Lost season 3 episode 16: Fool me thrice, shame on the writers

First we had Ethan, then Ben came over in the guise of Henry Gale, and now Juliet has joined the survivors. Just what exactly are they doing, anyway?

Juliet: the newest face at camp
Everyone is happy to have Jack, Kate and Sayid back at camp- but having Juliet join them is something of an unwelcome addition, and despite Jack’s support of her, the rest of the camp won’t accept her easily.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Claire has just come down with a mysterious and potentially fatal illness, but as it turns out, Juliet may know what is wrong with her. She explains that all pregnant women on the island in the past have had their immune systems reject the foetus, and that when Ethan kidnapped Claire, it was to administer a vaccine that Juliet developed to combat these symptoms. Now, Claire is going into a form of withdrawal and is in desperate need of the vaccine, which Juliet will administer if she is allowed to go and find Ethan’s stockpile.

Although Juliet does indeed go to the stockpile, Sayid and Sawyer follow her, and they seem unwilling to let her go back to camp until she reveals everything she knows about the Others. Juliet refuses, telling the pair that they will not dare harm her when they already have blood on their hands from their past deeds. Silently acknowledging this point, Sayid and Sawyer let Juliet go back to the camp, where the vaccine she administers does indeed cure Claire. Now the other survivors seem to have no choice but to acknowledge that she is on their side- or is she? This being Lost, all is not as it seems, for Juliet was in fact sent to infiltrate the camp on Ben’s orders, and the whole situation with Claire was engineered to gain the trust of the crash survivors. In a week’s time, Juliet will return to the Others, but for what purpose was she sent in the first place?

Flashback- Juliet’s Island Days
After bidding farewell to her sister, Juliet prepares to start her new job, which first involves swallowing a glass of orange juice filled with tranquiliser. Having come this far, Juliet only hesitates briefly before drinking it down and later awakening on a submarine that has brought her to the island to work for Ben.

Juliet’s job is to find a cure for a mysterious affliction that affects all pregnant women on the island, killing both the woman and her unborn child. Unfortunately, after her six month term is up, she has come to the conclusion that the problem occurs at conception, and that there is nothing she can do. She is ready to give up and go home, but Ben refuses to let her go until she has completed her task. As an incentive to stay, he tells her that her sister’s cancer has returned, but if she remains on the island, he will cure it.

Flash forward another two and a half years, and Juliet is still on the island, but now she has made a discovery of her own- Ben has a tumour. Since it seems unlikely that a man who has cancer could really cure another of that same condition, she accuses him of lying and demands to go home. Ben once again refuses to let her go, but shows her video footage of her sister, alive, well and looking after her young son Julian. For now, Juliet is satisfied, which is all to Ben’s good as Oceanic Flight 815 has just crashed on the island, and there may be survivors…

Observations and Speculation

  • I forgot to include this in last episode’s post (and editing felt like a lot of effort last night), but I wanted to briefly discuss Juliet saying that Kate broke Jack’s heart. Of course, she may have been stretching the truth, but if that is what the writers intended then I’m a little disappointed, because despite the latent sexual tension between Jack and Kate, I don’t see their relationship as one that was that deep. I would imagine him to be a little upset that Kate chose Sawyer, but not all that surprised deep down, and ultimately accepting of their relationship.
  • Getting back to this episode, and I’m starting to notice some more parallels with Alias. Ben’s mannerism, glasses and tendency to manipulate others can only mark him as this series’ Arvin Sloane, whilst Juliet’s sister is a little like Emily Sloane.
  • The biggest revelation of this episode is something that I have suspected for a while- the Others cannot have children (hence their interest in Claire, Alex and perhaps even Walt). According to Juliet, the problem occurs at conception, and the result is that the mother’s immune system attacks and rejects the unborn child, causing death to both parties. If we take Juliet’s research as accurate, then Claire was not affected by this (borne out by the fact that Rouseau does not seem to have suffered from any symptoms), but Sun may be if her child was conceived on the island (possible if Jin is the father, since he was said to be infertile). We also can now assume that even though Ben was born on the island (or so he claims), he was not conceived there, and that the Others perhaps take people who they believe will be good breeders.
  • Although the survivors do not know it, we viewers are aware that Claire was not affected by this pregnancy issue, but by an implant placed in her body by the Others. Exactly why they did this is unknown, as is the exact purpose of the ‘vaccine’.
  • If the pregnancy problem is due to a heightened immune response, then it may well be a side effect of the island’s special ability to heal/prevent illness. The one exception to this effect is, of course, Ben- is this because he ‘offended’ the island or became unworthy of its healing in some way, or does it have something to do with curing Juliet’s sister? He could have either somehow taken the tumour into his own body, or forfeited his immunity so that she could have it. I’m unsure how this mechanism would work without invoking something a little too farfetched, but I want to keep it in mind.
  • Regarding Juliet’s status as a double agent- it is clear that she is motivated more by a desire to get home than an adherence to Ben’s plans, but even without the submarine, Ben is most likely her best bet of leaving the island (for all we know, he has another submarine, or has convinced Juliet that he can use the ‘magical box’ or some other means to get her home). For that reason, she will no doubt continue to follow him even if she sympathises more with the plight of the survivors.
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