“Pilot, Part I”
Originally aired September 22, 2004
It’s been three weeks since the season three finale of Lost. How are you holding up?
Here’s the thing. February 2008. Do you know how far away that is? It’s roughly 35 weeks or so. Which is a REALLY long time. Crazy long. What are we supposed to do for 35 weeks, for chrissakes? So You Think You Can Dance just isn’t that good. Also? No smoke monsters. Dark days ahead, my friends. Dark days.
To get us through these troubling times, we have decided to look back and revisit the first season of Lost. I’m going to have to establish some ground rules, though. The thing is, these entries will be a little different from the season 3 entries, and for a very specific reason: I’ve seen all these episodes before. Multiple times. I’ve read the transcripts, I’ve poured over screen captures, I’ve thought about them WAY TOO MUCH. So, as such, I’m not going to pretend that this is the first time I’ve seen an episode, and I am going to end up spoiling events that happen in future episodes. Sorry! But I don’t know that I’m capable of pretending that I don’t know how some of these things end up, so if you haven’t seen the episodes, get thee to a DVD collection post haste, and then come back and read along.
Go on! I’ll wait.
Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
Which in the very thought renews the fear.
So bitter is it, death is little more;
But of the good to treat, which there I found,
Speak will I of the other things I saw there.
I cannot well repeat how there I entered,
So full was I of slumber at the moment
In which I had abandoned the true way.
The entire series begins with a close-up of the opening of a closed eye:
Jack’s right eye to be exact. And he’s woken up someplace … strange. Particularly strange for a man dressed in a dark suit complete with tie: he’s in a large patch of bamboo, and there are A LOT of weird noises, jungle noises, all around him. Where IS he? There’s a rustling nearby, and Jack, understandably alarmed, turns to see a yellow lab coming toward him (hi, Vincent!). Jack stands, checks his left side, and is clearly wounded. But it’s cool because he pulls out one of those cute airline mini booze bottles of vodka from his right side pocket. Yo, Jack. You’re going to be soooo happy you had that in your pocket. F’reals. In fact, you might want to just drink that puppy now before you go check out what’s going on.
Lost note: Jack’s awakening scene is recreated almost exactly with Locke in “Further Instructions” after the hatch blow. He wakes up disoriented in the jungle; sees something run by (Desmond); is wounded (can’t talk); and then goes on to save someone else (Eko).
Run, Jack, run!
Jack runs through the jungle right past a pristine white tennis shoe, strangely dangling from a stalk of bamboo.
Lost note: Is this one of the shoes that Christian wears when he makes his appearance in “White Rabbit?”
This image of a shoe dangling from a tree is repeated in Nikki and Paulo’s episode from season 3 “Expose.” When the survivors find Paulo’s body in the jungle, they also find his shoe hanging mysteriously from a nearby tree. What’s up with the shoes? We’ll get to that …
When he emerges from the bamboo and shoe forest, Jack learns that he’s on a beautiful tropical beach! Hooray! But there may be some hysterical screaming nearby. Oh no! Jack stumbles down the shore a little to find himself in the midst of a Bosch-esque nightmare of an airplane crash. There’s fire and smoke and screaming and bodies and just pure chaos.
We catch glimpses of people who will become much more important to us down the road: there’s Charlie walking just a little too close to an airplane engine; there are Michael and Jin each screaming; there’s Shannon in some sort of sparkly pink jacket, also screaming. Jack takes note of the airplane’s wing making some rather ominous noises overhead, and then sees Some Dude trapped under a wheel mechanism (Mr. T? Do you know the technical name for that thingy?). Jack yells for help, and Locke and Some Other Dude run over and help him pull Some Dude out from underneath the wheel thingamabob. And eww. His leg is baaaad. Yuck. But before Jack can do much of anything to help Some Dude and His Leg of Grossness, Jack notices a collapsed and VERY pregnant Claire struggling nearby.
