Juliet plays a dangerous game of cat & mouse with both Jack and Ben while Kate and Sawyer receive unexpected help in their attempt to escape captivity.
|Written by Carlton Cuse & Jeff Pinkner
Directed by Stephen Williams
Before she was one of the Others, Juliet lived in Miami, working as a fertility doctor for the Miami Central University Medical Research Lab. Her sister Rachel was suffering the sterility effects of cancer treatment, but desperately wanted to have a child. So Juliet secretly performed an experimental drug test on her sister, trying to allow her to become pregnant. She angered her ex-husband Edmund Burke in so doing, as he was the head of her department and didn’t approve of her using drugs developed under his watch on her own sister without his involvement — even though Juliet was solely responsible for developing the drug. Much to Juliet’s surprise, a few days later she learned from Rachel that the drug worked, and Rachel was pregnant.
Around the same time that Edmund found out about her clandestine research, Juliet was contacted by a company named Mittelos Bioscience, and its recruiter, Dr. Richard Alpert, and asked to come work for them. He was impressed that she had recently successfully impregnated a male field mouse, and wanted to put her skills to work for his company in a leadership position, believing her to be “special.” Richard showed Juliet a presentation about Mittelos, claiming that it was based “just outside of Portland.” He showed her x-rays of the womb of a woman who to Juliet appeared to be in her 70s, but Richard claimed was only 26. He offered her unlimited resources to figure out this puzzle, but though Juliet was interested, she assured Richard that her ex-husband would never allow her to leave, unless he was “hit by a bus.”
When Juliet went to tell Edmund that Rachel was pregnant, he was hit by a bus. Later, after identifying Edmund’s body in the city morgue, Juliet was visited again by Richard Alpert, who was accompanied by the man we know as Ethan Rom. Richard offered his condolences, but Juliet was shaken by the coincidence and asked if Richard had anything to do with Edmund’s death. He said he didn’t, and asked her again to come work for him, promising it would only be for a 6-month trial, giving her time to be back for her sister’s delivery. When Juliet asked if Rachel could come with her, Richard was forced to reveal that “actually, we’re not quite in Portland.”
Immediately after Jack demands that Kate and Sawyer make their escape, the two of them turn the tables on Danny and his pal, lock them in Sawyer’s cage, and flee toward the beach.
Back in the operating room, Tom tells Juliet to repair the damage Jack has done to Ben’s kidney, but Jack informs him that Juliet’s not a surgeon and can’t do as Tom wishes. Juliet says that Jack’s right. But just as Jack thinks that his covert plan with Juliet is working exactly according to plan, she tells one of Danny’s men to go get Danny and for the two of them to recapture Kate and Sawyer. Jack insists that he’s not bluffing, but neither, apparently, is Juliet, ordering that if it comes down to it they will kill Kate and Sawyer. Juliet calmly informs Jack that his plan can’t work, because he believes they’re on the main island when they’re not. When she suggests they come up with a “peaceful resolution,” Jack tells Tom the truth — that this entire plot to let Ben die on the operating table was her idea from the start. Tom orders Juliet out of the operating room.
When they arrive at the beach, Kate contacts Jack over the walkie-talkie, telling him they need a boat in order to escape. Jack demands a boat of Tom, but Tom doesn’t cooperate. Just then, Kate and Sawyer come under fire from Danny and two of his men, who’ve been freed and are out for blood. They shoot the walkie-talkie right out of Kate’s hand, destroying it, and Kate and Sawyer run into the jungle for cover. One of their attackers bears down on Kate, but Alex appears and saves the day with her slingshot. She helps the two of them get to temporary safety. She later tells them she has a boat and she’s willing to let them use it, but only if they help her rescue her boyfriend first. Her boyfriend turns out to be Karl, the teenage boy Sawyer met his first day on Hydra island, and he’s being held prisoner by the Others.
When they’re alone in the operating room, Tom asks Jack if Juliet really asked him to kill Ben. Jack affirms that it’s true, and that she’s going to get her wish in 40 minutes. Ben wakes up just then, having overheard what they just said, and asks for Juliet to be brought to him. When she’s brought in, Ben asks to speak to her alone. Jack reluctantly agrees, giving them three minutes. While Jack watches from the observation room above, Ben and Juliet have a conversation he can’t hear, a conversation that generates an emotional reaction from Juliet. Tom points out to Jack that Ben and Juliet “have got history.” When their conversation is over, Juliet emerges, still tearful, and asks Jack to complete the surgery. In exchange, she says she’s going to go help Kate and Sawyer to escape. Juliet heads for Ben’s monitoring room, and spies Alex helping Kate and Sawyer on one of the screens.
