‘Lost’: Still haven’t found what I’m looking for

Lost
“Maternity Leave”
Originally aired March 1, 2006

I’m not really sure how to talk about this episode: it won’t fit my usual Flashback/Island Events/Analysis model, what with Claire having these vivid memories that then compel her to act in the present. The past and the present aren’t drawn in such strict black and white terms. Interestingly this reminded me of Desmond’s episodes when he travels into the past. While Claire isn’t actually time traveling, an argument could be made that her consciousness is. When she has these flashes of memory, she’s there again, in the past, reliving those moments. And when she remembers something from the past, it directs her actions in the future. Thus, I’m left with the problem of how to break down the episode. And the best I can come up with is to treat it the way I did Desmond’s episode “The Constant,” and write it in real time.

Well, except for the “Henry Gale” story. “Henry Gale” remains held in the armory, with Jack and Locke tending to his needs. They bring him some food and Locke, being a nice guy, brings him Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov for a little light reading. “Henry Gale” is in the mood for something a little lighter, you know, like Stephen King, but, nope, sorry. It’s Russian existentialism, a little Henry James, or maybe the ECG Workout?

After Jack and Locke leave the armory, Locke notes that Hemingway was always jealous of Dostoevsky, and felt he would always be in the great Russian’s shadow. And Jack’s like, huh. Locke wonders aloud what he and Jack are doing what with holding “Henry Gale” in the armory and everything. And Jack’s like you got a better idea? “Henry Gale” does! (Let me go!)

Out in the jungle, Eko is busy chopping trees down for his little project, but it proves to be more work than anticipated, so he heads into the hatch to get a saw. Jack has escorted “Henry Gale” on a potty break and inadvertently left the armory door open, allowing Mr. Eko a glimpse of the made-up cot inside. Mr. Eko is all HMMMMM….

And so he approaches Jack later, asking for an opportunity to speak to the man in the hatch. Jack is all why would I do a thing like that? And Mr. Eko is like, Uh, I DON’T KNOW. Maybe because you want to keep him A SECRET? And Jack’s like, touché.

So, Jack lets Mr. Eko into the armory after warning him that “Henry Gale” is clever. Mr. Eko introduces himself to “Henry Gale” and asks how he’s being treated by Jack and Locke, and “Henry Gale” immediately launches into a long whine about how he’s being held as a prisoner, etc., etc., and Mr. Eko is like, WELL, DUH. They’re being careful because they think you’re lying. “Henry Gale” tries to protest, but Mr. Eko’s all Shut it.

He then goes on to tell “Henry Gale” that the first night that he was on the island, two men tried to drag him into the jungle, so he brained them with a big rock. But he feels really bad about it now, and he needs “Henry Gale” to know he’s sorry, and grant him his forgiveness. And “Henry Gale” is all, um, OK, but why are you telling me? And Mr. Eko is like, because I needed to tell someone, and P.S. I totally think you’re one of them. And then Mr. Eko pulls out a ginormous knife and “Henry Gale” is like EEP! but Mr. Eko cuts off his beardy-thingys and then leaves and “Henry Gale” is like DANG.

So, later, Locke brings “Henry Gale” some food, and “Henry Gale” is all

i can has a cheezeburger

But Locke is all

no can has a cheezeburger

Then “Henry Gale” starts asking Locke about the Hemingway/Dostoevsky thang, and asks Locke which one he is: the genius or the guy living in the shadow of the genius. And Locke is like, WHA? And “Henry Gale” is all, why is Jack the boss? And Locke is like, YEAH, HE’S NOT. WE MAKE DECISIONS TOGETHER, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. “Henry Gale” is all yeah, sure you do. And Locke is like WE DO. And “Henry Gale” is all, uh-huh.

Locke leaves the armory, and tries to wash the dishes, but is SO ANGRY that he throws them all on the floor, which isn’t really very forward-thinking of him, and he’s going to regret that later when he wants to eat some DHARMA-Os and has no cereal bowl. And inside the armory, “Henry Gale” is all I IZ IN UR ARMOREE, MESSIN WITH YOUR HEDZ.

Lost note 1: We will discuss the implications of the whole Stephen King/Dostoevsky thang later on, but it should be pointed out that at the beginning of season three, in “A Tale of Two Cities,” in her book club, Juliet chooses Carrie, despite the fact that Benry doesn’t care for Stephen King.

Lost note 2: And the cheeseburger! When Jack is the prisoner of the Others in the Hydra, Juliet offers him a cheeseburger. See how that works?

