Lost in Retrospect: Raised by Another

In retrospect, a lot of this episode comes across as pointless due to the minimisation of the Aaron storyline, but the development of Claire, the revelation that miraculous phenomena aren’t limited to the Island, the twist with Ethan and the beginning of that grand, glorious tradition of terrible Australian accents all make sure this ep remains a great and pivotal addition to the story.

For a refresh on the episode, I suggest you visit Lostpedia’s excellent Wiki page.

For nine episodes, Claire has been a pretty flat character. She’s young, she’s Australian, she’s pregnant… and that’s been pretty much all we know about her. So it was nice to get this episode and have a glimpse into what we all assumed but never really understood: life’s a bitch when you’re pregnant and trapped on a deserted island. Everyone else is nice to her, they treat her well, but they act like she’s make of porcelain even beyond the point when it’s really necessary. They don’t see her as a person, just a vessel for this baby. To Jack it might seem reasonable, but to me it seems like a bit of a dick move to leap to the assumption that she’s have pregnancy-based delusions. It was also brilliant to see the entire length and breadth of her pregnancy, from finding out to that final scene with Malkin. That journey, from the abandonment to the paranoia brought on by all those predictions, it all earns her a place among the Dysfunction Junction that is the Island.

I also loved seeing more of the Charlie and Claire relationship. Both now and the first time I watched the show, theirs was the ‘ship’ I latched on to. It’s sweet and honest and well-intentioned, compared to that bloody love triangle. And I love that it’s not just a B-couple for the sake of having a B-couple: the two of them together help each other to develop and grow. Charlie learns to take care of himself by taking care of  Claire and the baby, while Claire moves of from her abandonment issues–for a while. Because I’m only realising this as I write, but right here is the setup for her actions in seasons 4 and 6. She’s been abandoned by her family, and Charlie’s death in season 3 would probably not help, and when you add on the final straw of losing Aaron, is it any wonder she turned to the Man in Black?

The idea of off-Island weirdness is one that still intrigues me. With the revelation of the Light in season 6, it’s easy to see why people might be healed or time might go screwy on the Island, but how on earth is Malkin able to predict what would happen to Claire? How does every pen in that conference room fail to work? How do Jack and Hurley start seeing dead people? Perhaps this is what the Mother meant when she said that a bit of the Light was in everyone–it connects them to the Light, and if they’re of a certain persuasion (Are they more open-minded? Genetically pre-disposed? A fluke?) then they can tap into the Light and make their own kind of music miracles. No wonder the Island is so important: I’d want to protect it, if that meant keeping “magic” in the world. It explains how Jacob was able to do so much, things like bringing the Black Rock and Oceanic 815 to the Island without any overt displays of power; my theory is that as the Guardian of the Light, he has access to it’s power, which includes the ability to set Rules (which the Light forces people to obey–and it can, because it’s inside everyone), but now I’m thinking that the Light also gives him the ability to use the Light as a conduit to the bit of Light in everyone, and thereby manipulate things from afar. And it possibly explains the danger of the Man in Black should he escape, because he’s been drenched in the Light, his physical form is a construct of the Light, and should he make it out into the real world with access to its power… well, think of what he could do? It’s scary.

Unfortunately, I’m still no wiser as to why Aaron must not be raised by another. The easy assumption to leap to is that Aaron is meant to be some kind of Messiah, but after the finale, maybe Malkin’s prediction came from Jacob, through his link to the Light? Perhaps Jacob simply decided, strategically, that Aaron’s presence in Claire’s life (and therefore on the Island) would help bring about his endgame. After all, many people took a lot of risks and make a lot of decisions based on Aaron, and he wound up being the thing that brought Claire back to the Island in season 5.

More props to Hurley this week. Just through sheer force of unassuming awesomeness, he convinced Sawyer–Sawyer!–to do something that would benefit the Losties, free of charge. And I love how he suggests a census and registry and it’s a totally cool idea, whereas if Jack or anyone else had suggested such a thing, there’d be some fascist overtones. It’s just because Hurley is such an unequivocally good guy, someone who means well, unselfish, kind and giving.

