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March 10, 2008 |

By Daniel Carlson | Lost Recaps | March 10, 2008 |

It’s tempting in the aftermath of “The Other Woman,” the sixth episode of Season Four of “Lost,” to write the episode off. It’s not because the episode isn’t good, because it is, but it’s just that the first five episodes of the season have been generally stellar, especially the time-jumping metaphysical romance-adventure of the previous week’s “The Constant.” But “The Other Woman” is still satisfying, and in its own way, that’s a great assurance of the series’ skills as a whole: Even when the episodes aren’t all-time great, they’ll still be solid hours of storytelling, and that’s not something to ignore. “The Other Woman” followed the template that’s been working fantastically for “Lost” this year. It deepened the personal history and psychological makeup of certain characters, put the castaways’ relationships to the test, and ended with a kicker (if not quite as big as some of the earlier ones). All told, it was a smooth little hour of TV.

The episode opens with Juliet in therapy with a Dr. Harper, whose demeanor is pretty off-putting for a psychoanalyst. Harper says this is just a “meet and greet so we can get to know each other” before asking, “So, you’ve been here a week. What’s your least favorite part so far?” Juliet thinks for a moment before saying, “I don’t like being treated like a celebrity.” It’s the beginning of an exchange meant to keep the viewer off balance as to when exactly the scene is taking place, since the period adjustment Juliet’s apparently experiencing could easily be either her arrival on the island or her possible return to society at large as one of the Oceanic Six. It’s not completely ambiguous; Harper says “here” too many times, when she’d probably say “back” or “home” if Juliet had made it back to shore, but the point of the conversation isn’t too confuse the viewer, just to keep you uncertain. That’s the whole point of the show: You can never quite be sure what will happen. But yes, Juliet is still on the island, making “The Other Woman” only the second episode this season (after “Confirmed Dead”) to use flashbacks instead of flashforwards. This becomes clear when Tom, aka Mr. Friendly, aka Beardy Maleardy, comes in and interrupts the session, saying that Ben needs to see Juliet. And like that, writers Drew Goddard and Christina M. Kim have set the scene and managed to use a dead character, which is always fun. Personally, I keep hoping Shannon will show back up. Tom escorts Juliet through the Others’ village to a yellow house where Ben is waiting on the porch with a bouquet of flowers, looking for all the world like the devil in pleated khakis. “Welcome to your humble abode,” he says. Juliet is blown away and insists Ben shouldn’t have gone to all the trouble since she’s only going to be there for six months, but Ben isn’t about to blow his plans to keep her there indefinitely, so he just smiles and says, “We want you to feel at home.”

Back to the future/present: Sun helps Juliet fix her shelter on the beach and asks her why she’s worried about repairing her hut when they’re about to be rescued. The scene is a nice parallel with the one before it, especially when Juliet doesn’t let on about her doubts concerning their supposed saviors on the ship. She just shrugs and says, “I still need somewhere to sleep tonight, right?” It’s a wonderful way to reinforce the series’ m.o. —you never know what will happen — and also to suggest an uncomfortable similarity between Ben and Juliet. Jack runs up and asks where Daniel and Charlotte are, and Jin says via Sun that he saw them heading off into the jungle. Jack’s worry has Sun understandably concerned, and when she asks Jack if Daniel and Charlotte are really as friendly as Jack had said they were, he doesn’t answer. Instead, he breaks out the torches (from somewhere) and forms an impromptu search party, and he, Juliet, Jin, and Sun head into the jungle just as it starts to rain. Juliet has the misfortune to hike through the part of the jungle with the creepy ghost whispers, and she turns around to see Harper standing before her, who has managed to just appear out of nowhere. “Long time no see,” Harper says, adding, “I came to deliver a message. From Ben.” Harper tells Juliet that Daniel and Charlotte are headed to the Tempest to deploy the gas, which will kill everyone on the island unless Juliet stops them. Juliet, to her infinite credit, isn’t about to be scared into carrying out a hit. “Why don’t you stop them?” she asks, but Harper says Ben wants Juliet to do it. “How can Ben possibly know where they are when he’s a prisoner?” Harper shoots back that Ben is “exactly where he wants to be,” which is exactly what Miles said of his own imprisonment to Kate. Harper tells Juliet to just man up and kill Daniel and Charlotte, at which point Jack comes stumbling into the clearing to find them both there, so at least Harper isn’t a delusion or projection of Juliet’s imagination. The whispers come back, causing Jack and Juliet to wheel around in mild panic, and Harper disappears.

