“Raised by Another”
Originally aired December 1, 2004
You know what’s hard? Being pregnant, even in the best of circumstances, is hard. You’re lucky if you don’t spend the first three months violently sick 24 hours a day, only to spend the next six months watching your body change in ways you couldn’t possibly have anticipated. Back pain, stretch marks, round ligament pain (just the worst) as your body stretches and contorts out of shape; you have to eat a certain way, you have to sleep a certain way, you have to take prenatal vitamins that are roughly the same shape and size as a gerbil. All while you are swelling up in some unrecognizable form, and being kicked, elbowed and prodded from within. Not a moment goes by that you are not aware that your body is no longer your own. Which, for those of you who have never experienced it, is daunting. For better and worse.
But as if it’s not enough to have your own body constantly reminding you that your body is no longer your sole property, society jumps on the bandwagon as well. From the well-meaning stranger at the grocery store who can’t resist touching your belly, to the constant (and often contradictory) stream of unsolicited advice from everyone on all subjects, the assumption becomes that the pregnant body is public property. And let me assure you, having gone through it all twice now, the public voice is a loud, nagging scold. If you don’t do X, Y, and Z, your child will be FOREVER RUINED. If you do H, J or K, your child will be FOREVER RUINED. The mother’s decision-making ability is considered both lacking and/or suspicious, and is to not be trusted at any cost. The entire experience can leave even the calmest, healthiest, most educated mother-to-be an emotional wreck. And, you know, stress isn’t good for the baby …
So just try to imagine what poor Claire is going through. The poor dear is 22 years old, hugely pregnant, and entirely alone in this world. Everyone has ideas about what she should do with this baby that she hadn’t planned to have in the first place. And then, on top of all that, she crashes on a haunted island, epidural nowhere to be found. How did she get to this point in her life?
Claire’s a mess. Running from the bathroom, pregnancy test in hand, Claire is immediately barraged by questions by her boyfriend, Thomas, about whether the test has turned pink, and whether or not she took the test properly. Claire, annoyed by the implication that she doesn’t know how to pee on a stick, assures Thomas that indeed, she did take the test properly, and asks him how long it’s been. “6 … 66 seconds,” Thomas answers. (Get it?)
Thomas grabs the test and notes that there are two pink, nay, red lines. But, hey! You know! These things aren’t always accurate! Thomas had an uncle who was misdiagnosed with testicular cancer … he still dead, but not of testicular cancer. This is cold comfort for Claire, who knows she’s pregnant. But Thomas suddenly proposes something radical: they raise the baby together. Claire’s not so certain … worries that her mother will disown her. But Thomas is persuasive. This could be the best thing ever! YAY!
Lost note 1: This is the first instance of a pregnancy test appearing on the series, but certainly not the last. Both Kate and Sun (and Rachel, Juliet’s sister) take pregnancy tests later. What I find interesting are not the pregnancy tests themselves, but the fact that both Claire and Sun question their accuracy.
In “The Whole Truth,” we learn that Sun has reason to believe that she shouldn’t be pregnant (and later we learn she has reason to worry if she is), and she questions Jack on how reliable home pregnancy tests are. Both women are CERTAIN they shouldn’t be pregnant, and the fact that they are causes a great deal of anxiety.
Lost note 2: This is the first time cancer is mentioned on the show, but like the pregnancy tests, hardly the last time. A quick list of folks with cancer or tumors: Diane, Kate’s mother, is dying of cancer; Sawyer had an uncle with a brain tumor; it’s suggested, (but never explicitly stated) that Rose has cancer; Rachel, Juliet’s sister has cancer; Benry, of course, has a spinal tumor; and Angelo, the Italian patient of Jack’s, has an aggressive spinal tumor. Cancer, cancer everywhere …
Lost note 3: Thomas’ art: Now this is one of those instances where I’m not sure whether to chalk this up to being a clue or merely a function of production issues, and the fact that they have an art director who made all the art himself. But, for the sake of comprehensiveness: Here is a shot of Thomas’ art.
