Friday, October 8, 2010

Top 108 Moments: #10-1

"Phone's right over there, John..."

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

Welcome to the final installment 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
Moments #30-21
Moments #20-11

Today we have Moments #10-1! The Top 10 is finally upon us! Namaste.

10) Cooper throws Locke out the window

Episode: 3.13 - The Man From Tallahassee
Synopsis: We finally find out why Locke was in a wheelchair
Why it’s great: Brutal. Makes Cooper the #1 bad daddy of the show

As Season 3 rolled around, the flashbacks were getting very stale. Yes, flashbacks for Juliet and Desmond kept things kind of interesting (and "Flashes," of course, was outstanding), but there really wasn't much we needed to learn about any of the original cast. However, probably the biggest outstanding question fans had was "how did Locke get in the wheelchair to begin with?" We knew from previous flashbacks that he hadn't always been paralyzed - something happened to him to put him in that chair. So when it was announced that this episode would finally answer that, expectations were sky high. This was a moment that could have easily been screwed up by the writers, but I think it's safe to say it ended up exceeding all expectations and more.

Cooper had already betrayed Locke several times. He befriended him to steal his kidney, he used him to avoid the mob, destroying his relationship with Helen in the process, and he remained an albatross around Locke's neck, preventing him from "moving on" with his life (and afterlife, for that matter). But here Cooper morphs from a swindling nuisance to a murderous beast. Not only does he attempt to kill Locke, the end result is actually worse - life imprisonment in a rolling steel cage. And throughout it all, Cooper showed no remorse for anything he did. His son was simply a means to an end for him - a tool to be used and then discarded.

If you didn't feel sorry for Locke up until this point, you certainly felt sorry for him now. Much of Locke's miserable life was from his own choosing - his craving for a father figure, his desperate attempts to get into Cooper's life at the expense of those who really cared about him (like Helen) and his starry-eyed dreams of the explorer's life he always craved. But this moment was not his fault. Here he was trying to do the right thing in getting Cooper to leave (although you could probably argue he should have gone right to the police and let them handle it), but underestimated what Cooper was capable of. It's a defining moment for Locke and a defining moment for the show as well, one that was made flawlessly.

9) Ben kills Jeremy Bentham

Episode: 5.07 - The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham
Synopsis: Ben finally succeeds in killing Locke
Why it’s great: Ben at his most cold-blooded evil

Locke's murder at the hands of Ben was shocking at the time, but I think of all the moments on the list this is the one that for me gets even better with age.

Ben murdered Locke out of nothing more than pure jealousy and hate - he hated the idea that this man, this one pathetic man, could potentially usurp his power over the Others. And I think there was quite a bit of indignity there as well - Locke was a fairly intelligent guy, but he was no rocket scientist and he was incredibly gullible and far too trusting. Ben hated him because he felt Locke hadn't do anything to earn the Others' trust. The thought that this person whom Richard had apparently known for years could simply swoop in and suddenly take over the power role he had earned with years of hard work and patience was probably infuriating to him. So Ben manipulated the gullible Locke every chance he got, right up until the moment he killed him. Over the course of the show, we've gotten to see many different facets of Ben's personality and we've see him do some really terrible things. But in my book, this was the worst of the worst - a petty act of pure evil committed against an innocent man.

And Locke's death couldn't have been more sad and desolate. Ben killed him in a shabby hotel room, alone and without any of his friends or his beloved Island. And right before Ben killed him, he used him until his last breath, pumping him for information and taking Jin's wedding ring so he could eventually manipulate Sun as well. Locke deserved a better death than that - and, let's face it, any death would have been better than being strangled at the hands of your most hated enemy.

This moment is also one of the reasons I think the scene in "The End" where Locke forgives Ben is the best of that episode. Think about being Locke at that moment and remembering everything this little man did to you. Then think of the fact he's got a pretty nice afterlife in purgatory despite everything he did. I'd still be pissed at him, but Locke forgave him anyway. Ben got off really easy there, and it made Locke seem like all the better man because of it.

