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Islands
A plot twist: Ben tells Sawyer they are actually on a second Island that was previously unknown to the survivors.

Lost featured frequent twists - unexpected narrative shifts. Some added new information about known elements. Some wrapped up storylines in surprising ways. Others diverted the plot's long-term direction.

Contextual twists

Several scenes in Lost mislead viewers about where or when they're set until a later revelation. Episode cold openings frequently include this twist.

  • A close-up on Jack and Michael shows them tensely debating their next move, suggesting a matter of great significance. The next shot reveals that they are golfing and discussing which club to use. ("Solitary")
  • A friend of Jack's is suited for a tuxedo, and their conversation suggests we're witnessing an incidental wedding Jack attended. The tailor then calls Jack the groom, revealing that we're about to witness Jack's own wedding. ("Do No Harm")
  • A man goes about his morning routine, preparing breakfast, exercising and working on a computer. The fully-equipped kitchen, laundry machines and gun vault suggest this takes place off-island, in civilization. Old-fashioned props, including the record player and old computer, suggest we're seeing a flashback. The sight of Jack and Locke places this in the Hatch, on the island and in the present day, following immediately from the previous season's cliffhanger. ("Man of Science, Man of Faith")
  • Hurley begins a scene in the Swan pantry, a location he visited and to which he'd presumably return. He begins eating the food there, but the scene becomes increasingly bizarre, and it turns out to be a dream. ("Everybody Hates Hugo")
  • An episode begins with a young version of a character, suggesting a childhood flashback like in "White Rabbit" or "The 23rd Psalm". As with Hurley's dream, strange events unfold, and Charlie turns out to be dreaming. ("Fire + Water")
  • Eko chops wood for his church. Ana, who died in the previous episode, appears, and reveals that for the third episode this season, the cold opening turned out to be a dream. Shortly after, Eko appears to dream again. This turns out, however, to be Locke's dream. ("?")
  • A woman goes about her morning routine, playing music, baking and entertaining guests. We see several houses populated with people, suggesting this scene takes place in the suburbs, off-island. The arrival of a plane, Ben Linus and a final pan out reveal the truth: this "town" exists on the island, and the scene occurs right before the crash. ("A Tale of Two Cities")
  • Juliet sits on the beach, presumably on the island. She walks down a poorly-lit corridor, passing Ethan. She speaks with her pregnant sister, and injects her with a possible vaccine, much as Ethan did to Claire in the Staff station. But she then pulls back a curtain, revealing that they are not on the island -- the scene takes place in Miami. ("Not in Portland")
  • Locke seeks "disability payments" from a case worker, suggesting the scene takes place after his accident. The case worker then calls the disability depression, and Locke stands up, showing that the scene takes place before the as-yet unseen accident. ("The Man from Tallahassee")
  • Nikki's first flashback appears to depict her life as a stripper who is investigating a criminal plot. She even gets shot and apparently dies. A director then yells "cut!", revealing that this is a TV show. ("Exposé")
  • Survivors trek through the jungle, a typical island scene, suggesting normal real-time action. Charlie dies. The footage then rewinds, revealing the scene as one of Desmond's flashes. ("Catch-22")
  • A woman in the jungle goes into labor. We've previously seen Claire give birth, and we know issues exist regarding pregnancy on the island. But she and her husband soon walk to a road, and a truck drives by. They're off the island. ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
  • Scenes showing Jack off-island suggest a flashback, like all previous off-island action. Kate's arrival, and their conversation, reveal this takes place after the current action, making this the series's first flash-forward. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 2")
  • A season begins on a pile of fruit against a possible island backdrop. All previous seasons have begun on the island. But then Hurley's Camaro crashes through the fruit, and the backdrop turns out to be just that -- a painted backdrop. The scene takes place in Los Angeles. ("The Beginning of the End")
  • An episode begins with a shot of Locke's eye opening, and follows him as he prepares breakfast and speaks with Ben, suggesting that the episode will feature a flashback or flash-forward for him. However, the episode quickly shifts perspective to the true flash-forward character, Kate.
  • Juliet sees a therapist about her new-found celebrity. Previous episodes had revealed the Oceanic 6 as celebrities with issues, suggesting this another flash forward taking place off the island. Tom Friendly's appearance reveals that it's a flashback from on the island. ("The Other Woman")
  • Off-island action alternates between scenes of Sun in giving birth in 2005 and Jin rushing to reach the hospital's maternity ward. The episode's conclusion reveals the scenes do not occur concurrently. Sun's are flash forwards, but Jin's are the traditional pre-crash flashbacks. ("Ji Yeon")
  • Locke, Hurley and Sawyer debate a course of action, with Hurley insisting that Locke seeks to divide the other two men. The next shot reveals that they are not discussing Locke's leadership, their rivalries or the fate of the island. They are playing a board game. ("The Shape of Things to Come")
  • A season premiere again begins in an ambiguous time and place. We this time see not just a house but an entire family, including a baby, which we've never before seen on the island. The scene turns out to take place not just on the island but decades in the past, during the time of the DHARMA Initiative. It would later show that Daniel Faraday is also there, despite it being 1977. ("Because You Left")
  • Desmond tells his son about a "very special island" to which he is returning. He appears to be talking about the Island, but it turns out that he is referring to Great Britain. ("Jughead")
  • In the show's largest setting twist, the flash sideways appear to portray an universe running parallel to the main timeline. The finale reveals that it contains a shared world the characters imagine after they die. ("LA X, Part 1")  ("The End")

