Lost – ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ – 3.9

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I need to call a personal moratorium on all future spoilers including those backend credit cookies that provide a teaser for next week’s installment. After all, any promise of ‘the island’s three biggest mysteries will be revealed’ is bound to be met with disappointment. Make no mistake – blame should not be levied at any of the creative forces working on this show for the lack of dramatic revelations. The promise of three whoppers is wholly an invention of the ABC Marketing muscle – the same weasels that tease every crime drama with the phrase “…and a twist you won’t see coming.” Which loosely translated means, you’ll peg the murderer in the first five seconds by focusing on the most prominent guest star. The point is, let the suits spin their yarn any way they like, ignore all the hype and we’re bound to enjoy the show a helluva’ lot more.

That said, this was not a great episode. Despite my continued rage against the ADD-addled machine that continually gripes about this show’s forward progress, I feel the need to voice my displeasure with the Jack-centric ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’. Every season seems to throw 1 or 2 episodes that literally kill time. Last year we had the Michael angst redux where we spent one full hour relearning the simple fact that he loves his son Walt and will do anything to get him back. This year, Jack fills those shows as we learn that Jack is distrustful of pretty much everyone. And man is he angry!!!

The good news – before I enacted my spoiler sabbatical, I glimpsed some early reviews of the next two eps. Good buzz on both, with the March 8th episode ‘Enter 77’ supposedly containing a wealth of info on the connection between The Others and Dharma. Can’t wait to see it all unfold.

All right, on with the show.

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1. So, ABC, what did we learn? As near as I can decipher, the first major mystery was “What does Jack’s tattoo mean?” Huh!!! Come again. I don’t recall Jack’s ink ever being a central plot point. Sure, whenever we glimpsed it I wondered what it was (I thought perhaps something military or prison related) but I never really gave it too much thought what with my head spinning about Dharma-brand sharks and psychic polar bears and all. Regardless, in this episode we learn that Jack’s tats were grafted by a skanky tattoo artist (Bai Ling) with a gift to see a person’s true being. Forced against her will to press Jack’s flesh, she imprints upon him “He walks among us, but will never be one of us.” He’s an outsider. An OTHER!!! When the ‘Sheriff’ point this out, Jack proclaims, “That’s what it says. That’s not what it means.” I think she points this out not so much to show Jack how different he is from them – The Others – but rather, how much he has in common with them.

2. The second ‘Biggest’ mystery? What happened to Cindy the Aussie flight attendant? Again, not one that I lost sleep over but it was interesting to see that she had been inducted into the secret society. In this episode, Carl tells Sawyer that they give the people they abduct “better lives.” We know from past episodes that The Others are only interested in snatching ‘Good People’. My guess – Cindy is one of those flight attendants that keeps the booze flowing on those long intercontinental flights therefore she is a ‘good person’ to have around.

3. The third mystery: what happened to the kids? Again, they are with Cindy and have been given ‘better lives.’ Everyone certainly looked well dressed and adjusted. I thought that perhaps the kids were given the Clockwork Orange treatment but when the little girl asked about Ana-Lucia, it was evident that they retain their memories of their former lives, so who knows. Anyway, there’s some compelling mysteries there (“why take the kids?” remains a question) but at least we know they’re all doing well.

4. Now I take issue with the bloglodytes who complained that Cindy never explained why they were there to watch Jack. The answer is simple. Cindy says “We’re here to watch.” Not to watch Jack, though. The ‘community’ has obviously been summoned to observe Juliet’s trial. There’s certainly a puritanical vibe giving off by the societal rules that scar Juliet with her own scarlet letter.

5. That said, I think this episode was meant to bring Jack and Juliet closer together. Jack and Juliet share something in common – they’ve both been branded as outsiders based on their transgressions against secret societies.

6. The arrival of The Sheriff is curious as it reveals layers to something Michael Emerson (Ben) recently stated in an interview. With him recuperating, he inferred that there is a power vacuum. The Sheriff appears willing to take the lead.

7. While I thought this episode was average at best, I did like the poetry of the final scene, set to Michael Giacchino’s sweeping score, which showed Jack and The Others on their exodus from ‘Alcatraz’ back to their homes. It helped solidify the bond developing between Jack and Juliet. Also, I can’t wait to see Jack’s expression when he comes across that idyllic stretch of suburbia planted in the center of the island.

Next week, the Hurley-centric ‘Tricia Tanaka is Dead’ co-starring Cheech!!!