8) Sawyer finally gets his revenge

Episode: 3.19 - The Brig
Synopsis: Sawyer finally avenges his parents
Why it’s great: Nobody deserved death more than Cooper

Two Cooper moments in the Top 10? Yup. Because Cooper's evil irrecoverably changed not one, but two of our Losties forever. This time, however, it's Cooper who gets his just desserts. This is arguably Sawyer's best scene of the entire show and the one fans had been waiting for since Cooper was first introduced and revealed to be a con man.

This is a moment that's truly great largely because it's so satisfying. Purportedly Ben had the Others bring Cooper to the Island for no other reason than to humiliate Locke, but that was such a bizarre scene - Ben kept saying the Others were good people who didn't kill, so why the heck would Locke have to ritually sacrifice his evil dad in order to become their leader? It basically was all pretense for the writers to get Cooper to the Island and set up this scene between Sawyer and Cooper. And given how good the scene was, I guess we can give the writers a little leeway here.

Part of what makes this scene so good is just how evil and spiteful Cooper is right up until the end. He's almost comical in that regard; he has no remorse for anything he did. Even under the delusion that he died and went to Hell, he still showed no remorse, asked for no forgiveness and showed no sympathy for anything he'd done. By the end of his berating Sawyer, you wanted Sawyer to kill him just to shut him up. And let's face it, Josh Holloway was terrific all through the show, but this was by far his best scene. He was given the material and absolutely knocked it out of the park.

This could be the best scene of Season 3... that is, if we didn't have a certain finale to still discuss.

7) Desmond starts his day

Episode: 2.01 - Man of Science, Man of Faith
Synopsis: Desmond starts his day in the Swan... then gets interrupted
Why it’s great: Best. Opening. Ever.
You're gonna be knowing
the loneliest kind of lonely.
It may be rough goin',
just to do your thing's
the hardest thing to do.

But you've gotta make your own kind of music
sing your own special song,
make your own kind of music even if nobody
else sings along.
This, in my humble opinion, is the best directed scene of the show. And it really needed to be given all the hype and buildup over what the heck was down in the Hatch. This is the scene that made "Make Your Own Kind Of Music" synonymous with Lost and introduced one of the best characters of the show. I love, love, love the head fake we're given as we see this person waking up and "starting his day," going through all the motions normal people go through - throw on some music, check the computer, shower, exercise and eat breakfast... until the explosion, that is. Then it's time to grab your jumpsuit, grab your gun and check the periscope. At the other end, high above at the top of a long shaft it's two men, one waving a torch. And the end of the long shot is the exact reverse of the shot that ended Season One. Brilliant.

And could there have been a more perfect song? It's from the perfect era, has the perfect sound for this scene and the lyrics are terrific. I've argued before that make Your Own Kind of Music could really have been written for Desmond specifically, as a Lost original. It wasn't, of course, it's just that the writers found the perfect piece to set to this scene. Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News often likes to talk about how certain music, if co-opted in the right way to a great scene, become redefined by the movie that used them, like "Battle without Honor or Humanity" became to Kill Bill or "In Your Eyes" became to Say Anything. "Make Your Own Kind of Music is now like that to Lost - you can't hear the song without thinking of the scene.

Man of Science, Man of Faith remains one of my all-time favorite episodes. For Desmond, for the song, for Jack in the Stadium and for the terrific ending. But the opening shot is by far my favorite from the episode and is the best episode opener from the show.

6) Shannon translates Danielle's message

Episode: 1.01 - The Pilot
Synopsis: Shannon translates Danielle's chilling S.O.S.
Why it’s great: "Guys, where are we?"

