Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Top 10 Lost Episodes - One Year Later Edition

So yesterday/today (depending on where you live) marked the end of the sixth season of Lost and so I wanted to do something to mark the occasion. Yesterday, after finishing my final exam of the year, I watched the final episode of Lost, 'The End' and now I've decided to mark the day the actual finale aired in the UK (at stupid o'clock in the morning) by revisiting a post I did last year before the sixth season had even aired. So after 113 episodes and 121 hours of television, here are my picks for my favourite episodes.

Honourable Mentions:
Season 1: All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues / Deus Ex Machina / Exodus
Season 2: 23rd Psalm / The Long Con / Lockdown / ? / Live Together, Die Alone
Season 3: Flashes Before Your Eyes / The Man From Tallahassee* / The Brig / Man Behind the Curtain / Greatest Hits
Season 4: Cabin Fever
Season 5: Jughead / LaFleur / Dead is Dead / The Variable / The Incident*
Season 6: LA X / The Substitute / Dr. Linus / Happily Ever After / The Candidate / What They Died For

And now on with the list (and of course SPOILER ALERT for all 6 seasons of the show:

10. The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham - Season 5 / Locke centric
Written by: Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof / Directed by: Jack Bender

We all knew that this episode was coming. Since the season 3 finale, this episode was almost a necessity to explain who was in that damned coffin and why exactly they ended up there. We already knew Locke was in there, and we'd already seen him walking around after having being killed so what was left to shock the audience? Well that scene where Ben convinces Locke to not hang himself and then almost immediately strangles him using the very same rope he would have hung himself with. And of course the added poignancy that this episode really was the last time we saw Locke alive. One of the best bait and switches the show has ever done, and it pulled it off superbly.

9. Ab Aeterno - Season 6 / Richard centricWritten by: Melinda Hsu Taylor & Greggory Nations / Directed by: Tucker Gates

After 4 seasons of getting to know the character of Richard, we still didn't know all that much about him. We knew he didn't age and that he had close ties to Jacob, but we didn't find out his backstory until this amazing Season 6 episode. Not only did we finally get an answer to the mystery of how exactly the Black Rock ended up in the middle of the jungle but also what destroyed the Four-Toed Statue and probably the most definitive answer we'll ever get as to what exactly the island is. All this, as well as getting to know the characters of Jacob and The Man in Black a little better. This could have turned the episode into an info dump, but a fantastic performance from Nestor Carbonell helped salvage it and he gave his best performance of the entire show, proving that he earned that regular credit far more than say Ilana .

8. Man of Science, Man of Faith - Season 2 / Jack centric
Written by: Damon Lindelof / Directed by: Jack Bender

The premiere of the second season was probably the best episode of that entire season, not only did it offer a statisfying answer to the cliffhanger at the end of season 1, with quite possibly the single best scene that Lost ever produced, but also came at time where Jack centric episodes still felt fresh and needed rather than the jumbled mess that they would become later like in Season 3's 'Stranger in a Strange Land'. It also marked our introduction to the character of Desmond, who became one of the shows strongest characters in later seasons. Yes the Swan hatch may have been a small waste of an entire season in hindsight, but at the beginning this was a fantastic opening to that chapter of the Losties island quest and still contained some of the best acting that Terry O'Quinn gave on the entire show. But yeah, I'm all here because of the Mamma Cass song that opened the season. "But you've gotta make your own kind of music, sing your own special song. Make your own kind of music, even if nobody else sings along"

7. The Shape of Things to Come - Season 4 / Ben centric
Written by: Brian K. Vaughan & Drew Goddard / Directed by: Jack Bender

The first episode back after writer's strike really set Season 4 up to have a mind blowing ending (which it did). Despite Ben still having a very rich past to delve into, this episode delved into his future and showed us what exactly he was doing off the island after it was revealed he was Sayid's employer in 'The Economist'. What followed was an hour filled with taut conversations between Ben and Sayid or Ben and Charles Widmore, and that's forgetting the island half of the story where shit was getting real. The mercenaries had killed Rousseau and Karl and kidnapped Alex and I don't think anyone was expecting Keamy to shoot Alex point blank so coldly after Ben tried to manipulate him into letting her go. This was one of Ben's greatest failures and he paid the price dearly. Michael Emerson sold the hell out of every scene in this episode, showing the pain he felt at causing the events that led to his daughter's murder. So he sets the Smoke Monster on them. Any episode with fantastic acting and an epic smoke monster attack is going to rank highly, and this one is probably the best of those in the entire series' run.

6. There's No Place Like Home - Season 4 / Oceanic Six centric
Written by: Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse / Directed by: Jack Bender & Stephen Williams

Remember how I said Season 4 ended in a big way? This is that big way. Filling in the blanks of how exactly that mind blowing twist that concluded Season 3 actually happened by showing us who got off the island and how they did. Throughout there were noble sacrifices on the behalf of Michael and Sawyer, tragic seperations with Jin being left on the Freighter as it exploded and Desmond finally reuinting with Penny (yes I cried). Oh and the twist which was codenamed 'Frozen Donkey Wheel' which little did the fans know was a very literal interpreation of what the twist was. All three hours of Lost's Season 4 finale were just jam packed with so much action, and brilliance that it could have felt overstuffed but it didn't, instead it was just a fantastic capper to a season which many agree ended the first year of Lost's incredible mid-life renaissance. And that's not even mentioning the fact that we fianlly found out that it was Locke who was in the coffin at the end of Season 3...

