LOST – Walkabout

Written by David Fury
Directed by Jack Bender

Which One Is It? The one where we find out Locke’s big secret. It is also the first episode to signal to the audience that Locke episodes will be tear-jerkers. Finally, it is the episode that made me realize that I would be following this show until the end, no matter where it went.

What Does The Title Mean? The obvious answer is that this refers to the walkabout Locke was prepared to go on. Another answer is that this is Locke’s character arc, a man searching for his destiny. A man who wants to be special. Over the course of the show Locke will be portrayed alternatively as the rugged individual and the spiritual seeker. In fact, season two will deal with the spiritual side in a big way, ending with a crisis of faith. The problem with seeking spiritual enlightenment is the assumption that such enlightenment exists. A certain worldview must be adopted that informs the search. This is why you don’t see many atheists going on walkabouts. At least, I assume they wouldn’t. If you don’t believe in the spiritual, why would you attempt to commune with it? Locke has some sort of faith-based belief, and I don’t mean this in a Judeo-Christian way. We’ll look at this conflict in the second season as well. No, Locke has no fixed point. He wishes to go on walkabout for spiritual meaning, enlightenment. He wants to feel his life has a purpose. Where this enlightenment comes from is somewhat irrelevant, but having no core foundational beliefs makes Locke quite “amenable to coercion” if he is just made to feel important. In addition, Locke is the typical American seeker who is willing to treat spirituality as an a la cart bar. His view of “walkabout” is based on a romanticized ideal that may not be entirely accurate. There is some debate as to whether a walkabout has real spiritual significance or if it was an act of protest by aboriginals during colonial days. Aboriginal workers would often disappear for days at a time, reappearing just as suddenly with no explanation. Eventually, employers were informed of the “walkabout” as a means of explaining, but it is debatable if this was real or just a con to make sure the employers knew they didn’t control the lives of the aborigines. Locke even gets his information on Norman Croucher wrong. Croucher didn’t climb Everest. However, the point is still taken as Croucher has climbed many other mountains. The basic gist, “shut up, Randy.”

Flashbacks. Locke-Centric, obviously. We learn that he was bound to a wheelchair before the crash. On Island, he seems healed. We also have our first view of Randy, who will reappear as Hurley’s boss in a later episode. Randy is the example of crappy bosses that many of us have had. Additionally, we have the seeds planted for Helen, a character we will meet later. It is worth noting that the Helen in this episode is not the one we meet later. “Helen” here is a woman on a sex-chat line that Locke calls. He doesn’t employ her for phone sex, but instead wants someone to talk with. He pretends that she is the Helen he knew (and was engaged to) once before. There is no indication that the woman on the phone is really named Helen. He may have just requested she adopt the name for their calls. At $89 an hour, I’m sure she was fine being called Helen.

Jack. Decides the fuselage must be burned to keep the wild boars away. This would be the quickest and easiest way of dealing with the bodies. He also finds people coming to him with problems, Claire suggesting a memorial service and Boone asking him to check on Rose. Jack may not see himself as a leader, but others obviously do. We’ll deal with this more next episode. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we see Christian Shephard.

Michael. Goes on the boar hunt with Locke and Kate. This is primarily so he can spend some time with Locke and learn about the man who fascinates his son so much. He is gored by a boar.

Sayid. Makes antennae with the hope of triangulating the source of the transmission. He has made the same realization as us: a transmission means a power source. We also learn that he has been carrying pictures of who we will eventually learn is Nadia.

Kate. Agrees to go on the hunt to attach an antenna to a tree. This is the first of many times Kate will climb a tree, due primarily to Evangeline Lily’s love of climbing, the writers took as many opportunities as possible to indulge her. Kate drops and breaks the antenna.

Boone and Shannon. Argue over the food situation (it is running out). Boone accuses her of not knowing how to get food. Shannon uses her feminine wiles to con Charlie into catching her a fish, something he does with Hurley.

Don't tell Locke what he can't do.

