Gettin' Lost 1: Pilot Part 1 and 2
Updated: Jan 2
Lost was the first show I ever binged, way back when it was on American Netflix in 2010, and it was the first show I ever got really into. I remember a concrete moment, sometime during season 1, when little middle school me decided that I wanted to be the sort of nerdy person who was really into TV and movies. It was a time of identity exploration.
I've watched all of Lost twice, once the normal way and once via the fan edit "Chronologically Lost" which re-edits the entire six season, 120-episode monstrosity to play out in chronological order, flashbacks, flashforwards, and all. In the eleven years since my first viewing, there has been a lot of discourse about Lost, its meaning, and its legacy, much of which I have participated in and vehemently disagreed with (my Twitter bio boldly proclaims my defense of the last season).
Starting this week, my partner Elizabeth and I are starting Lost from the beginning (in the normal, non-chronological order). Elizabeth has somehow missed the entire cultural conversation and legacy surrounding the show, and, much to my chagrin, knows very little about the show at all.
Here, we begin "Gettin' Lost," a regular series here where we will discuss the show episode by episode. I'm sure I will fanboy plenty, and I'm sure Elizabeth will be largely unimpressed by the show's somewhat meandering storytelling, dramatic music, and fantastical (if not at times convoluted) twists, but I'll do my best to convince her to love the show as much as I do without being too much of an "annoying TV guy" stereotype.
Join us for the journey, it's like reading a podcast! What could be better?
Pilot, Part 1
Elizabeth: Here’s what I know about Lost as someone who has seen maybe one minute of the first episode:
There’s a plane crash
Some spooky, mysterious stuff happens
There’s a man who kind of looks like Hagrid and wears Hawaiian shirts
The whole thing was a dream? Maybe? And people have strong opinions about that ending
Am I on the right track?
Logan: It’s shocking to me that you don’t know more about the show just through cultural osmosis. I went into it originally (circa 2010) already spoiled on some of the big things. I’m excited to see you experience it for the first time.
I will say, everyone is definitely wrong about the ending, both factually wrong (it’s not a dream) and wrong that the ending is so bad.
And, I have clue who the Hagrid man you’re referring to is.
Elizabeth: We were like 10 when this show was on. This is not the kind of TV I was into. Having now rewatched the first episode with me, you have to know I was talking about Hurley. I mean, come on. A big guy with long brown curly hair?
I truly do not recognize any of the other characters we’ve seen so far. Did all of the actors leave Hollywood after this? What happened?
Logan: Kate is in Lord of the Rings and a lot of hair commercials. Jack got into drugs I think. I’ve seen some of the smaller characters in a few other things, but it is weird that there’s not that many huge breakout stars I think.
Hurly doesn’t seem Hagrid-y to me because he’s not as rough and nature-y, but I guess I get your point.
Are you intrigued by the characters and mysteries yet!? It was interesting to see there just be one flashback in the opening hour, since that became such a staple of the show’s storytelling and one of the things it was most known for. And it wasn’t a flashback that flashed too far back.
Elizabeth: I was definitely surprised that the supernatural stuff started right away. I feel like that’s usually the kind of thing that gets added once a show gets boring, so it’s probably a good sign that it’s not just shoehorned into the plot? I’ll have to see. I definitely don’t feel strongly about any of the characters yet, at least not positively. That old bald man is psychotic and I think Jack is a megalomaniac.
Logan: Just because the bald guy smiled doesn’t mean he’s psychotic! He’s got a lot going on. I think a lot of the character attachment comes from the flashbacks, which really flesh out their characters and backgrounds and add fun little mysteries. Maybe the flashbacks start in earnest after the Pilot Part 2. It was fun seeing the intricate storytelling in this one flashback—Charlie running by, pursued by some people, Rose (the Black woman) and her missing husband, Jack and drinking. There were lots of little hints of the stories the show will tell going forward. It’s a much better executed version of Arrested Development season 4.
I was surprised to remember how horror-y the show is in the Pilot—I don’t think that really lasts, or at least isn’t a constant of the show in every episode.
Elizabeth: Very horror movie so far. Which is fine, as long as the violence stays as early-2000s network tv as it was this episode. You know me, I struggle to care much about shows with male leads. And I’m already dreading the romance they’re clearly trying to set up. I wouldn’t say I was wowed by this flashback, but I think I will enjoy them going forward. I don’t think I would be paying much attention to detail if you hadn’t made it pretty clear that there are hints throughout, which is going to affect how I watch, I think.
Logan: It’s a show that is meant to be watched for hints. There are all sorts of little tie-ins. Some of them very consequential, but some just kind of fun. “It rewards a close and careful watch” as they say. I feel like it was one of the first shows to have a huge online following of people trying to solve the mysteries. Think WandaVision and Loki discussions, but for the most popular show on network TV.
Back to my earlier point about cultural osmosis- did your school/friend group not go through a whole Lost phase in high school? There was a time when literally everyone was watching and talking about it at my school- I remember seeing a girl in study hall watching it on Netflix, a very “popular girl” stereotype that I was shocked to see watching something I considered so smart. She said she didn’t love the fantasy and sci-fi elements, but loved the characters and their stories, and she binged all six seasons.
Elizabeth: I have exactly one memory of Lost being mentioned at school, and it was a classmate saying that the whole thing was a dream. That’s genuinely it. It truly baffles me that you consider it a “smart” show. That’s not how I think of it, with my very limited knowledge.
Does the show eventually make it clear that I should be looking for hints?
Here’s my little episode recap:
There was a plane crash on some tropical island. Our megalomaniac hero was somehow thrown from the wreckage, because he wakes up alone, surrounded by bamboo.
Jack has to do some doctor stuff because all of the other characters are incompetent and won’t get away from the ready-to-blow crash site.