Jack RUNS! He learns that Claire is contracting, she’s 8 months pregnant and doesn’t feel very good. (O RLY?) But before Jack can help her he notices Boone …
(or Paul from the woefully under-appreciated Rules of Attraction; you gotta have faith indeed, Paul/Boone)
… attempting to perform CPR on Rose.
Meanwhile, Locke and Some Other Dude are helping Some Dude and His Leg of Grossness move, when Locke notices Yet Some Other Dude get a little too close to a still spinning turbine. Hey! warns Locke! Get away! WHAT?!! yells Yet Some Other Dude. But before Locke can explain, Yet Some Other Dude gets sucked right into the engine, which then EXPLODES! My gracious!
[Ed. Note from the Future: This shot launched a thousand theories that the smoke monster caused the crash and was on the beach making trouble. The producers claim it’s just a CGI smudge that somehow escaped detection. I continue to have my doubts, because LOOK AT THAT. But I guess we have to take their word for it because what does it cost them now to tell the truth, right?]
Lost note: Yet Some Other Dude, a.k.a. Turbine Guy, is, according to the producers, Gary Troup, the author of Bad Twin. According to information from The Lost Experience, Gary Troup was romantically involved with Cindy Chandler, the stewardess on flight 815 who is now with the Others.
Right after the turbine goes KABLOWEY, Jack grabs Hurley and asks him to watch over Claire and time her contractions. Jack’s got some savin’ to do.
Jack rushes over to Boone who is totally not performing CPR on Rose, despite all the pounding on her chest and the breathing in her mouth. Jack stops him, and explains a little snippily that Boone’s just blowing air into Rose’s stomach. Boone tries to explain that he’s a lifeguard, and then Dr. Boone suggests that they do one of those “hole things,” meaning a tracheotomy, and Jack sends him off to find a pen. Of course, this is just to get Boone out of the way so that he can save Rose, which he does. Yay Jack!
But there’s NO TIME! Because the airplane wing IS CREAKING! And Hurley and Claire are UNDERNEATH IT! And so Jack must RUN RUN RUN to save them, which he does just as the wing slams down onto something else that explodes! BLAMO! So much ‘sploding! And some huge something lands directly next to a nonplussed Charlie. Hi Charlie! I already miss you!
Lost note: The crash of 815 has been shown now from several different perspectives:
- From the Others’ perspective as they watch the plane break apart in the sky;
- From redshirts’ perspectives via Nikki and Paulo:
- And from the tail section’s perspective on the other side of the island:
In fact, the tail section version of the events following the crash is fascinating, because it mirrors so many of the events in this episode: Ana-Lucia performs CPR on Emma, as Jack does on Rose; Ana-Lucia and Libby reset a man’s leg, Jack helps a man with a leg injury. However, things turned out much worse for poor Ana-Lucia, and her leg patient. (R.I.P. Daniel, The Some Dude from the Tail Section and His Leg of Grossness, not to be confused with the original Some Dude and His Leg of Grossness.)
Now that Jack’s apparently saved everyone that needed savin’, he takes a gander inside the fuselage, but really it’s all an excuse for him to have a little man-cry. It won’t be the last time, I assure you. Boone arrives, carrying several different pens for that tracheotomy that he recommended for Rose. Paging Dr. Day-Late-Dollar-Short!
Jack finds a little miniature sewing kit in someone’s luggage and wanders back into the jungle, where he strips off his shirt (rrowr!) to examine his wound a little better. He’s got one heck of a gash on his left side but he’s having a little trouble getting a look at it. Therefore he’s awfully lucky when a plucky-looking young thing named Kate emerges from the jungle looking dazed and rubbing her wrists. Jack asks if she knows how to use a needle, if she can sew. Kate, still seeming stunned, says she made her own drapes. Good! Then you can sew up my giant hideous wound here! Whoa there, Buffalo Bill — Kate’s really not so sure about that, but after a moment, hesitantly agrees. Jack tosses her the vodka bottle to sterilize her hands, and his gash, and she asks him if he has a color preference for the thread she’ll use. “Standard black,” is his response. Interesting choice, Jack …
Lost note: As I am wont to do, perhaps I’m reading too much into Kate’s comment that she sewed her own drapes, but if you will indulge me: drapes, of course, are curtains. A curtain is a kind of veil, as a veil is a kind of curtain — they both serve the same function, to obscure, to cover either a face or a space or object. Curtains also partition one space from another; from one room to another, from the interior to the exterior, from one room to another from reality to illusion. Veils and curtains are an essential symbol in religion: I won’t bother you with lengthy discussions of the use of a veil in the Holy Temple to separate the room that housed the Ark of the Covenant, but while called a veil, it was a very large curtain.