Alright. So, poor baby Aaron is sick. He has a fever and a rash and Claire is FREAKING OUT. And, you know, who can blame her? I mean, as a new mom you’re already tense as it is, now imagine that you’re living under a tarp on a beach on an island with a crazy monster running around and people who sporadically abduct you in the middle of the night and leave your junkie boyfriend for dead. You’d be a little uptight. And you’d be willing to tromp through the jungle in the middle of the night to get to a doctor. Locke intercepts Claire, and offers to retrieve Jack from the hatch to make sure that Claire doesn’t stumble upon their guest.

So, while Claire waits for Jack, who should pay her a little visit but Danielle La Folle, who has apparently been loitering around in the bushes waiting for her chance to freak everyone out. She starts staring at poor Claire with her crazy eyes and begins babbling about the baby being infected, which, you know, nice to see you too, Rousseau. Claire, reasonably, starts yelling at her baby’s former abductor to get away from them, and Danielle is all, Oh! You don’t remember!

WHOOSH!

flashback

Claire has a flash of memories all at once, something involving a needle being injected, a baby booty, a young woman’s face, medicine, and someone saying something about something being “a vaccine, we don’t want him to get sick.”

And then here in the present is Kate running to shoo Danielle away. But not before Danielle’s managed to plant the idea in Claire’s head that there’s something wrong with the baby. Thanks, Crazy!

Jack arrives, and is like, yeah, the baby’s fine. They get fevers. So what. And? As the daughter of a doctor let me assure you that this is exactly what EVERY SINGLE DOCTOR WOULD SAY TO CLAIRE AT THIS MOMENT. I’d be like, Dad? I have a terrible terrible headache! And if his response wasn’t “must be a brain tumor,” it was “and?” It takes a lot more than a fever and a rash to get a surgeon worked up.

Claire mentions Danielle’s diagnosis: The Death Sickness, and Jack’s like Pfft. She crazy. Alright! I gotta get back to the hatch and feed the strange dude we found there. Laters! And Claire? Not so reassured.

Claire comes up with Plan B: have Libby hypnotize her as a means to retrieve the memories of what happened to her when she was with the Others. Claire explains to Libby that she has amnesia, and Libby’s all, that, or you’re repressing the painful memories of whatever it was that happened to you. WHATEVER, just get those memories back, K? So Libby begins hypnotizing Claire, and it’s not long before

ZING!

hypnotoad

Claire has more flashes of needles and vials and the young woman again, and a mobile made of toy airplanes, and then there are a set of hands on Claire’s pregnant belly, and a man’s voice asking when her last check-up was. Memory Claire, stuffed full of Quaaludes, is in a hospital gown and on an examining table in what appears to be an examining room. She explains that it’s been a while. She was on her way to Los Angeles, see, to give the baby up for adoption. And the voice is like, ah yes, of course, now lie back as I poke this giant needle filled with DHARMA medicine into your belly and ZOMG! the voice belongs to Ethan! ETHAN!

ZIP!

Zipper

And we’re back to the present. There is much screaming.

Claire, unsurprisingly, is freaked out that Ethan was jabbing her baby with mystery drugs, and she wants to know more. However, Libby’s like, DUDE. NO. So, Claire devises Plan C: find this examining room, find this mystery drug, give the baby the drug. Kate? Will you help?

Kate, sensing that Claire is going to do this with or without her, goes to Sawyer for a gun. And Sawyer (who is reading Walker Percy’s Lancelot), in exchange for a little banter, gives Kate the gun.

Claire is making her own arrangements and asks Sun to look after Aaron while she goes on this expedition. Sun’s apprehensive, and thinks that a mother shouldn’t leave her child, and Claire’s like OMG! You have a baby? But, no. ANYWAY. When Sun asks Claire if she’s sure she wants to do this:

BAM!

bam bam

Claire flashes some more, this time with Ethan telling her she needs to be sure, being injected in the belly again, someone holding a cloth over her mouth, an operating room, and then Memory Claire is in the examining room with Ethan again, as he prepares another injection. Memory Claire’s still very loopy, and handles the shot really well. Ethan then announces that he has a surprise for her, and Claire’s like, are we going to a Phish concert? OOOH! I know! YOU GOT ME CHEETOS! But instead, Ethan leads her into a nursery fully outfitted with a crib and rocking chair, toys, and books. (Wait, was that an “escape hatch” in the hallway? WHAAA?) And oh look! What’s this? A mobile made of Oceanic Airlines planes! And it plays “Catch a Falling Star!” you know–the song that Claire claimed her father sang to her! HUH.