Analysis. This is it. This is THE episode. It will make a fan if there is any chance at all. When people have asked me about Babylon 5, I typically tell them to stick with it until season three at the very least. If they aren’t hooked by then, give up. Sure, three seasons out of five is a long time, a big commitment, but you really don’t clearly see what the show is doing until then. With Lost, I would tell them to watch until this episode. Walkabout is the episode that made me a fan. It is the first episode to completely subvert your expectations of a flashback and your expectations of what this show is. Sure, there was some idea that the show had supernatural elements, limited primarily to a creature rampaging through the forest. A creature we couldn’t see. It could be something more natural, it could be a Lost World scenario. But no, with Walkabout we see the supernatural in play. The big moment, the most obvious one, is the revelation about Locke being healed. He can walk again. At this point we haven’t met Anthony Cooper, we haven’t met the real Helen. All we know is that Mr. Locke was in a wheelchair before he arrived on The Island. He was crippled. After the crash, he was not. This is the first truly mind-blowing revelation on the show. And you feel completely uplifted and hopeful. This is the power of television done right.

It isn’t just the flashback that signals great mysteries and subverted expectations. Twice in this episode Jack sees a man standing just where the beach meets the jungle. The man is dressed in a suit. There was little context for us when we first watched the show. At the time, it reminded me of the computer game Halflife, which involved a scientific experiment gone wrong in an underground facility. The base is soon overrun by creatures from an alternate dimension. As you fight to escape you occasionally see a man in a suit behind windows in areas that are just out of reach. You don’t know who he is, and this was how I felt when Jack saw the man in the suit. This, like the pictures of Nadia, are examples of how future stories are being set up. Despite popular opinion at the time, the man in the suit was not a government agent from a secret base on The Island, but Christian Shepherd.

Or was he really? We have every indication that he was really The Smoke Monster. Speaking of which, he was quite busy this episode. Appearing to Jack, chasing Locke through the jungle. Locke sees the monster during the boar hunt and his reaction is one of joy. Herein lies a problem. In the season finale, Locke will see the monster again and react with terror. What is the difference? Skipping ahead a bit more…the first time we get a really good look at the monster is in The 23rd Psalm as Mr. Eko stares the creature down like the badass he is. However, as the camera pans through The Smoke Monster, we see images flashing in the smoke. We learn that these are images from Mr. Eko’s life. Somehow The Smoke Monster is capable of scanning people and learning what makes them react and respond. It is possible that this is what was happening to Locke, that he was seeing these images play out before him, moments of happiness with Helen, moments of happiness before his dad ruined his life. To Locke, The Smoke Monster represented every good thing he had ever known. So, what changed in the finale? I can only guess that Smokey had decided on what he wished to do with John Locke, and was now on the attack. A cute dog can become a frightening thing when it goes rabid and tries to kill you. I may think on this more and revisit it at the end of the season.

Locke also keeps this information to himself. He doesn’t tell Michael what he saw, in fact he denies he saw anything at all. If a walkabout involves journey and a spiritual vision, then I would say Locke is in a place where he feels that vision has been achieved. He feels he has been chosen for the destiny he was denied when refused the walkabout. In fact, having survived the plane crash and regained the use of his legs, Locke has every evidence that he was chosen. That he has a destiny. Heaven help anyone who gets in his way.

Dude Count. 12

Nicknames. Jackass, Pork Pie, Metro, Magic Forest, Mighty Huntress

-Damon Lindelof suggested the title “Lord of The Files” for the episode.
-All the scenes of the crash in this episode were reused from the pilot, but they were shot in a way to recreate the look. There is only one shot reused from the pilot. See if you can notice it.
-The flashlights used by Jack and Sawyer (Jack has a small light, Sawyer a big light) are meant to represent, let’s just say, male one-upsmanship.

LOST – Tabula Rasa

Written by Damon Lindelof
Directed by Jack Bender

Which One Is It? The first character-centric story in which a character faces conflict in the present and remembers something from his or her past. Beyond this, the one that shows why Kate was in Australia and Jack discovers she is a fugitive.

Winning the award for most pointless action figure accessory....

What Does the Title Mean? Tabula Rasa, the words themselves mean “blank slate”. It is a philosophical idea popularized by John Locke (the philosopher, not our character), which posits that people are born as a blank slate. We bring nothing to the table, and our experiences determine our development. This is basically favoring the nurture side of the nurture / nature debate. He believed that even those experiences that seem innate to all humans are actually conferred at a young age, even in the womb. In the context of the episode, I think it means something slightly different. Toward the end of the episode, Jack tells Kate that when the plane crashed, everyone essentially died. It doesn’t matter who they were before. They essentially get a blank slate. I’ll address this in more detail later.

