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''Lost'': Never Ben Kissed

Juliet flashes back to when she was the object of the head Other's unrequited love, but then she obeys his orders to stop the freighter folks' mission

Lost, Elizabeth Mitchell | CRUSHED After Juliet turned Ben down, he arranged for her lover's death
CRUSHED After Juliet turned Ben down, he arranged for her lover's death

'Lost' recap: The loves of Juliet

This is the time in the ''Lost'' season when we begin to feel the first tingle of antsy-pants impatience — where a simmering feeling blossoms into full awareness that nothing has really happened since the exciting, season-launching events of the premiere. Consider last year. As we entered the sixth episode, the Jack-Kate-Sawyer Hydra story line had advanced by baby steps, while back on the beach, Smokey had just bashed Mr. Eko to death. Not exactly a fruitful yield on a five-hour investment. For certain, this fourth season of Lost has been more interesting (thank you, flash-forwards) and focused (thank you, freighter folk and plot-driving end date), but let's be honest: Since the introduction of the freighter folk in episode 2, the Island-set drama has been stuck in neutral. And so, at the risk of sounding downright ungrateful following last week's instant-classic Desmond outing, I approached ''The Other Woman,'' last night's Juliet-centric affair, itchy for some action. After three weeks of set-ups, I wanted an episode with at least a few payoffs.

Well, be careful what you privately wish for. The best thing I can say about ''The Other Woman'' is that it tried hard to deliver the goods I wanted — maybe too hard. The whole thing felt forced to me — the sudden transformation of Charlotte and Faraday into Mission: Impossible secret agents; the overheated melodrama of Juliet's flashback; the groaningly contrived kiss between Jack and Juliet (Juliack?); the cliché ticking-clock climax in which catastrophe is averted with a proverbial second to spare. The story was kinda all over the place, as if trying to find something, anything to hook us — and fortunately, it managed to nab me with its Ben and Locke scenes (always killer, in my opinion) and the über-Other's mythology-expanding claim that the Big Bad behind the freighter (and maybe all of Lost) is none other than Penelope's father, Charles Widmore. It was almost enough to salvage the first truly subpar episode of the season. Some thoughts:

Stormy weather
''The Other Woman'' began with the Jack pack discovering that Charlotte and Faraday had disappeared into the jungle on an unusually rain-soaked night. According to the clues Lost has given us, this episode would seem to coincide with the tsunami that struck on December 26, 2004, an event that would only be relevant to Lost if you believe (as some do) that the Island is located in the Indian Ocean, not the South Pacific. So the severe rain shower that pounded the Island during the opening scenes could be a wink at the tsunami — or at least, tsunami theorists. But did the episode offer another coy allusion to that natural disaster? I refer to:

A Tempest by any other name (part 1)
''The Other Woman'' gave us a new Dharma facility, a power plant known as the Tempest. Much can be said about the name assigned to this station — beginning with this piece of insight, offered by reader Keith Stuart, who was inspired to do some pre-broadcast prep after reading about the Tempest in my Doc Jensen column on Thursday. Stuart reminds us that The Tempest is, of course, a famous play by William Shakespeare and that Lost seems to have much in common with the Bard's final masterwork: ''It is a comment on the Renaissance pastoral genre, in which the natural environment is often characterized as a restorative, magical force. In the play, the troubled royals are washed up on a strange island and find that they must grapple with the social and political problems of their normal lives, but within a strange new context of magic and disorientation. Sound familiar?'' Sure does! Keith thinks of Ben as Prospero, ''the magician at the center of the island's seductive madness,'' though he declines to say who's the equivalent of Prospero's imprisoned fairy, Ariel. Maybe he thought making a connection to Juliet was too obvious. Still, thank you, Doc Stuart, for doing all this heavy lifting for me/us.

NEXT: Brush up your Shakespeare

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