Characterization twists

New information sometimes reveals unexpected elements from a character's backstory.

  • Kate, who up to this point acted gentle-spoken and helpful, is shown handcuffed and revealed as a fugitive. ("Pilot, Part 2")
  • Locke, who has been walking, is revealed to have been in a wheelchair before he boarded Flight 815. ("Walkabout")
  • Sun, who has not been responding to English, reveals that she can speak it. ("House of the Rising Sun")
  • Sawyer, a con-man, is revealed to be a con-victim whose name isn't really Sawyer. ("Confidence Man")
  • Ethan, who has acted like an Oceanic passenger, is revealed to be an Other. ("Raised by Another")
  • Boone and Shannon, brother and sister, are revealed to have spent an incestuous night together. ("Hearts and Minds")
  • Goodwin, whose death Eko seems to attribute to Others, is revealed to have been an Other himself. ("The Other 48 Days")
  • Nathan, whose name, manner and claimed origin bring to mind Ethan, is revealed as a passenger, not an Other. ("The Other 48 Days")
  • Eko, who appeared peaceful, is revealed to have been a warlord in Nigeria. The Beechcraft contained his associates and his brother. ("The 23rd Psalm")
  • Jin, though he apparently fathered Sun's child, is revealed to be infertile. ("The Whole Truth")
  • "Henry Gale", who has provided evidence that he landed on the island in a balloon, is revealed to be an Other. ("Dave")
  • Libby, who claimed to be a psychologist, is revealed to have spent time in a mental health institute. ("Dave")
  • Claire, though Australian, learns her father is Christian Shephard, which means that her brother is Jack. ("Par Avion")
  • Anthony Cooper, Locke's father, is revealed to also be the con man who ruined Sawyer's life. ("The Brig")
  • Ben, who has earlier claimed to have been born on the Island, is shown being born off of the Island. ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
  • Sayid, who swears he'll never trust Ben, is revealed to become one of the Oceanic Six and in the employ of Ben, as a killer, killing people who work for Charles Widmore. ("The Economist")
  • Kate, who appears at first to be pregnant, is revealed to in the future raise not her child, but Aaron. ("Eggtown")
  • "Locke", who has Locke's face, body, voice and memories, is revealed to be someone different altogether. ("The Incident, Part 2")
  • Jacob, whom Ben accused of indifference towards him and towards dying, is revealed to have held specific hope for Ben and to have hoped to remain alive. ("Dr. Linus")
  • The Man in Black, Jacob's nemesis, is revealed to also be his twin brother. ("Across the Sea")

Peripeteia

Main article: Role reversal

Peripeteia is a sudden or unexpected reversal of the fate of a character. Many characters' roles reverse as the series progresses.

Twist endings

Some episodes end with a twist that wraps up their story without necessarily affecting the show's larger plot. The show used these twists most often early on in self-contained flashback narratives.