Compare to the hatch mural!
And now compare this to the art in Charles Widmore’s office.
The same artist? (Or simply the same art director?)
So, just for kicks, Claire and her friend Rachel head to a psychic’s for a reading. Claire’s a little hesitant — she doesn’t need someone telling her what to do with her life; which her friend thinks is silly, what with Claire’s interest in astrology and all. And really. Where does one begin splitting hairs about such hoo-ha?
Inside the psychic’s home, Claire takes a seat, and Richard Malkin, the psychic (and Russian President), takes her hands, closes his eyes and begins his reading. Immediately, he asks Claire how long she’s known about the baby. Wow! Guess he’s for reals! But just as Claire begins to get excited about Malkin’s reading, he scrunches his face all up, looks at Claire almost frightened, and drops her hands. Sorry! Can’t do this! I can’t do it! Not going to do this reading! he announces. He returns Claire’s money and hustles her right out the door. Well, blimey! What was all that about?
Some months later, Claire is feeling all domestic, and is hanging curtains when Thomas comes home looking like his pants are filled to the brim with grumpiness. Claire begins prattling on about meeting some friends for dinner, and something about not having eaten all the chips, which I only mention because Mr. T asked me to point out that Claire wouldn’t call them chips, she’d call them crisps; crisps = chips, chips = French fires, Mr. T = TIRESOME PEDANT, but I digress. [Ed. Note from the Future: Actually, Australians call them chips, but would know what a Brit was talking about if they called them crisps, so Mr. T was wrong.]
Anyway, Thomas announces that he “can’t do this,” and Claire comes to the grim realization that he means their relationship. And, with good reason, Claire takes this poorly. Thomas tries to explain that while yes, technically, having the baby was his idea, it’s “real” now, and he’s having some second thoughts, particularly in regard to how it is going to affect his career as an artist. Thomas pulls out all the stops: he accuses Claire of both dumping her “daddy abandonment issues” on him, as well as tricking him into getting pregnant by skipping her pills. And then he leaves to go collect his Boyfriend/Baby Daddy of the Year award.
Lost note: There are a number of interesting parallels between Claire and Michael’s stories; as our friend and commenter Jane would note, a number of twinnings or mirrorings. For instance: both Michael and Thomas are artists, and they both come to believe that there is an inherent incompatibility between being a professional artist and being a responsible father and provider. However, the decisions that the men make are quite different. Thomas abandons his fatherly duties in favor of his art; Michael leaves behind his artistic career and finds work in construction, to be a father.
About a week later, Claire decides to return to the psychic who had rushed her out the door so many months earlier, and he agrees to do her reading. Taking her hands, he asks her when her boyfriend left, and Claire asks if this is why he wouldn’t complete her reading last time. No, explains Richard Malkin, last time I saw something … blurry. And blurry’s bad? concludes Claire. Yes. Blurry’s bad.
Then Richard Malkin starts acting all wiggy again, urging Claire that what he has to say next IS CRUCIAL: Claire must raise the baby herself. It’s vitally important that no one else raises the baby, the father will be no part of the baby’s or Claire’s life, the baby needs Claire’s “good” influence, DANGER surrounds this child, no happy life for this child without you, it MUST NOT BE RAISED BY ANOTHER … etc., etc., etc.
Claire had other plans, however. She came to the psychic to see if Thomas would come back to her, and instead she’s got this crazy man yelling at her to not give her baby up for adoption, which, p.s., she had TOTALLY planned on doing if Thomas wasn’t coming back. Because she only has a $5 an hour job at the local fish fry, and OH YEAH, THIS BABY WASN’T HER IDEA IN THE FIRST PLACE, and so maybe raising this baby by herself isn’t THE BEST IDEA IN THE WORLD, crazy psychic man who should probably just mind his own bidness. Malkin returns Claire’s money as she runs away from him. RUN AWAY!!
