LOST: Bests and worsts

LOST: Bests and worsts

Posted by Sean Stangland on Sun, 04/25/2010 - 22:58

"Lost" is on a one-week hiatus, but returns a week from Tuesday with the first of four new episodes -- the last new episodes. I figured this off-week was the perfect time to take a look back at our favorite show with some (hopefully) fun lists and videos. I will of course be writing recaps for the final episodes, and will probably have a whole lot to say after the finale.

But for now, let's have some fun. Don't hesitate to give your own lists in the comments below.

• • •

My 10 favorite episodes
(click on episode titles for full recaps from Lostpedia)

1. "The Shape of Things to Come"
4x09 / Directed by Jack Bender / Written by Brian K. Vaughn & Drew Goddard

I've probably embedded this clip on 2 or 3 previous entries.
Needless to say, I think it's pretty awesome.

The title didn't lie. "Lost" kicked into narrative overdrive with this intense, larger-than-life episode that further expanded the show's universe beyond the island. Flash-forwards follow Benjamin Linus' travels to Tunisia, Tikrit and London, showing how Sayid came under his employ as an assassin. This glimpse of "Lost" as a global spy thriller in the vein of "The Bourne Supremacy" is thrilling, but not nearly as thrilling as what happens on the island: Martin Keamy and his band of mercenaries capture Ben's daughter, Alex, and shoot up New Otherton before Ben makes a horrible mistake that sentences Alex to death. That scene may be the best of the show's entire run, a tense confrontation compounded by the complex relationships between all involved -- it was impossible to see Ben simply as "the bad guy" after this episode, even though the show ends with him threatening to kill our beloved Penny Widmore. It also raised a question that remains unanswered: How is it that Ben can "summon" the Smoke Monster?

2. "Tricia Tanaka is Dead"
3x10 / Directed by Eric Laneuville / Written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
An episode of this kind has been narratively impossible since Season 4, and most would say that's a good thing. "Tricia Tanaka" is often listed among the worst episodes of "Lost" by fans and bloggers because it seems trivial and does very little to move the story forward; that's exactly why I like it so much. The bulk of the episode centers on Hugo's recruitment of Jin, Charlie and Sawyer to help him get a DHARMA van in working order. These scenes give us a light-hearted, funny glimpse into some of our favorite characters, and Sawyer gets more than his share of classic lines. (That skeleton in the van, whom Sawyer calls "Skeletor"? We learned ten episodes later that his name was Roger Linus.) This remains the most purely enjoyable episode of the entire show.

3. "Orientation"
2x03 / Directed by Jack Bender / Written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach & Craig Wright
The mystery of the Hatch deepens in this Locke-centric hour in which John and Jack watch the DHARMA Initiative's orientation film for the Swan Station, giving all of us our first glimpse at Dr. Pierre Chang. Jack, ever the man of science, doesn't believe a word of it, leading to memorable confrontations with both Desmond and Locke. (L: "Why do you find it so hard to believe?" / J: "Why do you find it so easy?" / L: "IT'S NEVER BEEN EASY!") In flashbacks, we meet Helen Norwood for the first time, and learn that lonely Locke wasn't always that way.

4. "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues"
1x11 / Directed by Stephen Williams / Written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach
The ultimate Jack episode. In flashbacks, the strained relationship between Jack and his father is revealed: Doc ratted out Christian for being drunk during a botched operation, which ends Dad's career as a surgeon. On the island, Charlie and Claire disappear, and Jack and Kate search for them. What they find is Charlie hanging from a tree branch, near death. The resusciation scene is cliched, no doubt, but provided the show with the most emotionally charged sequence of its then-young life. Evangeline Lilly is not the fans' favorite actress, not by a longshot, but her work in this episode is rock-solid.

5. "Through the Looking Glass"
3x22 & 3x23 / Directed by Jack Bender / Written by Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse
The Season 3 finale kicked Internet hyperbole into overdrive, with fanboys and critics alike dubbing it the best such-and-such of all time -- and rightfully so. We all thought we were watching flashbacks, just as "Lost" had conditioned us to believe for three years, but then Kate got out of that car. Six words changed everything, and made the wait for Season 4 that much more interminable: "We have to go back, Kate!" As if that weren't enough, the island narrative shook us up, too: Tom Friendly's band of Others die, Jack makes contact with the freighter, Locke is seemingly resurrected by Taller Ghost Walt, Danielle finally meets her daughter, and ... oh yeah, Charlie dies. This episode and "The Constant" will probably be remembered as the show's very best.