The point is, it is key to Kate’s character that she had made drapes or curtains. Presumably, Kate made these curtains during her time married to Kevin to whom she was lying about her identity. Kate was obscuring her essential truth from him, as well as herself. It is not a coincidence that we see her in her wedding veil in her flashback, as well as wearing a hood when she is taken to Jack in “I Do.” The essential symbolism is the same — Kate hides the truth; she curtains it.
Hey! There’s Sawyer! And he’s smoking, so he must be BAAAAAD … and thus begins the Montage of Characters We Will Come to Know and Love Doing Things that are Sorta Significant: Hurley collects airlines meals; Rose kisses her wedding ring; Locke looks ominous; Sayid enlists Charlie’s help on a signal fire; Boone attempts to make a cell phone call and fails; Claire is pregnant. No, like REALLY pregnant.
Back to Jack and Kate: as she sews him up, Kate notes that Jack doesn’t seem scared, and he tells her a story about how when he was a resident, his first solo procedure was a spinal surgery on a 16-year-old girl whose dural sac he accidentally nipped, and all her nerves came spilling out everywhere, and it was really gross, and he was really super freaked out, but then? he was like, OK, I’ll let myself be afraid for 5 seconds, but when I’m done counting to 5, THAT’S IT! So he counted to 5, let it go, sewed her up and she was fine.
Yeah, and while Jack tells this story? Totally crying.
Lost note: So, this is the story that Jack asks Kate to repeat to him when he forces the Others to free Kate and Sawyer, to demonstrate that she is safe. Which is interesting, because remember what Jack does to Ben to ensure that the Others will release Kate and Sawyer: he nips Ben’s kidney sac, with the threat that he will allow Ben to bleed to death if they do not cooperate with his demands.
Kate replies that she would have run for the door had she been in Jack’s place — No, you wouldn’t have! argues Jack. You’re not running now! OH THE IRONY.
Hey! It’s nighttime! Charlie writes “FATE” on his little finger tapes as he sits by the fire with Sayid. Sayid notes that “they” should have been here by now. Who should be here by now? asks Charlie. Anyone. Anyone should be here by now, Charlie.
Don’t tell Shannon that, though! Boone offers her a candy bar (wonder if it was an Apollo bar?) which she refuses because she’s waiting to eat on the rescue boat. Also? Shannon’s a snot.
Hurley passes out airline meals to everyone, giving Claire two, because, you know the eating for the two and all that.
Jin barks in Korean at Sun, something about staying close to him and to not worrying about the Others, I mean the others. But you see what they did there.
Jack gets back to the doctoring: he’s examining the marshal as Kate watches. Dude. That is one nasty piece of shrapnel sticking out of him. Really nasty. She wonders if the marshal will survive, and then explains to Jack that he was sitting next to her. Which, you know, is technically quite true, even if it isn’t the entire truth.
So later Jack and Kate get cozy by the fire, and he seems to have made an airplane out of some sort of leaf to demonstrate how he thinks the crash happened. According to Jack’s calculations, they were flying at an altitude of 40,000 feet when they hit an air pocket, dropped roughly 200 feet, and then Jack blacked out. Kate, however, did not. And she adds that she knows the tail section was torn away, but she couldn’t bring herself to look back.
Jack wants to find the cockpit so as to find the transceiver and hopefully aid the rescue groups in locating them. How do you know all this? asks Kate. Apparently, Jack took some flying lessons but explains that it wasn’t for him. (This is an interesting little factoid that has yet to play out. Will it ever? Was it just added in to explain how he knew what altitude they were at and so on, or will it be some crucial fact somewhere down the road? Dunno.)
ANYWAY. Kate tells Jack that she saw some smoke through the valley when she was in the jungle, and she wants to go with him to find the cockpit. (Aside: Smoke? or Smoke monster?) Wait, did someone say monster? Because just at this moment we hear the monster for the first time: its a weird, metallic, growly, clanking, banging noise, and it can knock over trees. And did I mention the horn-like sound that we haven’t heard since who-knows-when? Right, so the survivors all stare deep into the jungle and are all like: “What was that?” “That’s weird.” instead of doing what I would have done, which is curl up into a small ball and begin crying softly.
But then, I don’t take stress well.
Hey! It’s a flashback! This is technically our very first flashback, even if it is rather short. Jack’s on the plane when Cindy the stewardess asks him about his drink. When he complains about its strength, Cindy hands him a couple more mini bottles, and he notes that this must break FAA regulations.
As Jack downs his drink, Charlie comes tearing down the aisle toward the front of the plane, trailing a couple flight attendants behind him, including Cindy.
The plane bounces a little, and the “fasten your seat belt” sign goes on. Rose, sitting across the aisle from Jack, looks a little worried, but Jack assures her that it’s going to be OK. Rose responds that she’s a terrible flier, but that her husband tells her that planes want to be in the air. When Jack says that her husband is a smart man, Rose tells him to tell her husband that when he comes back from the bathroom. The plane begins to shake violently, and Jack promises Rose that he will stay with her until her husband returns — and then assures her “don’t worry, it’s going to be over –” and that’s people go flying, the masks come down, and the plane falls from the sky …
Lost note: Charlie ends up with the fuselage survivors because he ran up to the front of the plane moments before it crashed. But Cindy chased him up there, so why does she end up with the tail section survivors? This has always bothered me.
Lost note 2: Can we safely presume that because Bernard, who is sitting in the fuselage section, used the bathroom closest to the tail section, forcing Charlie to head toward the front of the plane. During the actual crash, they both come out of the bathrooms, and find seats that they weren’t originally assigned: Charlie in the fuselage, Bernard in the tail section. Now, what’s particularly interesting is that the rest of the tail section survivors, at least those who weren’t abducted by the Others, have all died, except for Bernard. Charlie, who was originally supposed to be in the tail section? Now dead.
Lost note 3: The joke about breaking FAA regulations that Jack makes: is it a throw-away joke, or did Oceanic Airlines (or someone) do something that really violates FAA regulations?
Back on the island, it’s daylight, and the survivors are staring into the jungle, as Jack looks off in the opposite direction: toward the water. The survivors are discussing the strange events from the night before, and Rose notes that whatever it was sounded familiar to her. Shannon asks where she’s from, and Rose says that she’s from the Bronx.
Lost note: The producers have said that the clicking noise associated with the monster is actually the receipt printer of a New York City taxi cab. Could this be why it’s familiar to Rose?
Kate asks Jack if he’s ready to head to the cockpit, and after a little “no, really, you don’t have to come, blah blah blah,” Jack tells her that she’s going to need better shoes. So, Kate steals the boots off of a dead body. I know, ew, right? I mean, couldn’t she have gone through some luggage or something? As she’s pulling the boots off this poor soul, Locke watches her. When they make eye contact, Locke smiles at her, revealing a creepy smile with an orange peel covering his teeth. And then? Don Corleone calls him up and asks him to return his shtick.
Lost note: I promised more discussion of shoes, right? Shoes represent many different things: in many religions and rites, one takes off one’s shoes before entering a holy place; fairy tale characters often change shoes before embarking on an adventure (Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz); and empty shoes sometimes represent death. That said, the empty shoe, both at the beginning of this episode and in “Exposé” represent death and unnatural events. Kate removing the shoes off the body, however, seems more in line with the fairy tale symbolism. Before she can embark on this journey, she’ll need a new pair of shoes — she’ll need a new soul, or soles, as it were.
