The only good thing about being four months deep into a global pandemic, mostly confined to my apartment and recently out of a job, is the vast amount of binge rewatching I’ve done. Rather than going to all those new shows I’ve been “meaning to watch, I SWEAR,” I’ve been drawn to the comforts of the familiar, where I know exactly what’s going to happen. Since early April I’ve watched all sixteen seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, 22 cycles of America’s Next Top Model, 5.5 seasons of Bones, and I’ve now added The West Wing to the rotation.
Really, what’s one more show?
Shannon and I have been talking about doing a Lost rewatch together for years. I last watched the full series circa 2015, and I had even compiled a list of my top 15 episodes for this website but then life happened, and I never did that post. Perhaps it was the Island telling me…not yet. Because really there isn’t gonna be a better time than this one when we’re all homebound. Because in the midst of all the real world terribleness it’s actually comforting to bring along my friends into the jungle of mystery. Because after YEARS of Sage saying “Do I really NEED to watch Lost?” a global catastrophe had her going “Okay, so you all are watching, maybe I should too!” Thus, the #GuysWhereAreWe twitter tag was born.
Having just finished the first season, we thought it was a good idea to gather all our thoughts in a post sponsored by our friend and Patreon donor Heather, who has decided to embark on this journey with us, joining Sage as a newbie who’s never seen the show. We’re so grateful for your support, Heather and glad you are taking this ride with us! Now let’s talk some season one! — Kim
- Favorite Episode?
Shannon: From start to finish, it’s “Exodus Part 1.” It’s gotta be! It has everything! Exceptional scoring from Michael Giacchino. Beautiful individual character moments from all the people we’ve come to love. Danielle raising the stakes while being absolutely terrifying. Heartfelt goodbyes. And the entire community joining together to launch the raft, their best, unified hope for getting off the island – ironically, branded with the Oceanic logo. It’s a symbol of what they’ve overcome, and how far they’ve gone together. It’s the best of humanity. It’s what Lost is all about.
Sage: “Exodus Part 1” has everything that I’m responding to the most about Lost packed in one episode. We get the sense of menace and mystery from Rosseau walking straight onto the beach with her guns and spouting some scary nonsense that she refuses to fully explain. There are some really lovely character moments, including Jin and Sun’s affectionate, regretful goodbye and Walt gifting Vincent to (the undeserving) Shannon because he’s “a good listener.” The flashbacks don’t include a crashing plane, which I appreciate. And who wouldn’t be moved by all of the survivors banding together to get the raft out on the water while Michael Giacchino’s score explodes in the background?
Kim: Definitely “Do No Harm.” I love me a good medical emergency and this one has TWO. This episode has the highest of stakes, and this is where Lost truly excels, when they just let the characters GO, you know? I love how after teasing all season that they would kill one of the main ensemble, they actually followed through on it. (BYE BOONE DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT.) I love the whole circle of life of it all contrasting Boone’s death and Aaron’s birth. I love how so many characters get moments to shine in what is theoretically a Jack-centric episode. It’s a perfect episode of Lost.
- Least Favorite Episode?
Kim: I think “Born to Run” is the weakest episode of the season, and my least favorite for multiple reasons. One, it’s sandwiched between two far superior episodes in “The Greater Good” and “Exodus: Part One,” so it’s weaknesses are far more glaring. Second, the layering upon layering of creating this mystery of “OMG what did Kate do?” does not hold up for me in retrospect, and I think they made a bad call in essentially telling her whole story backwards. It’s like, you keep trying to make her interesting by saying she was this RUTHLESS criminal but everything about it is counteracted by Evie’s performance and her innate warmth. Plus, you already have the better “criminal with a heart of gold” story in Sawyer!
