SEPTEMBER 29, 2010


One of my all time favorite movies is Cast Away, which is actually what drew my attention to Lost in the first place (a “Fall TV Preview” billed it as “Cast Away meets The X-Files”), so I was sort of excited for “Solitary”, because I thought it would be the start of a multi-episode storyline of Sayid living on his own, finding food and shelter without the help of the others, stuff like that. You know, like Cast Away, but without the volleyball.

But the plot lasts roughly 19 seconds. The episode opens with him taking a break, looking at poorly composited in photos of Nadia (I assume they didn’t have her cast at the time they shot the scene?), and then he looks over and sees the cable that leads him to Rousseau. Good spot for a break I guess! Oh wait, everything happens for a reason. Either way, it would have been nice to see him on his own a bit longer – for all we know this is the first time he even stopped (though Kate says he’s been gone two days – which means that this is the first time we’ve skipped over a full day), and it would be a while before we’d learn how far the cable was from the beach (and even longer until we found out what it was for).

Rousseau is of course the first person we see on the island that wasn’t part of the crash (at least, so we think – more on that in a bit), and revealed as the speaker on the recording. Our first big mystery solved! Remember how we thought all mysteries would only take 5-6 episodes to get resolved? We were so young and trusting... Mira Furlan would continue to pop up at random throughout the show’s run, once to hilarious effect (collecting dynamite) but usually just to help along some plot thread. She was always a welcome presence, however – I would have loved an episode devoted to her throughout the years.

The B plot is a rare “light” story about Hurley building a golf course, mainly as a means of allowing everyone to have a little fun so that they didn’t go crazy from all the bad stuff (Jorge Garcia’s delivery of “How?” when Jack says that things could be worse is award-worthy). It’s a rare treat to see everyone having fun, and allows for a nice moment for Sawyer, who makes a bet (against Jack of course) using some of his much-coveted supply of sunscreen, which I always took as him more or less giving it away as a nice gesture. Of course, we never find out who won (I don’t think?). Let’s assume Jack sunk his putt and Sawyer happily gave away 2 tubes of sunscreen to Boone and Kate, while calling them random names.

We also get introduced to Ethan (William Mapother), who like all non original cast members, would be clumsily shoe-horned in as if they were someone that was there all along. It’s something the show never really got good at (Nikki and Paulo being the most clunky), so it sort of spoiled Ethan’s villainy before it even happened, but oh well. They don’t waste too much time trying to get you thinking he’s a good guy though; I think it’s revealed in the next episode. Either way: our first Other! Yay!

I didn’t really mention Sayid’s backstory – it’s a good thing they did it, because it made him a sympathetic character again after last week’s torture sequence. Who doesn’t feel bad for a guy who just wanted to help out a childhood sweetheart? It’s also a good example of how amazing the production design team was on this show – with very rare exceptions, they never left Hawaii to film anything, yet the show depicted (fairly realistically) Iraq, Australia, New York, Los Angeles, Korea... you watch shows like CSI: NY and anyone can tell you that they're actually in Los Angeles, but I was often fooled here. Nice work, folks!

Where are we?


"Confidence Man"

SEPTEMBER 28, 2010


Since Sawyer was one of the more mysterious characters on the show, I remember being pretty excited for “Confidence Man”, as it would shed some light on his past. It’s not a particularly great episode (either on or off the island), but it got the ball rolling one of the series’ biggest “everything happens for a reason” revelations – the identity of the “real” Sawyer and how he related to one of the other castaways. Some folks figured it out prior to the actual episode where it was revealed, but I was not one of them. Score one for the writers.

Sawyer’s “late for a meeting/drops the money in front of his mark” trick would be used 2-3 more times on the show, so it’s kind of fun to see it actually working again, since the other times resulted in a plot turn of sorts. It’s also the “sexiest” episode of the show thus far; not only is Sawyer’s female mark (marcy?) smoking hot, but fans of Josh Holloway probably wore out their Tivo buttons during a few key scenes in the episode (“It’s about bunnies!”). There’s also that kiss that Sawyer demands from Kate, which goes on long enough for us to understand she’s not exactly repulsed by the idea. Over time, there would be a lot of relationships forged, though most of them were sweet or purely PG rated (Hurley and Libby). But whenever it came to Sawyer, for whatever reason, it’d be more about the sex (until Juliet anyway). Remember when he boinked Ana Lucia out of nowhere? Dude got more play on this show than the rest of the guys combined.

