Sunday, August 8, 2010

Top 108 Moments: #80-71

"Well, look at that. Somebody's hooked on phonics."

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

Welcome to the fourth 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

Today we have Moments #80-71 - 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.

80) Sawyer tries to teach Jin some English

Episode: 3.10 - Tricia Tanaka is Dead
Synopsis: Sawyer teaches Jin all the English he ever needs to know
Why it’s great: Funny scene, largely because Jin and Sawyer have a great friendship

Nothing builds friendships like being forced into awkward situations together. Sawyer and Jin first bonded on the raft, a bond that was reinforced during their trek across the Island with the Tailies. It's one of the unlikeliest of friendships, but one that really worked well on the show. It's not often you talk about chemistry between friends, but Sawyer and Jin had far more chemistry than Sawyer and Kate.

"Tricia Tanaka" for me was an okay episode the first time through, but it's one that looks even better in retrospect because 1) it introduces us to Roger "Work Man" several episodes before we discover who he really is and 2) it sets up Hurley's awesome drive-by save in the season finale. But the best scene of the episode was shortly after Jin reunites with Sawyer, who had just returned to the camp after his stay on Hydra Island. Sitting in the van, drinking what must have been some seriously skunked DHARMA beer, they have this exchange. I think I'll let it speak for itself:

SAWYER: I'm sorry.

JIN: I'm sorry.

SAWYER: Okay, nice. Keep it coming.

JIN: You were right.

SAWYER: Okay. That's two. Hit me.

JIN: Those pants don't make you look fat.

SAWYER: Now you got it -- only three things a woman needs to hear.

Ba DUM, ching!

79) Jacob tells Richard a metaphor
Episode: 6.09 - Ab Aeterno
Synopsis: Jacob tells Richard the purpose of the Island... and offers him a job
Why it’s great: Info, straight from the Island god's mouth

"Ab Aeterno" was definitely the high point of the sixth season for me. Not only did it give us Richard's backstory, but it filled us in a bit on the nature of Jacob and Smokey's conflict. It also showed us the darker side of Jacob, hinting at what we were going to see later on in "Across The Sea" - this wasn't a pure and innocent Island God we had here. And after Jacob waterboarded Richard and determined he was an innocent pawn, he sat down on the beach with him and explained the nature of the Island. It was a great scene, one that if you were making a clip show of the entire series you could probably open with because it explains the central conflict of the show eloquently and succinctly.

I do, however, think this scene neatly shows also why I was a bit disappointed with the ending of the show itself. Here Jacob presents Smokey as "evil, malevolence" - horrible stuff that would destroy the world if it escaped. And the sole purpose of the Island was to keep that evil contained. The first problem I have with this is that the Island existed long before Jacob threw his brother into the Source, thus the Island's original purpose was not to contain Smokey, it was to contain whatever that red light was underneath the cork. Now maybe that red light was the actual evil Jacob was referring to, but if that's the case why doesn't he let his brother go free? Seems it would be easier than having to continuously dodge all the attempts on his life. Secondly, regardless of whether Jacob was referring to Smokey or the Source, this scene makes it seem that Smokey escaping would mean the end of the world. But would it really? After "Across the Sea," where Smokey was actually shown to be a somewhat sympathetic character and a product of poor choices by Jacob and Mother, I really don't think so. But regardless of later happenings on the show, this was a terrific scene and probably the mythological high point of Season 6.

And, of course, it's also worth mentioning that right after Jacob's little story he offers Richard a job and makes him immortal. Minor details there. :)

78) Jack putts for sunscreen

Episode: 1.09 - Solitary
Synopsis: The Losties bond over golf
Why it’s great: Maybe they can all get along after all. Plus: Sawyer joins the group

The Island golf course that Hurley made was sadly never really returned to after this episode, which is a shame since I think it would have been nice to visit it every once in a while, like using "play a round of golf" as a euphemism for "have a serious talk" or "we need to make a plan somewhere no one will overhear us."

And the final golf course scene in "Solitary" is terrific. It features most of the original cast together, watching Charlie and Jack play a round of golf. Jack's up to putt and needs to make it to win. Bets begin to change hands as he sets up for his shot, when suddenly Sawyer, who to this point has been persona non grata on the show, bets "two tubes of sunscreen and a flashlight he chokes." It was really the first time Sawyer made the effort to integrate himself with the rest of the Losties and really the first time "classic" Sawyer appeared.