Shannon and Boone, Sayid, Charlie, Walt, and Michael are hanging out on the beach still discussing the monster (no doubt!), when Hurley stops by and suggests that they need to do something about the B-O-D-Y-S in the fuselage, not wanting to say “bodies” in front of Walt, who then corrects Hurley’s spelling. Sayid agrees, but Shannon is really stubborn and asserts that the rescuers can do it when they get here.
Jack and Kate arrive on the scene, and he puts Dr. Boone in charge of the wounded: Shrapnel Dude (a.k.a. The Marshal) needs to be kept calm if he wakes up, but Some Dude and His Leg of Grossness should be fine. Charlie invites himself along on the expedition to the cockpit.
And off they go: Charlie, Kate, and Jack march off into the jungle, and Kate notes that Charlie looks familiar. He’s pleased with this, and begins singing the truly dreadful “You All Everybody,” and explains that he is in Driveshaft. He even shows her his Driveshaft ring, the one Liam gave him on that Christmas Day in Helsinki (I sure hope Claire finds that ring, sniff…). Jack’s never heard of them. But Kate has! And she notes that Driveshaft was good — using the past tense — which Charlie corrects. They are good, and in the middle of a comeback at that.
Vincent watches them ominously from the bushes …
Back at the beach, Locke is doing his thing, sitting on the shore, when it starts pouring. The rest of the survivors freak, taking cover wherever they can: Jin shoos away A Man who wants to take cover with him and Sun; Walt and Michael huddle together under something; but Locke? Locke just lifts up his head and smiles into the torrent.
Huh. Oh, and the monster starts rumbling around in the trees again, alarming Claire.
You know what? It’s raining in the jungle, too. Charlie asks if this weather is normal, the whole “day turning into night, end of the world” kinda thing. Being from England, I suppose he’s not used to how quickly the weather can turn in the tropics, I suppose, but any Houstonian would be like, “Meh. Must be 3 o’clock.”
They keep trudging through the rain and eventually find themselves face to face with the cockpit, planted in the jungle at an alarming 70º angle or so. They enter the wreckage, and it’s super creepy in there: B-O-D-Y-S everywhere, wires and debris, and Kate, Jack and Charlie have to pull themselves up this incredibly steep climb to reach the actual cockpit.
Once there, Jack breaks open the cockpit door, only to have the co-pilot’s body come flying out at them. Jack and Kate climb up into the cockpit and are looking for the transceiver when the pilot suddenly comes to, and it’s Sean from Felicity! We love Sean from Felicity! (Yes, yes, I know, he’s also Officer Matt on Heroes, and he was on Alias and he’s J.J. Abrams’ best friend from kindergarten and ALL THAT, but I will always and specifically love him for his role as Sean. On Felicity. Deal with it.) Right, so Captain Sean from Felicity is alarmed to say the least, and he asks how many people survived? At least 48. How many hours has he been unconscious? 16. Anyone come yet? Nope.
Well, Captain Sean from Felicity has bad news. Six hours into the flight, they lost radio contact — they were flying blind, so they turned around to try to land in Fiji, and that’s when they hit the turbulence. They were 1000 miles off course. The rescuers will be looking for them in the wrong place. DUM DUM DUM!!!
He directs Jack to the transceiver, but it’s not working, and just as Jack and Kate are beginning to wonder where Charlie is, he comes bursting out of the bathroom. Before they can ask what the hey he was doing in there, Stop! Monster time!
A dark shadow passes by the windows of the cockpit, and Jack, Kate, and Captain Sean from Felicity try to look out the windows to see what it is … Captain Sean from Felicity has an idea: why, this window is broken out, why don’t I just stick my head through it and I should be able to see what all the hoo-ha is about! And then he’s yanked from the cockpit by … something … and there’s a splatter of blood against the window closest to Kate, and that’s why we don’t stick our heads out of the broken windows to get a better look at the monster.
