Still Watching: Lost Rewatch, Pilot Parts 1 and 2
Still Watching is a weekly examination of old TV shows or films.
It is time to start the much-anticipated (by me) Lost Re-Watch. I hope there will be a few people joining me, anyway. I know by the huge Lost fan base active on Twitter that there is still great interest in the show, so here’s a chance for those who love it to try to make a little sense of it, since we now have as much information from the writers (usually referring to Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof) as we likely ever will. I will be using the information given in the later seasons to apply, or not apply, to earlier episodes, and try to see where things mesh well and where the audience was led in a direction which was never resolved. There will, of course, be spoilers for the series as a whole, and I will not be trying to explain the entire series for those who may not have seen it. Sorry, but that would make this into something else. I will also occasionally offer commentary on what I consider exceptional scenes or elements which stand out. There are quite a few of those which happened over the course of this show, which helped to make it a cut above most other television. I will cover two or three episodes a week, for those of you wanting to join the Re-Watch. Let’s jump right in. Please let me know if I miss something important!
Pilot, Part 1: I can’t remember- was the last scene of Lost the moving into the light scene, or was it Jack’s eye closing? I know Jack’s eye was one of the final images, and I have read that the creative forces knew that would be the last scene from the beginning. Perfect, really, because the beginning scene establishes that, even though the series is a character-driven ensemble show, the over-arching story arc belongs to Jack Shepherd. In the first scene, one eye opens, stares up at palm trees, Jack hears something crashing through the brush toward him, and sees a yellow lab walk by benignly. We know him to be Vincent, a dog belonging to one of the other survivors of the Flight 815 crash. Jack then gets up and runs out onto the beach, where, accompanied by the stunning musical composition of Michael Giacchino, he is established as a doctor and leader, someone whose name is representative of his character, a shepherd of the people. This opening sequence is brilliant, from the score and pacing, to the imagery, to the performances, which help create an intense, horrific, gripping first scene.
Twenty minutes into the show, the presence of the smoke monster is seen and heard by the survivors. The smoke itself is not seen, but trees break and the train-and-rattling noise which always accompanies smokie is there. Already, our hero and the true villain have been established. Smokie claims his first victim (that we actually see) when he takes the pilot. I followed someone on twitter a while back because of his username “Monster Eats Pilot”. Flashbacks are also introduced in this episode, with part of the crash from Jack’s point-of-view shown.
Kate’s highly annoying habit of having to go on every dangerous jungle expedition, which lasts THROUGHOUT THE SERIES, as well as Jin and Sun’s rocky relationship and Charlie’s flawed but delightful character are also first established in this episode. We see John Locke, who will be a major player in so many ways during the series, walking around, helping people, and finally smiling at Kate with an orange in his mouth. Creepy. She doesn’t smile back.
Sawyer Nickname Tally: 0
Pilot, Part 2: Charlie’s drug addiction is quickly shown in flashback here, and we are introduced more fully to Sun and Jin, and Michael and Walt, who is looking for Vincent the yellow lab, but instead finds handcuffs on the ground. We see in flashback that Kate was the fugitive on the plane, and that she was the cuffed one. Sawyer and Sayid duke it out, and Sawyer suspects Sayid of terrorism. We find out Sayid was with the Iraqi Republican Guard.
There is a scene with Kate bathing in her underwear (to which a great male friend of mine suggested she “eat a freakin’ biscuit”) and Sun comes on the scene and watches her jealously, a nice juxtaposition between Kate’s exhibition and Sun’s inhibition, due in part to Jin’s oppressive treatment of her at the beginning of the show.
An expedition is formed in an effort to get reception on the found transceiver. Again, the composition of Giacchino drives the scene, as what I like to call the Lost “On the Move” theme plays for the first time. Important on this trip is the broadcast sent by Danielle which is jamming their transceiver. Danielle herself has not been seen yet but will show up soon in Season 1. Also, Sawyer shoots a polar bear which charges the group, and one of the biggest mysteries of the show begins…where do they get all the guns, for heaven’s sake?! OK, that one came from the U.S. Marshall on the plane, but still… The mystery of where the bear came from was a big deal for a while, but my understanding of this answer is the movement in time and space of the whole island, which is revealed at the end of Season 4 and in Season 5. The bear had also been a part of the Dharma Initiative’s experiments.
The first scene in which John Locke speaks is in this episode, in the now infamous Backgammon game he plays with Walt. He explains to Walt the age of the game by saying it is “older than Jesus Christ”, a phrase which always gets to me, because to understand who Jesus is, is to understand there is nothing truly older than Jesus Christ. If you don’t believe me, check out the book of Colossians. Locke then tells Walt the original players of the game used bones for their dice. Ah, Locke, what a fun guy you are! Then he explains, “Two players, two sides, one is light, one is dark”, and asks Walt, “Do you want to know a secret?” Again, creepy. The scene cuts away there.
Looking forward, this scene introduces the grand theme of the show, in the more epic battle between Jacob and the Man in Black, and in the lives of each character, all of whom face demons in their life over the course of Lost. The black and white stones show up repeatedly throughout the series. This scene establishes the fact that, whatever goose chases they may have taken their audience on, the writers had a clear idea of the fight between good and evil they wanted to explore from the beginning, with the smoke monster being the source of that evil.
Stand out lines this episode:
Sawyer- “Guess what? I just shot a BEAR!”
Charlie- “It’s French! The French are coming! I’ve never been so happy to hear the French!”
Sawyer nickname tally: 6
To Sayid: Boy, Buddy (during fight)
To Hurley: Lardo
To Jack: Doc
To Shannon: Sweet Cheeks
To Sayid: Chief
I rewatched the pilot with Dave (husband who never watched Lost) after the finale last year. He loves finding symbolism in movies and books, especially of the spiritual kind, so I thought he would really get into this show. Instead, he pronounced it “typical Hollywood” and “stereotypical”–drug addict rock star, dysfunctional black family, etc. I know I should have tried to get him to give it more of a chance, because it’s amazing how this show took those stereotypes and turned them on their heads. Yes, it appears you know just what this show is going to be like (even with a little craziness like the pilot’s death thrown in) from the beginning. In fact, that’s part of why I didn’t start watching Lost when it was first on TV. A bunch of people marooned on an island with flashbacks about their problems. Yawn. I have to admit that one of the main things that gripped me in the first episodes when I finally did watch and kept me watching was the polar bear on the tropical island. Gave me chills and let me know I was NOT in for the typical castaway story. (Is that what prompted Charlie to give the famous line, “Dude. Where are we?” Can’t remember.)
Anyway, the opening on Jack’s eye opening and closing the series with Jack’s eye closing is one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever seen!
The prompt for Charlie’s line was the discovery of Danielle’s looped cry for help which had been playing for 16 years.
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