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Lost: Stranger in a Strange Land

by Erin Martell, posted Feb 22nd 2007 6:42AM

Stranger in a Strange Land

(S03E09) In case you happened to miss the numerous commercials, ABC had promised that "Stranger in a Strange Land" would answer three big Lost questions for viewers. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse made it clear in this week's podcast that at least one of them was the meaning of Jack's tattoos. After watching the episode, I'm not entirely sure what the other two huge revelations were supposed to be. Is it possible that ABC (gasp) overhyped this episode?

This episode brought us back to the major pre-Desmond island events. Sawyer, Kate, and Karl were still rowing back to the island. Kate did the standard "not without Jack" routine, but was quickly shot down by Sawyer. The usually stubborn Kate did not put up much of a fight, and this trend continued throughout the episode.

Jack was back in the familiar surroundings of his cell, but not for long. Following an unpleasant exchange with Tom, Jack got moved to the polar bear cage to make room for Juliet, now under arrest for Pickett's murder. The Others may have a shortage of reliable doctors, but they apparently have a surplus of creepy enforcers. We got our first look at Isabel, the island's "sheriff," whispering something to Tom. Her eyebrows were more than enough to make me afraid for Jack.

Jack's flashback began in Phuket, Thailand, where he was living a carefree beachfront existence. After a meaningless encounter with Thailand's answer to Short Round from Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, Jack vainly attempted to construct a kite on the beach. Jack's awkward fumbling amused no one but Achara, played by the inexplicably famous Bai Ling. After a few minutes of flirting, the kite was aloft. The part of me that was bored by that scene truly wishes that phrase was a metaphor.

Sawyer's second unilateral decision had the escapees making camp on the other side of their island. Kate began to win me over by finally asking Karl some pertinent questions. Karl, now perfectly lucid, explained that the Others mainly use Alcatraz for "projects," and, in fact, live on the original island. They abduct people, Karl claimed, to "give them a better life." He's certainly living proof of that, right? Karl also reminisced about Alex, telling Kate and Sawyer that they renamed a constellation "The Teddy Bear."

Juliet was sent out to enlist Jack's help in treating Ben, who was worse for wear after his intense surgery. Ben's vitals were low, and his stitches were infected. Even after Juliet informed him of her Pickett-related trouble, Jack refused to help her. I am not quite sure why Jack initially ignored Juliet's pleas, since he was so focused on saving her later in the episode.

The second phase of the flashback found Jack and Achara on a dinner date. After being served by Achara's brother, Achara asked Jack about his kite-flying impairment. It will come as no surprise to regular viewers that Jack blamed this on his father, who was "not the kite-flying type." Obsessive theorists were undoubtedly researching Mary Poppins connections immediately after this scene aired. Achara spoke for all of us when she silenced Jack and professed her total lack of interest in his Daddy issues. The date took an interesting turn when a man approached Achara with an envelope (presumably filled with cash), prompting Achara to casually mention her "gift." The gift ended up being her ability to mark people with self-defining tattoos. Jack's mark reads: "He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us." Jack later told Isabel that the tattoo had another meaning, but failed to elaborate on what that meaning was (and why it got him brutally beaten by Achara's brother).

In what was probably the second revelation of the episode, the fate of Tailies Cindy, Zack, and Emma was finally made clear. Well, not really. Jack woke up in his cage to an entire group of people staring at him through the bars. A smiling Cindy approached Jack and gave him vague answers to his questions. We learned that the group "watches," that the role of the Others is "not that simple," and that the missing Tailies did not know about Ana Lucia's death. I guess that Cindy and Emma don't frequent Michelle Rodriguez's website. Jack unfortunately scared Cindy off before we could hear some answers, but we did get a glimpse of Zack and his teddy bear. The sinister glare that Zack gave Jack left me unconvinced that the Tailies are safe and sound, however.

Sawyer's vulnerability during his man-to-man talk with Karl made it obvious that the love triangle is far from resolved. As he was telling Karl to go back for the woman he loved, Sawyer realized that Kate's desire to save Jack was rooted in deeper feelings than loyalty. Kate was also slow to protest when Sawyer accused her of sleeping with him because he was going to be killed. This was definintely not Sawyer's week.

For a while it looked like Juliet was marked for death, but, thanks to Jack's intervention, she ended up being merely marked. It's a little disappointing that Jack's tattoo mystery was wrapped up just in time for Juliet's tattoo to be introduced. What did the symbol on her lower back mean, and do more Others bear a mark? The threat of Juliet's execution was enough to motivate Jack to treat Ben, but Ben received the grim news that he may not walk again. His ability to manipulate was still intact enough to warn Jack that Juliet is still an Other, despite her behavior. Sides will have to be taken in the coming weeks, since the Others decided to move back to the crash survivors' island.