Claire also finally returns after taking the last couple episodes off. Charlie’s trying to convince her to move to the cave, and uses peanut butter borrowed from Pee Wee’s Playhouse to do it. It’s a sweet little subplot, with a random jab at Australians (why wouldn’t they like peanut butter?) thrown in for good measure. Their relationship was one of the more tragic in the series, so this stuff sort of breaks my heart when I start thinking about the show as a whole instead of trying to be ignorant of future events. However, Walt doesn’t appear in the episode, presumably because he was somewhere being “special”, whatever the hell that meant (biggest annoyance I had as a fan – the fact that these goons didn’t think a kid would grow up faster than the time depicted on the show, forcing them to write his character out and leave a giant plot thread dangling forever).

Speaking of watching with all the knowledge of future episodes at my disposal, the scene where Sayid discusses his attack with Locke is fun to watch. And it’s interesting, because Locke deftly throws Sayid off track by suggesting it was Sawyer who did it, which leads to the first of several dozen scenes of Sayid, our protagonist, torturing someone. He atones by taking off at the end of the episode, ashamed at what he did, but it was still a pretty ballsy thing to do with one of the show’s more endearing characters. And it was nice, in retrospect, to have a major plot development that occurred as a result of character action that was in no way connected to Dharma stations or time travel or whatever. The mythology was opening up (and in the next episode even more so), but the events of the show were still very much rooted in these characters.

Where are we?


"The Moth"

SEPTEMBER 27, 2010


Despite having one of the most obvious metaphors ever committed to film, “The Moth” is a good episode of Lost. I don’t mind heavy-handedness too much, and Charlie crawling his way out of the “cocoon” is still better than the good vs bad nonsense in the 6th season (wrapping baby Jacob and baby MIB in white/black was the last straw). Still, now I look at it as a sign that these guys maybe weren’t the best writers in the world after all.

Otherwise, solid stuff. I liked the idea of a cave-in, because so far they hadn’t really faced much “real” danger (one cannot consider polar bear attacks in the middle of a tropical island to be something that would realistically come up in this situation). Maybe it should have been someone more expendable inside, since Jack isn’t really in danger until the last episode of the show, but it still works. And I like that it gives Michael something to do besides say “Come on, man” to Walt for once, plus lets him and Jin work together to save Jack (I also like that Jin puts aside his “Me man, you woman” attitude towards Sun for a while, letting her get dirty and help move rocks).

It’s also the first time we can really feel sympathetic toward Sawyer, since Kate is such a bitch to him in this one. He even goes out of his way to tell her about Jack’s accident, but when she berates him (twice) before he even speaks, he decides not to. Her fault. There was a moment in an earlier episode where he related to Boone how much it sucked to be the one everyone hated, but here was the first time you got a good glimpse of the conflicted hero he’d eventually become. When Kate says “You’re actually comparing yourself to JACK?”, Josh Holloway totally nails the hurt look in his eyes.

I haven’t talked much about the acting on the show; I think they were all pretty great in their roles, but a lot of them, Holloway included, seem to have perfected one character and don’t have much range beyond that. I couldn’t imagine him playing Jack, for example (nor could Matthew Fox pull off Sawyer). Of all the folks I wasn’t familiar with prior to the show, Naveen Andrews seems to be the one most capable of taking on a completely different role with ease. But they all pale to Terry O’Quinn, who gets some nice moments with Charlie in this episode, making him beg for his heroin 3 times before he will actually give it to him.

Quick note – I never thought about it, but Charlie tosses his stash into the fire that is cooking their food. Enjoy your heroin-smoked boar, everyone!

As for the flashbacks, I liked how they each took place months or even years apart; showing them before they even got signed, to the peak of their fame, to when it was all over. But I think they should have shown something in between him first trying it and the last flash, where his brother is now clean and he’s a mess – how did that transition occur? We got some of that filled in over the years, but the way it was structured here was awkward at best. I know fans like to “organize” the flashbacks in chronological order (at least, on paper) – of all of them, Charlie’s would be the one that would require the most work, because his flashback episodes tended to span many years, filling in blanks like that one while adding other pieces to the puzzle.

But hurrah! Another one without any lingering mysteries! Good old season 1.

Where are we?


"House Of Rising Sun"

SEPTEMBER 26, 2010


At the point it aired, “House Of The Rising Sun” was the weakest episode of Lost in my opinion (which is kind of funny when you consider the episode begins with Kate asking Jack about his tattoos – a question that will be answered in the ABSOLUTE worst episode of the show’s entire run). It’s technically fine, and the island stuff is good, but the flashbacks are just kind of dull, whereas the previous ones were just as if not more compelling than the island activity.

