Monday, June 13, 2011

Long Time...

How is everyone doing? Still haven't decided what I'm going to do yet, but I have the glimmerings of a new blog in mind, one that would focus on a number of interests of mine, including baseball.

I'll have an announcement up here once I get it up and running. :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Carlton Reminices...

Hey all,

Still haven't decided what I'm going to do with my future of blogging, but this article in the NYT from Carlton gave me the impetus to post. Well worth a read.

How's everyone doing? My life is crazy right now. Anyone find a suitable replacement for Lost? We're now through four seasons worth of "Dexter" - that's helped.

Cheers,
Jay

Friday, October 8, 2010

Top 108 Moments: #10-1


"Phone's right over there, John..."



(Thanks to Dark UFO and Lost Media for all the screencaps).

Welcome to the final installment of the Top 108 Moments in Lost!

Previous installments:

Honorable Mentions are here, which you might want to read first to get some of my thought processes on what made and was excluded from the list.

Moments #108-101
Moments #100-91
Moments #90-81
Moments #80-71
Moments #70-61
Moments #60-51
Moments #50-41
Moments #40-31
Moments #30-21
Moments #20-11

Today we have Moments #10-1! The Top 10 is finally upon us! Namaste.

10) Cooper throws Locke out the window

Episode: 3.13 - The Man From Tallahassee
Synopsis: We finally find out why Locke was in a wheelchair
Why it’s great: Brutal. Makes Cooper the #1 bad daddy of the show

As Season 3 rolled around, the flashbacks were getting very stale. Yes, flashbacks for Juliet and Desmond kept things kind of interesting (and "Flashes," of course, was outstanding), but there really wasn't much we needed to learn about any of the original cast. However, probably the biggest outstanding question fans had was "how did Locke get in the wheelchair to begin with?" We knew from previous flashbacks that he hadn't always been paralyzed - something happened to him to put him in that chair. So when it was announced that this episode would finally answer that, expectations were sky high. This was a moment that could have easily been screwed up by the writers, but I think it's safe to say it ended up exceeding all expectations and more.

Cooper had already betrayed Locke several times. He befriended him to steal his kidney, he used him to avoid the mob, destroying his relationship with Helen in the process, and he remained an albatross around Locke's neck, preventing him from "moving on" with his life (and afterlife, for that matter). But here Cooper morphs from a swindling nuisance to a murderous beast. Not only does he attempt to kill Locke, the end result is actually worse - life imprisonment in a rolling steel cage. And throughout it all, Cooper showed no remorse for anything he did. His son was simply a means to an end for him - a tool to be used and then discarded.

If you didn't feel sorry for Locke up until this point, you certainly felt sorry for him now. Much of Locke's miserable life was from his own choosing - his craving for a father figure, his desperate attempts to get into Cooper's life at the expense of those who really cared about him (like Helen) and his starry-eyed dreams of the explorer's life he always craved. But this moment was not his fault. Here he was trying to do the right thing in getting Cooper to leave (although you could probably argue he should have gone right to the police and let them handle it), but underestimated what Cooper was capable of. It's a defining moment for Locke and a defining moment for the show as well, one that was made flawlessly.



9) Ben kills Jeremy Bentham

Episode: 5.07 - The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham
Synopsis: Ben finally succeeds in killing Locke
Why it’s great: Ben at his most cold-blooded evil

Locke's murder at the hands of Ben was shocking at the time, but I think of all the moments on the list this is the one that for me gets even better with age.

Ben murdered Locke out of nothing more than pure jealousy and hate - he hated the idea that this man, this one pathetic man, could potentially usurp his power over the Others. And I think there was quite a bit of indignity there as well - Locke was a fairly intelligent guy, but he was no rocket scientist and he was incredibly gullible and far too trusting. Ben hated him because he felt Locke hadn't do anything to earn the Others' trust. The thought that this person whom Richard had apparently known for years could simply swoop in and suddenly take over the power role he had earned with years of hard work and patience was probably infuriating to him. So Ben manipulated the gullible Locke every chance he got, right up until the moment he killed him. Over the course of the show, we've gotten to see many different facets of Ben's personality and we've see him do some really terrible things. But in my book, this was the worst of the worst - a petty act of pure evil committed against an innocent man.

And Locke's death couldn't have been more sad and desolate. Ben killed him in a shabby hotel room, alone and without any of his friends or his beloved Island. And right before Ben killed him, he used him until his last breath, pumping him for information and taking Jin's wedding ring so he could eventually manipulate Sun as well. Locke deserved a better death than that - and, let's face it, any death would have been better than being strangled at the hands of your most hated enemy.

This moment is also one of the reasons I think the scene in "The End" where Locke forgives Ben is the best of that episode. Think about being Locke at that moment and remembering everything this little man did to you. Then think of the fact he's got a pretty nice afterlife in purgatory despite everything he did. I'd still be pissed at him, but Locke forgave him anyway. Ben got off really easy there, and it made Locke seem like all the better man because of it.



8) Sawyer finally gets his revenge

Episode: 3.19 - The Brig
Synopsis: Sawyer finally avenges his parents
Why it’s great: Nobody deserved death more than Cooper

Two Cooper moments in the Top 10? Yup. Because Cooper's evil irrecoverably changed not one, but two of our Losties forever. This time, however, it's Cooper who gets his just desserts. This is arguably Sawyer's best scene of the entire show and the one fans had been waiting for since Cooper was first introduced and revealed to be a con man.

This is a moment that's truly great largely because it's so satisfying. Purportedly Ben had the Others bring Cooper to the Island for no other reason than to humiliate Locke, but that was such a bizarre scene - Ben kept saying the Others were good people who didn't kill, so why the heck would Locke have to ritually sacrifice his evil dad in order to become their leader? It basically was all pretense for the writers to get Cooper to the Island and set up this scene between Sawyer and Cooper. And given how good the scene was, I guess we can give the writers a little leeway here.

Part of what makes this scene so good is just how evil and spiteful Cooper is right up until the end. He's almost comical in that regard; he has no remorse for anything he did. Even under the delusion that he died and went to Hell, he still showed no remorse, asked for no forgiveness and showed no sympathy for anything he'd done. By the end of his berating Sawyer, you wanted Sawyer to kill him just to shut him up. And let's face it, Josh Holloway was terrific all through the show, but this was by far his best scene. He was given the material and absolutely knocked it out of the park.

This could be the best scene of Season 3... that is, if we didn't have a certain finale to still discuss.



7) Desmond starts his day

Episode: 2.01 - Man of Science, Man of Faith
Synopsis: Desmond starts his day in the Swan... then gets interrupted
Why it’s great: Best. Opening. Ever.
You're gonna be knowing
the loneliest kind of lonely.
It may be rough goin',
just to do your thing's
the hardest thing to do.

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.
This, in my humble opinion, is the best directed scene of the show. And it really needed to be given all the hype and buildup over what the heck was down in the Hatch. This is the scene that made "Make Your Own Kind Of Music" synonymous with Lost and introduced one of the best characters of the show. I love, love, love the head fake we're given as we see this person waking up and "starting his day," going through all the motions normal people go through - throw on some music, check the computer, shower, exercise and eat breakfast... until the explosion, that is. Then it's time to grab your jumpsuit, grab your gun and check the periscope. At the other end, high above at the top of a long shaft it's two men, one waving a torch. And the end of the long shot is the exact reverse of the shot that ended Season One. Brilliant.

And could there have been a more perfect song? It's from the perfect era, has the perfect sound for this scene and the lyrics are terrific. I've argued before that make Your Own Kind of Music could really have been written for Desmond specifically, as a Lost original. It wasn't, of course, it's just that the writers found the perfect piece to set to this scene. Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News often likes to talk about how certain music, if co-opted in the right way to a great scene, become redefined by the movie that used them, like "Battle without Honor or Humanity" became to Kill Bill or "In Your Eyes" became to Say Anything. "Make Your Own Kind of Music is now like that to Lost - you can't hear the song without thinking of the scene.

Man of Science, Man of Faith remains one of my all-time favorite episodes. For Desmond, for the song, for Jack in the Stadium and for the terrific ending. But the opening shot is by far my favorite from the episode and is the best episode opener from the show.



6) Shannon translates Danielle's message

Episode: 1.01 - The Pilot
Synopsis: Shannon translates Danielle's chilling S.O.S.
Why it’s great: "Guys, where are we?"

I don't think the Pilot episode could have ended on a more perfect note. Not only do we get introduced to a terrific Island mystery, we also get Charlie's now classic and oft repeated line ending with the very first trombone of the series. But this more than anything else is the plot line that set things off and running for the first part of Season One. Sayid trying to figure out where the "French woman's transmission" came from, whether she was still alive and what happened to her and her friends was one of the biggest mysteries of the show and probably the one fans most wanted answered. And what a transmission it was, set on a loop for 16 years (I love Sayid's human calculator impression for that as well). But just listen to it again:
I'm alone now.... on the island alone. Please, someone come. The others, they're... they're dead. I-it killed them. I-it killed them all.
It's ominous, cryptic and chilling, perfectly encapsulating the feeling of the first season. It's easy to forget the questions that were being asked at the start of the show. Are all these people dead? Is the Island really Hell or Purgatory? Does the outside world really exist? If someone was trapped here with some sort of Monster that killed all her friends for 16 years, what does that mean for us? Will anyone ever find us? Are we all doomed?