Get offa my land!

Flashbacks Many of the flashbacks in this first season address why our characters were in Australia and why they were on Flight 815. Kate was in Australia because she has been on the run from the law. I don’t quite recall if we find out later why she had chosen Australia in particular. Perhaps it was just the next stop in a line of running. She finds room, board, and work on a widower’s farm. His name is Ray. He is a nice man who lost his wife less than a year ago. She left him with a lot of chores and “one hell of a mortgage.” Ray’s right arm is prosthetic. This won’t be the first time we deal with prosthetics or missing appendages / facial features.

Revelations As mentioned before, Kate is a fugitive, although in this episode we don’t know what she did. Boone is a well-meaning idiot, but we could probably have seen this hinted in the earlier pilot.

Analysis After the unsuccessful attempt to send a radio broadcast, Sayid suggests a conspiracy of silence, where the characters lie about what happened. He feels that the survivors need hope, and by not telling about the French transmission, the survivors would feel there is still a chance that they can get a signal. Even when they return to camp, Sayid starts to organize different groups to ration food and medicine, gather electrical equipment so he can boost the radio signal, and start water-gathering procedures. He arises as a potential leader, however his leadership qualities seem to be rooted not in charisma, but technical competence. This is linked to his military background.

There are two major conflicts in this episode. First, we have Kate’s story. It was hinted in the previous episode that she was a fugitive, and this episode confirms that without a doubt when the U.S. Marshal gives Jack Kate’s mug-shot. The narrative then uses the revelation to build tension. We, the audience, know Kate is a fugitive, but the majority of the characters don’t. Thus, when those on the “radio quest” vote to give Kate the only gun, we are tempted to protest. Fascinatingly, despite having more information than the characters, we still don’t have enough information to make a judgment about Kate. The episode plays on our expectations. Skipping ahead a great deal, we know that Kate is not evil. Her initial crime was the murder of her father. He was a violent, abusive drunkard. Kate put up with him for a long time, believing that he was her step father, but she eventually found out he was her biological father. In anger and shame, she killed him. Every crime she has committed since then has been to avoid capture. Again, Kate is not evil. We see this play out in her interactions with Ray. She genuinely cares for him, to the point that she pulls him from the burning wreckage of his truck at the risk of being captured. She understands that Ray was only going to turn her in because he desperately needed the money. Even though it was at her expense, she wanted Ray to get the reward money. She holds no grudges. She forgives him. These are not the actions of a villain.

This type of reckless behavior may play some role in The Marshal's inability to capture Kate.

The U.S. Marshal, however, is portrayed more morally ambiguous. Even within the context of the show, we don’t know a lot about him, but his pursuit of Kate seems beyond the border of obsession. Perhaps, in chasing her for years, he developed an Ahab-like insanity. His reckless driving was what endangered Ray and Kate to begin with (although Kate didn’t help matters by trying to run him off the road). The Marshal is portrayed as cruel, patronizing, and just a bit sinister. He warns Jack to not trust her. There is an interesting moment where he tells Jack, “no matter how she makes you feel, don’t trust her.” Either The Marshal knows the signs of someone Kate is charming, or he has been charmed by her in the past. In some ways, his obsession with Kate seems to go beyond just chasing a fugitive. This case probably got too personal for him.

Sawyer exposes his pragmatism to Jack.

The second conflict is euthanasia. The subject is first brought up when Jack is searching the fuselage for more antibiotics. He encounters Sawyer, who is looting. Sawyer questions Jack about the best use of the medicine. The Marshal is most-likely going to die, so why waste the medicine on him when there are plenty of living people who could need it soon. It is a valid concern, if delivered in a baiting way. This is actually one of the differences between Sawyer and Jack. Jack is more idealistic, while Sawyer is more pragmatic. As he says in the episode, “You’re still living in civilization….I’m in the wild.” This also signposts Sawyer’s leadership potential. He can measure a situation and act upon it. In Season 5, Jack and Sawyer will butt heads over leadership in a big way.

