Monday, July 19, 2010

Top 108 Moments: #100-91

"Razzle freakin' dazzle"

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

Welcome to the second 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

Today we have Moments #100-91 - keep in mind that most of the really powerful moments are reserved for the Top 50. A lot of the bottom of the list goes to humor and cool character pieces. Namaste.

100) Nikki and Paulo meet a satisfying end

Episode: 3.14 - Exposé
Synopsis: Who the heck are Nikki and Paulo?
Why it’s great: The writers serve up some tasty fanboy service by offing the two most hated characters of the series in spectacular fashion

"Exposé" is another one of those episodes that fans either love or hate. Personally I'm firmly in the love category because, as miscalculated as the addition of Nikki and Paulo was in Season 3, the way they were subtracted was both brilliant and inspired in its hilarity. First off, I loved the fact that the writers did string tidbits of the overall plotline to "Exposé" throughout the beginning of the first season. Secondly, The whole episode played light and loose with the fourth wall, with even Sawyer shouting "Who the heck are Nikki and Paulo?" at one point.

But Nikki and Paulo's ultimate demise - with Nikki starting to recover just as dirt is shoveled on her - was an homage in tried and true fashion to a classic "Alfred Hitchhock Presents" with Joseph Cotton, where Cotton plays a paralyzed car crash victim who everyone thinks is dead. It's dark, it's awful and it's a tongue-in-cheek mea culpa to fans who had wanted them dead and buried as soon as they appeared on screen. Kudos to the writers.

99) Jack needs Christian's coffin on board

Episode: 1.05 - White Rabbit
Synopsis: Jack delivers an emotional plea to get his father's coffin on Flight 815
Why it’s great: Because we see it over and over again from so many different points of view. Plus: Party of Five Jackface!

One of the signature moments of the first season, Jack's emotional plea to "Chrissy" to allow him to take his father home and bury him so "this can be over" was a fine piece of acting by Matthew Fox and was probably the first time in the series I thought - "Whoa. That was so Party of Five." But the moment is also neat in that we see it again and again from different points of view. Sun and Jin are standing in line behind Jack and we get to see it again in two of their flashbacks and we see Jack going up to the counter in the background of several other shots. It's also one of Jack's best monologues on the show - much better than his "Live Together, Die Alone" speech which comes later.

It also comes in the midst of one of my favorite episodes - one of my original Top 10's - "White Rabbit" and the flashback is juxtaposed alongside Jack finding his father's coffin empty on the Island. That was a great transition and it led to Jack smashing the coffin to pieces and giving us our first clue that there might be something up with dead people on the Island.

98) Desmond gets the Dr. Manhattan treatment from Widmore

Episode: 6.11 - Happily Ever After
Synopsis: Desmond gets zapped for the second time in his life
Why it’s great: It's a great reference to an even greater comic

As disappointing as the ending of Lost was for me, the ramp up to it was pretty terrific, highlighted by "Happily Ever After." All Desmond and Ben episodes have been pretty much universally great throughout the show and Desmond in particular has two of the top episodes of the entire series in "Flashes Before Your Eyes" and "The Constant." HEA doesn't quite live up to those two, but it certainly had its share of great moments - the backwards Alt version of Desmond's office meeting with Charles, Desmond's flash of NOT PENNY'S BOAT and, of course, Charles' twisted little box experiment that sent Desmond's consciousness into the Alt in the first place.

The entire scene was a direct homage to the accident that created Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen and I thought it was incredibly well done. Because they accidentally fried one of Widmore's henchmen right before they threw Desmond in, the look on Des' face as he entered the box was priceless. Not to mention, in a season where I was underwhelmed by the special effects, this scene stood out as incredibly well done from that standpoint. And to think, Des didn't even have to reassemble himself afterward. :)

97) Richard Malkin makes an impression on Claire

Episode: 1.10 - Raised By Another
Synopsis: Claire gets a creepy ultimatum from a supposed psychic
Why it’s great: Because it's one of the things that hooked me on the show

This is a scene that could have dropped off my list entirely, largely because to me it's still an unanswered question as to why somebody hired Malkin to put Claire on Flight 815. Paula points out there's a deleted scene where Malkin states he was paid $16K by a couple in LA to get Claire to give up their kid, but that's still kinda unsatisfying to me and kinda nonsensical (how did an LA couple hear about Claire?). I'd almost rather theorize that Jacob tipped off the couple to get Claire on Flight 815 because she and/or Aaron were candidates. That's a pretty plausible explanation given everything we saw in the final season and wouldn't it have been cool to see Jacob doing things like hiring Malkin, getting Hibbs to lure Sawyer to Sydney, tipping Kate's farmer friend off as to who she was, etc...? Anyhoo, I digress...