Fortunately, before he was pulled from the airplane and eviscerated, he dropped the transceiver, and Jack managed to get a hold of it before he, Kate and Charlie are RUNNING RUNNING RUNNING from the airplane!
Charlie, in the midst of all this running, falls into the mud, and Jack manages to help him up, but now Kate’s all alone! Oh noes! She manages to wedge herself into the safety of a banyan tree where she begins sobbing hysterically and then begins to count to 5.
Lost note: The shot of Charlie falling in the mud while being chased by the monster is reminiscent of Juliet and Kate falling in the mud in their escape from the monster in “Left Behind.”
Kate hears something, but it’s merely Charlie, sans Jack. He explains that Jack saved him but they were separated. Kate demands that they go back for Jack, but Charlie balks. As the rain stops, Kate finds the pilot’s little metal wings in a nearby puddle, and then the reflection of a B-O-D-Y-S in the trees above. The two of them look up. Hey! Jack’s arrived! Kate asked if he saw “it” meaning the monster, and Jack explains that he didn’t — he never looked back. As they continue to gaze up into the trees, we finally see what they are looking at: the completely bloody and mangled B-O-D-Y-S of Captain Sean from Felicity. “How does something like that happen?” asks Charlie. Good question, Char. Good question. Also, bye, Captain Sean from Felicity! Good luck with that whole diet thing!
[Ed. Note from the Future: I think this diet comment was an actual reference to something specific, and not just me being an asshole, but it’s lost to time.]
But we’re going to have to wait, oh a season or two before we’ll learn the answer to that question, Charlie. And even then? It may not be the most satisfying answer in the world, I’m afraid.
Ready for a little analysis?
Let’s begin with the very first shot of the series: the opening of Jack’s right eye. The series is filled to the brim with eye-openings: we have close-ups of Locke’s, Claire’s, Aaron’s, Desmond’s, Eko’s, Sun’s, Boone’s, Michael’s, Jin’s, and Juliet’s eyes all opening in close-up in various episodes. So why is this image used?
The eye is a powerful and very ancient symbol, representing omniscience, power, indestructibility and rebirth.
For instance, the Eye of Horus, a symbol of the Ancient Egyptian God Horus, who became one of the longest-worshipped, and most important Gods in Egypt. Horus was resurrected, and thus is one of the earliest examples of a mystery cult or religion: a religion based on a figure that has transcended death, and whose worship involves secret rites, and revealed knowledge. The eye became a symbol of this triumph over death, and Horus’ power.
There is also the Eye of Providence, familiar to most of us as the symbol on the dollar bill, is a symbol of God’s all-knowingness.
The first use of this symbol is found in early Hebrew symbolism: the symbol was a dot in the center of a triangle, representing God peering through a door or looking down between Heaven and Earth. There are some suggestions that this symbol is also related to the Eye of Horus. Later, this symbol became a Christian one, the triangle representing the Trinity, and the eye in the center representing God’s omniscience.
The Eye of Providence is widely known to also be a Freemasonry symbol, some arguing that the version of it on the dollar with the separated triangle has a secret meaning: the eye pyramid represents the enlightened few who removed from the larger population represented by the base of the pyramid. Again, we return to mystery religions, secret societies, and revealed truths.
And let’s not forget the Evil Eye: the idea in many cultures that one person’s envy of another’s fortune can bring about the misfortune of the envied. Does that make sense? The cultures that believe in the evil eye believe that simply through an envious gaze, one can inadvertently cause the harm of what it is that they gaze upon. Talismans were created to ward off the evil eye, to prevent the power of the evil eye to repel harm. The evil eye was often placed on boats, as well as over doorways and gates, which were believed to be vulnerable to the evil eye. An example of an evil eye:
SO! How does this relate to Lost? Well, the opening of one’s eyes represents coming to awareness, gaining consciousness. Jack literally wakes up to a new world, as do all the survivors who have plopped down on this island. This is a new life, a new reality, a rebirth of sorts for Jack, and for all of the survivors. After all, they have survived something they had no business surviving: they have walked through death and come out the other side. It’s almost as though they’ve been protected by the power of the Eye of Horus, and been resurrected. I, of course, don’t mean this literally, but simply that the survivors have been reborn into this new life, have woken up, and opened their eyes to a new world.
