Monday, July 2, 2007

Top Ten Episodes #8: 1.23 "Exodus"

: "Do you really think all this is an accident that we, a group of strangers survived, many of us with just superficial injuries? Do you think we crashed on this place by coincidence... especially, this place? We were brought here for a purpose, for a reason, all of us. Each one of us was brought here for a reason." Rating: 9.5-9.6 (Part one is 9.5, #13; Part two is 9.6, #9)

Brief summary: Oh, jeez. So much happened, where do I begin? Well, basically this is three separate stories:

1) The trek to the Black Rock to get the dynamite to blow the Hatch
2) The launch (and very short voyage) of the raft
3) Packing up the beach, and getting Aaron back from Danielle

Through these stories, we saw the Black Rock for the first time, learned a lot about the Monster, met some more Others, and blew open the Hatch.

And these three epics were all sandwiched around flashbacks behind the individual stories of how everyone boarded their fateful flight. In these, we learned why no one noticed Locke was paralyzed before (he was carried onto the plane before anyone else), that Jin was threatened in the airport bathroom, how ironic it was that Shannon turned her future boyfriend into airport security, and how Hurley's "bad luck" allowed him to board in the nick of time. We also even met Ana-Lucia for the first time, giving us our first hint that Rose's prediction of Bernard being alive was true (since she made a point of mentioning to Jack that she was in the rear of the plane).

And, of course, it ended with a terrific (depending on your point of view) double cliffhanger.

Why it's a classic: I have to admit, I had a slightly different viewing experience of "Exodus" than many Lost fans. My roommate at the time, Josh, and I bought the season 1 DVD set two weeks before the season 2 opener, watched 3-4 episodes per day and finished them up about four days or so before it aired. Our total waiting time for "Man of Science, Man of Faith" was about 96 hours.

Obviously, doing it this way will slightly color your opinion on things. We were both stoked after watching "Exodus" - what a fantastic finale, can't wait until Wednesday when we get to see what's in the Hatch!

As opposed to everyone else who were forced to wait six months.

But even if you were pissed at having to wait, one can't deny how incredible the finale was, simply packed with now-classic scenes. "Exodus," in my humble opinion, was the best of the three season finales. Yes, it was technically three hours as opposed to two. But really, "Greatest Hits" was the prelude to "Through The Looking Glass" and I think "Exodus" blows them both out of the water. Interesting too that TTLG went back to the Exodus formula with the intertwined but separate storylines with the entire cast that was (somewhat) abandoned in "Live Together, Die Alone."

But what puts Exodus above TTLG in my book is that there are so many more classic lines and moments which I still remember today after only one viewing two years ago. GH & TTLG, while both great episodes with an equally good cliffhanger, just isn't as quotable or iconic.

Still disagree? Let's count down the top 10 moments from "Exodus, Parts 1-3."

As always, thanks to The Lost Hatch for their invaluable episode transcripts.

10) The Hurley Bird

We start with what's become a Lost inside joke.
On the trek to the Black Rock, Hurley sees a huge bird of prey flying overhead which seems to screech his name. This prompts him to say that naming this place the Dark Territory was "genius."

While it seemed like nothing at the time, the Hurley Bird proved
to be so popular he made a re-appearance in the season 2 finale as well.

And I have to say, I was greatly disappointed we didn't see him in "Through the Looking Glass" too.

9) Shannon and Walt
Walt Why are you folding the clothes?
Shannon Because I'm anal. Is there something you want?
Walt I think you should take Vincent.
Shannon Are you serious?
Walt He'll take care of you.
Shannon What's makes you think I need a dog to take care of me?
Walt Vincent took care of me when my mom died and nobody would talk to me. They pretend like nothing happened. So I had to talk to Vincent. He's a good listener. You could talk to him about Boone if you want.
Shannon Alright, but only until you get us rescued, okay.

I greatly disliked Shannon from the start, but this moment with Walt was one of the of the most touching of the series. It was also the only interaction her character had that felt genuine. Maybe it's just me, but I really couldn't feel any chemistry between her and Sayid at all.

But Walt's gesture was as genuine as they come, and it set up several very creepy second season scenes as the bond they forged on the beach with Vincent manifested itself literally in a dripping vision of Walt in the jungle. Cool.

8) Hurley in the Airport

Hurley's run through the airport was just a terrific scene, capped by his thumbs up to Walt when he finally makes his flight. There wasn't much done with Hurley's "curse" in the third season, really nothing since Libby was shot (which of course Hurley blames on himself). But I always thought it was neat the way the writers made Hurley almost miss Flight 815, only to "luckily" make it in time.

But his crazy run was also notable because it was so chock full of well-placed numbers, including quite possibly the best easter egg of the series: The girls soccer team. Check it out:

7) Stop me if you've heard this one: Con man and a surgeon walk into a bar

Before the raft launched, Jack approached Sawyer in the jungle and gave him a gun. Sawyer was so touched by this expression of manly testosterone, he broke down and told Jack his story about meeting his dad in a Sydney bar.