The first season was tense simply because we didn't know anything about the Island yet. And of the little information we did get, this was by far the most foreboding. It ratcheted the atmosphere and suspense of the show up to eleven right from the get-go and no matter how many times I hear Shannon say those words, I still get goosebumps and a tingle of excitement.

"Guys, where are we?" Awesome.



5) "Not Penny's Boat"

Episode: 3.22 - Through the Looking Glass
Synopsis: Charlie finds his redemption and meets his fate
Why it’s great: Signature death of the series

Top 5 time! The order is a little fluid here - I think some people might put Charlie's death a little higher up the ladder, but I do like the other four moments just a little bit more than this one.

This is the moment of Charlie's redemption, where he chose to sacrifice himself, fulfilling Desmond's vision (which never really came true now that I think about it) and also saving Desmond's life in the process. And make no mistake about it, this was a sacrifice - Charlie had plenty of time to escape and swim for the surface, provided he could tear Desmond away from the communications device after he heard Penny's voice. But when Desmond told him of the vision he had of Claire and Aaron escaping, he made the decision to choose to die because of his love for them.

Now I never really liked Claire and Charlie together - I always thought the relationship seemed forced and they really didn't seem to have much chemistry on screen. But everything Charlie did leading up to his death made me feel a whole lot better about it, simply because Charlie's end game felt very genuine, especially in making his greatest hits list to give to Claire and - most of all - leaving his "DS" ring for Aaron (that's another prop I wouldn't have minded owning). That was a terrific touch by the writers and I love the shot of it in the crib. Showing him going through all of that beforehand made his sacrifice all the more poignant and real because it showed us he had made peace with himself and accepted his fate. It really was one of the bravest acts on the show.

Now "Not Penny's Boat" is one of the signature, iconic moments of the series and one that - even I admit - even makes me a bit verklempt. I never thought I'd end up being sad to see Charlie go, but the writers did a phenomenal job here.



4) Desmond connects with his constant

Episode: 4.05 - The Constant
Synopsis: Desmond calls Penny on Christmas Eve
Why it’s great: Best scene from the best episode

Best scene from the best episode and it's not #1? Well, yeah, because as moments go it may the emotional high point of the series (for me), but I still think the three moments above this one are slightly better.

"The Constant" remains my favorite episode, a sentiment I think many of you probably share. It was brilliantly written, perfectly acted and it focused on the best relationship in the show. Some may disagree with that point - Jin and Sun, Rose and Bernard are two other worthy couples there - but in Desmond and Penny you have star-crossed lovers, one of whom waited eight years for a phone call and the other who spent three years trapped inside an underground hatch and who nearly committed suicide if it wasn't for a hidden letter from her.

And call me sappy, but I also love that the phone call took place on Christmas Eve. To me, 'The Constant" is the closest thing to a Christmas episode Lost has and there's something about the idea of Penny sitting alone in a nice warm house on Christmas Eve, tree up, fire in the fireplace, waiting. She was probably sitting there thinking, "This is so stupid, Desmond's not going to call," but she waits anyway. And then the phone rings and - miracle of miracles - it's him. It has the same emotional feel to me as Charlie Brown seeing his little tree all decorated or George Bailey being toasted by his war hero brother.

I'm toying with the idea of making it a tradition to watch this every Christmas, but somehow I think Em's going to veto that one. Perhaps if I volunteer to wrap the presents every year....



3) "We're going to have to take the boy..."

Episode: 1.23 - Exodus
Synopsis: Turns out the Others weren't after Aaron after all
Why it’s great: Shocking end to the raft storyline

There were really two cliffhanger endings to Exodus, and while the Hatch being opened without letting us see what was inside certainly received the brunt of the fan rage at the end of the season, the conclusion to the raft storyline was much more of a shocker.

Of all the head fakes the writers threw at us during the show, the fact the Others wanted Walt instead of Aaron was probably the best crafted head fake of them all. I didn't see this coming a bit - and who would? We hadn't known the Others had access to a boat at the point (let alone a submarine) and it really seemed at first like Michael, Walt, Sawyer and Jin had really escaped the Island and perhaps even got themselves rescued by some kind, local fishermen. But then, the late great Tom Friendly, as he came to be known, delivered the line...

"Only, the thing is, we're going to have to take the boy."

And then there was a great dramatic pause in the show, because Michael was taking those words in just as much as we were. And it slowly dawned on us who these people were, what they wanted and that Rousseau was right in her warning, but she merely interpreted it wrong.

It was wonderfully set up from start to finish and one of the best cliffhangers I've ever seen on the small screen. And yes, it did lead to Michael becoming a caricature of himself with his oft repeated refrains of "WAAALLLLLLLLT!" and "They took my son!," but both of those lines are now considered classic in the show, despite their unintentional humor. Walt's kidnapping drove the storyline for much of Season 2 and the image of him being taken away by the Others is one of the most indelible images of the show.



2) "Don't tell me what I can't do!"

Episode: 1.04 - Walkabout
Synopsis: We discover Locke was in a wheelchair on the plane
Why it’s great: This is very likely the scene that hooked you on the show

I really struggled with where to place this moment in the Top 5, questioning whether it had been surpassed by Charlie's death or Desmond's phone call to Penny. But coming back to it again, I realized it simply had to be #2. This was the moment that hooked me on Lost and I imagine it did the same for many of you as well. Jack may have been the show's official leading man, but Locke was its heart and soul. And "Walkabout" was the moment we were introduced to him and, chances are, he became your newest favorite character afterward.

The setup for this episode was just so good through the first two episodes of the show. Locke was portrayed as kind of a weird, creepy guy with a scar who seemed to have just a little too much affection for Walt, if you know what I mean. I certainly felt he might become the villain of the show right off the bat, especially after his creepy mouth-full-of-orange grin. So when "Walkabout" rolled him out (sorry), I think part of the reason it worked so well is the shock of not only finding out he was in a wheelchair on the plane, but finding out he may actually be the hero of the show as opposed to the villain, given his incredible connection to the Island. It certainly made me do a 360 on his character.

There are a lot of moments from Walkabout I could have selected, but this is really the one that deserves to be here, the moment we see him in the wheelchair, being denied his place on the walkabout trip. That was where see him give his best use of "Don't tell me what I can't do!" and why that particular phrase carries such meaning for him. And suddenly all the images of the first couple episodes - when he wiggles his toes, runs around happily helping Jack, telling Walt a secret, even just happily eating an orange - suddenly they all make sense. This man is happy because this place somehow made him whole.

People who say "Walkabout" is overrated (you know who you are) simply have forgotten just how powerful it was at the time. If you've never seen the show before and are watching it through for the first time, this is the moment that drags you in.

And bravo to Terry O'Quinn who gave John Locke all he had and more.



1) "We have to go back, Kate! We have to go back!"

Episode: 3.22 - Through the Looking Glass
Synopsis: Turns out Jack and Kate get off the Island after all
Why it’s great: Best moment of the show... and one of the best in TV history

And so we've finally reached #1! And, really, could it be anything else?

It speaks to the writers that the most pivotal turning point of the show not only happened to be one of the show’s best, but will probably go down as one of the most iconic moments in television history. I remember when I was watching “Through The Looking Glass” for the first time, I really wasn’t 100% sure whether we were seeing the past, future or some alternate timeline in Jack’s “flashbacks.” The writers did a really good job disguising it – having Jack say “get my father down here” - really made it seem like it was a normal, old Jack flashback we hadn’t seen before. Would have been no surprise to see he was a boozy, painkiller-addicted surgeon before the plane crash – seemed a normal progression given we’d already seen him losing it after his divorce.

And when the episode was over, I remember enjoying it, but not more than, say, the ending of “Exodus.” In fact, I didn’t even have this episode on my original Top 10 list that I made between Seasons 3 & 4. But Jack’s “We’ve got to go back, Kate!” cry not only became one of the most quoted lines of the show, in retrospect it was the moment that turned everything on its head and showed what direction the show was going to follow over the last three seasons.
Fitting this scene was the final scene of the first three seasons because it's really an inflection point. After watching this scene, all the questions change from "are they going to get off the Island" to "OMG, what happened after they left."

Great moments in TV history don't come along very often and it's rare they come along in the middle of a show as opposed to the end. And it's also rare when they're great moments within a storyline as opposed to something topical or controversial. No, this was a scripted moment and, yes, it had a twist to it, but it was so much more than just a plot device. By the end of Season 3, people had begun to wonder whether Lost was going to turn into Gillian's Island before it was all over, its inhabitants doomed never to leave until the final episode. Here we learn that not only do they escape, they have to return because they weren't supposed to leave.