Memory Claire and the audience would like to know where all this stuff came from, but Ethan assures her that it would be too overwhelming to explain to her just now. I BET.

Ethan also lies to her about what happened to Charlie, but whatever. KNOCK KNOCK! And Ethan heads over to a door to go talk to a man about how YES. HE KNOWS. He wasn’t supposed to bring her back yet until he had the list, but they had a manifest, yo! And they figured out he wasn’t a survivor. What could he do?

And ZOMGBBQWTF!!11! It’s Mr. Friendly! But! He’s beardless! And clean! I’m sorry, what? (And can I just note AGAIN how hard it is to muster surprise here? I mean, seriously.) Mr. Friendly is very concerned about what “He” will do when “He” finds out that Ethan didn’t obey orders. And Ethan is like, Dude. And Mr. Friendly is like, Dude.

BLOOP!

bloop real housewives of atlanta rhoa nene

Claire is with Sun again on the beach, and hands over the baby. Time to go!

Walking through the jungle, walking through the jungle, walking through the jungle. Claire asks Kate what she knows about Danielle, and Kate’s like, well she crashed on the island with the rest of her crew who died. Oh yeah? Asks Claire? How’d they die? And Kate’s like HEY! LOOK OVER THERE! But Claire doesn’t let it go, so Kate tells her that you know, maybe Danielle killed them all. And Claire’s like WHAT? WHY! And who should be lurking in the woods but Danielle herself, who informs Claire that she killed them because they were infected. Claire demands that Danielle take her back where Claire scratched her and tells her that she remembers bits of it now, including the room and medicine and a teenage girl. And Danielle is like: TEENAGE GIRL? Yeah, it’s not far from here. LET’S GO!

They march deeper into the jungle when Danielle’s suddenly: We’re here! Then they both start screaming at each other to lead the other one to where they’re supposed to go, and Kate rolls her eyes, because, great. When Danielle starts getting a little rough with Claire, after Claire accuses her of trying to bring her back to the Others, Kate pulls her gun on Danielle, who’s all YEAH? GO FOR IT. Shoot me! SHOOT ME! Kate stands down, because, wow, she’s nuts, and that’s when Claire spies a weird log…

SWOOSH!

swoosh

More memories, and Memory Claire is in the nursery, knitting a baby booty when Ethan enters and suggests that they go out for a secret walk. They head outside to a log, and Ethan offers her a swig from his DHARMA canteen. Memory Claire complains that the water tastes sour, and Ethan conspicuously doesn’t drink from it himself. HMMM.

Ethan then confesses that he is going to miss Memory Claire when she has to leave, and Memory Claire’s all, how ’bout I hang around then? Ethan reminds her that there’s not enough vaccine for both Memory Claire and the baby, and Memory Claire’s like, have you ever looked at your hands? No, like really look at them? But oh yeah, I’m not sick! Ethan is hopeful she’ll remain that way when she returns to her friends. And then Memory Claire wonders what will happen if she wants to see the baby? Ethan assures her that no one is going to take her baby away from her if that’s not what she wants. She has a choice. They are a good family, good people. And he wants her to be sure that she wants her child to be raised by them.

POOF!

poof

Claire has a moment where she is watching Memory Claire and Ethan on the log before reality fades back together, and she suddenly knows where the room is. She stumbles around in the jungle for a while before, ta-da! A hatch! With a big ol’ Caduceus on it.

dharma hatch cadecus lost medical

(AWESOME.)

The women open up the hatch, draw their guns, and head inside. The hatch is totally abandoned, and totally spooky with the flickering fluorescent lighting, and the creepy. Kate discovers a locker room, where the Others forgot their dirty costumes and fake beards. Claire leads Danielle into the nursery, where only the rocking chair and little blue booty remain. And…

WHAP!

whap

Memory Claire is woken up by a teenage girl who urges her to get out of bed, but dopey Memory Claire is like, hey, HEY! What if the green you see isn’t the same green I see? Like, what if the green you see is like the purple I see? WHOA.

Teenage girl keeps urging Memory Claire to get up and get out, and helps her to the door to show her the operating room down the hall. According to this teenage girl, tonight They are going to cut the baby out of Memory Claire and leave her for dead. Memory Claire has to go NOW. Memory Claire is not being cooperative with Teenage Girl, so Teenage Girl chloroforms Memory Claire. And I’m left to wonder how much of these drugs can possibly be good for the baby. No, seriously. Pregnant Mommas are discouraged from eating tuna, hot dogs, Cheetos, and peanuts, but a little chloroform and regular injections of “Happy Juice?” All good.

