Stranger in a Strange Land

It would’ve been hard to top last week’s episode… and it almost feels as if “LOST” didn’t really try tonight. “Stranger in a Strange Land” had its moments — Jack and Juliet’s love connection, Sawyer’s manly moment with Karl, even our newest Other, Isabel the Sheriff (played by Diana Scarwid, not Fionnula Flanagan, thank you) was interesting enough. But even Jen, who liked tonight’s episode better than I did, conceded that Jack’s flashback was flat, and that Bai Ling isn’t much of an actress.

Okay, so getting “marked” was the theme of the night. Juliet’s punishment seemingly not much better than death, and Jack’s tattoo bringing trouble and conflicting meanings. Both now outsiders, an alienation that definitely seems to reference the episode’s namesake (Robert Heinlein’s novel of the same name). Achara sees into a person’s true nature, and finds Jack a “great man,” a lonely leader… a conclusion Ben came to in Season 2. So was Jack really kidnapped for his surgical skills? Or is there a larger plan? Methinks Jack is bad news for this Jacob.

We do get some additional context for the Others’ world. There are laws and a judiciary system of some sort. Alcatraz is a workplace and a dreadful one at that. And that, for whatever reason, they’re willing to vacate Alcatraz rather than risk an attack by or the return of survivors on the main island. What is going on? It sure would’ve been nice for Sawyer and Kate to ask Karl a few more questions before setting him free… but that would be too easy.

The Alex/Karl thing seems to be shaping up to be a major story arc, to be sure. Very “Romeo & Juliet,” I think, and maybe we’ll soon discover there’s a Montague clan to Ben’s Capulets. Jen suggests “Luke & Leia” as an alternate parallel… which would be another good reason for Ben’s objections.

And as I suspected, Kate’s “choice” last year, wasn’t, and now Sawyer knows it. Of course, Jack’s got a new girlfriend. Yet another love triangle. Or love trapezoid by the end of the season. But, says Jen, the Jack/Juliet thing may be more Stockholm Syndrome… or a ploy by Jack. I can see that.

Cindy returns, but isn’t particularly helpful. She seemed genuinely surprised at Jack’s hostility, but is it because all has been sweetness and light on Alcatraz, or because she (and the other captured survivors) have been thoroughly and forcibly brainwashed? I might be alone, by the way, but I liked the mention of Ana Lucia.

A couple of conversations left us confused, though. Jen wants to know — when Jack asks who she shot — why Juliet only says, cryptically, “It’s complicated.” Does she have a history with Ben and the late Pickett? And I’m curious about Alex’s question to Jack, about why Jack saved Ben after everything Ben had done. Is she disappointed? Or reluctantly impressed?

Notes and Notions:

  • When Jack was lovingly applying aloe to Juliet’s “mark,” did she have a small bandage on her stomach? About where her sister got her shot in “Not In Portland”? Hmm.
  • Ethan was a surgeon? Didn’t see that coming. Especially since he seemed to be deployed by Ben as a heavy more than anything. Spy, fighter, plumber and a doctor? Whataguy.
  • It was good to see Emma and the little boy again. But could the “Teddy Bear” references be any less subtle?
  • Cap’n Bunnykiller. Sally Slingshot. Bobby Brady. Sawyer was on a roll, as usual.
  • The tattoo Achara’s brother saw is only half of the tattoo Jack has on the island. Does that mean we’ve got another tattoo flashback coming?
  • LOST Locations: The picturesque beach where Jack was staying was Waimanalo Beach, a favorite spot for our family. It was strange to see Rabbit Island on the horizon… surrounded by dozens of other digitally-inserted islands. Achara’s brother’s restaurant and the tattoo parlor were Indigo Restaurant on Nuuanu Avenue. And the bustling Bangkok street was Fort Street Mall near Hawaii Pacific University and narrow Chapin Lane.

59 Responses to “Stranger in a Strange Land”

  1. Tawl says:

    I don’t believe my eyes.. most of you are trying to tell me that this was a bad and boring episode?? The only thing “bad” were the questions (not)asked by Jack, Sawyer, and Kate. But seriously, do you think anyone that has gone thru what they did is going to remember how to ask logical and well-thought out questions?

    Even the best roller coaster ride on earth is going to have times where it has to slowly pull you up to an even higher peak in order to release you screaming downward, faster than the last time. For all the folks that were bored with this episode, avoid roller coasters and stick to jumping out of airplanes.. blindfolded.

  2. Doug says:

    While I agree with Ryan that this episode wasn’t great, I agree with those who say have patience. Not every episode can be the best ever, or great, or solve a mystery. I still think a so-so episode of Lost is better than anything else on TV right now. In my mind the more questions we have the more episodes we might get to solve them.

    I just hope ABC doesn’t panic because the ratings are down. I am sure if you factored in TIVO numbers the ratings would be solid, the 10PM move has to have a lot to do with the drop. I smell a move to Tuesday night at 9PM afoot? I wish this show was on HBO instead of ABC!!

    While I first thought Cindy might be there to “watch” the trial, does anyone think they could be there to “watch” the videos that Karl was watching?

    I also think Juliette and Ben are playing Jack to get his help. I believe the whole trial was a fake to get Jack to agree to help Ben in my opinion.

