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Pilot, Part 1 and 2

January 23, 2010

Even though I’ve seen these two episodes at least 6 or 7 times, the opening never fails to thrill me. LOST is the only show I’ve seen that consistently draws an emotional response out of me, and most of this is due to smaller character moments. When I saw these two episodes for the first time, the thing that impressed me more than anything else was the small character moments. This was apparently at the time the most expensive pilot ABC ever greenlighted, and with all the budget, the producers/writers/directors still felt the necessity to include small character moments to let the viewer know who these people were.

A few examples of this include Hurley giving Claire the tray of airline food, walking away, and then returning to give her an extra one, presumably because she is pregnant. Another is Sawyer reading the letter, and then choosing to join the hike. His, “I’m a complex guy, sweetheart” comment verbalizes the inner conflict he must have been going through at this point. We know later what the letter says, but we now know that it has enough of an impact on him to get him to join the group, which he does here for the first time.

But my personal favorite scene of the pilot, and which still remains in my top ten moments of the series is when Sun unbuttons the top button of her blouse. After having seen Jin as being controlling and domineering, this small act of defiance on Sun’s part wordlessly spoke volumes about her character, and was my first real indication of how great the show would end up being. In fact, at least three of my personal top ten scenes are small wordless character moments that for some might be considered throwaway scenes. But amidst the adventure, mystery and science fiction aspects of the series, these small moments ground everything in the characters and their relationships to one another.

I could go on about seeming contradictions between what is shown in season one relative to later seasons, or delve deeply into the foreshadowing, but I’m sure I could spend days reading these same comments all over the internet. Suffice it to say, the scene between Locke and Walt with the backgammon board holds almost more resonance than everything else that happens in the pilot episode. It’s the first reference to the light and dark (which is obviously made explicit in the season 5 premiere with the introduction of Jacob and his nemesis), as well as some indication that both Locke and Walt might be special. Locke had earlier been shown to be enigmatic even this early, when the rain begins, and instead of taking cover as everyone else had done, he smiles and stretches out his arms, almost embracing it. Knowing what comes later, it seems as if Locke is being baptised by the island, or having his past (or his sins) washed away.

When Walt takes an interest in him, and accepts his mother’s death in such a matter of fact fashion, it almost seems already that Walt is different than most kids his age. And this beginning of a relationship between the characters, especially Locke’s secret, bears fruit later in the struggle between Locke and Michael over Walt. Michael is trying to reconnect with the son he never knew (referenced by Walt telling Locke about living with his mother in Australia, and by Michael’s quickly correcting his mistake when asked how old Walt is). Locke sees something more to Walt that Michael does not want to confront. But most of this is borne out in later episodes, at which point it will be referenced more fully.

On to the third episode!

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