I’ll be spending much of the next 24 hours or so getting psyched and prepped for the final-season debut of Lost, part of which involves simply trying to remember all the story we’ve downloaded over the past five years. Which means a lot of re-watching and looking back. So what better time to pick our fave Lost episodes that have aired so far?
After the jump, my list of my ten favorite episodes—I’m not sure if they’re objectively the “best,” or the most important—in chronological order, and pretty much off the top of my head (it’s entirely possible I’ve forgotten a good one):
Pilot: Though the series evolved to become something much different, when I went back and re-watched it, I was impressed again how much the pilot set up, and how well and economically it did so.
Walkabout: The episode where Locke got his legs back, and Lost revealed that there was much more to it than first met the eye, too.
Man of Science, Man of Faith: The season-two return, which delivered on the teaser of the Hatch, and opened up the playing field for the rest of the series.
Orientation: “We’re going to need to watch that again”—this might as well be the official motto of Lost fans.
The Man Behind the Curtain: The backstory of Ben Linus, the man who went from plot device in a parachute to Lost’s most mesmerizing character.
The Brig: An underrated episode in my opinion, and a searing moment of closure—or, maybe, non-closure—for Locke and Sawyer.
Through the Looking Glass: Best season finale of any series ever?
The Constant: Probably needs no explanation to this crowd.
The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham: An episode that as much as anything set in place Lost’s endgame, while bringing a heartbreaking end—of sorts—to the tragic character of John Locke.
LaFleur: Once again, what could have been a jump-the-shark risk for Lost—sending half the principals back in time to 1977—becomes richly rewarding both in story and in character, as Sawyer finds a peace that we and he know can’t last.
A few honorable mentions, in no order: The Other 48 Days, Exposé (sue me, I liked the Nikki and Paolo experiment!), ?, Live Together, Die Alone, The Long Con, The Variable
I tried to spread the list around among the seasons somewhat, but I was struck, having put it together, that the much-maligned season three actually contains many of my favorite episodes, while the much-praised (including by me) season four—which was probably stronger than season three as a season—has only one individual episode that made my list. (“The Shape of Things to Come,” for instance, was a mind-blower in terms of mythology, but I don’t recall loving it that much as an individual piece.)
[Update: Mrs. Tuned In reminds me of another overlooked favorite, the season one “Raised By Another,” a creepy, X-Files-ish flashback in which we get Claire’s backstory, which may be especially worth revisiting with Claire returning in season 6. Also, we learn Hurley’s real name!]