The final episode of season three was my favorite of the series. I actually was nervous for a good deal of it. Masterful pacing and storytelling. While the final few seasons tried to tell a really complex story, I don’t think they were ever able to quite capture the magic they had right here.
From the tension where Sayid, Bernard, and Jin all try to blow up the dynamite, all the way to Sawyer killing Tom Friendly, the whole scene kills. I was able to track down one clip which takes us from Hurley coming to the rescue, to Sayid delivering the craziest of the show’s executions.
1. Not Penny’s Boat
Episode: Through the Looking Glass, Part 2 (3×23)
Penny and Desmond make it into two of the top three scenes. I wasn’t crazy about either character individually, but I really loved watching them together. Unlike the pangs of lust that came between a lot of the castaways, everything between Penny and Desmond felt genuine, a sort of touchstone to reality off the island.
I was pretty sure Charlie was going to die, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I did want his character to be gone, but if you looked at the other character deaths (Boone, Shannon, Ana Lucia, Libby, Mr. Eko), they were all sudden and in vain. While not all deaths should mean something, I did not want Charlie to die pathetically. This was the absolute perfect way for him to go. One of my favorite reveals of the show. Combine it with the raw power of the entire episode, and it’s easily my favorite moment. I also like to pretend the episode ended there and not with the flash forward of Kate and Jack being whiny bitches.
Season two kind of ended on a whimper. A lot of big things happened. The hatch blew up. The gang went searching for The Others camp. Michael and his son got away. We saw the four-toed statue. It was fine, but I was getting really tired of the show constantly adding more mysteries while treading water with everything else.
3. Desmond Calls Penny
Episode: The Constant (4×05)
Probably my second favorite episode. While the show dealt with time travel quite a bit, this hour of television dove right in and told a complete and fascinating story around it. The Constant has it all: action, suspense, mind-blowing sci-fi, and a huge emotional payoff.
Of the new characters introduced from the tail section, Mr. Eko was easily the best. We first saw him chasing Jin back to the beach on a rampage. We then learn that he’s a quiet, introspective man who has the most compassion amongst Ana Lucia’s crew. We know he’s capable of great love and also great violence. But it’s not until this episode we find out why.
Episode: Exodus, Part 2 (1×24)
I watched Lost well after all six seasons had aired. I knew virtually nothing about it other than how long it went on. But that was enough for me to know that there was no way in hell that the raft was ever going to reach rescuers. My prediction was that they’d wind up back on the beach, despite never changing direction, due to some bizarre forces that separate the island from the rest of the Earth. I did not expect The Others, assuming they were stranded on the island just like everyone else, to have a boat.
Michael had slowly become a sympathetic character by the end of season one, and his strengthening relationship with Walt was a joy to see. And then Tom Friendly kills it.
“Only the thing is, we gonna have to take the boy.”
The show had teased for a long time with the when and how of Locke getting paralyzed us. Getting hit by a car in the parking lot was a lame “ah, gotcha” moment where he turned out to be fine. I had a pretty good feeling his father was going to be responsible somehow, but when it happened, I was still taken by surprise.
7. Charlie’s Greatest Hit
Episode: Greatest Hits (3×22)
Oh, Charlie. He was mildly interesting in the first season, but after 36 flashbacks about him being a heroin addict (yeah, we get it) and his bizarre, short-lived turn into Evil Charlie (via attacking Sun and stealing Aaron), I was tired of him. But once Desmond pegged him as walking dead, he finally got the treatment he deserved. In this episode, the flashbacks detail the highlights from Charlie’s life. They’re bittersweet, and a bit sentimental, but I got a little choked up at the end. Either way, his greatest hit is way better than “You Are Everybody.”
When Boone and Shannon were killed off, I wasn’t surprised that they began adding characters to replace them. One would have thought that of the four people from the tail section that came back to camp, a few of them would either become regulars or at least survive. Ha.
Ana Lucia was not well liked, but she got her own flashbacks, so you figure she’s going to stick around a while. I was completely unprepared for Michael shooting her, but got over it in about 1.2 seconds. Libby was the gut-punch. While we didn’t know much about her, she was giving Hurley the time of his life, and the sickening feeling came from knowing he just lost her.
Then MIchael turns the gun on himself. Damn this show mastered the cliffhanger.
9. Don’t Ever Tell Me What I Can’t Do!
Episode: Walkabout (1×04)
This was the episode that made just about everyone fall in love with Locke. In fact, without him, the show would lose about half of its emotional weight. On many television shows it takes characters about a season or so to really get to know their character and ease into it. Terry O’Quinn masters Locke already. The entire episode is a brilliant hour of television, but the last few minutes seals the deal.
