangulating the Frenchwoman’s signal) as opposed to the natural unfolding of the story.  I’m also not clear on why Jack, whose body was entirely pinned by the boulders that piled on top of him when the cave collapsed, wasn’t crippled, with his bones broken in ten million places…

1.11  “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues” — This episode contains my least-favorite moment in season 1: the fake-out with the death of Charlie.  Kate and Jack find Charlie “dead” — complete with sad music and a long camera pull-back, which are clearly meant to convey to the viewers that he’s deceased — before learning that, hey guess what, he’s just mostly dead and Jack is able to revive him.  This is an annoying narrative trick that I hate when shows do.  (The Lost writers will do the very same thing to us a few episodes later, in “Hearts and Minds,” when Boone watches Shannon die in his arms before realizing it’s just a hallucination.)  Luckily by the end of this season the show will actually start killing off castaways, thus restoring important “you never know WHAT could happen” tension to the series.  In this episode, though, it’s just annoying.

1.15 — “Homecoming” — Charlie Pace has always been one of my very favorite characters on the show, but for some reason I rarely found myself at all interested in his flashbacks (with the exception being the superlative “Greatest Hits” in season 3).  Here we see Charlie being a total jerk to a woman he gets into a relationship with as a means of ripping off her rich father in order to get money for drugs. Sawyer he is not, and his con blows up in his face and everyone winds up feeling terrible. Yuck.  (Really the only thing I liked in the flashbacks was the joke in which Charlie’s girlfriend Lucy mentions that her dad is looking into purchasing a paper company in Slough. Hello, Ricky Gervais’ The Office!)  But what really lands this episode on this list is that Claire reappears and we discover that she has amnesia.  Ugh.  If there’s a lazier, more overused TV plot device out there, I don’t know of it.  OK, the writers aren’t yet ready to spill all the beans on what Ethan was up to with Claire, but using amnesia as a means of keeping the castaways (and the viewers) in the light is just dumb dumb dumb, and I have little patience for it.

1.21  “The Greater Good” – In Sayid’s flashback, we learn how he allowed himself to betray a former friend (now a lost soul preparing to be a suicide bomber) in Sydney in order to get information from government agents about the location of his lost love, Nadia.  On the one-hand, it’s one more heartbreaking flashback as we continue to see just how screwed up all of the castaways were before landing on the island.  On the other hand, while I have sympathy for Sayid – who is emotionally lost at this point – it’s hard to muster up too much sympathy for his buddy Asam who, despite the tragedy of losing the woman he loved, is, after all, plotting to blow up innocent civilians.  I also find it a bit hard to square the Sayid we see in this flashback (which takes place RIGHT before his boarding the ill-fated Oceanic flight, as he gets his tickets at the very end of the episode) who is willing to do ANYTHING for even a hint at the location of the love of his life, Nadia, with the Sayid that we see on the island who is mooning over Shannon.  While I’m picking apart this storyline, let me say that my eyebrows raised at just how much the CIA seemed to know about Sayid.  How on Earth did they know that Nadia was the lost love that he’d been searching for??  I am dubious about this plot-point.

“Dude, you got some Arzt on you.”

Favorite Moments from the season:

1.16. “Outlaws” — The mind-bending scene in which we see that Sawyer met Christian Shephard at a bar in Australia.

1.17 “In Translation” — The scene at the end of Jin’s flashback, when he goes to see his father (who is NOT dead as Jin has been telling everyone, even Sun).  Without any boring exposition, the dynamic is clear: Jin has been ashamed of his poor fisherman father.  Yet this man has great dignity, and a heck of a lot of common sense.  His comment to his son: “It IS a good world” is such a simple, heart-felt declaration, that effected me powerfully (as it does Jin in the episode).  What a wonderful moment.

1.22 “Born to Run” — Kate’s reunion with her dying mother doesn’t quite go the way she’d planned when, instead of a tearful reconciliation, Kate’s mom calls the cops the moment she sees her daughter.  It’s a stunning, tragic moment that really surprised me (in the best possible way) when I first saw this episode.

1.22 “Born to Run” — In one of my favorite Lost moments, ever, we see that Charlie is working on a new album and that he has named track two “Monster eats the Pilot.”

1.23 — “Exodus” Part 1 — I also absolutely adore the “I guess this is goodbye” scene between Jack and Sawyer in the jungle. Jack gives Sawyer a gun to take on the raft, “just in case,” an extraordinary gesture of trust on the good doctor’s part. Sawyer responds by finally telling Jack that he met his father in Sydney before he died, and that Christian loved and respected his son. After Sawyer chose not to reveal that to Jack back in “Outlaws,” I had assumed that story point would never be referred to again, that it was another of the enigmatic connections that the castaways all had with one another prior to boarding Oceanic flight 815 that they’d never know about. So I was really, really happy to see this brought up again here, and the scene is a lovely burying-the-hatchet moment between Jack and Sawyer. The two actors have never been better.

1.24 – “Exodus” Part 2 — Arzt blows up.

I’ll see you back here soon with my thoughts on season 2!

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