Shannon: Ugh, from the highs of “Exodus” to the lows of “Whatever the Case May Be.” I’m bored just thinking about it, honestly. The B plot is great, what with Sayid and Shannon translating the French maps and all the island goings-on, but the flashback is so painfully dull. And making a bank robbery dull is a real feat! But that’s just the kind of skill we can expect from a Kate Austen plot line. I’m not here for her fake out of those poor people in the bank. I’m not here for all her weird disguises. I’m just not here for it! Take your toy airplane and go home.
Sage: Whichever one it is when Shannon and Boone have their Flowers in the Attic moment. “Hearts and Minds,” I think?
And it’s not just the incest, though I’m scarred by that scene and the going-out top that Shannon wears to go and seduce her stepbrother. I’m just fatally uninterested in anything concerning either of them.
- Favorite Character?
Sage: It’s gotta be Locke, right? Does everyone say Locke? I’m new here, so I’m sorry if this is a basic answer.
It’s inevitable that with a cast of characters this large, some are going to be better written than others. And Lost is of its time in that it was written to be consumed week-to-week. My frustrations with the broadness of some of the castaways is born out of binge-watching it, where I don’t need to be reminded every other episode that Hurley is kind of a man-child and Jack hates his dad. But the original audience needed to be, perhaps, especially in Season 1. Lost asks for pretty significant buy-in—they had to take it easy on their fans in at least one aspect.
Anyhoo, Locke is still the best one. Terry O’Quinn’s performance is surgically precise, and it’s such a genuine delight not to have any idea what he’s going to do next.
Honorable mention to Sun and Yunjin Kim, because she’s so elegantly heartbreaking in that role.
Kim: Normally, I am 100% a Sawyer stan, and I still am when I look at the series as a whole and how that character comes into his own in the latter seasons. But looking JUST at season one, after thinking long and hard, I’m going with Sayid this time. He’s been a revelation to me in this rewatch. Naveen Andrews can pivot from quiet dignity to terrifying ferocity on a dime and he also elevates any scene he’s in. It’s no wonder that he scored an Emmy nomination for this season. In retrospect, Sayid should have been the de facto leader of the castaways. He’s more level headed than Jack, who makes so many decisions emotionally, and GOD based on the one scene in “The Greater Good” where he’s like no more bullshit, John, I would have loved to see him go toe to toe with Locke over the years. Plus he’s! So! Freaking! Handsome!
Shannon: It’s Sayid Jarrah. It will always be Sayid Jarrah. My first time through Lost, I didn’t settle on a favorite immediately, but when I was closing in on the series finale and I asked myself that pivotal fandom question, my heart said Sayid. And this time, from the moment he appeared in the Pilot, I was all in. Naveen Andrews is exceptional in his portrayal at every single moment, which almost goes without saying in a cast this strong. And while I love so many things about Sayid, what I want to underscore in the first season is his unique combination of stone cold facts and an open heart. It’s never more clear than in his compassion for Danielle, especially when she takes off with Aaron. He knows Danielle is in pain, and he treats her with the same care he treats Claire. But at the same time, he has consistently shown that he will take no shit and suffer no fools. There’s no one I’d rather be stranded on an island with.
- Least Favorite Character?
Sage: Shannon! And! Boone!
I understand why it might seem like a no-brainer to put some shitty, entitled rich kids on that island so that they can learn about empathy and become better people or whatever, but it unfortunately means we have to watch them do those things.
Also their back story is gross and weird. I don’t know how they made it into the cool island clique (and Arzt didn’t!). That Shannon hooks up with Sayid just by virtue of being pretty and young is offensive to him, honestly. And – to put it as nicely as I possibly can – the acting is not great.
Kim: Shannon. I do wonder if I would have liked her better if there had been a better actress in the role? Because we’ve all seen good actors rise above weak writing and manage to make their characters likable. But when you have weak writing AND weak acting? It’s a no from me. ALSO SHE DOESN’T DESERVE SAYID.
Shannon: Shannon. Obviously. Doing undue harm to my name, on the regular.
- Most Underutilized Character?