Lost leaves behind a great legacy to television. It demonstrated that a largely intelligent scripted show (despite the ending) could succeed in an era of brain dead, cookie cutter reality TV. And it did so by simply combining an excellent cast, excellent writing and, most of all, telling a great, captivating story. I'm going to miss it dearly - there may be nothing like on television ever again though, given its success, I'm sure some will try.

Now if you'll excuse me, it seems I have some "Dexter" to watch. After all, something has to fill the void Lost left behind.

Moment Tally (final!):

Looks like Ben managed to hang onto his lead, but just barely. And I'm fairly pleased with my Top 5 - if you told me Ben, Locke, Jack, Sawyer and Desmond would end up at the top of my list I would have thought that sounded about right. Of course, I split Locke and Smokey up separately and half of Smokey's scenes were played by Terry O'Quinn, so I suppose one could argue that Locke/Zombie Locke was the real winner here.

The Season tally was a bit more surprising, both in the fact that Season 3 was the overall winner and that Season 5 was the runner up. I really expected the first two seasons to run away with it, but I guess 1) I really dug all the time travel more than I realized and 2) even though Season 3 is a terribly inconsistent season with some of the worst episodes the show had to offer, it also had some of the best episodes and even the bad episodes had some very, very good moments in them. Season 3 might not be the best season overall, but it certainly had its fair share of terrific Lost moments.

Final tallies below:

Main/Recurring Characters:

Ben - 25
Locke - 24
Jack - 18
Sawyer - 15
Desmond - 13
Smokey - 12
Sayid - 8
Hurley - 7
Jin - 7
Charlie - 6
Michael - 6
Eko - 5
Jacob - 5
Juliet - 5
Kate - 5
Tom Friendly - 5
Charles Widmore - 4
Daniel - 4
Danielle - 4
Richard - 4
Claire - 3
Penny - 3
Pierre Chang - 3
Walt - 3
Anthony Cooper - 2
Bernard and Rose - 2
Eloise - 2
Frank - 2
Keamy - 2
Miles - 2
Shannon - 2
Vincent - 2
Aaron - 1
Alex - 1
Ana-Lucia - 1
Arzt - 1
Boone - 1
Charlotte - 1
Ilana - 1
Libby - 1
Mikhail - 1
Nikki and Paulo - 1
Roger Linus - 1
Sun - 1

Seasons:

Season Three - 24
Season Five - 22
Season Two - 20
Season One - 18
Season Six - 14
Season Four - 10

Up next: Really not sure. I think I might be done Lost blogging for quite a while. Perhaps I'll revisit my Top 10 list in the future, but I think I'll take a short break from blogging and will likely start up another, different blog sometime soon. There will be an announcement here once I do.

In the meantime, I still answer questions and comments, so feel free to post away and especially let me know what moments I missed. I suppose Aaron's birth/Boone's death is one of them - I guess it just never impacted me at all despite it being an important moment on the show. The Pilot opening is another. Anything else I miss?

Hope you enjoyed this - I certainly did. Thanks for reading and following along over the years. I'm not through blogging, but I do think I need a bit of a break for now. :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Top 108 Moments: #20-11


"John, you fell eight stories and survived, OK? I don't want to hear about what you can't do. Now let's go. It's going to be all right."



(Thanks to Dark UFO and Lost Media for all the screencaps).

Welcome to the penultimate part of the Top 108 Moments in Lost!

Previous installments:

Honorable Mentions are here, which you might want to read first to get some of my thought processes on what made and was excluded from the list.

Moments #108-101
Moments #100-91
Moments #90-81
Moments #80-71
Moments #70-61
Moments #60-51
Moments #50-41
Moments #40-31
Moments #30-21

Today we have Moments #20-11. The Top 20 is finally upon us! Namaste.

20) Locke gets put into a wheelchair for the first time

Episode: 3.13 - The Man From Tallahassee
Synopsis: Locke is told he's going to have to be in a wheelchair
Why it’s great: Terry O'Quinn is simply amazing here

Since this scene hit #20, I think you can probably imagine what its compliment(s) will be in the Top 10 next week. I debated leaving this off entirely because of that, but the thing is it's just too good of a scene not to include. Not only do we get to see the origin of John's "Don't tell me what I can't do" catchphrase, but Terry O'Quinn is simply magnificent here. This is the scene, to me, that above all others earned him his Emmy.

It's a completely heartbreaking scene to watch, even moreso if you flip through the screencaps of the entire shot. John's in a hospital bed and an orderly comes in to attend to him. He flips open a wheelchair and the camera pans down to it. It's the same type of wheelchair John was using in the Pilot. And as John realizes that chair is meant for him, he starts saying "no" and "I can't do this" over and over again, a horrible mix of anguish and realization at what his life is about to become. And can there be a worse fate for an idealistic dreamer with delusions of grandeur? No more Locke the Explorer or Locke the Hero. The stark reality is he's going to be Locke the Paraplegic, likely for the rest of his life (had Jacob not intervened).

This is one of the very best acting performances of the entire series, if not the best overall.



19) Desmond opens "Our Mutual Friend" and finds Penny's letter

Episode: 2.23 - Live Together, Die Alone
Synopsis: Desmond realizes he wants to kill himself, but Penny saves him
Why it’s great: Shades of "Shawshank" with Penny's voice over

This is a scene that I think doesn't readily come to mind when we think of great Lost scenes, but it's unbelievably powerful. Going into making this list, "Live Toegther, Die Alone" wasn't at the top of my favorite finales list. In fact, largely because I really didn't like the whole kidnapping storyline much, it was close to the bottom. But I think I may need to reevaluate that since Desmond's flashbacks were so incredibly good.

And people forget that this scene was the only scene in the show that used "Our Mutual Friend" to its full potential. I really thought the end of the series was going to have Desmond sacrificing himself in some way and cracking open Our Mutual Friend as he waits for death to arrive. That never happened, but this scene is just as good, if not better. Here, Kelvin is dead, Desmond is stuck in the Hatch alone (and has been alone for nearly 40 days). He's been drinking and is contemplating suicide. He's got a gun. We see him pull the band off "Our Mutual Friend" and open the cover. We know what that signifies.

But something falls out of the book - a letter. A letter from Penny. The whole time he was in prison, Charles had intercepted all of his letters to Penny, but he couldn't stop his daughter from putting the most important letter in the place he needed it most. And what a letter it was:
Dearest Des, I am writing this letter to you as you leave for prison. And I've hidden in the one place you would turn to in a moment of great desperation. I know you go away with the weight of what happened on your shoulders. And I know the only person who can ever take it off is you. Please don't give up, Des. Because all we really need to survive is one person who truly loves us. And you have her. I will wait for you. Always. I love you, Pen.
Gives me chills. And it reminds me so much of Andy's letter to Red at the end of Shawshank. He gave it to Red to keep him going, keep him wanting to live, because he knew for sure there would be a time where he'd think about ending it all. Shawshank, to me, has one of the best endings in cinematic history and it's really the highest praise I can gave when I say this scene reminds me of that one.

Lastly Penny's letter not only saved Desmond that day, but it allowed Desmond to save Locke, who was in equally dire straights. After he finishes reading the letter, he hears Locke banging on the Hatch and shines the light up through the window. That light gives Locke the strength to go on. Two lives saved with one letter. Part of the reason I left "The Hatch lights up" off the list because I kinda like seeing it from this moment better. Possibly the most underrated moment on my list.



18) Ben shows Jack the Red Sox winning the series

Episode: 3.02 - The Glass Ballerina
Synopsis: Ben proves to Jack the outside world still exists
Why it’s great: Because the writers took advantage of one of the best sports stories in the last century

The fall of 2004 really was a fairly eventful time. As Ben points out, we had a presidential election, Christopher Reeve died and one of the biggest sports stories of the century: The Boston Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918. And not only did they win, in order to get there they had to become the first team in history to come back from an 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven to win the series 4 games to 3. And they managed the comeback against their arch-rival, the New York Yankees, this after the Yankees embarrassed them in the postseason the year before. So when Jack was introduced as a Red Sox fan in Season One, one of the common refrains was "oh man, he's going to totally miss the Sox winning the series." Fortunately, Carlton Cuse is a Red Sox fan, so this wasn't overlooked.

As I stated before, the widely panned mini-series at the beginning of Season 3 is a bit underrated as a whole. Yes, it contains a few terrible episodes, but it also had a total of six moments on this list:

106) Jack telling Ben: "At least you won't have to be disappointed for very long"
86) Sawyer gets a fish biscuit
85) Locke's smokehouse vision
59) Smokey kills Eko
23) Flight 815 comes apart over the Barracks
18) Ben shows Jack the Red Sox winning the series

That's really not too shabby. And let's face it, this was by far the best moment of that mini-series. Not only was it a terrific scene for Jack, who honestly and truly couldn't believe it when Ben told him not only that they won, and that they were down three games to none against the Yankees and came back. But it was also the first time it was confirmed to the Losties that the outside world still existed and that they weren't all trapped in a "snow globe" as Desmond thought.