Claire can run, but she can’t hide. Malkin’s found her phone number, and apparently has been incessantly calling the poor girl for the last four months, urging her to not give up her baby. He even calls her in the middle of the night to tell her he knows she’s having doubts about giving up the baby and that she mustn’t do so before he can tell her about his new plan. TOO BAD, says Claire. I’m going to the adoption agency tomorrow, so bugger off.
Sure enough, Claire heads to the adoption agency where she meets an attorney (?) and a very nice looking couple. The attorney explains that the couple will take care of her living expenses until she has the baby, and when she hands over the kid, they’ll pay her an additional $20,000. She is not allowed to contact the child in any way, and it will be up to the couple to decide whether they ever even tell the child about Claire. OK! Sign on the dotted line! Claire first asks the parents if they know the song “Catch a Falling Star,” which apparently her father used to sing to her, and she hopes they’ll sing it to the baby. They’ll pretty much agree to sing anything long as you SIGN THE PAPERS. Claire tries to sign the documents, but the pen doesn’t work. So the attorney hands Claire his pen, but wouldn’t you know it, that pen doesn’t work either. The adoptive mother gives Claire her pen, but Claire stops, decides that this is a sign, and announces to the group that she “can’t do this” and leaves.
Lost note 1: More parallels with Claire and Michael: note that the adoption office is the same set as the lawyer’s office used in “Adrift,” when Michael and Susan battle over custody of Walt. It’s not supposed to be the literal same office, but the choice to use the same set, and frame the shot identically is no mere coincidence. In the “Raised by Another” law office, Claire chooses to NOT sign away her parental rights to her child. In the “Adrift” law office, Michael DOES choose to sign away his parental rights to his child. More mirroring, of course.
Lost note 2: Claire asks the potential adoptive parents to sing “Catch a Falling Star” to the baby. Curiously, this is the same song that plays on the mobile inside the Caduceus Hatch in “Maternity Leave.” It’s almost as though someone knew Claire would be coming …
Claire returns to Malkin demanding to know what his big “plan” was, and it turns out, he is telling her now that she doesn’t need to keep her baby after all! But she needs to give it to this other couple, see? He’s foreseen that the baby will be safe with this couple in Los Angeles, and she needs to go there to give it to them. She gets $6,000 now, and another $6,000 when she arrives. And did Malkin mention that the flight is tomorrow? Yeah, it’s really important that Claire be on Flight 815 TOMORROW. Here’s your ticket. They’re already scheduled to meet her when she arrives. Have a safe flight!
Lost note: And one last parallel between Michael and Claire: they are the only survivors who receive their airline tickets from someone else. Malkin gives Claire her ticket; Brian gives Michael his. And there’s a nice reversal here: Claire is given the ticket and told that she is to give up her child (just moments after she had chosen to keep it), and Michael is given the ticket and told to retrieve his child (years after he had chosen to give him up). What’s interesting is that while Claire and Michael make opposite decisions regarding their children, they both end up in the same place: in the quite literal sense of being on the island, but also in the same place figuratively — parents to children they had decided to give up.
Well, we know that it will certainly be an eventful flight. Poor Claire, traveling all alone, eight months pregnant and her plane falls from the sky onto an island where she’ll probably have to have the baby au naturel. Bless her heart. And to top it all off, she’s having nightmares. Or is she?
At the sound of a baby’s cries, Claire’s eye snaps open. She is in the caves, but no longer pregnant. And the baby continues to cry, the cries coming from somewhere in the jungle. Claire gets up to find the baby, but instead finds Locke sitting at a table in the middle of the jungle, illuminated by a lamp, and turning over tarot cards (with a creepy metal/blade being unsheathed sound accompanying it). Creepy Locke creepily tells her “He was your responsibility but you gave him away, Claire. Everyone pays the price now,” and when he looks up at Claire, his eyes are, well creepy. One is black, the other a milky white.