The problem is that Jin and Sun weren’t as interesting in their pre-crash life as they eventually became. The other back-stories were sort of unique or at least presented a compelling mystery, but Jin and Sun... had a troubled marriage due to his job. And even though they hide the nature of what he does for her father, it’s pretty obvious, so when they get around to spelling it out it’s hardly a big revelation. And the flashbacks come down to whether or not Sun will take the plane or escape. Spoiler: she takes the plane. Duh. And this would continue to be an issue for me; very few of the Jin and/or Sun-centric episodes ever felt as strong as the others. The one about their pregnancy struggle was one exception, but most were at least a hair or two below average.

Like I said, the island stuff works on this one. We start to get glimpses of something that will be a major element of the show – the idea of “two” camps. Jack wants everyone to move to the cave, Sayid (and Kate) want to stay on the beach so that any possible rescue chance will not be missed. Due to the fact that this is a TV show and thus conflict is needed, no one bothers to suggest rotating shifts where a few folks will go to the beach to keep the fire going and look for a ship or plane, but that’s OK. What makes it work is that neither man is “wrong”, and that will also continue to be a major theme when it comes to the group splitting over an issue – you’re always able to see each side’s point, without anyone ever being completely wrong or right.

We also get yet another beach fight, with Jin going apeshit and beating up Michael, only to be broken up by Sayid (who tackles Jin in spectacular fashion) and Sawyer, for some reason (he seems like the kind of guy who’d let them fight, especially since he doesn’t like anyone at this point). So far every episode has featured two characters coming to blows, which I think Hurley makes a joke about in one of the next couple episodes. It’s sort of contrived that Sun doesn’t explain what’s going on to Michael sooner though; I guess she wanted to wait until her flashbacks were done.

It’s also the first episode where a main character doesn’t appear, in this case Claire. So far the show had done a good job of giving everyone a moment or two to themselves, even if they weren’t significant to that episode’s story. But she’s MIA, and as the show proceeded, you’d have episodes like the ones at the beginning of Season 3, where you don’t see anyone besides the three captured by the Others. In fact we might have already passed the point where you’d see every character in a regular episode (meaning, not counting season finale/premieres), as we have characters in the caves and some on the beach, not to mention a steadily growing storyline of what else is on the island.

And you can tell the show is getting more complicated, because even though this is only the 6th episode (5th if you count the pilot as 1), the “previously, on Lost” thing at the top of the show runs a full minute and a half! That has to be a record; even shows that were MORE convoluted (Prison Break) never topped 45 seconds. But there’s some irony about that – the show was still at a stage where someone could jump on board and the “previously” thing would actually be enough for them to know what was going on. By season 5, they didn’t even really need to bother – the only ones still watching were the die hard fans (even the finale didn’t set any ratings records, rare for a show of this stature).

Oh, and this one introduces Adam and Eve, a mystery that would be solved in the most annoying way possible in a very (too) late season six episode. On the other hand, this is the 2nd episode in a row without any lingering mysteries that Darlton never bothered to explain, so that’s good. And hey, even a sub-par Lost episode (at least, for the first 3 seasons) was still better than anything else on network TV at the time.

Where are we?


"White Rabbit"

SEPTEMBER 25, 2010


I never noticed, but the actor playing Jack's dad in "Walkabout" was clearly not John Terry. "White Rabbit" was the actor's first appearance on the show, and over time he'd come to be one of the show's most interesting supporting characters, popping up in just about every Jack episode and even in a few others. Just about every character on the show had father issues of some sort (Michael being one exception, because he himself was a dad), but none of the others came as close to being full fledged regulars as Christian Shephard (how did it take them 6 seasons to finally make a joke about this name?).

Of course, here he's just a ghost, we only see him as a living character in the opening flashback, when he gives the least encouraging father-son talk of all time (it practically makes "It should have been you" from Stand By Me look loving), and then it's a kid playing young Jack. Matthew Fox and Terry had terrific chemistry, but it wouldn't be exploited until future episodes came along. But like the last few episodes, it sets up another character mystery (why him and Jack weren't speaking), and explaining how Jack ended up on the plane.

What it DOESN'T explain is where the body goes, and I can't remember if we ever got a satisfying answer for that. (SERIES SPOILERS!) We saw Locke's body even when he became a ghost/monster/whatever, but did we ever see Christian's? Part of the problem with season 6 is that it became so uninvolving with regards to the characters, I think I started missing minor reveals in the later half of the season, because I'd be too busy tweeting "Where the hell is Desmond?" or something.