Second flashback: Juliet is in her lab, weeping, when she hears someone rustling about in the supply room. She opens the door and finds Goodwin — the Other who’s eventually tasked with joining the Tailies, and who gets shanked by Ana Lucia when she figures out he’s an impostor — digging through the supplies. He says he’s looking for gauze and shows Juliet a burn on the inside of his arm that he says he received from leaning against a transformer at the power station. Juliet begins to patch him up, and they talk about her work. “I heard we lost Henrietta this morning,” Goodwin says, and Juliet starts to break down again. “It’s not your fault,” he tells her, and says that if she’s looking for someone to talk to she should try Harper. “Harper hates me,” Juliet says. “I get the feeling she is a mean and spiteful person.” So of course, Goodwin reveals that Harper is his wife. Classic mistake. If you’re the new guy at the office and you’re gonna bash someone else in front of a third party, you need to ask the third party how they know/feel about the jerk in question. Come on. Juliet finishes the bandage and tells Goodwin that if he keeps Juliet’s comments about Harper to himself, then Juliet won’t tell anyone how Goodwin really hurt his arm. “I know a chemical burn when I see one,” she tells him. They share a knowing look, and a couple sparks fly; not Sawyer-Kate sparks, or even Sawyer-Jack, but still, better than nothing.

Back on Hell Island, Juliet and Jack are still making tracks through the jungle, shouting to be heard over the rain. Jack wants to know what the Tempest is, but Juliet says it’s safer for Jack if she doesn’t talk about it. But two seconds later, she tells him it’s an electrical station that powers the island. She stonewalls him on the rest of his questions, though, deflecting the puppy dog look he gives her with a simple, “If we move all night, maybe we can still catch them.” The next morning (I assume), Daniel and Charlotte are stopped next to a small stream, checking Daniel’s map of the island, which is really nothing more than a nice sketch with a big “UNKNOWN” written over the middle of the land mass. “What happens if I can’t do it?” he asks her, alluding to whatever it is they’re trying to do at the Tempest station. Charlotte says she knows he can do it, and they get ready to head out when Kate appears from behind a bush. Charlotte slaps leather and looks ready to fire when Daniel stops her. While she refills her canteen, Kate tells them that Locke has Miles, but that “they’re treating him fine.” (Kate has presumably not been filled in on the whole grenade-in-Miles’-mouth episode.) Charlotte says that she and Daniel are out looking for the packs they threw out the chopper so they can get spare batteries and revive the sat phone, which is dead. Kate sees the tip of the phone sticking out of Daniel’s bag, its light green and functional in a way that would suggest Charlotte is full of crap. Kate then asks Daniel where he got his pack if he, as Charlotte said, threw it from the helicopter, and he says he borrowed it. Kate bends down to inspect the pact and finds gas masks inside, confirming that Charlotte is, indeed, full of crap. But Kate pays the price for being stupid enough to turn her back on a stranger, and Charlotte pistol-whips her, knocking her out cold. Charlotte’s pretty blasé about the whole thing, and thus officially begins competing with Miles for the title of Biggest Douchebag From the Rescue Ship. In another part of the jungle, Jack and Juliet continue their pursuit of Daniel and Charlotte, and they’re beginning to bicker a little. Jack is mainly upset that Juliet knows everything about him from having read his file but will not share her own personal horrors with him, which seems to be the only way to bond on the island.

