”Lost”: Juliet’s power struggles
Like many Lost watchers, I found the earlier episodes from this season to be increasingly tedious. I like a good mythology as much as the next person, but it needs to be balanced with a healthy dose of relatable human drama. So I felt like applauding after this week’s installment, which nailed the balance of action, mystery, and meaningful glances.
But although Lost benefited from streamlined storytelling this week, that’s not to say it’s easy to summarize. When we last saw our castaways, Kate, Jack, and Sawyer were being held by the Others on a separate island. Jack was going to let head honcho Ben die on the operating table unless the Others let Kate and Sawyer escape. Meanwhile, 1500 other subplots are waiting in the wings. Out of a great hour, I chose what I thought were a few of the best moments.
In an excellent (and long-awaited) backstory, we learned that Juliet, a doctor in her past life, was being courted by Mittelos Bioscience, a research group that — as its representative Mr. Alpert, when pressed, admits — is ”not quite in Portland.” One suspects that ”not quite in Portland” is a handy little euphemism for ”nowhere near Portland, the Pacific Northwest, or the continental United States.” Another possible clue: the organization’s name. In German, mittellos means ”indigent,” ”poor,” or literally ”without means.” A biomedical company without means could still run the kind of research lab one might find on a remote island: low on supplies but flush with stranded guinea pigs. That interpretation of the name might be a stretch, but most Lost hypotheses are, in my opinion.
Seeing Juliet’s ex-husband — who, like Ben, is a smooth-talking menace — provided a nice insight to her personality. The three years Juliet has spent on the island have changed her from a woman who says tearfully, ”I’m not a leader — I’m a mess” to one who can shoot Pickett and plot to kill Ben with eerie placidity.
Speaking of creepy, when Ben woke up on the operating table, I got serious goosebumps. Lost has always been good at the polar-bear- or smoke-monster-generated scare, but this was a truly chilling moment. And the fact that Ben can make Juliet look like she’s crying after speaking just a few words (while he’s lying helpless with his spine exposed) is an excellent indication of his manipulative power.
The ever-resourceful Alex had a boat! But there was a catch: She needed help to free her captive boyfriend, Karl (who had tried to escape along with Sawyer earlier in the season). This provided Kate with an excellent opportunity to get out some of the anger that had been building during her captivity (They beat up Sawyer! They made her wear a dress!) by whacking someone with the butt of a rifle. They find Karl in room 23, which, if it weren’t being used as a torture chamber, might be a decent place to hold a rave. It kind of makes you wonder what’s in rooms 4, 8, 15…yeah, you see where I’m going with that. I’ll leave it to those more fluently versed in Lost minutiae to dissect each and every frame of the video, but ”We are the causes of our own suffering” did jump out at me. The phrase could be a Lost-mythology clue (it supports the Survivors in Purgatory hypothesis), but it’s also a great example of the kind of hard-line moral authoritarianism that governs the Others. Organized as they may be, however, if one group is going to go all Lord of the Flies on us, my money is on the Others. Sure, they have book clubs, but good novels are no substitute for good neighbors, and the Others have already shown they are ready to betray each other.
In any case, Kate, Sawyer, and Karl are on their way back to their island. What will happen now that the Jack-Kate-Sawyer love triangle is broken up by two miles of ocean? Will Sawyer use the opportunity to win Kate’s heart all for himself, or will he — as bad boys are wont to do — lose interest with his competition out of the picture? After watching Kate nearly shoot a man in the knee, I’d recommend Sawyer opt for romance over rejection. And as for a possible Jack-Juliet love connection — well, those kids still have a few things to work out. Juliet doesn’t seem at all apologetic about locking Jack back up, which might make a guy feel used, especially after he nearly let Ben — with whom Juliet has ”history” — bleed to death at her behest.
When it’s all said and done (until next week), many questions still remain. What will Jack and Juliet’s fate be now that the other Others know about their plot? What about Juliet’s research project made it so attractive to the Others/Mittelos? What do you think Tom was going to say when he began talking about ”ever since the sky turned purple” (i.e., when the Hatch blew up)? And what’s been happening to the other survivors while all this has been going on?
Side note: Juliet’s husband, Edmund Burke, has the same name as an 18th-century British politician and writer who was known as sympathetic to the American Revolution and critical of the French Revolution. Can you see any significance to that, or to the fact that both Lost and Grey’s Anatomy have physician characters named Burke and Shepard (though McDreamy spells his last name Shepherd)?