Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top 108 Moments: #90-81

"So... when do we leave?"

(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
Moments #100-91

Today we have Moments #90-81 - 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.

90) Locke beats the crap out of Patchy

Episode: 3.18 - The Man Behind The Curtain
Synopsis: Locke makes his point to Ben... emphatically
Why it’s great: Because it put the exclamation mark on the fact Patchy was the Scream killer of Lost

Mikhail was one of my favorite characters from the third season, especially because of his hilarious propensity of bouncing back from a beating. First he was roughed up by Sayid at the Flame, then thrown through the sonic fence at low power, scrambling his brain and knocking him out. Later on, he ran into Desmond and crew in the jungle while they were looking for the helicopter pilot and got kickboxed into submission by Jin.

When he finally reappeared at the Others' camp to report that Naomi had landed on the Island with a satellite phone, Locke was in the middle of trying to convince Ben to take him to see Jacob. And that's when Locke - the real Locke, mind you, not Smokey - finally let out all the anger and frustration that had built up over two seasons, landing it all squarely on Mikhail's face. It was hilarious because it was unexpected; Locke is not a violent man at heart. But seeing him finally let out some of his anger was one of those moments which made you stand up and cheer.

And the fact Mikhail bounced back from that beating as well solidified his status as the "Scream" killer of Lost. For those of you unfamiliar, one of the running gags of the Scream series was that the killer was always someone who gets repeatedly pummeled by his victims as they're trying to get away, only to keep shrugging it off, bouncing back up and continuing the pursuit. And that perception of Mikhail is why so many people (including myself) expected him to have survived the grenade explosion that killed Charlie at the Looking Glass.

But alas, it seems there are some things you just can't bounce back from anymore.

89) Sayid works for Ben

Episode: 4.03 - The Economist
Synopsis: Sayid reveals he's become Ben's personal assassin
Why it’s great: It's raining on Sayid's wedding day. Plus: It's a classic Ben move

The Economist is another very underrated episode, IMHO, and it just might be Sayid's best episode. Lost really got its mojo back in the fourth season with the flashforwards which not only rejuvenated the Lost formula, but also gave us fresh looks at all our favorite characters. Sayid's episode was neat in that it featured a James Bond-like plot, with Sayid stalking his target in Berlin while romancing his prey's partner. I'm sure many people *ahem* didn't complain about the Sayid eye candy this episode either.

But the ending, finding out Sayid was doing all of this for Ben was simply mind-blowing. First of all, it told us that Ben also got off the Island somehow, despite not being part of the Oceanic Six. Secondly, it opened the possibility that all the rest of the O6 was in some sort of danger. But the best part about this scene were the character developments it brought about for Sayid for the rest of the show, all leading to him attempting to kill young Ben and briefly embracing his dark side when he kills Dogen and Lennon in the Temple.

And then there's the great scene later in the season where Sayid professes he will never work for Ben, ever. Awesome.

88) Ben gives a blunt eulogy for Locke

Episode: 6.04 - The Substitute
Synopsis: Ben says a few words over Locke's body
Why it’s great: Again, classic Ben. Plus: Frank gets a one-liner

This scene could be labeled as Ben Comedy, but it's really not. Ben was trying to be serious and genuine here. He was manipulated into killing an innocent man, one he really had no reason to hate as much as he did. His very blunt apology "I'm very sorry I murdered him" shocked the heck out of Ilana and the others and made us laugh with its honesty.

But it's Frank who gets the punchline here with his "Weirdest damn funeral I've ever been to..." comment afterward. Comedy gold, Jerry.

87) Young Eloise kills her son

Episode: 5.14 - The Variable
Synopsis: Eloise completes a time loop with herself
Why it’s great: One of the biggest shock deaths of Lost

This was a total surprise to me and if certain elements of this scene didn't quite feel right with me it would be a lot higher up on my list. Still, as imperfect as the scene is, the idea that Eloise spent all her life training Daniel and pushing him in the direction of the Island to ensure he gets killed by her hand in the past was a pretty dark and brilliant idea by the writers.

What bothers me a bit about the scene was how it all developed. Daniel's death in the Others' camp seemed a bit forced to me; he certainly didn't have to head in there waving a gun as he's not a violent man by any respects. Seemed there would have been better (and more tragic) ways of pulling this off without making it feel so contrived. But the shock was genuine and the scene fits perfectly with one of the major themes of the show: Free will vs. fate.

