Saturday, June 09, 2007

Lost Rewind – “Pilot, Part 1” and “Pilot, Part 2”

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!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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!


Anonymous said...

You mentioned that "Pilot" was one of your Top Ten Lost episodes. What are the rest of your Top Ten?

1. Walkabout
2. Through The Looking Glass
3. Live Together, Die Alone
4. Flashes Before Your Eyes
5. Exodus
6. Deus Ex Machina
7. The Long Con
8. The 23rd Psalm
9. Three Minutes
10.Fire + Water (just kidding - One Of Us)

Anonymous said...

Hi, let we just jump in with something pretty much off topic: does Bush watch Lost and is Mr Eko his favourite character or what? ;-)

Nothing Better said...

I just watched the pilots again, and when it flashes back to show the plane crashing did anyone notice that Jacks oxygen mask didn't fall down. He had to reach over to use the mask next to him.

Is this how oxygen masks work on planes? Or was it 'the island' trying to stop Jack from surviving the crash? Looking back knowing what we now know, I would say this isn't too far fetch'd a claim.

Did anyone else spot this?

Brian said...

Hmmm - my Top 10 Lost episodes... sounds like a good idea for a future column... or a guest column. Stay tuned!

amber said...

Do you think what happened to the pilot just shows that they weren't exactly sure what Smokey was yet? Obviously they knew lots of storylines ahead of time, but I'm sure some details weren't written in stone yet...

Stef said...

I'm going to hop over to the boards in just a sec, but wanted to say:

1. I'm so glad we're doing this! Cuz my crazy mind NEEDS another 8 months of LOST.

2. Nice Malcolm Gladwell reference! :-)

Dall said...

Nice blog. Found it whilst looking for will be back, Cheers

joe d. said...

I think it would be an awesome idea for a top ten Lost episodes from you Brian. And, I agree with your post about the pilot. Going back and watching it now...with what we now know....It's awesome.

I thought that the pilot episode did a wonderful job of introducing the characters and setting up conflicts from the very start.

Anonymous said...

You missed the fascinating Walkabout 2 off your top 10 list....... Can't wait till Zimbabwe TV shows all the episodes - President Mugabe is a big fan

joe d. said...

My all time top ten episodes of Lost:

1. Walkabout
2. The 23rd Psalm
3. The Man From Tallahassee
4. The Brig
5. Through The Looking Glass
6. Pilot (parts 1 and 2)
7. Live Together, Die Alone
8. Lockdown
9. Outlaws
10.The Other 48 Days

Brian said...

Judging by the lack of response, maybe nobody really wanted to do these Lost Rewinds after all?

We'll give it another week or two, but it's looking like people are (not surprisingly) ready for a break from Lost for a bit!

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

Dang... well, I'm psyched about it! I went out and bought season 1 to keep up! I still think it's a great idea, even if it's just Me, Steph and Joe D.

Anonymous said...

i think the problem might be is that people don't have access to watching it (dont want to buy/rent the dvd)'s a legitimate site that you can stream all seasons on:

i've been watching shows on it for months and it's been working really well. the only problem with season 1 of lost on there, is that it has some sort of subtitles on the bottom. ive learned to deal.

keep posting brian, i'm keeping up with you!

Di said...

Me, too. Just posted on the message board. Got my husband watching season 1 for the first time, and I didn't have to coax very hard to get him to watch episode 3 already.

webuffy said...

Great rewind, Brian!
It's great to see it all again knowing all we now know or should I say still do not know?

There is Jack running around saving people left and right. His ultimate fate?

There is a monster stomping through the jungle parting 100 ft. palms like toothpicks. Everyone saw it together and didn't really talk about it much after that. They were rather dumbfounded and also distracted by their own problems. The noise of the monster sounds mechanical - like hunks of metal moving.

There is Sawyer telling Kate he is a complex guy and then later showing her his depth by saying in his Sawyer way how "he knows" what kind of girl she is and Kate says ,,,"you don't know exactly..."! I think she is the one who is complex!

Walt is reading a comic book w/ a pbear and then later a real pbear comes charging out of the jungle. The imagined becomes real.

Everyone cowers in the rain cept Locke who sits on the beach embracing it. His destiny=the island!

