55. Two for the Road (2.20)
Best Known For: Michael shooting Ana-Lucia and Libby, one of the most shocking final moments in LOST history. And while the first death was tragic — Ana’s character rehabilitation fittingly reached its apex here — the second is still upsetting as heck. Why did you have to go back for blankets, Libby? It wasn’t your DUI, was it?
54. Tabula Rasa (1.3)
Best Known For: The protracted death of the Marshal. The first Kate episode is still the best Kate episode, as it comes right after the pilot when we’re still getting to know the survivors and the island’s mystery potential. The climax, where Sawyer fails to put the Marshal out of his misery, is terrific small-scale, character-driven drama.
53. Maternity Leave (2.15)
Best Known For: Claire’s adventure in the medical station. It’s a great on-island flashback episode that reveals what happened to Claire after Ethan took her, that the Others are far from the jungle hillbillies they appear to be, and that Rousseau’s long-lost daughter Alex is with them. Also: Fake Henry really gets in Locke’s head.
52. Man of Science, Man of Faith (2.1)
Best Known For: What’s in the hatch? It’s a Scottish dude named Desmond! The best cold open of the series (after the Pilot) delivered a Mama Cass-set montage of Des’s life before its rude interruption by Jack and Locke. Meanwhile in flashback, Jack helps his future ex-wife walk again after a pep talk from — gasp — Desmond.
51. The Variable (5.14)
Best Known For: The gobsmacking twist ending of Faraday getting killed by his mother, by mistake, in the past, before he’s even born, causing Eloise to live the rest of her life knowing what’s going to happen to her son and being a monster anyway. Oh, and Widmore’s his dad, because one family connection isn’t enough. God.
50. The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham (5.7)
Best Known For: Ben talking Locke out of killing himself, and then killing him. John’s sad story comes to an end, and the island guru-turned-fallen prophet dies as he lived: a sucker, a puppet, who never learns that his mission of bringing the Oceanic 6 back to the island actually succeeded. Because the Locke on Hydra isn’t Locke at all.
49. What They Died For (6.16)
Best Known For: Jack becoming Island God! As I’ve said, your mileage may vary on the heavily spiritualized final season (though recall we’ve had smoke monsters and ghosts from the beginning), but the mythic scale of these episodes still works for me. Also: Widmore dies, and Des springs Sayid and Kate of Sideways Jail.
48. The Man from Tallahassee (3.13)
Best Known For: Locke blowing up the submarine, just as Jack and Juliet plan to leave? The introduction of the “mystery box” with Locke’s dad inside, that would define an entire method of storytelling? Locke falling out the window? His thrilling tete-a-tete with Ben? Whatever you choose, it’s a great Locke hour all around.
47. White Rabbit (1.5)
Best Known For: “If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone.” This is LOST’s Thesis Statement episode, with the bonus of some decent Jack background (before he becomes fully sanctimonious), a great scene with the doctor and Locke (who’s still in guru mode), and the first creepy appearance of Ghost Christian.
46. Solitary (1.9)
Best Known For: Sayid being held captive by Rousseau. Our first look at the French Woman is quintessential LOST mystery seeding: What happened to the rest of her team? What’s with the whispers? Who took Alex? We also learn Sayid’s history (and about Nadia!); on the other end of the island, Hurley builds a golf course, which is fun.
45. Abandoned (2.6)
Best Known For: Making Shannon compelling right before her accidental death. As if getting her life ruined by her wicked stepmother wasn’t enough, she follows CreepyWetWalt into the jungle only to get shot by a panicky Ana-Lucia. The Shannon/Sayid romance never fully clicked for me, but that final shot…man.
44. One of Us (3.16)
Best Known For: Being the definitive Juliet episode. She joins the main camp, is mistrusted, saves Claire’s life, explains the problems pregnant women have on the island, and wonders how to get out from under Ben’s control. Elizabeth Mitchell is so great here, compelling whether Juliet is afraid, enraged, pensive, or coy.
43. The Greater Good (1.22)
Best Known For: The fallout from Boone’s death throws the camp into disarray, as Shannon wants revenge on Locke, and Sayid forces him to take him to the Beechcraft, where Locke admits he was the one who knocked Sayid out in “The Moth.” On the comic relief side, Sawyer’s voice makes baby Aaron fall asleep.
42. Catch-22 (3.17)
Best Known For: Naomi parachuting onto the island. But this is a hugely entertaining ensemble episode, as Charlie, Hurley, and Jin tag along, share ghost stories, and whistle the theme from River Kwai as Des pursues the vision he’s convinced will lead to Penny…even if Charlie has to take an arrow in the throat. Also, he was a monk once?
41. House of the Rising Sun (1.6)
Best Known For: Our first good look at the Kwons, including the revelation that Sun secretly learned English so she could escape her marriage — which she only fears because of what her own father is making Jin do. Meanwhile, a bee-pursued Jack and Kate find the caves, but not everyone wants to give up hope of rescue that quickly.
40. The Brig (3.19)
Best Known For: Sawyer strangling Cooper/Original Sawyer like Jabba, getting revenge for both himself and Locke but feeling like garbage afterward. That moment of realization (“Sawyer’s my name too”) is still a stunner. I also love the throwaway moment where Rousseau wanders in, gets some dynamite, and leaves.
39. The Whole Truth (2.16)
Best Known For: “You guys got any milk?” That Fake Henry scene [kisses fingertips like a chef] is absolutely incredible. It’s so creepily underplayed by Michael Emerson as he masterfully manipulates the Losties against each other. It would be a few seasons before he’d be this electrifying again. This is also a terrific Sun episode!
38. All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues (1.11)
Best Known For: Jack pounding on Charlie’s chest, again and again and again and again and again — an eternity — until the rock star comes back, cheating death for the first time. We also get the best Jack flashback (despite the episode’s unwieldy and meta title), and Locke and Boone first come across the Hatch. Great stuff.
37. LA X (6.1-2)
Best Known For: This two-hour premiere is jam-packed: Juliet dies in Sawyer’s arms, who launches himself at Jack. The introduction of the Temple, where Sayid is brought back to life. Ben realizes that Locke isn’t Locke (oops), and Bram’s men get wrecked. Oh, and Hello, Sideways World, pristine, intriguing, and full of potential.
36. The Beginning of the End (4.1)
Best Known For: The freighter’s arrival, and the survivors choosing sides. Desmond passes along Charlie’s final warning, and though Jack is ready to get off the island, Locke is ready to protect it no matter what, leading to the most fraught confrontation yet between the two men. In flash-forward, Hurley starts seeing ghosts.