Jack, Kate, and Charlie go look for the cockpit so they can find a transceiver and maybe contact a rescue team. They find a pilot who is almost immediately brutally murdered by some giant mysterious being. But before his murder he tells them that they changed course in the air and no one has any idea where to look for them. Essentially, they’re all royally screwed.
Did I hit the highlights?
Logan: By “smart” TV I just mean twisty and complicated, the kind of show self-styled smart high school guys were into. It’s wild to me how you think of it—the show's legacy is for having a (perhaps overly) complicated twisty, fantasy-y story. It started to lose some of its audience (for example, my grandparents) as the fantasy elements became more explicit. I forget when exactly in the show that was though; it might not have been until season 2 or 3. A common criticism of the show is that it became too obsessed with its own twists and intricate complexity.
I think your summary is good. I don’t think they’re royally screwed though, I think they’re going to have a grand adventure as they grow as individuals and get to know more about each other and themselves.
And I think it will become clear that you should watch for hints as things get rolling. Keep in mind we’ve only seen half of what aired the first night!
Elizabeth: I would say it’s not a great sign that most of the writers seem to be dudes. Guys think so highly of their “smart” plots. And shaky cam footage. Surely eventually an episode will pass the Bechdel test...right?
They’re definitely royally screwed, Logan. Did we watch the same episode? I would argue that growing as people and being royally screwed are not mutually exclusive.
Pilot, Part 2
Logan: So, I guess episode two introduced us to some more characters and their dynamics, and really drove home that they’re stuck on this mysterious island... what’d ya think??
Elizabeth: I definitely liked this one more than the first. Do I feel like more people should be worried about, like, fishing and building a shelter? Yes. But I enjoyed the flashbacks and care a little more about a few characters.
Logan: Which characters are you liking so far? And what did you like about the flashbacks? I think this is supposed to be the next day after that first night still, so maybe they’ll turn to shelter and fishing soon? Jin is already on the fish! I was struck again by how far some of these characters have to go, since I know where they end up. Lost really covers a lot of ground.
Elizabeth: I like Sayid, the Korean woman, Walt. I feel an affinity for Hurley, as I, too, “am not so good around blood.” I am worried about how poorly Kate’s character could develop but so far I like her—I hope it stays that way. I don’t really know what I liked about the flashbacks, other than a little bit of character development without too much about any one character. Can we start voting people off the island, Survivor-style?
Logan: There will be plenty of people “voted off” in one way or another before the show wraps up. Hurley and Kate were always some of my favorites, and Sun is up there too (the Korean woman). It’s hard for me not to spoil a bunch about some of these characters, but I’ll do my best!
What did you think of the polar bear? Did it add to the sense of mystery on the island? The polar bear ties into some of the (incorrect) complaints people make about the show and it’s mysteries, but that’s a rant for later on.
Elizabeth: It’s weird, for sure, but also pretty unnecessary? The giant monster that killed the pilot and the spooky noises at night are enough for me to think there’s something creepy going on. I really liked the eerie French transmission, though. It’s weird enough on its own, but really seemed to convince the characters that they are, as I’ve already noted, royally screwed. (Also very impressed by Sayid’s mental math there.)
Logan: Sayid certainly has a good head on his shoulders. The polar bear is one of those things that, to me, has a satisfactory answer later on, but the question of “was this essential to the story” has a less clear answer. To me, that’s where Lost struggles sometimes, introducing weirdness for the sake of weirdness, or to fill time. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t quite land? I’ll be interested to see what I think watching it this time around; I think my tastes are a little more refined and critical than they were the first time back in middle school. Maybe they just needed a way to show that Sawyer had a gun?
Any predictions for what is going on on the island? Why is Kate a criminal? What are you looking forward to as the show progresses?
Elizabeth: How many times have I said to you, about various things, that I don’t like things that are weird just to be weird? So glad to be jumping into six seasons of this.
The gun reveal was pretty good. Seems like a very helpful thing to have on a creepy island, but not in that racist guy’s hands.
Predictions...hmmm. My first guess is that Kate killed an ex or something in self-defense. I hope that the women actually get developed and get to talk to each other, and that they realize none of the men around them are valid romantic prospects.
Logan: One of the big debates around Lost is about the extent to which it introduces things just to be weird vs the extent to which it justifies the elements it adds and answers its own mysteries. I come down on the side that if you watch closely and read between the lines, most of it is justified or at least defensible from a storytelling perspective (like they needed an interesting way to reveal the gun). But the show doesn’t explicitly say “here is the answer to this previous mystery” very often, which made a lot of fans upset, but seems to me like good writing. I’ll be interested to see what we both think as we go on.
And, I don’t know, Hurley seems like a valid romantic prospect. A good guy who doesn’t like blood. It seems like the next episode should at least start to answer the questions about Kate’s past.
Elizabeth: Fair enough. Let me attempt another recap:
We find out that Charlie has a drug problem and that Kate is some kind of criminal. The man with the shrapnel in his chest was escorting her on the plane, and it seems like he could start talking now that Jack fixed him up.
Charlie, Kate, Sayid, Boone, and… the blonde woman and the racist guy go on a hike to see if they can get any service with the transceiver. They essentially climb vertically up a mountain, then run into a polar bear, which the racist guy kills with the gun he says he found on a US Marshall.
They can’t use the transceiver to contact anyone because there’s already a signal coming from close by: a looped distress call in French, along with a running total of how many times the message has played (thousands of times, for like 16 years).
The pregnant woman is worried that she miscarried, but she feels it kick after eating some sea urchin or something that the Korean man offers her, and she decides that the baby is a boy.
The blonde woman gets the iconic line, “I’ve been through A Trauma,” to which her brother responds, “We’ve ALL been through A Trauma.” Get these people a therapist, stat.