Apart from movies, Television also plays a huge part in my life. This will be the start of a new series of reviews on my blog, this time focused on television shows that I have watched in the past. To start the series of reviews, I am going to write about Lost. It’s been years since I last saw the show, but with me recently purchasing the full series 1-6 box set, I decided to give the show a rewatch. Lost is a show that really divides opinion amongst viewers and is always an interesting topic to discuss. Here are my thoughts on Lost season 1. Be warned spoilers will follow in this overview.
During a commercial flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 violently crashes on a mysterious island somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. We are told there are 48 survivors of the crash, Lost focuses on a group of these characters and their attempts to fathom what is happening. We have Jack( Matthew Fox), a surgeon with a troubled past. Kate(Evangeline Lilly), a woman who is secretly on the run. Hurley(Jorge Garcia), a nice guy with an endless run of bad luck. Sawyer(Josh Holloway), a wise-cracking con man. Charlie(Dominic Monaghan), a drug addict and former rock star. Boone( Ian Somerhalder), a young man who helps run his mother’s business. Shannon( Maggie Grace), his whining stepsister. Sayid( Naveen Andrews), a former soldier in Iraq’s Republican Guard. A Korean couple, Jin( Daniel Dae Kim) and Sun(Yunjin Kim). Claire( Emilie de Ravin), a heavily pregnant Australian woman. Michael(Harold Perrineau), a construction worker and his estranged young son Walt(Malcolm David Kelley). And last but not least, the mysterious John Locke(Terry O’Quinn). The group realises that in order to survive they must work together, yet there are strange forces at play on the island. Noises are heard in the jungle. A polar bear attacks. Jumbled transmissions from a French woman that have been running for sixteen years are heard after the retrieval of the plane’s transceiver. Ominous repeating numbers. Creepy visions and whispers in the jungle. To add to this, each of our main characters has a past that is explored through flashback at some point in the season. Strange occurrences, mystical references and themes of distrust and death feature heavily throughout the narrative of each episode as the quest for survival increases and relationships are formed . Believe me the first series makes for addictive, memorable and mind-bending viewing. This series is certainly worthy of praise for its enigmatic structure and shocking revelations that emerge.
Firstly, the flashbacks provide compelling viewing as we delve into the lives of these strangers. Through them,we learn of their life before the crash and the various demons that plague their minds. The stunning and often chilling score provides us with an emotional undercurrent to the various dramas that lie ahead and the often unexplained nature of the island. The screenplay should be praised for the way it examines the past of each character and the endless cliffhangers that leave you desperate to see the next episode. We are constantly placed on the knife-edge of suspense as little by little the dangerous island slowly reveals its past. Also, the genre mixing is to be applauded. Lost is really a cornucopia of genres such as action, drama and fantasy mixed into one hugely entertaining and enigmatic piece. The repeating visuals of eyes opening and distorted camerawork really got me involved with the series and witness the wonder of these techniques in showing us the intangible nature of the strange island. Many of the moments in the series generate chills, not least the kidnapping of Claire by a strange and utterly creepy man named Ethan, who mentions that there are others on the island. Also gripping is Sayid’s encounter with the French woman on the transmission who evasively talks of her traumatic experiences upon arrival. These bits of information that the survivors are not alone really had me enthralled to see what became of it. It also seems that there is an unexplained force residing on the island that appears in episodes later on in this season known as the Man in Black .
All of the characters within Lost are in some way flawed and this makes them more interesting to watch. Certain characters stand out for me throughout this season. Matthew Fox effectively portrays Jack, who steadily becomes the leader of the group and often the voice of reason. Throughout the season, he must confront his past which involved an alcoholic father and helping those around him. Jack may be the closest thing to a hero, but also has his own demons and is forced into drastic decisions such as killing the air marshal who was bringing Kate to justice. Locke, portrayed with enigmatic skill by Terry O’Quinn, is one of the most interesting and cryptic characters. We learn that he was once wheelchair bound, but for some unknown reason he regained the use of his legs after the crash. Locke provides mystical and philosophical hints as to the island’s nature and is the one who seems most adept at hunting. He may be caring and something of a father figure to other characters, mainly Boone and young Walt, but there is something uneasy about Locke that really makes you wonder about his motives and actions. Originally, I wasn’t sure about Jin as a character. I found him to be overly controlling of his wife and refusing to help the other survivors. But when I saw his flashback, I started to realise how much of a complex guy he really is as he has worked hard to overcome his lowly roots but in turn has fell into corruption. Daniel Dae Kim plays Jin with a quiet intensity that hides his confusion of the events around him.
