When Juliet faces dire consequences for her recent actions, Jack attempts to bargain for her life.
|Written by Christina M. Kim & Elizabeth Sarnoff
Directed by Paris Barclay
While vacationing for an extended period of time in Thailand, Jack had a torrid affair with a native woman named Achara. The two of them agreed from the outset not to discuss their personal lives, but Jack’s obsessive tendencies drove him to discover more about Achara. He learned that she worked at a unique tattoo parlor, where she put to work a very special gift: when she tattooed someone, she wasn’t decorating them with art. She could see who a person really was, and her tattoos were a way of defining someone’s true essence. It was forbidden for outsiders to receive her markings, but Jack insisted that she do it anyway. She told him that he was a leader and a great man, but that this left him lonely, frightened, and angry. As she predicted, there were consequences, which arrived in the form of Achara’s brother and his friends. They beat Jack cruelly for the transgression, and ordered him to leave their country.
With their escape boat nearing the shoreline of the main island, Kate demands that they turn around, because she wants to go back for Jack. But Sawyer will have none of it, and stays on course. When they make landfall, they’re far from the survivors’ camp and uncertain of how to get back there, so they build a campfire for the night. Sawyer makes conversation with Karl, who explains that Hydra island is not the Others’ home — “it’s where we work.” Their home is here on the main island, where they live in actual houses. Kate asks what the Others do with the kids and adults they abducted from the survivors’ ranks, and Karl says that they “give them a better life.”
Tom moves Jack from his underwater cell to a new home: the cage formerly occupied by Sawyer. But on his way there, he passes by Juliet, who’s placed in his old cell, under the orders of a woman Jack has never seen before. Jack later asks Tom who the woman was, and Tom refers to her as “the sheriff,” who’s come to attend to the matter of Juliet murdering one of her own people, Danny Puckett.
That night, Juliet visits Jack and explains that she was let out to check on Ben’s post-op recovery. She shows Jack pictures of Ben’s stitches, which have become infected, and asks him to take care of Ben as a personal favor, because she’s in trouble. But Jack, tired of being treated as a prisoner, refuses to help. So the woman he saw earlier eventually visits him, and identifies herself as Isabel. She takes him from his cell to an office where Juliet is being held, and Tom is also waiting. Isabel explains that she’s investigating Juliet’s recent behavior, and says that Tom has told her that Juliet asked Jack to help her kill Ben. Isabel asks Jack if this is true, but lies and says it isn’t true. Isabel indicates that she knows Jack’s lying.
The next morning, Jack awakens to find several Others milling about outside his cell, and he’s agitated by their presence. One of them steps forward and identifies herself as Cindy, the flight attendant from Oceanic 815. She looks happy and healthy, and says she’s happy to see Jack, but Jack is irate that she’s become part of the Others’ society so easily. She says it’s complicated, so he asks what all of them are doing here now, and Cindy says they’re there to watch. Emma and Zack, the siblings from the tail section that lost her mother, are also there, apparently under Cindy’s care. But Jack is outraged, instead telling everyone to “go watch” whatever it is they’re here to watch, and leave him alone. Everyone leaves, and walks into the Hydra station.
Sawyer and Kate wake up at their camp and notice that Karl’s gone, but they find him nearby in the jungle, crying alone. Sawyer gives him a pep talk, encouraging the boy to go back for the woman he loves. He then returns to Kate, informing her that he let Karl go. She’s angry, but the root of her anger stems from her guilt at leaving Jack behind and at sleeping with Sawyer, as he rightly points out. He says he knows she only slept with him because she believed he was going to die, and she can’t argue the point. So they awkwardly set off to return to the survivors’ camp.
Alex destroys the video camera monitoring Jack, and then goes to his cell to ask why he operated on Ben, pointing out that after all Jack and his friends have been through, he should hate Ben. Jack says he’ll answer her question if she’ll answer his: where’s Juliet? Alex says that Juliet’s fate is about to be decided, and that her people are very strict when it comes to killing one of their own. She reveals the identity of the man Juliet killed, and Jack immediately feels responsible — Juliet did it because of him and his friends. He answers Alex’s question by saying simply, “I saved your father because I said that I would.” Getting an idea, he asks if Ben is still in charge or if Isabel has assumed power; Alex says that Ben is still in charge, so Jack asks her to release him from his cage.
Alex takes Jack to see Ben, where he inspects Ben’s infected incision. Jack explains that Ben needs a doctor to take care of him, to nurse him back to full health. And in exchange, Jack wants Juliet’s life spared. Ben says that Juliet doesn’t care about Jack, no matter what she’s expressed to him in the past, and that Jack shouldn’t trust her. But Jack doesn’t care. Ben agrees, and writes down an order that he sends with Alex to Isabel: he commuted Juliet’s sentence, but ordered that she be marked.
Later, Juliet visits Jack as a free woman, delivering his lunch. He asks to see Juliet’s mark; it’s a strange, star-like shape with 8 lines (it’s never been seen before or since on the show). He has her break off a branch from a nearby aloe plant, and he applies it to her brand. Juliet asks why he helped her, and Jack says that he needs her help making sure that Ben keeps his word in letting both of them leave the island. Juliet informs him that in a few minutes he’s going to be taken from his cell along with the Others, who are headed back to their home on the main island.
As Jack is taken along with the Others to the beach, where they prepare to enter boats to return to the main island, Isabel finds him and tells him that his tattoos say, in Chinese, “He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us.” He points out that that’s what they say, but it’s not what they mean. Jack boards the boat Ben is on and watches over him as they sail into the night.
- Walt was apparently on Jacob’s mysterious “list,” which denoted him as a good person, and that’s why the Others took him. Karl’s comments in this episode suggest that they wanted nothing more than to give him “a better life” on the island, but Walt’s dangerous abilities eventually made them question his place among them.
Question: Why did the Others take Walt? What do they want with him? [1.25]
- It appears that everyone who’s abducted by the Others is made one of them. Abductees become members of the Others’ society and live among them, sparing them the harsher lifestyle of the marooned crash survivors.
Question: Where did the Others take everyone they abducted? [2.07]
- Putting 2 and 2 together… the implication based on the data we have so far is that these “lists” come straight from the enigmatic Jacob, and they are basically lists of people deemed to be “good.” Children are no doubt always deemed good because they are inherently innocent, largely untainted by the deceptive ways of adults.
Question: Why did the Others abduct so many of the tailies, and especially the children? [2.07]
- What kind of “work projects” do the Others do on Hydra island?
- What does the symbol branded onto Juliet mean?
“Stranger in a Strange Land” is the seventh Jack-centric episode of the series.
This episode bears the dubious honor of being probably the most-disliked episode of the series. (It’s not my least favorite; that episode’s yet to come in the Rewatch.) Fans deplore it as the utterly needless “how Jack got his tattoos episode,” and even Damon Lindelof & Carlton Cuse have talked publicly about how they consider it the lowest point of the series. After the spectacular last two episodes, the show frankly took the week off to spin its heels with this one, because the production team still had no idea how much more of the show they would be required to produce. Because of this, this ep more than any other served as the catalyst for Team Darlton to sit down with the powers that be at ABC and identify an exact end date for the series, to prevent more episodes like this one from happening. So in one way, something very positive came of it. But there’s not a lot in it that benefits from repeat viewings.
Though it’s mostly a snoozer of an episode, it does have a few grace notes. I particularly enjoyed watching the odd friendship blooming between Jack and Tom, the proverbial honeymoon being over between Kate and Sawyer, Sawyer’s advice to lovelorn Karl, and the memorable moment between Jack and Cindy the flight attendant.