I am going to give the writers the benefit of the doubt and hope that this episode was building up to something bigger than tattoo interpretation. ABC's promotion of the episode set the bar a bit high, which was out of their hands. A few thoughts:

  • Was Tom trying to turn Jack against Kate and Sawyer by pointing out that they left "without looking back"? It hardly seemed like an innocent question.
  • Karl's reasoning behind the abductions sounded a lot like Goodwin's rationale in Season Two.
  • If Ethan's skills as a surgeon were so valuable, why did Ben give him the dangerous task of spying on the fuselage survivors?
  • Zack's teddy bear looked different than the one carried by the barefoot Others in Season Two. Any opinions?
  • Locke's paralysis was healed by the island. Could Henry's potential nerve damage be healed by the island also? If not, Henry may need to borrow Locke's wheelchair.
  • The Others get political and sports news, yet have no knowledge of The Brady Bunch? What gives?
  • During Juliet's verdict reading, there was what looked like a DHARMA logo on the lectern.
  • Are Cindy and the other "watchers" going to be transported back home with the Others? They were not visible in the beach scene.

See you next week for Hurley's flashback!

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i think you're all weird and overly sensitive to television... it's a tv show that is good and i think you should take it easy! it's a story, and if you are a person that reads the last chapter of a book before you read the beginning you should shut the hell up!

March 16 2007 at 3:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is it just me or is anyone else annoyed by that doofy grin Juliet always has on her face? And while she is handcuffed being led to a cell, she walks pass Jack and says "Hey"! Who does that? That was so ridiculous. Something is not right with this chick, I just don't trust her. Let's not forget how convincing Ben was as Henry Gale. Luckily, Sayid was there to expose him.

February 26 2007 at 9:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

After reading these comments one thing is clear, many of the people who watch this show have unrealistic expectations and are so focused on the episode fulfilling these specific expectations that they miss the episode entirely and walk away unfulfilled. Maybe the people complaining should take a remedial class in TV watching because they clearly lack the basic ability to watch the episode with an open mind. That's not the writers fault or the networks fault, that's your own fault. Take responsibility for yourself and stop blaming the show, the show hasn't changed you have. Your mindset is completely different than it was when you started watching the show, free your mind and stop limiting the show to what you expect, when you don't limit it with your expectations and just let it be you'll see it's just as good as it ever was.

February 26 2007 at 7:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Judging by your comments, the rumours that many American LOST Fans are becoming confused and tired of the show are true. Ratings are slumping. Face it, LOST always asks more questions than it answers. Its mysteriousness is what makes LOST unique compared to other programmes. You cannot simply wrap this show up in a few episodes. Most TV shows these days have short lifes because so-called fans get bored and move on to the next big thing, and the show is cut. Even though this was a mediocre episode, Flashes Before Your Eyes should have given fans enough to think about for weeks. Hopefully the writers will give LOST the ending it deserves after season 4 and we'll all be happy.

February 25 2007 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A friend of mine who is a rabid fan of the show and never has anything negative to say complained that nothing happened in this episode. The information they gave us was interesting, but not earth shattering like I was expecting. That being said, I can't wait until next week's show.

February 24 2007 at 10:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I remember when I couldn't wait for Lost to come on... Now I can't wait for the epidsode to be over... Each week we don't have any questions answered its just an hour of boring flashbacks... Lost needs to get back on track before everyone loses interest and Lost becomes a mare memory of what used to be a great show...

February 24 2007 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

@Matt - posted #66

"Instead of complaining take it for what it is, an entertaining SHOW that actually makes you think and form your own ideas."

I think the point is, the show was entertaining for a lot of fans until the 3rd season. Aside from the Desmond episode, the show has continued to disappoint a lot of us and this doesn't seem to matter to the producers.

A small group of dissenters is one thing, falling ratings compared to previous seasons is another. Networks tend to pay attention to ratings because ratings == money.

Matt, if you feel that Season 3 is fine then more power to you. A lot of us don't feel that way, however.

February 23 2007 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As for Jack NOT being a Christ-figure...Please take note that his last name IS Shepherd.

The tattoos do not mean he is Christ but does imply that he will be the savior of everyone on the island.

I still care about the show so I will stick it out come what may.

February 23 2007 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Posted by #62/ozmoe:
"And how does a show that has a cast the size of a daytime soap opera manage to barely give enough screen time to them this season beyond what can fit in a commercial?!"

Very good point. This week's episode jumped around, barely resting on one single thing. Hardly a way to answer anything, but a great way to rouse more questions.

On the other hand, last week's episode focusing on Desmond was terrific, due to the points you made above. It spent time deveolping the character of Desmond while stopping and including Hurley and CHarlie in the mix. Recipe for a great episode.

February 23 2007 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is it just me that assumes the tailies have been brainwashed, probably in the same way Karl was in the process of being, and that's why they seemed so calm and odd?

February 23 2007 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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