I don't think the Pilot episode could have ended on a more perfect note. Not only do we get introduced to a terrific Island mystery, we also get Charlie's now classic and oft repeated line ending with the very first trombone of the series. But this more than anything else is the plot line that set things off and running for the first part of Season One. Sayid trying to figure out where the "French woman's transmission" came from, whether she was still alive and what happened to her and her friends was one of the biggest mysteries of the show and probably the one fans most wanted answered. And what a transmission it was, set on a loop for 16 years (I love Sayid's human calculator impression for that as well). But just listen to it again:
I'm alone now.... on the island alone. Please, someone come. The others, they're... they're dead. I-it killed them. I-it killed them all.
It's ominous, cryptic and chilling, perfectly encapsulating the feeling of the first season. It's easy to forget the questions that were being asked at the start of the show. Are all these people dead? Is the Island really Hell or Purgatory? Does the outside world really exist? If someone was trapped here with some sort of Monster that killed all her friends for 16 years, what does that mean for us? Will anyone ever find us? Are we all doomed?

The first season was tense simply because we didn't know anything about the Island yet. And of the little information we did get, this was by far the most foreboding. It ratcheted the atmosphere and suspense of the show up to eleven right from the get-go and no matter how many times I hear Shannon say those words, I still get goosebumps and a tingle of excitement.

"Guys, where are we?" Awesome.

5) "Not Penny's Boat"

Episode: 3.22 - Through the Looking Glass
Synopsis: Charlie finds his redemption and meets his fate
Why it’s great: Signature death of the series

Top 5 time! The order is a little fluid here - I think some people might put Charlie's death a little higher up the ladder, but I do like the other four moments just a little bit more than this one.

This is the moment of Charlie's redemption, where he chose to sacrifice himself, fulfilling Desmond's vision (which never really came true now that I think about it) and also saving Desmond's life in the process. And make no mistake about it, this was a sacrifice - Charlie had plenty of time to escape and swim for the surface, provided he could tear Desmond away from the communications device after he heard Penny's voice. But when Desmond told him of the vision he had of Claire and Aaron escaping, he made the decision to choose to die because of his love for them.

Now I never really liked Claire and Charlie together - I always thought the relationship seemed forced and they really didn't seem to have much chemistry on screen. But everything Charlie did leading up to his death made me feel a whole lot better about it, simply because Charlie's end game felt very genuine, especially in making his greatest hits list to give to Claire and - most of all - leaving his "DS" ring for Aaron (that's another prop I wouldn't have minded owning). That was a terrific touch by the writers and I love the shot of it in the crib. Showing him going through all of that beforehand made his sacrifice all the more poignant and real because it showed us he had made peace with himself and accepted his fate. It really was one of the bravest acts on the show.

Now "Not Penny's Boat" is one of the signature, iconic moments of the series and one that - even I admit - even makes me a bit verklempt. I never thought I'd end up being sad to see Charlie go, but the writers did a phenomenal job here.

4) Desmond connects with his constant

Episode: 4.05 - The Constant
Synopsis: Desmond calls Penny on Christmas Eve
Why it’s great: Best scene from the best episode

Best scene from the best episode and it's not #1? Well, yeah, because as moments go it may the emotional high point of the series (for me), but I still think the three moments above this one are slightly better.

"The Constant" remains my favorite episode, a sentiment I think many of you probably share. It was brilliantly written, perfectly acted and it focused on the best relationship in the show. Some may disagree with that point - Jin and Sun, Rose and Bernard are two other worthy couples there - but in Desmond and Penny you have star-crossed lovers, one of whom waited eight years for a phone call and the other who spent three years trapped inside an underground hatch and who nearly committed suicide if it wasn't for a hidden letter from her.

And call me sappy, but I also love that the phone call took place on Christmas Eve. To me, 'The Constant" is the closest thing to a Christmas episode Lost has and there's something about the idea of Penny sitting alone in a nice warm house on Christmas Eve, tree up, fire in the fireplace, waiting. She was probably sitting there thinking, "This is so stupid, Desmond's not going to call," but she waits anyway. And then the phone rings and - miracle of miracles - it's him. It has the same emotional feel to me as Charlie Brown seeing his little tree all decorated or George Bailey being toasted by his war hero brother.