ZING!

zing big brother

Claire remembers where the medicine is! She and Danielle head into the trashed examining room, where the refrigerator that had previously held the medicine is tipped onto the floor. Claire calls for Kate to help her lift it, when Danielle just stands there staring at her with crazy eyes. But when they lift the fridge? Totally empty. Claire then loses it on Danielle, screaming at her to tell her where the medicine is when

CLUNK!

snl bar boobs clunk

Memory Claire is in the jungle by herself yelling for Ethan and more ‘ludes. Instead, Danielle arrives and orders Memory Claire to be quiet. Memory Claire argues with Danielle that she has to give the baby to Them so he will be safe, and when Danielle tries to drag her away, Memory Claire scratches her. So, Danielle bonks her in the head with the butt of her rifle.

BZZZZT!

brain buzzing synapses

Claire suddenly realizes that Danielle saved her. And Danielle’s like, UH DUH. I carried your pregnant self all the way back to camp, dummy. And then Danielle notes that Claire wasn’t the only one who didn’t find what she was looking for SO CAN IT ABOUT THE MEDICINE ALREADY. GAH. They head back to camp, and as Danielle is about to head off to return to her hidey-hole, Claire tells her that she remembered a teenage girl with blue eyes who helped her escape. She was good, Claire assures Danielle, and not like the Others. Which, you know, was a really sweet thing to do. Danielle, however, responds that she hopes Claire’s baby isn’t infected, and further hopes that if he is, that Claire knows what she has to do. HEY. WAY TO MAKE IT WEIRD, DANIELLE.

Back at the beach, Jack examines Aaron and notes that he looks much better and that the fever is gone. Hooray! After he leaves, Claire gives the baby the booty she knitted for him when she was all hopped up on barbiturates. She confesses to Aaron that she wanted Them to take him, but now she knows better — that they are supposed to be together. He’s hers and she loves him. AWW. So much more poignant now that we know what we know. Oof.

Where, oh where to begin with this one…You know, one of the most interesting images in this episode, especially in light of what we know about the next two seasons, was Mr. Eko chopping down the trees for his church.

lost maternity leave eko chopping down trees

It reminded me so much of Locke’s vision/dream/memory (?) of Horace chopping down trees for his cabin.

cabin fever locke horace dream

And here’s what’s interesting! Both men, Mr. Eko and Horace, are chopping down trees to build something: retreats, sanctuaries, homes for the spirit, or The Spirit, as the case may be. (And it makes me wonder if Mr. Eko’s church was originally intended to be Jacob’s “cabin” –probably not. But maybe?)

And while we’re talking about Jacob, maybe I’m extrapolating a bit much (WHO, ME?) but I found it interesting that the only thing that was left in the nursery when Claire returns to the Caduceus Hatch was the rocking chair. Rocking chairs: culturally, we associate rocking chairs with mothers and babies, like Claire, or with the elderly, like Jacob (wait, is he elderly? or undead? or, well, what?). I did find something kinda interesting, if tenuously related, to all of this: the Rebis. The Rebis, which means “re-born” (hey, hey!) is a hermaphrodite figure, with two heads, one male and one female, that was used as an alchemical symbol.

rebis

The more common image of the Rebis is this one, with the figure standing atop a globe, but it also has been represented on a crescent, symbolizing balance, rocking back and forth between two sides.

regis crescent

Do I actually think that Jacob’s rocking chair is supposed to represent Rebis, or alchemy, or hermaphrodites or whatever? No, not exactly. But the Rebis is a curious symbol, one that represents duality, integration, wholeness. The Rebis is the figure on The World tarot card, the final card in the Major Arcana.

the world tarot card

From Wikipedia: “The World represents an ending to a cycle of life, a pause in life before the next big cycle beginning with the fool. The figure is at once male and female, above and below, suspended between the heavens and the earth. It is completeness.”

The Rebis is related to Hermaphroditus, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite, who was so HAWT a nymph tried to seduce him. He was like, thanks, but no thanks, but then decided (stupidly) to take a dip in her lake. She grabbed him and then prayed to the Gods to not separate them. Presto! wish granted, and the two became one: a hermaphrodite.

