Part of “Old Info And News”
But, soft! What light on yonder island breaks? It is the East, and Juliet is the sun.
Apologies to Shakespeare. OK, apologies to everyone. But how can anyone who’s watching Lost these days not have fallen under the spell of Juliet Burke? So alluring, so enigmatic, strangely both warm and chilly beneath that elusive Mona Lisa smile, forever challenging our assumptions about her ultimate motives. Is she good? Is she bad? Probably both, right? Is she, as Jack declares (and which provided the title of Wednesday’s excellent, twisty episode), “one of us”? Oh, Jack, you deluded, trusting, overprotective fool.
Whatever she is, Juliet’s one for the ages. Even in last fall’s much-derided “pod” of episodes that introduced us to her and the Village of the Others, Juliet stood out, an object of fascination as she asserted control over her captives, while betraying an underlying sense of desperation. Elizabeth Mitchell nailed it from the start, but she really came into her own as a full-fledged Lost-ie this week. I agree with Michael Ausiello. She deserves serious Emmy attention.
Juliet is both manipulator and one of the manipulated, and even when she’s calculating you can see in her eyes that she’s trapped. That’s some powerful acting. The one thing Jack said that is ultimately correct about her: “You want to get off this island more than anything else in the world.” She is one of them, except when she isn’t. (The fact that her infiltration was planned, and the Claire health crisis was rigged, propels the show into loony sci-fi land again, but still, an effective emotional reversal.)
The episode also delivered plenty of answers, or at least provocative new theories, about what’s happening on Mystery Island and certainly about what brought Juliet there: to research and hopefully fix whatever it is that’s killing all the pregnant women. (What an arbitrary island: It cures cancer, heals the lame, but somehow disallows new life, until Claire arrived, to emerge?) What does this mean for Sun? Now there’s a great story to take to the end of the season.
I also loved the flashbacks more than usual, especially as they pertained to life on the island that was happening while we were looking elsewhere. Once again, as in the season opener, I was floored by the sequence in which the Village of the Others watched in amazement as Oceanic Flight 815 broke apart in the sky above. How unnerving to see Ben jump immediately into action, ordering immediate infiltration into the camp of the survivors and for lists to be made, then zipping over to Mikhail’s amazing comm center to start compiling info on the passenger manifest. That led to the wrenching moment in which Juliet was shown via satellite remote that her sister Rachel and nephew Julian were still alive (as of September 22, 2004, the historic day of Lost‘s premiere). In Juliet’s hysteria, Elizabeth Mitchell didn’t just rise to the occasion. She was an occasion.
We all know what happens when Lost introduces new characters that feel out of place or distracting from our primary focus and enjoyment. (R.I.P., Nikki and Paulo.) Juliet Burke is not one of those characters. She really is “one of them,” or better yet, “one of those.” In other words, a keeper. Whatever Ben has in store for our beloved beachcombers in the “week” to come, Juliet’s actions and reactions will be something to watch, to ponder, to enjoy. To me, she’s no longer just an Other. She’s other-worldly.
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