'Lost': The Other Woman
Normally, I hear "Juliet flashback" and start breakdancing with Lost joy. So when I learned originally that I'd get a Juliet-centric AND a new Dharma station, let's just say I popped AND locked in the week leading up to it. And yet, what we got was merely a solid, not mind-blowing, episode. Does the episode hold up free of the burden of expectation, or does it still suffer in comparison to the rest of Season 4's high quality of episodes? Let's find out.
(Check out when this ep was originally MINE right here.)
The Other Woman
4) In Summary
"It's hard to keep a good man down. A Goodwin, though, is far less difficult."
8) Now on the Island
Juliet's setting up a tent at night on the beach. Because hey, new people are arriving almost daily now. Best get in on the burgeoning real estate business on Craphole Island. Sun offers to help her, and is curious why Juliet is building tents when they are on the verge of rescue. Just then, Jack busts in: Charlotte and Faraday are gone. Jin saw them go into the jungle, but didn't say anything due to Crazy Eyes telling them all they were friends.
They all torch up and head into the jungle, looking for a trail. While Juliet is isolated, she hears whispers, then sees someone she did not expect: Harper Stanhope. Harper's not exactly friendly when greeting Juliet. Harper's here to deliver a message from Ben: Charlotte and Faraday are heading to the Tempest, and should they figure out how to deploy the gas there, everyone on the Island will die.
Juliet's skeptical, noting Ben's a prisoner and couldn't possibly know all this. "Ben's exactly where he wants to be," Harper replies, echoing Miles' statement in Eggtown. Jack shows up, and to at least my surprise, sees and hears Harper as well. She suggests they take their guns and head after the Freighter Folk. Both Jack and Juliet startle at the sound of the whispers, and when they turn around, Harper's gone.
Jack wants to know about the Tempest. Juliet states it's an electrical station, but refuses to say anything more about it. Jack wants answers; Juliet wants help. Juliet wins, because Jack's a softie for her. At least now. Three years from now? Not so much. But then he'll find out she's been hanging out with shirtless Sawyer, and oh, I'm getting ahead of myself here.
The following morning, Faraday and Charlotte are looking at a hand-drawn map. Faraday worries about not being able to perform their task when the time is right. They are surprised by Kate coming out of the jungle, fresh from pity snuggles with Sawyer. Kate relates the story of Miles to them; Charlotte retorts with a false story about their presence in the jungle. Because Kate isn't stupid and sees the sat phone working just fine, she questions them further. She peeks in Faraday's backpack and sees more of the lovely hazmat gear seen a few episodes ago. Charlotte rewards her curiosity by knocking Kate out.
Jack learns about Harper's identity, surprised that therapists exist on the Island. "It's very stressful being an Other, Jack," she replies. She's here all week; try the veal!
In New Otherton, Claire asks Locke for permission to talk to Miles. She wants to try a new approach, in that their approach might make them look "hostile." Interesting choice of words, Claire. When Locke reminds him what Charlie said ("Not Penny's Boat"), Claire insists it's about time they found out whose ship it actually is. Locke visits Ben, still reading that wonderful little time-travel novel VALIS. Ben wants to know if the revolution has begun yet, noting it's only a matter of time before the rest of the group revolts.
Locke wonders if Ben has a plan. "I always have a plan," Ben replies. That you do, Ben. That you do. Ben mentions they have a common enemy: the person who is behind the freighter. Locke's skeptical of anything Ben has to say; Ben states that he'll simply have to show him, then.
Jack and Juliet come across Kate by the river stream. Juliet volunteers to get water as Kate relays to Jack what happened, including the part about gas masks. At this point, Jack realizes that Juliet's given them the slip and gone off on her own.
Ben and John head into Ben's bungalow, with Ben noting the information needed is right there, behind a picture frame. Behind the frame is a safe. After getting the code, Locke finds a tape inside that says, "Red Sox" on it. "I taped over the game," Ben replies. Lord, his line readings are insanely cool. On the tape? Charles Widmore, getting out of a limousine. Ben tells Locke this is the man who has been trying to find the Island. Locke watches as Widmore beats a man Ben claims is an Other who had the misfortune to get caught.