One interesting thing about this episode is that for the most part it seems like Jack is truly thinking about these events in his life as they flash back (most of which are sans the "whorrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmmm" sound). I remember it was a debate among fans at first, though after a while it didn't matter (especially once they started doing flash-forwards). But here, we see Jack "snap out" of his flashbacks on a couple occasions, and the final one, detailing when he identified his father's body at the morgue, resulted in him breaking down and crying on the island. I can't remember too many other instances of this precise tie between the island and the flashback stories.

As for the island stuff, they were still going out of their way to include every character, even if they weren't up to anything interesting or involved in the main "B-story", which in this case was the disappearance of their few remaining bottles of water (note: fellow geek phenomenon Battlestar Galactica had an early episode revolving around the need for water, and it remained one of the series' all time best hours). So you get a nice little moment with Walt using the "toothpaste" that Sun showed him, or a rare instance of Sawyer actually explaining one of his nicknames (I wish that had continued throughout the show; he called Jack "Dr Giggles" at one point. "It was a slasher movie from 1992 with the guy from LA Law!").

They also finally start to turn Locke into his actual character. After he saves Jack (the first of the episode's two fairly annoying conveniences), the two have a nice talk, and Locke delivers the first of what will be 116 "The island is special" speeches, instead of just being creepy for no reason. One of the things I hated about the way Locke's character was "resolved" was that he and Jack never got to repair their friendship face to face; it was just a bunch of "Now that the other guy is gone maybe he was right" type things, so it's nice to go back to when the men had a bond.

The other annoyance was Jack finding the cave. Perhaps it's just the way that the show was edited, but it seems like he was camped about 17 feet away from it. It's like in Halloween when Loomis sees his/Michael's car across the street after waiting around all night and never noticing. Of course, there is a very strong "Everything happens for a reason" theme on the show (the words are actually said in this episode, in fact), but these two things seemed more like convenient "let's move things along" writing than any sort of mystical/thematic occurrence. The distance between locations would continue to be a problem on the show, with people taking longer/shorter a time to get from A to B depending on the needs of the show. It may be nitpicky, but this is the double-edged sword of writing great characters - you start to buy in the reality of everything. I never cared much on 24 that everything was never more than 5 minutes away or no one went to the bathroom - the characters/story were so ludicrous to begin with, it seemingly existed in some sort of fantasy world anyway.

I haven't mentioned Michael Giacchino's score yet, and this is a good place to start, as this episode has the first appearance of the melancholy "Life and Death" theme that usually accompanies someone dying or other sort of emotional scenes. It's one of the finest pieces of music I've ever heard on a TV show (this is the first show where I've actually sought to obtain a score CD), and using it over an already sad scene would practically guarantee the rare opening of BC Waterworks, Inc. Hence, I put it below in lieu of my usual obscure video related to the episode title.

Oh, and this one introduces "Live together, die alone", an overused and eventually mocked mantra of Jack's. But those who stuck with the show til the end can now look at it as a sort of foreshadowing. Chalk another up for the "they had it planned all along" team.

Where are we?



SEPTEMBER 24, 2010


Still name-checked as one of the series’ finest hours, “Walkabout” was also the one that introduced the notion of having a big twist in the flashback as opposed to on the island. The previous episode just filled in what we learned on the island (that Kate was a fugitive), but here, a rather typical island adventure was accentuated by the reveal that Locke was paralyzed, only to be miraculously healed by the island upon crashing there (I actually always chalked this up to two wrongs making a right, sort of like how Ruby Sue got kicked by a mule and her eyes went un-crossed, but OK, I’ll play along with the magic island theory).

And thus, it’s also the first episode that actually rewarded a repeat viewing, because you can go back and feel stupid for never noticing that Locke was never seen on his feet, even with the sharp contrast of him being so active on the island as he leads a group hunting for boar. It would take a while to learn how he got put in the wheelchair in the first place (the next couple Locke-isodes would show his life prior to the chair), but one thing was definitely cemented in this one – Locke was definitely not a villain of any sort. Weird, yes, but he was helping the group and being sympathetic (the next episode, where he saves Jack, would further cement this aspect of his character). Hurrah! 4 hrs in and they finally make up their mind on one of the main characters!

It’s also an important episode for other reasons, such as the first team-up of Charlie and Hurley, who would become one of the series’ most believable and enjoyable “duos”. (SERIES SPOILER AHEAD) I felt that a lot of character deaths were sort of glossed over, that people would get over the loss of someone close to them within a matter of 1-2 days (which could be weeks apart as they air, but more obvious when you’re watching them back to back), but Hurley’s reaction to Charlie’s death was one of the show’s all time biggest smacks to the gut. So it’s nice to go back and see them when they first started hanging out.

