Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Top 108 Moments: #30-21

"You would remember! You would remember how deep! You would remember every shovelful, every moment! You would remember what it felt like to place her body inside. You would remember if you buried the woman you loved! You would remember -- if it were true!"

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

Welcome to the ninth 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
Moments #80-71
Moments #70-61
Moments #60-51
Moments #50-41
Moments #40-31

Today we have Moments #30-21. It's the beginning of the end! Namaste.

30) Sayid tortures "Henry" while the Countdown Timer hits zero

Episode: 2.14 - One of Them
Synopsis: Sayid tortures Henry Gale while the Timer runs out
Why it’s great: Two great tastes of Lost in one great scene

When I was making up my list I originally had these two as separate moments, forgetting they were actually the same (long) scene. I toyed with keeping them separate, but you can't really discuss one without the other, so this is an "extended" moment, if you will. Putting them together makes it the Reece's Peanut Butter Cup of Lost - you get a character moment and a mythology moment all in one. Two great Lost tastes that taste great together!

On the character side, you have Sayid interrogating Henry. Sayid, still reeling over Shannon's death, is convinced Henry is lying because he doesn't seem as distraught as he should be over the death of his supposed wife. While I never really liked the Shannon-Sayid pairing much (and not because of Shannon - they just really didn't have much chemistry on screen), I did think that Sayid's grief in the above quote was genuine and used very, very effectively. It's also what drove Sayid to later dig up Henry Gale's grave to see if "Henry" was telling the truth.

But while all this was going on inside the armory, outside the Countdown Timer was ticking down. Jack, who didn't approve of Sayid torturing the new guy, told Locke to let him in or else he wouldn't let him push the button. Locke relented at the last minute and raced to the computer, but he wasn't quite quick enough - the timer hit zero... and up popped a bunch of hieroglyphics? Season 2 was arguably one of the most mythology heavy seasons of the show, which is why it didn't sit well with some fans, but the mythology was what kept me hooked on the show.

I still remember scouring the net for translations of the likely sequence that popped up and later discovering it translated to "Underworld" - that's just creepy brilliant. This scene was perfect, classic Lost and had something for everyone to enjoy.

29) Ben purges his father

Episode: 3.20 - The Man Behind The Curtain
Synopsis: Ben kills his father on his birthday while the rest of DHARMA gets purged
Why it’s great: We finally see the purge... and learn Roger's true identity

"Tricia Tanaka is Dead" was a very good episode that came at a very bad time, largely because it had the misfortune of following arguably the worst episode of the entire show in "Stranger in a Strange Land." At the time, it seemed like yet another filler episode - Hurley finds a DHARMA van, Sawyer has some entertaining scenes with Jin and Hurley and Charlie get the van working and go on a joy ride to shake off the blues.

But that episode set things up for two very important scenes later in the season: Hurley coming to rescue in the DHARMA van (which wouldn't have been plausible had we not seen him get it working) and Ben gassing his dad in the very same van. The fact we discover here Roger "Work Man" was in reality Roger Linus, Father of Ben, makes Tricia Tanaka a much, much better episode in retrospect, given what an important part of the Island's history that van (and that body) represents.

But I haven't even spoken about the actual scene yet. This is where Ben became the man we came to know and love throughout the series. It's a horrible act of patricide, yet we can't help but feel a bit sorry for Ben as well. After all, it's his birthday and he's a janitor on an Island drinking cheap DHARMA beer with his alcoholic father, who doesn't really love him and blames him for the death of his wife. His father kinda deserves it here, but all of DHARMA? That's what really later takes away any compassion we had for Ben. This is one of the very best scenes of Season 3 and one of the most important in terms of the Island's history.

28) Sawyer is LaFleur

Episode: 5.08 - LaFleur
Synopsis: Sawyer is revealed as the head of DHARMA security... in 1977?
Why it’s great: One of the best openings of any episode

There's really only two episode openings I like better than this one (one which we'll come to very soon), but not by much. It's one of the best plot twists the show ever gave us and really began one of my overall favorite storylines of the show: The DHARMA origins. Two episodes earlier, Ajira Flight 316 crash landed on the Island and Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid had disappeared from it. The first three were found by Jin wearing a DHARMA jumpsuit. Now we knew Jin had been time traveling along with the others, but we didn't know where they ended up after Locke turned the Donkey Wheel again.

This episode opens with all the time travelers standing around the area where the Donkey Wheel well once stood. Locke is gone, the well is gone, but the rope remains. Locke turns the wheel underground and the flashes stop - everyone's headaches and nosebleeds are gone. Saywer says now they just have to wait "however long it takes" for their friends to return.

