Friday, October 1, 2010

Top 108 Moments: #20-11

"John, you fell eight stories and survived, OK? I don't want to hear about what you can't do. Now let's go. It's going to be all right."

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

Welcome to the penultimate 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
Moments #30-21

Today we have Moments #20-11. The Top 20 is finally upon us! Namaste.

20) Locke gets put into a wheelchair for the first time

Episode: 3.13 - The Man From Tallahassee
Synopsis: Locke is told he's going to have to be in a wheelchair
Why it’s great: Terry O'Quinn is simply amazing here

Since this scene hit #20, I think you can probably imagine what its compliment(s) will be in the Top 10 next week. I debated leaving this off entirely because of that, but the thing is it's just too good of a scene not to include. Not only do we get to see the origin of John's "Don't tell me what I can't do" catchphrase, but Terry O'Quinn is simply magnificent here. This is the scene, to me, that above all others earned him his Emmy.

It's a completely heartbreaking scene to watch, even moreso if you flip through the screencaps of the entire shot. John's in a hospital bed and an orderly comes in to attend to him. He flips open a wheelchair and the camera pans down to it. It's the same type of wheelchair John was using in the Pilot. And as John realizes that chair is meant for him, he starts saying "no" and "I can't do this" over and over again, a horrible mix of anguish and realization at what his life is about to become. And can there be a worse fate for an idealistic dreamer with delusions of grandeur? No more Locke the Explorer or Locke the Hero. The stark reality is he's going to be Locke the Paraplegic, likely for the rest of his life (had Jacob not intervened).

This is one of the very best acting performances of the entire series, if not the best overall.

19) Desmond opens "Our Mutual Friend" and finds Penny's letter

Episode: 2.23 - Live Together, Die Alone
Synopsis: Desmond realizes he wants to kill himself, but Penny saves him
Why it’s great: Shades of "Shawshank" with Penny's voice over

This is a scene that I think doesn't readily come to mind when we think of great Lost scenes, but it's unbelievably powerful. Going into making this list, "Live Toegther, Die Alone" wasn't at the top of my favorite finales list. In fact, largely because I really didn't like the whole kidnapping storyline much, it was close to the bottom. But I think I may need to reevaluate that since Desmond's flashbacks were so incredibly good.

And people forget that this scene was the only scene in the show that used "Our Mutual Friend" to its full potential. I really thought the end of the series was going to have Desmond sacrificing himself in some way and cracking open Our Mutual Friend as he waits for death to arrive. That never happened, but this scene is just as good, if not better. Here, Kelvin is dead, Desmond is stuck in the Hatch alone (and has been alone for nearly 40 days). He's been drinking and is contemplating suicide. He's got a gun. We see him pull the band off "Our Mutual Friend" and open the cover. We know what that signifies.

But something falls out of the book - a letter. A letter from Penny. The whole time he was in prison, Charles had intercepted all of his letters to Penny, but he couldn't stop his daughter from putting the most important letter in the place he needed it most. And what a letter it was:
Dearest Des, I am writing this letter to you as you leave for prison. And I've hidden in the one place you would turn to in a moment of great desperation. I know you go away with the weight of what happened on your shoulders. And I know the only person who can ever take it off is you. Please don't give up, Des. Because all we really need to survive is one person who truly loves us. And you have her. I will wait for you. Always. I love you, Pen.
Gives me chills. And it reminds me so much of Andy's letter to Red at the end of Shawshank. He gave it to Red to keep him going, keep him wanting to live, because he knew for sure there would be a time where he'd think about ending it all. Shawshank, to me, has one of the best endings in cinematic history and it's really the highest praise I can gave when I say this scene reminds me of that one.

Lastly Penny's letter not only saved Desmond that day, but it allowed Desmond to save Locke, who was in equally dire straights. After he finishes reading the letter, he hears Locke banging on the Hatch and shines the light up through the window. That light gives Locke the strength to go on. Two lives saved with one letter. Part of the reason I left "The Hatch lights up" off the list because I kinda like seeing it from this moment better. Possibly the most underrated moment on my list.