I'm toying with the idea of making it a tradition to watch this every Christmas, but somehow I think Em's going to veto that one. Perhaps if I volunteer to wrap the presents every year....

3) "We're going to have to take the boy..."

Episode: 1.23 - Exodus
Synopsis: Turns out the Others weren't after Aaron after all
Why it’s great: Shocking end to the raft storyline

There were really two cliffhanger endings to Exodus, and while the Hatch being opened without letting us see what was inside certainly received the brunt of the fan rage at the end of the season, the conclusion to the raft storyline was much more of a shocker.

Of all the head fakes the writers threw at us during the show, the fact the Others wanted Walt instead of Aaron was probably the best crafted head fake of them all. I didn't see this coming a bit - and who would? We hadn't known the Others had access to a boat at the point (let alone a submarine) and it really seemed at first like Michael, Walt, Sawyer and Jin had really escaped the Island and perhaps even got themselves rescued by some kind, local fishermen. But then, the late great Tom Friendly, as he came to be known, delivered the line...

"Only, the thing is, we're going to have to take the boy."

And then there was a great dramatic pause in the show, because Michael was taking those words in just as much as we were. And it slowly dawned on us who these people were, what they wanted and that Rousseau was right in her warning, but she merely interpreted it wrong.

It was wonderfully set up from start to finish and one of the best cliffhangers I've ever seen on the small screen. And yes, it did lead to Michael becoming a caricature of himself with his oft repeated refrains of "WAAALLLLLLLLT!" and "They took my son!," but both of those lines are now considered classic in the show, despite their unintentional humor. Walt's kidnapping drove the storyline for much of Season 2 and the image of him being taken away by the Others is one of the most indelible images of the show.

2) "Don't tell me what I can't do!"

Episode: 1.04 - Walkabout
Synopsis: We discover Locke was in a wheelchair on the plane
Why it’s great: This is very likely the scene that hooked you on the show

I really struggled with where to place this moment in the Top 5, questioning whether it had been surpassed by Charlie's death or Desmond's phone call to Penny. But coming back to it again, I realized it simply had to be #2. This was the moment that hooked me on Lost and I imagine it did the same for many of you as well. Jack may have been the show's official leading man, but Locke was its heart and soul. And "Walkabout" was the moment we were introduced to him and, chances are, he became your newest favorite character afterward.

The setup for this episode was just so good through the first two episodes of the show. Locke was portrayed as kind of a weird, creepy guy with a scar who seemed to have just a little too much affection for Walt, if you know what I mean. I certainly felt he might become the villain of the show right off the bat, especially after his creepy mouth-full-of-orange grin. So when "Walkabout" rolled him out (sorry), I think part of the reason it worked so well is the shock of not only finding out he was in a wheelchair on the plane, but finding out he may actually be the hero of the show as opposed to the villain, given his incredible connection to the Island. It certainly made me do a 360 on his character.

There are a lot of moments from Walkabout I could have selected, but this is really the one that deserves to be here, the moment we see him in the wheelchair, being denied his place on the walkabout trip. That was where see him give his best use of "Don't tell me what I can't do!" and why that particular phrase carries such meaning for him. And suddenly all the images of the first couple episodes - when he wiggles his toes, runs around happily helping Jack, telling Walt a secret, even just happily eating an orange - suddenly they all make sense. This man is happy because this place somehow made him whole.

People who say "Walkabout" is overrated (you know who you are) simply have forgotten just how powerful it was at the time. If you've never seen the show before and are watching it through for the first time, this is the moment that drags you in.

And bravo to Terry O'Quinn who gave John Locke all he had and more.

1) "We have to go back, Kate! We have to go back!"

Episode: 3.22 - Through the Looking Glass
Synopsis: Turns out Jack and Kate get off the Island after all
Why it’s great: Best moment of the show... and one of the best in TV history

And so we've finally reached #1! And, really, could it be anything else?

