Monday, September 17, 2007

Top Ten Episodes #3: 1.04 "Walkabout"

"Don't tell me what I can't do!" rating: 9.5, #14 overall

Brief Summary:
Lost at its best. The first time we find out anything about the strange, orange-eating, secret-telling man who apparently has a trunk full of knives.

The episode has two simple threads: The funeral and the boar hunt.

The fuselage has to be burned because the decomposing bodies are attracting some renegade pork which, in turn, gives Locke the idea to get some chops for the camp. Kate and Michael go with him, the former to try and use the transceiver that Sayid fixed and the latter to, well, be a manly dad or something.

Michael is injured during the hunt and Kate drops and breaks the transceiver during a Monster scare. Locke comes face-to-face with the Monster and saw something "beautiful." He also manages to bring a boar back to camp, earning the respect of all the hungry Losties.

Meanwhile, Claire gathers up all the info on the dead for a eulogy at the funeral. She asks Jack to speak, but he wants nothing to do with saying goodbye, especially since it seems to usually involve whacking coffins with a sledgehammer. Claire reads off the names of the dead as they burn the fuselage.

Other minor plot points include, Jack getting Rose to talk, in which she informs him her husband's still alive, Shannon manipulating Charlie into catching a fish for her, and Jack seeing what he thinks is his dad standing in the water.

But the biggie this episode is Locke's flashback, the contrast between the confident, skilled leader shaman we see on the island and the meek, downtrodden, pathetically beaten man we see beforehand.

Oh, and the fact he was paralyzed before he fell out of the sky. Yeah, that too.

Why it's a classic:
Well, duh.

Oh, you mean you actually want me to talk about the episode? :)

I was actually surprised how low Walkabout was on the listings considering, I think, most "Lost" fans would consider it the best episode of the show. And it really hasn't lost any of its luster over time either; you still get goosebumps when you see Locke in the wheelchair, when you see said wheelchair sitting by the burning fuselage, when you see Locke staring up at the Monster.

"Walkabout" was the best of the character introductions, not just because it was the best revelation of all the characters, but because 1) it was a perfectly written and paced episode and 2) Terry O'Quinn has done a masterful job of portraying a complex character both as powerful and tragic as John Locke. Let's take a look at the first season character surprises (only the surprises here, not the episodes themselves) and see how they stack up, not counting this one, my favorite.

2) Hurley's a cursed multi-millionaire
3) Walt's the second coming of Franklin Richards; his dad can barely deal with a normal child
4) Kate's a fugitive who did something really, really bad
5) Sawyer's a con man with a tragic past

6) Sun can speak English and her husband works for the Japanese mob
7) Sayid's a torturer who helped his true love escape from execution
8) Jack's a brilliant surgeon with daddy issues
9) Charlie's a druggie rocker
10) Boone and Shannon do the nasty

Looking back at these, the thing that stands out to me is how much more powerful the revelation was when it dealt with something that was happening on the island. Charlie's a drug addict? Ho hum. Hurley won the lottery with the same freakin' numbers on the Hatch? Whoa! Can't wait for next week!

The revelation that something about the island allowed Locke to walk again was really the first real notion, aside from the Monster and a brief glimpse of Christian Shepherd, that perhaps there was something magical or paranormal about the island. The moment we saw Locke in the wheelchair in the Australian office it made us think that maybe, just maybe, this show was a bit more than a glorified "Cast Away" on the small screen. It changed the dynamic, and genre, of the show in one moment and greatly contributed to its popularity; Locke is still arguably the most popular character and any episode featuring him seems to drive up the ratings.

If you have a friend who has never seen an episode of "Lost" before and just wanted to show him one episode that perfectly encapsulates why the show is so enjoyable, I'd argue that "Walkabout," not the Pilot, is the episode you show him or her. What more can you say about that?

Okay, before y'all kill me for not making this #1, let me just say that the hardest decision I had to make was the order of my Top 3. I love all these episodes and I think they're all terrific.

I put "Walkabout" at #3 because, while I loved the episode and I think it's probably THE most representative episode of Lost at its best, the other two episodes above it on my list 1) are also terrific episodes and 2) I like them for very different, subjective reasons than most people would probably give.

Is "Walkabout" your #1? Do you even think it's the best Locke episode (notice it's my third Locke episode in my Top 10). Would "Tallahassee" or "Lockdown" give it a run for your money? What say you!

Previous Reviews:
#10: White Rabbit
The Man From Tallahassee
Man of Science, Man of Faith
#4: The Pilot


Missie said...

Well, about time! With your post. I'm pretty certain I've pegged your #1, but I won't say it here so that it's a suprise... (I will say that it is my personal favorite as well, and ties into my favorite X-Files episode.)

memphish said...

Walkabout was THE episode that hooked me on LOST. I was a Johnny Come Lately to LOST. I watched the first 1/2 of the Pilot when it aired; said I don't want to watch a show with man-eating monsters, and since it was airing at 7 pm and I would have to tape it, I bailed. Then something that summer got to me and I picked up the DVDs at Blockbuster and when Locke wheeled back -- BAM! I've been obsessed ever since.

Anyone who is thinking about watching the show I tell them just watch the first disc. If you aren't in love with it after Walkabout, get out now.

capcom said...

I think that this is about where I came in too Memphish! I didn't start watching it from the Pilot, cuz I thought that it sounded like some show that was just captitalizing on the whole overblown "Survivor" shpiel. Then I started cancer treatment, got sick, and had no place else to go but to stay home and watch TV, and I watched my first Lost episode and was totally hooked. Thank goodness they showed some reruns that season, and I got all caught up from the Pilot.

Jay said...

Whoa - cancer treatment, Capcom?

If you don't mind me asking, what type and how did it go?

capcom said...

I don't mind you asking, it was cervical cancer that had spread slightly to some close pelvic lymph nodes. So they said they wanted to go very agressive with treatment which they did. So far it worked, but I can definitely relate to the blast door map message, "the cure is worse than the disease". I still haven't hardly recovered from the chemo and rad side effects physically. But, I had Lost to keep me occupied while I was down which was really great! :-) And now we have all these great blog friends too.

Carly said...

Congratulations Capcom on beating the cancer. At least Lost could help keep your mind busy during all that!

capcom said...

Thanks Carly, and it's meeting so many great peeps on the blogs that makes Lost even more fun and special. :-)

Jay said...

That's great, Capcom! Sounds like you had a really positive outlook throughout the whole experience.

And I can't think of a better treatment than massive doses of Lost. :)