In 2004, Lost became an instant success when Oceanic Flight 815 crash-landed on a tropical island. The show turned into the ultimate benchmark for a multi-protagonist character-driven saga. For six seasons, these characters struggled to survive while trying to find redemption.
More than fifteen years later, The I-Land takes place on a similar mysterious island, featuring a new batch of flawed characters. Lost spent so many years in the cultural zeitgeist that comparing these two shows is unavoidable. The I-Land struggles to find its way while following in the footsteps of its unofficial predecessor. Here are five ways it took from Lost’s tropes, and five ways it tried to strike out on its own.
10 Taken From Lost: Waking Up On The Beach
Lost’s opening shot is difficult to forget. When Jack Shephard first opened his eyes in the jungle, it started a phenomenon. Lost became a high-octane experience, rarely letting up for one moment and is still considered one of the best pilot episodes on television to date. While The I-Land does not have a plane crash, it does make use of tropes that Lost put into place. Though not always successful.
The I-Land opens with Chase waking up on the beach. She finds that she and several strangers are stranded dressed in identical clothing. While not an original set-up, this moment is crucial to introduce the viewer to the world.
9 Unique: Everyone Has Amnesia
It is disorienting enough to wake up on a beach with no food, water, or allies. When Chase wakes up, not only does she not recognize anyone around her, but she also doesn’t remember anything about herself. She meets her fellow inhabitants of the island, all with the same questions. Every person has no recollection of who they are or how they got there. Their only clues are the names embroidered into their clothing.
While Lost is a more fantastical show, The I-Land introduced an element of surprise. It becomes hard to survive when you can’t trust each other. But it becomes even harder when you can’t trust yourself.
8 Taken From Lost: Experiments Run By A Mysterious Organization
Be it through the Dharma Initiative or an organization funded by a private prison, there is always an agenda. Dharma and I-Land are as different as night and day, but both corporations have their secrets. Both thirst for knowledge and use the inhabitants of the island to get what they want through experimentation.
The survivors of 815 discover that Dharma was an initiative shrouded in secrecy but ultimately has a desire to study the island’s strange properties. They set up experiment stations to keep watch over the unsuspecting survivors. The I-Land’s experiments were on the island’s people, and not about the island at all. I-Land takes prisoners on death row and in an attempt to rehabilitate them, throws them into a foreign scenario. I-Land hopes to determine if these criminals will re-offend or not. To do this, they introduce the inhabitants to hidden guns, mysterious clues, and of course, a cannibal.
7 Unique: Everyone Is A Criminal
Lost had a few criminals in the mix, but The I-Land is full of them. Every single person that woke up on the island was accused of doing something illegal. Brody is the most obvious culprit after he attempts to attack no less than two women in one day.
For the rest of the offenders, the memories of what they have done are slow to come back. Soon they are consumed with the thoughts of what they have done in their previous lives, mostly consisting of murder.
6 Taken From Lost: Finding Redemption
While not everyone in Lost was guilty, each character was looking for a chance to redeem themselves in some way. Whether they were conscious of it or not. Lost’s island was a chance to right past wrongs. These storylines were integral to the popularity of Lost and were the heart of the show. Both Lost and The I-Land utilize flashbacks to show where the characters have been and the mistakes they have made.
The potential for each character to move on and find closure is presented, though not everyone takes it. In Lost, they quite literally move on from life as well as their mistakes. In The I-Land, only one of them escapes the island. The rest are stuck in the simulation, seemingly trapped in a loop of their mistakes.
5 Unique: The Island Is A Simulation
Chase is the first to understand the reality of her situation. What she thought was an island was a simulation she was placed under while on Death Row. After an altercation with the other cohabitants of the island, she is knocked unconscious. When she wakes up she is in a modern room dressed in a uniform, with even more questions than before. This is not the world she thought it to be. Everything she experienced was part of a computer program.
Chase finally understands that she is in a highly advanced private prison. She and the other inmates have been thrown in a simulation in an attempt to rehabilitate them. The Texas Correctional facility that Chase resides in is unlike our modern conceptions of incarceration. I-Land is more akin to the high tech prisons of Marvel, rather than anything else. I-Land uses gravitational force fields to keep Chase under control. When that doesn’t work, they threaten her with lethal injections.
4 Taken From Lost: There Are Others On The Island
After learning to survive on what appeared to be a deserted island, it comes as a shock to learn that these characters are not alone. In Lost they find The Others, villains from the other side of the island. The Others reveal themselves by stealing children and terrorizing the rest of the survivors.
On The I-Land, the prisoners face off with two adversaries who call themselves Bonnie and Clyde. While low in numbers, it does not diminish how dangerous they are. Bonnie and Clyde claim to come from the other side of the island, but that is not their point of origin. Their main purpose is to check anyone who steps out of line. If anyone tries to leave the island or hurt anyone else, they are the ones to stop them.
3 Unique: The Prisoners Volunteered
The inmates take some convincing, but finally, accept the fact that they are trapped in a simulation. Though Chase and the cohabitants have no memories, that does not change the decisions that they have made. While on Death Row, all of the inmates volunteered for potential rehabilitation.
They signed documents giving their permission to put them into a medical coma and implant their consciousness into a fantasy.
2 Taken From Lost: The Island Does Not Let You Leave
The purpose of both Lost and The I-Land is that they are contained universes. The island serves to hold the characters accountable for their actions and in some instances, use them for a higher cause. To do this, neither show allows their characters to leave.
Lost utilizes magical realism for this. The climax of the first season consists of Michael, Jin, and Sawyer building a raft to escape the island. As hard as they try, they end back on familiar shores. Whether their return is controlled by the mysterious protector of the island, or the island itself, is not determined. The I-Land uses a more direct approach. If any of the characters try to leave, Bonnie and Clyde will stop them. And kill them if necessary.
1 Unique: I-Land Is In The Future
Released in 2019, The I-Land maintained a world where it was possible to implant the consciousness of a person into a fake scenario. When Chase comes to understand this, it is clear that this is not a contemporary show.
Chase wakes up from the simulation to see she is in a high-tech prison. But the final twist comes when Chase is released and sees that she is not the young person that went into prison. It is 25 years later and not only has she aged herself, but so has the world around her.
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About The AuthorCarolyn Jenkins is a voracious consumer of film and television. She has an MFA in Screenwriting and Producing and enjoys almost anything in the horror genre.
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