  3. Steve says:

    I dont understand why everybody said the episode sucks.. and maybe the tatoo story its more than we think.. do you remember the guy from the Orientation film..Dr.Marvin Candle or Dr.Mark Wickmund ( he got 2 names) he look like a Thai man.. so.. maybe the Jack’s tatoo are one of the reason Why Jack is on the island…

  4. Steve says:

    and I think Claire made the rest of his tatoo.. if you read the spoilers on lostpedia.com.. we read she work on a tatoo-parlor before the crash.. (she have black hair too.. hmmmm blue eyes and black hairs… my vision of a perfect girl lllollll) anyways.. this tatoo are important..im sure !

  5. esbaker says:

    When Jack was lovingly applying aloe to Juliet’s “mark,” did she have a small bandage on her stomach? About where her sister got her shot in “Not In Portland”? Hmm.

    No, what you saw was part of shirt that she was holding onto.

  6. esbaker says:

    Better read:

    No, what you saw was part of her shirt that she was holding onto.

  7. Maeve says:

    Why does an episode have to answer questions to be good? Some random thoughts:

    I really loved this episode. It was different than Desmond’s time travel adventure but I love the details you find in low key episodes like this. I also thought it marked a major change in the “feel” of Lost. This is the first episode where the island did not have that sensation (don’t know how else to explain it) of isolation to me. The feeling of being trapped and lost with no hope of rescue. This group of people –the Others- can get off the island to recruit researchers and some go back and forth. The island is home to some and not just some place they are trapped (It’s like Tom Hanks finding a McDonalds on the other side of his island after months of isolation) Their normalness is what I think upset Jack. The little girl and Cindy had no idea of what life was like for the other lost-a-ways. No idea of what their community’s leaders had done to them. Jack could not ask Cindy questions. He knew he was being monitored in the cage. She indicated the situation was more complicated than she could quickly explain.

    We have Jack leaving the small island to swelling music with a large ship in the background. It’s a type of music I have not heard before on Lost. It’s almost as if Jack has been rescued. Lost is no longer just about people stranded on the island.

    This episode really made me think about the Others’ society and its nature more than any other. Ben was very gently treated on the beach. I got the feeling he was a respected maybe revered leader. I also get the feeling Ben is more than a leader. He buries the dead and I bet marries people too. A priest-leader minus the pesky celibacy? Does Ben rule by hire, election, or by appointment? Are they a cult of scientists? Or is island being made into a modern day Noah’s ark?

    We learned the Others are structured society with rules and consequences for breaking those rules including the death penalty.
    We learned judgment is determined and administered by a “sheriff”. I thought what she wore was a sort of uniform.
    We also learned that Ben has a great deal more power than we thought. He can overrule the sheriff’s verdict, even if that verdict is execution. Ben’s word appears to be law.
    When Ben warned Jack that Juliet was one of them no matter what she did, I got the feeling that joining the Others was a lot like joining the mafia. Once an Other always an Other? Even when Juliet gets home?

    Fernando said:
    “is this a cleaning lady? a production error?”
    Neither. It’s reading too much into a picture. This is a production still made on the set, not a screen capture of a scene. According to Gregg Nations, the Script Coordinator on Lost, the woman was part of the staff. There was not enough room behind the camera for her during the shot so she went outside the door. Gregg answers questions at the Fuselage (thefuselage.com).

    Cindy and other people were there to watch the trial. Jack and the audience did not learn about the trial until later when Alex tells Jack about it. We were not suppose to know about the trial yet when Cindy sees Jack. It was suppose to be a surprise. I just don’t understand why people are having such a hard time understanding this. The audience was not told the people outside Jack’s cage were there to watch the trial. We were shown. When we look though the door and see Juliet on the dais we see the room is filled with people in chairs watching the trial. Where were those people before the trial? They were milling around outside staring at the guy in the cage.

    Dave: Infections after spinal surgery are not that uncommon even when they are done under the best of conditions. Operating rooms are sources of antibiotic resistant bacteria. What was unusual was how fast the infection developed. But if the writers were accurate the season would almost be over before Ben got the infection. As it is I’m afraid Ben will be in a wheelchair for the rest of the season.

  8. Tori says:

    I’m casting my vote with Connie from Alaska, and others who say, “Have patience!”

    While this episode did feel “flatter” than most, I still think these guys are positively brilliant in their storytelling abilities and I’m completely ready to hang in with it. I, for one, can’t imagine having the talent to weave together such a complex tale, and I’m hoping Damon and Carlton don’t listen too much to critics–that’s killed more than one creative endeavor. Hang in, guys, and hang in with the show, ABC!

  9. Melissa says:

    Well said Maeve. I totally agree with your very well thought out post and I am with Tori and Connie in being patient. I actually have loved, loved, each of the episodes since the return from the break. They all feel as though they are moving the story along, not just side trips with no relevance.

    I feel like I know Jack better. I feel like I know Sawyer better. I feel like I know Desmond better. That’s the point. These are people we care about. We want to know what makes them tick as much as we want to know why they are here (on the island) and what is going to happen to them. Finding out who The Others really are is, for me, something on the side.

    Thanks, Ryan and Jen, for hosting this site and letting us Lost fans have this conversation.

    I still miss your podcast. 🙁
    Melissa in Ohio

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