And that’s creepy enough, but Claire continues through the jungle following the crying until she finds a crib with a charming Oceanic Airlines mobile over it. (Compare to the Oceanic mobile from “Maternity Leave,” btw)
She reaches into the crib, pulling layer after layer of blankets away only to find a pool of blood, into which, for some reason, she places her hands. Eww! And oooh … spooky! CUE THE SCREAMING!
Lost note: So much eye imagery here, between Claire’s close-up, and Locke’s spooky eyes. As we’ve discussed in many other recaps, Locke’s black and white eyes, like the stones found in the caves, or the backgammon pieces, represent dualism, choices, and is perhaps the most obvious Eye of Horus symbol on the show.
Screaming, screaming, screaming, and Charlie is attempting to calm the thrashing, screaming Claire down, to not much effect. It takes a while, but Charlie tells her that she’s been sleepwalking, and Claire opens her hands to find them covered in scratches and blood. Paging Dr. Jack!
As he bandages her hands, Jack asks her about the nightmares, which must have really been something to dig one’s fingernails a quarter of an inch into one’s palms. But Claire’s response? Who said it was a nightmare? They blah blah about sleepwalking for a bit, and then Jack asks Claire about her OB-GYN in Australia, because he’s rather incredulous that she’d let Claire travel in her last trimester (and as a former pregnant traveler, let me interject here that it’s not just your doctor that may have reservations about a HUGELY pregnant woman flying — airlines have pretty strict policies about such things as well). Claire assures him that she had an ultrasound just the week before and everything was perfectly healthy. Her symptoms are no different than any healthy pregnancy: back pain, peeing a lot, so forth. And Jack asks her how far along she is? When did she find out she was pregnant?
After he bandages Claire all up, Jack heads to the beach to bring water down to the sunbathers and bring fish back to the cave dwellers. He finds Kate on the shore “sinking” as she puts it — allowing the tide to drag her feet deeper and deeper into the sand. Jack teases her that she’s found a new way to get off the island: sinking her way off. Oh, and also? Sayid’s been gone a week, and Claire’s gonna have her baby soon. KTHXBYE!
Lost note: Ready to do some yoga? Cause I’m about to stretch here, and suggest that sinking might actually be the way they get off the island. After all, Juliet and Benry came to the island via submarine. Perhaps that’s how they have to leave it, too?
Charlie brings Claire a bit of tea as she writes notes in her diary, and offers to be her friend and confidant here on the island, which Claire kinda rebuffs. Poor Charlie.
So Claire is woken up again, this time with someone clamping their hand over her mouth and there’s a flash of a blade maybe? with that same metal sound from her earlier dream with Locke. Somehow she manages to get away enough to start screaming, awakening everyone in the cave camp. Claire is HYSTERICAL and screaming that she’s been attacked … by a man with a needle, in fact, who was trying to hurt her baby. But Jack just gives her you-so-crazy eyes, and sends Ethan to get her some water. Good plan.
Charlie, on the other hand, and despite being rejected by Claire earlier, brings her a blanket and offers to stay up all night and protect her. He’s not leaving her, he promises. (I STILL MISS YOU, SWEET HOBBIT.)
Later that night, Hurley approaches Jack to tell him that they searched the perimeter, and didn’t see anyone. But it got Hurley a’thinkin’ and he suggests to Jack that they don’t know who anyone really is: for instance, Jack didn’t know that Hurley’s real name is Hugo Reyes, did he? And the point is, they need to start a census, so that they know who people are, and they can figure out who did this to Claire.
So Hurley starts wandering around asking people their names, their home towns and reasons for traveling. He meets light resistance from Locke, who retorts: and who’s checking up on you? But he’s just joking Hurley. Locke is from Tustin, California and he was in Sydney looking for something … but it found him …
Moving on, Hurley finds Ethan, but he calls him Lance, which Ethan corrects. Nope! I’m Ethan! Ethan Rom! From Ontario! Hope you’re not good with anagrams, Hurley!
