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Lost was framed by Jack's eye opening in the pilot episode, and closing in the series finale.
In literature, film, television, music, and other media, a framing device is a literary technique, where the same element – such as a setting, event, or piece of music – is used at both the beginning and the end of the work (or part of the work). The "frame" that this story device creates can serve various storytelling and aesthetic purposes.
Series-wide framing devices
- The first episode of the series begins after the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, with Jack opening his eyes, and Vincent running out to greet him, in the bamboo grove with a white tennis shoe nearby. ("Pilot, Part 1") The final episode of the series ends with Jack returning to the same location and closing his eyes, as Vincent lies down beside him, and Ajira Flight 316 leaving the island, with some of his island friends on board. ("The End")
- The first ever flashback in the series is set on Oceanic Flight 815, and Jack, Cindy and Rose are the first characters featured in it. ("Pilot, Part 1") This is mirrored in the first episode of the last season, in which the show's first flash sideways scene is very similar to this flashback. ("LA X, Part 1")
- There are a number of similarities between the character centricity of the first episodes of season 1 and season 6. See Similarities between Season 1 and Season 6.
Season framing devices
The first season begins by showing the characters on September 22nd 2004, both on the Island, and on Oceanic Flight 815 in flashbacks. ("Pilot, Part 1") ("Pilot, Part 2") Several weeks pass over the course of the season, but the finale ends by showing flashbacks of the characters back on September 22nd, right before their flight. The final of these flashbacks shows characters boarding the flight whose crash launched the season. ("Exodus, Part 1") ("Exodus, Part 2")
The season's opening shot shows Jack looking up at the unknown scenery of the Island. The camera moves upward, away from him. The closing shot shows him (and Locke) looking down into the freshly opened hatch; the camera moves downward, away from them both. The series's mystery theme plays over the opening and closing scene.
The season's first and last word are "Waaalt."
At the very beginning of season 2 Desmond plays the song "Make Your Own Kind of Music" by "Mama" Cass Elliot on his record player in the Swan. ("Man of Science, Man of Faith") An instrumental sitar version of the same song can be faintly heard in the background during the last scene of the season, as the technicians at the tracking station are playing chess. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2") Both locations were previously unseen on the show, and both scenes show new characters as they encounter a major event while on their everyday duties.
The premiere and finale of the season begin at Los Angeles International Airport. ("LA X, Parts 1 & 2") ("The End") The premiere introduces a piece of music that does not play again until it opens the finale. The premiere features Juliet's death and last words, which are replayed and explained in the finale.
- "Walkabout": The episode begins with a flashback of Locke on the day of the crash, with him lying on the beach, wiggling his toe, putting on his shoe and getting up slowly. At the end of the episode, the same flashback is used, right after Locke's condition is revealed in a major plot twist. The preceding twist provides context to Locke's actions on the beach.
- "Numbers": Near the beginning of the episode, Hurley is holding Rousseau's notes, and the camera zooms in on some numbers, as he is looking at them. Shortly after, a flashback reveals that Hurley won the lottery with those numbers. The episode ends with a cliffhanger, as the camera slowly zooms in on the Hatch in the jungle, with the numbers embossed on it.
- "Deus Ex Machina": The first and last scenes feature Locke kneeling on the hatch, yelling despondently.
- "Tricia Tanaka Is Dead": The episode opens and closes with the song "Shambala", the final rendition blending into an orchestral arrangement.
- "Exposé": The opening scene of Nikki running to the beach and collapsing returns at the end of the episode, after the audience has the context to understand it.
- "Through the Looking Glass": Jack starts the finale aboard a plane. In the final shot, a plane flies over his head. During both these scenes, variations on Jack's theme play.
- "There's No Place Like Home, Part 1", "There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3": The three-part finale begins with a flash forward to the Oceanic Six's arrival in Hawaii, introducing their theme. Excluding the last scene, the finale ends with their return to civilization, now part of the real-time narrative, set to a variation of that same theme. The very first music that plays in "There's No Place Like Home, Part 1" is a separate motif that also plays in "There's No Place Like Home, Part 3"'s very last scene.
- "316": Though the episode concerns the Oceanic Six's journey to return to the Island (via Ajira Flight 316), it starts and ends with a flash forward of several of them on the Island.
- "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham": Though the episode concerns Locke's off-island adventures as Jeremy Bentham, it starts and ends with a living Locke on the island.
- "The Incident, Parts 1 & 2": At the start of the finale, Jacob and the Man in Black confront each other, the Man in Black promising to find a "loophole" that will let him kill him. At the end, the two meet again after more than a century, and they acknowledge that the loophole has arrived, and Jacob is killed by Ben.
- "Ab Aeterno": A short current story frames the episode's main action, which takes place in 1867.
- "Happily Ever After": Interaction between Desmond and Widmore on the Island frames the majority of the episode, which consists of flash sideways.
- "The End": The first and last act begin with the LAX theme. The beginning and the end of the episode revolve around Christian's coffin. At the end of the first conversation, Kate, in a car learns that Desmond's mission is "to leave", and in the episode's second to last scene, she is in a car again, this time telling the same words to Jack.
- Framing device on Wikipedia