Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lost - "One of Us"

Episode Title: “One of Us”

Brian’s Deeper Meaning Guess: Another week with an episode title that clearly relates to a central theme of the episode – I like it. It’s actually a lot like last week’s “Left Behind”, where you can see the very literal interpretation of the title, as well as the deeper emotional / psychological interpretation… and that makes perfect sense since this week picks up exactly where last week left off, only this time coming from Juliet’s perspective rather than Kate’s.

Looking back, this might be one of the first times in Lost history that we’ve had a smaller group of characters have back-to-back flashbacks. In other words, the writers are actually sticking to a storyline for two straight weeks rather than the traditional back and forth style we usually see on the show (alternating between Alcatraz and the Beach, etc.) – which is exciting for the viewer. I like that they’re dedicating time to the story that has the “steam”, rather than trying too hard to spread the flashbacks around evenly. That means this week should pick up right where last week left off – with Sayid, Jack, Kate, and Juliet making their way to the Beach.

Unlike last week though, this episode title is one of those ones that you can picture a number of characters saying. Clearly, the theme of the episode is Juliet’s true intentions. Has she really been exiled by the Others? Is she just doing a covert operation for the Others? Is she playing both sides against each other in a crazy scheme to get off the Island? We’ve already had a scene with Ben telling Jack, “Remember, whatever Juliet does to help you, in the end she’s still ONE OF US.” Likewise, I can picture Jack in this episode telling the Beachies (who will clearly be upset about an Other being in their midst) to “Relax, she wants to go home just like the rest of us. She’s ONE OF US.”

In terms of flashbacks this week, the preview below shows glimpses of the submarine, while the episode description’s guest star lists reads like an All Star list of Others – Ethan, Goodwin, Patchy (technically it says “Mikhail” instead of Patchy), Alpert, and Ben are all due to make appearances. This would seem to indicate that the flashbacks deal with Juliet arriving at the Island (via airplane, then submarine – note the “airport guard” listed as another guest star), getting to know the Others and their way of life, and “becoming one of them”.

So the big question becomes – which “them” is Juliet “one of”? It’s funny, when I wrote last week’s analysis, I came down clearly on the side of “Juliet is still an Other”. But as I’m writing this episode preview, I find myself coming down on the side of “Juliet is no longer an Other”. I’m torn (just like when I sing Natalie Imbruglia songs at BWs…)

As I said last week, smart money (and logic) is on Juliet being less than 100% truthful in her words and actions. It explains how she got Kate out into the Jungle, why she had the key to the handcuffs, and why she would work so hard to try and convince Kate to trust her. She’s secretly going on a mission for the Others (most likely surrounding Aaron and Sun’s Baby), perhaps in return for another shot at getting off the Island. We’ve seen Juliet has a pretty solid track record of both lying and hiding information (the handcuffs, Smokey), but also at manipulating people to achieve her own agenda. When you look at the facts on the table, of course she’s still an Other.

But the biggest argument against this is that it’s all too easy. How obvious is it to have another Other infiltrate our Survivors’ Beach to gather information? Ethan did it. Ben did it. Now Juliet as well? Our Survivors are right to be distrustful… but maybe that’s the strongest argument why Juliet really has been ousted from the Others. Think about it this way:

  • Ethan represented our Survivors trusting someone and getting burned (not literally – literally they got “hung”) by it.
  • Ben represented our Survivors wrestling with trusting someone, debating the ethics of torturing them for information, and in the end getting burned (again, not literally – this time they were shot and killed!) by it.
  • Juliet represents our Survivors absolutely not willing to trust someone again, no matter what. So how deliciously ironic would it be to have her be the one that they can trust? Although logic tells us that she (and maybe Jack) can’t be trusted, the twist-wanting writer in me is telling me the exact opposite. (This is the same side of me that wants Lost to end with the realization that the Others were the good guys all along, and our Survivors were the bad guys / getting rescued somehow destroys humanities best chance at long term survival.)

Imagine our Survivors finally thinking that they’re going to outsmart the Others, not listening to Juliet and the information she provides. Imagine Sayid torturing her for information only to find out that she’s a “good guy” in the end. Imagine our fearless leader Jack returning and vouching for Juliet, only to be dismissed when our Survivors find out he was about to leave everyone on a submarine. Then imagine the Others eventually attacking our Survivors, and our Survivors realizing that if they had listened to Juliet, they would have had a fighting chance.