Considering he had only been in one episode prior, and was fairly obnoxious at that, I bet 95% of all viewers knew that Leslie was going to be blown to smithereens when he started handling the dynamite. I don’t think that fact made it any less awesome. Plus, it set up Hurley to later say, “Dude, you got some Arntz on you.”
11. Light Em Up!
Episode: The Hunting Party (2×11)
I really enjoyed the character of Tom Friendly, both as the gruff bully with the fake beard and as the laid back yes-man for Ben. At this point in season two, he appeared to be the leader of The Others (who seemed to be savages), and he had already kidnapped Walt and was always the one giving orders. This scene was wrought with tension. I wish they could have done something with it other than turn Kate into Gilligan, but all the same it was a crushing defeat for the castaways and added to the mystery that was their enemy.
This is the first episode where we learn something about Sawyer that hints that he’s not the most horrible person on the island. We learn that he’s a con man, but we also learn that he’s willing to end a con if a young boy would be hurt by the deal. It won’t be for a few episode that we learn why, but the seed is planted. Of course, when we turn to the island, Sawyer proceeds to be as awful as he’ll ever get, denying asthma medication to Shannon for no apparent reason.
Jack sees no choice but to employ the skills of his torture buddy, Sayid. The shot of Sayid sharpening the bamboo is pretty intense. Sawyer finally breaks, but in true fashion, he still maintains control over the situation by demanding to work with Kate and then manipulating her.
13.5. There’s a New Sheriff In Town
Episode: The Long Con (2×13)
The above entry reminded me of another moment I just can’t leave off the list. Well, see for yourself.
13. Sayid Shoots Avellino
Episode: The Economist (4×03)
I more or less hated the flash forwards. While I occasionally don’t mind a tease as to what is to come, I think the show overdid it, sometimes focusing more on this vague future than all the fun going down on the island. But for a brief moment, I was engaged. It was nice to see Sayid playing a serene round of golf. You figure, maybe he’s at peace now. Nope.
Locke was a mysterious character from the get go. By this time, we had learned enough about him that he seemed less disturbing and more of a sympathetic character. But when Boone decides to tell the rest of the group about the hatch, Locke knocks him out cold. He then somehow makes Boone hallucinate his sister’s horrific death (via Smoke Monster, not Ana Lucia Monster). Yet another time in season one that my expectations were flipped upside down.
The episode itself was one of the weaker ones of the first season, as one story line I was not looking for was Boone and Shannon’s desperate, drunken tryst. But moments like this kept me riveted as I wondered where the hell the writers were going to take me next.
16. Gary Troup Gets Sucked Into a Turbine
Episode: Pilot (1×1)
When I saw the preview for the show back in 2004, I thought it looked kind of cool, but I couldn’t see how an entire series about castaways could hold up. Obviously, I never paid close attention. I have little doubt now that had I actually bothered to watch the pilot I would have been hooked immediately. The chaos on the beach was a visual and visceral treat. I noticed the turbine right away and thought it would be freaking awesome if some idiot gets sucked right into it. It took a few minutes, but some dude finally got too close. KA-BOOM! I was hooked.
15. Finding The French Woman’s Transmission
Episode: Pilot (1×1)
If the pilot being sucked out by WTF! and coming face to face with a polar bear wasn’t enough, the first episode ended on a fantastic cliffhanger. For one of the only times in her short run on the show, Shannon was useful, translating Rousseau’s message into English. Sayid gets to show off his skills as a communication specialist, dropping another bombshell on the group. Yeah, I was going to watch the second episode.
While watching season two, my gut was telling me all along that “The Button” was nothing more than a psychological experiment. There were things to throw me off track, including the alarms and whistles sounding when the clock did reach zero, and Henry Gale telling Locke that he never pushed the button.** I love stories about complex conspiracies, and was hoping that the stations were apart of that.
**Of course, we learn later that Henry Gale, or Ben, must have pushed the button. Why would he lie about this? He knows firsthand the kind of shit that can go down if the button isn’t pressed. Why would he lead the group to not want to do it? Ben is messed up, but I don’t even see his logic in that decision.
My appetite was whetted when Pearl station was found. The original Dr. Chang video was sinister as hell, so finding a new one was exciting. Better still, we learn that while the members of the hatch are being watched, the members of Pearl station aren’t exactly divulged all the information either, leaving yet another mystery. Despite this, I never expected the pneumatic tube to lead where it did.
Unfortunately this moment leads to Mr. Eko doing a one-eighty on his goal in life, now becoming lord and master of The Button, reducing the dynamic of the character before he is unceremoniously killed off by the can’t-make-up-my-mind-about-your-purity Smoke Monster. But that doesn’t detract how I felt about the scene at the time.