The scene ends right after Jack hits the golf ball - we don't see whether he actually made it or not. I love that.

77) Arzt explodes

Episode: 1.24 - Exodus, Part 2
Synopsis: Arzt demonstrates how not to handle old dynamite
Why it’s great: First surprise death of Lost, and by far the best

I've put up a new poll asking which was the best Season Finale and I'm very curious to see the results. For me, I'd have to choose between "Exodus," "Through The Looking Glass," and "The Incident." All have their high and low points, but I think Exodus had a total of more memorable scenes than either of the other two. One of the best small scenes in any finale was Dr. Leslie Arzt, whose memorable demise made him a fan favorite. And one of the best things about it was the way the writers subtly introduced him. If you remember, Arzt first appeared the episode before in "Born to Run" to deliver a lecture on ocean currents to Michael and his fellow raftees. It was a fairly seamless introduction of what we thought at the time might be a new, recurring cast member. And when he appeared again in the finale, I actually thought the writers might be setting him up to be a regular in Season 2 (or that he was another Other mole, like Ethan).

His dynamite departure though was a complete shock at the time. In retrospect, it was necessary to effectively illustrate the volatile nature of the stuff they were moving - really this scene made every other scene on the show using the dynamite a lot more suspenseful than it would have been otherwise (even if there wasn't another accident until Ilana went boom). And Hurley's later quip "Dude, you got some Arzt on you" became one of the classic Lost lines of all time. R.I.P., Arzt.

76) Sawyer gets glasses

Episode: 1.19 - Deus Ex Machina
Synopsis: Jack gleefully fixes Sawyer's headaches
Why it’s great: Jack enjoys seeing Sawyer squirm

Much like Jack's comeback to Ben, this scene is a rare case of Jack getting the better of somebody. Sawyer had been having frequent headaches, so Kate convinces him to go to Jack for help. Jack deduces the problem immediately, but in a rare display of quick thinking on his part, he manages to use the opportunity to put one over on Sawyer, asking him an embarrassing series of questions about his sex life in front of Kate.

And the funniest thing is Sawyer was probably more embarrassed when he later got the actual glasses than he was from Jack's interrogation.

75) Tom Friendly recruits Michael

Episode: 4.08 - Meet Kevin Johnson
Synopsis: Tom Friendly convinces Michael to take a job
Why it’s great: A great last goodbye to a fan favorite

Back in "A Tale of Two Cities," Tom Friendly hinted that he was gay when he told Kate that she "wasn't exactly his type." And when he was killed off in "Through The Looking Glass," fans were a bit disappointed we didn't get to explore Friendly's life (and backstory) in a bit more detail. The following season, however, not only does Friendly return in Michael's flashback, we actually get to see his swank Manhattan apartment he shares with Arturo.

Not only was this a great encore for Tom, but it also allowed us to get a glimpse into the other lives of the Others - seems Ben does allow them off the Island for some R&R once in a while. A fitting finale to a great character.

74) Danielle and Locke share a moment in the Black Rock

Episode: 3.19 - The Brig
Synopsis: Danielle and Locke run into each other unexpectedly
Why it’s great: Terrific moment of understanding between two great characters

This is one of those little scenes I love, love, love. Locke has Sawyer in the Black Rock's brig with Cooper, when Danielle enters to gather some dynamite for Jack. They notice each other and barely any words are spoken. Locke doesn't ask her why she's gathering dynamite and Danielle doesn't ask who he's got in the brig. It's a terrific scene because it only works when you have two great characters (and character actors) that the audience knows and understands. And the looks Danielle and Locke give each other as Danielle departs are pitch perfect.

73) Charlie finishes his list

Episode: 3.21 - Greatest Hits
Synopsis: Charlie finishes his Top 5 list
Why it’s great: Charlie's redemption

I really hated Charlie starting at the end of the first season. I thought his "relationship" with Claire seemed forced, his drug addict storyline was tired and his flashbacks were boring. When Desmond told him he was going to die in "Flashes Before Your Eyes" I lept up out of my chair and applauded. But Charlie being told of his imminent demise totally rejuvenated his character during the third season.

