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The Most Pause-Worthy Moments From Lost

Long before the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 wash ashore in "Lost," their lives and fates are intertwined. And despite all of the challenges they face on the Island — like dodging malevolent sentient smoke, Arzt goo, and Sawyer's zingers — the geographically elusive locale offers a chance at redemption and a new life together.

Between exploring the Island, battling it out with Ben Linus' shady crew, the occasional time travel adventure, and working through the Island's seemingly endless puzzles and mysteries, the survivors certainly have their hands full. As the eventual Oceanic Six and their associates scratch their heads over strange whispers and other inexplicable phenomena, viewers start to clue in that they've got their own puzzles to solve from the hints lurking in various survivors' names and back stories to the secret clues hiding in characters' crossword puzzles and comic books. Between all of the secrets and shocking reveals in "Lost," the show is one of the most active viewing experiences ever to grace the small screen. Next time you visit the Island, be sure to check out these pause-worthy moments.

The tiles on the Swan station countdown clock

Of all of the many mysteries the survivors of Flight 815 encounter on the Island, one of the more enigmatic and bizarre is that of the Swan station computer. According to Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick) — who inherited his directive from Kelvin Inman (Clancy Brown) and is all too happy to pass it on to the mid-section survivors — a number must be inputted into the Swan station's retro-licious computer every 108 minutes. Failure to do so, he explains, will have devastating consequences. To keep the operators on task, the Swan station is equipped with an old-school number-flipping countdown clock on the wall, and an alarm begins to sound after the counter reaches T-minus four minutes.

With such a strict schedule to keep, it's unsurprising that there's eventually a breakdown in the system, especially with the chronic disunity that plagues the survivors. As John Locke learns in "One of Them" (Season 2, Episode 14), once the timer runs out, its tiles flip from the relatively neutral black-and-white number tiles to an ominous red and black, with the numbers replaced with cryptic hieroglyphs. Hieroglyphs are a recurring theme on the Island and within the series. They can be found on Benjamin Linus' secret door, in the frozen wheel chamber, on the temple wall, and inside the lighthouse, as just a few examples.

According to Damon Lindelof in the "Lost" Season 4 DVD bonus features, the producers consulted an Egyptian hieroglyphics expert to create these details for the series. In the Season 3 DVD bonus "Access: Granted," the showrunners explained that the Swan station hieroglyphics were intended to translate to "Underworld."

The Swan station blast door map

When they're not babysitting the hatch computer, the inhabitants of Swan station find themselves with plenty of time to kill. Sure, the hatch has a pretty decent vintage vinyl collection and a fairly well-stocked library, but everyone needs a creative outlet — especially employees of a shadowy corporation engaging in weird science on a remote and possibly supernatural island. For Swan station architect Stuart Radzinsky (Eric Lange) and Kelvin Inman, that outlet takes the form of a lovingly crafted UV-responsive map of the Island on the blast doors that is visible only under a blacklight ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1," Season 2, Episode 23). Originally painted with various substances including Dharma laundry detergent by artists who could not see their progress as they worked, the map that emerged includes major geographic locations on the Island and various annotations. Pausing the video at exactly the right time reveals some of the map's more artistic notations. Written in a combination of English, Latin, Greek, and mathematical equations, the colorful blast door map seems to include philosophical musings, various bits of "Lost" historical information, and anything else its creators deemed relevant at the time.

The Dharma shark

Fans immediately know "Lost" takes place on an island with unique zoological features when the survivors encounter their first polar bear in the pilot (Season 1, Episode 2). Eventually, viewers learn that the Island was once the hub of the Dharma Initiative's various forays into zoological experimentation. As Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse explained in "The Official Lost Podcast," the Dharma crew would routinely flood the Hydra station so they could experiment on dolphins and sharks. One of these Dharma test subjects makes an appearance in "Adrift" (Season 2, Episode 2) as Michael (Harold Perrineau) and Sawyer (Josh Holloway) are clinging to the wreckage of their raft after the Others kidnap and abscond with Walt (Malcolm David Kelley), shooting Sawyer in the process.

As if the pair didn't have enough to deal with, Sawyer's blood attracts the interest of a shark who relentlessly attacks the pontoons the men are clinging to until Michael fires off several rounds, which either finishes off the "toothy son of a b****" or gets the message across that he isn't welcome. Before the gun sends the shark packing, a view of the raft's underside reveals this fish has an interesting feature — a Dharma Initiative logo stamped on his tail. In the podcast, Cuse and Lindelof joked that the shark's name is Ezra James Sharkington, and he may or may not have received his tattoo in Thailand from the same person who inked Jack.

Hurley's Korean TV debut

Almost everybody daydreams about winning the lottery at some point, even if they never actually play it. Some people think about the fancy sports cars or sprawling mansions they would invest in, while others just dream about having a debt-free life where they can finally help the people they love stop struggling day after day. For everybody's favorite survivor Hugo "Hurley" Reyes (Jorge Garcia), the lottery dream turns into a reality when he wins with the Mega Lotto jackpot using what he would eventually learn are a set of recurring numbers that menace the survivors of Flight 815. Life astoundingly imitated art in 2011 when a group of lottery winners won by playing the same numbers (via NPR).