In my mind, that would be awesome – twisted, leaving considerable emotional impact and guilt on our Survivors, and teaching us all a very valuable lesson. (It would also make the episode title serve as a nice reference to Season Two’s “One of Them”, referencing Ben – who is clearly an Other. Ben is “One of Them”, but Juliet is “One of Us”. The truth was in front of us all along, if only we would have paid attention to the episode titles!)

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However, the alternate scenario would also be pretty great…

Imagine our Survivors distrusting Juliet, but having Jack convince them that she’s cool. Imagine Sayid wanting to torture her for information, but seeing Patchy’s cat in the jungle, reminding him that he promised himself to never torture a female again. Imagine Juliet “making friends” with Claire and Sun, but secretly gathering information all along. Then imagine the Others arriving at the Beach, with Juliet and Jack switching sides to help them steal babies in return for a trip off the Island / being let in on the Island’s “big secret” (Wish granting? Fountain of youth? Stripper Hatch?)

That would also be fairly solid and serviceably twisty – but predictable in the long run, teaching us to never trust anyone who is different in any way.

The good news is that either way, it makes me very excited for this storyline and where it’s headed. The other good news is that by presenting both scenarios but not taking a firm stance on what I think is actually going to happen, no matter what the outcome I can say “I knew it!” and pretend that I predicted it…

In the end, the ironic thing (and perhaps social commentary) is that while we are busy concerning who is on one side versus the other, I still can’t help but think that eventually the two sides are going to merge. The line between good and bad isn’t so well defined, and it’s only going to take the Others and our Survivors coming across a common goal to make them realize that each side needs each other. Just because the Others’ actions may not seem in line with our Survivors goals at the moment, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t also working towards some greater good.

Enough philosophizing – onto the episode!

Episode Description: Jack's joyous reunion is cut short when his fellow survivors realize that an Other is accompanying him; a mysterious illness strickens Claire. Guest starring are Robin Weigert as Rachel, William Mapother as Ethan Rom, Brett Cullen as Goodwin, Andrew Divoff as Mikhail, Nestor Carbonell as Richard Alpert, Joah Buley as other dude and Tyrone Howard as airport guard.

Episode Breakdown: The first sentence is good news for all of us – we seem to be jumping ahead to Jack and Co. arriving at the Beach rather than spending much time focusing on their journey back to the Beach. While it might cheat us from some good conversations between Kate and Sayid to Jack and Juliet (such as “tell us everything you know about the Island”, “what is the Others’ purpose?” and “are you two going steady?”), getting to the Beach quicker is a good thing. It opens up the door for everyone to start questioning about the Others, the Barracks, Alcatraz, and should prompt some serious discussions (finally) about what is happening on the Island and what it is going to take to get off of it (one hopes). I would LOVE to see our Survivors take some initiative in trying to understand the Island rather than blissfully living in ignorance on their Beach. But I fear I’m asking for too much here…

The other good news is that after spending the entire season apart, Jack has finally returned to the rest of the group. I’m fully expecting another soft music montage with plenty of hugs, pats on the back, and chest bumps as everyone rejoices that their leader has returned. It’s quite ironic that just as Hurley is trying to get Sawyer to be a leader, de facto leader Jack returns. This will provide yet another reason for conflict between the two of them, setting up what is looking to be a very ugly love rhombus between Jack, Sawyer, Juliet, and Kate. It’s pretty obvious there’s going to be a lot of tension among all four parties – but at least it’s legitimate tension (Other vs. Survivor, New Leader vs. Old Leader) rather than just being about fighting over a girl / guy.

The first sentence of the description continues with the introduction of Juliet to the Survivors. This should also play out pretty interestingly. Recall that Sawyer seriously distrusts Juliet from his time on Alcatraz (and seems to think that she’s badass enough to actually kill someone, unlike a lot of the other Others). Sayid already thinks she can’t be trusted, and seems to get his chance at some soft interrogation this episode. Kate hates her for stealing her man and setting up the crazy handcuffing scheme last week. Others kidnapped Claire, hung Charlie, attacked Sun, Jin, and Sayid, and killed Scott (or is it Steve?) – so there’s no way any of them are going to make nice with Juliet.

Who does that leave? Jack (and technically Hurley – but he likes everyone). Really, if it weren’t for Jack, Juliet would probably last about two minutes on the Survivors’ Beach before being fed to Smokey. The question becomes – do the Survivors trust Jack enough to trust his word on Juliet? After all, he has been gone for a while… and was about to abandon them all at the first chance he got with the Others’ submarine. Sure, he’ll say that he was going to send help once he got back to the mainland, but can we trust him? It should setup some very interesting “trust issues” between Jack, Juliet, and the rest of the Survivors, adding a new (and for me, welcomed) element of tension among the Beach Community. Shake up their peaceful little existence!

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The second sentence of the episode description is a bit of a blast from the past. Remember “the sickness”? No? Let me refresh your memory…

The “Sickness” is some mysterious illness that may or may not exist, but has been referenced multiple times by different people on the show.

CFL first mentioned it back in Season One, when she said that the members of her crew got “sick” two months after arriving on the Island, forcing her to kill them all. She cryptically said “what would have happened if we were rescued? I couldn’t let that happen” as if the Sickness was some sort of contagious disease that if spread, would kill lots and lots of people / potentially bring about the end of the world. This seemed to tie in nicely with the whole “Valenzetti Equation” story we learned about during the Lost Experience, where scientists were carrying out tests to try and change variables that indicated how and when the world would end. It’s reasonable to assume that in order to “defeat” this Sickness, they would need to contaminate some people (like the Others, perhaps?) in order to test out potential cures.

In Season Two, we theorized a little bit more about the Sickness, but were never explicitly told about it. We saw that the Swan and Arrow Stations had “QUARANTINE” written on their doors, as if to indicate that if one went outside their station, they would be subject to some sort of disease. To reinforce this idea, we also saw Kelvin teach Desmond that you couldn’t go outside without an air-tight hazmat suit on (but we later learned that he didn’t really believe it / care).

But the most intriguing thing is that the Others / Dharma seem to believe that the 4-8-15-16-23-42 vaccine we have seen from time to time provides a cure to the disease. Desmond was instructed to inject himself with it every nine days. Ethan injected unborn Aaron with it, and apologized to Claire that there wasn’t enough for her as well. However, just like Kelvin before him, Desmond seems to no longer believe in the disease or the cure (“the disease is worse than the cure” from the Blast Door, anyone?), as he told Claire she was wasting her time by continuing to give Aaron shots of the vaccine that Charlie retrieved from the Food Drop.

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There’s definitely some conflicting information in there. It would seem as though the “Sickness” and the “Vaccine” are some product of a Dharma experimental mind game – something to keep people in control, performing their experiments, and not sunbathing on the beach of the Island. However, the Others also seem to be believers of the Sickness (as some have mentioned, this may explain the gas masks they put on last week when leaving the Barracks), which would mean that it was more of a real thing, not just the product of Dharma mind games. This starts to lead you down the path of thinking that Dharma created a virus on the Island to try and cure it, using the Others as experiment subjects, but only found a temporary cure – the 4-8-15-16-23-42 vaccine that needed to be administered every few days. It would go a long way in explaining why Dharma suddenly felt the need to “purge” the Others (to prevent the virus from escaping to the rest of the world), and also why the Others fought back – to save themselves. But if that’s the case, why haven’t any of our Survivors (who have been on the Island much longer than CFL’s crew, when they went crazy) or Desmond or Kelvin contracted the Sickness? Or have they, and we don’t know about it?

Now do you remember?

That, in a very long way, brings us back to Claire and the second sentence of the episode description. Could this “mysterious illness” that has stricken Claire be the Sickness? Or is this going to be another case of “Aaron has a fever” or “Sawyer needs glasses to read” where we think the Sickness is going to come back, but it ends up being something totally lame?

Either way, considering how our Survivors over-reacted to Aaron’s fever, they are absolutely going to pin any sort of stomach ache, dizziness, or paper cut on being caused by “the Other” in their midst. While I would love to see this “Sickness” storyline come back, I have a hard time understanding how our Survivors could have been immune from it for so long. If Claire is being affected due to her taking the vaccine, then shouldn’t Desmond be totally “sick” by now too, since he was pumping himself with the stuff for years? Or are his “flashes” really just a symptom of the Sickness – hallucinating to the point where you think you are time traveling?

It’s intriguing. I’m going to wait and see how this episode plays out before taking the theory any farther, just in case it ends up being “Claire ate bad boar”. It most likely is a plot device used to further drive the rift between Juliet and the Survivors (as if we needed any more!), but there’s always the chance that the Sickness ends up being that thing that ties together the Others, Dharma, the Valenzetti Equation, the Secret of the Island, and Smokey (okay – probably not Smokey) in a nice neat package.

How amazing would that be?

…and with that, I’ll wrap up my last episode preview for the next few weeks. I should also mention that FOB Alec went out and created a formal Message Board for the Blog, so we won’t all be hindered by the limitations of the Blogger Comments section. Feel free to continue using both, but if you want to get crazy with your discussions, the Board is going to be where it’s at (two turn tables and a microphone). I’m still working on what sort of original content I’ll post there, or how to utilize it to its fullest, so definitely hit up the “Suggestions” section and let me know what would make your Lost… and Gone Forever experience even better.

Click here to enter the wild and magical world of The Lost… and Gone Forever Boards… creatively named, Lost and Gone for a While.

Those scared of Message Boards, registering for websites, and emoticons – the regular Comments section awaits as always…


Anonymous said...

Here's a crazy Lost theory that someone else may have already come up with:
Suppose the 'sickness' is just something in the air on the island that makes everyone slightly tipsy, with a tendency to hallucinate? That fits in with all the weird stuff we've seen (Kate's black horse in the jungle, Jack's dad, Walt, etc.) and even with the flashbacks.
If that were the case, Smokey may not even BE Smokey - different survivors could percieve him in totally different ways. Remember that weird conversation that Locke had with Eko (I THINK it was Eko) when Eko or whoever asked "What did you see?" and Locke said something about a bright light or something beautiful - and Smokey definitely doesn't look like that to us.
The vaccine would prevent the visions? Maybe?
I don't know.

Anonymous said...

In reference to the disease on the blast door map, my translation of the latin phrase is "the disease worsens with treatment..."

BTW thanks for the preview, Buddy Jesus!

PS - Rock it in the EU! To fight jet lag, remember to sleep as much as possible on the way there, then stay up til 10pm local time, and the next morning get up early and stay active all next day.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Andi for the compliments. But no I didn't enter. I have a PhD in procrastination and LGF is an awesome outlet for that. If suddenly I had to be responsible for something I'd be the one jumping the shark. And as much as I really enjoy Brian's format I'm not to confident I could do it justice.
Although I thought about offering to help (and of course I would) but the contest seems to have been a hit (BTW, it was great idea Brian to have the contest) and I am glad things are taken care of. I'm looking forward to the Guest-Host Bloggers.

Suggestions for the message board,
contest submissions and a section for comments you've removed from this site.

Alec said...

I have a friend who is, I kid you not, on her 12th year of dissertation research. You need to procrastinate more, Hobbes. ;)

Brian said...

In my haste to get this Preview posted while preparing for my trip, I realize one thing I totally forgot (which may be a good thing, in the end) - to HYPE THE HELL OUT OF IT .

Remember everything I said in my "Not in Portland" Preview? About how we should have gotten a ton of reveals because we were finally seeing things from the Others' perspective? It didn't really pan out since the flashbacks focused on Juliet pre-Island... but this would should be different.

This should finally be our episode where we begin to understand the true nature of the Others, their purpose on the Island, and why they have acted the way that they have for the past two seasons.

You should all be getting very excited.

That is all.

Anonymous said...

Juliet had the keys to the handcuffs because she was one of the people watching after kate/bringing her food as a prisoner. If kate was handcuffed in the building, than naturally who would have the keys to the cuffs. If he took her in the woods, Kate would have already been handcuffed, she would likely have had the key.. and just opened one of the cuffs, and cliped it to her wrist.

That's not far fetch at all.

Anonymous said...

Viewers that completed the 3 lost puzzles and broke the code posted it on the lost experience. The code indicated that the "sickness" is a fake. It also highlighted some small inconsistancies, like eating cereal without milk, and something about peanut butter (based on known food products from the food drops).

Anonymous said...

Hey Alec,

This is a long shot but your friends name wouldn't happen to be Allyson would it?

Alec said...

Hah! No, it's not Allyson. I guess the 12 year PhD isn't uncommon...

Anonymous said...

Maybe there is a club. lol, I call her Perma-student. And I actually think it's her 13th or 14th year. So much schooling, too insane for my tastes.

heliopath said...

"one of them" was about how Ben was found and captured. Sayid beat him to a pulp and he stuck to his word (stuck to his lie) finaly after all that we figured he was an other.

does it relate? maybe

Jason said...

Maybe the difference in episode titles is that in One of Them they treated Ben like an Other even before they knew for sure he was one.
Now they know Juliet was an Other but they decide to treat her as One of Us in the hopes of getting info from her since there is no gaurantee torture would work and Sayid seems hesitant. Or maybe she tells enough willingly to ease their fears and is accepted as One of Us.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Claire getting sick is the way that Juliet gets accepted into the group. Maybe she somehow helps Claire thereby getting the survivors to reluctuantly let her "in".

Stef said...

Brian, your belated hyping - as well as Doc Jensen's hyping on ew.com - is working. I haven't been this excited about an episode since the season premiere! I am SO hoping for big reveals and lots of excitement!

Anonymous said...

I think the vaccine immunizes people from smokey. It protects them from having their mind read and then getting judged.