6. "LaFleur"
5x08 / Directed by Mark Goldman / Written by Elizabeth Sarnoff & Kyle Pennington
Amid all the death and time-hopping of Season 5 was this gem that shows how Sawyer became Jim LaFleur, head of security for the DHARMA Initiative. The romance between Sawyer and Juliet finally blooms, and a scene in which Juliet successfully delivers a baby on the island -- a first for her -- is immensely satisfying, an emotional victory amid a stretch of episodes that included Ben's betrayal and murder of John Locke off the island. This episode also showed chinks in Richard Alpert's armor, as Jacob's right-hand man seemed honestly baffled by Sawyer's knowledge of the island in their 1974 conversation.

7. "Greatest Hits"
3x21 / Directed by Stephen Williams / Written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
Charlie-centric episodes are among the show's most disappointing, but the penultimate show of Season 3 is a huge exception. This episode plays like Charlie's eulogy even though he's not dead -- but we all knew it was coming, didn't we? Charlie's farewell to Claire is touching, but the part that chokes me up is his final conversation with Hugo. (C: "I love you." / H: "Yeah, whatever, I love you too, man.")

8. "Two for the Road"
2x20 / Directed by Paul Edwards / Written by Elizabeth Sarnoff & Christina M. Kim
Ana Lucia and Michael were nobody's favorite characters, but they are the central figures in this shocking episode from Season 2. Flashbacks reveal that Ana Lucia was in Sydney acting as Christian Shephard's "bodyguard," though she was more of a drinking companion than anything else. The real meat of the story happens on the island, where Ana Lucia seduces Sawyer to steal his gun so she can kill "Henry Gale" in the Hatch -- but Michael had other plans for that gun, and for Henry. The final, explosive scene is a TV classic.

9. "Walkabout"
1x04 / Directed by Jack Bender / Written by David Fury
Chances are that you watch "Lost" because of this episode. The final act reveals that Locke was in a wheelchair off the island, but woke up on the beach with the ability to walk again. Terry O'Quinn is amazing in this episode, as is the score by Michael Giacchino.

10. "Happily Ever After"
6x11 / Directed by Jack Bender / Written by Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse
For the time being, I'll call this my favorite episode of the final season, for the reasons cited here. But "Dr. Linus" and "Sundown" were quite good, too.

Just missing the list: "Lockdown," "Live Together, Die Alone," "The Constant," "The Incident," "Dr. Linus."

• • •

10 great Sawyer-isms

Classic "Sawyer's Nicknames" video from YouTube user deej240z

• "Baby, I am tied to a tree in the jungle of mystery. I just got tortured by a spinal surgeon and a genuine Iraqi. Of course I'm serious."
("Confidence Man," 1x08)

• "Doctor playin' golf. Whoo boy-howdy! Now I've heard everything. What's next? Cop eatin' a doughnut?"
("Solitary," 1x09)

• "Next time Shaft opens the cage ... he's going to get a surprising little howdy-doody!" ("Orientation," 2x03)

• "You may have been to Phuket, Doc, but I've been to Tallahassee. Let's just say something was burning and it wasn't from the sunshine."
("Lockdown," 2x17)

• Hugo: "Did that bird just say my name?" / Sawyer: "Yeah it did. Right after it crapped gold." ("Live Together, Die Alone," 2x23)

• Karl: "What are the people like? From your plane?" / Sawyer: "Oh, they're just awesome!"
("A Tale of Two Cities," 3x01)

• "You think the Warden's breaking up your fights cuz you're cute, Costanza?"
("Every Man For Himself," 3x04)

• "What's your problem, Jumbotron?" ("Tricia Tanaka is Dead," 3x10)

• "Crime scene? Is there a forensics hatch I don't know about?" ("Expose," 3x14)

• "I don't give a damn if you're dead, or time-traveling, or the Ghost of Christmas Past. All I care about's this whiskey, so bottoms up ... and get the hell out of my house." ("The Substitute," 6x04)

• • •

10 things I could have done without

• Ben's encounter with the Smoke Monster below the temple in "Dead is Dead." This scene fit the bill narratively, but the visual effects were downright awful, killing the emotional impact of the scene for me. (Emmy voters disagreed, apparently, because Michael Emerson won the statue for his work in that episode.)