Exhibiting one of his recurring traits, Jack cannot let go. He cannot let The Marshal die. Even when it becomes apparent there is no way to save the man and his agonized moans and screams start to unnerve the camp, Jack cannot give up. Kate adds her voice to the euthanasia camp, as does Sayid, in a non-confrontation, non-contradictory way. Sayid already defers to Jack, but he will question and advise him. Even The Marshal wants to die. Kate, as you’ll remember, has the gun. There is only one bullet left, so she gives the gun to Sawyer since she can’t pull the trigger herself. Unfortunately, Sawyer doesn’t make a kill shot, puncturing a lung rather than the heart. Since this is television, The Marshal dies soon after, but not before Jack has developed a sizeable grudge toward Sawyer.
This entire situation has rattled Jack. The first person he started to trust on The Island has turned out to be a fugitive, and on top of that, she turned against him with regard to the fate of The Marshal. Throughout the episode we can see him starting to develop emotional barriers against Kate. Hurley questions him about the Kate situation, and Jack

I promise I will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ask about your past.

continually insists that it isn’t his business and it doesn’t matter. He is lying. Kate eventually goes to Jack, willing to confess what she did. Jack, in attempting to comfort her, insists that everyone on The Island has a second chance. He means well, and it ends the episode in a nice sort of way, but we will spend the next six years seeing that this isn’t true at all. Second chances require more than a change of location, they require a great amount of personal will and motivation. Every situation, crime, or personal defeat that our characters have suffered have shaped personalities and defense mechanisms for times of stress. As their lives will grow increasingly stressful on The Island, we will see that Jack’s tabula rasa speech is well-meaning, but will crumble soon. He can’t even make it through the rest of the season before reneging on his promise to Kate that her past doesn’t matter.

Other Character Developments
Charlie and Claire. Charlie helps her with luggage, jokes with her, and fishes for information on her relationship status.

Michael and Walt. Michael grows concerned that Walt is spending so much time with John Locke. Locke seems to be developing the type of relationship with Walt that he wants to have. This antagonism will return, despite the fact that Locke finds Vincent and lets Michael take credit. Michael also has an uncomfortable moment where he stumbles upon Sun as she is bathing.

John Locke. Throughout the episode, we see Locke making a whistle. In the end, we find it is a dog whistle, which he uses to call Vincent. Off and on through the season we will see Locke attempting to solve problems in his own way. He will often work behind the scenes to do nice things for people. However, there will be more to him than just being a nice guy. This episode ends with him looking particularly sinister, ominous music playing over the shot. I can’t tell if this is an attempt at foreshadowing, or just something to evoke a cliffhanger feel.

Jack. After all he went through, Jack is last seen staring at the ocean as he processes the episode’s events. In season six, Jacob will have the wonderful quote: “Sometimes you can hop in the back of someone’s cab and tell them what they’re supposed to do. Other times, you have to let them look out at the ocean for a while.” Jack and I share this trait.

Dude Count. 9

Sawyer’s Nicknames. Abdul, Freckles, Al Jazeera, Brother, Doc, The Hero

Other Information
-On the season 3 commentary, Carlton Cuse reveals that the writers decided to make Sawyer hyperopic to explain how he missed the shot.

LOST – Part 2 Addendum

In the following episode, we begin the typical Lost storytelling device of the flashback. We have seen a few examples of this so far, but from here on, the majorities of episodes will focus on a central character (also known as “character-centric”). However, even though one character may be drawn to the fore, this is a large cast and they often have their own moments of revelation or characterization. Thus, I will be attempting to keep track of what we learn in each episode. So, we will have a character section in each analysis. Here is an example, using “Pilot Part 2”

Jack. Jack, is a surgeon, something established in the previous episode. In this one, he spends much of his time working on the U.S. Marshal that was transporting Kate to the U.S. He also learns that one of the survivors (a female) is a fugitive.

Hurley. Drafted to help Jack with removing the shrapnel from the marshal, we learn Hurley doesn’t handle blood well. He passes out on the marshal.

Sawyer. Has a letter that he keeps reading. It causes him a lot of pain whenever he reads it. Like any man would, he thinks it is cool that he shot a bear. He is prone to fits of anger, but he is also quite mischievous, in a dangerous way.

