Lost in Retrospect: Pilot, pt 1

A fantastically tense, exciting opener to the series, and still one of the best pilot episodes I’ve ever seen.

For a refresh on this episode, I suggest you check out Lostpedia’s excellent Wiki page.

The immediate aftermath of the plane crash is on par with any of those ‘disaster action’ flicks. We get these little snapshots of all these different characters that immediately tell us enough for a good story. It’s easy to single out Jack’s intro as the hero, but I love that in our first intro to Boone, he’s trying to be the hero and failing miserably. And is it any wonder that none of the other survivors liked him? A plane crashes, and he spends twenty minutes running around and asking if anyone has a felt-tip pen. Similarly, our first glimpse of Hurley is when Jack drafts him into helping out Claire: he does it, but with a genre savvy “Oh, you’ve gotta be kidding me” that says most of what you need to know about the character in that first instant.

The episode is littered with fantastic little character moments as they meet and talk and bond in the way I would expect real people to in this situation. The one that stands out in my mind is Jack, Kate and Charlie trekking to the cockpit, that nice back-and-forth as Charlie drops hints that he’s a famous rockstar. JJ Abrams is no Joss Whedon, but he’s still damn good at creating characters who feel whole and three-dimensional within a really wacky setting.

I’m still surprised at how well the early mythological elements hold up under the weight of what we learn six seasons later. The fact that I know about the Man in Black and his history and whatnot makes the Monster’s first “appearance” even creepier: this isn’t some random, chaotic thing, it’s got purpose and malice. From day one, the Losties are being manipulated. My theory is that MiB wanted to keep the survivors isolated from the Island’s other inhabitants, such as the Others and Rousseau, so that they’d act on his influence and his alone.

Even six years later, the scenes of Jack, Kate and Charlie being chased by the Monster are enough to get the hard pounding. On top of that, we get the pilot’s declaration that the plane crashed over a thousand miles off course, some wonderful landscape shots of the pristine jungles, plateaus and wide open spaces, and those dark, claustrophoic shots as the A-Team heads towards the cockpit in the rainy jungle. It all weaves together into a tapestry of confusion, paranoia and terror, and by the end of the episode, when we see the bloody, pulpy body of the pilot hangs all Blair Witch-style in the trees for all to see, the audience is just as afraid of this Island as the characters are.

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One Response to “Lost in Retrospect: Pilot, pt 1”

  1. a healthy diet for men…

    […]Lost in Retrospect: Pilot, pt 1 « What Do You Mean, It's Not Awesome?!?[…]…

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