Third flashback: Juliet is back in her lab, examining something under her microscope, while Ben stands nearby and puts out the quasi-rapist vibe. She starts talking about trimesters and immune systems and the whole problem with why women who get pregnant on the island keep losing their children, but Ben’s just staring at her like he’s waiting for one of her blonde locks to come undone so he can keep it for himself and add it to his hairdoll. Juliet offers Ben a look into the microscope, and when he moves over he lets a few fingers rest lightly on Juliet’s hand. But oh, the discomfort is about to reach a fever pitch: The door to the lab opens and Goodwin is standing there with a couple of brown paper bags. He says Ethan is out sick and he wanted to offer Juliet his lunch. Juliet declines, saying she’s already eaten and that she’s got an appointment in a few minutes with Harper anyway. It’s not much on the surface, but this part of the scene — which can’t take more than a few seconds, tops — is fantastic in the way it establishes the triangle dynamic between the characters, and it does it with nothing more than a few words and meaningful looks, like the way Juliet smiles when she sees Goodwin or the way Ben looks at the man with a mixture of distrust and fear and the knowledge that he will inevitably lose the race for Juliet’s affections. It’s perfect. Later that afternoon, Juliet is sitting Harper’s office when Harper starts unleashing the passive-aggressive therapy. Asked what she thinks of Ben, Juliet says he’s been really welcoming and nice, to which Harper replies, “Of course he has, you look just like her.” Before Juliet can figure that one out, Harper asks when Juliet started sleeping with Goodwin. Juliet acts shocked and offended, but Harper says she’s followed them and seen it happen. Juliet mumbles a meek apology, but Harper brushes it off, saying that she just wants to make sure Goodwin doesn’t get hurt. Juliet says she’d never hurt Goodwin, but Harper again corrects her: “I’m talking about Ben,” she says, who will apparently visit some pain upon Goodwin when he gets confirmation that he and Juliet are sleeping together.

Back at the Barracks, Locke is picking apart the bloody carcass of a freshly killed rabbit when Claire comes up and asks if she can talk to Miles. Locke isn’t hot on the idea, but Claire says they might be “taking the wrong approach” when it comes to interrogating their prisoner. Locke, who looks like he wants to put a grenade on Claire’s mouth and just start solving his problems with combat explosives, invokes Charlie’s memory and reminds Claire of who Charlie said really owned the ship. Claire, showing phenomenal patience for a single mother whose quasi-boyfriend was killed by a one-eyed Russian, comes back with the truth that Locke has been overlooking for several episodes now: “All Charlie said was whose boat it isn’t. Don’t you want to know whose boat it is?” Down in the basement, Ben is re-reading Valis when Locke brings him lunch and Ben begins to play really predictable mind games with Locke, questioning his lack of a plan. Ben says he himself always has a plan, but Locke gets off a good shot when he asks if Ben’s plan includes raising $3.2 million. Locke then throws a crumpled $1 bill into the speechless Ben’s lap, making the score 234-2 in favor of Ben in these little debates. Ben tells Locke he’ll reveal the identity of the man who owns the freighter if Locke lets Ben go topside and live in a house. Locke is unwilling to take Ben’s word, so Ben promises physical evidence.

Fourth flashback: Juliet is swimming in the ocean and struts out of the water to Goodwin, who’s waiting on shore with a picnic basket, blanket, and a giant bull’s-eye on his head. Goodwin says he hates how private they have to be about their relationship, especially since he’s been sleeping on his couch for a year now anyway. Juliet says Ben wouldn’t be happy, but Goodwin says he doesn’t care about Ben’s crush. Goodwin says he spends his days working on chemicals that would annihilate the island’s population, which means that Ben has enough to worry about without obsessing over Juliet’s relationships. The mention of the chemical warfare thing is a little out of place, even if it’s meant to reinforce Ben’s position as leader; it’s a little like when Chris Farley showed up as the knowledgeable security guard in Wayne’s World. But the gas is important later, and has already been used by Ben to purge the island of the Dharma holdouts, so I guess it had to get mentioned somewhere. “What’s Ben gonna do?” Goodwin asks, but the next scene tells us what we already know: When Flight 815 crashes into the island, Ben sends Goodwin to infiltrate the Tailies, an assignment that could mean death if he’s found out. Goodwin and Juliet share one last look before Goodwin races off into the jungle, never to be seen alive again.