Kate. What is interesting about this episode is that it establishes the second part of the love triangle. Kate and Jack worked almost exclusively in part one. Here, Kate spends much of her time with Sawyer. His knowledge of her “type” amuses him, and he is drawn to her. So, between the first two episodes, we have already paired Kate with the two men she will be flitting between from here on out.

Michael and Walt. Michael is still looking for Walt’s dog Vincent. Jack suggests Michael look in the jungle, since he saw a dog shortly after waking up on the island. Walt also spends time looking through a comic book starring members of The Justice League. The comic is in Spanish. We will later learn that Michael was an artist a long time ago. This is a way he could connect to Walt. He blows it, however, by saying he will get Walt a new dog if they can’t find Vincent.

Boone and Shannon. Still arguing with one another, Boone accuses Shannon of being useless and not attempting to do something productive to help everyone. Shannon volunteers to go on the mission to find a radio signal, primarily to heap scorn on Boone. They seem to have a lot of contempt for one another, while Boone seems to spend a lot of time nagging her. Also, Shannon speaks French.

Charlie. Back to chasing the dragon.

Sayid. Already off on the wrong foot with Sawyer. What makes Sayid interesting in this episode is we are told he was part of the Republican Guard in Iraq. However, this isn’t nearly as straightforward as we may initially think. We find out that a few years passed between leaving the guard and ending up on The Island.

The Island. We have seen the beach, a bamboo grove, jungle (which is where the cockpit landed), and there are some highlands as well. The survivors were unable to send a message because a message was already being broadcast from The Island, which means there is a source, which implies buildings and technology somewhere on The Island. It is odd that the rest of the season will not see the survivors trying to explore. Granted, there is the monster in the jungle and they will soon have to deal with this Ethan guy, but if a radio message is blocking their attempt to send an SOS, then wouldn’t it be a good idea to try to find where the French message is originating and possibly use that equipment? On second thought, Sayid does set out to try this in a future episode. As we will see, he gets interrupted.

LOST – Pilot Part 2

Teleplay by J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof
Story by Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams, and Damon Lindelof
Directed by J.J. Abrams

Shannon stares at dead bodies on the beach. She's such a cheery person.

Which one is it? The one with the polar bear.

Current Dude Count 5

The Numbers: The French transmission has been transmitting for 16 years.

Sawyer’s Nicknames: Lardo, Doc, Sweetheart, Sweetcheeks, Chief

1. Charlie remembers going into a heroine withdrawal while on the plane. The stewardess suspects him of something due to his odd behavior. He rushes to the bathroom for a quick fix, and drops the bag in the toilet, prepared to give up the drugs. Before he can commit, the turbulence hits.
2. Kate sits next to the man with the shrapnel on the plane. It is revealed that he was a U.S. Marshall and Kate was his prisoner. Kate was about to make a request before the turbulence hit. The Marshall is hit by a suitcase, knocking him out. Kate puts the oxygen mask on the Marshall, effectively prolonging his life.

From the flashbacks, we know that Kate was a fugitive and Charlie is a junkie.


I seem to be incapable of hearing someone ask a pregnant woman “Do you know what it is?” without yelling “IT’S A BABY!” That is one thing I’ve learned from this episode.

I am struck by how different the show feels. By the time the series concluded, Lost had become a mythologically complex science fiction show. We had mysticism, we had smoke monsters, we had electromagnetic disturbances that could cause time travel. There is nothing that hints at what is to come. In this second hour of Lost, we have the lingering mystery of the monster in the jungle, a mystery that is less compelling with the introduction of the polar bear, and the radio broadcast that is emanating from The Island.

I think, in some way, the polar bear is a good red herring. With the mysterious noises and death from above that part one introduced, speculation ranged from an island inhabited by dinosaurs to government experiments gone horribly wrong. Later, Hurley even posits that the monster is a pissed off giraffe. While we know that the polar bear couldn’t have been responsible for the tree-destroying, pilot-killing creature from the previous episode, it does bring the promise of an unusual, yet plausible, resolution to the mystery. This show appears to be rooted in plausibility with no indication at this point of just how weird things are about to become. Even the radio transmission, while tantalizing due to the implication of a source of the French broadcast, could be quite mundane compared to mystical, god-like brothers engaged in a feud that puts the Hatfields and McCoys to shame. The only indication we have at this point of something bigger lurking behind the scenes is a brief interaction between Locke and Walt.