18) Ben shows Jack the Red Sox winning the series

Episode: 3.02 - The Glass Ballerina
Synopsis: Ben proves to Jack the outside world still exists
Why it’s great: Because the writers took advantage of one of the best sports stories in the last century

The fall of 2004 really was a fairly eventful time. As Ben points out, we had a presidential election, Christopher Reeve died and one of the biggest sports stories of the century: The Boston Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918. And not only did they win, in order to get there they had to become the first team in history to come back from an 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven to win the series 4 games to 3. And they managed the comeback against their arch-rival, the New York Yankees, this after the Yankees embarrassed them in the postseason the year before. So when Jack was introduced as a Red Sox fan in Season One, one of the common refrains was "oh man, he's going to totally miss the Sox winning the series." Fortunately, Carlton Cuse is a Red Sox fan, so this wasn't overlooked.

As I stated before, the widely panned mini-series at the beginning of Season 3 is a bit underrated as a whole. Yes, it contains a few terrible episodes, but it also had a total of six moments on this list:

106) Jack telling Ben: "At least you won't have to be disappointed for very long"
86) Sawyer gets a fish biscuit
85) Locke's smokehouse vision
59) Smokey kills Eko
23) Flight 815 comes apart over the Barracks
18) Ben shows Jack the Red Sox winning the series

That's really not too shabby. And let's face it, this was by far the best moment of that mini-series. Not only was it a terrific scene for Jack, who honestly and truly couldn't believe it when Ben told him not only that they won, and that they were down three games to none against the Yankees and came back. But it was also the first time it was confirmed to the Losties that the outside world still existed and that they weren't all trapped in a "snow globe" as Desmond thought.

A terrific scene with one of the best payoffs of the show. Added bonus: some quality Jackface here as well.

17) Eloise confronts Desmond

Episode: 3.08 - Flashes Before Your Eyes
Synopsis: Eloise tells Desmond of his destiny
Why it’s great: One of the best monologues of the show comes out of nowhere

"Flashes Before Your Eyes" was my very favorite episode of the first three seasons. Not only was a wonderful break from the formula and the first episode that introduced time travel to the show, it was a wonderful story as well. Desmond gets a second chance to make things right with Penny. This time he's going to do what he should have done so many years before and ask Penny to marry him, Charles be damned.

He goes to buy a ring, picks one out and decides to buy it. But for some strange reason, the elderly shopkeeper resists. In fact, she oddly knows his name. And when Desmond still insists on purchasing the ring, Eloise Hawking (as we now know her), mother of Daniel, wife to Charles, bursts out with the best goosebump-inducing monologue of the show:
"I know your name as well as I know that you don't ask Penny to marry you. In fact, you break her heart. Well, breaking her heart, of course, is what drives you in a few short years from now to enter that sailing race to prove her father wrong. Which brings you to the island where you spend the next 3 years of your life entering numbers into the computer...until you are forced to turn that failsafe key. And if you don't do those things, Desmond David Hume, every single one of US is dead. So give me that sodding ring!"
And with that statement, everything we thought we knew about the Island and the survivors was turned on its head. It's one thing to think about time travel, it's another entirely to have someone who knows the future and tries to keep it on its course. This is actually a moment I've wanted to revisit because in order for it to have happened like it did, Eloise must have gotten detailed notes in the past (likely from Daniel) about all the events that happened on the Island that would eventually lead to his death. Her true purpose here, for whatever reason, was to keep the conditions the same that would lead to Daniel going back in time and being killed by her hand.

It's hard to say what her "every one of us is dead" was referring to, whether it be the universe ending in a temporal paradox or Desmond needing to turn the failsafe key, but I think it's clear that Desmond was simply a means to an end here - if he doesn't crash on the Island, Flight 815 never crashes and no one goes back in time. Part of me kind of wishes there was a "What if" version of Lost that could go back and see what happens if Desmond does propose to Penny instead of crashing on the Island. Might make for an interesting story, eh?

