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Lost Season One: Exodus

on Mon, 08/16/2010 - 00:00

The first season of the ABC drama Lost was one of indoctrination for fans of the series as much as it was for the characters on the show. While the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 had to adjust to being marooned on a mysterious island with a rapidly fading chance of rescue, viewers were left with the equally challenging task of becoming acquainted with the sprawling cast of 14 regulars and numerous supporting characters. Fortunately it was the fans who had an easier time as Lost utilized flashbacks within its narrative to complement its main storylines and more fully introduce the Jack Shephards, Kate Austins and John Lockes of the series.

There was also plenty of action and mystery to go along with those introductions. In the very first episode alone, it was discovered that the island contained a tree-crunching monster and polar bears living within its habitat, as well as a message for help from a French woman that had been repeating for 16 years. As the season went along it was further revealed that the woman, Danielle Rousseau, was still alive and well—if not a little bit crazy—and that an unseen group of “Others” also apparently called Lost Island home. Well, mostly unseen. One of them infiltrated the survivor’s camp and kidnapped the pregnant Claire Littleton while leaving washed-up rock star Charlie Pace left for dead. Claire eventually escaped her captivity, however, and Other Ethan Rom was killed by Charlie before he could answer any questions.

While the unanswered mysteries continued to rack up, the remaining Lostaways were left to both survive their foreign environment as well as attempt to achieve rescue from it. Dr. Jack Shephard, the reluctant leader of the group, headed up the survival end by locating water, shelter and tending to the wounded. The rescue mission, meanwhile, was led by Sayid Jarrah, who attempted to boost a radio signal but was sabotaged in the process, and Michael Dawson, who used his artistic and construction worker background to build a raft for passage off the island.

By the time the season finale, entitled “Exodus,” rolled around the series was fully focused on three main storylines—the launching of Michael’s raft, the fact that the Others were apparently still interested on laying claim to Claire’s newly born son and a mysterious hatch discovered in the jungle by John Locke. But the producers of Lost also made sure that the spotlight was again on the characters as the flashbacks featured the entire cast and served as a testament to how far each of them had progressed in a relatively short period of time.

“Three days ago we all died,” Jack Shephard told Kate Austin earlier in the season. “We should all be able to start over.” It was an observation that each of the survivors apparently took to heart. Korean couple Jin and Sun Kwon, for example, had lived a life of married deceit before the crash—Jin was employed as a corporate thug by Sun’s wealthy father while his wife secretly learned English and planned to leave her husband. As the season progressed, their shaky relationship first imploded only to then show faint signs of recovery by the finale when it was revealed that Jin had his own plans for the two to escape their previous lives while Sun realized her feelings for her male counterpart were still strong.

James “Sawyer” Ford, on the other hand, was a loner conman intent on seeking revenge against the man responsible for the death of his parents and evoked a level of contempt and scorn that instantly made him an outcast amongst his fellow Lostaways. But although his reasons for joining Michael’s raft trip no doubt included a selfish desire to leave the island, Sawyer still displayed a determination to prove his self-worth on the trip as well as showcased his softer side. Not only did he briefly bond with Michael over a shared appreciation for Bob Marley but he also showed sympathy and compassion for his on-island rival Jack Shephard when Sawyer told the spinal surgeon that he had met Jack’s now-deceased father at a bar while in Australia.

Then there was Claire Littleton. Her initial reaction when she discovered that she was pregnant was to have an abortion but her boyfriend proposed that they have the baby instead. When he inevitably abandoned her, Claire considered putting the baby up for adoption but an obsessed psychic insisted she had to raise the child herself. He eventually relented, saying he had found a suitable couple in Los Angeles to adopt the baby, thus leading Claire onto her path of crashing on Lost Island.