It was a great scene with a great setup several episodes before and, much like the payoff we got earlier this year with Ben showing Jack the Red Sox World Series clip, it didn't disappoint.

Sawyer Excuse me?
JackI never asked you what you did back in the real world, so I'm taking a wild guess lumberjack.
Sawyer Something I can help you with, Doc, because I've got work to do.
Jack I've got something for you. You're the only one on the raft who knows how to use one.
Sawyer What do I need a gun for?
JackJust in case.
Sawyer You think we're going to run out of food or water? Am I supposed to put the kid out of his misery?
JackJust in case.
Sawyer What are you doing with the rest of them?
JackI'm giving them to Sayid.
Sawyer Going into the jungle after the boom sticks, huh?
Sawyer By the time you get back we'll be in the water. Guess this is pretty much goodbye, then.
JackYeah, I guess it is. Good luck, Sawyer.
Sawyer 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. 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?
Sawyer Good luck, Jack.

6) Launching the Raft

Lost has had it's share of touching cast montages, the best of which was when the Tailies arrived back on the beach with Sawyer, Michael, and Jin. But this was second best with everyone gathered on the beach to see the raft off. Vincent getting left behind, Sun and Kate saying goodbye.

And at the time, you really didn't know how the writers were going to resolve it. Obviously they couldn't have four starring members of their cast leave the show (although that doesn't sound quite as strange now given their propensity for killing off cast members), so you knew they'd have to end back up on the island somehow. But didn't you have a bit of fear in the back of your mind that something bad was going to happen? I did.

Touching and sweet with just a dash of dread. Just how I like it.

5) Smoke Monster: Enter Stage Right

KateWhat was that thing?
DanielleIt's a security system.
JackSecurity system? What does that mean?
DanielleIt's purpose is that of any security systems... to protect something.
KateProtect what?
DanielleThe island.

Uh, what the heck was that!?

Remember the first time you saw the black smoke? A little wisp of a thing fluttering through the jungle. When I first saw it, I really didn't think it could be the Monster. In fact, it was about as far from what I expected the Monster to be as anything.

Of course, then it uprooted a couple trees and tried to drag Locke into a gaping hole and I thought "Hey, this could work." :)

And Danielle's comment that it was the island's "security system" also suggests that she knows more about it than she's letting on. I know she's a few spark plugs short of a full engine, but the fact no one has ever questioned her fully on this is beyond maddening. Maybe next season she'll have a little pow-wow with her daughter and we'll finally get her backstory (which happen to be the one Lost thing I want to know most of all).

There was a review of "Jurassic Park" that sticks with me from my old hometown paper, the Albany Times-Union. Basically, the critic complains about the first hour of the film, how slow it was to build. But then he says when the T-Rex came on the screen "talk about charisma. He bares his teeth and the show comes to life for a rollicking hour."

That's how I feel about Smokey. :)

4) The Black Rock

Danielle: The Black Rock is not far. This is where it all began... where my team got infected... where Montand lost his arm. We must move quickly.

Raise your hand if you were expecting the Black Rock to be a giant pirate ship sitting in the middle of the jungle. No? Me either.

Of all the WTF moments Lost has given us, this has to be one of the top five. Curious too that this is where Danielle says her team got infected. Granted, I still think that DHARMA's sickness is a hoax. But that doesn't mean her men didn't become sick from something else.

3) Arzt

ArztYou know what I'm... I'm sorry, I'm sor... I'm sorry that I'm not cool enough to be part of your merry little band of adventurers.
ArztI know a clique when I see it. I teach high school, pally. You know, you people think you're the only ones on this island doing anything of value. I've got news for you. There were 40 other survivors of this plane crash. And we are all people, too.

Arzt was really one of the great bit roles we'll ever see on television. Think "Andy, Andy" from the early seasons of "Cheers." Arzt was the writers' way of parodying themselves and voicing all the grievances fans had during the season:

"Why don't we see any of the other survivors?"
"Why doesn't Hurley lose weight?"
"Why so few people get to do all the cool stuff on the island?"

Of course, the fact they blew him up in mid-grievance could also be a way of them telling us to stop complaining and just enjoy the ride. And Hurley's now classic, "Dude, you've got some Arzt on you" line is still one of the funniest of the show.