Walt, in one of his many attempts to avoid his father, comes across John Locke setting up a

If Locke had crashed with a game of Settlers of Catan, then Jacob and MiB probably would have been fighting over grain and ore.

backgammon board. Walt is naturally curious, as many children are when the possibility of play is presented. Locke gives a bit of history of the game, telling how backgammon was nearly 5000 years old. He then gives a distillation of both the objective of the game and the ultimate plot of the show. “Two players. Two sides. One is light. One is dark.” When I first saw this episode, I knew this scene had meaning. The way it was scripted and shot had too much weight. However, I was expecting a more mundane, Lord of the Flies style descent into chaos. This show was extremely character driven at this point, and I thought we would see people going on journeys that would eventually drive them to one side or another, to Jack or to Locke. You see, I had always expected John Locke to become the representation of all evil on the show (and I was partially correct). Way back when I first heard of the show, I saw an interview with Damon Lindelof on the Ain’t it Cool News site and he mentioned that John Locke was the Randall Flagg of Lost. For those unfamiliar with the reference, Randall Flagg is a recurring character in Stephen King novels, often playing the trickster character. He has appeared in The Stand, The Eyes of the Dragon, The Dark Tower series, and in many novels using pseudonyms. He isn’t quite the devil, but he is very reminiscent of the devil. He is an agent of evil, not necessarily evil itself. So, when I read this interview, my mind exploded with possibilities. When I finally saw the show, I expected John Locke to be evil and I filled every look and every line with an ominous intent. Imagine my surprise when he turned out to be so sympathetic. John Locke is not Randall Flagg. But that does not mean there isn’t a representation of evil on the show. As we will see much later, The Man in Black (also a pseudonym of Randall Flagg) will take on the appearance of John Locke, and TMiB is much more evil than John could ever be.

The chemistry between Kate and Sawyer starts here. When Kate takes the gun away from

Yes, I can name every character on this page. Don't judge me!

Sawyer, she pretends to not know how to eject the clip and the round in the chamber. Sayid walks her through the process but, as Sawyer sees, her hand is much too steady and her eyes are too resolute. He can read her like a book and knows that in an instant that she was the fugitive on the plane. He doesn’t give away her secret, however. I think he is much too amused. Besides, it never hurts to have compromising information on someone.

What do we know about the French transmission? Rousseau set it up sixteen years ago to keep other people from being lured to The Island by the previous transmission, the mysterious numbers. I can’t quite remember why the numbers were being broadcast. Was it some poor soul from The Hatch? Why is the transmission there to begin with? We know The Others were on The Island and they were using the old Dharma facilities. Why

In six years you'll be BEGGING me to unbutton this, Mister!

didn’t they disable the transmissions? Or did the signal just not get out? Mikhail monitored all transmissions to and from The Island at The Flame Station, so did not matter? Maybe the radio of the Oceanic Survivors was the only radio that could pick up the signal and nothing off-Island could receive it. This is certainly possible. Imagine The Island is a bubble. All communication in the bubble could only be received by equipment in the bubble, but special equipment would be necessary to penetrate the bubble and broadcast outside. Given the unique properties of The Island, this is possible. It’s hard to speculate at this point, however, since it has been so long since I’ve seen the show. Hopefully I’ll have more to go on as I progress.

At this point, what did you think the show was going to be about?

LOST – Pilot Part 1

Teleplay by J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof
Story by Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams, and Damon Lindelof
Directed by J.J. Abrams

If you build your planes from leaves, they will crash.

I have to start by saying if you want to avoid spoilers, you should not read this post or any post that follows. There will be no attempt to review this episode or any others without bringing in references to things that will come later. This is your final warning.

Quick Synopsis: A plane has crashed on an island. There are a few survivors. There is a mysterious creature in the jungle that is yet unseen.