A terrific scene with one of the best payoffs of the show. Added bonus: some quality Jackface here as well.



17) Eloise confronts Desmond

Episode: 3.08 - Flashes Before Your Eyes
Synopsis: Eloise tells Desmond of his destiny
Why it’s great: One of the best monologues of the show comes out of nowhere

"Flashes Before Your Eyes" was my very favorite episode of the first three seasons. Not only was a wonderful break from the formula and the first episode that introduced time travel to the show, it was a wonderful story as well. Desmond gets a second chance to make things right with Penny. This time he's going to do what he should have done so many years before and ask Penny to marry him, Charles be damned.

He goes to buy a ring, picks one out and decides to buy it. But for some strange reason, the elderly shopkeeper resists. In fact, she oddly knows his name. And when Desmond still insists on purchasing the ring, Eloise Hawking (as we now know her), mother of Daniel, wife to Charles, bursts out with the best goosebump-inducing monologue of the show:
"I know your name as well as I know that you don't ask Penny to marry you. In fact, you break her heart. Well, breaking her heart, of course, is what drives you in a few short years from now to enter that sailing race to prove her father wrong. Which brings you to the island where you spend the next 3 years of your life entering numbers into the computer...until you are forced to turn that failsafe key. And if you don't do those things, Desmond David Hume, every single one of US is dead. So give me that sodding ring!"
And with that statement, everything we thought we knew about the Island and the survivors was turned on its head. It's one thing to think about time travel, it's another entirely to have someone who knows the future and tries to keep it on its course. This is actually a moment I've wanted to revisit because in order for it to have happened like it did, Eloise must have gotten detailed notes in the past (likely from Daniel) about all the events that happened on the Island that would eventually lead to his death. Her true purpose here, for whatever reason, was to keep the conditions the same that would lead to Daniel going back in time and being killed by her hand.

It's hard to say what her "every one of us is dead" was referring to, whether it be the universe ending in a temporal paradox or Desmond needing to turn the failsafe key, but I think it's clear that Desmond was simply a means to an end here - if he doesn't crash on the Island, Flight 815 never crashes and no one goes back in time. Part of me kind of wishes there was a "What if" version of Lost that could go back and see what happens if Desmond does propose to Penny instead of crashing on the Island. Might make for an interesting story, eh?

Regardless, this is one of my favorite shock moments of the show. And it's delivered perfectly by Fionnula Flanagan.



16) Eko confronts Smokey

Episode: 2.10 - The 23rd Psalm
Synopsis: Eko confronts Smokey face-to-face
Why it’s great: We see Smokey up close and personal for the first time

"The 23rd Psalm" was my second favorite episode of the first three seasons and Eko was, by far, my favorite character. And this moment was certainly one of the most iconic images of the entire show (I'll be using "iconic" quite a bit in these top moments, as you'll all see). Up until now, we had really only gotten one fleeting glimpse of Smokey in "Exodus" and it was really hard to know what to make of him. But this was not only the best full-screen scene with Smokey we had gotten on the show, damn if it wasn't just so freakin' cool.

It was also the advent of the "pause your VCR and run it on slow" moments with the show. Yes, the Hatch really introduced the Lost mythology to us, but the images of Eko's life that flashed in Smokey as the camera panned around him was a watercooler moment for everyone on the internet. And it fueled so many questions as well. Why didn't the monster kill Eko? Did it really read his mind? What was it looking for? Did it come from and disappear underground? What the heck is it really? And even though it brought up a lot of new ideas and theories about Smokey, it also answered a whole lot of general questions since it gave us such a good look at him and what he was capable of.

It's also worth mentioning that the direction and special effects of this scene were top notch. I love the way the camera pans around Eko and the aerial shot from above was terrifically cool. And this was, I think, the best Smokey special effect on the show. The scene in "Left Behind" was pretty neat too, but I think this one still wins. This is a moment where, if you weren't really hooked on Lost or were starting to lose interest, you got sucked right back into the vortex.



15) Locke sees the Blast Door Map

Episode: 2.17 - Lockdown
Synopsis: Locke sees the Blast Door Map during the pallet drop
Why it’s great: Most analyzed screenshot on TV ever

I will say that Lost is a show that you have to put some time into to really appreciate and the Blast Door Map is probably the best example. Did you really need to translate and pore over every little detail of the map to fully appreciate the show? Of course not. But this Easter Egg is what solidified Lost's presence on the internet and led to the various summer Alternate Reality Games and the very well done webisodes that really expanded upon some plot details that didn't make it into the mainstream show. For me, this was a terrific bonus to the diehard fans who wanted more detail into the show (and in the case of the webisodes, nearly an entire new episode worth of material).

But the scene itself was incredibly cool. Yeah, overall, the logic behind it was kinda wonky. Why Kelvin and Radzinsky made the map in the first place is certainly a little odd and all the stuff on it doesn't totally make sense ("Cerebus" is probably kind of a misnomer now, eh). But the scene will probably go down in history as the most analyzed screencapture ever. And how cool did it look? With the dark light and the awesome reflection of the map in Locke's eye (one of neatest directorial touches of the show). It was creative, original and, most of all, incredibly memorable and a terrific bonus to the fans by the writers.



14) The Numbers are on the Hatch

Episode: 1.18 - Numbers
Synopsis: It's revealed Hurley's numbers are stamped on the Hatch
Why it’s great: Mind-bending reveal that ramped up the suspense for the finale

Numbers made my Top 10 episode list of the first three seasons. Not only did it give a very unique angle to Hurley's character, but the fact Danielle was brought to the Island by these very same Numbers gave us the idea that perhaps everyone was meant to be on Flight 815 after all. In addition, the episode rammed home the idea that perhaps the Numbers were a bad omen. After all, they were responsible for Danielle crashing on the Island and Hurley blamed them for all of his bad luck. So when the episode ended with a shot of the Hatch and the Numbers imprinted on the side, it made everyone go "Holy ****! Don't open that thing up!"

The end of Season One was all about what was in the Hatch. It was like Pandora's Box - you hoped it wasn't imprisoning something awful, you hoped opening it didn't bring about the end of the world. Thing is, though, there really wasn't a whole lot these type of horrible thoughts floating around until the Numbers were revealed - once that happened, the Hatch went from Island curiosity to Little Hatch of Horrors. It totally ramped up the suspense leading up to the finale and made it one of the biggest water cooler mysteries since "Who shot J.R.?"



13) Desmond tells Charlie he's going to die

Episode: 3.08 - Flashes Before Your Eyes
Synopsis: Desmond tells Charlie the universe is out to get him
Why it’s great: One of the best episode endings of the show. Plus: Charlie's going to die!

As if "Flashes" episode-long flashback wasn't terrific enough, it also set up one of the best storylines of Season 3 with its ending. I really hated Charlie by the start of that season. His druggie storyline had run its course, his relationship with Claire was annoying and his flashbacks were among the worst of the show. I freely admit I was openly rooting for him to be killed.

But then something funny happened - when Charlie went from lame druggie to dead man walking, he became...interesting again. This plot line totally rejuvinated his character and gave him the shot at redemption that he so sorely needed. Brilliant idea by the writers here.
But kudos also go to Henry Ian Cusick who so perfectly delivered his end-of-episode speech to Charlie. I still get goosebumps just thinking about it. Take a gander:
When I saw the lightning hit the roof you were electrocuted. And when you heard Claire was in the water you -- you drowned trying to save her. I dove in myself so you never went in. I've tried, brother. I've tried twice to save you, but the universe has a way of course correcting and -- and I can't stop it forever. I'm sorry. I'm sorry because no matter what I try to do you're going to die, Charlie.
At the time, I applauded. Hey! Charlie is going to die! Woo hoo! In retrospect, however, this is the moment that not only began Charlie's journey towards redemption, but made him one of the most memorable and iconic characters on the show.



12) Jack and Locke watch the Swan Orientation film

Episode: 2.03 - Orientation
Synopsis: Jack and Locke watch a video
Why it’s great: We're going to have to watch that one again

This is the moment that was turned into a Superbowl commercial in 2006: "Addicted to Lost," so it has got that going for it right off the bat. But the Swan Orientation film was one of the most original and creative things the show put forth. Some fans think the DHARMA Initiative was a mistake, that it took away from the mystery of the Island and distracted the characters (especially Locke) from the Island's true purpose. But DHARMA was really as much a part of the history of the Island as anything else, Jacob or otherwise, and this was the moment when we were properly introduced to it. And, oh, what a moment it was.