Regardless, this is one of my favorite shock moments of the show. And it's delivered perfectly by Fionnula Flanagan.

16) Eko confronts Smokey

Episode: 2.10 - The 23rd Psalm
Synopsis: Eko confronts Smokey face-to-face
Why it’s great: We see Smokey up close and personal for the first time

"The 23rd Psalm" was my second favorite episode of the first three seasons and Eko was, by far, my favorite character. And this moment was certainly one of the most iconic images of the entire show (I'll be using "iconic" quite a bit in these top moments, as you'll all see). Up until now, we had really only gotten one fleeting glimpse of Smokey in "Exodus" and it was really hard to know what to make of him. But this was not only the best full-screen scene with Smokey we had gotten on the show, damn if it wasn't just so freakin' cool.

It was also the advent of the "pause your VCR and run it on slow" moments with the show. Yes, the Hatch really introduced the Lost mythology to us, but the images of Eko's life that flashed in Smokey as the camera panned around him was a watercooler moment for everyone on the internet. And it fueled so many questions as well. Why didn't the monster kill Eko? Did it really read his mind? What was it looking for? Did it come from and disappear underground? What the heck is it really? And even though it brought up a lot of new ideas and theories about Smokey, it also answered a whole lot of general questions since it gave us such a good look at him and what he was capable of.

It's also worth mentioning that the direction and special effects of this scene were top notch. I love the way the camera pans around Eko and the aerial shot from above was terrifically cool. And this was, I think, the best Smokey special effect on the show. The scene in "Left Behind" was pretty neat too, but I think this one still wins. This is a moment where, if you weren't really hooked on Lost or were starting to lose interest, you got sucked right back into the vortex.

15) Locke sees the Blast Door Map

Episode: 2.17 - Lockdown
Synopsis: Locke sees the Blast Door Map during the pallet drop
Why it’s great: Most analyzed screenshot on TV ever

I will say that Lost is a show that you have to put some time into to really appreciate and the Blast Door Map is probably the best example. Did you really need to translate and pore over every little detail of the map to fully appreciate the show? Of course not. But this Easter Egg is what solidified Lost's presence on the internet and led to the various summer Alternate Reality Games and the very well done webisodes that really expanded upon some plot details that didn't make it into the mainstream show. For me, this was a terrific bonus to the diehard fans who wanted more detail into the show (and in the case of the webisodes, nearly an entire new episode worth of material).

But the scene itself was incredibly cool. Yeah, overall, the logic behind it was kinda wonky. Why Kelvin and Radzinsky made the map in the first place is certainly a little odd and all the stuff on it doesn't totally make sense ("Cerebus" is probably kind of a misnomer now, eh). But the scene will probably go down in history as the most analyzed screencapture ever. And how cool did it look? With the dark light and the awesome reflection of the map in Locke's eye (one of neatest directorial touches of the show). It was creative, original and, most of all, incredibly memorable and a terrific bonus to the fans by the writers.

14) The Numbers are on the Hatch

Episode: 1.18 - Numbers
Synopsis: It's revealed Hurley's numbers are stamped on the Hatch
Why it’s great: Mind-bending reveal that ramped up the suspense for the finale

Numbers made my Top 10 episode list of the first three seasons. Not only did it give a very unique angle to Hurley's character, but the fact Danielle was brought to the Island by these very same Numbers gave us the idea that perhaps everyone was meant to be on Flight 815 after all. In addition, the episode rammed home the idea that perhaps the Numbers were a bad omen. After all, they were responsible for Danielle crashing on the Island and Hurley blamed them for all of his bad luck. So when the episode ended with a shot of the Hatch and the Numbers imprinted on the side, it made everyone go "Holy ****! Don't open that thing up!"