Also, it’s the first prominent appearance (I think) of my favorite “sock”, this guy (on the left):

One thing that always tickled me about the show is that they actually had a lot of the same extras from week to week, and I sort of felt bad for these guys. They probably weren’t making any more than a usual extra (which isn’t a hell of a lot, I’ve done it myself when I first moved to LA), and yet had to sort of become characters without ever having a name or a real line of dialogue. This guy always stuck out to me for some reason. I was bummed when he died, or at least when I realized he was probably dead just like all of the other anonymous survivors.

There’s also a hilarious moment in the opening scene, when they hear noises in the fuselage. First, Jack assumes it’s Sawyer, only for Sawyer to quickly correct him (“Right behind you, Jack-ass!”). Then Jack pulls out a little flashlight to go look, and then Sawyer pulls out, yes, a bigger flashlight. It’s a wonderfully sort-of-subtle sight gag that kills me every time.

It’s a stark contrast to the end of the show, where Claire leads a funeral service for all of the dead folks. There’s some very dry humor in her readings (since she doesn’t know anything about them, she uses their IDs – “He was an organ donor.”), but it’s a real bummer of a scene, only slightly marred by a dumb continuity error. Claire reads off a passenger as being in seat 23C, but that would have been Rose, since Jack was in 23A or 23B depending on the episode (either way, there were only 2 seats in his area, which would make the 3rd, or C, the one across the aisle).

But that’s the only “unsolved mystery” in this one, I think. Unless you want to count how Randy had such an odd career switch, but that’s the sort of thing I don’t really care about. I loved the idea that all of these folks had some sort of connection prior to September 22nd, and if that tie was a bit contrived (like a guy managing both a supply company AND a chicken place within a year or so), so be it.

Where are we?


"Tabula Rasa"

SEPTEMBER 23, 2010


As I mentioned in the review for the pilot, I am quite taken with Ms. Evangeline Lilly, so for my money, there was no better way to secure me as a committed Lost fan by giving her the first full blown “character episode” of Lost with "Tabula Rasa". While the pilot had just a single flashback for each of the three characters, this one nicely sets up the template for a typical Lost episode, where flashbacks reveal more about the people on the island, one at a time (with occasional crossover).

At first, they were just sort of showing how each one ended up on that plane to Sydney, and then they would set up further mysteries. "Tabula Rasa" is a good example, we learn that Kate was on the run, but we still don’t know what for (and won’t for a while). In fact, for a while, the pre-crash flashbacks set up more mysteries than the stuff on the island. This episode has even less “What’s with this place?” information than the pilot did, I think – the island stuff is pretty much all focused on Edward the Marshal (Fredric Lane, who like future Lost antagonists would also play a villain on Supernatural, my other favorite show), who is slowly and painfully dying of his crash injuries. There’s a bit of a clunky “sum up” at the top of the episode, where the characters all relay information to each other that they were present for when it was first revealed, but otherwise, Smoke Monster and polar bear fans will be disappointed with this one.

Instead, the non-Marshal stuff deals with an element of the show that was pretty much phased out after Season 1 (due to the Hatch, and later, Othertown) – basic survival. One of my favorite scenes in the episode is when Jack seeks medicine in the corpse-filled plane wreckage, only for Sawyer to make a pretty good point about doing things for the greater good. And there’s more of the “we have to get along” stuff – I love the quick bit of Sayid tossing Sawyer an apple (which is kind of a dick move – Sawyer wasn’t even looking. One more second and the scene becomes “Sayid whips an apple at Sawyer’s head”), and other small moments like that.

It also begins the Lost tradition of scenes of people filling water bottles, which I contemplated making part of the “top of the review” information (like “Water Bottles Filled: 3”). Such scenes make up probably 2 hrs worth of the show over its run, but I like the realism of that. If you’re a HMAD fan, you might remember the review for The Canyon, in which two people were stranded in the desert for 2-3 days and never once even mentioned being thirsty, let alone drank. Until the deus ex machina of the Hatch came along, the show was very good at depicting what they had to do in order to survive.