As far as the evil eye symbolism goes, I find it fascinating that evil eyes were commonly used on boats and other vessels for transportation, as well as on gateways or doors. For some reason, one is more vulnerable to the power of the evil eye while in transport, while traveling from one place (one realm) to another. It would seem that the survivors were conveyed through some sort of gateway into a new world via the airplane (apparently the Oceanic Airlines symbol wasn’t very effective against bad luck …).
The Oceanic Airlines symbol also looks a bit like an island, ringed by smaller islands, perhaps, or by something else? Some sort of border or gate? (Interestingly enough, the symbol also reminds me of the island of Delos, which is a Greek island that is in the center of a ring of islands. This island was the mythological birthplace of Apollo and Athena, and was surrounded by swans.)
Alert! Pardon the dreadful pun that’s about to fall into your lap, but eyes — island: Eye-Land? (I know, I know. Terrible. Forgive me.)
But they have fallen onto an island, and symbolically, islands represent a few things: solitude, escape, entrapment, havens, a world set apart from the ordinary, a heaven … there are multiple times when characters comment on how beautiful the island is, and of course there are some characters who have no intention to leave. They’ve found their heaven on earth.
For others, though, the island is a living hell — just ask Cooper. Heaven, Hell, in some ways it’s all the same: these people have found themselves in an extraordinary place removed from the rest of humanity, and from the ordinary world. Just as the Garden of Eden was a sanctuary in which Adam and Eve were protected from the outside world and all that it represented (work, sickness, death, etc.) the island separates our characters from the real world, and from their families, friends, responsibilities and ordinary lives. Does that make it a heaven or haven, or does it make it hell on earth? I suppose it depends on your perspective.
Speaking of the Garden of Eden, so Adam and Eve are hanging out, living the good life, but then they go and do the ONE THING God told them not to do: eat from the tree of knowledge. This moment in the Bible is referred to as “The Fall of Man.” The serpent tells Eve that if she and Adam eat of the tree of knowledge, they won’t die, but rather:
“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Huh. Eyes opening again. Interesting. Anyway, the fall of man, gaining awareness of the difference between good and evil, is the loss of innocence. One’s eyes are indeed opened, one gains a new consciousness.
Think again of our survivors: they have literally fallen from the sky onto the island, and they are grappling with a new world, a new reality. Because the show isn’t a one-to-one simple allegory, it almost seems that they have been banished from the real world to the Garden (which, of course, puts Jack’s desperation at the end of season three to get back to the island, and his inability to do so, in a very interesting light). And I think that just as what Adam and Eve gained in their fall — knowledge of good and evil, the survivors have gained a certain knowledge in their fall to earth as well — self-knowledge. And of course, once you know something, you can’t unknow it. You’ll never be innocent again. You can’t go back.
But Kate sure does try. In fact, in this episode we have our very first instance of Kate demanding that she and someone else (Charlie this time) go back for Jack after the monster chased them from the cockpit. In this episode, Kate doesn’t get the chance to go back for Jack: he arrives before she can go. But in season three, she does go back for Jack, with disastrous results. Here’s a question for ya: is the idea of “going back” similar to “looking back?” In this episode, Kate tells Jack that she remained conscious during the crash, but while she knew the tail section broke off, she couldn’t bring herself to look back. Similarly, Jack, after escaping the monster, tells Kate that he didn’t look back at it.