Of course, winning the lottery is big news by any stretch. But apparently, it's such big news that the story makes it all the way to Korea, as seen briefly in the background of "...In Translation" (Season 1, Episode 17). The moment occurs when Jin is arriving at the home of Secretary for Environmental Safety Byung Han (Joey Yu), whom his father-in-law has ordered Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) to violently intimidate. Shortly after Jin arrives at Byung's home, Hurley can be seen on the TV screen across the room where Byung's daughter is watching television. Aside from this clip, the series is full of strange moments like this one where the survivors cross paths with one another before they end up together on the Island. Examples include Hurley commenting on a Drive Shaft CD during a trip to the record store, Sawyer almost hooking up with the same girl who draws Hurley's winning numbers on TV, and Sawyer running into Jack's dad Christian in an Australian bar.

Inside Jacob's cabin

The Island of "Lost" is full of strange and surreal locations — creepy retro hatches, a hieroglyph-covered temple guarded by a four-toed statue, a cute little suburban neighborhood, and even a pirate ship that's too far inland to make a lick of obvious sense. And that's to say nothing of the wheel that literally moves the entire Island across time and space. But one of the Island's eerier locales is the dark and possibly haunted cabin a few of the survivors encounter. John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) first enters the cabin when Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) drags him there on the survivors' 89th day in "The Man Behind the Curtain" (Season 3, Episode 20). Inside the cabin, Ben goes full Charleton Heston, striking up a conversation with what appears to be an empty chair. As the men are leaving amid Locke's accusations that Ben is playing games, things take a supernatural turn. A seemingly disembodied voice pleads with Locke to, in his words, "help me." The room begins to shake, objects are thrown about by an unseen force, and Ben is slammed against a wall. And for a split second, someone seems to appear across the room. Viewers are given a brief glimpse of a mysterious eye, but it's unclear whose face it belongs to.

A puzzle at the funeral parlor

Pretty much everything in "Lost" is a potential clue or an Easter egg. Many of the characters are named for literary figures, scientists, and philosophers. For example, John Locke, Desmond Hume, and Jeremy Bentham are all names of famous philosophers, while Eloise Hawking and Daniel Faraday are clear references to physicists Stephen Hawking and Michael Faraday. Viewers who look closer can find a handful of anagrams hidden in the story. When rearranged, the letters of Ethan Rom's name shuffle to spell "Other man," hinting at his identity as an Other. There's also the Other front company Mittelos, which is an anagram for "lost time." A third anagram can be found in the name of Hoffs-Drawlar Funeral Parlor — the low-rent funeral home that Benjamin Linus and Jack steal Locke's body from in ""Through the Looking Glass, Part 2" (Season 3, Episode 22). When rearranged, the letters in the parlor's name spell the phrase "flash forward."

Locke's big reveal

When they first crash-land on the Island, most of the survivors have at least one big secret they're hanging onto, and the showrunners do a pretty good job of keeping their cards close to the vest for as long as possible. Even though Hurley drops hints at his lottery winnings to other characters, he never presents himself like a man with money, which makes the truth come as a surprise when it is eventually revealed. There's also Kate's past as a fugitive, Sun's secret English proficiency, and Sawyer's con artist double-reveal where it turns out he isn't the original Sawyer his letter is addressed to. But by far, the best of the survivors' revelations is the sneaky secret Locke is harboring from the moment he first wakes up on the Island.

Among the survivors, Locke seems to have an innate connection to the Island. He quickly demonstrates an aptitude for hunting and survivalism, which makes us feel initially confused and frustrated by his flashbacks in "Walkabout" (Season 1, Episode 4), where everyone seems to underestimate him. This frustration peaks when Locke arrives in Australia and the walkabout guide bars him from the tour. When the camera pans out to reveal John's wheelchair, it's delightfully clear the showrunners pulled a fast one. In an interview with Vox, Lindelof called the episode a "litmus test" for the series, recalling that it the reveal represented "a moment of profound faith and reassurance in what we were doing, surrounded by doubt and trepidation on either side of it."

The list of candidates

As "Lost" progresses, one of the things that eventually gets revealed over the series is the influence Jacob has always had on the people destined to be aboard Oceanic Flight 815. The ageless figure that he is, Jacob appears to them at various times. According to the Man in Black, his ostensible brother's goal is to find a replacement for himself as the Island's protector ("The Candidate," Season 6, Episode 14) Lists of Jacob's candidates can be found in two places: on the wall of the cliffside cave, and inside the lighthouse, as seen in "The Substitute" (Season 6, Episode 4) and "Lighthouse" (Season 6, Episode 5). Taking a closer look at the list of candidates can provide additional insight into Jacob's "hiring" process. For example, when candidates are no longer under consideration for the position, their names appear to be crossed out, as is the case for "Austen" (as in, Kate). The existence of both lists and the MIB's interference with the candidates has led to extensive speculation over the candidate rules and meaning of the lists.