5. The End - Season 6 / Everyone centric
Written by: Damon Linedolf & Carlton Cuse / Directed by: Jack Bender

Perhaps a controversial decision? But I don't care. I loved the ever loving shit out of this episode. After spending the vast majority of my teenage years obsessing over the show, 'The End' did not dissapoint. Yes, in retrospect the flash-sideways were perhaps a little pointless and not every question that the show ever posed was answered, but as the last 2.5 hours we were ever going to spend with Jack and Hurley and Sawyer and Kate and Locke and Ben and Juliet and everyone else, it was perfection. Everyone involved in the production was on the top of their game, with special shout-outs going to both Michael Giacchino for his brilliant score and Jack Bender for his tireless work behind the camera. We had a chance to say goodbye to nearly every character the show had let us grow attached to over the years, we (I) cried, we (I) laughed and we (I) were (was) blown away by the pure adreneline rush of the whole episode. This was the only way that Lost could have possibly ended and I'm pleased as hell that I got to be there to watch it happen.

4. Pilot - Season 1 / Jack, Kate & Charlie centric
Written by: J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof & Jeffrey Lieber / Directed by: J.J. Abrams

It's very apt to have this episode directly follow 'The End', not only because of the amount of similarities between the show's first and sixth seasons, but because they mark the beginning and the end of the phenomenon. Back on the 22nd September 2004, Lost began with one of the best television pilots that has ever been produced. The fact that the show was only able to surpass this episode three times throughout it's run (in my opinion of course) is a fundamental statement behind just how much this episode got right. So much of what made Lost amazing was already present in this episode, the fantastic on location shooting, the original score, characters with actual depth and mysteries that pervaded the show throughout it s entire run. Whilst the show only expanded from this point and the show that concluded last year was a fundamentally different beast to some of the seeds sewn in this first episode, that does not stop this episode from being fantastic. It's main aim was to hook people from the beginning, and it did that, and then the show kept me hooked for the entirety of its time on the air.

3. Walkabout - Season 1 / Locke centric
Written by: David Fury / Directed by: Jack Bender

Whilst 'Pilot' had me hooked for a little while, it was 'Walkabout' that made me know I'd be sticking with this show for its entire duration. The previous episode 'Tabula Rasa' still had all the signs that this show was going to initially be about Kate, but 'Walkabout' was where we got a true sense of the ensemble and the true acting might of Terry O'Quinn. O'Quinn would go on to become the show's MVP during its low points but here is the episode which began to scratch at the surfact of his character. 'Walkabout' superbly introduces the tragic character of John Locke, still probably the greatest acheivement of the entire show, and gives us a compelling on and off island narrative. On island we are introduced to John Locke, a man with no fear whereas off island we meet the fundamentally broken John Locke, the contrast between these two was one of Lost's most compelling uses of the flashback format making the audience want to know what in that plane crash changed this man so much, then we found out. HE WAS IN A FREAKING WHEELCHAIR OFF ISLAND?!?!? Still standing as one of the most compelling story threads throughout all of Lost focused on John Locke and that wheelchair and this is where that was introduced, and it still stands tall as one of the best single episodes of Lost.

2. Through the Looking Glass - Season 3 / Jack centric
Written by: Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof / Directed by: Jack Bender

The Season 3 finale had to be on this list because this the episode where Lost probably started to run head first into it's endgame. Of course, overwhelmingly, it is remembered for that final twist and a bearded Jack yelling at Kate "WE HAVE TO GO BACK!", which remains one of Lost's most quotable lines, but there's so much more to this episode. There was the complete decimation of the Others, the 'villains' of the first three seasons of the show, getting to see Rousseau's radio tower mentioned all the way back in Season 1 and the answer to what that wire was that Sayid found in Season 1. We have the beach assault with the "FUCK YEAH" moment when Hurley ran other one of the Other's in a Dharma van, closesly followed by Sayid breaking a guys neck with his FREAKING LEGS!! Sawyer killing Mr. Friendly in retaliation for kidnapping Walt in Season 1. Locke's ghostly visit from Walt leading to him knifing Naomi in the back. The whole idea of a Freighter coming to the island to take them home! And of course the events down in the Looking Glass. Charlie's conversation with Desmond's girlfriend then realising that she wasn't the one who had sent the boat which was closely followed by his death at the hands of Mikhail (still one of Lost's saddest moments) and of course "NOT PENNY'S BOAT". 'Through the Looking Glass' was a jam packed 2 hours of entertainment, something that rivalled movies in terms of production, and yet it's better than movies because it was preceeded by 70 hours of getting to know these characters. 'Through the Looking Glass' is just a breath taking acheivement in television and not many episodes of television can top it...

1. The Constant - Season 4 / Desmond centric
Written by: Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof / Directed by: Jack Bender

...but one episode has. 'The Constant' in many ways is the opposite of 'Through the Looking Glass'. Focusing almost entirely on Desmond (another of the show's best characters), 'The Constant' creates a far more intimate feeling. First and foremost 'The Constant is love story, the greatest love story that Lost ever told, between Desmond and Penny. Desmond quite literally has to battle against time itself to reuinte with his love or else he will die. Whilst some may be turned off by the overt sci-fi nature of the episode, what really grounds is the work that Henry Ian Cusick and Sonya Walger put in to really ground the emotion. The sense of elation that is felt during the final phonecall is incredible. To put it simply 'The Constant is the best writen, directed, acted and scored episode of the entire show. Despite in many ways being a stand-alone episode it just works. There's a reason that Desmond and Penny were the couple that fans of the series rooted for the most, and 'The Constant' is the purest distilation of the chemistry that made that so. 'The Constant' might be marked as the point where Lost began to show it's true science fiction colours, but it did so in one of it's most emotional and intimate episodes ever and it's a true testament to the cast and crew that it worked. Some of the other episodes might be truer reflections of what the show was, but 'The Constant' stands as my favourite episode of the shows entire run.

See ya in another life brother.

No comments: