Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Lost" and Found: Since The Beginning

I know I've said this before, but one of the greatest tools that Christopher Nolan (Inception, Memento) uses in his movies is the decision to tell it outside of chronological order. Of all the programs on television, Lost is the only one to take full advantage of it in a way that suits the grand scale of the story. For a series most commonly known for its mysteries, what struck me from these first five episodes is how powerful it is on an emotional level. There's a definite focus on specific characters, but it's really about the ensemble.

1 + 2. Pilot: The two part debut sells the epic nature of the story, opening with a mad dash across the plane wreckage as we get a look at some of the characters we're about to spend six seasons with. Even though we know who is going to live, there still remains a sense that anything can happen here. As the wing of the plane threatens to crash on top of Hugo and a pregnant Claire, all those terrifying possibilities come back. It's still unbelievable that after falling thousands of feet and evading all those explosions, Claire's baby is still unharmed.

A few ongoing mysteries such as the monster, the polar bears, and the french woman are set up in this episode, as if the island itself wasn't enough of a mystery. The thing that makes this premiere great is that it isn't necessarily thinking about the journey the characters are going to take in the next few years. There isn't anything obviously science fiction or fantasy about the series. So far, it's just a story about people who get stuck on an island they can't get away from. However, if the plot just stayed that way, the series wouldn't have made it past season 2.

3. Tabula Rasa: The second episodes of a series tend to lack the same power as the first, and this is no exception. This one is really picking up all the strings left over from the pilot, and it decides to focus on one of the weaker characters of the show, but one that we couldn't live without. The question of whether or not Kate Austen can be trusted is handled pretty well in this episode. Handing the gun to her makes everything a bit more tense. Then we get a sigh of relief when we reveal that Kate isn't so bad after all. However, we do get confirmation that Sawyer may be the most dangerous member of the group.

4. Walkabout: Of the first five episodes, this is the one that people remember the most, as it focuses on what may be the greatest character Lost put together, John Locke. Locke's miracle, which was hinted at in the previous episodes, was finally revealed, and no matter how many times you see that final scene, it never ceases to be as beautiful. This was also the first episode that hinted at the supernatural nature of the series, and it's handled with subtlety, as to make sure that people don't make too much of the occurance. John Locke is only part of the story, as we get updates on Rose, Sayid, and others, which all go towards making this show work with the entire ensemble. Never let anybody completely fade from view.

5. White Rabbit: We've been getting to know Jack as the main character of the story, as he's the one we see right out of the gate, he's the one who does the most to help everybody, and we now get to know where the man is coming from. Jack's off island story arc follows his relationship with his father, and how that's really shaped who he is. His on island story involves him chasing his dead father through the jungle and eventually finding water. This leads to our first conversation between Jack and Locke, and it comes at a point in which nobody thinks that John is insane yet, so it's nice to see the two talking with equal respect for each other. Ultimately this episode closes the first chapter of Lost, with Jack taking the leadership role in the group.

Hopefully, these weeks spent watching Lost from the beginning won't be wasteful, as so far it seems like a really interesting and powerful story. These first few episodes really feel like the opening of a movie or the first chapter of a great book. It's not going to deliver everything at once, and I understand that. I'll tune in next week with my analysis of episodes 6-10. I've embedded the fourth episode of the series, Walkabout, below for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

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