Lost: Exodus   Rewatch 
June 27, 2023 6:26 PM - Season 1, Episode 23 - Subscribe

A raft; a hatch; a three-hour season finale.

S1E23: Exodus, Part 1 (Lostpedia | transcript): air date 18th May 2005 • writers Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse • director Jack Bender • day 44 on the island • Walt, Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Shannon, Sun flashbacks

Danielle stalking the camp • they’re coming again, they’re coming for all of you • run, hide, or die • black smoke • holy shit it’s Michelle Rodriguez • the worst part’s over • unless you want to blow up, I’m coming with you • you broke my mug • a blight, a stain, a scavenger • just in case • something tells me he never got around to making that call • and that is why I need five guns • Leslie’s a bitchin’ name • it’s a security system • he’s a good listener • choose wisely when you use it • the Black Rock • who will keep you safe? • the raft, launched!

S1 E23+E24: Exodus, Part 2 (Lostpedia | transcript): air date 25th May 2005 • writers Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse • director Jack Bender • day 44 on the island • Jin, Charlie, Michael, Hurley, Locke flashbacks

Baby’s eye • are you on the same island as I am? • what happens to dynamite in 90+ degree heat? • Arzt goes BOOM • Jin is not free • Sawyer likes Bob Marley • John likes to play games • Charlie is pathetic • Danielle steals the baby • Jack has some Arzt on him • Aaron has a name • Walt drives the boat • do you think we’re being punished? • there’s no such thing as fate • I think hope’s inside • SMOKE MONSTER • Hurley’s airport run • it’s just a number • MAN OF SCIENCE, MAN OF FAITH • survival is all relative, Jack • you’re either a hero or you want to die • a blip on the radar • Charlie gets the baby • everyone wants me to be a leader until I make a decision they don’t like • we’re going to have a Locke problem • Hurley sees the numbers • DYNAMITE GOES BOOM • firing the flare • the thing is, we’re going to have to take the boy • everyone boarding the plane • the hatch; the ladder; the cliffhanger!

itsalemmon: Lost, Season 1, Episode 23, 24 & 25: Exodus
Let’s get the flashback structure out of the way right now. Over the course of 22 episodes it had gone from being one of Lost’s primary charms to a bit of a chore; the strained Kate flashback from the episode before being the freshest culprit. Here the producers take a more film-like approach, framing the day of the crash from the perspective of each of the main characters. We see Hurley almost miss the flight in a hilarious extended sequence. We see Jack fight to get his father’s coffin on the plane. We see Walt and Michael fighting from the wee hours of the morning. We see John Locke humiliated as he’s carried aboard the plane. We see Jin told in the men’s room that he’ll never be free of his father-in-law. We see Sawyer deported. And so on.

It’s simultaneously a reminder of all the flashbacks we’ve seen during the season and a stunning bringing-together of storylines that have grown divergent over the season. It’s a reminder that these characters were, somehow, supposed to be on the same flight. It ties the season together and recalls the pilot in the best way possible.
Myles McNutt, AV Club: Lost (Classic): “Exodus”
“Exodus” reminds us that Lost’s genre balance depended not only on the presence of more simple, humanist stories in its flashbacks, but also on that humanism being integrated back into the island itself. The flashbacks in “Exodus” are by and large uninterested in revelation or even information in the traditional sense. They are brief vignettes of the hours before the castaways boarded Oceanic Flight 815, glimpses of who they were framed against who they’ve become. Each flashback stands on its own as a piece of the puzzle for each individual character, but their larger goal is reminding us that no character has gone untouched or unchanged in the month since Flight 815 crashed on this island.

That’s the ultimate goal of “Exodus.” Its flashbacks — culminating in a simple yet powerful montage of the characters boarding the plane — don’t tell a story about why the castaways got on Oceanic Flight 815, and make no effort to solve any of the individual characters’ respective mysteries. Instead, they’re glimpses of who they were before, to remind us that they are constantly in flux in their new environment. They are not so much changed as they are changing, always in motion: Charlie kicked drugs but brings a Virgin Mary statue back to camp with him, while Hurley trades running to catch a flight to running to stop the dynamite from tempting fate with the numbers on the hatch. The people who got onto Oceanic Flight 815 have been rendered echoes of a past self, identities that bubble back to the surface but are constantly in conversation with the new people — Claire as a mother, Locke as a leader, Kate as a settler, etc. — they are becoming. It’s an evocative ending to the season: as much as the cliffhanger is what created the most buzz and excitement, it’s those slow-motion scenes of the characters stowing their bags and sharing unknowing eye contact with the people they would depend on in the month ahead that brings the season full circle, and makes this an incredibly satisfying finale to a powerful season of television.
Alan Sepinwall, The Revolution was Televised, excerpted in Grantland: ‘I Pretty Much Wanted to Die’
The three-hour episode captured everything that was exciting, moving, and funny about Lost. And in its final minutes, it captured everything that could be frustrating about it, too.