Sawyer, who is portrayed with cocky bad ass attitude by Josh Holloway, often provides some needed humour but also some dark revelations regarding his con man job and what drove him to it. In short, Sawyer is a complex character who is interesting to watch as the mystery unravels. Naveen Andrews essays the role of Sayid, whose smart intelligence masks a grave decision he had to make regarding the women he loved during the Gulf War. Dominic Monaghan projects humour and deep regret as the drug addicted Charlie, who always feels like the one on the outside of everything. Charlie emerges as a sympathetic character throughout the story as he forms a deep bond with Claire. Jorge Garcia provides the comic relief as the likable Hurley, who has encountered bad luck ever since winning the lottery with numbers that are cursed. Harold Perrineau plays Michael, a construction worker who has just received guardianship over his young son Walt. Throughout season 1 we watch as he attempts to become a good father to a child he barely knows. Malcolm David Kelley portrays Walt, who looks up to Locke as a father figure because he feels that his father treats him like a little kid, when in fact Walt is a very bright boy. Boone emerges as one of the most likable characters of season 1. Played with charm and honesty by Ian Somerhalder, we watch him wrestle with his feelings for Shannon and form his eventual bond with Locke, who becomes a father figure to the young man whilst teaching him the skills of survival. Boone also remains memorable for being the first main character in the series to perish on the island. His death scene is so upsetting as Jack tries everything to save him but in the end it isn’t enough. I admire the show’s use of juxtaposition as Boone succumbs and Claire gives birth, capturing the close link between life and death. The fact that Boone died because of injuries sustained when inspecting an airplane with Locke adds a whole lot of conflict to the troubled lives of those around the island.
The women of Lost are also an interesting and conflicting bunch of characters. Kate, played by the gorgeous Evangeline Lilly, is one complex character with a complicated past. She comes across to others as silent and understanding, yet she harbours wounds and is has no qualms about using people to her advantage. All that is known at this point is that she has killed someone, but the events surrounding it are cloaked in mystery. Her relationships with the moralistic Jack and the devil-may-care Sawyer form the main romantic triangle of the narrative. Kate really is shaping up to be a character of many layers and I hope the writers can expand on this in future seasons of Lost. Sun, the wife of Jin, is another complex female character. Initially distant from the others because her husband wants to isolate them with the language barrier, it is revealed that she can in fact speak English unlike her husband. She wrestles with her love for Jin, yet can’t forget how he changed after he began working for her corrupt father. Yunjin Kim subtly portrays the longing for her husband to change his ways with a moving performance.
Initially I really didn’t like the character of Shannon, I thought she was a whining brat who cared more about her looks than the others. But over the course of the season, she grew on me as I saw that she was in fact not as mean as she originally appeared. Most of this is down to the delivery of Maggie Grace, who captures her spoilt antics but shows us the vulnerability of Shannon as she attempts to survive and the burgeoning relationship she develops with Sayid. Emilie de Ravin captures the vulnerability of Claire as she has to contend with the knowledge of no one rescuing the survivors and the fact that her baby will arrive soon. The episode in which she is abducted is chilling, especially because of the look of sheer horror that appears on her face as Ethan menacingly stares at her. She later escapes from Ethan’s clutches but has no memory of what happened before this. Out of the women in the show in this series, Claire is the most likable with her sunny disposition and glowing demeanor. In the end she gives birth to a baby boy named Aaron who she worries will not be able to grow up in such a strange and dangerous environment.
As you watch the series, you start to form emotional attachments to the characters as they band together in order to fathom the strange events around them. We are invited to join in their feelings of sadness and regret. Moments of intense emotion abound but the one for me has to be when Charlie is hung from the vines of a tree and left for dead. Jack and Kate help him down and at first it appears as if Charlie has been killed by the evil Ethan. As the music swells, we watch as a tearful Jack attempts to resuscitate Charlie even though he appears to be dead. I could really feel myself panicking during this scene as Charlie had emerged as one of the most sympathetic characters and to have him die this early on in Lost’s run would have been devastating. When Charlie eventually comes around it is an emotional moment that lingers heavily in the memory as we see the bonds that have formed between the characters and how deeply they care for each other. Much the same can be said of Boone’s death which really does leave you with a lump in your throat.
I don’t think I can write anymore about the excellent season 1 because I will run out of space, but in short I will say that it is endlessly enthralling and filled with mysterious circumstances. I can’t wait to see season 2 of Lost so stay posted for a future review of it.