Ranking the First Half of LOST’s Sixth Season

LOST is finally vindicating its fans with its sixth and final season. The series is blowing a big fat raspberry to those who argued that the show would have no answers, that it would all be pointless. Over the past nine episodes, we’ve discovered so much about the Island – and our characters. It’s the only season of the show that has managed to completely redefine everything we’ve believed up until that point (season three came close to doing this, but didn’t quite). And the best part about it is, this redefinition isn’t done in a way that makes the viewer feel cheated. Clues have been placed throughout the series from the beginning, and LOST is simply tying together all the threads — just maybe not in the way we’d expected.

With last night’s episode “Ab Aeterno,” we reached the halfway point of LOST‘s eighteen-hour season, which will end on Sunday, May 23, 2010. But before we look upon the second half of the season (which will begin next week with episode ten, “The Package,”) we need to look back at the first half. How did these episodes rank, in your opinion? Before you get started reading my list, create your own, ranking this season (so far)’s episodes from best to worst. Let us know how our lists compare.

We’ll start with what we consider to be the least impressive episode of the season thus far, and work our way up to the one that we think is the season’s best.

Next: #9 >>

#9 – 6.03 “What Kate Does”

Is it really any surprise that “What Kate Does” is at the bottom of the list?

“What Kate Does” was one of the best Kate-centric episodes ever, but that’s not the most glorious honor ever – Kate-centrics are usually some of LOST‘s weaker fare. In fact, I can’t think of one Kate-centric that would even crack the top twenty LOST episodes of all time.

However, don’t take that to mean “What Kate Does” was a bad episode. Had it been placed in season four, it might have been judged average. But after the stunning premiere that was “LA X,” this episode just didn’t have enough staying power to keep the trend going.

I believe the term I’m looking for is “set-up episode.” The entire episode simply put the pieces into place for later episodes, and, unfortunately, that resulted in one sort of slow hour of television that didn’t quite continue the momentum set up by the premiere. It was nice to see Claire back, though.

Next: #8

#8 – 6.08 “Recon”

Like “What Kate Does,” “Recon” would have been absolutely fantastic in another, lesser season. But for the final season, it just wasn’t quite that strong. Sawyer’s off-Island story, while interesting, was sort of a dud in that not much happened. The return of Charlotte was welcome, but they didn’t do much with her. Well, Sawyer did. But the story didn’t.

The on-Island story was slightly better, and it continuted the cliffhanger from “Dr. Linus,” surprisingly enough. The arrival of Charles Widmore on the Island and Sawyer’s plan to double cross both Widmore and the Man in Black was well-done, and, like most of season six, was reminiscent of the first season episodes like “Confidence Man,” and “Outlaws.”

There was also a bit of informative dialogue from the Man in Black about his mother, but even that brought up more questions than it answered. And the cut to LOST at the end of the episode felt contrived. So, Sawyer plans to steal the submarine. That doesn’t offer any suspense, honestly.

What gives “Recon” the advantage over “What Kate Does” is the inclusion of a more immersive and interesting Island storyline. That doesn’t make it a fantastic episode, but it’s fairly good.

Next: #7 >>

#7 – 6.05 “Lighthouse”

You know that if “Lighthouse” is 6.05, from here on out, the list has to be pretty good. And it is. With the exception of those two lesser episodes, season six has been an epic ride. Episode five was one of the epic moments of the season, especially in the flash-sideways timeline. In fact, this is the only episode I can really think of that the flash-sideways timeline trumps the Island timeline. That is solely due to the fact that Jack’s daddy issues got some resolution in the flash-sideways. Christian remained dead (though his body was missing), but Jack had a son of his own, with whom he shared some meaningful father-son moments in the final bit of the episode. Jack realizes that he’s becoming the father that Christian was to him, as shown by his son’s fear of disappointing him.

