Back in 2004 I wanted to watch Lost because I had just read Lord of the Flies in school and thought the new ABC serialized series would be an excellent, realistic take on what being stranded on an island in today's world would be like — ha! Little did I know that this show would suck me into a science fiction hatch that I could never, ever escape. What is it like to watch the Lost pilot today, almost 11 years later?
First of all, the pilot episode is two hours long. We should have known what we were getting into. I have to say, it's hard to surprise a Lost fan. This is one of the first show whose fandom latched onto and utilized the internet. We're hyper-sensitive to clues and they were meticulously logged per episode. It was truly a communal experience, which is one of the things that makes Lost so special after all these years.
The first part of the pilot covers the first hour or so after the crash, with Dr. Jack Shepherd running around and saving as many people as possible. This is unrelated to the episode or even Lost itself, but the scenes somewhat resemble Dr. Derek Shepherd's last episode of Grey's Anatomy with a very different ending— and that made it a little depressing for me to watch. One of the first people that Jack treats is his own half-sister Claire. How about that? It's not long, however, until our survivors start discovering that they haven't crash-landed on a "normal" island, whatever that may be. Here are some things I picked up.
1. The Series Opens The Same Way It Closes
Most fans recognized that the series finale mirrored the pilot. Jack is on the ground with Vincent nearby. In the pilot, his eyes open. In the finale, they close.
2. Most of the Numbers Appear
That's one of the first Easter Eggs we were trained to look for, as fans. When Jack and Kate talk to the pilot, they tell him that there are at least 48 survivors, and that the pilot woke up 16 hours after the crash. Hurley's friend was in the 104th Airborne in the Gulf War. I wonder if the writers now wish he had been in the 108th? The French transmission (Danielle Rousseau, as we'll later learn) has been playing for 16 years. Claire is nearly eight months pregnant. The only numbers that don't appear are 23 (unless you squint and catch Jack and Rose's row on the airplane, and 42.
3. I Still Don't Want To Talk About The Polar Bear
They find (and Sawyer kills) the polar bear in the second half of the pilot, and the audience hasn't stopped complaining since. I forgot that happened so early on, and seeing it again brought up all my anger. Y'all, the polar bear was not the weirdest thing on that island! This is one of the questions that was ultimately answered in later seasons! Some scientists brought animals that could survive in different climates to the island to test them. It's mean, but not that mysterious. Move on.
4. Walt Is Reading A Flash Comic
Is Walt a metahuman? This was before Disney bought Marvel Studios. Clearly ABC didn't know at the time that it would be more on-brand for him to be reading about Quicksilver.
5. The Ships Are All Wrong
The love triangle between Kate, Sawyer, and Jack is set up from the start. That's understandable — at this point they're similar in dynamic to the trios in Star Wars and Harry Potter. However, Hurley spends more time with Claire than Charlie. The former Hobbit, as we knew him at the time, spent more time with the future elf (and future IRL girlfriend) Kate.
6. The Fashion Was Very 2004
Tracking trends in tank tops and men's pants may be my favorite (albeit often cringeworthy) thing about old pilots, to be honest.
7. "I Might Throw Up On You"
Kate says this when she's stitching Jack's wound. You know what other J.J. Abrams project used this line? The 2009 Star Trek reboot. Bones says it to Kirk, who repeats it back to him in a later scene (pictured above). Is "I might/may throw up on you" the "I have a bad feeling about this" of J.J. Abrams movies, or was I supposed to be 'shipping Kirk and Bones this whole time? Either way, that's a cute connection I never noticed before!
8. The Tailies Were Set Up From The Beginning
One of the reasons that Lost fans were disappointed when, after the series finale, questions were left unanswered and random details didn't come back into play is that it's something the show did really well a lot of the time. Bernard Nadler was not a character on Lost until Season 2, yet he was planned from the start. His wife, Rose, specifically mentions that he went to the bathroom in the tail section of the plane. It's because of him that Charlie had to run to the first class bathroom for his heroin fix. This was all set up by a character that we didn't see until the second season. Doesn't that blow your mind more than the polar bear?
9. Did The Smoke Monster Kill The Pilot For Kate?
Kate wanted to go to the cockpit because the Pilot was one of the few people on the plane who knew her criminal identity, and she was probably going to kill him to ensure his silence. Luckily, old Smokie the Monster got to him first. Did he do that because Kate is a "candidate"? That's so sweet!
10. Almost All Of First Class Died
Was this to prevent class warfare on the Island? The only two people who were supposed to be in First Class but weren't are Shannon and Boone, who are the sweetest. Shannon may annoy her brother, and Ian Somerholder may be a far cry from Damon Salvatore in this role, but in the Lost pilot both of them ultimately just want to help.
11. Michael's First Line Is "WALT"
12. Sawyer Was Such A Jerk
In one of his first scenes, Sawyer is attacking Sayid because he thinks he crashed the plane. Racist! Then Michael jumps in to show everyone the handcuffs that Walt found. Not the time, dude. Classic Lost. After seven years of character development, it's hard for me to remember and deal with the fact that Sawyer started off problematic as all get out. On the other hand, you can also spy Sawyer looking at the letter he wrote to the "real" Sawyer as a kid in the pilot.
13. Locke Is Super Creepy
Remember what a weirdo he was? Before we knew what Locke knew (that the Island healed him and was therefore special), old baldy just seemed like a creeper.
14. The Supernatural Was Turned Down
In case you forgot, I wanted to watch this show because I had just read Lord of the Flies in school and thought Lost would be more like that. Ha! Little did I know it would get super supernatural. However, the pilot gives us a glimpse of the smoke monster, the polar bear, music I now recognize as ominous, and Danielle Rousseau's message, but otherwise it's pretty tame compared to later seasons in terms of weird.
15. It's Feminist as Hell
The criminal everyone needs to be scared of is Kate. She has a great line in her first confrontation with Sawyer : "No girl's exactly like me." I love it! Claire, Rose, and Sun are absolute champions. You can tell that something up with Sun and Jin from the start. Meanwhile, Shannon loudly protests her right to find comfort in girly things like nail polish, bosses Boone around, and ends up helping by translating Danielle's message.
16. I Have A Lot of Feelings About Lost
That's the real takeaway here. Most of my favorite characters (Faraday, Juliet, Ana-Lucia, Desmond) don't appear for years, yet I still found myself full of feels for the survivors. I vehemently did not ship Jack and Kate while the show was airing, yet my heart sung a little bit during their meet-cute. It made me sad watching Charlie and Boone struggle, when it only gets better for a little while.
Most, I realized that there will never be another show like Lost.
Images: ABC (screengrabs); Giphy (8); mastertook (6), mrjameslafleur,/Tumblr