Over the last week, I couldn’t help but notice that there might be something in the air. Something that’s been kind of gnawing at the back of my mind and tugging at my sleeve. I find myself with this wanting, possible needing, to go back… to the Island. That’s right Geeklings, I’m feeling the call to return to LOST and it’s heavier than it’s been in a while. Occasionally I get the urge for the great re-re-re-re-watching of LOST but usually talk myself out of it. “Now’s not the time” or “the commitment is just too much” are things I tell myself or my sister when she suggests we start it back up again. I think apart of that fear is that LOST meant so much to me and it’s been four years since I last watched so what if it changed? What if I watch LOST and it doesn’t resonate the same way that it did? What if I judge the version of Kevin that loved LOST? I’m not sure I could handle that. Sure, on the flip side of that it’s completely possible that the show resonates even deeper with me and that’s a very clear upside. I felt the same way when I re-read the Dark Tower series a few years ago, but that ended up being foolish thinking as the series still had the same impact.
Yet, there is something in the universe telling me, much like Jack, that I have to go back. Maybe a part of it is the Ringer dubbing “The Constant” as the number one episode of television of this century even though that spot should have belonged to Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias”. Maybe it was the Ringer podcast breaking down why they chose “The Constant” and talking about LOST and its importance to television. Maybe it’s Damon Lindelof refueling the fires of a LOST reboot and what would make it work. Or maybe it’s a combination of all these things, but the itch is real at this point. Real to the point where I created a viewing event for September 22nd (Losties you know why) and sat down last night to watch one of my favorite episodes just to see how it felt.
And it felt alright. The viewing didn’t feel forced and it was fun seeing so many of my old friends again. It felt like this re-watching could be possible.
Which leads me to today, I thought what better way to explore this need to get back into LOST than breaking down my top ten favorite episodes of the series. Now, I’m not saying that these are the best episodes but when I think of LOST these are the episodes I return to the most. One of these spots actually deserves a column of its own and I think somewhere down the line I’m going to write it. The idea for it has been sitting in my notebook for quite some time now. That’s a story for another day though, today let’s focus on the top ten.
Honorable Mentions- Live Together, Die Alone, The Economist, & The Incident
10. Tricia Tanaka Is Dead- There is a lot of LOST that focuses on massive stakes and preserving the world, but there’s also a great deal of LOST that delves into the show’s mythology and character through quirky, fun episodes like “Tricia Tanaka Is Dead”. That’s one of the things that people tend to forget about the show, it was funny and charming, and “Tricica Tanaka…” is one of the best highlights of that. Hurley in need of a win finds an old VW van, a van that happened to belong to Ben’s father and the Dharma Intuitive, that he wants to start up. What follows is a buddy romp involving Jin, Charlie, and Sawyer that results in some levity, and one of my all-time favorite Sawyer moments, in a season that was pretty intense.
9. The End- I can almost hear a large majority of you rolling your eyes, and I don’t care. I’ve found that those who don’t like the finale just don’t understand it. That’s not to say that I think I’m better than you but there are clear misconceptions about this episode that fans harp on. For starters, THEY WERE NEVER IN PURGATORY! EVER! How this is even a debate is beyond me, but that’s taking away from a very powerful and very moving finale. I sob like a baby during those last ten minutes, every time. The sendoff is beautiful and heart wrenching but also fitting. Sure, season six isn’t perfect and either is this episode but it captures the emotion of LOST and reminds us just why these characters have been so important to us. One day I’ll write a column on this episode and break it down further, until then, watch again with a clearer mind. You’re not seeing what you think you are.
8. Something Nice Back Home- For those of us who were shipping Jack and Kate, which I am guilty of, this was the episode for you in a lot of ways. It showed that off the Island the two finally found it each other and built a small little family together with Aaron. Whether or not they were pushed together because of their experience or their guilt though is the factor that ultimately drives the wedge between them. The episode is filled with equal measure happiness and heartache as Jack starts his pursuit to re-finding the Island thus becoming a mess and Kate kind of becomes cold and distant not only to the idea of returning but to those she met there.
7. The Man Behind the Curtain- Our very first introduction to Jacob, and while he would adapt to another form as the series went on there was no denying that this episode brought it when it came down to expanding the mythology and melting our minds. There’s an entity in a cabin that only Ben can see or communicate with?! WTF is that?! Making Ben the leader of the Others seemed like a no-brainer but learning that there was a higher authority on the Island that he answered to really upped the ante. This isn’t the first time we hear the name Jacob but it is the first time that he’s addressed head-on. Throw in a Locke who has had his faith and patience tested to great degrees and this episode is a recipe for awesome. Not to mention we learn more about Dharma, get more interactions between Ben and Locke (two of my favorites to share the screen), and an ending that left us kind of shocked and “The Man Behind the Curtain” becomes quintessential LOST.