Eloise was convinced that time couldn't be altered. That's why she sent Desmond to the Island, that's why she raised her son to be sacrificed at her hand. She believed in destiny - the the universe was ordered and set in stone and did everything she could to help it along. Was she right? Really hard to tell - the fact the Incident really didn't change history at all (all it did was create a Purgatory somehow) seems to suggest it really is immutable.

Yeah Daniel believed otherwise, but look what happened to him!

86) Sawyer gets a fish biscuit

Episode: 3.01 - A Tale of Two Cities
Synopsis: Sawyer gets a tasty treat
Why it’s great: One of my favorite humorous scenes. Plus: Tom Friendly gets a one-liner

As bad as the bear cages were as the mini-series edged forward, Sawyer's initial introduction to them was hilarious. First of all, it did solve a major Island mystery for us: How did the Island get its indigenous population of polar bears? Turns out DHARMA was experimenting on them and they escaped after the purge. That in itself was pretty cool, but Sawyer figuring out the polar bear cage task was hilarious. And the fish biscuits became fan favorites too, even inspiring fans to make their own (presumably much tastier) versions.

But the punchline to the scene just might have been the best line of the season by Tom Friendly. After noticing Sawyer had gotten himself a fish biscuit he blithely says "It only took the bears two hours." And with that line he completely surrendered the "major villain" title to Ben. Not that that's a bad thing.

85) Locke's smokehouse vision

Episode: 3.03 - Further Instructions
Synopsis: Locke gets a tour of the future with Spirit Guide Boone
Why it’s great: Best of all the Lost dreams and visions. Plus: Stephen King reference

Out of all the dreams and visions on Lost, Locke’s airport tour of the future with Spirit Guide Boone was my very favorite. First off, it was so well filmed; I loved the brighter-than-normal quality of all the shots, where all the colors are ethereal and incredibly vivid, especially Eko's blood at the top of the escalator that closed the scene. Reminded me a bit of "Sin City" in that respect. And all the sequences with the various factions of characters were really cool, especially as they were paired with Boone’s comments to Locke (and I like that Boone wasn’t especially kind to Locke during the vision too).

But I also love this scene because it's a direct reference to one of my favorite Stephen King novels of all time: "IT." There the young group of kids in the novel, who have been tormented by a malevolent force living in their town, decide to create a smokehouse in order to see if they can find some way to kill the creature. All the kids go in, but only one is able to stand the smoke and has a vision of IT arriving in the town, shown by a Spirit Guide who happens to be a turtle (as in the turtle with the world on his back).

I can't do the scene justice, but it's one of my favorite parts of the book and that reference makes this vision my favorite of them all.

84) Crazy Claire's creepy Aaron doll

Episode: 6.05 - Lighthouse
Synopsis: Claire shows Jin something very disturbing
Why it’s great: Best. Prop. Ever.

When Season 6 began and we first saw Claire, we knew something was a bit... off about her. After all, she had been apparently living alone on the Island for the past three years (admittedly I wasn't totally sure she was some Smokey zombie or something, but we knew she was off-kilter). And even though the writers really didn't follow through on Crazy Claire's potential as the season went on (I mean, c'mon, not only did she not kill Kate, she actually left the Island with her), she was one of the best parts of early Season 6. But Crazy Claire's pièce de résistance was her Aaron doll, made out of some sort of animal skull with a body of black fibers, just like the picture of Smokey on the temple wall.

When Jin looked in the cradle and saw that, we saw all we needed to know about Claire. "Run, Jin! Run for your life!"

83) Hooded Charlie admits to the con

Episode: 2.13 - The Long Con
Synopsis: Sawyer's con partner is revealed... and it's Charlie?!
Why it’s great: Best use of Charlie in the first two seasons

Season Two Charlie was fairly awful. His addiction storyline had run its course, his relationship with Claire was annoying and his flashbacks were actually worse than Kate's; I spent much of Season 2 simply wishing him dead. But the one shining moment Charlie had in Season 2 was something where he did something so very un-Charlie like: Helping Sawyer pull a long con on everyone by pretending to kidnap Sun and drag her into the jungle. And his motive for doing it? Revenge on Locke for embarrassing him in front of Claire.