I kept this scene on here because for someone watching through Lost for the first time, this is a scene that grabs you. Not only does it suggest Claire and her unborn child are critically important to the show, but by extension it also hints might be an actual reason they - and all of Flight 815 - crashed on the Island (which is a theory the LA couple explanation would have negated). I still get goosebumps when I watch this scene and I wish it was something they could have returned to, perhaps from Jacob's perspective. This was one of the first season scenes that hooked me on Lost for good.

96) Jack's a "Work Man"

Episode: 5.09 - Namaste
Synopsis: Jack gets his assignment from Pierre Chang
Why it’s great: Hilarious, brilliant touch by the writers

Mid-season five was brilliant, with the dual storylines of "Locke" coming back-to-life in 2007 and the time-traveling quartet in 1977. The run of "This Place Is Death" to "Dead is Dead" just might be the best run of episodes Lost ever produced. "Namaste" is smack-dab in the middle of them and while overall the episode didn't have a lot of epic moments (largely because it was kind of transitory), it was action-packed from start to finish, highlighted by the Sawyer taking charge and trying to figure out a way to save all his friends from being discovered by DHARMA.

But one of the best touches amidst all this chaos was Jack being given his assignment by Pierre Chang and finding out he's a "Work Man." Not only is it a terrific reference to Ben's father, but it's also the writers letting Sawyer get in a subtle dig at Jack, something he does much less subtly when Jack confronts him at the end of the episode. It's a great moment and the look on Jack's face when he gets his jumpsuit is perfect.

95) Mr. Friendly draws "The Line"

Episode: 2.11 - The Hunting Party
Synopsis: Mr. Friendly delivers an ultimatum to the survivors
Why it’s great: Lost got a villain for the first time and he was... competent!

Sometimes it's easy to forget that before Smokey and Benjamin Linus there was Mr. Friendly, arguably the main villain of Season 2. He kidnapped Walt in "Exodus," then wasn't seen again until this scene in "The Hunting Party." And oh, what a scene it was.

Lost always looks visually spectacular at night, but this was probably the best night scene of the show, moody and atmospheric with the dark jungle and torches. But the best part was the fact Mr. Friendly wasn't exactly the dirty rube he seemed to be on the boat; on the contrary, he turned out to be a well-spoken, smart and competent antagonist. The best villains to me are effective villains, and this scene demonstrated that 1) the Others lured Michael to the jungle, 2) clearly knew everything about the survivors, and 3) seemed to have a plan as to what they wanted from them as well. It basically set up all the conflict for the next season and a half in terrific fashion and set Mr. Friendly on the road to becoming a fan favorite. It's too bad Lost didn't film more at night during its run - the cinematography is simply gorgeous with the jungle shadows and the torchlight.

94) Smokey comes roaring out of the Source

Episode: 6.15 - Beyond The Sea
Synopsis: Jacob kills his brother and a Smoke Monster is born
Why it’s great: It's the Origin of the Smokey

Am I really putting a scene from "Beyond The Sea" on this list, one of the most controversial episodes of the show's final run and one that I was personally disappointed with? Why, yes. Yes, I am. Origin stories, even if you don't agree with them (and I certainly was disappointed by this one), are always interesting to say the least and upon further reflection it might have been a good thing for the writers to leave open the question of Smokey's true nature - much of what has been speculated is probably better than anything they could have put forth on the show.

And say what you will about the motivations of Jacob and Smokey, the cheesiness of the Source special effects and the lingering questions regarding what exactly the Source and Smokey could do, the moment where Smokey emerged from the Source was a terrific one. Smokey's special effects have always looked great on the show and this scene was no different. This scene also gave us a new perspective on the Jacob/Smokey conflict - one I'm still not sure I agree with, but one that grabs your attention for sure - in that Jacob is responsible for creating Smokey.

In reviewing this episode, I stated I really didn't like that dynamic because it makes Smokey sympathetic and I kind of preferred it when he was simply evil incarnate. While I still think this, the flip side of that is it does make Jacob a more complex and interesting character.
If ABC was ever going to make a bit more Lost to fill in some of the blanks not addressed while the show was on, I'd love to see an episode set shortly after this one - with Jacob and MiB having their first conversation post-Smoke Monster. Now that would be awk-ward!