Ben then pulls out a folder from the safe, containing all the information he possesses on Widmore: everything from concrete evidence to vague sketchwork to an MP3 of him singing The Killers' "Somebody Told Me." Ben states this was the last bargaining chip he had to stay alive, thus held onto it until now. Well, not all: Locke still wants to know the man Ben has on the freighter. Ben suggests he might wanna sit down. I guess Locke missed Comi-Con '07.
Kate's tracking skills help Jack find the trail of both parties. Jack's more curious about what happened in New Otherton; Kate confesses that everyone on the freighter knows who they are, but insists they keep moving.
Juliet arrives at the Tempest, and finds the security system already broken. She opens the door, pulls out a gun, and starts walking inside. Once inside, she finds Faraday trying to manually override the Tempest's computers, with loud speakers buzzing about "countermeasures" and red lights flashing. He tells her he's trying to render the gas inert, not release it into the open. Charlotte blindsides Juliet, and the two fight while majorly damaging what little calm Faraday has left. Juliet eventually overpowers Charlotte, but Charlotte backs up Faraday's story, noting that Ben has used the gas before. Faraday manages to stop the countermeasures in the nick of time, with everyone relieves, exhausted, and sweaty.
Juliet and Charlotte walk out to find Kate and Jack. Kate's mad, Charlotte's mad, Jack's too whipped at this point to question Juliet. Juliet tells Jack that Ben wanted her to kill both of them, which shocks Jack. After all, how could Ben know and do all that? Juliet is terrified, noting that Ben will win this war, and when he does, Jack will suffer through her affection towards him. The two then kiss, and I'm supposed to feel something other than apathy here, but I kinda sorta don't.
Back in New Otherton, Sawyer and Hurley are playing horseshoes. Nice of you guys to show up this episode, guys! The game's cut short as they watch Ben walk past with a set of sheets and blankets. Ben waves, and hilariously says, "See you guys at dinner."
15) Then on the Island
Juliet's inside a psychiatrist's office. She notices a few diplomas on the wall, including one for ESP. Hmmm. Harper Stanhope introduces herself, with Juliet skeptical about being there at all. Turns out Juliet's been on the Island a week, and is treated like a "celebrity." This makes her feel alone, and makes Harper a twinge jealous. Just then, 1970's adult film star Tom Friendly busts in with a mustache that would make John Holmes jealous, requesting Juliet on behalf of Ben.
As they walk to Ben's bungalow, she spies Ben with...flowers? Turns out this isn't Ben's bungalow, but hers. She's surprised to have an entire home to herself, one stocked with everything down to an opera collection for her. When she states this is too much for only a six-month visit, Ben replies that they simply want to make her feel at home.
Juliet's on the floor of her office, crying. A sound from the supply closet gets her attention, and inside she finds Goodwin looking for gauze. He tells her he got the burn on his arm from working at the power station. Goodwin mentions the death of Henrietta that morning, explaining Juliet's earlier tears. He suggests she talk to someone...maybe Harper? She has less than pleasant things to say about Harper, which is awkward, in that she's Goodwin's wife. A little later, Juliet reveals the cunning side we all know and love when she essentially blackmails Goodwin by noting she recognizes his burn as chemical, not electrical, in nature. Also? Nice top in this scene, Ms. Burke. Nice top indeed.
Juliet is explaining to Ben her theories on what happens to pregnant women. Ben is looking like he wants to nom on the nape of her neck until Christmas. She tells him the body reacts to the fetus almost like a parasite during the second trimester. Just then, Goodwin busts in, which is mucho bad timing. Ben all but snarls at his presence. The fact that Goodwin's brought her a sandwich doesn't help matters.
At therapy later that day, Harper asks Juliet about Ben. When Juliet mentions Ben has been friendly to her, Harper cryptically says that's because Juliet looks like "her." The gloves then come off: Harper admits she knows about the affair between the two, and wants it to stop. But not because of her, but because of Ben. Harper fears for her husband's safety should Ben find out.
It's picnic time, as Goodwin, Juliet, and Juliet's enormous...um, intellect are along for the trip. They drink wine and rue their need for sneak around. Goodwin's surprised to learn Ben is behind her request for privacy (well, that and the whole adultery thing being semi-seamy in and of itself). He notes that everyone knows Ben follows her around like a puppy, but doesn't think their relationship is his top priority. Why? Because Ben's working on a project that could kill every living person on the Island should the wrong switch get flipped.