I don't know what most people expected to find in the Hatch. I was kinda hoping it was originally Smokey's prison cell and that we'd find clues inside as to what it was and how it could be recaptured. When we found Desmond and the computer and the button, it really blew my mind because it was simply so different than anything I expected. The film was like the icing on the cake here - it was enigmatic enough to keep us guessing and informative enough to give us an idea about this whole DHARMA thing. Plus, the fact the Swan was labeled as "3 of 6" immediately got everyone wondering where the other stations were and what were they used for.

Finally, the Swan Orientation film is about as iconic as Lost gets. Every morning I get up and pour myself a cup of coffee in a Swan Station mug. Seriously. The Swan logo is probably one of the most recognizable images from Lost, largely because of this amazing 70's style film that introduced it to a legion of fans.



11) Jacob and Smokey chat on the beach

Episode: 5.16 -The Incident
Synopsis: Smokey tells Jacob he wants to kill him
Why it’s great: The true villain of the series is revealed

This scene could have been #1 had it actually lived up to its potential. It was an incredible start to an incredible finale. We finally meet the true villain of the series, The Man in Black. We finally meet Jacob face-to-face for the first time. We finally see the front of the statue. We see the Black Rock arriving on the Island. We learn Jacob brought the Black Rock here. We learn the philosophy behind the conflict between Jacob and the Man in Black. All of this in a succinct, well-directed, well-acted, perfectly casted scene.

I really wish I could have put this in the Top 10, but everything that came after simply diluted the power of this scene. It had so much potential, especially since MiB was set up to be a perfectly evil counterpart to a perfectly good Island god. Instead, they had to go and blur the lines between the two of them with "Across the Sea." Sometimes lines are drawn perfectly and for a reason - they certainly were here.

Regardless of how the series ended, this scene will always remain one of my very favorites. It's a big scene, in a big episode of one of the biggest shows and it knocks it out of the park here.

Top Ten Challenge!

OK. So we are down to the last ten. How about a guessing game? I figure by process of elimination most of you can guess at least half the moments in the Top Ten, if not all of them. Post what you think my Top 10 moments are in the comments and see how they compare to the real thing when I post my own. No prizes for this, just smug satisfaction. :)

Hint: The opening of the Pilot is NOT in there as I posted in the comments a week or two, but the Pilot is represented there nonetheless. :)

Moment Tally (updated through #11):

I'll be keeping a running tally of the number of times main or recurring (not minor) characters appear in these moments, along with which seasons they came from. I might even do a Power List later on - giving each points based on where they are in the list (1 point for #108, 108 points for #1) and so on. Depends on how ambitious I am. :)

Seasons 2 and 3 were the big winners this week with four moments each, but Season 5 still clings to it's very narrow lead. But every season but Season 4 is in striking distance of the top (though Season 6 won't be taking the crown). Locke is also probably the only one who can catch Ben at this point. Only 10 more to go! :)

Main/Recurring Characters:

Ben - 24
Locke - 20
Jack - 17
Sawyer - 13
Smokey - 12
Desmond - 10
Hurley - 7
Sayid - 7
Jin - 6
Eko - 5
Jacob - 5
Juliet - 5
Michael - 5
Charles Widmore - 4
Charlie - 4
Daniel - 4
Danielle - 4
Kate - 4
Richard - 4
Tom Friendly - 4
Claire - 3
Pierre Chang - 3
Bernard and Rose - 2
Eloise - 2
Frank - 2
Keamy - 2
Miles - 2
Penny - 2
Vincent - 2
Walt - 2
Aaron - 1
Alex - 1
Ana-Lucia - 1
Arzt - 1
Boone - 1
Charlotte - 1
Ilana - 1
Libby - 1
Mikhail - 1
Nikki and Paulo - 1
Roger Linus - 1
Shannon - 1
Sun - 1

Seasons:

Season Five - 21
Season Three - 20
Season Two - 19
Season One - 15
Season Six - 14
Season Four - 9

Next installment: #10-1! Finally, the Top 10 moments in LOST. Don't forget to post your guesses! :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Top 108 Moments: #30-21


"You would remember! You would remember how deep! You would remember every shovelful, every moment! You would remember what it felt like to place her body inside. You would remember if you buried the woman you loved! You would remember -- if it were true!"



(Thanks to Dark UFO and Lost Media for all the screencaps).

Welcome to the ninth part of the Top 108 Moments in Lost!

Previous installments:

Honorable Mentions are here, which you might want to read first to get some of my thought processes on what made and was excluded from the list.

Moments #108-101
Moments #100-91
Moments #90-81
Moments #80-71
Moments #70-61
Moments #60-51
Moments #50-41
Moments #40-31

Today we have Moments #30-21. It's the beginning of the end! Namaste.

30) Sayid tortures "Henry" while the Countdown Timer hits zero

Episode: 2.14 - One of Them
Synopsis: Sayid tortures Henry Gale while the Timer runs out
Why it’s great: Two great tastes of Lost in one great scene

When I was making up my list I originally had these two as separate moments, forgetting they were actually the same (long) scene. I toyed with keeping them separate, but you can't really discuss one without the other, so this is an "extended" moment, if you will. Putting them together makes it the Reece's Peanut Butter Cup of Lost - you get a character moment and a mythology moment all in one. Two great Lost tastes that taste great together!

On the character side, you have Sayid interrogating Henry. Sayid, still reeling over Shannon's death, is convinced Henry is lying because he doesn't seem as distraught as he should be over the death of his supposed wife. While I never really liked the Shannon-Sayid pairing much (and not because of Shannon - they just really didn't have much chemistry on screen), I did think that Sayid's grief in the above quote was genuine and used very, very effectively. It's also what drove Sayid to later dig up Henry Gale's grave to see if "Henry" was telling the truth.

But while all this was going on inside the armory, outside the Countdown Timer was ticking down. Jack, who didn't approve of Sayid torturing the new guy, told Locke to let him in or else he wouldn't let him push the button. Locke relented at the last minute and raced to the computer, but he wasn't quite quick enough - the timer hit zero... and up popped a bunch of hieroglyphics? Season 2 was arguably one of the most mythology heavy seasons of the show, which is why it didn't sit well with some fans, but the mythology was what kept me hooked on the show.

I still remember scouring the net for translations of the likely sequence that popped up and later discovering it translated to "Underworld" - that's just creepy brilliant. This scene was perfect, classic Lost and had something for everyone to enjoy.



29) Ben purges his father

Episode: 3.20 - The Man Behind The Curtain
Synopsis: Ben kills his father on his birthday while the rest of DHARMA gets purged
Why it’s great: We finally see the purge... and learn Roger's true identity

"Tricia Tanaka is Dead" was a very good episode that came at a very bad time, largely because it had the misfortune of following arguably the worst episode of the entire show in "Stranger in a Strange Land." At the time, it seemed like yet another filler episode - Hurley finds a DHARMA van, Sawyer has some entertaining scenes with Jin and Hurley and Charlie get the van working and go on a joy ride to shake off the blues.

But that episode set things up for two very important scenes later in the season: Hurley coming to rescue in the DHARMA van (which wouldn't have been plausible had we not seen him get it working) and Ben gassing his dad in the very same van. The fact we discover here Roger "Work Man" was in reality Roger Linus, Father of Ben, makes Tricia Tanaka a much, much better episode in retrospect, given what an important part of the Island's history that van (and that body) represents.

But I haven't even spoken about the actual scene yet. This is where Ben became the man we came to know and love throughout the series. It's a horrible act of patricide, yet we can't help but feel a bit sorry for Ben as well. After all, it's his birthday and he's a janitor on an Island drinking cheap DHARMA beer with his alcoholic father, who doesn't really love him and blames him for the death of his wife. His father kinda deserves it here, but all of DHARMA? That's what really later takes away any compassion we had for Ben. This is one of the very best scenes of Season 3 and one of the most important in terms of the Island's history.



28) Sawyer is LaFleur

Episode: 5.08 - LaFleur
Synopsis: Sawyer is revealed as the head of DHARMA security... in 1977?
Why it’s great: One of the best openings of any episode

There's really only two episode openings I like better than this one (one which we'll come to very soon), but not by much. It's one of the best plot twists the show ever gave us and really began one of my overall favorite storylines of the show: The DHARMA origins. Two episodes earlier, Ajira Flight 316 crash landed on the Island and Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid had disappeared from it. The first three were found by Jin wearing a DHARMA jumpsuit. Now we knew Jin had been time traveling along with the others, but we didn't know where they ended up after Locke turned the Donkey Wheel again.

This episode opens with all the time travelers standing around the area where the Donkey Wheel well once stood. Locke is gone, the well is gone, but the rope remains. Locke turns the wheel underground and the flashes stop - everyone's headaches and nosebleeds are gone. Saywer says now they just have to wait "however long it takes" for their friends to return.