Charlie is writing fate on his hands with a Sharpie. His last action is also hand writing on a wet hand with a Sharpie.

Wow! More Rewinds!!!!

- wbuff

Anonymous said...

My Top X

House of the Rising Sun
Man Of Science, Man Of Faith
23rd Psalm
Live Together, Die ALone
Flashes Before Your Eyes
Tricia Tanaka Is Dead
The Man Behind the Curtain

Jennifer said...

Just wanted to say I love the "rewind" idea and look forward to having a reason to keep checking the blog regularly. Can't wait to re-visit where we've been so far and discuss it in the context of what we now know. Perfect way to fill the long dead zone til we get to season 4. Thanks, Brian!

Anonymous said...

I like the Lost Rewind idea... and I'm sure others do to. I am just not watching them right now (don't have time with a baby)... but I do like to see what people have to say about them because there is so much there.

Keep it up, Brian!

Anonymous said...

yea i agree, keep doing the rewinds!
there will be many people who read your blog who dont comment, as long as you're still getting the website hits keep doing them!
I agree with Jennifer, its an reason to read your blog between seasons, which is always enjoyable

amber said...

It's kind of weird to watch the whole Walt/comic book/polar bear thing again. When we first saw it, we assumed Walt was special & conjured the polar bear up. Knowing now about the zoological station, does it still mean anything?? Were they just trying to make us THINK Walt did it?? I think re-watching the old episodes, knowing what I know now, is actually MORE confusing, not less!! Still love it, though!

Anonymous said...


Please keep doing the rewinds. My wife and I are avid Lost fans and decided we were going to rewatch the first two seasons before we knew about the rewind idea. I love going through them and I look forward to your insight.

Keep up the great work.

Sawyer's Optician said...

Brian -
First, I always have to re-type your name, because my son is Bryan. Second, i just watched "Pilot" last night, because I was at a lake house in Wisconsin for the past week. It was fun seeing it knowing what we know now. I still held my breath as the plane was breaking apart. Even though I know the story, I was on the edge of my seat. Lost is really good TV! I agree with you about the feeling of the show. there is such a feeling of fear, then almost desperation as time passes and no rescue appears. It enjoyed watching the Jack/Kate/Sawyer triangle forming. Kate's little moment with Jack sharing his story with her. Kate and her "does anyone know how to use this?" The same pose that she took in her bank robbery.
And Sawyer, can we talk about Sawyer for a minute? He is, I think, maybe one of the most subtle and complex characters on Lost. On the surface he just seems like an obnoxious redneck, but Josh Holloway is such a good actor that he is really more. His ability to make people simultaneously love and hate him is remarkable.
He is absolutely gorgeous with his dimples and his bad boy bravado. His range of emotion tightly held at bay when he shot the bear. Watch his face. It's amazing. It's kind of, fear, determination, then after the bear drops, it changes to something completely different. Then everyone comes and expresses their awe at there being a polar bear on a tropical island, he's all cocky: "I just shot a bear" "from the bear village"!

- The Polar Bear was a turning point for me and my daughter. It turned Lost from a drama with lots of pretty people and cool effects into something extraordinary. I felt like I was watching an updated version of the original Star Trek. What the heck is going on here? As Charlie said "guys, where are we?"

Hurley- I still love Hurley. The comic relief, with such humanity. He tried so hard to help Jack. Then he faints on the marshall! He gave Claire an extra meal. he tried so nicely to decline Jin's offer of sea urchins. Also, is there a reference somewhere that the comic book was Hurley's? I always thought it was but i don't know where I got that idea.

I love that the characters as introduced were so well developed, even when the actors didn't know of the details of the story, or even of their characters. They have stayed true to the original introductory feeling that each has. Awesome show, that LOST!
- Thanks again Brian for the opportunity to revisit past seasons as if watching it for the first time. Like a book club

Pat Gaughan said...

An article about the ending of Lost (and there aren't any spoilers).

Anonymous said...

Those are some fuckin' hot bitches!

Rebecca said...

I know all the oxygen masks are supposed to work... but maybe that isn't always the case. I've never been in a plane crash but I'd speculate a few might fail to fall. Just my two cents.