Another thing they had to do was make shelter, and throughout the episode there’s kind of a depressing background “subplot” of the assorted unnamed crash survivors lugging things around and making tents and such. It’s depressing because these poor saps all got killed over the course of the show, due to the fact that we don’t know their names and thus, presumably, don’t care about them. I did, though, and I wish they had allowed a FEW of them to live – it’s actually kind of silly if you think about (these cataclysmic events occur and only wipe out the extras?). Starting in Season 2, there was a brief book series that focused on these no-name folks, and I was hoping they would write one for each of the 30-odd people we never really met, but the books must not have sold well, because they only did three of them (four if you count "Bad Twin"). Then there was a game, Via Domus, which focused on a 5th, but it was a terrible game so let’s ignore it.

As for “unsolved mysteries” – they never really got into the odd relationship Kate had with Edward. It’s hinted at here and other times throughout the series that they may have had an affair of some kind, and there’s definitely some respect (at the very least) stemming from her toward him (which is unusual – I tend to hate the guys who chase me around the world trying to put me in prison), but they never spelled it all out. I wish they had – it seemed like one of the more interesting character bits, and may even have helped clarify her island actions. And again, there’s an odd tendency to make Locke look creepy – what the hell is up with that final shot (though the music is the culprit more than Terry O’Quinn) where he just stares at Walt and Michael? Luckily the next episode, Walkabout (one of the all-time best episodes of the series) explains some of his behavior, but the creepiness just feels really weird.

(MAJOR SERIES SPOILER - Then again, if we believe Darlton about them planning everything, maybe it’s just the most baffling foreshadowing ever. “He was being creepy because he knew someday he’d get off the island, die, and then he’d become the smoke monster when he returned.”)

The numbers also start to come in play a little more, with the farmer getting 23,000 dollars for helping them catch Kate. So far we’ve had 815 (duh) and the French message was 16 years... if there was a distinct 4 or 42 I missed them (though now that I think about it, kind of interesting: 48 survivors minus Oceanic 6 = 42). I’ve actually been one of those “23 is everywhere” people since high school (so, yes, long before that shitty Jim Carrey movie) so I was delighted when the numbers became an actual element on the show – but I remember being tickled by the odd amount when the show first aired (before I knew anything about the numbers, obviously). Wouldn’t 15,000 have been a little more normal?

One final note – the episode is titled "Tabula Rasa", which is A. also the name of episodes of lots of geek shows (including Heroes, ugh), and B. it summarizes the point of the episode (“Clean slate”) without actually ever saying it in the dialogue (at least, not that I can recall). One of the comments on yesterday’s review pointed out how lame it was that the pilot was just called “Pilot”, and he/she was right, especially when you consider the interesting show titles they would have for most episodes. Some were obvious (“The End”), but others were obtuse, or even meta-jokey (“What Kate Did”). I remember Aintitcool used to run stories that were just the names of the episodes that were coming up – and even that would be kind of interesting.

Where are we?


"Pilot" (Part 1 and 2)

SEPTEMBER 22, 2010

EPISODE: 1.1, 1.2
AIRED: SEPTEMBER 22/29, 2004

When Lost premiered, I didn’t have DVR or Tivo. I was still using VHS and the ever tricky “timer”, which caused many a panicked “Did I shut the VCR off? Did I cue the tape up to the right spot?” moments in my life (we didn’t have Hulu back then either). And I can’t remember what it was, but I was already taping something else the night Lost premiered, so I had to watch it live. By the end of the hour, I knew this was going to be a show I ALWAYS watched live, or as close to it as possible.

Because I watch a lot of shows, and some just sort of get left behind, caught up during the summer season (I just finished 24 like, last month). But Lost is the exception – throughout its 6 year run, I never went more than a couple hours after it aired without watching it. If something came up and I had to be out late, I’d watch it when I got home, even if it was 2 am and I had to be up at 7. There were two reasons for this. One – it was a show built on revelations that folks could spoil on the internet. I remember during season 3, a major death was spoiled by someone on the East coast, as I was on the West before it aired. That’s not cool.

But the main reason is, the show was just too damn good, and I didn’t want to wait for the new episode any longer than I had to – it would be like opening your gifts on December 27th, as far as I was concerned. And re-watching the two part pilot just reminded me of that all over again. I hadn’t seen it since the days leading up to Season 3 (I would always re-watch the previous two seasons whenever one was about to begin), and while I could have made the same point then, it’s even more relevant now: the pilot is almost remarkably simple when you think about the show as a whole, and it got so much right that other serialized shows got wrong.