Cut to three years later. Two DHARMA guys, Phil and Jerry, are goofing off on duty. One remarks that they better not let LaFleur catch them of it'll be their heads. Suddenly a situation pops up, Horace is outside drunk with dynamite. They go to wake up LaFleur at 3am and meekly knock on the door. A shadowed figure gruffly asks "What?" They explain the situation and the response? A very familiar "son of a bitch" - it's Sawyer, who grabs his DHARMA jumpsuit and heads out with them.

It's an amazing scene from start to finish, but the shot of Sawyer's jumpsuit with "Head of Security" written on it is just brilliant, and a moment that makes you go "Awesome!" This scene told us everything we needed to know in perfect style and kicked off a rollicking action-adventure that was the second half of Season 5.

27) Jeremy Bentham is Locke

Episode: 4.13 - There's No Place Like Home
Synopsis: We finally find out who's in that darn coffin!
Why it’s great: We all saw it coming, but it still shocks nonetheless

The great coffin debate that went on through Season 4 was one of the most tantalizing mysteries of the show. Everyone pretty much figured it was someone we knew and that Jeremy Bentham was simply an alias, but who it was was certainly up for debate. Locke was one of the leading candidates, but Walt's name was also thrown around a lot, as was Desmond's. And, in fact, three separate endings were filmed showing Locke, Desmond and Sawyer in the coffin.

But despite being the most predicted choice, the scene lost none of its potency. First of all, it meant that at some point in the future (or past, I suppose), John Locke was going to die. Everyone figured the writers would figure out a way to keep him on the show, but certainly not in the manner it was done (which was excellent). Secondly, Ben's assertion that everyone was going to have to go back together, including John Locke, set up a fun storyline whereby everyone had to get on Flight 316 together. It was really never explained why they all had to be on the plane together, but the "getting the band back together" storyline was a nice start to Season 5.

Lastly, Locke's image in the coffin is probably one of the most iconic images of the show - just look at how easy it is to find a screencap.

26) Sayid shoots young Ben in 1977

Episode: 5.10 - He's Our You
Synopsis: Sayid shoots young Ben in the chest
Why it’s great: Sayid opens up a whole new bag of time travel worms... and theories

I almost made this moment the one when young Ben meets Sayid for the first time. That moment was great, largely because you could see Sayid thoughts as he introduced himself to Benjamin: "I am going to kill you, child. And I am going to enjoy doing it." That was great, but clearly this is the better moment of the two and one of the best cliffhangers of Season 5.

The metaphysical can of worms Sayid's act opened was simply delicious (and you know I love to eat my worms). At the time, we had no idea whether Ben was actually going to survive because we had no idea whether the Losties could change history or not, so that whole idea was debated. But then, if he survived, the question became why he wouldn't remember being shot by an Iraqi named Sayid later in life, especially after said Sayid tortured him.

Both of these debates were answered (they did not change history and Ben's mind was wiped, deus ex machina style, in the Temple), but the ultimate answer then presented an even more interesting and delicious observation: Sayid, by shooting him, made Ben an Other and set him on the path to becoming a murderous, power-hungry man. Then Ben, in turn, used Sayid and turned him into his personal assassin. Thus we have an infinite time loop of abuse between two people.

I think that's the worst thing I've ever heard. How marvelous.

25) Jack meets Desmond in the stadium

Episode: 2.01 - Man of Science, Man of Faith
Synopsis: Jack meets Desmond in the stadium after operating on Sarah
Why it’s great: Because it made Desmond seem almost mystical

And so begins the Top 25!

To kick it off we have one of my personal favorite scenes from one of my personal favorite episodes. When I saw this scene for the first time, I guessed Desmond might be the person in the Hatch, especially after he said his famous parting line to Jack. And this scene, more than just about anything else, shifted the coincidence vs. fate argument needle firmly into the fate range because it just seemed like too great of a coincidence that this random person that Jack met years ago would be the same person inside the Hatch on this weird Island.

But the whole scene was just written so well. I don't think there's been another conversation on the show that's been parsed to the degree this one had been after the episode aired. Every line was analyzed for an underlying meaning. And it had a trippy, ethereal quality to it - was Desmond some sort of mystical person, hinting to Jack of his fate to come? Take a look at the dialogue here:

[Flashback - Jack running the steps at a stadium. Another person comes into view running faster than Jack. Jack tries to keep pace but hurts his ankle.]

JACK: Ow, damn it.

DESMOND: You alright, brother?

JACK: I'm fine. I'm fine.