The first thing that strikes me, watching this episode for the first time in probably three years, is how little happens. Seriously, compared to revelations and mysteries that will come in later season, the fact that a monster lives in the jungle seems positively mundane. Monster aside, this episode is a 42 minute establishing shot. It is really impressive, when you think about it, just how much this one episode accomplishes. By its very nature, a television pilot is supposed to introduce the basic premise and characters. A pilot is usually shot months in advance from primary filming. Network executives then determine whether or not to order a season or reject the show outright. The pilot for Lost was expensive, but I wouldn’t say this was a waste. It really looks good. I typically hate pilot episodes, but this one is near perfect. Yes, we establish the plane crash, which is important, but even more so is the establishment of every major character for the season.

It is said that we truly see what a person is made from during a crisis, and that is what we have here. Jack is, of course, the hero. The opening shot is his eye, the bamboo grove reflected in his pupil. He is disoriented, but soon gets over that and stumbles out to the beach, discovering the crash. After a few seconds where he gathers his resolve, he sets out to help people, to rescue them. He directs, he commands, he uses all his skills as a doctor. Jack saves peoples lives in these chaotic moments. Until he arrived, people were wandering in a daze or screaming. No one was moving to help anyone else. Well, that’s not exactly true. Boone is an attractive young man with the best eyes granted to an actor since Jeff Fahey, which is fitting since Fahey will join the cast in a few years. Boone is quickly established as well-meaning but slightly incompetent. He wants to do the right thing, he wants to be a hero, he just doesn’t quite know how.

Among the chaos, we also have Hurley, a man of both Hispanic descent and girth. He is reliable and follows Jack’s orders without question, even though he may be a bit shaken by what is being asked. In this case, Jack orders Hurley to watch after Claire, who is established to be pregnant. Last in these opening moments, we have Michael, a man who is searching the wreckage for Walt, who we will later find out is his son.

A loose order being restored, Jack raids luggage for sewing supplies to take care of a particularly nasty gash in his side. He gets away from the other survivors, going a bit into the jungle for this. He meets Kate, a woman just a few years younger than him. She is rubbing her wrists, a bit of foreshadowing here. Unable to sew himself up due to the gash’s placement in his side, Jack asks Kate for help.

“Have you ever sewn before,” he asks her.

“I made the curtains in my apartment,” she replies. Knowing Kate’s past, I can’t help but wonder if this was a lie. We see later that Kate has been a fugitive for years. When was she settled in an apartment long enough to make curtains? This could be the first point in the series where she lies to Jack. There will be many more.

Lots of people use this image. I may as well do it too.

In the aftermath of the crash, we get a few more characters established. Sawyer is seen lighting a cigarette and looking a bit pensive. Sayid is building a fire. He gets help from Charlie, who will take a larger role later in the episode. Locke sits on the beach, staring into the ocean. We get very little from John Locke in this episode, just a few enigmatic moments that are tinged with euphoria and just a bit off-putting. The shot of Locke sitting on the beach, wrecked airplane and survivors behind him, will be recreated in season five. Only, it won’t be Locke.

As night falls, we round out the cast. Shannon is seen painting her toenails. She was screaming in the midst of the wreckage earlier, but has now found other things to focus upon. Boone is her brother, and he brings her chocolate to eat, stating the rescue may be a while. Shannon insists it won’t and she will eat later. This not only sets up the conflict between the two characters, but shows her unwillingness to accept her situation.

Sun and Jin are a Korean couple. Jin is shown to be over-protective and dominant, controlling. Sun is show to be submissive. All their dialogue is in Korean, establishing that they do not speak English. Well, sort of. More on that later. Also in this episode, we see violent rainfall. Jin refuses to let anyone other than Sun into their shelter. This establishes his desire to be set apart from the rest of the group. We are not yet a happy family on this show. But then, do we ever really become one?

These are our characters for the season. Again, this pilot masterfully sets up each character in some subtle ways. We become familiar with their appearances, even if we don’t quite know them at this point. Characterization is given, even in small establishing shots. The rest of the episode is spent introducing two mysteries. First, the creature in the jungle which seems to be able to rip down trees. Second, where is The Island.