It speaks to the writers that the most pivotal turning point of the show not only happened to be one of the show’s best, but will probably go down as one of the most iconic moments in television history. I remember when I was watching “Through The Looking Glass” for the first time, I really wasn’t 100% sure whether we were seeing the past, future or some alternate timeline in Jack’s “flashbacks.” The writers did a really good job disguising it – having Jack say “get my father down here” - really made it seem like it was a normal, old Jack flashback we hadn’t seen before. Would have been no surprise to see he was a boozy, painkiller-addicted surgeon before the plane crash – seemed a normal progression given we’d already seen him losing it after his divorce.

And when the episode was over, I remember enjoying it, but not more than, say, the ending of “Exodus.” In fact, I didn’t even have this episode on my original Top 10 list that I made between Seasons 3 & 4. But Jack’s “We’ve got to go back, Kate!” cry not only became one of the most quoted lines of the show, in retrospect it was the moment that turned everything on its head and showed what direction the show was going to follow over the last three seasons.
Fitting this scene was the final scene of the first three seasons because it's really an inflection point. After watching this scene, all the questions change from "are they going to get off the Island" to "OMG, what happened after they left."

Great moments in TV history don't come along very often and it's rare they come along in the middle of a show as opposed to the end. And it's also rare when they're great moments within a storyline as opposed to something topical or controversial. No, this was a scripted moment and, yes, it had a twist to it, but it was so much more than just a plot device. By the end of Season 3, people had begun to wonder whether Lost was going to turn into Gillian's Island before it was all over, its inhabitants doomed never to leave until the final episode. Here we learn that not only do they escape, they have to return because they weren't supposed to leave.

Lost leaves behind a great legacy to television. It demonstrated that a largely intelligent scripted show (despite the ending) could succeed in an era of brain dead, cookie cutter reality TV. And it did so by simply combining an excellent cast, excellent writing and, most of all, telling a great, captivating story. I'm going to miss it dearly - there may be nothing like on television ever again though, given its success, I'm sure some will try.

Now if you'll excuse me, it seems I have some "Dexter" to watch. After all, something has to fill the void Lost left behind.

Moment Tally (final!):

Looks like Ben managed to hang onto his lead, but just barely. And I'm fairly pleased with my Top 5 - if you told me Ben, Locke, Jack, Sawyer and Desmond would end up at the top of my list I would have thought that sounded about right. Of course, I split Locke and Smokey up separately and half of Smokey's scenes were played by Terry O'Quinn, so I suppose one could argue that Locke/Zombie Locke was the real winner here.

The Season tally was a bit more surprising, both in the fact that Season 3 was the overall winner and that Season 5 was the runner up. I really expected the first two seasons to run away with it, but I guess 1) I really dug all the time travel more than I realized and 2) even though Season 3 is a terribly inconsistent season with some of the worst episodes the show had to offer, it also had some of the best episodes and even the bad episodes had some very, very good moments in them. Season 3 might not be the best season overall, but it certainly had its fair share of terrific Lost moments.

Final tallies below:

Main/Recurring Characters:

Ben - 25
Locke - 24
Jack - 18
Sawyer - 15
Desmond - 13
Smokey - 12
Sayid - 8
Hurley - 7
Jin - 7
Charlie - 6
Michael - 6
Eko - 5
Jacob - 5
Juliet - 5
Kate - 5
Tom Friendly - 5
Charles Widmore - 4
Daniel - 4
Danielle - 4
Richard - 4
Claire - 3
Penny - 3
Pierre Chang - 3
Walt - 3
Anthony Cooper - 2
Bernard and Rose - 2
Eloise - 2
Frank - 2
Keamy - 2
Miles - 2
Shannon - 2
Vincent - 2
Aaron - 1
Alex - 1
Ana-Lucia - 1
Arzt - 1
Boone - 1
Charlotte - 1
Ilana - 1
Libby - 1
Mikhail - 1
Nikki and Paulo - 1
Roger Linus - 1
Sun - 1


Season Three - 24
Season Five - 22
Season Two - 20
Season One - 18
Season Six - 14
Season Four - 10

Up next: Really not sure. I think I might be done Lost blogging for quite a while. Perhaps I'll revisit my Top 10 list in the future, but I think I'll take a short break from blogging and will likely start up another, different blog sometime soon. There will be an announcement here once I do.