As would happen again five years later, the reaction to what happened at the very end overwhelmed nearly all talk of what had come before, whether in that episode or in the series to date. We had been promised answers, we felt. We had wanted to see what was in the damn hatch, and they had refused to show it to us. We were not pleased. And Cuse and Lindelof had not anticipated just how displeased we would be.

“We weren’t surprised that people would be frustrated,” says Lindelof. “We were surprised that people would be angry. There’s playful frustration: ‘Oh, you scamps.’ And what we experienced was, ‘How dare you? How dare you make us wait all this time?’”
Emily St. James, Vox: The Lost Interviews: Solitary
Damon Lindelof: “We’re not going to go into the hatch, we’re going to make you wait three months before we do that. I think that we knew that there were huge potential risks. But we also knew there were huge potential risks in answering those mysteries because when you answer mysteries, there tends to be a feeling of anti-climax, no matter how satisfying that answer is. It wasn’t as good as what you thought it might have been, or the sense of resolution is just not as exciting as the sense of mystery. It’s sort of like, ‘Oh that’s what was behind door number two? Okay. I probably could’ve figured that out.’ I think that we knew that we were engaging in a fairly dangerous dance, but we really wanted to err on the side of withholding versus giving. Which, in some senses came back and bit us in the ass, but in hindsight, I wouldn’t do it any other way.”
Rewatch companion: THE STORM: A Lost Rewatch Podcast - S1, E23, E24, E25: "Exodus (Parts 1-3)" with Jo Garfein and Damon Lindelof
Dave Gonzalez: “I think there’s a sort of a comfort level that you can see the writers get into at the end of this season, where they’re starting to get comfortable with the characters and some of their mysteries that they want to play around with. But they’re also, to me it feels like, they’re getting comfortable with the narratives that were around the show at the time. So there’s a lot of, like, meta stuff in these three episodes. There’s stuff like Arzt speaking out for the other 40 survivors or whatever.”
Joanna Robinson: “About cliques, yeah.”
Dave Gonzalez: “Yeah, about the cliques. John and Hurley speculating about what’s in the hatch. That was like, I remember that being like a huge thing. And when the show was like, hey, what do you think’s in the hatch? Everybody's like, whaaaaaat? Hurley’s thing, where — this is the show patting itself on the back a little bit — Hurley saying, whoever named this place dark territory: genius. Claire not knowing what the name Aaron means feels meta to me, because it feels like the show going, yeah, we named the kid Aaron, it doesn’t mean anything yet, don’t worry about it. And then the whole man of science, man of faith speech is just, like, that is the most about-the-show scene in the first season that I can think of. You know, like that’s just like, here’s what the show’s about. It's about these people having an argument about faith and science.”

Joanna Robinson: “One of the sort-of-infamous stories around this first season of Lost is how you had to kind of smuggle a genre show past a network that was a little skittish to do genre. And I’m curious: by the time the smoke monster appears in the finale, do you feel like you’ve won and you can do anything? If there’s a little cloud of black smoke running through the jungle?”
Damon Lindelof: “No. I mean, we had won. Like, I think that actually the more popular the show became the more intense that conversation became. That conversation about what was in the hatch, you know, and going to ABC and saying here is what’s in the hatch: that was the moment where they gave up. That was the beginning of us having won the war. Because I think that there were very serious concerns about what that meant for the show and how we were going to pull it off and what it meant genre-wise. We went and pitched ‘here’s what’s in the hatch’ to Steve McPherson, who was the head of ABC. And he just sort of sat there for, like, what felt like 30 seconds, but was probably more like four or five seconds. Which is a long time. And at the end of that he basically said, like, he just held up his hands and he was like: ‘okay.’ That’s what he said. And he was so resigned. It wasn’t like, ‘that's the most incredible pitch I’ve ever heard’; or, ‘I have some serious issues with it.’ We’d been battling, I think, about so many things up until that point that that was the moment that things started to get easier for us. But the season one finale we were still, you know, we were still not entirely seeing eye to eye about the genre.”