2) Man of Science, Man of Faith

LockeThat's why you and I don't see eye-to-eye sometimes, Jack because you're a man of science.
JackYeah, and what does that make you?
LockeMe, well, I'm a man of faith. Do you really think all this is an accident that we, a group of strangers survived, many of us with just superficial injuries? Do you think we crashed on this place by coincidence... especially, this place? We were brought here for a purpose, for a reason, all of us. Each one of us was brought here for a reason.
JackBrought here? And who brought us here, John?
LockeThe island. The island brought us here. This is no ordinary place, you've seen that, I know you have. But the island chose you, too, Jack. It's destiny.
JackDid you talk with Boone about destiny, John?
LockeBoone was a sacrifice that island demanded. What happened to him at that plane was a part of a chain of events that led us here... that led us down a path, that led you and me to this day, to right now.
JackAnd where does that path end, John?
LockeThe path ends at the hatch. The hatch, Jack... all of it... all of it happened so that we could open the hatch.
JackNo, no, we're opening the hatch so that we can survive.
LockeSurvival is all relative, Jack.
JackI don't believe in destiny.
LockeYes, you do. You just don't know it yet.

Absolutely the best Jack/Locke, science/faith exchange, I still get chills hearing it. And it's this exchange that later led Jack to warn Kate of their potential "Locke problem." Does Jack have a destiny on the island? I think he does, but I also think there's a logical explanation for why that is.

Interesting that their path doesn't end at the Hatch, though. The Hatch is really where it begins.

1) "Only, the thing is we're gonna have to take the boy."

Did you get chills when that line was spoken by the man we'd eventually come to know and love as Tom? Did you see it coming? In retrospect, I probably should have but I certainly didn't at the time. I remember thinking "oh crap, oh crap, oh crap" as Sawyer was shot, Walt was yanked, and the raft was blown up. And even though it wasn't funny at the time, it was the first time we ever heard Michael say "Waaaaaaaaaaaaalt!"

The ending of this episode reminds me of the ending of Stephen King's "The Waste Lands," part of his Dark Tower series that undoubtedly influenced the writers. The end of TWL has one of the best cliffhangers I've ever read, one which left you thinking "Good lord, how could they end it there? I need to know what happens NOW." King published TWL in 1992. We didn't get the next book until 1997. For any of you jealous that I didn't have to suffer with "Exodus," be comforted in the fact that I do know what suffering is.

The other thing that makes this episode so fantastic is how "Exodus" makes me want to share it with someone. Imagine sitting there watching it with someone that's never seen it before. You want to see the look on their face when the raft explodes, and watch them squirm as the camera pans down the Hatch's shaft. To me that's one of the things that really makes the episode great - that it makes you want to share these moments with someone. Other Lost episodes do this, but this one has more than just about any other.


Before the second season began, Stephen King wrote a terrific Entertainment Weekly column on Lost, basically saying that the show should tell its story and end rather than drag on and get stale. He recommended two or three seasons at most and, truth be told, "Exodus" felt like it was the end of the first novel in a trilogy, much moreso than the other two finales to me at least.

It could have been higher on the list, no question. But the real question is how can I like this finale better than the other two? And what do all of you think? Is "Exodus" the best of the three finales? Or do you like Future Jack from "Through The Looking Glass" or all the Desmond-y goodness of "Live Together, Die Alone?"

Previous Reviews:
#10: White Rabbit
#9: The Man From Tallahassee


Missie said...

Actually Jay, there is one other back story I want almost as much as Danielle's. That would be Libby's. Despite her death, I'm hoping we get more of her past, maybe via Desmond since he had some pre-island interaction with her.

Carly said...

Hi Jay. Pretty darn good reviewer you are, I must say. I agree that the season 1 finale is the best of the three so far with season 3's being a close second.

Jay said...

Thanks Carly! :)

I was very curious to see if people agreed with me there. Going by the ratings, I thought we might be in the minority.

Miss -

I want Libby's backstory too - she's actually my #2 now that we've got a taste of Ben. But anything that can shed some light on the early history of the island is what really intrigues me and I've wanted Danielle's since the first season.

Part of me also wonders whether we'll see Ben steal away Alex from Danielle in one of Ben's later flashbacks. That would be so cool. :)

cool_freeze said...

Good Work, Jay. I agree that Exodus did feel like the end of a novel. Truthfully, I think each finale did. I am not saying that I liked each finale the same though. I am with missie in saying that I would like to have more closure to Libby's story. I never did agree with her being shot off the show.

someGirl said...

Hello Jay! I just wanted to say that exchange between Jack and Sawyer about Christian is one of my favorites. Mostly because the Losties lack of communication really irks me!! BIG TIME!! For a bunch stranded people, there has been very little "what’s your story" kind of communication.

And "Exodus" absolutely beats out all other season enders. The words "We need the boy" are the single most scary words ever!!

Again, great recap.

blueberry said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't see any chemistry between Sayid and Shannon.

But, I guess I'm in the minority here when I say I really like the second season finale. Just the tension with the whole "electro-magnet" thing in the hatch. The whole question of whether the button is real or if it's just an experiment.

And, oh how purple the sky turned when Desmond turned the key. (I don't quite remember the color or if there was a loud sound accompanying it.)

How about the scene with the Losties with bags over their heads at the dock?