Monday, September 13, 2010

Top 108 Moments: #40-31

"I think I crashed your plane..."

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

Welcome to the eighth 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

Today we have Moments #40-31. The Top 50 Moments in Lost continues here! Namaste.

40) Desmond reveals he may have crashed the plane

Episode: 2.23 - Live Together, Die Alone
Synopsis: Desmond discovers he may have made a big "Oops"
Why it’s great: The Flashback that launched a thousand theories

This is probably the moment from the show that most made me a Lost theorist. In a terrific reveal following a terrific flashback, Desmond explains to Locke that he may have been responsible for causing Flight 815 to crash. It was an accident, pure and simple - Flight 815 just happened to be overhead at the exact moment Desmond wasn't there to push the button. Nice, neat, tidy and some great storytelling. The problem with the reveal, however, was that if Flight 815 crashing was an accident, it basically meant that everyone wasn't on the plane for a specific reason, which seemed kinda counter intuitive to what the show had given us to that point. And trying to reconcile those two things is what drove me to write about the show.

Honestly if the true answer was a bit neater and tidier I'd probably have this moment in the Top 10. But the way this all hashes out is that Jacob ex machina orchestrated the whole accident so his plane full of candidates would be conveniently deposited on his Island. Desmond's accident wasn't really an accident since the Island God was behind the scenes pulling the strings. But regardless of how it all played out, it was a terrific moment of Lost mythology.

39) Ben turns the Donkey Wheel

Episode: 4.13 - There's No Place Like Home
Synopsis: Ben moves the Island
Why it’s great: Amazing, imaginative scene

This really was one of the coolest (pun intended) spectacles the show put forth. So there was a donkey wheel embedded into the rock in a frozen chamber underneath a DHARMA station? And turning said wheel led to the Island moving through space and time? There aren't many shows that could pull a scene like this off and make it look cool rather than dumb, but Lost did it with style.

In addition, because we had already seen Ben appear in Tunisia in his parka with his injured arm, we already knew what happened to him afterwards. That made the scene even more goosebump-inducing than it already was. This is also was one of my favorite screencaps of the entire show. If I didn't have a cute daughter, it would likely be my computer wallpaper. :)

38) Rose, Bernard and Vincent are at peace

Episode: 5.16 - The Incident
Synopsis: Rose, Bernard and Vincent have made a new life for themselves
Why it’s great: Because they're awesome

I loved "The Incident" - loved it from start to finish. It's chock full of good scenes, including two in this segment of my list alone. And while this isn't the best scene from the episode, it's probably the most heartwarming (and the most anticipated). Everyone fully expected to see Bernard and Rose again, but to see them living happily and at peace on the Island (with Vincent nonetheless) was simply a joy.

And Bernard and Rose's story hit all the right notes of Lost's major themes. If you're talking about characters being able to leave their life behind and start over, coming to terms with who they are, being comfortable in their own skin and, most importantly, leaving all the trappings of life behind and living a simple life of peace, Bernard and Rose followed a perfect path. They're truly the only ones who fully embraced what the Island had to offer and were rewarded with a (supposedly) long and happy life together. I would have loved to see Hurley and Ben visiting them later on - maybe having tea and forming a bridge club or something. :)

37) Sayid confronts "Henry"

Episode: 2.17 - Lockdown
Synopsis: Sayid knows Henry's a fake
Why it’s great: One of the best trombone endings of the show. Plus: Awesome monologue

This is my personal high point of the whole "Henry Gale" story arc. Every time I see this scene I get a shiver of excitement. It's something about Naveen Andrews' delivery here that does it. Here's his short monologue:
We did find your balloon, Henry Gale, exactly how you described it. We also found the grave you described -- your wife's grave. The grave you said you dug with your own bare hands. It was all there. Your whole story -- your alibi -- it was true. But still I did not believe it to be true. So I dug up that grave and found that there was not a woman inside. There was a man. [Sayid shows him a driver's license] A man named Henry Gale.
The payoff is great. Ben didn't expect anyone to dig up the grave - he figured the balloon and the grave marker would be enough. But digging up graves just to prove someone wrong is just so Sayid. And I love, love, love the way Sayid is so cool, calm and collected here - he's got Ben nailed to the wall, but he takes his own sweet time in doing it, especially when he says the highlighted line above. Ben almost thinks he's off the hook, then blammo. It's a terrific ending to one of my favorite episodes of the show.