The pilot is fascinating by virtue of how much ISN’T in it. No Ben or Juliet, hell, no Others, period! No time travel. No Desmond (boo!), no hatches, no Dharma, no convenient stockpiles of food or fully developed neighborhoods, nothing. Just 48 people and some plane wreckage, for the most part. So many of the serialized shows that came after Lost made the fatal mistake of introducing all of its mysteries right up front, giving you too much to process and too little reason to care. But Lindelof/Carlton (and Abrams, I guess) knew that in order for anyone to stick around for the long haul, they needed to care about the folks at the center of the story. The debate over whether or not they had the whole show planned from the start will go on forever, but we can probably all agree that they never intended to have 5-6 seasons of folks on an island simply trying to survive until rescue comes.

Yet, in the pilot, we are only given brief tastes of that sort of stuff. The monster eating the pilot (which I still don’t get, in the long run, the smoke monster didn’t usually just kill folks at random), the French broadcast, and the goddamn polar bear are the only “big story” things in the two-part pilot. Just quick tastes and hints - nothing that ever overshadows the always compelling “desert island” scenario. And for every “sci-fi” type moment, there are about 5 that are nothing but character development. Sure, the scene with the polar bear is pretty bad ass, but the scene where Hurley gives Claire some airplane food, and then gives her an extra for her baby, is the type of stuff that got people to love the show.

And they were terrific at setting up character mysteries without them being too distracting. Sawyer reading the letter, Jin and Sun’s volatile relationship, etc – these are small moments that help you realize that understanding the truth about these folks is just as, if not more, interesting than anything involving polar bears. The one exception is Locke, who is just too creepy in these episodes. I suppose it can be chalked up to him just being weirded out by having the use of his legs again, but these moments just don’t feel right to me. Especially in contrast to folks like Hurley or Jack, who already had their characters down pat. Of course, I think Locke was the most mangled character over the show’s run, but we will discuss that more when it starts to become relevant. Otherwise, another amazing thing about the show is how little it suffers from the usual pilot problems, such as different looks for the characters, clunky exposition, or a focus on things that ultimately aren’t embraced by the audience and thus phased out. It’s not just a pilot, it’s a great episode of Lost – that’s not something you can say about too many shows (Community comes to mind – the pilot of that show is borderline painful at times, and almost every character is completely different than the one they ended up being).

Even without all of the “looking at it now...” type stuff making it interesting, it’s simply an amazing pilot episode, yet to be topped in my opinion. The opening post-crash stuff is as riveting as anything that was ever on ER, and the journeys around the island (transceiver, high ground for the signal) are exciting in all the right ways – there’s a sense of adventure, some tension/suspense, and a lot of character building – I love the bit where Kate’s trying to get Jack as impressed as she is about Charlie being in Driveshaft, and Jack’s just like “What? Whatever, can we go?” There’s also a great deal of humor, and even that reveals character (Shannon explaining why she doesn’t know French). This show characterizes 12-15 people in one episode better than most shows do with half that number over an entire season.

One thing I never really noticed before was that Jack was barely in the 2nd half of the pilot (possibly leftover from the fact that he was originally going to die, at the hands of Smokey if memory serves). It’s an ensemble show through and through, but Jack was always sort of the main character (him and Kate appeared in the most episodes, whereas folks like Jin or Desmond would disappear for 4-5 episodes at a time), and there aren’t too many hour long episodes in this first season that he wasn’t a significant driving force behind the island stories, even if the flashbacks were about someone else. But the 2nd half is mostly about the folks going off with the radio, and he’s not in their number.

Kate is, however, and I guess I should get this out of the way in case I haven’t made it clear over on HMAD or twitter – I think Evangeline Lilly is the most beautiful actress in the world, and I was smitten almost instantly with her (despite that horrid orange shirt). It’s funny how often I’d read about people hating Kate, and I was never sure if I just disagreed for real or if I was just mentally blocking any potential issues I might have with the character because she was played by someone I found so alluring. One thing I’ll definitely be doing with this “re-view” is trying to look at her character more objectively to see if she really was a weak link of sorts.

Another thing I will be doing is pointing out mysteries that were never really solved in any satisfying way. I can let the goddamn sneaker slide, but I’m still sort of baffled how Jack got that far away from the plane, in thick brush, without his seat (we see that he is buckled in during the crash) and with almost no signs of injury. Plus Rose was right next to him on the plane (and Locke right behind her), but they both were on the beach. This is the sort of thing that probably didn’t help when the finale came around and lots of unintelligent people thought they were dead the whole time.

Also the fact that the comic book seemed to mirror some of the island events, I don’t recall any explanation for. But then again my memory is shit, so if I think something went unsolved, and it didn’t, please let me know!