Claire ultimately evolved into a loving and caring mother to her newly born son but the French woman Danielle Rousseau appeared in the season finale to proclaim that the Others were coming to once again take the baby. The announcement put in motion three concurrent plans—launch the raft as soon as possible, find a way into John Locke’s hatch in the hopes of finding protection, and relocating the remaining survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 from the beach to the more secure caves. Sayid led the latter but was foiled when Rousseau herself stole Claire’s baby. Apparently 16 years earlier the Others had taken the French woman’s infant daughter and Rousseau gambled that the unseen inhabitants of the island would be willing to exchange Claire’s baby for the now teenaged Alex.

While Claire struggled with the loss of her child, another parent—Michael Dawson—was intent on protecting his 10-year-old son Walt. The boy’s mother had raised Walt independently from his biological father but when she suddenly died in Australia, New York resident Michael inherited a son he hadn’t seen in close to a decade. Flashbacks in “Exodus” portrayed the newly anointed father as unwilling to accept the parental task. Their time together on the island, however, forged a fatherly bond between them nonetheless. In fact, the entire idea of building a raft stemmed from Michael’s desire to find rescue for his newly found son.

Unfortunately the Others had other plans. Although Rousseau was correct in her assessment that they were coming for “the boy,” the child in question was not Claire’s baby. Thus while Sayid was eventually able to rescue the child from the French woman, Michael had no such luck of keeping his son from harm’s way as the Others not only took Walt but blew up the raft in the process—leaving Michael floating in the water while screaming his son’s name at the top of his lungs.

Of all the characters on Lost, John Locke was the one who embraced his new surroundings and experienced the most profound change from the person he had been pre-crash. Crippled and confined to a wheelchair for four years before boarding Oceanic Flight 815, he suddenly found himself able to walk again upon his arrival on the island. But the transition was deeper than merely physical. A sad sack loser his entire life—he even bounced around foster homes as a child—this new John Locke was a Great White Hunter capable of bringing down a boar with a single blade, an expert tracker able to maneuver his way around the island and even an amateur weatherman capable of predicting rain within a minute of its occurrence. He also became a man obsessed with the secrets of the island who held a strong belief in its mystical abilities, a conviction that only grew stronger when Locke and fellow Lostaway Boone Carlisle found a hatch buried deep in the jungle. His failed attempts to open it indirectly led to Boone’s death and in effect isolated Locke from Jack Shephard, who saw the man as reckless if not worse.

A truce developed between the two when Rousseau appeared on the beach with her message of gloom and doom, and Jack sensed that the hatch could potentially provide safety from the Others. It was an uneasy truce, however, as “Exodus” demonstrated that there was a deep philosophical difference separating Jack and Locke—one was a man of science, while the other a man of faith—and that gap appeared to be irreconcilable.

The opening of the hatch was further clouded by the large and loveable Hugo “Hurley” Reyes. Although often a much needed source of comic relief on Lost, the resident Big Guy also had an intriguing backstory that directly related to the mythology of the show—Hurley hit the lottery for over $100 million by playing a set of numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42) that originated from the island. More significantly, he believed the numbers to be cursed as he had experienced nothing but bad luck since his windfall. His grandfather, for instance, died shortly thereafter, then the priest presiding over the subsequent funeral was hit by lightning and his brother’s wife eventually left for another woman. Thus when Hurley spotted those same six numbers etched on the side of the hatch he frantically attempted to stop Jack and Locke from opening it.

Using dynamite recovered from an ancient sea vessel marooned on the island, however, Hurley’s comrades still succeeded in blowing the hatch off its base. Jack Shephard and John Locke leaned in with their torches afterwards to get a glimpse inside but viewers were inevitably left in the dark as the camera worked its way downward and the scene turned to black, saving the mystery of what lies beneath for season two.

The initial volume of the Lost epic thus ended in frustration with more than just “what’s inside the hatch” as an unanswered question. But the season also effectively introduced the numerous cast members of the series, each of whom are amongst the most complex, detailed and well-crafted characters in the history of television. While some viewers were left unsatisfied with the conclusion, the many fans that were already committed to the long haul no doubt recognized the ground breaking nature of Lost and the potential to be intellectually challenged by the series for years to come.

Which, in effect, made the first season of Lost a resounding success.

Anthony Letizia

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