The idea for this feature (and the idea for yesterday’s discussion of the emotional power of television) came from a recent YouTube excursion to rewatch some scenes from the series finale of Lost. One thing led to another, and I ended up sitting on my couch, crying my eyes out over one scene in particular—a scene that I’ve continued to watch for the last two weeks on a near-constant repetitious loop.
Fifty (or more) viewings later over the course of three years, the reunion between Sawyer and Juliet at the hospital vending machine still hits me the same way it did that May night when I saw it for the first time.
Even if you’ve never watched Lost, even if you have no idea who these characters are or what they mean to each other, I dare you to watch this video and remain unmoved. I’ve watched a lot of television in my almost-25 years on this Earth, and this is by far the most beautiful scene I’ve ever watched.
The background is relatively simple (for Lost at least): Sawyer and Juliet were happy and in love, and he was ready to propose before she was violently torn from his grasp by electromagnetic forces on the island, eventually dying in his arms. In this scene, both of them are wandering around a kind of “spiritual waiting room” in which they have no memory of their past life until they meet their “constant,” the person who wakes them up to the reality of their lives (and deaths). In this case, Sawyer and Juliet are each other’s constant—each other’s soulmate.
There are no words for how much this scene still fills me with a sense of pure relief and happiness. It truly feels like you’re watching two people with so much history of joy and pain finding each other after a lifetime apart. The chemistry between Josh Holloway and Elizabeth Mitchell in this scene is the standard by which I judge all other actors’ chemistry because they make me feel every intense emotion as it sweeps through them—from initial attraction to the pain of horrific memories to the speechless joy of holding one another again.
Holloway and Mitchell were truly breathtaking in this moment. I love how she falters a little when she remembers falling to her death, but what I love most is that this time he’s there to keep her from falling—and he’s not letting the chance to hold her slip through his fingers ever again. When he says “I got you, baby,” as his voice cracks, I feel like someone is stepping on my chest while simultaneously making my heart grow 15 sizes. There’s something so gorgeously intimate about it, so real. And when Juliet cries and laughs at the same time you can feel her relief like it’s your own—a relief mirrored in Sawyer’s smile, a smile so bright and so hopeful it’s like nothing we’ve seen him express before.
And don’t even get me started on the kiss. Her giddy anticipation. His passionate intensity. The most mature, honest, and beautiful love story on Lost got its happy ending—all to the sounds of Michael Giacchino’s perfect score.
In the immortal words of Juliet, “It worked.” The goal of this reunion was to remind us just how epic this love story had become and just how good these two actors were together—while making us cry buckets of tears. I’d say it worked perfectly.