• "Fire + Water," the supremely idiotic episode from Season 2 in which Charlie has drug-induced visions that lead to him stealing Aaron and trying to baptize him. The episode ends with Locke beating the crap out of Charlie, and suggests that Locke has a thing for Claire. Creepy, and bad. I'm glad that was nipped in the bud.

• Jack's unwillingness to listen to anybody. It seems like the writers even got fed up with Jack about halfway through Season 3, because they pretty much made Locke and Ben the show's main characters in seasons 4 and 5.

• The Jin/Sun episodes with bad puns in their titles. Season 1's "... In Translation" was OK, I guess, but Season 2's "... And Found" was filler of the highest order. The island story focuses on Sun trying to find her wedding ring. Ugh.

• Just about every single Kate flashback episode. The flashback scenes often felt like they came from a very different -- and much, much worse -- television program. I do like the one with Nathan Fillion, though.

• Naveen Andrews' acting. How he got nominated for the Emmy in Season 1 is beyond me. At least he's often so bad that he's funny. Take this awful monologue at the end of "Lockdown," for example: "We did find your balloon, Henry Gale, exactly how you described it. We also found the grave you described -- your wife's grave. The grave you said you dug with your own bare hands. It was all there. Your whole story -- your alibi -- it was true. But still I did not believe it to be true. So I dug up that grave ... and found that there was not a woman inside. There was a man ... a man named Henry Gale."

• Nikki and Paulo. I think we can all agree on that.

• Promos that promise you the world. "NEXT WEEK ON LOST: THE TIME FOR QUESTIONS IS OVER!" Oh, enough already.

• Shannon refusing to help anyone in the first few episodes of Season 1. She was instantly the show's worst character, and I wanted to fast-forward every scene she was in. We would soon forget how annoying she was, though, thanks to Michael and Ana Lucia.

• Mulder's sister disappearing in a ray of starlight. Oh, wait, that was a different show ...

• • •

5 characters who deserved better

Ben. There's still time, but it seems as if Benjamin Linus has become an irrelevant character in the main timeline. His story is a tragic one, and I like that he has become a sympathetic character, but he was much too important to the show to be rendered impotent in the final season. Hopefully he figures largely in the denouement.

Juliet. An audience favorite, Juliet was killed off in the Season 6 premiere, and we barely feel the ramifications of it. "LA X" suggested Jack and Sawyer would become true enemies because of Juliet, and this never came to pass. Juliet's death hasn't paid off narratively yet, and right now it feels as if she died simply because Elizabeth Mitchell was offered the lead on "V," which is probably headed to the land of cancellation.

Libby. Her murder in "Two For the Road" seems like an afterthought, and many assumed she and Ana Lucia were killed off simply because their real-life counterparts were both arrested for DUIs during the filming of Season 2. Libby was an important part of the "Lost" mythology, having given Desmond the boat that eventually carried him to the island, and having been in the loony bin with Hugo, but her story was cut far too short. Will she show up again in the final four episodes?

Mr. Eko. His story abruptly ended in Season 3's "The Cost of Living," and not because the writers wanted it to; actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje asked to be written off the show, and there are conflicting stories about why. Lostpedia says he asked to be let go after his parents died, but I've read other articles that suggest he simply didn't enjoy the rigors of working on a weekly TV show. And some interviews with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse suggest that Akinnuoye-Agbaje didn't have the best working relationship with his superiors. Whatever the reason, the loss of Mr. Eko was a painful one, and not just because the audience liked him so much. I don't suppose Smokey will have an opportunity to explain why he killed Eko in the final shows ...

Sun. Always relegated to the background, Sun was given a potentially thrilling storyline in the Season 4 finale -- she took control of her father's company, confronted Widmore, and pledged to kill Benjamin Linus. But Sun the Bad-Ass never really surfaced, and has spent the better part of these last two seasons saying, "Where is my husband?" At least Darlton didn't kill her or Jin before they were able to reunite in "The Last Recruit."

• • •

See you in another life ...

BROTHA. (Video by YouTube user xGriiFin)

Comments ()
We are now using Facebook comments to offer a more inclusive, social and constructive discussion. Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our or terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.