15. Flashes Before Your Eyes (3.8)
Best Known For: “No matter what I do…you’re gonna die, Charlie.” This episode is only a first draft of timey-wimey craziness compared to “The Constant,” but don’t let me sell it short: This was a monumental episode that showed LOST slipping into its own form of hard sci-fi for the first time, launching the already-beloved Desmond into the stratosphere. We just want him to fix things with Penny!
14. Exodus, Part 1 (1.23)
Best Known For: The launching of the raft, one of the series’s most iconic visuals — and one of composer Michael Giacchino’s most iconic themes. (Walt’s “Go back, Vincent!” is crushing.) But throughout the hour, the dread is building in advance of what the Losties expect to be a full-blown Others attack, and Rousseau leads Jack’s group to their first look at the Black Rock.
13. There’s No Place Like Home, Part 1 (4.12)
Best Known For: All of Season 4’s brilliant plotting — extra tight thanks to the 2007 writers strike — comes to a head, as Keamy leads a strike on the Orchid (defended by Ben and Locke) and Sayid starts to ferry survivors to the freighter…that is rigged to blow. In flash-forward, we get to see the Oceanic 6’s return to civilization, where Sayid reunites with Nadia and Jack finds out Claire’s his half-sister.
12. The 23rd Psalm (2.10)
Best Known For: A legendary showcase for Eko and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Already the coolest character from his first appearance in “Orientation,” this episode gives him a uniquely tragic backstory — his guilt-driven conversion from warlord to priest after his brother’s death. But on the island, it was also the moment we’d been breathlessly speculating about for a year and a half: Our first real look at the Monster, in all its smokey glory.
11. The End (6.17)
Best Known For: Love it, hate it, or somewhere in between, there’s no denying that LOST left it all on the field. The extended series finale had to catch a thousand balls: Saving the island (magic cork?), getting (some of) the survivors off it for good, and finally explaining just what the Sideways World was once everyone (Sawyer & Juliet, finally!) reunited. But for me, it’s Jack’s sacrifice that still resonates, especially considering my love-hate relationship with him throughout the series. The final moments — his eye closing, in perfect synchronicity with the Pilot, as Vincent comes to lay beside him — are beautifully handled. It didn’t have to answer every question. I was moved, impressed, and altogether satisfied.
10. Ab Aeterno (6.9)
Best Known For: It’s the Richard hour, and boy was it worth the wait. The best episode of the final season centered solely on our Ageless Wonder, but surprisingly limited the flashback action to 1867: How he ended up on the Black Rock, and his initial encounters with the Man in Black and Jacob, who he too-casually told he wanted to live forever. Nestor Carbonell is convincing every moment he’s on screen, and the series’s already-excellent production values might have reached their apex here. The final scene, where Richard’s dead wife speaks through Hurley to beg her husband not to give up, is cleverly filmed by director Tucker Gates.
9. Lafleur (5.8)
Best Known For: Lafleur! I absolutely adore this episode; I think it’s perfect writing, and the best episode for Sawyer/Josh Holloway by far. It’s the little things, like Phil and Jerry’s obvious fear of their Security Chief, Jin’s fluent English, and the casual way Sawyer and Juliet’s relationship is revealed. His scene with Richard, whom the latter has technically never met before, is exquisitely charged. Our man has come a long way since the days of hoarding his “stash,” and this hour is the bridge between the brash conman James Ford was, and the thoughtful, conscientious leader he has become — at last, the indisputably best character in a deep ensemble.
8. Exodus, Part 2 (1.24)
Best Known For: You could easily say the final shot, the almost literal cliffhanger with the camera sinking down, down the shaft of the Hatch, as Jack and Locke — the man of science, and the man of faith — stare into it. You could say the Waaaaallllt-knapping, with the first appearance of the Others and the destruction of the raft. Heck, you could even say it’s when Artz blows himself up, and I wouldn’t complain. LOST’s first season finale plays as simple compared to what was to come, but it also solidified its place as the best show on television, which it would back up with an armload of Emmys. I still love that slow-mo montage at the end showing all of the passengers boarding; another Giacchino highlight, among other things.
7. The Incident (5.17)
Best Known For: Like all season finales, it’s split into multiple tracks, but these couldn’t be more different. What you remember most is Juliet, dying at the bottom of the Swan site shaft, pounding on the Jughead bomb until the screen goes white, capping off a frantic and frankly traumatic sequence (“I got you, Blondie” — until he doesn’t). But we also got the first appearances by Jacob and the Man in Black — the former as he visits younger versions of the Losties, setting their destinies in motion; the latter, as we chillingly discover, impersonating Locke and manipulating Ben into killing Jacob. I know that for many viewers, this is where they started to feel like the show’s final season would be a letdown. I wasn’t one of them.
6. Walkabout (1.4)
Best Known For: Locke stands up. The Pilot was an incredible piece of television, but this was the moment where LOST showed it could and would be a lot more than a jungle adventure show. Writer David Fury and director Jack Bender pull off a real magic trick by keeping Locke sedentary throughout his flashback — until he rolls, rolls, in pursuit of the walkabout guide, and the reveal hits like a sledgehammer. On the island, the confidence that comes from his miraculous healing has made him master of his domain; he throws knives with deadly accuracy, kills boar, and looks into “the eye of the island” and lives to tell about it. Locke would eventually fall (and rise, and fall again) from grace, but the view from the top is stunning.