Time for an exciting topic.
I preparation for the final season of LOST, I have been rewatching the entire series. I set out to put together my list of best episodes, but due to time constraints and the fact that I feel I would be selling lots of great episodes and moments short, I decided to go season by season, listing my favorite episodes (which I think are the best episodes) and then end with the final list of the best episodes of the series. You know, build the suspense.
Exciting stuff. A daunting task, but a fun task, and definitely not as difficult as the Simpsons countdown.
Criteria: There is no real point system or anything but things I look for other than the obvious entertainment factor are quality of flashback, how it relates to the entire series, how it develops character, what questions it answers/raises, flow of episode and flow of series.
Lost Season 1 Best Episodes:
Things were very different in season one than they are now. Season 1 was much simpler. And I think that is a good thing. You are learning about the island along with the characters. You are sort of in the same position as them. Upon watching this episodes for the second or third time, I was much more drawn to the flashbacks than when first viewed. They are not only additional information and introduction, but great stories in themselves.
6. Episode 4 - Walkabout -
Island: Locke's hunting prowess is shown. Memorial Service for the dead
Flashback: Locke's life before the crash - job where no one respects him, his "girlfriend" is a phone sex girl, he goes to Australia for a walkabout
This is in the top 3 ever for some people, but I think it is a bit over rated. The best thing about it is the big reveal - that Locke was in a wheelchair before the crash and can now walk. The flashbacks are the best part of this episode, though, which usually isn't a good sign. There is also a good scene with Jack and Rose, but momentum was definitely slowed in the episodes following the Pilot.
5. Episode 17 - In Translation -
Island: Someone burns the raft. Michael thinks it is Jin and confronts him in front of everybody.
Flashback: Jin is working for Sun's father and has to send a message to one of his employees. Jin doesn't do it effectively and Sun's father sends a hit man. Jin intervenes and beats the mess out of this guy. Jin visits his father and decides to leave his job and go to the US.
I'm not usually a big fan of Jin/Sun centered episodes, I mean we get it, she is rich, he is poor, and she was going to leave him, but upon rewatching this episode it is a very strong, flowing episode. The highlight is Jin learning that Sun speaks English when Michael was seemingly about to kill him after thinking Jin burned down the raft. That is followed by Locke coming in and telling everyone that they are not the only people on the island, the first real acknowledgment of the "Others". The Jin flashbacks are great - the contrast of him with Sun's father and doing his enforcer work with the very touching scene with his own father was very well done. Then there is the reveal at the end that Walt burned the raft. This ep marks distinct changes in the relationships of Michael/Jin, Michael/Walt, and sets the ground work for the dynamic change of the Jin/Sun relationship.
4. Episode 13 - Hearts and Minds - Island: Boone is going to tell Shannon about the hatch. Locke knocks him out and ties him up so he cannot do it. Boone wakes up, gets out, saves Shannon, then the Smoke Monster gets Shannon. We do not know until the end that is was a test for Boone and a hallucination.
Flashback: Shannon tricks Boone into coming to Australia to save her from an abusive relationship. She cons Boone out of the money, but then her man leaves her anyways. Boone and Shannon hook up. It's revealed that Boone loves Shannon.
The Boone/Shannon flashback episode. This episode loses some steam after Boone and Shannon are both dead within a season, but it was very entertaining, edge of your seat stuff. It reveals a lot of the Shannon/Boone relationship, but also begins to hint at other key story ideas like letting go, choosing sides, Locke possibly being crazy, and a Locke/Jack feud. Also, even though it was a hallucination, it was tight to see the Smoke Monster in action.
3. Episode 1 and 2 - Pilot - I don't think I need to say much about this one. Lost had us hooked from the start, and the intensity and the questions already risen in the first episode have a lot to do with that.
2. Episode 5 - White Rabbit - Island: Running out of water. Jack sees his dead father and heads out into the jungle to find him and his casket and stumbles upon a water source.
Flashback: Jack as a child with this father, Jack and his mother, Jack going to get his father's body.
I once remember someone asking me if I was a "Jack Person" or a "Sawyer Person". I am obviously a Jack Person, and usually like Jack-centric episodes the best, especially in season one. The question evolved more into a Jack or Locke person, which is a totally different story. Anyways, Jack flashbacks are usually the best. This one spans his childhood to his getting his Dad's casket on the plane, the first of many very intense Jack scenes, which could be its own entire list. Aside from Jack, this episode introduces a lot of keep ideas and motifs that will last the entire series - magic, the power of the island, fate, and introduces a key piece of Lostology from Jack "But if we can't, live together... we're gonna die alone."
There is also a great example of the season 1 technique, the episode ending montage with music in the background and almost a steady cam shot panning through many of the characters.
1. Episode 11 - All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues -
Island: Jack, Kate, Boone, and Locke go off to find Claire and Charlie. Jack finds Ethan and eventually Charlie. Boone and Locke find the hatch.
Flashback: Jack's father works on a patient when he is under the influence of alcohol. After much internal debate, Jack narcs on his father.
This is where Lost really raises the stakes. I'm talking obviously about Ethan here. At the time we did not know about the Others, but just that Ethan wasn't on the plane. He really kicked the shit out of Jack and left Charlie to die. We see Jack almost insane with desire to save Charlie and Claire, something that will rear its head again many times. You have Jack not giving up and saving Charlie. On the other side, which might be even better, you have the beginning of the Locke/Boone bromance and the discovery of the Hatch. And I have not even mentioned the great Jack/Christian flashback or the show's title which obviously refers to Jack as seen in the flashback, but also Sawyer, Kate, Locke, Walt, and Claire. Man, a great Lost episode, has it all.
Best scenes of Season 1:
Jin with his Father
"Live together or die alone"
Ethan vs. Jack
Ep 23 and 24 Exodus - A great scene where Walt gives Vincent to Shannon, then Vincent chases after the raft when it sets sail, very touching
And the first view of the hatch, the camera panning down, which will be used in the opposite way in the premier the next season
Pilot - Kate sutures Jack
Ep 12 Whatever the Case May Be - Great scene between Rose and Charlie, basically she tells him he can't just sit and mope because he lost Claire. Everyone has lost someone and is in a horrible situation and they are doing work, so he has to too.
Ep 15 Homecoming - a real short, real great scene here when they are about to go into the jungle to find Claire, Jack gives Locke a gun and says I'm guessing you know how to use this. Locke loads it, chambers the round at just gives Jack a great smile. Nice.
Ep 19 Deus Ex Machina - This one just missed the top 6, great scene after Locke realizes what his father has done, but the classic scene where Locke is questioning all that has happened and why Boone died and then the hatch lights up - ok just watch it
And my favorite scene of the season, again pretty simple - from "All the Best Cowboys..."
I could not find a video, so I'll give you the rundown. Boone and Locke are out in the Jungle looking for Claire. Boone has already asked Locke about his past and where he learned all this stuff. Locke tells Boone it will start raining in one minute. A minute later it starts to pour.
Boone: You learned this at a BOX company?!!
Great delivery, great build up, and it ends with Locke standing triumphantly in the Rain. Love it. And if you can't tell by now, I have a severe man crush on Boone
Favorite Characters: Jack, Boone, Sayid
Most Intriguing: Locke, Rousseau
Most Hated: Sawyer - dude was a straight jerk for most of the first season
Most Annoying - Claire
Most Attractive: Shannon, Kate
Things you want to know more about: Well, everything - the hatch, who took Walt, the polar bear, Ethan, Claire's baby, why Locke was in a wheelchair, the numbers, Rousseau's story
There you go, season one in a nutshell. More to come over the next few weeks.