The biggest thing I took away from the pilot was how much I am going to miss this show, and more importantly, how much I miss what it used to be – simple, centered on character, and not disappointing. Every season had a couple of clunkers, but I never was disappointed by a season as a whole until the last 2, which I thought spent too much time on things that didn’t matter (S5 – 1977, S6 – The Temple) and lost sight of (or just plain ruined) too many characters. I didn’t hate the finale like many did, but I definitely had problems with it. But this pilot? It’s friggin perfect.

Where are we?


Lost Episode A Day FAQ

1. Who are you?

I'm a big fan of Lost that has too much free time on his hands. Since I have so much fun doing Horror Movie A Day, I figured I'd make a "spinoff" site for Lost, since I wanted to re-watch the entire series again anyway now that they're all on DVD. Also, I wanted to try writing regularly about something besides horror for a while.

2. Are you really watching one every day?

Yes. One per day, sometimes two, in order to get the entire 121 episode run watched in a Lost-centric 108 days. After that the site will be "complete" and I'll find something else to do.

3. What's up with the videos at the end of the review?

On HMAD I always put the trailer at the end. But that would be kind of boring for a TV show, and I assume not every episode has a promo on Youtube. So I search for the name of the episode and then pick the most obscure or random match. But also, since Lost fans love to find the hidden meaning in things, I hope someone comes up with an alternate theory for them.

4. What's with the ads on the side?

I live paycheck to paycheck while doing something that is hopefully entertaining folks. Ideally I'd make a few cents in return. Plus all Lost fans should own Via Domus, why should I be the only one that has suffered?!?!

5. Who's your favorite character?

I don't really have one. I love everyone for a different reason.

6. Don't lie, it's Kate.

True. But for reasons that have nothing to do with Lost. See here for further explanation.

7. Why does every review end with "Where are we?"

On HMAD I end all reviews with "What say you?", because I don't always like writing a big sum up at the end of the review. Sometimes I just want to just stop writing once I've said everything I have to say on the matter. So I put "What say you?" so people would know it was indeed the end of the review and not just me hitting "post" too soon or something. So this is an extension of that, albeit reworded to be more Lost-y.

8. On HMAD you review the bonus features - why aren't you doing that for Lost?

Two reasons. 1. Christ almighty, I need to sleep SOMETIME. 2. The re-watching is more of a way to see how the show plays as one long narrative (if I had the time I would watch as many as I could back to back and be done in two weeks or so). So watching all the bonus stuff would just break up the flow, I think. Maybe if the site becomes popular I'll keep it going a little longer by reviewing the bonus disc for each DVD season or something (the commentaries I've listened to are mostly dull anyway).

9. I don't read HMAD, so again, who are you?

My name is Brian. I'm originally from Massachusetts, but now I live in Los Angeles, where I work in the graphics department at NBC. I also work as an editor/reviewer/journalist for Bloody Disgusting, the world's biggest horror website. I have two cats, a wife, and a lot of debt. And I once met Bruce Willis.



Welcome to my newest, albeit temporary venture, Lost Episode A Day. If you've followed me over from Horror Movie A Day (and no, HMAD will NOT be on hiatus or interrupted during this time - and it will always come first), then you already know my deal. If not, then let's break it down:

We're gonna start tomorrow, September 22nd, which is 6 years to the day/date from the day the show premiered (it's also the day Flight 815 left Sydney). Each day I will watch an episode of Lost (or 2 episodes - I'd like to get through this in a Lost-centric 108 days, which means doubling up 13 times to account for all 121 episodes) and then write about it. Not necessarily a review, or a plot recap, but just sort of a general reaction to it and discussion of a few things that caught my fancy. And then I will encourage you to chime in with your own thoughts.

The difference is, I've seen every episode already (unlike HMAD where the movies are ones I haven't seen yet). So why bother? Well A. I wanted to rewatch the entire series over anyway, now that it's done. Unlike most TV shows, Lost had pretty much the same creative team and core cast throughout its run, and things set up in the first season didn't get paid off until the final one (Adam and Eve, for example). So it will be interesting (hopefully!) to watch them all again with all of the context and answers (the ones we got anyway). And B. I'm insane and am under the impression that I can add yet another daily "thing" to an already over-crowded plate. I like a challenge.

Also I like looking at Evangeline Lilly and this is a hell of a lot better than that overrated Hurt Locker nonsense, in which she barely appears anyway.

So I hope you dig the site, and if so, tell your friends! I planned to watch all the episodes over, but writing reactions to each one was sort of a new "spark", and since the show is over it's not like there are a lot of folks seeking out new Lost-related sites to add to the 15 million that already exist. Namaste!

Where are we?