Cut to three years later. Two DHARMA guys, Phil and Jerry, are goofing off on duty. One remarks that they better not let LaFleur catch them of it'll be their heads. Suddenly a situation pops up, Horace is outside drunk with dynamite. They go to wake up LaFleur at 3am and meekly knock on the door. A shadowed figure gruffly asks "What?" They explain the situation and the response? A very familiar "son of a bitch" - it's Sawyer, who grabs his DHARMA jumpsuit and heads out with them.

It's an amazing scene from start to finish, but the shot of Sawyer's jumpsuit with "Head of Security" written on it is just brilliant, and a moment that makes you go "Awesome!" This scene told us everything we needed to know in perfect style and kicked off a rollicking action-adventure that was the second half of Season 5.



27) Jeremy Bentham is Locke

Episode: 4.13 - There's No Place Like Home
Synopsis: We finally find out who's in that darn coffin!
Why it’s great: We all saw it coming, but it still shocks nonetheless

The great coffin debate that went on through Season 4 was one of the most tantalizing mysteries of the show. Everyone pretty much figured it was someone we knew and that Jeremy Bentham was simply an alias, but who it was was certainly up for debate. Locke was one of the leading candidates, but Walt's name was also thrown around a lot, as was Desmond's. And, in fact, three separate endings were filmed showing Locke, Desmond and Sawyer in the coffin.

But despite being the most predicted choice, the scene lost none of its potency. First of all, it meant that at some point in the future (or past, I suppose), John Locke was going to die. Everyone figured the writers would figure out a way to keep him on the show, but certainly not in the manner it was done (which was excellent). Secondly, Ben's assertion that everyone was going to have to go back together, including John Locke, set up a fun storyline whereby everyone had to get on Flight 316 together. It was really never explained why they all had to be on the plane together, but the "getting the band back together" storyline was a nice start to Season 5.

Lastly, Locke's image in the coffin is probably one of the most iconic images of the show - just look at how easy it is to find a screencap.



26) Sayid shoots young Ben in 1977

Episode: 5.10 - He's Our You
Synopsis: Sayid shoots young Ben in the chest
Why it’s great: Sayid opens up a whole new bag of time travel worms... and theories

I almost made this moment the one when young Ben meets Sayid for the first time. That moment was great, largely because you could see Sayid thoughts as he introduced himself to Benjamin: "I am going to kill you, child. And I am going to enjoy doing it." That was great, but clearly this is the better moment of the two and one of the best cliffhangers of Season 5.

The metaphysical can of worms Sayid's act opened was simply delicious (and you know I love to eat my worms). At the time, we had no idea whether Ben was actually going to survive because we had no idea whether the Losties could change history or not, so that whole idea was debated. But then, if he survived, the question became why he wouldn't remember being shot by an Iraqi named Sayid later in life, especially after said Sayid tortured him.

Both of these debates were answered (they did not change history and Ben's mind was wiped, deus ex machina style, in the Temple), but the ultimate answer then presented an even more interesting and delicious observation: Sayid, by shooting him, made Ben an Other and set him on the path to becoming a murderous, power-hungry man. Then Ben, in turn, used Sayid and turned him into his personal assassin. Thus we have an infinite time loop of abuse between two people.

I think that's the worst thing I've ever heard. How marvelous.



25) Jack meets Desmond in the stadium

Episode: 2.01 - Man of Science, Man of Faith
Synopsis: Jack meets Desmond in the stadium after operating on Sarah
Why it’s great: Because it made Desmond seem almost mystical

And so begins the Top 25!

To kick it off we have one of my personal favorite scenes from one of my personal favorite episodes. When I saw this scene for the first time, I guessed Desmond might be the person in the Hatch, especially after he said his famous parting line to Jack. And this scene, more than just about anything else, shifted the coincidence vs. fate argument needle firmly into the fate range because it just seemed like too great of a coincidence that this random person that Jack met years ago would be the same person inside the Hatch on this weird Island.

But the whole scene was just written so well. I don't think there's been another conversation on the show that's been parsed to the degree this one had been after the episode aired. Every line was analyzed for an underlying meaning. And it had a trippy, ethereal quality to it - was Desmond some sort of mystical person, hinting to Jack of his fate to come? Take a look at the dialogue here:

[Flashback - Jack running the steps at a stadium. Another person comes into view running faster than Jack. Jack tries to keep pace but hurts his ankle.]

JACK: Ow, damn it.

DESMOND: You alright, brother?

JACK: I'm fine. I'm fine.

DESMOND: Take it easy. Keep the weight off. Here, let me have a look. Does this hurt? [Jack shakes his head.] You haven't sprained it then. I don't fancy your chances of catching up with me tonight, though.

JACK: I wasn't trying to catch up.

DESMOND: Aye, of course you weren't.

JACK: What do you know about sprains, anyway?

DESMOND: I was almost a doctor once.

JACK: Small world.

DESMOND: You a doctor then? [Jack nods. Desmond offers Jack his water bottle.] So what's your excuse?

JACK: Excuse?

DESMOND: For running like the devil's chasing you. My excuse - I'm training.

JACK: Training for what?

DESMOND: For a race around the world. Impressive, I know. So your excuse better be good, brother.

JACK: Just trying to work a few things out.

DESMOND: Ah, a girl, right?

JACK: A patient.

DESMOND: Ah, but a girl patient. What's her name?

JACK: Her name's Sarah.

DESMOND: What'd you do to her then?

JACK: Do to her?

DESMOND: You must have done something worthy of this self-flagellation.

JACK: I told her -- I made a promise I couldn't keep -- I told her I'd fix her and I couldn't. I failed.

DESMOND: Well, right. Just one thing -- what if you did fix her?

JACK: I didn't.

DESMOND: But what if you did?

JACK: You don't know what you're talking about, man.

DESMOND: I don't? Why not?

JACK: Because with her situation that would be a miracle, brother.

DESMOND: Oh, and you don't believe in miracles? [Jack chuckles and shakes his head.] Right. Well then, I'm going to give you some advice anyway. You have to lift it up.

JACK: Lift it up?

DESMOND: Your ankle. You've got to keep it elevated. It's been nice chatting.

JACK: Jack.

DESMOND: Jack, I'm Desmond. Good luck, brother. See you in another life, yeah?

The bolded lines were the most debated ones. It's in actuality a perfectly normal conversation, but doesn't it sound like Desmond is some sort of guardian angel or something and that he knows exactly what's in store for Jack? This is one of my favorite scenes of the entire show. I love how it's filmed, I love how it's shot and I love the overall atmosphere of the scene.

You have to lift it up. The writers certainly did here.



24) The Raft Launch

Episode: 1.23 - Exodus
Synopsis: The raft finally sets sail
Why it’s great: An amazing scene for a scripted show

When the whole raft storyline began, I thought "no way is this going to work." Meaning there's no way the writers are going to break up the cast and have four principal members out at sea for however long they're out there. In addition, I couldn't imagine having to film raft scenes for an extended period of time. So when the raft actually launched, I was amazed they were going to go through with it. Of course, the trip didn't even last the rest of the episode, but it still gave us an hour or so of hope.

But the whole scene itself was amazing. The cinematography was incredible for TV, even given the gorgeous Hawaiian coastline where it was filmed. And really, this scene could fall under the category of reunion scenes because, even though it was a parting of ways for some of these characters, it was also a scene of hope. The four sailors were going to find help and salvation for the survivors. It was a moment of joy, even though it was tinged with sadness for some (especially when Vincent ran into the water). Possibly the most uplifting scene in the series save one, which we'll address a bit later on.



23) Flight 815 breaks up over the Barracks

Episode: 3.01 - A Tale of Two Cities
Synopsis: We see Flight 815 break up... from a slightly different perspective
Why it’s great: Meet the Others

Ah, the second best opening scene of the show. This one, I believe, was actually directed by JJ Abrams himself... and it shows. First we meet Juliet, a lovely lass, burning her muffins. She has a book club and her very favorite book is "Carrie." She has excellent taste, I like her already. And then she steps out of her charming house to speak to her handyman who happens to be... Ethan? And then all **** breaks loose as Flight 815 flies overhead and starts to break apart before their very eyes. And who should immediately break into action and start giving directions, none other than Henry Gale, who then turns to Juliet to say:
"Guess I'm out of the book club."
And then we see there's a small town in the center of the Island. Commercial.

*jaw drops to the floor*

I stood and applauded after this opening. It was classic Lost, filmed to perfection and turned everything we knew about the Others to that point on its head. Bravo.