DESMOND: Take it easy. Keep the weight off. Here, let me have a look. Does this hurt? [Jack shakes his head.] You haven't sprained it then. I don't fancy your chances of catching up with me tonight, though.

JACK: I wasn't trying to catch up.

DESMOND: Aye, of course you weren't.

JACK: What do you know about sprains, anyway?

DESMOND: I was almost a doctor once.

JACK: Small world.

DESMOND: You a doctor then? [Jack nods. Desmond offers Jack his water bottle.] So what's your excuse?

JACK: Excuse?

DESMOND: For running like the devil's chasing you. My excuse - I'm training.

JACK: Training for what?

DESMOND: For a race around the world. Impressive, I know. So your excuse better be good, brother.

JACK: Just trying to work a few things out.

DESMOND: Ah, a girl, right?

JACK: A patient.

DESMOND: Ah, but a girl patient. What's her name?

JACK: Her name's Sarah.

DESMOND: What'd you do to her then?

JACK: Do to her?

DESMOND: You must have done something worthy of this self-flagellation.

JACK: I told her -- I made a promise I couldn't keep -- I told her I'd fix her and I couldn't. I failed.

DESMOND: Well, right. Just one thing -- what if you did fix her?

JACK: I didn't.

DESMOND: But what if you did?

JACK: You don't know what you're talking about, man.

DESMOND: I don't? Why not?

JACK: Because with her situation that would be a miracle, brother.

DESMOND: Oh, and you don't believe in miracles? [Jack chuckles and shakes his head.] Right. Well then, I'm going to give you some advice anyway. You have to lift it up.

JACK: Lift it up?

DESMOND: Your ankle. You've got to keep it elevated. It's been nice chatting.

JACK: Jack.

DESMOND: Jack, I'm Desmond. Good luck, brother. See you in another life, yeah?

The bolded lines were the most debated ones. It's in actuality a perfectly normal conversation, but doesn't it sound like Desmond is some sort of guardian angel or something and that he knows exactly what's in store for Jack? This is one of my favorite scenes of the entire show. I love how it's filmed, I love how it's shot and I love the overall atmosphere of the scene.

You have to lift it up. The writers certainly did here.

24) The Raft Launch

Episode: 1.23 - Exodus
Synopsis: The raft finally sets sail
Why it’s great: An amazing scene for a scripted show

When the whole raft storyline began, I thought "no way is this going to work." Meaning there's no way the writers are going to break up the cast and have four principal members out at sea for however long they're out there. In addition, I couldn't imagine having to film raft scenes for an extended period of time. So when the raft actually launched, I was amazed they were going to go through with it. Of course, the trip didn't even last the rest of the episode, but it still gave us an hour or so of hope.

But the whole scene itself was amazing. The cinematography was incredible for TV, even given the gorgeous Hawaiian coastline where it was filmed. And really, this scene could fall under the category of reunion scenes because, even though it was a parting of ways for some of these characters, it was also a scene of hope. The four sailors were going to find help and salvation for the survivors. It was a moment of joy, even though it was tinged with sadness for some (especially when Vincent ran into the water). Possibly the most uplifting scene in the series save one, which we'll address a bit later on.

23) Flight 815 breaks up over the Barracks

Episode: 3.01 - A Tale of Two Cities
Synopsis: We see Flight 815 break up... from a slightly different perspective
Why it’s great: Meet the Others

Ah, the second best opening scene of the show. This one, I believe, was actually directed by JJ Abrams himself... and it shows. First we meet Juliet, a lovely lass, burning her muffins. She has a book club and her very favorite book is "Carrie." She has excellent taste, I like her already. And then she steps out of her charming house to speak to her handyman who happens to be... Ethan? And then all **** breaks loose as Flight 815 flies overhead and starts to break apart before their very eyes. And who should immediately break into action and start giving directions, none other than Henry Gale, who then turns to Juliet to say:
"Guess I'm out of the book club."
And then we see there's a small town in the center of the Island. Commercial.

*jaw drops to the floor*

I stood and applauded after this opening. It was classic Lost, filmed to perfection and turned everything we knew about the Others to that point on its head. Bravo.

22) Sawyer tells Jack he met Christian in Sydney

Episode: 1.23 - Exodus
Synopsis: Sawyer eases Jack's pain
Why it’s great: One of the best character moments of the show

This is a scene that doesn't need much explanation. It's one of the best character moments of the show and one of the best payoffs as well. We knew for quite a while that Sawyer had run into Christian in Sydney, but we did kinda wonder whether it would get mentioned. Well, it did... and it was spectacular. In Sawyer's own words:
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. So, 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?
Jack's reaction had some serious Party-of-Five- quality Jackface to it as well. Just a great moment and both Matthew Fox and Josh Holloway were simply terrific here. It also sets up another classic Red Sox moment a bit later in the series.

