The passengers have been on the plane for less than a day, and the veneer of civilization has begun. Some people are in denial, especially Shannon, who has now unpacked her bag and is sunbathing. But now the first of the mysteries begin to be revealed, some dealing with the survivors, some with the island. For example, we find that there were a pair of handcuffs, and a marshal on the plane, which means someone is being held prisoner. This secret is revealed before the hour's over---- it's Kate. We've already grown attached to her, so to learn she's a crook unsettles us, but compared to what else is going on, it's filed away.
When Jack, Kate, and Charlie make it back to the beach with the transceiver, the first thing they have to do is break up a fight between Sayid and the blond-haired guy, who still has not revealed his name. It's pretty clear there's a fair bit of redneck in this guy, given how he goes after Sayid, and is contemptuous of Jack. But there is more to him than that; we see him study a letter in obvious pain, and when several of the others go on a walk to try and get the transceiver working, he joins him. He's bluff about why--- 'I'm a complex guy," is how he rationalizes it to Kate.
Now the characters of the other survivors start to come into context a little better. Boone and Shannon are revealed to be brother and sister, which explains some but not all of the tension between them. Hurley is emerge as the island peacemaker- and helper-- he tries to come down the fight, talks politely with Sayid, and tries, even though he is clearly out of his depth, to help Jack tend to a man who was found wounded earlier. He's also has a joke reflex, see how he makes sure the patient is unconscious before Jack operates.
Michael's concern for his son seems to be more blood than personal--- we learns his wife was the one who raised his son in Australia, and he hasn't seen him in years. Walt then forms a friendship with the balding guy, who is revealed as Locke. Watch the conversation carefully. Given our natural suspicion, we wonder about Walt's safety as Locke tells him how to play backgammon, especially when he says: "Want to know a secret?" But he also talks to Walt as if he were an adult, and his sympathy about the death of his mother seems not condescending, but rather one who feels a similar burden of pain.
The Korean couple remain even more mysterious, but it's pretty clear the man was some kind of fisherman, given the way he tries to help feed the others with the scraps. And there's definite tension between the two of them that seems deeper than the cultural divide. We also learn the real reason Charlie went with Kate and Jack to the cockpit--- he is addicted to heroin, and his last action before the crash was to try and flush it down the toilet. It's also clear he's got major self-esteem issues, as well as being a bit of a flirt. Syed is also revealed to be something of a techie, though does come as a shock to learn that he was in the Republican Guard during the first Gulf War.
Eventually, Sayid, Kate, Boone, Shannon, Charlie and the blond Southerner--- Sawyer, though we don't learn his name for another five episodes--- go on a long climb to try and get a signal from the transceiver. Two more mysteries emerge from the hike. First, we hear a loud rumbling, which understandably causes panic. Except for Sawyer, who stands his ground, pulls a gun and kills the creature. Charlie and Kate are certain that it's not the thing in the wood, but what the hell's a polar bear doing in the tropics? Four seasons in, we still don't know the reason behind that, and the character's focus is on the gun, which Sawyer claims to have taken from an ankle holster of the marshal.
Finally, they make it to high ground, but they can't send out a distress signal--- someone else is already sending one, a message in French on a loop. Shannon translates part of it as "I'm alone on the island. The others, they're dead, it killed them all." Then Sayed unveils the clincher, based on the time code, the message has been transmitting for sixteen years.
We still don't have a clear read on all of the characters, but what we've learned is pretty interesting. My attention was drawn for the most part to Naveen Andrews (Sayed), Josh Holloway as Sawyer (and what a change in hairstyle; I'd seen the guy work in Ally McBeal's final season, and didn't recognize him) and Jorge Garcia as Hurley--- like Evangeline Lilly, another near-unknown at the time of the premiere. Some of the other actors who I had heard of were Harold Perrineau as Michael (Augustus Hill on Oz) and Emilie De Ravin as Claire (Tess from Roswell, though I had no idea that thick accent of hers was her normal voice), but they still hadn't been utilized much for me to appreciate them. When the Pilot of Lost is finished, we now have a clearer idea on what the show is going to be. Part of it a real-life version of Survivor, but there are far more interesting mysteries in play, as well as the automatic questions that arise from them. Where is that radio signal being broadcast from? Is it on the island somewhere? What did Kate do to get herself hunted by the law? Did that polar bear ion the island have anything to do with a comic book that featured a polar bear in it? I now know the answer to some of these questions, and we still don't know the answer to the most obvious one--- what the heck is that thing in the woods?
No show had ever captivated in quite this way, since the earliest episodes of 24, but even after all the brilliance and majesty of the first two hours, I was still reluctant to commit--- I didn't believe that they could keep the momentum going. It would take two more episodes, and closer looks at some of the other characters to make me a convert.