  • Locke spends an episode at work, on his lunch break, at home and in Australia. The episode's end reveals him as paralyzed from the waist down. All scenes showed him sitting or lying down. ("Walkabout")
  • Jack spends an episode following his fathers's figure on the Island while flashbacks show him failing to find the man in Australia. The episode's end reveals that his father died in Australia, revealing just why the sight of him on the Island terrified Jack so much. ("White Rabbit")
  • Sawyer spends an episode conning a couple, and a letter from a victim's son suggests the con killed them. The episode's end reveals that Sawyer abandoned the con, and Sawyer wrote the letter himself years earlier to a different con artist. ("Confidence Man")
  • Boone spends an episode failing to rescue Shannon from the Monster. The episode's end reveals these scenes as a vision brought on by the paste Locke spread on Boone's head. ("Hearts and Minds")
  • Boone spends an episode trying to rescue Shannon from an abusive relationship. The episode's end reveals the relationship as Shannon's con. ("Hearts and Minds")
  • Sawyer spends an episode hunting and killing a man he blamed for his parents' deaths. The episode's end reveals Duckett as innocent -- the execution was Hibbs's con. ("Outlaws")
  • Locke spends an episode meeting his father and voluntarily donating a kidney. The episode's end reveals their meeting and the surgery as Cooper's con. ("Deus Ex Machina")
  • Jack, Kate, Locke and Ana Lucia spend an episode investigating Sun's attack and mistrusting one another. The episode's end reveals the entire conflict as Sawyer's con to capture the guns. ("The Long Con")
  • Sawyer spends an episode collaborating with Cassidy. Midway through the episode, we learn he's conning her. He appears to honorably abandon the con for her sake, like in "Confidence Man". The episode's end reveals he did not. ("The Long Con")
  • Sun spends an episode fretting about explaining a possible pregnancy to Jin, and flashbacks show her starting an extra-marital relationship. The episode's end reveals she feared telling him he was infertile pre-island, not that she carried another man's child. ("The Whole Truth") Later events, however, prove she feared carrying another man's child all along.
  • Hurley spends an episode listening to his friend Dave. The middle of the episode reveals him as figment of Hurley's imagination. He spends the remaining episode grappling with whether he's simply basing the island on elements from his asylum. The episode's end reveals Libby as an inmate, jokingly suggesting that Hurley's hallucinating the series's events after all. ("Dave")
  • Sawyer spends an episode working with an inmate, ostensibly to get revenge on a common enemy: the jail's warden. The episode's end reveals that not only was Sawyer conning the inmate, he and the warden were collaborating. ("Every Man for Himself")
  • Hurley, Sawyer, Charlie and Sun spend an episode investigating Nikki and Paulos' deaths. The episode's end shows that they aren't dead but merely paralyzed, though they die moments later once they are buried alive. ("Exposé")
  • Nikki was to spend her flashback episode investigating a crime. The episode's conclusion would have shown Nikki to be an actress, revealing that the episode's flashes were scenes from a TV show within Lost. The writers abandoned this idea and compressed this twist into the episode's opening scene. [1] ("Exposé")
  • Sayid spends an episode pursuing a romance with a woman while secretly using her to approach her boss, an assassination target. The episode's end shows that she knew about his motives and was playing him just as her played her. ("The Economist")
  • Kate spends an episode raising a son and basing her legal strategy around him, and previous on-island action suggests she may be pregnant with Sawyer's child. The episode's end shows that the boy isn't hers at all - it's Aaron. ("Eggtown")
  • Sun and Jin spend an episode each journeying to a hospital's maternity ward. The episode's end reveals the two sequences as occurring years apart. ("Ji Yeon")

Plot twists

Plot twists divert the course of a plot in a new, unexpected direction.

Season 1

  • At first blush, a show about the gritty life of surviving a plane crash on a deserted island, Lost quickly shows that it will contain far stranger things: the island hosts a disembodied monster capable of pulling a grown man from an aircraft cockpit ("Pilot, Part 1") and of uprooting trees in rapid succession ("Pilot, Part 2"), as well as polar bears somehow living in a tropical climate. ("Pilot, Part 2")
  • Someone in the camp was on the island before the crash. ("Raised by Another")
  • Locke, after blaming Sawyer for knocking Sayid out during Sayid's attempt to triangulate the distress signal ("The Moth"), reveals he is actually the one to blame. ("The Greater Good")
  • The raft occupants, encountering another boat containing four strangers, are elated, believing rescue is finally at hand. However, the strangers kidnap Walt, shoot Sawyer, and blow up the raft, actions which affect season 2, and Michael's character from that point onward. ("Exodus, Part 2")

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

Season 6

References


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