Sage: I don’t know that I’d say she was underutilized this season, but I’m eager to see Sun out from under the shadow of Jin. She’s so capable and strong and level-headed but with this deep interiority that I want to see more of.
Kim: Jin. While he starts to come into his own in the back third of the season, I feel like there’s a big ole chunk in the middle where he goes missing? Which is a shame because Daniel Dae Kim is SO compelling in the role.
Shannon: It might sound strange to say Kate, when she gets so much to do practically, but she’s written so inconsistently that her characterization just isn’t effective. Which is a waste! The ping-ponging of her behavior is dependent on if she’s spending time with Jack or Sawyer, and while that’s probably meant to imply that she’s a mysterious chameleon, all it actually does is keep her from making any inroads with the audience OR the plot.
- Favorite cameo?
Sage: I yelled “CAM” in my living room like the rabid Bones fan that I am when Tamara Taylor showed up, so let’s go with that.
I am not a fan of her character, who treated Michael (and her own son!) like trash.
Kim: I didn’t know who he was then, but watching now, I got a big kick out of seeing Jeff Perry aka Thatcher Grey/Cyrus Beene as the ill-fated man Sawyer thought was HIS Sawyer in “Outlaws.” He has a pretty steady relationship with ABC, doesn’t he? Bless him.
Shannon: This one is a bit of a cheat, but did everyone catch Hurley on TV at poor Mr. Han’s house during “…In Translation?” We don’t have to wait long to discover what Hurley was doing on TV in the first place, but the intersection of all the survivor’s lives before they land on the island is one of my very favorite things and this is SO well done.
- Best Flashback?
Shannon: For me, “Numbers” is the ultimate Season One flashback. Hurley has mostly been a light hearted character up until this point – which is not to say he’s insignificant! Building the golf course is a shining moment and it says so much about Hurley that he knows everyone needed that release and that he took action to give it to his companions. But it does lend a different intensity to his character when you realize that he’s been living with a literal curse over his head. My favorite thing about this flashback is the insistent layering of 4 – 8 – 15 – 16 – 23 – 42. Once you see them, you can’t un-see them. They’re everywhere, on the island, in flashbacks, on the plane itself! The numbers are my very favorite throughline and they come to us through Hurley, and for that, I love his flashback most of all.
Sage: It’s hard to pick, since all of them involve one of our castaways either being mistreated or mistreating someone else. But the first moment of pure shock I experienced watching this season was when it was revealed that Locke used a wheelchair prior to the crash.
Kim: I’m going to go with “In Translation” because I really liked seeing what was ACTUALLY going on with Jin during “House of the Rising Sun” and how it completely changed his character for me. The scene with his father absolutely kills me and the episode really is the beginning of the turnaround for Jin and GOD that turnaround happens FAST. Plus, the pun lover in me REALLY just goes for “Lost…In Translation” because that’s Sun and Jin in season one to a TEE.
- Favorite Ship?
Sage: Charlie and Claire are very pure and I’m not looking forward to Charlie ruining it by starting to use again.
That said, I’m tiring of him being constantly called on to defend and/or avenge her. Claire gave birth to a baby on a deserted island without the assistance of any modern medicine – I’m pretty sure she can handle herself. THAT said, it is very sweet that he’s a friend to her first and has given her space since she arrived back at camp.
Shannon: My punk rock kid and favorite Aussie lady, obviously! They both feel like outcasts on the island, Charlie because of his addiction and Claire because of her pregnancy. They both feel like they’re treated differently from the rest of the survivors, and they both just have fragile, open hearts. I’m a sucker for a young, alt couple in trouble, and Claire and Charlie radiate that energy. They’re fierce and loving and supportive and not to be underestimated, both separately and as a unit.
Kim: CHARLIE AND CLAIRE 5EVA! Good old PB&J (Pregnant Babe & Junkie, and yes, they had that ship name before Jim and Pam did) remain the purest of the pure. Dom and Emilie have such a lovely chemistry that feels organic, like they didn’t plan for this pairing until they saw how these actors played off each other. THAT’S how ships work, rather than having them shoved down our throats like Jack and Kate.