The end of Season One was all about what was in the Hatch. It was like Pandora's Box - you hoped it wasn't imprisoning something awful, you hoped opening it didn't bring about the end of the world. Thing is, though, there really wasn't a whole lot these type of horrible thoughts floating around until the Numbers were revealed - once that happened, the Hatch went from Island curiosity to Little Hatch of Horrors. It totally ramped up the suspense leading up to the finale and made it one of the biggest water cooler mysteries since "Who shot J.R.?"

13) Desmond tells Charlie he's going to die

Episode: 3.08 - Flashes Before Your Eyes
Synopsis: Desmond tells Charlie the universe is out to get him
Why it’s great: One of the best episode endings of the show. Plus: Charlie's going to die!

As if "Flashes" episode-long flashback wasn't terrific enough, it also set up one of the best storylines of Season 3 with its ending. I really hated Charlie by the start of that season. His druggie storyline had run its course, his relationship with Claire was annoying and his flashbacks were among the worst of the show. I freely admit I was openly rooting for him to be killed.

But then something funny happened - when Charlie went from lame druggie to dead man walking, he became...interesting again. This plot line totally rejuvinated his character and gave him the shot at redemption that he so sorely needed. Brilliant idea by the writers here.
But kudos also go to Henry Ian Cusick who so perfectly delivered his end-of-episode speech to Charlie. I still get goosebumps just thinking about it. Take a gander:
When I saw the lightning hit the roof you were electrocuted. And when you heard Claire was in the water you -- you drowned trying to save her. I dove in myself so you never went in. I've tried, brother. I've tried twice to save you, but the universe has a way of course correcting and -- and I can't stop it forever. I'm sorry. I'm sorry because no matter what I try to do you're going to die, Charlie.
At the time, I applauded. Hey! Charlie is going to die! Woo hoo! In retrospect, however, this is the moment that not only began Charlie's journey towards redemption, but made him one of the most memorable and iconic characters on the show.

12) Jack and Locke watch the Swan Orientation film

Episode: 2.03 - Orientation
Synopsis: Jack and Locke watch a video
Why it’s great: We're going to have to watch that one again

This is the moment that was turned into a Superbowl commercial in 2006: "Addicted to Lost," so it has got that going for it right off the bat. But the Swan Orientation film was one of the most original and creative things the show put forth. Some fans think the DHARMA Initiative was a mistake, that it took away from the mystery of the Island and distracted the characters (especially Locke) from the Island's true purpose. But DHARMA was really as much a part of the history of the Island as anything else, Jacob or otherwise, and this was the moment when we were properly introduced to it. And, oh, what a moment it was.

I don't know what most people expected to find in the Hatch. I was kinda hoping it was originally Smokey's prison cell and that we'd find clues inside as to what it was and how it could be recaptured. When we found Desmond and the computer and the button, it really blew my mind because it was simply so different than anything I expected. The film was like the icing on the cake here - it was enigmatic enough to keep us guessing and informative enough to give us an idea about this whole DHARMA thing. Plus, the fact the Swan was labeled as "3 of 6" immediately got everyone wondering where the other stations were and what were they used for.

Finally, the Swan Orientation film is about as iconic as Lost gets. Every morning I get up and pour myself a cup of coffee in a Swan Station mug. Seriously. The Swan logo is probably one of the most recognizable images from Lost, largely because of this amazing 70's style film that introduced it to a legion of fans.

11) Jacob and Smokey chat on the beach

Episode: 5.16 -The Incident
Synopsis: Smokey tells Jacob he wants to kill him
Why it’s great: The true villain of the series is revealed

This scene could have been #1 had it actually lived up to its potential. It was an incredible start to an incredible finale. We finally meet the true villain of the series, The Man in Black. We finally meet Jacob face-to-face for the first time. We finally see the front of the statue. We see the Black Rock arriving on the Island. We learn Jacob brought the Black Rock here. We learn the philosophy behind the conflict between Jacob and the Man in Black. All of this in a succinct, well-directed, well-acted, perfectly casted scene.