Hurley then is questioning Shannon who tells him that she’s 20 and living on Craphole Island. Boone is a little less forthcoming with his information, uncomfortable that Hurley is instituting his own little Patriot Act. So Hurley explains that there had been an incident in the caves, and Claire was attacked. And that’s all Shannon needs to hear to decide that she’s NOT MOVING TO THE RAPE CAVES. (Heh.) Boone proves himself useful for once and suggests that Hurley use the flight manifest to cross-check people’s names. And guess who has the manifest?
That’s right, Prince Hoards-a-lot. Hurley decides the direct approach is the best, and he tells Sawyer that he wants the manifest, and perhaps Sawyer should just give it to him because he could use the points with folks. And what do you know? But Sawyer just hands it over.
In the meantime, Jack and Charlie are telling Kate about the attack. Charlie wants to know if Kate saw anyone leave the beach, but Jack? Jack is admitting that he doesn’t believe Claire’s story. There are no puncture wounds on her belly where she claimed a man poked her with a needle, and besides, why would anyone attack a pregnant woman with so many people sleeping nearby. Jack insists that if Claire remains this stressed, she’s going to go into early labor which would be NOT GOOD. Charlie, however, is irritated that Jack doesn’t believe Claire’s story, and insists that it’s not all in her head.
That doesn’t stop Dr. McKnowitall, however, and he heads back to the caves to chat with Claire. He sorta kinda suggests that he doesn’t believe her, and offers her a mild sedative to calm her down a bit so she won’t go into premature labor. Claire doesn’t take this very well, and begins packing her things. Claire is fairly certain the beach was safer than the caves: after all, she wasn’t jabbed with needles while on the beach. Jack tries to dissuade her from leaving, but Claire snaps that she’s sick of people telling her what to do.
Charlie, catching the last part of this conversation, follows Claire as she stomps off toward the beach with her suitcase. He tries to tell her that he wants to help her because he likes her, but Claire doesn’t believe him. She thinks he merely wants to rescue her. And that’s when the contractions begin. Claire urges Charlie to go get Jack, but Charlie’s all “I’m not going to leave you alone!” And that’s all well and good, but GO GET JACK. And off Charlie runs.
But before he can make it to the caves, Charlie runs into Ethan, whom he asks to fetch Jack for him. Charlie, assured that Ethan is getting Jack, returns to Claire, and begins to try to coach her through her breathing.
Poor Claire. She’s understandably upset, what with the whole going into massive painful contractions in the middle of the jungle, and she tells Charlie that someone promised her things would be different. Apparently, she tells Charlie the whole painful story about Richard Malkin, because Charlie is like but wait! What if he knew you’d crash all along? After all, all he was interested in was making sure that you raised the baby yourself. Finally, Claire comes to the epiphany that there was no couple in Los Angeles! HE KNEW ALL ALONG!
Remember Sayid? Yeah, he’s made his way back to the caves! He collapses! He found the Frenchwoman! Of the French Transmission! We’re not alone on the island!
As Charlie and Claire, meanwhile, begin to wonder where the heck Jack is, her contractions stop. Charlie tells her about stress causing her to go into early labor and promises again that he’ll take care of her. Let’s go home!
But before Sayid can explain more, here comes Hurley into the cave camp with some, um, alarming news. That census that he was working on? Yeah, one of the names, well, it wasn’t on the manifest … one of the people amongst them, he wasn’t on the plane. (He walks amongst us, but is not one of us.)
And who could that be?
Hello, there! Ethan cheerfully says to Charlie and Claire.
Um, Ethan? Where’s Jack?
Insert spooky/alarming music here.
So, the thing is, this is one of my favorite episodes from Season One, right? I loved the spooky dreams, I loved the whole suggestion that the baby could be eeeevil …
I loved the whole interaction with the psychic, the idea that he knew the plane was going to crash, and that’s why he changed his mind at the last moment in regard to what Claire should do with the baby. Loved it.