22) Sawyer tells Jack he met Christian in Sydney

Episode: 1.23 - Exodus
Synopsis: Sawyer eases Jack's pain
Why it’s great: One of the best character moments of the show

This is a scene that doesn't need much explanation. It's one of the best character moments of the show and one of the best payoffs as well. We knew for quite a while that Sawyer had run into Christian in Sydney, but we did kinda wonder whether it would get mentioned. Well, it did... and it was spectacular. In Sawyer's own words:
Jack. -- About a week before we all got on the plane, I got to talking to this man in a bar in Sydney. He was American, too. A doctor. I've been on some benders in my time, but this guy -- he was going for an all time record. So, it turns out this guy has a son. His son's a doctor, too. They had some kind of big time falling out. The guy knew it was his fault, even though his son was back in the States thinking the same damn thing. See, kids are like dogs, you knock them around enough they'll think they did something to deserve it. Anyway, there's a pay phone in this bar. And this guy, Christian, tells me he wishes he had the stones to pick up the phone, call his kid, tell him he's sorry, that he's a better doctor than he'll ever be -- he's proud, and he loves him. I had to take off, but -- something tells me he never got around to making that call. Small world, huh?
Jack's reaction had some serious Party-of-Five- quality Jackface to it as well. Just a great moment and both Matthew Fox and Josh Holloway were simply terrific here. It also sets up another classic Red Sox moment a bit later in the series.



21) Zombie Locke reveals Locke's final thoughts to Ben

Episode: 6.01 - L.A. X
Synopsis: Smokey reveals his true nature to Ben
Why it’s great: "I don't understand!"

I believe this is the final Season 6 moment on the list, and it's definitely my favorite of them all. Back in Season 2, a lot of people were complaining about how John Locke had changed, how pushing the button had robbed Locke of all his gung-ho, Shaman/Warrior qualities. But I argued at the time that really the pathetic button pusher in the Hatch was who John Locke really was. He made himself into something different on the Island when it gave him back the ability to walk. He always had a high opinion of himself and he was an idealistic dreamer; he really thought he was put on the Island for a reason and was there to be great leader and to save them all.

All that is what makes this speech from Smokey all the more heartbreaking:
"I'm not talking about Jacob. I'm talking about John Locke. Do you wanna know what he was thinking while you, choked the life outta him Benjamin? What the last thought that ran through his head was? "I don't understand". Isn't that just the saddest thing you ever heard? But it's fitting in a way, because when John first came to the island, he was a very sad man. A victim, shouting at the world for being told what he couldn't do, even though they were right. He was weak, and pathetic, and irreparably broken. But, despite all that, there was something admirable about him. He was the only one of them that didn't wanna leave. The only one, who realized how pitiful the life he'd left behind actually was."
And Smokey's right, there was something admirable about John. he represented the dreamer in all of us. The young adventurous boy who wanted to go off and do great things, everyone who's every read an adventure novel and longed to have one of their own. Instead he met his death at the hands of his most hated rival in a beaten down hotel, completely bewildered as to how this - this - could have been his ultimate destiny. It's totally heartbreaking to think about and even worse as Smokey relays this to Ben using John Locke's body.

Best scene of Season 6 for me, hands down.

Moment Tally (updated through #21):

I'll be keeping a running tally of the number of times main or recurring (not minor) characters appear in these moments, along with which seasons they came from. I might even do a Power List later on - giving each points based on where they are in the list (1 point for #108, 108 points for #1) and so on. Depends on how ambitious I am. :)

I was surprised a bit this week as the tops of both lists were reinforced a bit; both Ben and Season 5 strengthened their grip on their respective tallies. The number of Season 5 moments on my list is especially surprising to me, though in retrospect the time travel storyline did have a tremendous number of awesome moments. But every season but Season 4 is in striking distance of the lead (though Season 6 won't be taking the crown). Locke is also probably the only one who can catch Ben at this point. Only 20 more to go! :)

Main/Recurring Characters:

Ben - 23
Locke - 16
Jack - 15
Sawyer - 13
Smokey - 10
Desmond - 7
Hurley - 7
Sayid - 7
Jin - 6
Juliet - 5
Michael - 5
Charles Widmore - 4
Daniel - 4
Danielle - 4
Eko - 4
Jacob - 4
Kate - 4
Richard - 4
Tom Friendly - 4
Charlie - 3
Claire - 3
Bernard and Rose - 2
Frank - 2
Keamy - 2
Miles - 2
Penny - 2
Pierre Chang - 2
Vincent - 2
Walt - 2
Aaron - 1
Alex - 1
Ana-Lucia - 1
Arzt - 1
Boone - 1
Charlotte - 1
Eloise - 1
Ilana - 1
Libby - 1
Mikhail - 1
Nikki and Paulo - 1
Roger Linus - 1
Shannon - 1
Sun - 1

Seasons:

Season Five - 20
Season Three - 16
Season Two - 15
Season One - 14
Season Six - 14
Season Four - 9

Next installment: #20-11! Almost there...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Top 108 Moments: #40-31


"I think I crashed your plane..."



(Thanks to Dark UFO and Lost Media for all the screencaps).

Welcome to the eighth part of the Top 108 Moments in Lost!

Previous installments:

Honorable Mentions are here, which you might want to read first to get some of my thought processes on what made and was excluded from the list.

Moments #108-101
Moments #100-91
Moments #90-81
Moments #80-71
Moments #70-61
Moments #60-51
Moments #50-41

Today we have Moments #40-31. The Top 50 Moments in Lost continues here! Namaste.

40) Desmond reveals he may have crashed the plane

Episode: 2.23 - Live Together, Die Alone
Synopsis: Desmond discovers he may have made a big "Oops"
Why it’s great: The Flashback that launched a thousand theories

This is probably the moment from the show that most made me a Lost theorist. In a terrific reveal following a terrific flashback, Desmond explains to Locke that he may have been responsible for causing Flight 815 to crash. It was an accident, pure and simple - Flight 815 just happened to be overhead at the exact moment Desmond wasn't there to push the button. Nice, neat, tidy and some great storytelling. The problem with the reveal, however, was that if Flight 815 crashing was an accident, it basically meant that everyone wasn't on the plane for a specific reason, which seemed kinda counter intuitive to what the show had given us to that point. And trying to reconcile those two things is what drove me to write about the show.

Honestly if the true answer was a bit neater and tidier I'd probably have this moment in the Top 10. But the way this all hashes out is that Jacob ex machina orchestrated the whole accident so his plane full of candidates would be conveniently deposited on his Island. Desmond's accident wasn't really an accident since the Island God was behind the scenes pulling the strings. But regardless of how it all played out, it was a terrific moment of Lost mythology.



39) Ben turns the Donkey Wheel

Episode: 4.13 - There's No Place Like Home
Synopsis: Ben moves the Island
Why it’s great: Amazing, imaginative scene

This really was one of the coolest (pun intended) spectacles the show put forth. So there was a donkey wheel embedded into the rock in a frozen chamber underneath a DHARMA station? And turning said wheel led to the Island moving through space and time? There aren't many shows that could pull a scene like this off and make it look cool rather than dumb, but Lost did it with style.

In addition, because we had already seen Ben appear in Tunisia in his parka with his injured arm, we already knew what happened to him afterwards. That made the scene even more goosebump-inducing than it already was. This is also was one of my favorite screencaps of the entire show. If I didn't have a cute daughter, it would likely be my computer wallpaper. :)



38) Rose, Bernard and Vincent are at peace

Episode: 5.16 - The Incident
Synopsis: Rose, Bernard and Vincent have made a new life for themselves
Why it’s great: Because they're awesome

I loved "The Incident" - loved it from start to finish. It's chock full of good scenes, including two in this segment of my list alone. And while this isn't the best scene from the episode, it's probably the most heartwarming (and the most anticipated). Everyone fully expected to see Bernard and Rose again, but to see them living happily and at peace on the Island (with Vincent nonetheless) was simply a joy.

And Bernard and Rose's story hit all the right notes of Lost's major themes. If you're talking about characters being able to leave their life behind and start over, coming to terms with who they are, being comfortable in their own skin and, most importantly, leaving all the trappings of life behind and living a simple life of peace, Bernard and Rose followed a perfect path. They're truly the only ones who fully embraced what the Island had to offer and were rewarded with a (supposedly) long and happy life together. I would have loved to see Hurley and Ben visiting them later on - maybe having tea and forming a bridge club or something. :)



37) Sayid confronts "Henry"

Episode: 2.17 - Lockdown
Synopsis: Sayid knows Henry's a fake
Why it’s great: One of the best trombone endings of the show. Plus: Awesome monologue

This is my personal high point of the whole "Henry Gale" story arc. Every time I see this scene I get a shiver of excitement. It's something about Naveen Andrews' delivery here that does it. Here's his short monologue:
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. [Sayid shows him a driver's license] A man named Henry Gale.
The payoff is great. Ben didn't expect anyone to dig up the grave - he figured the balloon and the grave marker would be enough. But digging up graves just to prove someone wrong is just so Sayid. And I love, love, love the way Sayid is so cool, calm and collected here - he's got Ben nailed to the wall, but he takes his own sweet time in doing it, especially when he says the highlighted line above. Ben almost thinks he's off the hook, then blammo. It's a terrific ending to one of my favorite episodes of the show.



36) Charles offers Desmond a nice glass of scotch... Not!