[tv 2.5]

Comments now closed (6)

  • Ed, I wasn’t impressed with last week episode either. Didn’t really tell us much. The only foreshowding I saw when Bai Ling “sees” that Jack is great leader that coupled with his “that’s what it says but not what it means”, I thought it hinted that maybe Jack is an “Other” and can maybe become a (or even, the) leader of the others. It would take a lot of doing as his distate for them is evident.

    As far as the Cindy exchange goes, I’m surprised he didn’t tell her Ann Lucia was dead, killed in effect, by Ben and the others she is not a part of. She had to have been brainwashed as when we were first introduced to the tailie’s she was very freaked out even by the presence of Michael, Saywer and Jin. I would have thought maybe he would have tried to wake her up. Actually you crack that joke about Cindy keeping the booze flowing, but in the pilot she did just that with Jack. Handed him some nips on the house!

  • You know, after watching this episode last week, I felt like I had a lot to say about it, but a week later, it is pretty much all forgotten.

    I guess I will add that I don’t believe Cindy or the kids have been brainwashed at all. I think the Others have given them some kind of explanation that they’ll believe and have treated them well. As for them being witnesses, it is probably part of the story they were fed and I agree that they were most likely there to witness Juliet’s trial, but possibly also to see what they’ve done with Jack (makes you wonder what they were told about him).

    Also, the Kate and Sawyer stuff is really just annoying me at this point. I don’t care if they like each other for real or not or if she likes Jack or both… I am more intrigued with the Jack and Juliet relationship.

    Oh, and I guess the reveal that Ethan was a good surgeon opened a question about whether he was messing with Juliet’s sister.

    I’ll bitch more about last night’s when you post it…

  • I just watched last night’s episode and felt it was (wait for it)… FANTASTIC!!!

    See – in addition to grooving on the Dharma mythology, I watch this show because I genuinely like the characters (most of ’em – can’t wait for the Hobbit to die).

    Sure, not a lot of plot development occurred but this was a nice spell – a little breather for the castaways to just chill – knock back a few skunked brews – and smile for a change. And their happiness made me happy.

    This episode reminded me of that segment in Shawshank where Andy Dufresne scores some beers and a lazy afternoon from the guards for helping Clancy Brown with his tax evasion. Dufresne takes pleasure in watching his pals share a rare moment of freedom (and hope) and that’s the greatest reward of all to him. That was Hurley’s journey in this episode.

    It’s the quasi-mythology episodes (like ‘Stranger’) that frustrate me when they simply spin their wheels.

    I guess my point is they don’t all have to by myth heavy so long as they are as fun as ‘Tricia Tanaka is Dead’.

    Hey, any show that name drops Little House, Snuffalufugus, Skeletor and drops a meteor (or an asteroid) on a Mr. Clucks Chicken Shack is hardly boring in my opinion.

    And next week – ‘Enter 77’ is expected to be big-time Dharma related so a little spell before that ep is fine with me.

  • I too liked this episode. It was comic relief. I like how Hurley defended himself against Sawyer when he made a fat joke by calling him a “redneck” and Sawyer acknowledged by saying “touche”. Also, how quickly Sawyer forgot about the scotch when learned there was beer in the van. Good to see Jin get some screen time as well. In like two weeks he will be speaking perfect english.

    The cursed Hugo stuff is funny as well. Starting off that Cheech is his father! When the chicken shack blew up I laughed(I have issues), especially because Hurley was nervous about letting the reporting into the restaurant.

    Sean, I agree I am also tired of the Sawyer/Kate thing. Either be a couple or don’t! I think the Juliet/Jack thing is a better story. I want to see how that plays out. She can be ruthless, which she didn’t seem to be before she go to the Island. I remember when Sawyer starting fighting to see what he was against and she pulled gun on him and said, I could have handled the others, but she would have shot me! He can reads people so he know. Should be interesting to see where those two go.

    We have plenty of times for answers and I think the producers are smart to feed us some before the end of the season.

    I am going to miss next week’s episode because we are going on a cruise. So I am going to have to catch up on this and Heroes when I get back. Have a good week guys!

  • Ed, alright, so I haven’t watched TV in about 10 months (largely due to the fact that I am back in school) but I was hoping that you could give me Oliver Kardos’ email address. I went to UMass with you and was Oli’s roommate for a couple of years. Sorry to take up bandwidth on your blog but was hoping that you could assist in reconnecting us. Great site by the way–loved Mr. Kardos’ mug slammed into LOTR photo.
    Reade Ackner