Writer and producer of HBO's potential new hit show The Leftovers, Damon Lindelof hasn't inhaled as much as a breath since his career took off over a decade ago. The Leftovers is yet to air here in the UK, but word on the streets of the States is that it's off to a pretty good start. And when it comes to television shows, The Leftovers' head man has a lot to live up to.
Back in the hazy days of 2004, at a time when Twitter and YouTube ceased to yet exist (hard to believe, I know), a plane crash captured the imagination of entertainment junkies the world over. Lost had just started, and helmed by a bunch of talented minds - including Star Wars and Star Trek director JJ Abrams - it quickly became the new go to show.
It's highly unlikely that The Leftovers will come anywhere close to Lost's viewership zenith (the series piqued at over 23 million in the US alone) but Lindelof's storytelling could well reach the heights he attained in his former island jaunt. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to relive the writer's best episodes of Lost.
For the purpose of accessibility, episodes that were broadcast in two or three separate parts will count as one single entity.
WARNING: Spoilers will follow!
10. The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham
Season 5; Episode 7
One of the show's most despondent episodes is also one of its best for that very reason. Events primarily take place off the island and hone in Locke's attempts to convince the Oceanic Six to return. His subsequent lack of success combined with the revelation that his former girlfriend Helen is dead proves to be a suicidal mix. Ben saves Locke from himself before shockingly killing the man of faith in a harrowing scene.
9. Happily Ever After
Season 6; Episode 11
Widely regarded as one of season six's high points, Happily Ever After follows Desmond as he experiences life non-crash in an alternate timeline. Charlie makes a return both to our screens and to his old ways, compelling Desmond's temporary chaperone duties. This episode sees the characters first begin to remember their existence on the island, and its conclusion is really the ignition on the road to The End.
8. Flashes Before Your Eyes
Season 3; Episode 8
Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof combine pens for the first and only time to usher in an extended Desmond flashback. Not only is spending an hour with arguably Lost's greatest character a delight, it's also intriguing and inventively laid out. (We finally see that photo's inception). The majestically brooding Eloise Hawking makes her first appearance and Charlie finds out he's destined to die. Soon.
7. Man of Science, Man of Faith
Season 2; Episode 1
One of the show's most enduring quotes is promoted to episode title as season two kicks off in exciting fashion. Mama Cass Elliot's 'Make Your Own Kind of Music' is the soundtrack that leads us into a Jack flashback. It's one of the doctor's more poignant flashbacks too - with hope quickly draining, he miraculously fixes his future wife Sarah after a pep talk from a jogging Scot. Lo and behold, Jack, Locke and Kate enter the hatch where they come across that very jogging Scot: Desmond is on the island!
6. The Incident
Season 5; Episodes 16 & 17
Man of science turns man of faith come season five's conclusion. Throughout the flashbacks we see Jacob (finally!) prod our islanders along at various points in their lives. In 2007 we see Ben go more rouge than ever as he violently stabs Jacob to death. And in 1977 we see Jack drop a hydrogen bomb down the Swan hatch. Insert an epic Sawyer-Jack clash, the potential demise of Juliet and the discovery that John Locke ain't who he claims to be and we've got ourselves a packed finale.
Season 1; Episodes 23, 24 & 25
Exodus is Lost at its most mysterious. The conclusion to season one was so eventful that in places such as the UK it aired in three separate parts. The term bitter-sweet springs to mind; the raft finally launches losing control with unnerving results, we lose Dr Artz too soon and Claire temporarily loses her baby. Symbolic imagery also comes to the forefront, headlined by a wonderfully haunting final shot of Jack and Locke peering inquisitively down the now open hatch. Hurley's numbers, they're everywhere!
4. The End
Season 6; Episodes 17 & 18
Polarising. Joyous. Emotional. Memorable. The end of an era plays out in a truly affecting few hours of television highlighted by one of the series' best ever interactions between Jack and his father. Somewhat disappointingly, we discover that Lost hasn't all gone down in Vincent the dog's head. Fittingly, the concluding image mirrors the show's first moments. We've all been on a journey and it's finally come full circle.
3. Through the Looking Glass
Season 3; Episodes 22 & 23
Quite possibly the most eventful episode(s) of all. This would be the last consistently proficient two hours of television before a slightly mellower fourth season. Lindelof and co-writer Carlton Cuse construct a pillar of shock: the Others finally attack, Walt reappears, contact is made with the outside world and Charlie has his tearful "Not Penny's Boat" swan song. Then there's the series' biggest Oh-My-God moment: Jack and Kate are off the island.
Season 1; Episodes 1 & 2
The one that flipped the switch. Somewhat acrimoniously christened "Pilot" (poor guy), Lost's first steps are far from tentative. Mystery develops as the seeds of mythology are planted. It's come out through the grapevine that Jack was actually supposed to be killed off half-way through this one. How would we have coped?
1. The Constant
Season 4; Episode 5
Season four desperately needed a knock-out chapter and The Constant duly applied. Lindelof's writing is as good and as heartfelt as ever here, whilst Henry Ian Cusick embarks on a powerhouse display of paranoia, disorientation and slow realisation. The Desmond-Penny phone-call is the show's most sincere moment, and The Constant is its most rewarding hour of television as a result.
If you've made it this far I'll go ahead and assume you're a Lostie. Which episodes do you love?
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Will The Leftovers eclipse Lost?
Images credit: Lostpedia