Lost probably had the single most controversial series finale of all time. But regardless of your thoughts on how it ultimately came to an end, there’s no denying that the show’s pilot is one of the most ambitious things ever produced for television. It’s just exceptional in every way.
The opening sequence alone is a downright masterpiece.Without even being given any room to breathe, we’re thrown right into the middle of a plane crash as our hero, Jack, tries to make sense of the situation and help out as many people as he can. From a technical standpoint, it’s impeccably produced – the cinematography is claustrophobic, the music is haunting, and the nerve-wracking tension is just relentless. It’s the rare show that gets you so invested in the proceedings right from the get-go, but within five minutes, Lost gives you goosebumps and ensures you’re on the edge of your seat the entire way through. Outstanding!
It’s worth mentioning that the show’s cast features a huge and diverse lineup of characters. It’s a miracle really that the pilot does such a marvelous job of not only introducing them all so effectively, but defining their personalities so clearly as well. Jack is a doctor (and the unofficial leader of the gang), Kate is the seemingly sweet girl next door, Shannen is the stuck up spoiled brat, Boone is the overprotective brother, Charlie is the junkie musician, Jin is borderline abusive with his wife Sun (yet he generously tries to feed everybody), Hurly is the all-around good guy, Sawyer is his polar opposite, Michael’s son Walt lost his dog, Claire is pregnant, and Sayid is the former Iraqi Republican Guard. Whew. Who did I miss?
Unfortunately, Lost is infamous for the fact that it raised a seemingly unlimited number of mysteries throughout its run – many of which it never quite gave satisfying answers to. Nevertheless, the pilot does an immaculate job of setting these questions up in a way that feels organic to the story. What is the mysterious entity that killed the pilot? Why is there a polar bear on the island? What is Locke’s “secret”? What does Sawyer’s letter say? And while we’re at it, why did the plane even crash?
And then there’s the ending. After piling on mystery on top of mystery, Lost throws one last curveball: our gang uncovers an ominous French distress call that’s been on a loop for SIXTEEN years. It’s the ultimate cherry on top, and Charlie’s final line (see above) is the perfect bookend to the hour. Wow!
Planes & Pieces
– How funky is the opening title card? It’s incredible in its simplicity: just the name of the show in a basic font as the camera swerves towards it in a very irregular and confused manner – a perfect metaphor for viewers and how “lost” we felt throughout the show’s six seasons and its endless mysteries.
– It might have been overused since then, but the episode’s first frame with the open on Jack’s eye is terrific. Alongside him, we start piecing things together (the mini vodka, the dog, and then the crash).
– The show’s first jawdropper: a passenger gets sucked into the engine triggering an enormous explosion.
– Can we please take a moment and praise the set designers for their glorious work? The crash site looks stunning in all its harrowing details. With a price tag of around $10 million, the Lost pilot is one of the most expensive in the history of television.
– A welcome touch of comedy to break up the darkness: Boone getting a bunch of pens as per Jack’s orders.
– The show’s first subdued and quiet moment: Jack finding a secluded spot and Kate arriving. The sparks are immediate between the two as he asks her to sew him up. I particularly love his fear monologue (see below).
– Why is Locke seemingly so happy with the crash and loving the rain while everyone scurries for cover?
– It’s extremely amusing how in denial Shannon is. And how much Boone tries to follow in Jack’s footsteps.
– Great touch: Charlie the junkie is from a band called DriveShaft; Kate’s a big fan.
– Heartwarming moment: Hurley offering Claire two trays of food (one for the baby). Can you say awwww?
– The horn-like sounds of the monster are so unsettling aren’t they?
– The flashbacks are utilized quite well in the pilot. I particularly enjoyed Rose bonding with Jack pre-crash, and the reveal that Kate was the prisoner on the plane! Damn!
– Beautiful scene with Kate taking the shoes off a dead passenger, and Lock’s highly unsettling orange smile. Shudder.
– Terrific acting by Evangeline Lilly as she uses Jack’s five-second fear countdown before manning up and going back for him.
– So Sawyer is a racist. Shocking.
– A bit gratuitous and unnecessary: Kate washing herself in the ocean. I guess ABC needed those shots for their marketing campaign.
– I love the small sign of rebelliousness with Sun unbuttoning her blouse after Jin leaves.
– It’s a quick moment, but there’s a polar bear in Walter’s comic book. That can’t possibly be a coincidence.
– Not so subtle: Locke telling Walter about backgammon and the war between “light” and “dark”. It’s still wonderfully creepy.
– Very cute moment with Claire celebrating the baby kicking with Jin of all people.
– Hurley fainting during Jack’s procedure killed me. This guy’s a hoot!
– Love how Kate breaks up the gun and gives Sayid and Sawyer two separate pieces. Play nice boys!
– This isn’t the first iconic pilot made by J.J. Abrams. He also created one of my all-time favorite series: Alias. Sadly, he messed up that show’s finale and long-running mysteries too.
Jack: (to Kate) Well, fear’s sort of an odd thing. When I was in residency, my first solo procedure was a spinal surgery on a 16 year old kid, a girl. And at the end, after 13 hours, I was closing her up and I, I accidentally ripped her dural sac. Shredded the base of the spine where all the nerves come together, membrane as thin as tissue. And so it ripped open. And the nerves just spilled out of her like angel hair pasta, spinal fluid flowing out of her and I … And the terror was just so … crazy. So real. And I knew I had to deal with it. So I just made a choice. I’d let the fear in, let it take over, let it do its thing, but only for five seconds, that’s all I was going to give it. So I started to count: One, two, three, four, five. Then it was gone. I went back to work, sewed her up and she was fine.
Shannon: (after Boone offers her a treat) As if I’m going to start eating chocolate.
Cindy: So, how’s the drink?
Jack: It’s good.
Cindy: That wasn’t a very strong reaction.
Jack: Well, it’s not a very strong drink.
Michael: It didn’t sound like an animal. Not exactly, I mean.
Rose: That sound that it made, I keep thinking that there was something really familiar about it.
Shannon: Really? Where are you from?
Rose: The Bronx.
Charlie: Might be monkeys. It’s monkeys, right?
Sawyer:: Sure it’s monkeys. It’s Monkey Island.
Hurley: Technically, you know, we don’t even know if we’re on an island.
Hurley: How do you know to do all that?
Sayid: I was a military communications officer.
Hurley: Oh yeah? You ever see battle?
Sayid: I fought in the Gulf War.
Hurley: No way! I got a buddy who fought over there. He was in the 104th airborne. What were you – Air Force… Army?
Sayid: The Republican Guard.
Shannon: I’ve just been through a trauma here, okay?
Boone: We’ve all been through a trauma. The only difference is, since the crash, you’ve actually given yourself a pedicure.
One of the greatest pilots ever made. This one is pretty much perfect.