On the Island was pretty interesting, although Jack only managed to screw things up even more. After traveling (on order from Jacob) to a mysterious lighthouse (thus, the title of the episode), Jack and Hurley realize that the lighthouse mirrors reflect the lives of people whose names correspond with degrees on the lighthouse dial. Instead of being interested in how exactly the lighthouse is able to do this, Jack decides to break all the mirrors. While off-Island Jack is finally regaining some sense, on-Island Jack isn’t. Of course, the entire exercise was meant just to get Jack to realize how important he is, according to Jacob.

The episode is the opposite of “Recon,” in that the off-Island story is more interesting than the on-Island story. Over the first half of the season, LOST will struggle to find a balance between the two. It will succeed, just…not yet.

Next: #6>>

#6 – 6.02 “LA X, Part 2”

This is probably where you guys will start to argue with me.

“LA X, Part 2,” was a good follow-up to part 1, but it wasn’t quite as good. While part 1 was an action-packed epic that established some crazy new ideas and themes, part 2 wasn’t as innovative. It expanded on those themes, but didn’t create any new ones. And that’s completely understandable.

On the upside to the episode, we did get to enter the Temple and meet the Others who fled there during the season three finale, including Dogen and Cindy Chandler. We also got a good reveal from the Man in Black that he wanted to go home, giving us our first hint on the caged entity that is MIB. We also saw some pretty solid off-Island action, at least in the Jack/Locke scene that was introduced at the end of the episode. Though this storyline would later appear to be thrown out in “The Substitute,” the idea that these two sworn enemies on the Island could actually be friends in the outside world makes us wonder how big of an effect the Island really had on everyone.

Next: #5>>

#5 – 6.06 “Sundown”

Once every season, you get a really dark episode that seems to erase any semblance of hope for the characters. In season four it was “The Shape of Things to Come.” In season six, it was “Sundown.”

“Sundown” was one of two episodes that were completely tonally different than any other episodes of the series. It made every other episode seem particularly cheery, and it also provided one of the most haunting ending montages ever. The episode belonged to Naveen Andrews’ Sayid, who was sent out to kill the Man in Black, but instead came back with a very different mission.

The episode featured one of LOST’s longest fight scenes. A fistfight between Sayid and Dogen lasted a long time, though Sayid’s rebuttal was even shorter. We also witnessed a sort of metaphorical death of Sayid, who became unfeeling and almost evil toward the end of the episode, a result of the “darkness” that the Others had claimed was growing inside of him.

The flash-sideways mirrored the Island storyline thematically, but in terms of quality? It wasn’t even close. It didn’t even have a Smoke Monster massacre!

Next: #4>>

#4 – 6.01 “LA X, Part 1”

The episode that started the season wasn’t the best of the season, but that’s a good thing. After all, if it was the best, that would mean that the season was showing no improvement — which it has. The episode introduced a lot of the recurring elements of the season, like the flash-sideways timeline, which have only begun to really make sense as the season goes on. This makes the rewatch value of the episode incredibly high.

The episode also featured one of the best cinematographic shots of the series, in the zoom from the plane window to the submerged Island at the bottom of the sea. And don’t even get me started on the revelations of the hour: MIB revealed himself as the smoke monster and killed quite a few people. We also saw the return of Frogurt (albeit simply sleeping in the seat between Locke and Boone).

There was also the repercussions of Ben’s murder of Locke, which would later come to a head several episodes later. Overall, the episode was the best season premiere the show has had yet. (Have you noticed that almost every episode this season qualifies as the best in one category or another? It simply goes to show how really good this season is.)

Next: #3>>

#3 – 6.04 “The Substitute”

“The Substitute” was a tour-de-Locke, and featured a strange flash-sideways. While the on-Island storyline featured the Man in Black in the appearance of Locke, the flash-sideways focused on the real Locke after landing in L.A. Terry O’Quinn played the characters with such versatility that you could definitely see the divisions between the characters, as well as the little elements of Locke’s personality that seem to be leaking into the Man in Black’s psyche.

“The Substitute” also managed to be a feel-good episode without being too cheesy. Locke still had some major issues in his life (his paralysis, getting fired from his job), but with the help of his fiance Helen (whom he lost as a result of his obsession with his father in the original timeline), Locke is able to be at least mostly happy.