The reveal that Charlie was Sawyer's assistant in the con, gave him a new, darker side that was, well, interesting. And the touch with his hoodie was great too, made him seem like he changed into a different person under there. Sadly, Dark Charlie was never seen again and even though Sun eventually found out it was Charlie who kidnapped her, she even forgave him.

Charlie redeemed himself in Season 3, of course, it's just a shame he had to die in order to do it.

82) Hurley writes "The Empire Strikes Back"

Episode: 5.13 - Some Like It Hoth
Synopsis: Hurley tries to change Ewok history
Why it’s great: Even Lucas would have to laugh at this

Miles and Hurley became the dynamic duo of geekdom during the fifth season, something that was greatly entertaining to watch. I really enjoyed "Some Like It Hoth" too - it's the only true Miles episode, had a very good flashback and I enjoyed the whole Hurley trying to get Miles to know his father storyline.

But the second-best (yes, you read that right) set of banter between Hurley and Miles was Hurley re-writing "Empire Strikes Back" for George Lucas "with a few improvements." Now it's an entertaining scene enough in itself and you kinda saw it coming considering Damon and Carlton are about as equally geeky as Hurley and Miles and probably even bigger "Star Wars" fans; you knew they weren't going to set an entire season in 1977 and not ever mention it was the same year "Star Wars" came out.

But the really great part about the scene is how later in the episode Hurley brings it up while trying to get Miles to talk to his dad, saying just like them Luke and Vader should have "communicated better." Yeah, it's a bit of a contrived stretch, but one that makes me laugh.

And Ewoks do indeed suck. :)

81) Locke is "alive"

Episode: 5.07 - The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham
Synopsis: Locke is alive?
Why it’s great: We didn't realize it at the time, but it's the true beginning of the end

TLADOJB was a rather up and down episode for me when I initially watched it. I thought a lot of Locke's efforts at recruitment were lame and most his conversations with the Oceanic Six (except for Jack) kinda shallow and disappointing, though the episode was redeemed by Locke's death at Ben's hand and his rebirth on the Island. But now that the show is over, this entire episode is a true masterpiece to me.

Locke's efforts at recruitment were lame because Locke was genuinely clueless. He was tasked with a quest that was destined to end in failure for the sole purpose of making him frustrated enough to kill himself, the seed of which was planted by Smokey himself in the future after Locke was already dead (see last week's list). And the fact Ben ended up doing the deed himself, while all the more shocking to us, while it may not have been exactly in Smokey's plan, was welcome all the same.

But the true shock of the episode was the fact "Locke" appeared alive, no different than before, on the Hydra Island beach. We didn't know it was Smokey at the time, so it kind of made everyone think Locke really was the mystical Island savior. And that's the really cool thing about this scene in retrospect. The entire show I had been arguing Locke really wasn't special - the only reason the Others considered him special at all was because he visited Richard in 1954, setting up his own destiny for himself. And the frustrated, Season 2 button pushing Locke was closer to the real Locke than anything we'd seen on the show.

So when "Locke" appeared alive on the beach, all of a sudden he really did appear to be special to the Island. It was a brilliant move by the writers, not just to keep us all in the dark as to "Locke's" true nature, but to keep Terry O'Quinn in the dark as well until the finale. Made the scene in the finale all the more powerful when we (and Terry) finally realize who he really is.

Moment Tally (updated through #81):

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 Ben takes over the lead from Jack (it was actually a Jack-less week) and Season 6 keeps its lead over Seasons Five and Three. Also, just to make note of it here, Smokey in Locke's body counts as Smokey in the tally. Thus pretty much any time we see Locke after "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" it's actually a Smokey appearance even though we didn't actually find out it was really Smokey until "The Incident." Just FYI.

Main/Recurring Characters:

Ben - 6
Jack - 4
Locke - 4
Hurley - 3
Sawyer - 3
Sayid - 3
Smokey - 3
Charlie - 2
Claire - 2
Daniel - 2
Tom Friendly - 2
Aaron - 1
Boone - 1
Charles Widmore - 1
Charlotte - 1
Danielle - 1
Desmond - 1
Eko - 1
Eloise - 1
Frank - 1
Jacob - 1
Jin - 1
Juliet - 1
Kate - 1
Keamy - 1
Mikhail - 1
Miles - 1
Nikki and Paulo - 1
Pierre Chang - 1
Richard -1


Season Six - 7
Season Five - 6
Season Three - 6
Season Four - 4
Season Two - 3
Season One - 2

Next installment: #80-71.

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