First to Last: Watching Lost's Pilot and Finale

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First to Last is a biweekly column where the pilot episode and series finale of a TV show are examined. But there’s a catch—the author has never seen a single episode of the show before viewing these two episodes! This week’s show: Lost.

I remember Lost being a big deal when it came out. I never bothered to watch it because at the time I was 16 and had just discovered punk rock and pot, but I understood it to be a show with a lot of mysteries and cliffhangers. Later on I remember hearing that the finale was disappointing, and that as a whole the show raised many more questions than it ever answered. Let’s see if, perhaps, the series finale is able to answer the questions posed by the premier episode.

The opening shot of 2004’s “Pilot” is of a man in a suit waking up in the middle of a forest. He begins making his way out, and the camera focuses on a pair of white shoes hanging from a tree. I assume they will be important at some point. The man, who we will come to know as Jack, finally arrives at an ocean. Based on his facial expression, he is likely thinking “oh, fuck.” There is wreckage from a plane, and several other people, who are all clearly thinking “oh, fuck.” Jack begins helping people who are hurt and/or trapped under plane parts. We are shown a pregnant woman who picked, just, the worst time to be having contractions. But before we even get a chance to worry about that, an engine blows up, and we cut to commercial. Oh, fuck.

Moments into the show and I’m already screaming “WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN?!”

By this point it is clear that Jack is the protagonist of the show, mostly because he was the first person we saw and this is network TV. We meet a few other characters as well. One of them is Boone, who says that he is a lifeguard. Moments later Jack reveals that he is a doctor, so I assume these two will spend some time as rivals. Charlie, seemingly meant to be the heel of the show, is a jackass who thinks he’s a bad ass. When he is first shown, he is smoking a cigarette, which is enough to let the audience watching at home know that they should be thinking “Look out, we got a bad ass over here!” We are repeatedly shown an interesting bald man who is contemplatively sitting on the shore, staring into the ocean: John Locke. I think he is going to be important. He is shown lecturing a boy on the forces of white and black. I think he’s talking about good versus evil, but the child he’s speaking with happens to be black, so maybe he’s just an old racist?

There’s also a Korean couple and a black father and his previously mentioned son, none of whom do much of importance considering how much screen time they are given in the episode. It seems like ABC was going out of their way to show that they had a racially diverse cast.

Anyway, as the stranded explore the island, some discover a radio transmission, which they deduce has been playing on a loop for 16 years. It seems interesting, but then there’s also mysterious creatures running around, emitting blood curdling shrieks and stealing people, so that’s a bit more pertinent. Also at one point a polar bear attacks the group, and while I’m sure polar bear attacks are scary, the mystery creatures seem more concerning.

All in all, the first episode was really cool. There is an appropriate amount of twists and turns, it raised a few questions (as the first episode of any show should) and I’m genuinely curious about what happens next.

Okay, so, here are all of the questions posed by Lost’s premier:

Where are they?

What are those creatures? (They were attacked by a polar bear, but I still think there’s something more monstrous.)

Will Claire’s baby survive?

Who was stranded on the island 16 years ago?

Anyway, on to the final episode, “The End” (2010).

Time has clearly passed, as Jack has a beard now. The island is now split into factions, because apparently even fictional TV people can’t get along for six consecutive years. There is a struggle between good and evil and—who woulda guessed it?—our protagonist wins. But Jack didn’t save the day without getting a few scratches…

Things have gotten quite complicated on the island and the show alike. Somebody has turned some mysterious light within the island off, and Jack has to turn it back on. John Locke is around, except he’s actually dead and somebody else possessed him, and, ugh, this is just too much for me.

Throughout the episode, we are also shown all of the characters living back in society. Many of them seem oblivious to their past, but forcefully remember it when they meet with other survivors. It’s unclear what exactly this time or place is, which is reminiscent of their uncertainty upon first waking up on the island.

Rather than being some sort of alternate future, it turns out it is Jack’s purgatory. He chats with his dead dad for a bit, and then decides that he is ready for whatever is next. You know, heaven or hell. Or, I dunno, maybe something Hindu? It could really be anything, they don’t tell us. They just roll credits.

We are also shown Jack on the island, as he dies in the very same spot he first woke up in the first episode. And those white shoes are hanging in the tree! I knew they would be important! Things have come full circle in a way, which made those scene one of my favorite moments.

Now let’s see those questions I had after the first episode:

Where are they? Hydra Island. Good enough for me. I’m bad with geography (re: American public school), so I don’t really care where in the world.

What are the creatures?: There’s no mention of them, but I doubt they’re all polar bears, and I’m willing to bet it has something to do with the Smoke that’s possessed John Locke.

Will Clair’s baby survive? Yep.

Who was stranded on the island 16 years ago?: I don’t know. She’s probably dead though. Oh well.

The series finale answered 50% of the questions the pilot had me asking.

Coincidentally, the finale was also 50% as interesting at the pilot.

I am interested in watching the rest of the first season, but am unlikely to watch the entire series.

The first episode was spooky and elusive, mysterious and cool. but the last episode was too convoluted. Also, there aren’t any black people left on the show by then, which is weird.

While I did think it was a pretty cool ending, I only invested one night into Lost. If I waited six years to see that conclusion, I feel like I would have hated it. But, you know what they say: It’s better to love Lost than to have never loved at all.

What shows would you like to see here next time? Let the author know on Twitter @mattpasscomedy.

Matt Pass is a comedian who was written for Cracked.

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