We're back to the day of the Oceanic 815 crash. For the third time, we see Ben gives orders to Goodwin and Ethan, but Lord, it takes on a new meaning now, doesn't it?
What Juliet thinks is a dinner party turns out to be dinner for two at Ben's. Gulp. Ben's acting...well, dorky. That's the only word. Dorky. He plays opera while they discuss Zack and Emma's presence. Juliet questions both their presence and Goodwin's absence, noting they already have everyone from the list. Ben takes his anger out on a newly baked ham while planting seeds inside Juliet's head that Goodwin wants to tap that Ana Lucia booty.
Ben later visits Juliet in her office as she reads Jack's file. She notes he's a spinal surgeon, but Ben's curiously disinterested. He leads her to Goodwin's body, dead from his fight with Ana Lucia. She wants to know why he's showing her this. Uh oh, wrong question. Ben snaps, noting everything he's done to keep her there. Also? "You're MINE!" he says. Whoa. Weird watching Ben emotionally snap, and even weirder to watch his mind and body reset before our eyes. He leaves a grieving Juliet alone to say her goodbyes.
16) The Mythology
How you view The Tempest is a good litmus test for how you view the Dharma Initiative, as well as the Purge. Either the Tempest was ever always a repository for VX-esque gas, or it was subverted/retrofitted by forces on the Island in order to affect the end of the DI.
If you take the first option, then you have another example of just how less-than-moral the Dharma Initiative truly was. Season 5 should hopefully go a long way in clearing up such inconsistencies: it's hard to rectify an organization dedicated to saving the world with one exploiting the island's unique resources to cultivate an air-based weapon capable of such destruction. Could Hanso's munition-making days not have ended with the funding of the DI? Did the DeGroots turn a blind eye to this blight upon their work in exchange for Hanso's unlimited pockets?
If you take the other door, then part of the "patience" endured by Ben between meeting Richard Alpert and affecting the Purge was in slowly tweaking the Tempest from benevolent to malevolent purposes, or simply sabotaged. Given the unstable nature of all experiments on the Island, it's certainly possible that the stations false identity as an electrical station conceals dangerous but potentially beneficial research.
For instance, perhaps this station is in fact the "giant hamster wheel" mentioned by Ben, exploiting the volcanic nature of the Island in order to supply electricity to the various stations. The combination of volcanic activity combined with the Island's "exotic matter" could have produced a heretofore combination of lethal gas, a gas contained by normal processes inherent to the station. The poisonous gas it eventually unleashed across the Island could have been result of that station's equivalent of not pushing the button.
In either case, we know that Ben maintained the facility for some time after. Moreover, Widmore knew this as well, which is why Faraday and Charlotte were assigned its neutralization as a primary objective. Then, and only then, could Keamy's Krew safely come on the Island. This assignment, more than seemingly anything, proves to me that Widmore was once on the Island himself, and was there at the time of the Purge.
23) The Moment
Juliet's resignation that Ben will win the war, despite overwhelming odds.
42) In Retrospect
I still can't decide if Ben's attitude in these flashbacks in some ways humanizes him or just makes him more whipped than Sayid. Also? The "her" referred to by Harper best be Annie, darnit. Many of you (including my wife) think it's his mother than Harper means, and that's of course possible, but I'm waiting for the big Annie reveal that sheds new light on everything we know about Lost.
108) In Summary
As much as I love "The Constant," it's clear that Darlton's obsession with that episode led to it being bookended by two pretty weak episodes. "The Other Woman" is no "Eggtown" by any stretch, but considering that Juliet-centric episodes were mind-blowingly awesome in Season 3, one couldn't help but feel let down by this ineffective retcon of an episode. Also? Any romantic chemistry Jack and Juliet have gets obliterated when they kiss. It's like they are two relatives forced to make out for the amusement of the Jigsaw Killer or something.
Next up: Lost throws us a new narrative twist, and about half the fans of the show call foul.
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Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude, then peruses Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to join the all-new Zap2It's Guide to Lost Twitter feed. Pretty soon he'll have as many platforms as Ben Linus has newly cleaned sheets.