This is interesting on a couple of levels: 1. The structure of the show is such that the characters do look back, all the time, at their own lives. What is a flashback, but a looking back, after all. 2. Even more interesting, returning to the discussion of the “Fall of Man,” man’s fall takes place because Adam and Eve choose to disobey a direct order from God. There are two stories that immediately come to mind regarding “looking back,” and disobedience: Orpheus and Lot, and their respective loves.
Returning to Genesis, AGAIN, we have Lot’s wife. Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed during a fit of Godly wrath, but God sends down a couple angels to warn Lot and his family beforehand. “Yo, y’all need to get outta here,” the angels tell Lot, “the Lord is crazy mad and he’s going to tear this place apart. Get your family out of town, and don’t look back.” And as they leave, what does Lot’s wife do but take a peek back at the ol’ homestead, and poof! She’s turned into a pillar of salt. Bye, Nameless Lot’s Wife!
In Greek mythology, Orpheus’ girlfriend, Eurydice dies. He manages to convince Hades to allow him to retrieve her from the underworld. However, Hades places one condition on his agreement — Orpheus must walk in front of Eurydice, and not look back at her until they get back tot he upper world. Yeah, Orpheus can’t help himself, looks back at his girl, and poof! She vanishes back to the underworld. Bye, Eurydice!
So, what’s the lesson here? Disobedience leads to the fall? In both stories, Orpheus and Lot’s brood are both given specific instructions which they are unable to follow, much like Adam and Eve. They do the one thing they are told not to do, and as such they are punished. Jack gives Kate a direct order to not come back for him in season three, and when she does, badness ensues. (Not that I think Jack = God, or anything, but you get the point — Kate does the one thing she was instructed not to do.)
Or could the lesson be a little more nuanced than that? Could the violation be not merely disobedience, but also willfully looking back and living in the past? Perhaps the lesson we are supposed to take away from these stories is that you can’t live in the past, one must move forward and be grateful for the potential of the future. You can’t go home again. You can not go back. One must somehow make amends with the past and move on, as Eko did, and perhaps, to some degree, Locke and Sawyer did.
And, at one point, Jack too seemed to understand this: after all, like Orpheus, Jack travels to the underworld (what is the cockpit, with its dead B-O-D-Y-S and stink of death but the representation of the underworld?), retrieves an item (for Orpheus it was Eurydice, Jack it was the transceiver) but unlike Orpheus, Jack doesn’t look back, and as such, he succeeds. Because living in the past, looking back, will simply lead to one’s ruin, like poor Future Jack. His desperation to go back to the island is both geographic and temporal: he wants to return to his haven, the Eye-Land which only exists in the past for all intents and purposes. The question remains, what makes Future Jack become someone who does look back?
But we’re be getting ahead of ourselves. After all, this is merely the first episode of the first season. As such, it corresponds with the “call to adventure” in the hero’s journey. Jack and the rest of the survivors have literally fallen smack dab into the beginning of their very own adventure. In the introduction of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, there is this incisive description of the hero’s journey: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” This episode, “Pilot 1” (and the next episode, “Pilot 2”), is simply the “a hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder” part.
(Although you could argue that the trip to the cockpit to retrieve the transceiver was a little mini-hero’s journey — they leave the beach: the world of the common; venture into a region of supernatural power: the jungle/cockpit; fabulous forces are encountered there and a decisive victory is won: they encounter the smoke monster and retrieve the transceiver; the hero comes back with boons to bestow on his fellow man: Jack will return with his boon — the transceiver.)
Nonetheless, as Dante in Canto I of the Inferno, we’ve merely just begun this journey and we’ve got a ways to go. A loooooooong way to go. But, one episode at a time, we’ll get there, I promise.
Hey, Mr. T? Remember this episode? What did you think?
Mr. T’s Lost Blog
“Pilot, Part 1”
Jack and Kate meet cute.
Really, Mr. T? That’s all you have to say? Nothing about the plane crash at all?
Never took you for a Jater. I guess you can never really know someone …
Lost originally aired on ABC and is now available to stream on Hulu and IMDb.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.