This weekend, I finished my rewatch of all 120 episodes of Lost. I spent essentially my entire spring semester working my way through the show, so the fact that I finished just before finals week seems like a nice way to end things for the semester.
This is a show that’s difficult to let go of. It’s complicated and crazy and incredibly moving at times, and I know I’ll be thinking about it often in the coming weeks. So, as a means of reflection, I’ve picked my ten favorite episodes. It was a difficult list to narrow, especially because Lost has so many twists and turns that you can’t possibly think why some episodes aren’t as great as the others.
So, in no particular order, here are my ten favorites. Let me know what you think!
The End (season 6, episode 17)
I know there’s some serious disagreement about Lost‘s finale, but I think it’s one of the most beautiful endings a show has ever received. If nothing else, it’s a conclusion that leaves viewers with lots to think about, and it is absolutely worth the 119-episode build up. Content wise, the episode features the shifting storylines that are so characteristic of the show. On the island, Jack, Kate, Hurley, Desmond and Sawyer are left trying to figure out how to stop Locke (who isn’t really Locke anymore) from destroying the island. In the flash-sideways reality, all the original crash survivors — plus Desmond and a few others — come together for a concert (and so much more). It’s great to see familiar faces, and the final moments are unbelievably poignant. If you can look at this image (almost the final shot of the series) without feeling something, I’ll assume you’re dead inside.
Pilot (season 1, episode 1)
From the very end to the very beginning. This show is known for having the most expensive pilot episode ever, and it was money well spent. Lost could never have been what it was without this amazingly complex pilot. Its twists and turns showed viewers that Lost was a new kind of TV show, and they’d have to learn to expect the unexpected.
The Incident, Part 2 (season 5, episode 17)
In my opinion, the writer’s strike in 2007 kind of derailed Lost‘s original glory for a while. The show was so incredibly smart for the first three seasons, but the fourth season marked a bit of a dip in the show’s trajectory. However, but the end of season five, things had gotten back up to par, and the season ends with a heartbreaking sequence starring Sawyer and Juliet. This episode also clearly marks the beginning of the end as Jack decides to detonate a hydrogen bomb in the hopes that it will reverse the fates of those who crashed with Oceanic 815. Sounds like a great idea, right?
The Candidate, (season 6, episode 14)
And speaking of heartbreakers… I don’t know how to even discuss this episode except to say it features a LOT of tears (both on screen and on my face). The final episodes of Lost are full of tragedy, and nothing says that more clearly that “The Candidate,” in which three major characters die. At the show’s conclusion, it was hard to say that anyone could be safe from death, but three deaths in one episode is still kind of a lot to handle. Apart from sadness, the episode also features plenty of intensity as the remaining survivors try to figure out who is meant to succeed Jacob as protector of the island. No big deal.
Man of Science, Man of Faith (season 2, episode 1)
Season 1 ends with a pretty crazy cliffhanger as the hatch is blown open and… we have to wait until season 2 to find out what’s inside. Turns out there’s a whole little home down there, complete with a cool Scottish guy! (Okay, I kind of love Desmond). Things also get confusing for Shannon when Walt (who’s been kidnapped) keeps appearing to her in the jungle, but no one believes her. Oh, and Sawyer (who has a bullet in his arm) and Michael are left stranded in the middle of the ocean on a small makeshift raft since their boat was blown up. All this adds up to perfect start for this crazy show’s second season.
The Cost of Living (season 3, episode 5)
As far as characters on Lost go, I have a lot of soft spots. One of those weaknesses is for Mr. Eko, a character who died way too soon, in my opinion. This episode gives us more of Eko’s back story after he is haunted by apparitions of his brother in the jungle. Apart from Eko’s problems, Jack, Kate and Sawyer are still being held captive by the Others, and Jack starts to think he might have an ally in Juliet. Jack also finds out why he’s been captured: Ben needs a tumor removed from his spine, so how convenient that a spinal surgeon happens to have crashed on his island. All these little schemes offer a glimpse at what makes this show so great.
Through the Looking Glass (season 3, episode 22/23)
It’s kind of a bummer that I picked episodes in which great characters die, but they just so happen to be some of the best episodes the show had. In the season 3 finale, the crash survivors are seemingly presented with an opportunity to finally leave the island, despite Ben’s attempts to stop them. Season three sees Desmond having continual flashes in which he foresees Charlie’s death. Unfortunately, that’s how this episode ends. In one of the first big deaths since Boone and Shannon, Charlie martyrs himself to save Desmond, and his death is one that will hit you right in the heart.
The Constant (season 4, episode 5)
Like I said earlier, season four was probably the weakest in Lost‘s run, so it makes sense only one episode from that season made my list. “The Constant,” though, is a gem in an other wise “meh” season. The beginning of season four brings several new characters into the picture, and this episode begins to tell us why as we see Desmond flashing back and forth between the present on the island and 1996. In the past, Desmond must find Daniel Faraday to stop the flashes, and we get to understand a bit of why and how the island is making time jumps.
The Man Behind the Curtain (season 3, episode 20)
This episode was a long time coming: when Henry Gale (a.k.a. Ben a.k.a. the man in charge of The Others) joined the cast in season 2, he always seemed less than innocent. By the end of season 2, we found out that he was working with The Others and he took Jack, Kate and Sawyer hostage. Overall, not the greatest guy. But this episode finally gave us a glimpse at Ben’s back story. He was born and raised on the island, and after his mother died during childbirth, his young life is miserable in the shadows of his father’s grudge. For the first time, you might feel bad for Ben. But then you find out he murdered everyone — seriously, everyone — who lived with him in their camp, so then you feel a little less bad.
Everybody Loves Hugo (season 6, episode 12)
This episode, to me, marks the real finale of the show. From this episode on, everything has an air of conclusion, so this episode feels pretty important. In the “flash sideways” sequences in LA, Charlie and Desmond are the first to “remember” life in the island, though Charlie only has a vague memory of a beautiful blonde. Desmond, apparently enlightened, makes it his personal mission to reunite all the crash survivors, which actually doesn’t take much effort since they’re all so interconnected anyway. Thankfully, he soon has Hurley on his side, so the quest to find their friends becomes a bit less difficult.
So that’s it for me. My heart hasn’t quite let go of this one yet. This feeling has only struck me one other time in bingeing on shows, and that was last summer when I finished the true TV marathon of watching Cheers from start to finish. For a pop culture-obsessed person like me, there’s no better feeling than the mix of accomplishment/loss at finishing a great show. Here’s hoping for many more.