I am telling you right now, without reservation, that “One of us” is perhaps the most perfect episode of LOST ever produced, bar none. For those of you who were upset with how inelegantly Expose squandered its flashback opportunities, prepare for a huge apology from the producers. For those LOST fans who stuck around knowing that the show would obtain that mythical level of greatness that seemed to come so natural, here is your pay-off.
Part of why I love this episode is that it counters some of the biggest critical pitfalls the show is facing right now. Paulo and Nikki prove that LOST cannot introduce compelling new characters. WRONG? Tonight we get another compelling glance the mysterious Mr. Alpert, Patchy is illuminated, and do I need to mention Juliet? Hat’s off to Elizabeth Mitchell, between her sensitive, enigmatic portrayal and writing that is at the height of LOST’s legendary serendipity, her ‘Juliet’ has now risen to rival even Ben Linus himself.
Next on the chopping block, LOST doesn’t give answers. Oh boy, are the critics ever going to be eating those words for breakfast. If you think LOST’s core story has been evasively overdressed in layer after layer of character subtext, religious allusions, and weird science, trust me, it’s streaking tonight. You know why Juliet is there longer than expected, you know what the others want with the 815rs, you know why they know so much about them, and best of all, you know where Juliet’s allegiances lay.
‘One of Us’ is Juliet’s back-story, and as far as flashback’s go we learn more about this character tonight then we have learned in four or five flashbacks of any other. We know that she puts her family above anything, we know that the mousy young research scientist is gone, extracted and fine tuned by a people with great power and a desperate agenda. The theme all the way around is survival. What limit will you go to just to save yourself, or someone you love?
Jack arrives back to camp with much fanfare until it is realized that one of ‘them’ is with him. Mob rule is a difficult thing to deal with. Jack’s usual commanding voice does not seem to carry much weight anymore. By bringing one of ‘them’ to the beach, he too is now under suspicion.
Juliet’s back-story is interestingly woven with island mythology and answers a lot of questions, while raising some very new and interesting ones, her trip to the island for instance. Even though it is by submarine, they require her to be drugged. Why? It is not like she can see where they are going.
Once on the island her mission is clear, find out why the others cannot reproduce. More specifically, find out why the women die when they become pregnant. After six months and no success, she asks to go home. At this point, Ben reveals to her that he can cure her sisters cancer, but only if she stays. Of course, she agrees. Juliet finds love on the island, apparently, with Goodwin.
We get to see the beginning of Ben’s illness, which raises suspicion with Juliet. If Ben has cancer, how can he have cured her sister. This results in an Easter egg packed visit to “The Flame” where our good friend patchy wires us up with Mr. Alpert in Florida who shoots some footage of Juliet’s sister and child playing at a park. Ben wants Juliet to stay and continue the work, he tells her there is a pregnant woman on the plane that crashed, and that they might be able to use her for a research subject.
The beach scene is tense right up until Claire becomes mysteriously sick. Juliet admits that she knows what is wrong with Claire and can save her. Everyone is skeptical, but they allow her to go to work and sure enough, Claire is saved. This warms hearts across the camp, but not mine. With everything we know about Juliet, she should be redeemed right? Then why did she lie to Kate last week? Why was she prepared to leave Jack behind? Why is she not fessing up about the monster?
Sure enough, as the beach folk are beginning to welcome her into the tribe, we have another flashback. A flashback featuring her and Ben, planning all the events that transpired last week in precise, cold detail, right up to Claire’s sickness and the device that will cause it. They part ways with one exchange. “I’ll see you next week.” Ben assures Juliet, who replies with a sly smile.
So it is on! Every episode of LOST is a day in island time and a day brings us directly to the finale episode. What is it the others have planned. What has drawn Juliet back to the bad guys one more time? Time will tell.
– Jon Lachonis, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image from ABC)