That being said, Sayid/Sawyer is the enemies to lovers ship that we all deserve. There is such a PALPABLE undercurrent between them that I really can’t believe I didn’t pick up on back in the day. It’s SO HOT.
- Best Shipper Moment?
Sage: Every time Sawyer gets into it with another guy and comes thisclose to kissing him.
Kim: Charlie bringing Claire the imaginary jar of peanut butter to convince her to move to the caves is! So! Sweet! It’s the best bloody peanut butter we’ve ALL tasted.
Shannon: If your heart doesn’t melt at the absolute beauty and tragedy and hope and sadness of Charlie pretending he’s found Claire a jar of peanut butter, I do not know what to do with you.
- Best Warm Fuzzy?
Sage: Jin stopped talking to Sun because he wanted to protect her from the pain of knowing what her father was capable of. Sun took English lessons so that she could break free of Jin. Communication is such a huge theme not only for those characters relating to the other castaways but also as it pertains to them relating to each other. So when Sun handmakes Jin a phrase book to help him learn English, it’s a beautiful expression of love and trust.
Kim: I will always love Hurley making the golf course and getting everyone (even Sawyer!) to participate in something “normal.” It was the first moment where the castaways really started to LIVE together, as opposed to just trying to survive, and you can feel the whole group take a collective sigh of relief that life can go on. Sure, there are smoke monsters and polar bears and Others running loose, but there is also golf. In 2020, when I’ve been cooped up in my apartment since mid-March, not venturing further from it than the radius of a 20 minute walk, cut off from almost everything that makes me feel like a human being, that scene hits way differently now than it did back then.
Shannon: The thing that gets me about Sawyer deciding to tell Jack that he met Christian in a bar back in Australia is that it was not a given. The audience knows Sawyer and Christian met; we’ve known for a while. And by now we’ve had enough flashbacks to understand just how strained Christian and Jack’s relationship was, and how much that phone call would have meant to Jack, had Christian been able to make it. Sawyer is a complicated man with a good heart, but most of the first season doesn’t show us that. So when he finally calls Jack back during their goodbye and delivers that stunning monologue about this doctor he met back in Sydney, it’s not something to be taken for granted. It’s a gift, in every sense of the word.
- Thirstiest Moment?
Sage: I’m not even a Jack girl, but I have to admit that I felt things when he tapped his own vein to give Boone a blood transfusion.
Kim: 100% it’s Sayid in chains, tied up to Danielle’s bed with his skin glistening with sweat in “Solitary,” right? Right? During our watch, Sage tweeted me asking if she could expect this level of bondage for the rest of the series, and quite frankly, I haven’t been able to get that image out of my head since.
Shannon: Literally every time Sayid is in a tank top. Which is…every time Sayid is on screen. Sorry, did I neglect to mention in that whole “favorite character” section that he’s fuuuuuucking hot?? My bad. He’s FUCKING HOT.
- Right in the Feels Moment?
Sage: Anything dog-related and I am a wailing mess. So nothing hit me harder than Vincent bounding into the ocean after the raft launched, forcing Walt to command him to stay. Like…I can’t believe you guys made me watch that with my own two eyes.
Kim: Is it cheating if I just say the ENTIRE launching of the raft sequence in “Exodus: Part One.” I forgot how emotional it is! I was doing fine just enjoying the episode and then all of the sudden I am BAWLING. It has everything! From the emotional wallop of Sun and Jin’s goodbye to Vincent trying to chase the raft like the GOOD BOY he is to the way that goddamn Giacchino score swells, it’s a non-stop emotional rollercoaster. I would actually wager it’s one of the best sequences of the entire series, not just the season.