Back on the island: Juliet and Jack come across Kate, who’s just now regaining consciousness. Juliet leaves to get Kate some water while Kate fills in Jack on what it’s like to get jumped by a twitchy ginger. Jack realizes Juliet isn’t coming back and yells her name a few times, but gets no response. Over at the Barracks, Locke leads Ben into his old house and asks for the info Ben had promised. Ben directs Locke to a picture on the wall that’s concealing a safe and gives him the combo. Locke pulls out a videotape — which, for the really hardcore kids in the audience, is a U-matic — that’s labeled “Red Sox,” so it’s a safe bet this is the same cassette Juliet showed Jack when he was a captive to prove that the Others had contact with the outside world. The tape serves as a continuation of the backstory established in “The Constant,” which saw Penny’s father, Charles Widmore, at an auction purchasing the ledger of the Black Rock’s first mate. The video, shot from what looks like a balcony outside a motel, shows Widmore getting out of a car. “This is the man who’s been trying to find the island,” Ben says. Widmore proceeds to beat up a blindfolded man Ben says is one of the Others who “had the misfortune to get caught.” Ben says he doesn’t know how Widmore found out about the island, but is sure he wants to exploit it. After all, if it can cure Rose and make Locke walk again, people would probably pay anything to visit Hell Island and enjoy its restorative physical properties, timestream issues be damned. After killing the guy, Widmore looks up and seems to spot the camera, at which point the tape cuts off. Ben gives Locke his file on Widmore, admitting that some of the information is just guesswork, but Locke wants to know one more thing: Who’s Ben’s man on the boat? Ben grins that really evil grin and says, “All right, but you might want to sit down.” My theory: MercutioMichael.

Out in the jungle, Kate and Jack are trying to catch up to Juliet. Kate admits to Jack that she’d stayed behind with Locke’s crew to find out if the people on the freighter knew that she was wanted for murder. Her fear and apprehension are understandable, but the nature of the flashforwards (which have been wonderful and invigorating) makes the scene inherently tensionless. We know Kate will make it home and beat the murder wrap, getting off with time served before she goes home and checks on Aaron, whom she somehow took/borrowed/rescued from Claire. Meanwhile, Juliet finally makes it to the Tempest station, which has some pretty lax security measures: Seeing that the wires controlling the door have been cut, Juliet just pulls down on the counterweight that slides the door open.

Fifth flashback, and one most like a really sad (but terrifying) John Hughes movie: Juliet shows up at Ben’s house with dinner rolls while Ben scampers off to get a ham out of the oven. Juliet sees the candles on the table (uh oh) and says, “I thought this was a dinner party.” Ben replies, “Just you and me. I guess I should have made that clearer.” He looks like he’s about to giggle, he’s so happy, but he apparently has no idea that luring a woman to your house (and haunted research island) under false pretenses and then acting like it’s no big deal is pretty much going to guarantee that things do not go well. Get ready for a DTFR, big guy. Ben compliments Juliet on the way she’s handling Zack and Emma, the two kids who were abducted from the Tailies. Juliet starts to make the argument that the kids should probably go home to their mother in Los Angeles, but Ben dismissed her complaint by saying that the kids are on “the list,” and it’s not up to Ben or Juliet to question the list’s roster. Juliet says that now that everyone on the list from the tail section has been recruited, Goodwin should get to come home. Ben’s smile freezes on his face and he pauses while cutting the ham. Ben tells Juliet that Goodwin wants Ana Lucia to join the Others, and adds that he suspects Goodwin to have “almost inappropriately” passionate feelings about Ana Lucia. Ben’s ruse fools absolutely no one, and it’s embarrassing to hear. Ben can’t even meet Juliet’s eyes when he first tells her Goodwin isn’t coming home any time soon.

