Six questions about Lost's Danielle Rousseau
Danielle Rousseau has always been one of the most mysterious characters on Lost, and that's saying something. The final minutes of "Meet Kevin Johnson" left me with even more questions about the French woman. She's never had a flashback, and is completely on her own on the island. There is also no way to confirm her stories about reaching the island, her child getting abducted, or the deaths of her team members.
Spoiler Warning: Anyone not caught up with season four should stop reading now.
We've never known a great deal about Rousseau, and the most recent episode made me care about her again. This season has primarily focused on the Oceanic Six, Desmond, and the Freighties, so it was easy for Danielle to get lost in the background. How does this intriguing, strange woman figure into the future of the show?
Is Danielle alive or dead? Sometimes Lost characters merely look dead--just ask Patchy. Danielle was shot in "Meet Kevin Johnson," but the writers could explain that away in two minutes. I don't think anyone would object if Danielle miraculously survived and Karl stayed dead. Rousseau has been around since season one, and I still don't know how much I trust her. Normally the writers give us a significant part of a character's back story before killing someone off. Nikki and Paulo even got flashbacks before dying. Wouldn't Danielle, a far more popular character, get equal treatment?
There are a few reasons why Danielle might be dead. As I mentioned earlier, the arrival of the freighter has moved the show in a different direction. As far as we know, Rousseau isn't involved with this season's mysteries, like the rescue of the Oceanic Six and Widmore's involvement with the Freighties. There wasn't much build-up to her death scene, either. Most of the focus was on Michael's return and motives. Taking out Karl and Danielle felt like an afterthought. Either way, I'd like some closure--and maybe a few more details.
If she is dead, what was the point of her character? For my part, I hope that Rousseau is alive. Assuming that her stories are true, we could learn a lot more about the island and the Others from Danielle. Even if she's lying, that would be worth knowing. If this was the end of the line for Rousseau, why was her character necessary in the first place?
The distress signal was an exciting discovery in the first season, and Danielle's presence led to more thrilling details. It was Danielle who first referred to the island whispers and alerted Sayid to the presence of the Others. She also had a connection to Hurley's numbers. I expected Danielle to have a bigger role on the show as things progressed, but most of the focus has been on her reunion with Alex. Now that mother and daughter have met, have the writers finished with Rousseau? She's much more to me than a simple tool for introducing the others and a heartwarming family subplot. If she dies now, that's all she'll ever be.
If she's alive, what future purpose will she serve? Now that the future has become a significant part of Lost, there's no way of knowing how any non-Oceanic Six characters will fit into upcoming episodes. The Freighties could kill the island's remaining inhabitants, or the survivors could be left alive on the island. Danielle has shown no interest in leaving the island and has been hiding from the Freighties since their arrival. If she is alive, I doubt that she's among those who make it off the island (like Ben). The character's future really depends on how much time is devoted to those left behind when the Oceanic Six make it back to the mainland.
Who was behind the ambush, the Freighties or the Others? After "Meet Kevin Johnson" aired, there was a ton of speculation about the identity of the shooter(s). I still believe that the Others were behind the ambush, and were operating under Ben's orders. Ben knew exactly where Alex, Karl, and Rousseau were going to be, and Harper's encounter with Juliet implied that Ben is in contact with the Others.
The only other explanation is that the Freighties happened upon the trio and took them out according to their (possible) orders to kill everyone on the island. This theory makes less sense to me. Yes, Keamy's skeet shooting and the chopper's absence indicate that something fishy is going on, but there are some steps missing. How did the Freighties know to look for survivors in that part of the jungle? Why wouldn't Frank have led them to Jack and the other 815ers first, since he knew where they were? The ambush feels more like a typical Ben Linus scheme to me. What could be better than getting his daughter's boyfriend and biological mother out of the way? Note: After writing this post, I watched a Lost promo that shows Keamy with Alex, making the Freighties theory more likely. Appearances can be deceiving, though.
Shouldn't Danielle have seen the ambush coming? Rousseau didn't land on the island yesterday; she's fully aware of the Others' potential for evildoing. I find it hard to believe that a woman who (supposedly) survived on the island for sixteen years would walk into an ambush without being suspicious. Even Karl questioned Ben's motives for sending them into the jungle, for crying out loud! I understand that Danielle thought leaving the Barracks was the best way to protect Alex, but why was she so quick to trust Ben, the man who abducted her daughter? Rousseau may be crazy, but she's not stupid. Remember how paranoid she was when Sayid first encountered her? She had traps set up all around her camp and didn't trust anyone. How did this gun-wielding survivor turn into a sitting duck three seasons later?
It also bothers me that Danielle was willing to take Alex to the Others' camp at the Temple. Danielle is a resourceful woman, and she could have thought of some alternatives to Ben's plan. There had to be other places to hide on the island. Again, these people kidnapped her child. Keeping her near Ben was dangerous enough--why lead her back to the entire Other-community? She'd be outnumbered and out-gunned. Danielle had no real proof, beyond Ben and Locke's word, that the Freighties were more of a threat than the Others.
What is/was Danielle's real back story? I still have a lot of questions about Danielle's past behavior. Why didn't she ever go after the Others when they stole her baby? Was her research team with DHARMA? Why did she hand Ben over to Sayid in Season Two? Rousseau's connection to the Others interests me the most. When Sayid met her, she was intent on avoiding them as much as possible. Later, she had quite a bit of contact with them: she found Claire outside The Staff station and protected her from the Others in "Maternity Leave," and caught Ben in a trap in "One of Them." I never understood why Danielle didn't take the opportunity to learn more about Alex, or why she didn't use Ben in some kind of exchange with the Others. On several occasions, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse mentioned that they might do a Rousseau flashback in a future season. If Danielle's alive, I hope they stick to their plans.
What do you think? Is it time to move away from Danielle's drama, or have we barely scratched the surface?
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