But then! in Season Two! the writers threw us all a curve ball. In “?” Eko visits Richard Malkin during his investigation of Malkin’s daughter’s death and resurrection, and what does Malkin say? “…she knows I’m a fraud. Because I make my living as a psychic. You see, that’s what I do. I gather intelligence on people and I exploit it. Every day I meet people looking for a miracle, desperate to find one. But there are none to be had. Not in this world, anyway.” Not only THAT, but in a scene that was cut, but can be found in the connections area on the Season Two DVDs, Malkin goes on to tell Eko that he was paid $16,000 by a couple in Los Angeles to convince a pregnant girl to board a plane.
Right, so this kinda changes everything I thought I knew about this episode, and it’s been making my head hurt. A lot. But I’m going to push through it, and try to figure it out. And with a cold Diet Coke and a couple of Advil, perhaps I’ll be able to!
First off, more transference! (Which, you know, really isn’t that surprising. One of the major themes of the show is the struggle of the characters to deal with the problems from their past.) Claire transfers her feelings about the psychic onto Jack, and her feelings for Thomas onto Charlie.
When Charlie offers to be her friend and she rebuffs him, it’s not Charlie that she’s reacting to. After having been left by Thomas (and previously, by her father), Claire is not in the mood to be particularly trusting of any men in her life, and she is unable to completely accept his sincere offer of companionship. That is, not until after he proves himself by not abandoning her when she is in pain.
With Jack, when he tries to offer her some sedatives and insists that she stay in the caves, Claire doesn’t see him as a doctor who is trying to help his patient. Rather, she feels she is being controlled by yet another man — telling her what to do, where to go, and she resists. Notice how both men ask her when she found out she was pregnant? I think Claire transfers what she considered Malkin’s strange over-invested interest in her child to Jack who is merely being a doctor and looking after her health.
Of course, Jack isn’t the only man on the island that she associates with the psychic. In her nightmare, it’s Locke who sits at the tarot card table, which is illuminated by the same lamp as one in the psychic’s house. And what he says to her: “He was your responsibility but you gave him away, Claire. Everyone pays the price now,” is interesting. Since this is a dream, this is Claire’s subconscious speaking to her: and what it reveals is that Claire feels guilty for the plane crash. The psychic (originally) told her to keep the baby. Warned her that great danger would befall if she were to give her child up. When she finally chose to give the child to the couple in Los Angeles (on the psychic’s advice) she doomed everyone on that flight along with her. She believes that Malkin was right the first time and that by attempting to give her child up for adoption, she cursed everyone.
In the dream, Locke is at once the psychic who warned Claire to not give up her child, but he is also the judgmental voice of the fates, or Morirai sisters in the Greek tradition. The Moriae were three hags who literally spun the thread of life for every living human being, following everyone’s life from the moment of their birth, to the time when they decide to snip the thread at death. Wanna know what’s cool? The Fates are known throughout European legend and myth, but by different names. The Germanic/Nordic version calls them The Norn Sisters, and the Germanic/English tradition knows them as the Weird/Wyrd Sisters. For those of you paying attention in high school English, you might recognize the name from Macbeth, as the witches who predict Macbeth’s fate! Even better? The Weird Sisters have a little pet cat whose name is Greymalkin. Gray Malkin.
And just as in Macbeth, where it’s uncertain whether the witches’ appearance is real or merely a hallucination, Claire is struggling with convincing the rest of the survivors that she is not merely dreaming. She believes, she knows that she is being attacked. Of course, since this is happening while she sleeps, and she is having nightmares, it’s difficult to distinguish between what is real and what isn’t.
