If we've learned anything about islands in historical fiction, it's that they're a hoarded wealth of intrigue, danger, suspense, spirituality and sensuality. From the economically-concerned survivalism of Robinson Crusoe to the web of love and retribution in Shakespeare's The Tempest, they are one of the commonest but most captivating plot devices. They are apart from civilized society. They are home to exotic fauna and foliage. Not all of that fauna and foliage is happy to have visitors. Murder and crime are more easily accomplished without the constraints of civilized society. I think you can connect the dots.
Lost is the brainchild of J.J. Abrams, who created the espionage thriller Alias and college drama Felicity before that. Based on his resume we can already predict character development and long-term plot arcs will be the standard. Add in that this two-part pilot was the most expensive ever produced for ABC (resulting in the truly ironic firing of former chairman Lloyd Braun, who had greenlighted the project in the face of dwindling network ratings), reportedly costing anywhere between $10 and $14 million. That this show was even given a second thought speaks volumes about the amount of faith the network put into it, as it easily could have been a colossal disaster.
Fortunately that faith was well-invested, because not only is the premiere of Lost viscerally and sensorially astounding, but it's also compelling, chronicling the plane crash and miraculous survival of 48 passengers (with fourteen being regular cast members). As if in real life, the individuals remain innominate until the situation demands their introduction.
We meet Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox, Party of Five), a spinal surgeon from Los Angeles who gets dropped in the middle of a serious crisis, risking himself to save the lives of others wounded in the crash. A more enigmatic but equally important character is Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly), who despite being out of her element is driven by a strong will and versatility. The scene where an anxious Kate stitches up Jack's wound is one of the most iconic of the series' run.
Few of the other characters are given little more than a fugitive introduction. There's the washed-up rock star Charlie Pace (Dominic Monhagan, The Lord of the Rings), whose shadowed eyes belie his comic disposition. There's a very pregnant woman named Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin, The Hills Have Eyes), who seems oddly cheery in spite of all the turmoil. There's an older man played by Terry O'Quinn (Millennium, The X-Files) who seems to be of importance but has little to do in this episode. More curious is an Asian couple (Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim) alienated not only by their lack of English but also antiquated gender roles. A Middle Eastern man named Sayid (Naveen Andrews, The English Patient), a foul-mouthed redneck (Josh Holloway), and a larger-than-life guy you just want to hug (Jorge Garcia) all beg stories to be told, while a pair of bickering siblings, the unnerved Boone (Ian Somerhalder, The Vampire Diaries) and the comparatively bitchy Shannon (Maggie Grace, Taken) are decidedly less inspiring. Rounding out the cast are the overprotective father Michael (Harold Perrineau, The Matrix trilogy) and son Walt (Malcolm David Kelley), and a soundless but sharp woman (L. Scott Caldwell) who Jack brings from the cusp of death.
It's awfully odd that all of these survivors would be so cushioned in the fall so as not to wind up with more than mere flesh wounds, but odder still are the grotesque noises heard in the jungle at night. From the get-go it is clear that there is something not quite right with the island, and while ABC's decision to split the pilot into two halves may not do its story total justice, it certainly serves as an engaging doorway into a storyline bound to be riddled with mysteries. A more comprehensive outline of the plot will follow in my review of Part 2.
5 out of 6 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote!