TV Recap

Dr. Strangelove

On ''Lost,'' Jack flashes back to Thailand before taking a Disney-esque boat ride to where The Others really live, Juliet goes on trial, and there's a sheriff in town

Matthew Fox, Lost | MARKED MAN Jack's tattoos are so meaningful
Image credit: Lost: Mario Perez
MARKED MAN Jack's tattoos are so meaningful

''Lost'': An exercise in patience

Dear Folks Behind the Lost Spoilers,
Please take it down a notch! I want people to tune in every week, too, but you've got to stop hyping how many
Lost Secrets will be revealed in every episode. The writers are doing a fabulous job at unspooling the mystery slowly and subtly, but it feels anticlimactic because I'm preparing to be conked over the head by the latest revelation.
Sincerely,
Hannah Tucker

What I'm trying to say is, this Jack-centric episode wasn't as earth shattering as the commercials promised, but it was damn good. Relationships took baby steps forward (Jack and Juliet) or two big steps back (Sawyer and Kate), and yes, we received some long-awaited answers... which, in true Lost form, raised more questions.

But let's begin hotly debated hottie guest star, Bai Ling. I'll admit it: while writing this TV Watch brings me joy, when it's late and I'm trying to remember things like who the heck Ethan is (scary dude who kidnapped Claire; now deceased) without the requisite amount of caffeine in my system, I can get a little punchy. Sarcastic even. But was Mystery Everywoman Achara not just a teeny tiny bit ridiculous? Some of her lines — ''Stop asking questions, let's just have fun'' — were pretty bad, and the hair was downright inexcusable. How can she see anything, let alone a person's true self, through those bangs? On the bright side, Achara solved two important mysteries: one, the point at which eye shadow goes from serious to seriously misguided and two, where Dr. Shephard got those tattoos. And thanks to Isabel — the latest Other, eerily placid like so many others — we know what they mean: ''He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us.''

Stewardess Cindy and the children, who had been captured by (presumably) the Others, were... wait for it... on the island with the Others. Now, I was glad that nothing dreadful had befallen the little teddy bear-toting munchkins (Karl claimed they wanted to give them a ''better life''), but I kept hoping for a bit more in the answers department — this deliciously creepy scene was over too quickly. What do you think Cindy meant when she said ''We're here to watch''? There wasn't much to watch except Jack — could observing him be part of an initiation process for Cindy and the kids?

Kate, Sawyer and Karl have returned to the island from whence they came and boy, things are not looking good for Karl. He was spouting lines from the room 23 video — ''God loves you as he loved Jacob'' — and going through girlfriend withdrawal. Sawyer's heart-to-heart with Karl was a spectacular failure as a pep talk, but it was possibly my favorite part of this episode. Sawyer began by punching Karl in the arm, then abruptly shifted from tough love to after school special-style rhetoric (''I've been with a lot of girls...''). Finally, however, he went with the ol' risk-execution-to-find-your-gal bit, which is not only very bad advice but also, as Freud would say, Sawyer is clearly projecting. We learn that Sawyer thinks Kate only slept with him because she thought the Others were going to kill him — at least, that's how I interpreted his accusation. Harsh. Judging from Kate's expression, she wasn't taking the suggestion lightly, either.

But speaking of executions, how close do you think Juliet came to escaping one? She was sentenced to death for killing Danny — as Alex explains to Jack, ''an eye for an eye'' (one of two Exodus references in this episode). But after a last-minute reprieve from Ben, she isn't executed but is ''marked'' or branded with a scorpion-like symbol. This prompts a moment of tender hand-to-waist contact between Juliet and Jack, whose tattoos also make him a ''marked'' person. But as with everything involving Juliet, there is the possibility that some or all of the trial and near-execution business was an elaborate performance to see how Jack will respond. I've noticed that when we're looking at Juliet from Jack's perspective, we're often seeing her face just before a door closes between them. Since I don't know what's happening on the other side of that door, I search her expression for clues and, though it could be my imagination, I often see the beginnings of a smile.

Now let's talk episode title (''Stranger in a Strange Land''), shall we? It's the title of a sci-fi novel by Robert A. Heinlein, and can also be found in Exodus 2:22. The plot of Heinlein's novel (a man comes to Earth after being raised by Martians) is analogous to the Thailand flashback, in which Jack is the Martian-reared outsider who doesn't know how to fly a kite. Furthermore, feeling (and sometimes behaving) like a stranger in a strange land is pretty much Jack's modus operandi, whether he's in America, Southeast Asia, or on the island.

What did you think? The episode's final scene: too sentimental or just right? What will happen to Karl and Alex? Do you think it's tragic that Karl has never experienced The Brady Bunch? What (other than respect for human life) will keep Jack from pushing Ben into the water en route to the Others' ''home''? And what do you think of Lost's pacing in these past three episodes?

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Originally posted Feb 22, 2007