Episode: 3.08 - Flashes Before Your Eyes
Synopsis: Charles tells Desmond he's not worthy to drink his scotch, let alone marry Penny.
Why it’s great: Soul crushing scene for Desmond... and us as well

"Flashes" was my very favorite episode from the first three seasons of the show. This is the first of three moments from that episode, though it could have easily been the last. Desmond comes crawling to Charles, who thinks he's there to merely ask for a job. But Desmond has other ideas - he wants to ask him for Penny's hand in marriage. And not only does Charles refuse to give his blessing, he (figuratively) slugs Desmond in the face with a really, really expensive bottle of Scotch.

I think this scene makes my hair stand on end so much because we all can relate to moments like this. Not necessarily Desmond's exact same situation, mind you, but being put in a position where you desperately want (or need) something. You probably go through all the possibilities before you attempt to obtain it, bracing for the worst, hoping for the best. But I imagine nothing Desmond imagined came close to what Charles said to him in that office. My heart sunk to my Scotch-free stomach in that scene, right along with Desmond.



35) Smokey shows Sawyer the names in the cave

Episode: 6.04 - The Substitute
Synopsis: Smokey shows Sawyer Jacob's cave
Why it’s great: Goosebump inducing scene in which the candidates are revealed

This is another scene that could have been a bit higher on the list, perhaps, but just felt right here. Smokey revealing the six candidates to Sawyer told us a lot about the endgame of the show and, for once, the writers were actually speaking plain to us. Granted, many people, myself included, thought there might have been more to it at the time, i.e. this wasn't Jacob's cave, it was Smokey's instead, Smokey was lying to Sawyer or didn't really know who the true candidates were, etc. But here it was - answers plain and simple. This is why they were all here. This was their purpose. These are the people Smokey had to get rid of.

It also was a nice way for the writers to give another explanation for the meaning behind the Numbers without having to go into the Valenzetti Equation and such on screen and I have to say, I really liked the way they tied them to the candidates instead. Two meanings, neither of which excludes the other. It was very well done and filled with Easter Eggs for people who looked closely - aside from the Blast Door Map, I don't think there was anything else on the show I scrutinized to the degree I scrutinized the cave wall. :)



34) Michael shoots Ana-Lucia and Libby

Episode: 2.20 - Two for the Road
Synopsis: Michael murders Ana-Lucia and Libby to free Ben
Why it’s great: Even if it was contrived, it's still shocking

During Season 2, Michele Rodriguez became a lightning rod both on and off the screen. Rumors were swirling she was going to be written out of the show due to both fan hatred and her drunk driving arrests, so you could kind of see it coming. Cynthia Watros also had a drunk driving arrest, but her character didn't invite the kind of criticism Ana-Lucia did. On the contrary, most fans were genuinely curious about her character after it was revealed she was in the same insane asylum as Hurley, and most fans (myself included) really wanted a Libby flashback episode. That, I think, is what makes this scene so utterly shocking. Pretty much everyone expected Ana-Lucia to die, but Libby's death came out of nowhere and turned a scene that, had it been just Ana-Lucia, some might have applauded and turned into something truly horrifying instead.

There's also Michael's motivation to talk about here. At the time, I thought there was no way Michael would commit murder in order to save Walt, but the scene sits a bit better with me now in that regard. Would I do the same thing were I in Michael's shoes? Probably not. I imagine I would have tried to work out a plan with, say, the former torturer for the Iraqi Republican Guard. But I can also now sympathize with how a parent would do anything to save their child. The scene is somewhat compromised by the writers desire to rid themselves of one, if not both, of the actresses, but it's a great scene nonetheless and a genuine shock when you see it for the first time.



33) Danielle rescues Jin in 1988

Episode: 5.04 - The Little Prince
Synopsis: Jin is saved by a young Danielle Rousseau
Why it’s great: Looks like we're getting Danielle's story after all!

Since she was introduced in the first season, I waited and waited and waited for a Danielle flashback. I loved her character and so wanted to see her story, through her eyes. But the time travel storyline presented a new opportunity - instead of flashbacks, what if we saw all these great events that were alluded to first hand, through the eyes of the time travelers. As a result we got to see some of the origins of DHARMA, we got to see Charles and Eloise in their youth and we got to see the Incident. But none of these trumps my excitement of seeing Danielle and her crew land on the Island. As soon as I heard all these characters speaking French, I realized who they were and jumped off the couch and clapped.

But this scene is also great for another reason: It was the first time we were shown that Jin survived the ship explosion. I had guessed that he did and was thrown into the time travel radius surrounding the Island, but until now that hadn't been confirmed. And to have him rescued by Danielle was just the icing on the cake. Jin's short adventure with Danielle was terrific and this moment was one I had waited for since Season One.



32) Desmond turns the failsafe key

Episode: 2.23 - Live Together, Die Alone
Synopsis: Desmond seemingly sacrifices himself by releasing the Discharge
Why it’s great: "See you in another life, brotha."

This was really the climactic moment of the Season 2 finale. And it really looked like Desmond sacrificed himself at the time. Of course, since he became a full cast member Season 3, we knew before the season started he had survived, but it was a brave and noble thing he did in the moment and the scene was perfectly executed too.

First off, if "See you in another life, brotha." hadn't become etched into the Lost annals of great lines yet, it certainly was after this episode. Secondly, interspersing of images of Penny as Desmond contemplated turning the key was both terrific and foreshadowing. Here, his life and the most important thing in it literally flashed before his eyes as he turned the key, which is probably a large part why the Discharge sent his consciousness back to that moment in time. This moment also set up Desmond and Penny has having the best relationship on the show. It made "Flashes Before Your Eyes" all that more poignant and allowed "The Constant" to become the best episode of the series. Had I money to burn in the Lost Auction, the Failsafe Key would have been very high on my list of memorabilia to own.



31) Juliet detonates the bomb

Episode: 5.16 -The Incident
Synopsis: Juliet ends it all with a bang
Why it’s great: Heartbreak. Pure heartbreak.

One of the greatest travesties of Lost's run was that Elizabeth Mitchell didn't win an Emmy for her work on the show. Heck, she wasn't even nominated once for a Supporting Actress Emmy and it wasn't until the last season that she even got a Guest Actress nomination (she lost to Ann-Margret who did a guest turn on Law and Order: SVU). But she was the heart and soul of Lost in Season 5 with her love of Sawyer, giving us new and improved reasons to hate Kate all over again. Now to be fair, I did think Evangeline did well on her side of the stage - it's just that the writers totally made Kate the villain in this love triangle. Juliet, despite her introduction as the tough new Other in Season 3, turned out to be one of the sweetest, most vunerable characters on the show and just when she thinks she's got Sawyer safe and all to herself in 1977 - *BAM* - in comes Kate again to wreck a beautiful relationship.

Juliet detonated the bomb out of heartbreak for Sawyer. She thought that as long as Kate was around she would always be #2 in his heart, so she decided to end it all and give him what she thought he wanted. I always hated the Kate-Jack-Sawyer love triangle. Not only was it annoying, I honestly didn't care who won. Juliet-Kate-Sawyer not only made me care, it actually made me root for Juliet and feel awful - totally awful - after this heartbreaking scene. Kudos to Elizabeth Mitchell who was totally robbed.

Moment Tally (updated through #31):

I'll be keeping a running tally of the number of times main or recurring (not minor) characters appear in these moments, along with which seasons they came from. I might even do a Power List later on - giving each points based on where they are in the list (1 point for #108, 108 points for #1) and so on. Depends on how ambitious I am. :)

This week both Ben and Season 5 maintain their respective leads, but take notice that Desmond and Season 2 leaped up quite a bit this week - I imagine by the time the list is complete, both are going to be considerably higher than they are right now. I'm expecting a great deal of shuffling in both lists in the weeks to come; the top of the list is quite different character and episode-wise from the bottom. Well, except for Ben - Ben's just all over the list. :)

Main/Recurring Characters:

Ben - 17
Locke - 14
Jack - 11
Sawyer - 10
Smokey - 9
Hurley - 7
Desmond - 6
Jin - 5
Sayid - 5
Charles Widmore - 4
Daniel - 4
Danielle - 4
Eko - 4
Jacob - 4
Juliet - 4
Kate - 4
Michael - 4
Richard - 4
Tom Friendly - 4
Charlie - 3
Claire - 3
Bernard and Rose - 2
Frank - 2
Keamy - 2
Miles - 2
Penny - 2
Pierre Chang - 2
Aaron - 1
Alex - 1
Ana-Lucia - 1
Arzt - 1
Boone - 1
Charlotte - 1
Eloise - 1
Ilana - 1
Libby - 1
Mikhail - 1
Nikki and Paulo - 1
Sun - 1
Vincent - 1
Walt - 1

Seasons:

Season Five - 18
Season Three - 14
Season Two - 13
Season Six - 13
Season One - 12
Season Four - 8

Next installment: #30-21