36) Charles offers Desmond a nice glass of scotch... Not!

Episode: 3.08 - Flashes Before Your Eyes
Synopsis: Charles tells Desmond he's not worthy to drink his scotch, let alone marry Penny.
Why it’s great: Soul crushing scene for Desmond... and us as well

"Flashes" was my very favorite episode from the first three seasons of the show. This is the first of three moments from that episode, though it could have easily been the last. Desmond comes crawling to Charles, who thinks he's there to merely ask for a job. But Desmond has other ideas - he wants to ask him for Penny's hand in marriage. And not only does Charles refuse to give his blessing, he (figuratively) slugs Desmond in the face with a really, really expensive bottle of Scotch.

I think this scene makes my hair stand on end so much because we all can relate to moments like this. Not necessarily Desmond's exact same situation, mind you, but being put in a position where you desperately want (or need) something. You probably go through all the possibilities before you attempt to obtain it, bracing for the worst, hoping for the best. But I imagine nothing Desmond imagined came close to what Charles said to him in that office. My heart sunk to my Scotch-free stomach in that scene, right along with Desmond.

35) Smokey shows Sawyer the names in the cave

Episode: 6.04 - The Substitute
Synopsis: Smokey shows Sawyer Jacob's cave
Why it’s great: Goosebump inducing scene in which the candidates are revealed

This is another scene that could have been a bit higher on the list, perhaps, but just felt right here. Smokey revealing the six candidates to Sawyer told us a lot about the endgame of the show and, for once, the writers were actually speaking plain to us. Granted, many people, myself included, thought there might have been more to it at the time, i.e. this wasn't Jacob's cave, it was Smokey's instead, Smokey was lying to Sawyer or didn't really know who the true candidates were, etc. But here it was - answers plain and simple. This is why they were all here. This was their purpose. These are the people Smokey had to get rid of.

It also was a nice way for the writers to give another explanation for the meaning behind the Numbers without having to go into the Valenzetti Equation and such on screen and I have to say, I really liked the way they tied them to the candidates instead. Two meanings, neither of which excludes the other. It was very well done and filled with Easter Eggs for people who looked closely - aside from the Blast Door Map, I don't think there was anything else on the show I scrutinized to the degree I scrutinized the cave wall. :)

34) Michael shoots Ana-Lucia and Libby

Episode: 2.20 - Two for the Road
Synopsis: Michael murders Ana-Lucia and Libby to free Ben
Why it’s great: Even if it was contrived, it's still shocking

During Season 2, Michele Rodriguez became a lightning rod both on and off the screen. Rumors were swirling she was going to be written out of the show due to both fan hatred and her drunk driving arrests, so you could kind of see it coming. Cynthia Watros also had a drunk driving arrest, but her character didn't invite the kind of criticism Ana-Lucia did. On the contrary, most fans were genuinely curious about her character after it was revealed she was in the same insane asylum as Hurley, and most fans (myself included) really wanted a Libby flashback episode. That, I think, is what makes this scene so utterly shocking. Pretty much everyone expected Ana-Lucia to die, but Libby's death came out of nowhere and turned a scene that, had it been just Ana-Lucia, some might have applauded and turned into something truly horrifying instead.

There's also Michael's motivation to talk about here. At the time, I thought there was no way Michael would commit murder in order to save Walt, but the scene sits a bit better with me now in that regard. Would I do the same thing were I in Michael's shoes? Probably not. I imagine I would have tried to work out a plan with, say, the former torturer for the Iraqi Republican Guard. But I can also now sympathize with how a parent would do anything to save their child. The scene is somewhat compromised by the writers desire to rid themselves of one, if not both, of the actresses, but it's a great scene nonetheless and a genuine shock when you see it for the first time.

33) Danielle rescues Jin in 1988

Episode: 5.04 - The Little Prince
Synopsis: Jin is saved by a young Danielle Rousseau
Why it’s great: Looks like we're getting Danielle's story after all!

