Juliet has been one of the more successful additions to the Lost cast. As a (former?) member of The Others, it’s been interesting watching her integrate into the group under Jack’s sponsorship, and so far her main function has been to inject fresh drama into the occasionally tired Jack-Kate-Sawyer love triangle.
Fittingly, then, that her episode is entitled “The Other Woman” – a title that highlights Juliet’s function in the group dynamic. The tension on screen every time Jack, the island’s most unlikely pimp, pays Juliet more attention than he pays Kate is brilliantly palpable, and makes Sawyer’s harsh words to Kate about her tendancy to bed-hop ring particularly true.
However, Juliet clearly has a history of getting in the way of relationships, as we learn of an adulterous episode from her past. Six episodes into the new series, Lost gingerly returns to the classic flashback format, though with the additional twists that we’re first lead to believe that it’s a flash-forward, then given the eventual reveal that it’s one of those wonderful on-island flashbacks showing the Others in the idyllic, Stepford-esque Otherville that currently houses Locke’s operation.
But what of the Others? One turns up in this episode to warn Juliet that Daniel and Charlotte are heading to the power station where they intend to gas the entire island. Oh no! It’s a ridiculously weak plot, culminating in an even weaker catfight and even Kate falls prey to the most blatantly telegraphed pistol-whip in history. A strong episode, this is not, though somehow, by drip-feeding new information it’s easy to look past the obvious flaws in favour of what we’re being shown.
For instance – there’s a failsafe on the island’s power station that can be used to vent enough poison gas to kill everyone on the island – something that Ben has already done once. Secondly, the Others are still watching our guys, and they’re doing their best to set them against each other. Third, the rescue boat belongs to none other than Charles “Penny’s Father” Widmore. And finally, Ben is nursing very disturbing and possessive obsession with Juliet that spells nothing but bad things for Jack, who ends this episode by playing a round of tonsil hockey with her – after all, Ben ensured that the last guy who tried that ended up a bloated corpse.
Ah, yes, Ben. Despite exuding a weasel-like quality that’s ridiculously evident in the flashback scenes where he attempts to woo Juliet, he’s quickly become the star member of the cast, constantly throwing a new spanner into the works and getting all the best lines – having negotiated some limited freedom after trading information with Locke, he strolls through Otherville and greets an aghast Sawyer and Hurley with simply a cheerful “See you guys at dinner!”
In truth, though, Ben is subtly engineering the very revolt he’s warned Locke is coming. With his seeds of doubt now planted in Locke’s mind, he’s free to manipulate him so that he truly becomes the ineffectual leader that Ben’s suggesting he’ll be seen as. Genius, on several levels. These scenes alone more than makes up for the relative weakness of the rest of the episode – including the big tease of just who Ben’s man on the rescue boat might be. Locke knows – can the audience revelation be far behind? It’s apparently a biggie (a big revelation, I mean, not Biggie Smalls) but I’m fresh out of ideas as to who it might be. Could it be that this is how Michael will be making his eventual return to the cast? As ever, the answers of Lost are bound to leave me with fresh questions. Just the way I like it.