Episode Review: Normally, each episode will be “rewound” separately – but it doesn’t make much sense this week. To be honest with you, I originally saw the pilot to Lost long before it officially aired on TV (thank you Internet!) in its full two-hour glory. I was actually pretty shocked when ABC aired each hour on separate weeks since they tell one cohesive story – but I digress.
Not surprisingly, I was hooked on this show from the start. The first episode of Lost did everything a great pilot episode should do – introduce the characters, hint at future storylines, and leave the viewer wanting more. Going back and re-watching it, it’s actually amazing how many storylines were dangling out in front of us without our realizing it. Everything from Kate’s relationship with the Marshall to Sawyer’s Letter are hinted at in scenes… not enough that you take a lot of notice on the first viewing, but looking back now, it’s clear the writers knew the story they were going to tell from the start… heck, they even reference the Tail of the plane a few times!
It’s also interesting to note how the “mood” of Lost has changed since the Pilot. Watching the episode, there’s a definite sense of fear that seems to have been lost (pun!) over the years. It’s a fear of the unknown, and the scenes with Smokey and the Polar Bear make the Island appear as a mysterious, dangerous, deadly place. Even more mundane elements like Vincent and Locke come across as potentially holding secrets that we shouldn’t trust. The characters are afraid to even enter the Jungle, which is quite a different story than the current frequent Island exploring and crossing that we see on Lost. There are a lot of "survival issues" - finding food, shelter, water - that seem laughable now given the Dharma Cornucopia that the characters now enjoy, but back in the day, it didn't look like our Survivors had much chance for survival.
This was the most expensive television pilot ever produced, and it shows – it’s basically like a feature film, complete with big explosions, enormous set pieces, and a huge cast of characters. It’s also absolutely gorgeously shot (the location helps… a lot) and fantastically acted. It put Lost on the map right from the start… in a big way. In my opinion, it still stands as one of the top 10 episodes of Lost ever.
Deeper Meaning Explanation: Like the vast majority of television series, the first episode is simply titled “Pilot”, no deeper meaning there… although if you wanted to be obsessively crazy, you could find this to actually be a subtle reference to the Pilot (Greg Grunberg, of Alias and Heroes fame!) discovered and killed at the midpoint of the episode – but it’s a serious stretch, one that even I won’t take.
Original Thoughts: None! This episode aired back in the day, when I was young and naïve about needing to help others breakdown and analyze the themes and events of each episode. Instead, I was simply in “Maven” mode, telling everyone I ran into that they needed to be watching this show. I remember one of the things that turned people off to the show was Smokey – almost everyone assumed that it was dinosaurs, making the show seem to “fantasy” for the mainstream. The show’s producers were quick to make sure people knew it was most definitely NOT a dinosaur, and I likewise had to assure a big chunk of my family and friends that the show was more realistic than that, based in science, and that they should give the show a chance. Luckily, most of them did.
New Thoughts: Like I said, these Lost Rewinds are more about your thoughts and discussion than mine, but here are some discussion points to get the juices flowing…
Jack. Jack appearing in the middle of the Jungle, rather than on the Beach, was a point often brought up in theories that there was something fishy going on with Jack, or the crash of the plane itself. However, looking back now, it’s really just used as a plot device to “introduce” the audience to the plane crash with the most impact. What’s more interesting is that the first thing we see in the jungle is a white tennis shoe hanging from a tree… the same shoes his Father was wearing during the visions that Jack will have in a few episodes. Christian Shephard is alive!
Or not – I think it just provides some nice contrast to the decidedly green jungle all around.
Rose. Maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me – but did Jack help pull Dr. Arzt out from under some wreckage in the opening scene? It’s also ironic that Rose, who allegedly has had her cancer “cured” by the Island, needed Jack to actually keep her alive there – so it’s not like the Island actually went as far as to “protect” her like it sometimes seems to do with Locke. This provides evidence that she isn’t “favored” by the Island like Locke, but is simply cured due to the magnetic properties of the Island.
Vincent. My friend Sully has always said there is something fishy about Vincent, that he represented God or was some powerful force on the Island rather than just a friendly puppy. This episode is a big reason why – Vincent appears as an all-knowing observer to the action on the Island, watching our Survivors from the distance, appearing and disappearing, and seemingly unaffected by the potential death and danger all around. The mystique of Vincent has been diminished over the years, but I have to admit, he does seem to conveniently appear and introduce critical plot elements at time. I really think that it’s sometimes just an easy way to progress the storyline, but you could also argue that animals share something of a larger “bond” with nature, and in this case “the Island”, which may provide a sense of knowledge and understanding that the human characters are lacking.
Charlie. A few of the Charlie scenes are particularly poignant given his recent demise, like showing Kate his DriveShaft ring, telling her that he’s a coward. I also point to the scene of Charlie writing “FATE” on the tape of his fingers as being big-time symbolic for the series as a whole – it wasn’t magic, Dharma, or Smokey that brought them all to the Island and allowed them to survive the crash of Flight 815 – it was fate. They were destined to be there, much like Charlie seemed destined to die this season.
Weather. What ever happened to the freak rain storms that would come and go on the Island? Did we ever get any real explanation for that? Is it somehow the “emotion” of the Island being manifested in elemental form?
Pilot. The death of the Pilot still stands apart as being unique on the Island. Smokey didn’t seem to “judge him”, like he has other characters, and totally mangles his body. Was this just meant to up the fear factor of the Island, or is there some reason for it?
CFL. “It killed them. It killed them all.” We all assumed she was talking about the Monster back when the episode first aired, but now know that CFL actually killed her crew – making this statement seem a little off. Maybe she’s referring to “the sickness” as being the “it” which led to their death, but that seems like a stretch. It’s probably just CFL’s crazy way of justifying her mass murder actions. There’s a reason she’s not NFL (Normal French Lady)!
Storylines. One of the big things that jumped out at me during the re-watch were characters talking about their pasts, in particular ones that we still haven’t seen featured in any flashbacks. Jack talks about taking flying lessons, but that it “wasn’t for him”. He also mentions his oft-referenced “count to five” spinal surgery story in this episode. Both of these seem like strong candidates for Jack Flashbacks, but instead we’ve gotten things like Jack in Thailand and Jack getting married. Strange.
Also strange – Kate mentions that her friend “Beth” was a big Driveshaft fan. Was this just part of her “cover story” (like her “I don’t know how to use a gun” comment to Sawyer), or does she actually have a friend back in the real world? Is this a friend of the true Kate, or of one of her many false identities?
Shannon. She was really, really hot. The gratuitous sunbathing scene in a bikini is still much appreciated, as was Kate washing her clothes at the beach. Way to hook the male viewers, Lost! Relive the memories!
Okay FOBs, it’s up to you now. Feel free to discuss the episode in the Comments section, or on the more spacious Message Board here and here.
Be Kind. Rewind!