A plane crashes on a tropical island populated by poplar bears, a scary smoke monster, and even scarier people
Best Episode ”Walkabout” (Airdate: Oct. 13, 2004) John Locke hunts boar and meets the Smoke Monster. And before the crash…he was in a wheelchair!
Worst Episode ”Whatever the Case May Be” (Jan. 5, 2005) WHAT’S IN THE CASE?! WHAT’S IN THE CASE?! Oh. It’s a toy airplane.
Once the surviving passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 cleaned off the blood and sand from their horrific crash landing on a South Pacific island, their traumatic journey truly began. Our disparate group of castaways, led by spinal surgeon Jack Shephard, discovered that help wasn’t coming for them (WTF? A 16-year-old looped distress signal in French?), but some kind of monster was. And the waves of weird kept washing ashore. Why is Jack seeing visions of his dead father? Why are Hurley’s lottery numbers popping up on the Island? Why are the Others, those creepy Islanders, trying to abduct pregnant Claire? Who’s this crazy lady claiming that the Others stole her baby? For every secret born of the Island, there was a flashback-framed mystery tucked into the pocket of one of our characters. Why was Kate running from the law? What painful truth was contained in Sawyer’s letter? And why is John Locke growing stronger and wiser? Much of the drama revolved around the castaways’ struggles to build a life on this cursed patch of paradise while figuring out a way to escape it (Oh no, someone torched the raft!). In the finale, we felt a chill as the Others snatched Walt (”We’re going to have to take the boy”) and a rush of wonder as the castaways blew open the mystery hatch with dynamite from the Black Rock ship marooned in the jungle. The reveal? A broken ladder leading down into…gotta wait till next season? C’mon!
Biggest Revelation The monster! The Hatch! The numbers! The Others! Take your pick.
Moment That Tested Our Faith There’s shrewd stalling. Then there’s Claire’s amnesia.
Season 1 MVP Jack Shephard
From the moment the series began, with that first image of Jack’s opening eye, we looked to the good doctor to take charge. Whether this daddy-issues-laden soul wanted the job was another question. Still, when it came time to go fist to fist with an Other or set up a makeshift trauma room to try to save one of his own, Jack was the guy (at least in season 1) you most wanted on your side.
Season Grade A — Dan Snierson
So who are these tailies? Plus: Numbers, numbers everywhere, and the introduction of one formidable foe — Flight 815 survivors, meet Benjamin Linus
Best Episode ”Man of Science, Man of Faith” (Sept. 21, 2005) This premiere ep goes down the much-discussed Hatch.
Worst Episode ”Adrift” (Sept. 28, 2005) A flashback to (yawn) Michael’s custody battle, and a huge letdown after the premiere.
After blowing open the Hatch and finding a guy named Desmond living inside, the survivors began unraveling the much larger enigma beneath that door in the jungle floor: the Dharma Initiative. This communal research project dating back to the 1970s seemed to encompass a broad swath of scientific disciplines, from psychology to electromagnetism to zoology, according to training films in the Hatch. More specifically, Dharma had Desmond convinced he must enter the magic numbers — 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 — into a computer every 108 minutes to stop the station from blowing up. Whether or not this was truly necessary was the subject of much faith-versus-reason debate for John Locke. Turned out (oops!) it was necessary — which we found out after the thing blew to bits in the finale.
Of course, along the way, there were complications on all fronts. The original survivors reunited with the tail-section passengers, who’d been fighting for their own existence across the Island under the leadership of scrappy ex-cop Ana Lucia. The merging of the tribes brought some good (drug dealer-turned-priest Mr. Eko; Rose’s long-lost husband, Bernard), some bad (Shannon was accidentally shot by Ana Lucia), and some debatable (the relatively useless Libby). The Others were a confusing threat (what was with all the swiping of kids and sneaking around the jungle?) — led by a shifty guy named Ben Linus, who first identified himself as waylaid ballooner Henry Gale. The mind games came to a head when the Others manipulated Michael into shooting Ana Lucia and Libby, then bringing Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Hurley to their camp under the guise of ”rescuing” Walt. By season’s end, Walt and Michael were sailing off to safety; the Others were holding Jack, Kate, and Sawyer prisoner; and Hurley was set free to report back to his fellow survivors.
Biggest Revelation A finale scene in which scientists in a far-off research station located the Island for Penny Widmore, Desmond’s onetime ladylove.
Moment that Tested Our Faith When Ana Lucia died, and we barely cared.
Season 2 MVP Benjamin Linus
The first hint of what this Island was really about came in the form of ”Henry Gale,” a.k.a. Ben posing as a marooned hot-air-balloon pilot — and morphing into a slippery villain who’d make the survivors look back on their harrowing plane crash as the good old days.
Season Grade A- — Jennifer Armstrong