This issue of real versus pretend or imaginary extends into “real” life as well. When Thomas leaves Claire, he tells her that although it was his idea to have the baby, he’s reneging on the deal because it’s “real” now. Before, I suppose, he was simply playing house. This concept of “pretending” extends to the Others, with their costumes and wigs; and the there are the characters themselves: Locke with his war games, Sawyer’s cons, Kate pretending to be someone she’s not with Kevin, not to mention Hurley’s imaginary friend Dave … they all pretend …
But back to the dream: what’s real and what isn’t? Locke with the crazy eyes isn’t real, but that metallic, knife sound, what about that? Is that the sound of Ethan taking out the needle? And what about that mobile over the crib in her dream? It later appears in the nursery in the Caduceus. So, was that part of her dream real, but a reality that takes place in the future? Is Claire experiencing psychic phenomena?
Is she the real psychic in this episode? After all, as I pointed out above, we learn later that Malkin is a fraud. He collects information on people and then uses it to manipulate them. And of course, Malkin isn’t the only false psychic on the show. In “Tricia Tanaka is Dead,” Hurley’s father takes him to visit Lynn, a psychic, in an attempt to convince Hurley to not go to Australia chasing after his supposed “curse.” When Lynn suggests that she exorcise Hurley, he immediately exposes her as a fraud, offering her $10,000 to admit that his father put her up to it. Both psychics claim to “know” something about their marks, but rather than being supernaturally inspired, the psychics merely have received information on their mark beforehand, which they use to manipulate their designated marks. Sound familiar?
But Claire’s foreknowledge of the Oceanic mobile, the one that just happens to play “Catch a Falling Star,” the song that her father sang to her … how did she know about that before she ever set foot in the Caduceus Hatch?
Hope you’re still limber from our earlier stretching, because I’m going to suggest something that perhaps requires a few leaps … but, what if the person with true foreknowledge, the “real” psychic if you will, was Christian? What if, perhaps without even knowing it, Christian was preparing his daughter for something by singing her that song? There’s a certain symbolism in the business of a “falling” star: after all, Claire herself fell from the sky. But then, there is also Naomi. When she ejected from the helicopter, from a distance she resembled a falling star.
And it’s Naomi’s arrival and rescue that facilitates the events that lead to Charlie sacrificing himself for the chance that Claire be rescued. And quick … what’s the title of the episode in which Naomi falls from the sky? “Catch-22.” Hmmm ….
It would also go along with The Most Important Speech of the Episode (“White Rabbit”) and Perhaps the Series that Christian delivered to Jack as a child urging him to not be a hero. To not choose … Again, like singing “Catch a Falling Star” to Claire, Christian tells Jack something that later has tremendous significance on the island. Claire needs to catch her falling star (Naomi), and put it in her pocket, and Jack needs to resist the urge to be the hero and make a decision that will have devastating implications.
And what do you know, but we’re back to decisions, decisions, decisions. This episode is entirely about Claire and her choices. Or lack thereof. As I was saying in the introduction, when one is pregnant, you realize that you are no longer your own person. Your choices no longer affect merely yourself. And other people suddenly feel free to tell you how they think you should be conducting yourself and living your life. It’s for the baby, after all … And poor Claire is something of an extreme case. She doesn’t choose to become pregnant. It’s not her idea to have the baby. And it certainly isn’t her idea to raise the baby alone. At every step, her choices are manipulated by the men in her life, be it Thomas or Malkin, or even her missing father.
(Here’s where my Advil needs to kick in:) And the psychic clearly manipulates Claire. O.K., from what I can figure, there are two ways to look at “Raised by Another:”
Scenario 1: The psychic is for reals. He wants to prevent Claire from giving the baby up for adoption, and he knows the plane will crash and she will survive. He is manipulating Claire to go to the island for some reason. Why? There are two possible answers: he sincerely believes that Claire needs to raise the baby by herself or he is sending the baby to the Others. (“They’re already scheduled to meet you when you arrive.”) Perhaps the Others were behind this all along? (Something that I won’t go on too long about, but interesting to consider: if the psychic is for real, it suggests that he can foresee the consequences of two different futures; one in which Claire gives her child up and another in which she doesn’t. Does this contradict Ms. Hawking’s speech to Desmond regarding course correcting and fate? That the Fates have already predetermined when our thread will be snipped, there’s no way to change it?)