Dave Gonzalez: “It’s interesting that [Rousseau], an unreliable narrator, has now become the source of answers that we believe in this island of mystery. She’s the one that calls this a security system. She’s the one that takes us to the Black Rock. She’s the one that sets up the whole black pillar of smoke as coming from the Others. But all of those things seem to end up being like weird gray half-truths. And it's kind of an amazing feat of writing that they’re allowed to use Rousseau in this way, because if you track what she does as a character, we’re not focused on her. She’s not one of our Losties. She’s not core. So therefore it’s kind of easy to overlook that she is like plot-motivator central. She shows up with the information when the pillar of smoke happens. She separates all of our Losties. Her threat turns out not to be real at all. And we have a season break before we get to deal with those consequences.”
Neil Miller: “But she’s also right about enough stuff where it’s super creepy. Like at the end of part three where she’s going: I thought they wanted the child. And at that point I’m like, okay, so she might just be sort of out there. And then when she says: they said they were coming for the boy. It starts to click that, like, oh shit; what she heard might be real because we then see somebody show up and take Walt.”
Joanna Robinson: “What’s interesting is that they don’t cut straight. My memory was her saying they said they were coming for the boy and then, like, cut to Walt. But they don’t do that. They cut back to the jungle crew. I think that’s interesting.”
Neil Miller: “The thing is, we don’t know if we can trust her. She shows up. She initializes the action. And everybody spends the rest of the time trying to figure out if she’s telling them a story or not. And some of it’s right. And I think that’s the thing that I took away from Rousseau at the end of season one. Especially the first time around, it’s like: I don’t know if I can trust anything she says, but she definitely heard something out there. You know? Like it’s becoming more real that she's not crazy about the part where there are other people. That’s becoming more real. And I think that a huge important part of her character in this episode is, like, we can kind of believe some of the stuff she’s saying. But not all of it. I don't know. We’ll see.”

“Do you really think all this is an accident — that we, a group of strangers survived, many of us with just superficial injuries? Do you think we crashed on this place by coincidence — especially, this place? We were brought here for a purpose, for a reason, all of us. Each one of us was brought here for a reason.”
“Brought here? And who brought us here, John?”
“The Island. The Island brought us here.”

posted by We had a deal, Kyle (4 comments total)
Currently streaming in the US on Hulu (subscription) and Freevee (free with ads); in the UK on Disney+; and available for purchase just about everywhere. I am running way behind on these, but dang, S2 is so so great; let’s aim to start again on July 4th.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:27 PM on June 27, 2023

I don’t remember a ton about the first season, but I think about the Sudden Ignominious End Of Arzt a lot.
posted by thecaddy at 6:34 PM on June 27, 2023

They go out of their way to make Arzt an arrogant blowhard so they can sell that moment.

I always liked how shellshocked Hurley looks in the aftermath; "you've got some Arzt on you" is the laugh line that I quoted here, but Hurley isn't delivering it as a joke; he's horrified.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:22 PM on June 27, 2023

let’s aim to start again on July 4th

Well, yeah, no. I'll post Man of Science, Man of Faith at the weekend and aim for a weekly schedule from there on.

End-of-season thoughts:
  • I always remember S1 being solidly great all the way through, but oof, no: it sags quite a lot in the middle before the momentum of raft vs. hatch picks up again. 24 episodes is so long; maybe this would have felt tighter at 16.
  • S1 is really almost all Locke, isn't it? Like, Jack's the hero, but Locke is the engine that drives this season: he's always there, intervening in almost every plotline, and always running his own the-island-chose-me agenda. And Terry O'Quinn is just perfect in the role: even when Locke's in avuncular mode there's always a note of danger there, always a feeling that he's being manipulative-nice rather than nice-nice.
  • Lindelof was right about leaving what's-in-the-hatch as a cliffhanger! And also I suspect: they themselves only knew that answer in broad strokes at this point, and pushing that reveal out to S2E1 gave them so much more runway for world-building. And boy, did that pay off.
  • They are already fully into the "answer every question with another question" mystery-box model. We discover what the Black Rock is, but how did it get there? We discover what the monster looks like, but what is it? And so on, and so on. And I think this works here, at this point, as they have so much momentum and so much goodwill and we're willing to get on the ride and see where it goes.

posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:50 PM on July 5, 2023 [1 favorite]

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