Shannon: I could have picked so many of Jin and Sun’s moments for this answer, but at the end of the day, it’s got to be Jin giving Sun a white flower at the airport, just as he did when they were first falling in love. After all they’d been through, after the distance and the secrets that have driven them so far away from each other, they’re both still in it. They both still love each other deeply, and they always will.
- Best WHAT THE FUCK Moment?
Sage: Even I, a newbie, knew that the boys on the boat were not going to get far. But I didn’t know how their dreams of rescue would be dashed.
The scene where the Others pull up is beautifully orchestrated and so, so creepy.
“Only, the thing is, we’re gonna have to take the boy.”
Motherfucking CHILLS, y’all.
Kim: The Ethan reveal at the end of “Raised by Another” is fucking MASTERFUL. It’s so well done because they perfectly take advantage of the fact that there are so many more people in camp than our core group. They sprinkle him in during “Solitary,” so you really think he is just another Scott or Steve before we even know the concept of other people possibly being on the Island. It’s such a great “OH SHIT” moment when they intercut Hurley running into the caves with the manifest saying someone wasn’t on the plane and an injured Sayid stumbling in saying “We’re not alone” and Ethan stopping Charlie and Claire in the jungle and both of THEM realizing at the same time they are in trouble, with smol Hobbit Charlie pulling her into his side protectively. I’m still shook just thinking about it.
Shannon: I love Walt so much and I love his relationship with John Locke in the early days on the island. He’s sweet, he’s relatable, he feels like an actual 10-year old kid. But can we talk about Walt telling John Locke, with ZERO CONTEXT or awareness of its existence, not to open the hatch?!?!? Not to mention Walt’s OWN fear at the message he finds himself giving to John out of absolutely nowhere?? The PHRASING of “Don’t open it, Mr. Locke! Don’t open that thing!” The DELIVERY of it! The way John physically reacts! WHAT DO YOU KNOW, WALT!! AND HOW DO YOU KNOW IT!! WHAT IS IN THAT HATCH??
- Favorite Weird Island Happening?
Shannon: Lost wastes no time in introducing the audience to the weird fucking shit that happens on this island. I was torn on this answer because Weird Island Happenings are some of my very favorite plot points, but ultimately, I have to give it to the polar bear we meet in the second half of the Pilot. Because lest we forget. The PILOT. Has a polar bear! Lost does not want to let the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 OR the audience get comfortable. This is not just a regular old island. This is an island with polar bears and smoke monsters and weird! Ass! Shit! So give it up to our first polar bear friend for setting the stage and telling us what we’re in for. Sorry Sawyer had to shoot you.
Sage: Cheating a bit because this isn’t island-specific, but I do love a supernatural kid who freaks out adults (and The Shining), and I want to know how Walt knows all the things.
Kim: How! Did! The! Island! Cure! John’s! Paralysis!
- Best use of the episode title in a script?
Sage: “The greater good” reminds me of Hot Fuzz, which is a rad movie, so I’ll go with the Sayid flashback episode where he fails miserably at simultaneously being a CIA informant and protecting a friend with very bad judgment.
Shannon: The thing that gets me about “The Greater Good” and its working into the episode’s script is that it’s such a manipulation, on so many levels. It’s a phrase that has been used by powerful people to manipulate those who are struggling for centuries, and it’s a motivating factor that’s just as relevant and dangerous on the island as it was for Sayid and Essam back in Sydney.
Kim: I feel like most of the time dropping in the episode title usually falls to John Locke because really, he’s the only character that can pull it off and make it feel organic. It may be heavy-handed, but for me, the one that sticks out the most is his monologue in “The Moth” because it speaks so much to Charlie’s character, and his own.
- Favorite Sawyer nickname of the season?
Sage: I find Sawyer’s characterization a little exhausting at times (and he is so over-written in Season 1 that it makes me clench), but his nicknames for Charlie have made me chuckle. None more than this one:
“So a tribe of evil natives planted a ringer in the camp to kidnap a pregnant girl and a reject from VH-1 Has-Beens? Yeah, fiendishly clever. And why am I getting the evening news from a six-year-old?”