Juliet's favorite book

Stories within stories play an important role in "Lost" from Sawyer's epistolary struggle with the man responsible for his parents' death to the exotic dancer crime TV series "Exposé." Books also seem to be fairly important to characters whose lives intersect with the Island. Sawyer, whose name is likely an allusion to Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer," is an avid reader, repeatedly reading and referencing the books "Of Mice and Men," "Watership Down," "A Wrinkle in Time," and Walker Percy's "Lancelot." Then there's Desmond, who carries a copy of Charles Dickens' "Our Mutual Friend" with him everywhere with plans to read it before he dies — in the flash sideways, he carries a copy of Salman Rushdie's "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" ("LAX," Season 6, Episode 1). So, it should come as no surprise that the Others have their own very contentious little book club, which just so happens to be meeting at the moment Flight 815 crashes ("A Tale of Two Cities," Season 3, Episode 1).

Adam calls out Juliet's choice of literature as "by-the-numbers religious hokum-pokum," groaning that Ben "wouldn't read this in the damned bathroom," while Juliet insists that it is her favorite book. When Ben later spots the book Juliet is still holding, he tells her, "So I guess I'm out of the book club." For viewers still wondering what this controversial novel is, this is the perfect spot to pause, revealing that the book is Stephen King's "Carrie." The 1974 horror story is about a powerful young woman trapped in unbearable circumstances, something that Juliet would surely find relatable.

The Hurley bird

Of all of the strange and interesting animals inhabiting the Island on "Lost," one of the most mysterious is the large avian fans called the "Hurley bird." When the survivors first encounter the bird while traveling through the Dark Territory in "Exodus, Part 2" (Season 1, Episode 24) Hurley comments that the location was named by a genius. Their second encounter with the bird in "Live Together, Die Alone Part 1" (Season 2, Episode 24) is even more disturbing, leaving Hurley convinced the bird called his name despite Sawyer finding the suggestion laughable. As the bird swoops down over the group, its massive wingspan causes them to duck in fright as Michael attempts to fire his unloaded gun at the creature. To get a complete sense of the bird's size, hit pause at just the right time. The Hurley bird's existence is explained in the "Lost" epilogue, "New Man in Charge," by Dr. Pierre Chang (François Chau) who calls them "fascinating hybrids, or hy-birds" meant to be "released and monitored to see how they adapt to the unique properties of the Island."

Libby in the institution

The survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 had a tendency to bump into each other before fate brought them together on the Island. But one of the "tailies" (that's a vernacular term for survivors from the plane's tail-end) tends to sport a different look and increasingly more enigmatic backstory every time she shows up. From the first moment Hurley meets Libby (Cynthia Watros) on the Island until their relationship is unfortunately cut short, there's a definite chemistry between the pair. Although Libby claims to be a clinical psychologist in "The Other 48 Days" (Season 2, Episode 7) there is no evidence of this in her flashbacks, and the pieces of her life that are shown don't seem to add up without some missing pieces viewers never get in the series. Unlike the other characters on the Island, Libby seems to be fond of changing up her look.

At one point, she is shown meeting Desmond in a coffee shop while wearing straight strawberry blond hair and bangs ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1" Season 2, Episode 23), whereas on the Island, her hair is a wavy dark blond. But her strangest appearance comes at the end of "Dave" (Season 2, Episode 18), when Libby shows up in Hurley's flashback to the mental institution. Sulking in the corner is a very traumatized-looking chestnut-haired Libby, and she doesn't seem to be there in a clinical psychologist capacity.

Not Penny's boat

One of the hardest things about "Lost" is saying goodbye to characters we come to know and love like Ana Lucia (Michelle Rodriguez), Libby, Boone (Ian Somerhalder), and Shannon (Maggie Grace). Fortunately, no one is ever truly gone on a magical island with a four-toed statues and sentient smoke. That doesn't make the most tragic deaths on "Lost" any less emotional. And the most heartbreaking loss of them all is the untimely death of former Britpop star Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan). The moment takes place in the Season 3 episode "Through the Looking Glass." After finally making his way back into Claire's good graces after their big falling out and struggling to make peace with visions of his own death, Charlie accepts his fate, risking his life to turn off the signal jammer so the survivors can be rescued.

There's a moment of relief when Charlie realizes that he's completed his mission and lived to tell the tale, remarking, "So much for fate." But at the last moment, a transmission from Penny (Sonya Walger) comes through, revealing that the "rescuers" aren't who they say they are. When Mikhail (Andrew Divoff) swims up with a grenade in hand, trapping Charlie in the compartment with his fate after all, the guitarist uses his Sharpie to send one last message — "Not Penny's Boat" — written on his hand. It's a heartbreaking and heroic chance at redemption for a man who nearly lost everything to addiction before crashing on the Island.