Back at the Tempest, Juliet finds Daniel in a Hazmat suit, bent over a keyboard while an alarm warns of impending meltdown. She aims what looks like a Luger at him — which is somehow really cool — and tells him to stop, but he just looks worried that she showed. Juliet rips off his gas mask and says that if he releases the gas he’ll die, but Daniel says he’s trying to render the gas inert and save everyone. Just then, Charlotte jumps out from behind and attempts to get her second drop on an islander, but Juliet manages to dodge and they start wrassling around. Juliet breaks free, but Charlotte reiterates that she and Daniel are just trying to prevent Ben from gassing everyone. “We know he’s used it before,” she says, referencing the Dharma purge from last season’s “The Man Behind the Curtain.” Daniel stops the emergency countdown with two seconds left, and all is once again right (kinda) on Hell Island. Juliet could have shot him and stopped him, but she didn’t; it’s her final break with Ben, and the episode has done a nice job sketching out an arc that began with their similarities and ends with her decision not to follow his orders.

Final flashback: Juliet is in her lab — again — when Ben comes to visit her. It’s been an indeterminate amount of time since the non-date. Juliet tells Ben that Jack is a gifted surgeon and could really help Ben, but Ben barely reacts. “I need you to come with me,” he says. They walk a while until Ben finally stops at the top of a hill, saying, “I’m sorry, Juliet.” She looks down the hill to see Goodwin’s corpse impaled on a wooden spike, and begins to cry as she runs to him. Juliet asks Ben why he showed her this, and he replies, “What, you mean instead of his wife?” Juliet, hurt in too many ways, accuses Ben of sending Goodwin to the Tailies because he knew Goodwin would die. Juliet asks Ben why he did it, and he just wheels on her in an amazing moment of contained rage. “You’re asking me why? After everything I did to get you here, after everything I’ve done to keep you here, how can you possibly not understand … that you’re mine?” It’s a frightening, tragic moment, and a brilliant one in the way it’s true to Ben’s character. He could have finished the sentence with “I love you,” but he’s not that man and never will be. He’s a possessive, scared little kid, and views Juliet as something only he can have. He composes himself instantly and says, “Take as much time you need,” then calmly walks off.

Back outside the Tempest, Juliet and Charlotte emerge just as Jack and Kate arrive. Kate draws her gun on Charlotte, who’s apologetic (but not really) about knocking Kate out earlier. Kate escorts Charlotte inside to verify that Daniel is in fact securing the facility, leaving Jack and Juliet to make up. Juliet tells Jack that Ben told her to kill the rescuers, which flummoxes Jack. “These people came here to wage war against Ben,” Juliet says, “and Ben’s gonna win.” She tells Jack that when that happens, it won’t be safe to be “anywhere near” Juliet since Ben thinks she’s his “and he knows how I feel about you.” Jack swoops in for a kiss, and thankfully Kate doesn’t re-emerge to see it happen, which would be beyond clichéd. “He knows where to find me,” Jack says. Juliet does not look remotely comforted at the thought of losing another boyfriend to a psycho, but they hug anyway.

Down at the barracks, Hurley and Sawyer are playing horseshoes. I’ll say it again: They need their own show. I would watch them play ping-pong and debate trivia for half an hour every week. Hurley lands a nice shot and shrugs it off: “Guess I’m just lucky.” But then they look over and see Ben walking down the path to his house, carrying clean linens and smiling like he’s at a park. Sawyer asks what’s going, but Ben just replies, “See you guys at dinner.” It’s a fun ending, and it certainly sets up the story for new territory, but it isn’t the kind of big-picture jaw-dropper that we’ve been seeing this year. What’s more, Ben needs to break out soon or start causing trouble, because if he gets downgraded from insane leader of his own island community to a wacky neighbor, the show will suffer. But I don’t think that will happen. “Lost,” after all, is about not knowing what will happen next, and I’m sure Ben will find a way to keep things unpredictable.

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.

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