Rose, a woman who sat next to Jack on the plane, says the noises from the jungle sound familiar to her. She then says she is from The Bronx. This dialogue is delivered in the

Surely there is more to this dog than meets the eye.

background, so I’m not sure how relevant it is to the identity of the creature. Knowing that it is not so much a monster but a very powerful man, I wonder why this exchange is present. In all likelihood, it is an in-joke. The noises made by the monster were from a variety of sources, one of which being the sound of a taxi printer. This would be a common sound from The Bronx. This could be a bit of joke dialogue. However, given what we know about The Smoke Monster from later seasons, could there perhaps be a deeper meaning. Since Smokey can change appearance, becoming someone familiar to our characters, perhaps he can also mimic sounds. Maybe, among all the sounds heard that night on the beach, were individual sounds that were meaningful to different characters. Rose heard a taxi receipt printer. Maybe Jack heard medical electronics and Charlie guitar feedback. Nothing really supports this, but the speculation is fun.

As Jack and Kate compare notes of their experiences of the crash, they determine that the plane split into three pieces. The main cabin crashed on the beach. Kate saw smoke from the jungle, presumably the cockpit. Where is the tail? They decide to mount the first LOST expedition to find the cockpit and a transceiver. Charlie accompanies them for, I believe, two reasons. First, his drugs are in the bathroom near the cockpit. He’s a heroine addict, which will further established later. Second, he doesn’t like to be forgotten. Charlie is an ex-rock star from a one-hit wonder band named Drive Shaft. One-hit wonders are often forgotten or ignored beyond their hit song. Twice in this episode, Charlie makes sarcastic comments when Jack checks on Kate or Kate calls for Jack. Each time, Charlie is ignored.

At the cockpit, Jack finds the transceiver and discovers the pilot is still alive. He remains alive long enough to impart the information that the plane was off course when it crashed. It had also gone off radar due to an electronic malfunction. Thus, search parties won’t know where to look for the survivors. The pilot is then ripped from the cockpit by the unseen monster. Jack, Kate, and Charlie flee into the jungle, get separated, but finally come back together, only to find the body of the pilot resting on some branches high above the ground.

Okay, I said not much happened, but then proved that a lot did. But it was subtle. That’s one of the amazing things about Lost, the ability to convey a lot of information through subtle directing and acting. It is a well-crafted show, and that trend was established by the pilot, which does just as much to excite me about the show that follows. It still works and my disappointment with the ending does nothing to temper the thrill that comes from watching this episode. I was afraid this re-watching the show would be a chore, but it looks like the opposite will be true. I’m really excited about it.

Prescient Quote
SAYID: You’d think they would have come by now.
SAYID: Anyone.

In the premiere of season three, as Ben Linus and The Others watch Oceanic 815 break-up in the skies over The Island, Ben sends Goodwin to find the tail section and Ethan to find the wreckage on the beach. So yes, Sayid. Someone is indeed coming.

The first flashback of the series belongs to Jack as he is seen meeting Rose just before the crash. He meets Cindy the flight attendant, who gives him alcohol.

The Numbers
Jack’s row on the plane is 23

Hurley’s Dude Count

Fun Fact
The pilot for Lost was the most expensive television pilot ever produced up to this point.

What Could Have Been
Jack Shephard was originally to die at the end of this episode. The role was offered to Michael Keaton. As near as I can tell, it would have unfolded similarly, just with Jack dying

Is it Michael Keaton?

instead of the pilot. Kate would then move to the role of show hero. There are elements of this still present, in particular is Jack’s coaching of Kate on how to deal with fear. Jack tells the story about performing surgery on a young girl, and accidentally ripping her dural sack, spilling her nerves. This probably isn’t the best story to tell a squeamish woman who is sewing up your wounds. Regardless, Jack tells Kate he counted to five, and while he counted, he let the fear have him. Once he finished counting, he put the fear aside and did what needed to be done. Kate later does this when being chased by the monster. She hides, counts to five, then leaves her hiding place to find Jack. Originally, she would have found his body. This would have served to effectively shock the audience, showing that Lost would be an unpredictable viewing experience. Michael Keaton was willing to take the role, but only if it was part of the pilot episode. When the part was expanded, he dropped out, and Matthew Fox was eventually cast as our hero.

Question for Discussion
Why was Smokey making such a ruckus after the crash? He didn’t appear to anyone (presumably), so what were his intentions?