In the meantime, I still answer questions and comments, so feel free to post away and especially let me know what moments I missed. I suppose Aaron's birth/Boone's death is one of them - I guess it just never impacted me at all despite it being an important moment on the show. The Pilot opening is another. Anything else I miss?

Hope you enjoyed this - I certainly did. Thanks for reading and following along over the years. I'm not through blogging, but I do think I need a bit of a break for now. :)


Missie said...

Wow- excellent work! I was less suprised by the Season 3 win just because I usually site that as my favorite season. Like you said, it's a season of extremes, but I find "the good" to be really, really good.

I also think it's interesting with Locke- I'm suprised I didn't predict his death, because I would have that in my top 10 as well. The moment we learn Locke was in a wheelchair and the cut to him wiggling his toe- perfect. I don't think so much of him being pushed out a window. It certainly would have made my list, but probably not top 10. Same with Walt's kidnapping. Aaron's birth/Boone's Death could've replaced either of those for me. I probably wou;d've also put the light shooting out of the hatch when Locke was breaking down in the top 10. I know you included it with the Desmond scene, but I think it's important that we see Locke losing his faith. It is all to reminiscent of another well known garden scene full of despair.

But an awesome undertaking, and one I will sorely miss reading.

grubstreethack said...

Absolutely spot on with #1. I disagreed with some of the others, but #1 is so mind-blowing that it's almost objective truth.

Jay said...

It's funny - when I made the list I kept comparing moments to the moment listed above it and kept moving them up until I found a stopper. Locke out the window just kept going up and up for me. It's one of those things that - to me - was just done about as well as can be.

It was incredibly satisfying to finish this all the way through - took me far longer than I expected, but I'm happy I completed it. :)

Ryan said...

Thanks for all the Lost commentary. I have checked your blog regularly ever since Lost ended, and although I disagree with some of your rankings (opening of Man of Science, Man of Faith is my No. 1), I have enjoyed reading your comments. Good work, and thanks.

Ryan (first time commenter, long time reader)

Jim Roberson said...

I think That the best moment in LOST was everything but the end of the last episode. haha My favourite part was when Hurley through theHot Pocket at Ben. I'm not saying it ws the best part... just that it made me laugh so much that I missed the rest of the episode.

I think the best part of the entire series was when Ben was digging his own grave and when he ran and junk after "Lock" got him free and he said he was going to "Lock" because he had no where else to go. I cried so hard.

RosieP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RosieP said...

Sawyer's Revenge
Sawyer's revenge against Anthony Cooper was a great moment? I found it embarrassing and a confirmation on just how vindictive and childish Sawyer really was. Cooper only conned money from his parents. Sawyer's mom was the one who willing committed adultery. And Sawyer's dad took the coward's way out and literally destroyed his family with an act of murder and suicide. So, in reality, he was really to blame. But the eight year-old Sawyer was too young to fathom this. The 36 year-old Sawyer should have known better. But he was too childish, vindictive and violent to overcome a childhood desire for revenge.

But what is really sad is that so many "LOST" fans saw this moment as something to cheer about. I didn't find it satisfying. I found it pathetic.

Michael's Cries For Walt
Why on earth do you people keep harping on Michael screaming Walt's name? What is wrong with you? He was an anxious father, whose son was violently taken from him? Did you expect him to act like Mr. Spock? Or be "cool"? This hostility and jokes regarding Michael's cries for Walt strikes me as ridiculous and infantile.