Since she was introduced in the first season, I waited and waited and waited for a Danielle flashback. I loved her character and so wanted to see her story, through her eyes. But the time travel storyline presented a new opportunity - instead of flashbacks, what if we saw all these great events that were alluded to first hand, through the eyes of the time travelers. As a result we got to see some of the origins of DHARMA, we got to see Charles and Eloise in their youth and we got to see the Incident. But none of these trumps my excitement of seeing Danielle and her crew land on the Island. As soon as I heard all these characters speaking French, I realized who they were and jumped off the couch and clapped.

But this scene is also great for another reason: It was the first time we were shown that Jin survived the ship explosion. I had guessed that he did and was thrown into the time travel radius surrounding the Island, but until now that hadn't been confirmed. And to have him rescued by Danielle was just the icing on the cake. Jin's short adventure with Danielle was terrific and this moment was one I had waited for since Season One.

32) Desmond turns the failsafe key

Episode: 2.23 - Live Together, Die Alone
Synopsis: Desmond seemingly sacrifices himself by releasing the Discharge
Why it’s great: "See you in another life, brotha."

This was really the climactic moment of the Season 2 finale. And it really looked like Desmond sacrificed himself at the time. Of course, since he became a full cast member Season 3, we knew before the season started he had survived, but it was a brave and noble thing he did in the moment and the scene was perfectly executed too.

First off, if "See you in another life, brotha." hadn't become etched into the Lost annals of great lines yet, it certainly was after this episode. Secondly, interspersing of images of Penny as Desmond contemplated turning the key was both terrific and foreshadowing. Here, his life and the most important thing in it literally flashed before his eyes as he turned the key, which is probably a large part why the Discharge sent his consciousness back to that moment in time. This moment also set up Desmond and Penny has having the best relationship on the show. It made "Flashes Before Your Eyes" all that more poignant and allowed "The Constant" to become the best episode of the series. Had I money to burn in the Lost Auction, the Failsafe Key would have been very high on my list of memorabilia to own.

31) Juliet detonates the bomb

Episode: 5.16 -The Incident
Synopsis: Juliet ends it all with a bang
Why it’s great: Heartbreak. Pure heartbreak.

One of the greatest travesties of Lost's run was that Elizabeth Mitchell didn't win an Emmy for her work on the show. Heck, she wasn't even nominated once for a Supporting Actress Emmy and it wasn't until the last season that she even got a Guest Actress nomination (she lost to Ann-Margret who did a guest turn on Law and Order: SVU). But she was the heart and soul of Lost in Season 5 with her love of Sawyer, giving us new and improved reasons to hate Kate all over again. Now to be fair, I did think Evangeline did well on her side of the stage - it's just that the writers totally made Kate the villain in this love triangle. Juliet, despite her introduction as the tough new Other in Season 3, turned out to be one of the sweetest, most vunerable characters on the show and just when she thinks she's got Sawyer safe and all to herself in 1977 - *BAM* - in comes Kate again to wreck a beautiful relationship.

Juliet detonated the bomb out of heartbreak for Sawyer. She thought that as long as Kate was around she would always be #2 in his heart, so she decided to end it all and give him what she thought he wanted. I always hated the Kate-Jack-Sawyer love triangle. Not only was it annoying, I honestly didn't care who won. Juliet-Kate-Sawyer not only made me care, it actually made me root for Juliet and feel awful - totally awful - after this heartbreaking scene. Kudos to Elizabeth Mitchell who was totally robbed.

Moment Tally (updated through #31):

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 both Ben and Season 5 maintain their respective leads, but take notice that Desmond and Season 2 leaped up quite a bit this week - I imagine by the time the list is complete, both are going to be considerably higher than they are right now. I'm expecting a great deal of shuffling in both lists in the weeks to come; the top of the list is quite different character and episode-wise from the bottom. Well, except for Ben - Ben's just all over the list. :)

Main/Recurring Characters:

Ben - 17
Locke - 14
Jack - 11
Sawyer - 10
Smokey - 9
Hurley - 7
Desmond - 6
Jin - 5
Sayid - 5
Charles Widmore - 4
Daniel - 4
Danielle - 4
Eko - 4
Jacob - 4
Juliet - 4
Kate - 4
Michael - 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
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
Sun - 1
Vincent - 1
Walt - 1


Season Five - 18
Season Three - 14
Season Two - 13
Season Six - 13
Season One - 12
Season Four - 8

Next installment: #30-21


Paula Abdul Alhazred said...


