10. "The Incident," LOST
Air Date: 5/13/09
By the time "The Incident" aired, a sizable chunk of LOST's audience had jumped ship, complaining that the series had jumped shark. While that's not true (and that term is criminally overused), the beginning of the fifth season is arguably one of the roughest stretches in this brilliant yet uneven show's history. Lucky for us, we don't give up on our favorites as easily as the rest, because the back half of season five is immensely rewarding, culminating with this excellent finale.
With each finale, LOST peeled the curtain back on its expansive mythology a bit further, and "The Incident" honors that tradition with the reveal—and contextualization—that this series is really about ordinary, flawed human beings caught in the middle of a centuries old conflict between gods, namely the oft-whispered about deity Jacob (Mark Pellegrino). This is deftly executed with a set of flashbacks that relates our characters to Jacob, reassuring the audience that the show hasn't lost sight of the people we've spent five seasons with, yet hinting that everyone's fates are intertwined, and always have been.
The lynchpin of the episode is Locke (Terry O'Quinn), who in the present day leads a quest alongside Ben (Michael Emerson) to finally meet Jacob face-to-face. The result of that meeting will go down as one of the coolest twists on television, and more than validates the bumpy road taken to get to this moment.
After all of that, we haven't even mentioned the eponymous Incident, a mysterious on-island event obliquely referred to on the series as early as season two, that necessitated the pushing of the hatch button every 108 minutes. After spending much of the season stuck in 1977 (time travel, the less said about that, the better) Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly), Sawyer (Josh Holloway), Sayid (Naveen Andrews), Hurley (Jorge Garcia), and Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) find themselves with front row seats to the ominous event—and may be even the cause of it.