6. Walkabout- “Walkabout” might be one of the most important episodes of LOST. Hands down. It’s our first real introduction to the tragic life of John Locke and introduces the idea that the Island might have some sort of magical powers. It’s also the first time where the show’s ending reveal left me floored. “He’s what? But he’s not now… but… what?!” If you weren’t hooked by “Walkabout” you were afterward.
5. There’s No Place Like Home– This is my favorite season finale of the show. Season four of LOST is my favorite season and this finale is instrumental for that final two season push. We get answers to the season three finale, we have a tremendous moment between Jack and Locke, we have loss, a great deal of expanded mythology, a heartwarming reunion, and the “Landing Party” theme is introduced which might be the most beautiful piece of music I’ve ever heard. Seriously. “There’s No Place Like Home” might be the last time LOST is LOST before the science fiction takes hold but at its core, it’s still driven by the characters and this finale is filled with a number of memorable moments for all of them.
4. The Constant- Ringer’s number one episode of television of this century. “The Constant”. A number of times the term “game changer” gets thrown around to make an episode or something sound a bit more important than it is, but “The Constant” is a complete game changer. It introduces themes that will become a huge part of season five while also giving us a compelling story centered on two characters that were the secret heartbeat of the show. In a lot of ways, Penny and Desmond are the love story of LOST and “The Constant” is a beautiful chapter in their story filled with immensely emotional moments that will leave nary an eye dry. It’s a gorgeously structured episode that takes the classic love story tropes and makes them resonate on a different level.
3. Pilot- The episode that started it all. It’s impossible to keep the “Pilot” off your list of greatest LOST episodes of all time because up until then there had been nothing like it on television before. Now everyone is trying to cash in on that LOST magic and mystique but the “Pilot” actually brought it. A group of strangers crash on an island, that may or may not have a dinosaur on it, and their lives on said island is just as compelling as the flashbacks used to expand their character and the narrative. The structure of the show was unique and unlike anything else and the story was instantly engaging. You wanted to know everything about these people and where their plane crashed. The “Pilot” put LOST on the map and television was never the same.
2. Through the Looking Glass- You know when I said that “There’s No Place Like Home” was my favorite LOST season finale… I think I lied. Yeah, I totally lied. “Through the Looking Glass” could possibly be the greatest episode of LOST and in a lot of ways, it’s my favorite (shhhh, don’t tell number one). I could tell you exactly where I was when I watched (my parents couch on a laptop), how I felt once it finished (immense story high with a dash of blown mind), and how it affected me for the remainder of the day. I just wanted to talk to someone, anyone, about this episode. “Through the Looking Glass” completely shatters the narrative of the series and flips everything on its head. This is the introduction to the end game and brings about shock, death, surprise, and pop culture moments that are still being used today (“Not Penny’s Boat” and “We Have to Go Back” are iconic). The beauty of the episode is that ending comes out of nowhere. I remember trying to process what I was seeing until the actuality hits you in the face. Just brilliant.
1. All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues- This is my favorite episode of LOST and it might be the episode I’ve watched the most (I watched it last night as a matter of fact). I was Team Jack all the way so it makes sense that my number one episode is a Jack episode, but “All the Best Cowboys…” is also a very important episode for Locke. It’s with this episode that the mythology of the Island starts to take shape with the discovery of the Hatch and learning there are other people on the island. We get a little background on Locke and Kate (a little), we put the pieces in motion for the shows first real loss, as well as the largest rivalry, and we get a better understanding of Jack’s drive. The musical notes, especially during the Charlie discovery, highlights the beauty of the score (the best in television history) and how the series used music to enhance the emotional moments. “All the Best Cowboys…” is everything I love about LOST. I was hooked with the “Pilot” and “Walkabout” but “All the Best Cowboys…” started my obsession, and nothing about that has changed fourteen years later.
Phew, give me a minute to take a breath and collect myself. This list was no easy task for me. There are a number of non-essential episodes that I love and had to omit which was painful. I wonder with a great re-watching pending if this list will change at all. Chances are it will, most likely in order, but I suspect that the episodes will remain the same. Maybe. I guess I won’t know until I start re-watching. We have to go back after all.
There you have it Geeklings/Losties, what do you think? Does your list differ? Sound off in the comments or if you’d like to further the LOST talk you can find me on the Twitter @iamgeek32. With the re-watching pending I’m working on a couple of side projects that might go along with it. Everything is in the beginning stages so not much to report yet, but there’s promise. In the meantime, be sure to share your favorite LOST episodes and let’s dive deep into what makes this show so fantastic in the first place… discussion.