Really enjoying the countdown. These are all great moments and it's nice to see them compiled one after another. One of the best things about the show being over and available from start-to-finish on DVD is that we can really sit back and kind of marvel at how much LOST achieved in its six years on the air.

You hit the nail on the head in regards to Juliet's detonation of the bomb. I really dug your description of the emotional reasons driving Juliet striking Jughead . . . it really is a heartbreaking scene. I also like that Daniel was right: detonating the bomb really did negate the blast of electromagnetism. He was just wrong about being able to change history. But this means that Juliet performed the same role as Desmond turning the failsafe key and Jack returning the cork to the Source: saving the island/world.

Also loved the inclusion of the "we're retired" scene on this list. Definitely one of the best Rose and Bernard moments and a much-needed revisit for them, since they were MIA for much of season five. It's interesting, though, that in the series finale their refusal to participate in what's happening actually comes back to bite them. Whether they like it or not, they are part of the community same as everyone else. Locke would have killed them, and in that moment they realize they're not untouchable. It's an interesting follow up to their scene from "The Incident," because it changes the meaning somewhat.

In regards to Ana Lucia and Libby's deaths, that really was one of the most shocking moments of the whole series. I did believe Michael in that scenario . . . he had been pushed to the brink all season, and this is where the camel's back broke. That didn't make what he did not terrible, but at least his character redeemed himself in the end.

I'm not so sure MR and CW were written off the show because of the DUI arrests. Those occurred almost five months before the characters were actually written out, so if punitive measures were going to be taken it likely would have been before then. From what I understand, MR had only requested to be on the show for one season, so her death was in the writers' minds at the outset. Plus MR had allergy problems when filming in Hawaii and had at one point tried to get out of her contract early, which I doubt helped her longevity on the show. Considering they hadn't planned on Ana Lucia being around very long and she wasn't the most popular character to begin with, looks like they just stuck with the original plan. I think the character's demise had more to do with story and contract issues than the DUI arrest.

Same with CW. Libby was killed off because the writers frankly couldn't think of much to do with her character, and they needed to make Ana Lucia's death more shocking. Like you said, you could see Ana's death coming, but Libby's is completely surprising. From what I remember CW was extremely upset at being written off, because unlike MR it was not her idea to only be on the show for one season, plus Libby had turned out to be a largely underused character, and apparently Damon & Carlton felt so bad they actually tried to fix her up with a new gig. And then she tried to come back for season four for closure only to have that plotline ditched because of the writers' strike. I don't blame her for saying no when they wanted to revisit her story for season five.

But I guess the good thing is that all this behind the scenes nonsense didn't stop anybody from returning in the final season, with the exception of AAA. I'm glad all of the characters got a proper send off.

Well, looking forward to the rest of the countdown. Take it easy!

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you about the Ben screencap - the one that happens a few seconds later (or ten months later... or a few episodes earlier!) where he wakes up in the desert is incredibly striking and one of the best visual images in the show. Come to think of it, did they do a zooming-out bird's-eye shot in every season? There's Jack in the jungle at the very beginning of 1, Locke after the hatch explosion in 3, Ben in the desert in 4, Jack again in 5... I just can't think of 2 and 6.

Also Sayid's scene with Ben is definitely one of Sayid's most awesome moments. I liked him back when he was just the cool, competent island survivor whom I would invest 100% of my faith into saving everbody - before he got Flanderised into a killing machine in season 5, and then became a randomly flipping coin of good and evil in season 6.

Jay said...

Paula - BTW, I did love your final blog post. I think we'll have to agree to disagree on the ending, but I wouldn't be making this list if I didn't thoroughly enjoy the ride.

Didn't know about MR allergies. Interesting. And I'm very, very sad that AAA wouldn't come back to the show. He really was my favorite character for a season and the 23rd Psalm was one of my very favorite episodes.

Grub - Yeah, Ben in the desert is a great screencap too, but there's something about the purple light in the cave and the way it was framed does it for me.