As it starts to rain, Kate and Sawyer are brought by Alex to a building on Hydra island we haven’t seen before, some kind of holding facility. A lone guard stands watch outside, and the three of them overpower him using a simple bluff — but not before Kate and Sawyer overhear that Alex believes her father is none other than Ben! They learn that Karl is being held inside in “Room 23,” and run inside to free him. In Room 23, Karl is strapped to a chair with an I.V. running into his arm, being forced to listen to loud music and stare at a screen that’s displaying an odd sequence of psychedelic images and phrases, including “Plant a good seed and you will joyfully gather fruit,” “Everything changes,” “We are the causes of our own suffering,” “God loves you as He loved Jacob,” “Think about your life,” and more. After shaking off the stunning sight of what they see in the room, they free Karl and run for the boat.
Danny and his men find that Kate and Sawyer have already been to the holding facility and escaped. Juliet finds him there and tells him that they’re letting Kate and Sawyer go, on Ben’s orders, but Danny refuses to listen and runs off to continue his pursuit.
In the operating room, Jack resumes surgery on Ben. He asks Tom — who’s squeamish around all the blood — why the Others didn’t take Ben to a suitable hospital for treatment, since they seem able to leave the island at will. Tom starts to explain that something about the sky turning purple is hampering this, when Jack accidentally cuts an artery. He calls on Tom’s help to repair the damage.
Kate and Sawyer are brought by Alex to her boat, and they haul Karl into it as well, as he’s still unconscious. But before they can cast off, Danny shows up alone, his gun drawn on Sawyer once again. Just as Danny’s about to fire, Juliet appears and shoots him dead. Juliet tells the survivors to go, but says that Alex has to stay, because as she knows very well, the only way Ben will allow Karl to live is if Alex is still safely with the Others when Ben wakes up. Alex and Karl say a tearful goodbye to each other, and then Juliet offers Kate her walkie-talkie so she can call Jack and tell the story he asked her to relate back to him. She does so, and it has a profound effect on her, reminding her of her deep feelings for Jack. Once it’s done, Jack asks her not to come back for him under any circumstances. Kate and Sawyer take Karl and sail away from Hydra island while Jack stays behind to complete his part of the bargain.
Jack successfully completes the surgery, and Juliet returns to talk to him. He asks what Ben said to her during their private conversation, that made her change her mind and want to save his life. Juliet reveals that she’s been on the island for more than three years, and that Ben said to her that if she helped Jack save his life, that Ben would finally let her go home.
- It would appear that Ben has been keeping Juliet on the island against her will for more than three years, preventing her from being reunited with her beloved sister.
Question: What’s the source of Juliet’s animosity towards Ben? [3.01]
- Karl is Alex’s boyfriend, but it’s still unclear why he was being held prisoner.
Question: Who was Karl? Why was he locked up? [3.01]
- Karl was taken to Room 23, where he was subjected to some sort of mind-numbing or brainwashing.
Question: Since he wasn’t returned to his cage, what became of Karl? [3.01]
- Apparently so that he can escape from Ben, who seems to have it in for the poor kid for being in love with his daughter.
Question: Why was Karl interested in joining the survivors’ camp? [3.01]
- It seems safe to assume that that “the room” Ms. Klugh referred to was Room 23.
Question: What “room” was Ms. Klugh threatening to return Walt to for telling his dad that the Others were pretending to be something they weren’t? [2.22]
- The Others recruited Juliet to join their ranks because of her expertise as a fertility doctor. Why do the Others have need of a fertility doctor?
- How many other members of the Others have been recruited from off the island, similarly to the way Juliet was? Or was she a special case?
- What was the purpose of what was being done to Karl in Room 23?
- What’s the meaning behind the messages seen on the screen in Room 23? Was the Jacob mentioned in one of the messages the same Jacob that Danny referred to (in “I Do”)?
- What was Tom about to reveal to Jack about the sky turning purple (aka, the destruction of the Swan station) preventing the Others’ ability to leave the island at will?
“Not in Portland” is the first Juliet-centric episode of the series.
This episode marks the first appearance of Richard Alpert. Interestingly, he was first presented here as a doctor working for a front company for the Others called Mittelos Bioscience, though he would never be referred to that way again. Also fascinating, given that subsequent episodes would tie his life and history in so closely with the island, that in his first appearance on the show, we see him not on the island, but in the United States.
After the relatively disappointing six-episode mini-season that kicked off Season 3, and the unsatisfying mid-surgery cliffhanger that we had to endure for months, the show returned with a bang with this fantastic hour that was rich with hints of mythology, our fascinating first glimpse into the past of one of the Others (whose past turned out to not be all that different than the Oceanic survivors), big drama, and payoff after payoff (Alex’s place within the Others revealed! Karl returns! Danny gets what’s coming to him! Juliet’s motivations explained!). Finally, Season 3 found some momentum with “Not in Portland,” and it was much-needed. To this day, most fans agree that “Not in Portland” remains one of Lost’s most solid hours ever.