Scenario 2: The psychic is a fraud. When Claire first visited him, he already knew she was pregnant (thanks to her friend, perhaps?), and he dramatically sends her away, because it’s all part of his shtick. He generates a sense of mystery by refusing to do her reading, leaving her wondering what it was that was so terrible that he would behave that when. THEN, when she does have something terrible happen to her, and at some point in her life something will (Thomas leaving her), she remembers the psychic’s reaction, believes that perhaps that is what he saw, and she will return. Now he’s got her on the hook. He knows that she’s had an event in her life that has shaken her up and she is looking for answers. And so perhaps he keeps her on the line, calling her, harassing her, until he can find a way to make a profit off of her. Merely taking Claire for her meager wages isn’t enough, and Malkin hangs onto her until he finds a payday: the couple in Los Angeles who pay him $16,000 to get her on the plane. After he’s paid Claire $6,000, he takes home a healthy $10,000 which is presumably more than he would have made off of Claire. Now, I think this is almost more improbable than Malkin being psychic, but I guess they don’t call it The Long Con for nothin’.
Of course, we don’t know who that couple in Los Angeles is: could it be that the manipulator was being manipulated? Could Claire be right, and there is no couple waiting for her baby? Someone, perhaps the Others, perhaps someone else, wanted her on that island, and used Malkin to get her there? Is there some sort of conspiracy? A plan?
It’s interesting, this emphasis on manipulation, conning, and conspiracies on this show. What Sawyer does to his marks is manipulate them to make choices that he’s already predetermined for them, right? (The marks can, at any point, choose to not do what it is that Sawyer wants them to, and his plan would completely fall apart. But they don’t, in part because he’s good at what he does and in part because he’s done his homework on them.) Sawyer conspires against his marks. Much like Benry does to the survivors on the island, and the psychic does to Claire. They collect information on the marks, and then, through sleights of hand, guide their victims toward the choices that they’ve already determined for them. Which is what Thomas accuses Claire of doing to him on a much smaller scale: he just knows that she took away his choice by not taking her birth control pill, leading him to decide that making a family is his choice. And this is why he leaves: he believes that this is how he can exercise his free will. So what’s the larger conspiracy that’s afoot with this island? What’s driving all the choices of our survivors (and perhaps the Others as well)?
With all the manipulation and conning going on, isn’t it interesting then that on the island the survivors are honest with one another (at least in this episode)? Jack is honest with Claire, explaining that he thinks that she’s merely having nightmares and that he wants her to take the medication for the safety of the baby — but it’s her choice not to. (In contrast to Ethan, who is also a doctor, who spikes her water with a sedative to keep her under control while she’s in the Caduceus Hatch.)
Charlie promises to stay with Claire no matter what, which he does to the best of his abilities, even after Claire has pushed him away. And then there is the little exchange between Hurley and Sawyer, when Hurley simply asks Sawyer for the manifest. There is no duplicity, there is no manipulation, Hurley doesn’t try to con Sawyer or wheedle the manifest away. And what happens? When Hurley asks for the manifest honestly, Sawyer just gives it to him.
Hmmm. Maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere. But prolly not.
So, Mr. T has a crush on Claire. Some of you guys are Kate men, some are into Shannon. Not Mr. T. He digs the pregnant chicks, I guess. And as such, he declined to comment on this episode for the good of our marriage. If I had to guess what he would blog, it would be something along the lines of “Claire’s hot.” But that’s just a shot in the dark.
I’m going to be taking a couple of weeks off; it’s back to school time for Little T 1 and Little T 2, and I couldn’t be more excited that summer is FINALLY over! Ummm, I mean … there’s a lot I’ve got to take care of. But, I’ll be back on September 12th with “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues.” And boy howdy, do they. Have a safe and fun Labor Day weekend, and I’ll see you soon!
Lost originally aired on ABC and is now available to stream on Hulu and IMDb.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.