Also, has Sawyer ever seen a six-year-old?
Kim: I’m sorry if I am basic, but I am always and forever a sucker for “Freckles,” you guys, I can’t help it.
Shannon: I love me some Sawyer, but I cringed at more of his nicknames this season than I remembered. Still, there’s some fucking great ones – and the high water mark is him dubbing Jin and Michael “Chewie and Han.” It’s just. So great!
Sum up your feelings about the season in a paragraph
Sage: I’m coming to this (finally) after having very recently watched The Leftovers for the first time and also Watchmen, as it was airing. So it’s interesting to look at it in the terms of the Damon Lindelof oeuvre, even though he was just one of a few driving creative forces behind Lost. Those other shows are also heavy on the theatrics but more restrained where it counts – a maturity that comes with time. It’s also striking to look back at something that doesn’t seem all that old and reflect on how quickly prestige TV norms took hold. Lost is definitely a bridge in that area, but the dialogue is still a little clunky, the plot over-explained even when they don’t tell you what exactly is happening. Along the way, I’m actively rejecting a lot of what this season is trying to sell me: for example, Jack and Kate are our conventionally attractive white leads, but they’re also among the most boring, muddled characters. (Note that this is the first time I’ve even mentioned Kate in my answers. Jesus be a Nora Durst!) It’s a nutritious meal with interesting and unexpected flavors that somebody left in the oven a little too long. In other words, pretty damn good for 2004. (But you should all watch The Leftovers once we’re done here.)
Shannon: I have so much affection for Lost. As with so many shows, it’s forever tied into the time I first watched it: not live, but on then-new-friend, now-life-friend’s DVD’s shortly after moving to New York. I let myself mentally live on the island for weekends at a time, piled onto their ratty old couch, getting swept away by the mystery and the characters and the cliffhangers. They were old pro’s and I was the newbie, gasping at every reveal and crying at the drop of a hat. This is my first rewatch since then, and I’m happy to say I’m having the exact same reaction now.
This is a fan-fucking-tastic season of television. I have just as much excitement as I did the first time through, if not more so. I get shivers every time one of the numbers appears. I cried when the light of the Hatch turned on. I get wistful whenever two people who now depend on each other to survive cross paths in the airport, never expecting what they’ll face down together. The mystery of the island WORKS for me. I’m on board 110%. And yes, ultimately, it’s about the characters. It’s about these strangers who are thrown into an impossible situation, far outside their realm of understanding, who have to work together to get through the fucking day. Not every character is great and complex and fascinating, but the vast majority of them ARE. It’s an ensemble in every sense of the word. It’s imperfect and it’s beautiful and I love it.
Kim: When I think about “perfect” seasons of television, season one of Lost always comes to mind. Look, I know I’m never going to be objective about this show. I know my feelings and nostalgia are always gonna cloud any criticism. I’ve watched it from day one, setting my VCR to record the pilot because it had my favorite hobbit in it and that was enough for me to add it to my potential television schedule. (It was before the advent of the DVR when we still all relied on video tapes and programming your TV can you IMAGINE?) The show had my heart within the first two minutes and it’s never really given it back. Seriously, miss me with the whole the show never delivered on the promise of the first season bullshit!
I feel like Lost helped usher in a whole new era of television, and looking back, I can’t believe it aired on ABC and not HBO. It’s like the Xennial of television shows: born in the era of watercooler TV where you had to watch it on Wednesday night or you’d be fucked but coming of age in the explosion of social media with the birth of spoiler culture and the instant gratification of live tweeting. Season One definitely existed in the watercooler era and for me, that brings it an untenable sense of purity that can’t be replicated. Does it have flaws? Of course it does. Does it still hold up as a thrilling and compelling adventure sixteen years later?
Of course it does.
Are you a Lost fan? Track the tag #GuysWhereAreWe on Twitter! We just started Season Two!