I knew I wanted to have a moment from "Greatest Hits" on the list, but it was really hard to pick a single one. I think GH is an episode that works better as a whole; it's one of the best overall episodes of the show, despite not really having any stand out moments. I thought about using the shot of Charlie's DS ring in Aaron's crib, but that's really not a scene, per se, despite it being the most iconic image of the episode. But really the best overall moment of the episode is at the end, after he finishes his list. Before diving down to the "Looking Glass" Charlie tries to give his list to Desmond to give to Claire, Desmond refuses and tells him that he'll go in Charlie's stead. As he's getting ready to dive, Charlie hits Desmond with the paddle and dives down alone, fully embracing his destiny in the hopes Claire and Aaron will be rescued with his sacrifice. That's Charlie's moment of redemption and that's the scene that makes the list.

72) Ben kills Charles

Episode: 6.16 - What They Died For
Synopsis: Ben gets his revenge on Charles
Why it’s great: Only Ben would choose revenge over saving the world

If there's one thing you can say about Benjamin Linus it's that he's consistent. Everything Ben does is for the good of one person: himself. He had Jack kidnapped because he needed him to perform an operation to save his life. He shot Locke when he thought Locke was going to steal his power. He strangled Locke when he still thought Locke was a threat to his power. He had Charles Widmore banished because he wanted his position. He used Sayid to kill off all his enemies. He killed Jacob for not ever rewarding him. Most, if not all, these decisions were were to the detriment of the Island he always professed to be trying to save. And you would think that after killing Jacob and purportedly putting the entire world in peril Ben might rearrange his priorities a bit.

But when Ben was presented an opportunity to do so - he certainly didn't have to tell Smokey where Widmore and Tina Fey were hiding - he instead chose to betray them and take his revenge on Widmore, even if it might mean the end of the world. And yes, Ben did end up helping Team Jack in the end, but only because he wanted to survive by that point.

Ben's revenge on Widmore is a great moment for me because, given an opportunity for redemption, Ben stayed true to himself instead.

71) Keamy kills Alex, then gets pummeled by Smokey

Episode: 4.09 - The Shape of Things to Come
Synopsis: Ben pays a steep price, then reveals a secret under his house
Why it’s great: Brutal death of a favorite character. Plus: Smokey can be summoned?!

This is the second moment from "The Shape of Things to Come" in the list (the previous moment was #101) though it's by far the more significant. First off, Alex's death at Keamy's hand was both brutal, shocking and, while it wasn't exactly out of nowhere since Danielle and Karl were both killed the episode before, it was one of those deaths you really didn't think the writers would follow through on. But Alex's death was the catalyst behind most of Ben's actions the rest of the show (like #72) and sadly made Ben realize just how much he cared about her. Seemed to profoundly influence his afterlife too, eh?

But the second half of this scene was equally as shocking at the time, since Ben's reaction to Alex's death was to run to a secret room underneath his house and summon Smokey? As cool as this scene was at the time, in retrospect it doesn't hold up quite as well because 1) it never really was explained why the heck the Others had a method to summon Smokey and 2) now that we know who Smokey is, it really doesn't seem plausible he'd be able to be summoned for anything that didn't result in Jacob's death.

But at the time, this scene was one of the very best moments of the show in one of the best episodes of Season 4.

Moment Tally (updated through #71):

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 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 - 8
Sawyer - 6
Jack - 6
Locke - 5
Smokey - 4
Charlie - 3
Hurley - 3
Sayid - 3
Tom Friendly - 3
Charles Widmore - 2
Claire - 2
Daniel - 2
Danielle - 2
Jacob - 2
Jin - 2
Keamy - 2
Richard - 2
Aaron - 1
Alex - 1
Arzt - 1
Boone - 1
Charlotte - 1
Desmond - 1
Eko - 1
Eloise - 1
Frank - 1
Juliet - 1
Kate - 1
Michael - 1
Mikhail - 1
Miles - 1
Nikki and Paulo - 1
Pierre Chang - 1


Season Three - 9
Season Six - 9
Season Five - 6
Season Four - 6
Season One - 5
Season Two - 3

Next installment: #70-61.

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