And now to the big twist: Ethan Rom. He came across as really creepy in that scene with Hurley in the jungle, though perhaps it’s just from hindsight. The way he agrees with Hurley’s sentiment that people should know each other better after a couple of weeks on the Island is chilling, a silent declaration that these interlopers don’t belong on his Island. And the way it’s finally revealed was brilliant storytelling: first Sayid’s return, then Hurley’s–especially since Hurley’s story had mostly been played for laughs throughout this episode, only for him to come back and declare that one of the people he’s spoken to wasn’t on the plane. Even now, the implications are downright scary. The idea of natives is freaky, but you expect them to be more like Rousseau, wild and savage and a bit nutty. Ethan wears contemporary clothing. He’s “from Ontario”. He talks like anyone you’d meet on the street. He’s nice and helpful–hell, you’d almost go so far as to say he’s dorkish. He just absolutely seems like someone you’d sit across the aisle from on a plane, so when he’s there at the end, staring at Claire’s baby bump with that incredibly intensity, my brain go asplodey. Even now, still, after all this time, it’s just phenomenal.

This episode is both more and less important with an entire show’s worth of hindsight behind it. The implications seem hugely important to the mythology, and the character development is welcome and entertaining, but were it not for that twist ending, I’m not sure I’d have such a good opinion. As it is, this is definitely high calibre Lost and one to revisit.

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2 Responses to “Lost in Retrospect: Raised by Another”

  1. Well, actually, I think there is an explanation for the whole “raised by another” thing. I just don’t think they spelled it out.

    MiB is a particularly good judge of character. It’s pretty clear that he knows how to manipulate people into doing things. After all, someone had to finish putting together the Donkey Wheel Time Machine! And starting in the 1950s, if not earlier, MiB was actively working on his plan to subvert the Candidates, keep Locke from taking control of the Others (as he was meant to), and set up Ben as someone “special” who could serve as Locke’s replacement.

    One of the subtle points of the story is that Jacob prefers children, especially those with “special” abilities, when he thinks of Candidates. It’s what he learned from Eve/Mother, after all. This is what was so important about Walt, and why the Others wanted to test him. It was part of the role of the Others as the Followers of Jacob. (Never mind the subplot of the fertility issues for now.)

    At any rate, it’s easy to focus on Aaron and forget that it was as much about Claire and what she was supposed to do. Claire was supposed to raise Aaron, because otherwise, very bad things would happen. And as Desmind foresaw in Season 3, Claire was supposed to be the one to leave the island with Aaron, not Kate. So what changed?

    MiB intervened. MiB had already set his plan in motion to set up the Oceanic Six scenario, which was part of his overall convoluted plan to kill Jacob and eliminate the Candidates. To that end, he knew that he would need to have an edge when the Oceanic folks returned. That meant stepping in and taking Claire, twisting her around, and then using her later to influence and manipulate the Candidates in Season 6.

    And in essence, this changed what was supposed to happen. Desmond’s vision didn’t come true. Aaron wasn’t raised by Claire (at least, not in the manner he was supposed to be). Things went very, very badly, and for at least a little while, the Source was extinguished. All life on Earth was threatened. Dogs and cats living together and all that.

    Ultimately, Claire left to go raise Aaron, so the “course correction” did kick in before it was all said and done. But Claire did fail to heed the warning, and it was part of the scenario that could have led to the end of the world.

  2. I can’t fault any of your logic. I’d just question why, if Jacob prefers the “special” children, did the only two on the Island get taken away from it? The Others got rid of Walt, and according to Desmond’s flash, Aaron was supposed to leave too. I’m attributing both of these to Jacob because as I’m typing this, it occurs to me that perhaps Jacob realised how deep the Man in Black was sinking his claws into the Losties and decided that these two powerful, game-changing people should be taken out of his clutches. (it’s not one of my better ideas, but like I said, I’m thinking onto a keyboard here)

    I imagine I’ll get into other aspects of the special children and Jacob’s plan for them in future Aaron/Walt/Jacob episodes (“Special” isn’t far down the roster).

    And I love the fact that we’re still thinking, debating and putting out theories for the show even though it’s wrapped up. It means the show is still meaty, and that’s awesome.

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