Chronologically Lost Review: A Unique Way of Watching a Classic Show

Have you ever imagined what the popular television Lost would be like if the island storyline and the various characters’ flashbacks were presented separately? What would it be like to experience nearly thirty hours of the show before the plane even crashes on the island? Well, that was how I first watched the show.

Lost was a show that I never had any particular interest in watching. Not because of its reputation or because I was against watching it, it’s just very hard to convince yourself to watch over a hundred episodes of a random show you’ve never seen before. One day though, I received a message from a friend of mine who loves the show who was interested in watching it with me. We wouldn’t just be watching the show together though, we’d be watching it in chronological order.

Chronological Lost was cut together by a fan named Mike Maloney back in 2010, with the aim of editing together all 121 episodes of Lost and displaying the classic television series in chronological order from start to finish. Resulting in a show where the island scenes are uninterrupted as the viewers have already viewed all of the flashbacks. This cut was later re-edited into HD via the higher quality blu-rays in 2019 by another fan by the name of Brett. Creating the definitive Chronological Lost viewing experience. 

Needless to say, this will not be a review of Lost proper, as it would be disingenuous to say I truly experienced Lost by watching it in this order. However if you are reading this type of article, it is likely that you don’t need a review of Lost. You already know that the show is a masterclass of storytelling and acting with an amazing soundtrack to match. No, for once I am going to embrace the ‘blog’ portion of this website’s title and just tell you about my experience watching the show.

To start with, the beginning of Chronological Lost isn’t the story of a bunch of plane crash victims stuck on an island nor does it begin with all the famous flashbacks I’ve heard about over the years. No, instead the first ‘season’ of Chronological Lost is about a man named Ricardo and his continued encounters with smoke monsters, a deity called Jacob, and time travelers. That last one in particular causes him constant pain and confusion.

Those of you who have watched Lost have probably already put together what that last sentence of mine implies, yes, this cut plays the entire Season 5 Dharma plot at the point it would take place chronologically in the timeline. Because this was my first time watching through Lost this, needless to say, was a very confusing introduction.

Eventually that confusion vanished though as the show moved on into what I refer to as the Flashback season. Nearly fifteen episodes of nothing but character backstories. By the time the show actually got to the iconic plane crash I knew these characters better than they knew themselves. As if I were Jacob himself cataloging their entire lives before the fated day of Flight 815.

This way of watching the show naturally benefitted some characters’ arcs and was detrimental to others. The character hurt by this order the most was unfortunately Desmond. Because Desmond’s character arc is all about him flashing back and forth between his present self on the island and his past self, nearly all of his critically acclaimed flashbacks were made incomprehensible by this order. A tragic fate for one of the best characters in this show.

On the flip side, the hated characters Nikki and Paolo had their arc elevated by this watch order. Because Nikki and Paolo hadn’t debuted until the third season of the show, their flashbacks would awkwardly show what they were up to on the island during the first and second season. However, with this watch order they feel much more like real characters as you’ll be watching their scenes alongside the main plot of the show. Which does lead to some funny situations as they are the first islanders to find the plane in the jungle, discover the second hatch, and are the first to see Ben Linus in this watch through.

Speaking of scenes that happen simultaneously, not all are as easy to edit into a watch order as Nikki and Paolo’s various scenes, because some scenes happen at the exact same time. In an attempt to portray these scenes, Chronological Lost opts to display them side by side simultaneously. While this works for portraying some scenes such as showing the time traveling Sawyer witnessing Claire give birth in season 5 directly next to the scene where she does in season 1, it works significantly less during any two scenes where dialogue is happening simultaneously.

Perhaps no episode showcases this issue better than the 25th episode of Chronological Lost: The Airport. The sheer amount of scenes happening at the same time at the airport is enough to give any viewer of Chronological Lost sensory overload. Then the show moves on to the flight of Oceanic 815 itself. During this flight this viewer is shown six entire scenes playing at once as they watch four scenes on the plane, Ben witnessing the crash, and Desmond pushing the button all at once. Making each of these scenes incomprehensible.

Other than that though, I was amazed at how comprehensible the show was once it actually reached the island. Now obviously I already had several answers such as knowing that the island was mystical in nature and that time travel was a thing, but I was still presented with several mysteries and plotlined in the present day which would often get answered and resolved. Lost may be a show famous for its large overarching mystery about what the island was, but even with that mystery removed you are left with a show full of engaging character writing and phenomenal acting.

Because of this, even though I was watching the show in a way that absolutely no one who made it could imagine, I was still thoroughly invested and had a fantastic time watching the show. Lost is one of the pinnacles of American television and is something I recommend everyone to at least try watching. Maybe don’t try watching it in this order as a first watch though, watch it how the creators intended.

For those of you who have watched the show before, I would recommend giving Chronological Lost a chance. It is a fascinating little experiment that takes a show known for both metaphorically and literally jumping back and forth through time and showing that the show’s quality remains no matter how much you twist the natural order of events.

Will I rewatch Lost myself in the correct order now that I’ve gone through this little experiment? Probably, but not for a long time. It’s tempting to rewatch the show but I can’t go through over one hundred hours of television again immediately after finishing it. 

2 thoughts on “Chronologically Lost Review: A Unique Way of Watching a Classic Show”

  1. Interesting to hear about. Chronological cuts of non-linear visual subject matter are fun. A recent case where I also imagine it’d be at least 5-10 minutes shorter would be Oppenheimer.

  2. Cool review. I’m always curious to hear feedback on what people thought of Chronologically LOST, especially people who never watched LOST to begin with. Thanks for watching!

    (By the way, while I get how the episodes detailing the day of the crash are hard to follow for people who haven’t seen the show, they are personally my favorites, as I really like seeing all the scenes from multiple seasons finally all in a proper timeline)

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