Tuesday, February 18, 2014

LOST Rewatch: One of Them / Maternity Leave

Credit: tle1lost.wordpress.com
Finally, FINALLY, dear readers we have reached that important pivot point in LOST when you can demarcate a BEFORE and an AFTER.

Because with this episode, you reach BHG and AHG--which is Before Henry Gale and After Henry Gale. Everything that was BHG was great and I loved it. But only in hindsight, after watching all six seasons of the show can you appreciate everything that came AHG. All the subtlety. All the confusion of motive. All the intricate layers and layers of lies and mistruths and everything that came along with our favorite balloonist from Minnesota.

Oh, Henry Gale. How glad I am to have finally reached your presence on this series. But, is he One of Them--as Rousseau so confidently tells Sayid when she leads him out into the jungle to show our Iraqi friend the hapless Henry suspended from a rope net? We spend the rest of the episode and the next several ones trying to uncover the truth of Henry.

Did his wife die on the Island and did Henry bury her underneath their globe-trotting balloon with a Smiley Face? Sayid doesn't think so, because as he tearfully yells at Henry, "You would remember how many shovelfuls of dirt in the grave if you had to bury the woman you loved!" (He's still recovering from the loss of Shannon, poor fellow. And I estimate that it took 650 shovelfuls of dirt for Sayid to dig her grave on Boone Hill. It might have been 375 with a standard shovel, but with something mocked up from bamboo and plane wreckage, it likely takes longer.)

But no matter Henry's protestations, Sayid doesn't believe him. He beats Henry up really badly and leaves him locked up in the gun closet of the Swan Station, where Jack and Locke are secretly keeping him stored while they try to decide what to do with him.

And Sayid is left with his thoughts and his tortured past. And the Flashback adds more torture to that past, informing the viewer how this simple member of the Iraqi Republican Guard got mixed up with the torture business in the first place. It was the Americans in Iraq that gave Sayid the tools and the opportunity to open himself up to this black part of himself--a part that he tells Henry had always been there.

So we leave the Flashback with Sayid on the side of an American blacktop highway that stretches from Baghdad and toward oil fires. His pockets are full of American dollar bills and his mind is full of doubt. And the episode ends with no clarity on the veracity of Mr. Gale. Is he One of Them? Was Sayid one of them to his Iraqi countrymen?


Speaking of truths . . . remember when Claire had no memory of what happened to her following her abduction by Ethan Rom? Well, she goes on a truth-finding journey of her own in Maternity Leave.
Spurred on by an apparent fever that Aaron has contracted, Claire is desperate to find some medicine that will help her heal the baby. But Sawyer has all the meds and anyway, Claire is convinced that the sickness is a result of something that Ethan did while she was in his control. But she can't recall what happened.

So, she turns to Libby--one of the Tailies that Hurley has a crush on--and enlists her skills as a clinical psychologist. Claire believes that a bit of hypnotism can bring the memories back, and it does seem to work. She gets flashes of Ethan in a doctor's lab coat, long-needled syringes, mysterious medicines, and a crib mobile featuring 747s. Also a brief glimpse of a teenage girl?

From all of these snippets, Claire is convinced that she can locate where Ethan was holding her and find some medicine that will help heal the baby. Jack is sure that the fever is most likely just roseola, but Claire is on a mission. She enlists the help of Kate and they begin to track back to where Claire thinks the memory flashes are leading her. Along the way, they encounter Rousseau. And Claire believes that Rousseau knows where she was being kept because she already has a memory of a struggle with Rousseau in the jungle that led to scratches on the Frenchwoman's arm. Claire's mention of the teenage girl in one of her recovered memories is all that Rousseau needs to go along.

Through some serendipity, the find the ivy-covered entrance to another DHARMA station (marked with a caduceus symbol). But the inside is abandoned with Lynchian flickering lights and empty medicine cabinets. Claire's memory of the place is bright, cheerful, and featured a fully-stocked nursery room with room decorations and a rocking chair. The place they find is decrepit, only featuring some clothing lockers with what looks to be costumery--such as a fake beard--and some makeup glue.

(More on that hmmmmm-inducing moment to come in a later episode.)

Claire didn't find the medicine she was searching for. Rousseau didn't find her now-grown daughter that she had been looking for. And Claire realizes that in this place Ethan and the Others were preparing to surgically remove Aaron from her pre-labor and most likely (?) kill her to clean up the evidence. But with the help of the teenage girl, Claire was able to escape the scheduled night of the surgery. Claire's memory of Rousseau struggling with her was a drug-addled misinterpretation of Rousseau trying to keep Claire quiet and safe from the searching Others who had realized that Claire was no longer in their captivity.

Claire and Rousseau part on better terms and she and Kate return to the Beach. Luckily, Aaron's fever has broken and he is on the mend. Claire owns up to the fact that she had prepared (pre-crash and during her drug-induced captivity) to give up Aaron to others. But she now vows to never part from him again.

And, oh yeah . . . back in the Swan Station? The mind games of Henry Gale continue. He maintains his story that he is a crash survivor from Minnesota. But he's not above needling John about the seeming subservience that our bald friend shows towards Jack. Naturally, this bothers John, who angrily shoves dishes around in the kitchen--within earshot of Henry locked in the gun locker.

Is Henry smiling?

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