93) Smokey completes a time loop with Richard

Episode: 5.15 - Follow The Leader
Synopsis: Smokey has Richard tell Locke he has to kill himself... while he's inhabiting Locke's dead body!
Why it’s great: Best use of time travel on the show

This was exactly the sort of thing I was hoping to see when time travel was introduced on the show. The only reason Richard ever considered Locke special was because Locke visited him in 1954, giving him the compass and telling him he's going to be their leader. But that whole scenario was put into motion because in the future Richard tells Locke he's special, helps him kill Cooper and sets him on a path to go back in time. It's really everything you want time travel to be, which is why I'm so disappointed they ended everything so abruptly and the only result of the 77ers causing the Incident was that they created a Puragtory for themselves when they died. *sigh*

But the absolute pinnacle of that whole storyline was Smokey completing a time loop with himself (since he's in Locke's body at this point). When Locke was time traveling alone with a wounded leg, Richard came and found him (knowing exactly where he would be), gave him his compass back and told him he was going to have to die. Here we see the reason he knew where Locke would be - Smokey told him so, culled from Locke's own memories. Awesome. Doc Brown would be so proud.

92) "Hello, Aaron"

Episode: 4.04 - Eggtown
Synopsis: We finally meet Kate's son... and it's Aaron!
Why it’s great: It's surprising, creepy effective and very ominous for Claire.

Part of the reason I try to avoid spoilers at all cost are for scenes like this one. "Eggtown" wasn't the best episode ever, but I was surprised the reaction to it around the internet was so negative. But it seems a lot of the negative reaction stemmed from the fact people knew Kate's son was going to Aaron. I absolutely had no clue and it blew me out of the water. A lot of the speculation early in Season 4 was who the Oceanic Six really were - the fact Aaron was one of them changed things entirely (and there was also a lot of debate as to whether or not Aaron even counted as one of the six - that wasn't confirmed until Ji Yeon).

But the best part of this reveal wasn't the fact Aaron left the Island or that Kate had been raising Aaron for three years, what was really great was that it implied something very, very bad had happened to Claire. All of sudden, the storyline of Season 4 changed from speculation of who the Oceanic Six were to what the heck is going to happen to Claire to make her give up Aaron? Turns out she got blown up, got mind screwed by Smokey and was slowly driven insane. Not a bad answer.

91) Daniel tells a young Charlotte she has to leave

Episode: 5.14 - The Variable
Synopsis: Daniel full-fills Charlotte's memory of him
Why it’s great: We had been waiting for it all season and it didn't disappoint

Another very good use of time travel on the show, this was another foreshadowed event that didn't disappoint. Daniel was one of my favorite characters on the show and I actually loved the crush he had on Charlotte from the beginning. But that crush was made even better by the fact Charlotte knew Daniel as a child - she just didn't realize it until it was too late; in her dying breath she told Daniel she knew him as a kid and her last words were she wasn't "allowed to eat chocolate before dinner." Eight episodes later we finally got to hear those words from young Charlotte herself.

It was a great setup, and when we did finally get to see the actual scene Jeremy Davies didn't disappoint. In fact, you could say the scene was given even more gravitas considering Daniel was killed by his mom shortly after - thus Daniel completes a time loop with Charlotte by telling her never to return to the Island, then Eloise completes a time loop with Daniel by killing him, thus completing the destiny she'd always prepared him for. Not exactly poetic, but very cool nonetheless.

Moment Tally (updated through #91):

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. :)

Main/Recurring Characters:
Jack - 4
Ben - 3
Hurley - 2
Locke - 2
Sayid - 2
Smokey - 2
Aaron - 1
Charlie - 1
Charles Widmore - 1
Charlotte - 1
Claire - 1
Daniel - 1
Danielle - 1
Desmond - 1
Eko - 1
Jacob - 1
Juliet - 1
Kate - 1
Keamy - 1
Nikki and Paulo - 1
Pierre Chang - 1
Richard -1
Sawyer - 1
Tom Friendly - 1

Season Six - 5
Season Five - 3
Season Three - 3
Season Four - 3
Season One - 2
Season Two - 2

Next installment: #90-81 (and maybe a link dump in between). :)

1 comment:

Missie said...

I agree with your sentiments on "Expose"- and it was still hilarios when I rewatched Seasons 1-5. Maybe even better.