21) Zombie Locke reveals Locke's final thoughts to Ben

Episode: 6.01 - L.A. X
Synopsis: Smokey reveals his true nature to Ben
Why it’s great: "I don't understand!"

I believe this is the final Season 6 moment on the list, and it's definitely my favorite of them all. Back in Season 2, a lot of people were complaining about how John Locke had changed, how pushing the button had robbed Locke of all his gung-ho, Shaman/Warrior qualities. But I argued at the time that really the pathetic button pusher in the Hatch was who John Locke really was. He made himself into something different on the Island when it gave him back the ability to walk. He always had a high opinion of himself and he was an idealistic dreamer; he really thought he was put on the Island for a reason and was there to be great leader and to save them all.

All that is what makes this speech from Smokey all the more heartbreaking:
"I'm not talking about Jacob. I'm talking about John Locke. Do you wanna know what he was thinking while you, choked the life outta him Benjamin? What the last thought that ran through his head was? "I don't understand". Isn't that just the saddest thing you ever heard? But it's fitting in a way, because when John first came to the island, he was a very sad man. A victim, shouting at the world for being told what he couldn't do, even though they were right. He was weak, and pathetic, and irreparably broken. But, despite all that, there was something admirable about him. He was the only one of them that didn't wanna leave. The only one, who realized how pitiful the life he'd left behind actually was."
And Smokey's right, there was something admirable about John. he represented the dreamer in all of us. The young adventurous boy who wanted to go off and do great things, everyone who's every read an adventure novel and longed to have one of their own. Instead he met his death at the hands of his most hated rival in a beaten down hotel, completely bewildered as to how this - this - could have been his ultimate destiny. It's totally heartbreaking to think about and even worse as Smokey relays this to Ben using John Locke's body.

Best scene of Season 6 for me, hands down.

Moment Tally (updated through #21):

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. :)

I was surprised a bit this week as the tops of both lists were reinforced a bit; both Ben and Season 5 strengthened their grip on their respective tallies. The number of Season 5 moments on my list is especially surprising to me, though in retrospect the time travel storyline did have a tremendous number of awesome moments. But every season but Season 4 is in striking distance of the lead (though Season 6 won't be taking the crown). Locke is also probably the only one who can catch Ben at this point. Only 20 more to go! :)

Main/Recurring Characters:

Ben - 23
Locke - 16
Jack - 15
Sawyer - 13
Smokey - 10
Desmond - 7
Hurley - 7
Sayid - 7
Jin - 6
Juliet - 5
Michael - 5
Charles Widmore - 4
Daniel - 4
Danielle - 4
Eko - 4
Jacob - 4
Kate - 4
Richard - 4
Tom Friendly - 4
Charlie - 3
Claire - 3
Bernard and Rose - 2
Frank - 2
Keamy - 2
Miles - 2
Penny - 2
Pierre Chang - 2
Vincent - 2
Walt - 2
Aaron - 1
Alex - 1
Ana-Lucia - 1
Arzt - 1
Boone - 1
Charlotte - 1
Eloise - 1
Ilana - 1
Libby - 1
Mikhail - 1
Nikki and Paulo - 1
Roger Linus - 1
Shannon - 1
Sun - 1


Season Five - 20
Season Three - 16
Season Two - 15
Season One - 14
Season Six - 14
Season Four - 9

Next installment: #20-11! Almost there...


Missie said...

I'm really interested to see the other opening scene you have on your list, because there are 2 more that I would have on there, and I'm sure one of them is the same. I'm leaning towards the opening scene of "Man of Science, Man of Faith", but that means the opening of the Pilot isn't on your list, and that suprises me. (Or is it further back, and I've forgotten...)

Missie said...

I also suspect that the top of this list is going to be very seaon 1 and 2 heavy.

Missie said...

One more thing: that scene with Sayid torturing "Henry" does give pretty good credence for Shannon being the person who makes him remember in Season 6. I think it's their complete lack of chemistry, as you pointed out, that doesn't make us buy Shannon over Nadia as Sayid's soulmate. But as you said, the anguish in this scene is so real, you can see what the writer's were going for.

Jay said...

I'll admit it now, I left the Pilot opening off the list. It wasn't really an oversight - my thinking at the time was there are too many moments from the Pilot in here (already we have Jack and Kate counting to five and Sawyer shooting the Polar Bear). There's also one more moment from the Pilot still to come. It probably should be on here somewhere and that's my bad.

And you're right, the Top 20 is very Season 1 & 2 heavy.