I really wish I could have put this in the Top 10, but everything that came after simply diluted the power of this scene. It had so much potential, especially since MiB was set up to be a perfectly evil counterpart to a perfectly good Island god. Instead, they had to go and blur the lines between the two of them with "Across the Sea." Sometimes lines are drawn perfectly and for a reason - they certainly were here.

Regardless of how the series ended, this scene will always remain one of my very favorites. It's a big scene, in a big episode of one of the biggest shows and it knocks it out of the park here.

Top Ten Challenge!

OK. So we are down to the last ten. How about a guessing game? I figure by process of elimination most of you can guess at least half the moments in the Top Ten, if not all of them. Post what you think my Top 10 moments are in the comments and see how they compare to the real thing when I post my own. No prizes for this, just smug satisfaction. :)

Hint: The opening of the Pilot is NOT in there as I posted in the comments a week or two, but the Pilot is represented there nonetheless. :)

Moment Tally (updated through #11):

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. :)

Seasons 2 and 3 were the big winners this week with four moments each, but Season 5 still clings to it's very narrow lead. But every season but Season 4 is in striking distance of the top (though Season 6 won't be taking the crown). Locke is also probably the only one who can catch Ben at this point. Only 10 more to go! :)

Main/Recurring Characters:

Ben - 24
Locke - 20
Jack - 17
Sawyer - 13
Smokey - 12
Desmond - 10
Hurley - 7
Sayid - 7
Jin - 6
Eko - 5
Jacob - 5
Juliet - 5
Michael - 5
Charles Widmore - 4
Charlie - 4
Daniel - 4
Danielle - 4
Kate - 4
Richard - 4
Tom Friendly - 4
Claire - 3
Pierre Chang - 3
Bernard and Rose - 2
Eloise - 2
Frank - 2
Keamy - 2
Miles - 2
Penny - 2
Vincent - 2
Walt - 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
Shannon - 1
Sun - 1


Season Five - 21
Season Three - 20
Season Two - 19
Season One - 15
Season Six - 14
Season Four - 9

Next installment: #10-1! Finally, the Top 10 moments in LOST. Don't forget to post your guesses! :)


Missie said...

I would totally have picked the hach lighting up, but you covered that this week. So my other guesses, in no particular order:

1) Penny and Des' phone call from "The Constant"

2) "Make Your Own Kind of Music" opening sequence

3) Charlie's hand on the portal window as he dies

4) Aaron's birth/ Boone's Death

5) Locke wiggles his toe on the beach after the crash

6) "Guys, where are we?"

7) Daniel Farraday lands to "rescue" the Losties

8) Jack chases his father and finds Adam and Eve and the caves

9) Smokey kills the pilot

10) The black smoke starts burning as they launch the raft.

Jay said...

You got five, Miss. Interesting the moments I left off my list too that you guys picked - the pilot getting killed didn't even occur to me, but both you and Matt mentioned it.

Ah well, I guess debate and discussion is what these lists are for. :)

Charlie said...

In no particular order:

1. The flashforward reveal

2. Charlie dies

3. Season 2 opening

4. Sawyer kills Locke's Dad

5. Aaron's birth/Boone's death

6. Desmond/Penny phone call

7. Locke revealed to have been in a wheelchair

8. The Others kidnap WAAAAAALT

9. "Where are we?"

10. The entirety of the greatest LOST episode ever, Stranger in a Strange Land.

No but seriously I have no idea what the last one could be.

Missie said...

I replace my #8 with the flashforward reveal. I can't believe I forgot that one- I list Season 3 as my favorite finale! Good call Charlie.

Jay said...

Charlie, you got a very, very impressive eight correct. In fact, you got the top eight on my list (not in order, bet they're all there). And I don't know how you guessed "Stranger" was going to be my #1 - I was saving that for a surprise. ;)