Other cool elements of the episode: the introduction of Candidates, a major theme of the rest of the season; seeing things from Smokey’s perspective for the first time since he attacked confronted Eko in “The 23rd Psalm.”

Next: #2>>

#2 – 6.09 “Ab Aeterno”

I can hear you saying it now, “What? ‘Ab Aeterno’ is second? Is he nuts?” But no, I am not nuts. It was still a fantastic episode, and one of the best of the series so far. Nestor Carbonell carried the episode that centered almost exclusively on him, and he did so very well. He’ll probably be snubbed for best supporting actor at the Emmys, but he really does deserve at least a nod for this wonderful performance.

The origins of Richard Alpert are revealed, and they aren’t quite how we thought they would be. We see him first as a scared man who accidentally murders a doctor in an attempt to save his dying wife, and then is shipped off on the Black Rock to work in the New World. However, thanks to a little Jacob intervention, they don’t make it. Instead, they crash on the Island, riding a tsunami wave inward, toppling the Statue of Taweret, and landing waaay inland. Three birds, one stone, really.

Man in Black and Jacob both begin playing with Richard’s naive loyalties, and within his first day of being free, he decides against killing Jacob (whom the Man in Black tries to convince him is the devil) in order to gain eternal life and work for Jacob. It’s a really cool episode, especially when the scraggly Ricardo of the flashbacks is compared to the clean-shaven Richard of the Island. I’d personally like to see one more flashback in between the present day and the 1860’s setting of this episode’s flashback, just to see how exactly Richard dropped the Spanish accent and gained an American one.

Though there were some interesting scenes involving Richard and his attempt to change sides in the present day, the scene that everyone will remember from this episode is the metaphor that Jacob presents to Richard, effectively telling him that the Island keeps Hell from consuming the world. This of course begs the question — is Hell consuming Earth in the Islandless flash-sideways timeline?

Next: The #1 Episode of the Season — So Far>>

#1 – 6.07 “Dr. Linus”

It was neck-and-neck between this episode and “Ab Aeterno,” but Michael Emerson’s performance simply sold me. While not much happens in this episode, that doesn’t really matter; it’s a character-driven episode, and Emerson is the one driving. In both the flash-sideways timeline and the original timeline, the story revolves around Ben’s chances for redemption — and for the first time in his lives, he takes them.

Miles, using his ghostbuster ability, ousts Ben’s role in Jacob’s murder, and Ilana resolves to kill him – after he digs his own grave. Resigned to his fate, he begins digging. That is, until the Man in Black appears, undoes his bonds, and asks Ben to come join him. Ben takes off and runs, finding a rifle in the jungle and tearfully confessing to Ilana while holding her at gunpoint. He comes clean about the pain he’s feeling and his responsibility for his daughter (whom he aids in the flash-sideways), and Ilana accepts him. Even I, who hardly ever cries (except when British rock stars drown), found myself shedding a tear for the Island’s big manipulator, who is finally realizing he’s not so big after all.

The flash-sideways was on par with the on-Island storyline, and I found myself not wanting either to be over when that familiar whooshing/skipping noise occurred. It was that good. And talk about an ending — Charles Widmore’s arrival on the Island was a definite surprise to me, and it was a great way to end the episode.

How will “Dr. Linus,” hold up against episodes of the second half of the series? If I had to guess, I’d say it’ll probably fall behind a few places, especially when compared to the upcoming series finale, which is sure to be an event, as well as several other episodes which SpoilerGuy has dished upon. What do you think? Is “Dr. Linus” worthy of the #1 spot? If not, what should be? And what are you looking for in the remaining nine hours of LOST‘s final season?


8 Comments

  1. Tommy Marcus March 24, 2010
  2. Andrew Tucci March 24, 2010
  3. Kris March 24, 2010
  4. SamMcPherson March 24, 2010
  5. maelstrom815 March 25, 2010
  6. SamMcPherson March 25, 2010
  7. Ty March 26, 2010
  8. Matt March 27, 2010

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