20: The Other 48 Days
Episode: The Other 48 Days (2×07)
There is no one moment from the episode dedicated to finding out what happened to those in the tail section that stands out to me, except perhaps Bernard hearing Boone’s radio transmission. What I love about this episode is that it was a break from the flashbacks and a break from not caring about Sayid and Shannon. It was a cohesive, easy to follow episode that also added a bit to the character of Mr. Eko.
While I didn’t pick up on Ethan being the kidnapper for our main group, I pretty much picked out Goodwin right away. His interactions with the falsely accused Nathan seem a bit too choreographed. Still, I had a lot of fun watching it go down. Watching Ana Lucia kill Shannon again isn’t bad either.
19. If you say ‘live together, die alone’ to me, Jack…
I’m gonna punch you in the face!
Episode: Through the Looking Glass, Part 1 (3×22)
I wish I had a clip of that moment. By this time in the show, I found Jack as annoying as Rose did. The writers threw those of us who agreed a bone, allowing Rose to deliver one of the best one-liners the show had. I laughed. I almost cheered.
18. Jughead Explodes
Episode: The Incident, Part 2 (5×17)
I never really bought Farraday’s explanation as to how setting off a nuclear bomb at the electromagnetic site would somehow reset the timeline. Still, it was a huge moment for the show, as it really could have gone either way. The confrontation at the site is energized by a bunch of magnetic mishaps, making for a fun action scene. And then Juliet, probably my favorite non-original regular, gets pulled down the shaft.
While I more or less stopped liking Jack sometime during season two, I really enjoy his confrontation with Sawyer, especially since Jack was no longer in power among the group. I bought that Jack passionately believed the bomb needed to be detonated, and I bought that Sawyer believed that would end in tragedy. Having Juliet, who was a much better Jack/Sawyer triangle filler than Kate, have to ultimately make the decision was great. Despite her love for Sawyer, she followed Jack and decided she wanted to reset things, which means she never would have fallen in love with Sawyer. With her last ounce of strength, she detonates the bomb, ending season five.
And, as we find out later, like most characters that try to do a noble thing on the show, she dies in vain.
I’m a sucker for time travel plots, and the first episode of season 5 couldn’t help itself, sending the group through time on multiple occasions. Here, Locke finds himself back at the time when the Nigerian drug plane had recently crashed. I loved Ethan’s character and was delighted to see him back, as evil as ever. Locke’s desperate attempt to explain himself doesn’t work, and only another convenient travel through time saves him.
24. Locke Tells Richard to Save Locke
Episode: Follow the Leader (5×15)
Let me just get this out of the way now. The “big reveal” where we find out Jeremy Bentham is really John Locke, and that John Locke is dead, is not making the list. While most people don’t know that John Locke and Jeremy Bentham are the names of two real-life philosophers who were huge proponents of social contract theory, the surprise is ruined for the people who do. I knew exactly who was going to be in that coffin because of the name they gave him, and it pissed me off.
Here we get the payoff from the above scene. After getting shot by Ethan and traveling again, Locke is saved by Richard, who gives him a compass to give back to him. When Locke does find Richard again, he gives him the compass. And then he finds himself, and instructs Richard to save him. Beautiful mess-with-your-head paradoxical time travel stuff.
23. Ethan Abducts Claire and Charlie
Episode: Raised by Another (1×10)
This is the episode where Hurley decides he wants to be useful and starts interviewing everyone. To this point, Ethan had been a mildly interesting, mildly helpful side character who I thought might end up playing a more prominent role among the survivors. Hurley shatters all that when he cross-references the flight manifest with his list and realizes that Ethan wasn’t on the plane. One of the reasons I love season one so much is that we almost never know more than the castaways. This moment is a great example, as the “Oh, shit!” realization happens to both Hurley and the viewer at the same moment, as we put all the pieces together.
Of course, before Hurley can round up the troops, we cut to scene where Ethan looms over Claire and Charlie.
22. Charlie Kills Ethan
Episode: Homecoming (1×15)
Ethan had already put Charlie through the ringer, literally, by hanging him and leaving him for dead. Once Claire escapes, Ethan confronts Charlie and tells him that he’s going to kill one person every night until Claire is returned. He makes good on it by killing Steve…err, Scott. The tension is palpable. While Scott wasn’t a well-known character, the writers were pretty much telling the audience that nobody was safe. Also, the fact that Ethan could just kill someone, even though the castaways were preparing for it, revealed how dangerous The Others were and raised a million questions.
When Ethan was captured, I was excited. Perhaps Sayid would torture him and we’d get some answers about The Others we’ve been craving. Nope. The writers knew that’s what I’d want, so Charlie, in his desperate attempt to do anything to get Claire to fall in love with him, shot him before any answers could be given.
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