The Rebis, with her/his two heads, also bears a resemblance to a Roman God we discussed in the first season: Janus, the God of doorways, gates, beginnings and ending.

janus

These figures represent a cycle, a circle, completeness, and the concept that time is never-ending: the ever-present now. So, with this Rebis character in mind, this particular episode is quite interesting for a few reasons. In this episode, in her memories, Claire is pregnant: she is one that is two. And the rocking chair is a symbol of that completeness. By re-experiencing her past, for Claire, the ever-present now is that moment in time when she and her baby were one.

And of course, that moment isn’t a static moment in time. Claire’s memory is returning to her, and she’s reliving these moments. The writers go out of their way to demonstrate that Claire is experiencing these memories in the present, and the effect is very similar to Desmond when he flashes onto events that are about to happen in the future in “Catch-22.” They both are experiencing moments in time that are not the present. The past and the future are not fixed points on a rigid timeline, but rather are fluid — all time is now. Claire remembers the past, Desmond remembers the future; memory, consciousness is the key to traveling through time.

At least in this place, on this strange island.

And speaking of memory, and time being fluid, I remember just how exciting this episode was when it first aired. Another hatch! With a symbol! A caduceus, this time. The caduceus is a medical symbol (although some would argue that the caduceus should be used as a symbol of commercial medicine, pharmaceuticals, and military organizations and the Rod of Asclepius is the correct symbol for medical organizations), with a long strange history.

Tiresias_striking_the_snakes

The caduceus is a winged staff with two intertwined snakes wrapped around it. The Greek origin myth is that Tiresias, the seer, found two snakes copulating in the middle of the road, and he killed the female with his staff, because he’s a killjoy. Tiresias immediately turned into a woman. S/he wasn’t able to turn back into a man until s/he found the male snake and killed him (more hermaphrodite action!).

219229-caduceus01_large

This transformative staff later came into the possession of Hermes — father of Hermaphroditus from above! — and became a symbol of power, wisdom, balance, and transformation. It became associated with medicine many centuries later, when Hermetic principles of astrology were used to heal the sick.

The caduceus has many associations: it supposedly could cause sleep (which is particularly interesting in terms of Claire being drugged and forgetting what happened to her inside the hatch), it is a symbol of immortality (Batmanuel?), for the Romans the symbol represents moral equilibrium and good behavior (“We’re good people, Claire.”). Like the Rebis, the caduceus is a symbol of balance and completeness. And, perhaps most interestingly, for the Buddhists, the staff of the caduceus is the axis mundi, and the serpent is a force called the Kundalini, which is an energy that lies at the base of the spine. This energy, wait for it, “is often associated with the practice of contemplative or religious practices that might induce an altered state of consciousness, either brought about spontaneously, through a type of yoga, through psychedelic drugs, or through a near-death experience.”

HUH. DRUGS, YOU SAY? NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE?

lost one of us juliet orange juice drugs

 

And note that this interpretation of the symbol is the Buddhist one — kinda like the whole DHARMA thing.

And so, yeah, I don’t want to make a big to-do out of the significance of the caduceus … after all, sometimes a medical symbol is simply a medical symbol. It could just represent the act of healing, as that is a huge theme of the show, what with Jack, and the island and Christian, and Locke and Rose and all the spiritual healing that goes on and etc. and so forth. From a purely plot perspective, it makes sense that the DHARMA Initiative would have a medical facility on the island. It further makes sense that if this facility were outside New Otherton, they’d have to hide it from The Hostiles — a fact that we would only learn in season three. It also explains the escape hatch,

lost maternity leave escape hatch

and perhaps the DHARMA-issued costumes.

lost maternity leave others costumes

DHARMA, functioning outside the safety of the sonic fences, and faced with irascible natives, had to put a few safety measures in place, apparently. What’s interesting to me is that Benry and his people, some of whom are possibly natives, are in effect pretending to be DHARMA who were pretending to be natives. More pretending, conning, playing dress-up. But hardly the last of it.

“Henry Gale,” for instance, as part of the role he’s playing in the armory, pretends to want to read a little Stephen King, rather than Dostoevsky. Such a good actor, that one! As mentioned above, we learn in the first episode of season three, “A Tale of Two Cities,” that Benry actually hates Stephen King (who, of course, is a huge influence on the show, as well as a fan). He’s much more likely to read The Brothers Karamazov than The Stand. Of course, it could be that The Brothers Karamazov is a sore spot for Benry, what with it being about patricide and all.

lost the man behind the curtain roger murder ben

(And an interesting note: Dostoevsky was highly influenced by a Russian philosopher, this dude named Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov who suggested that sons could redeem their fathers’ sins, and even resurrect them; The Brothers Karamazov is an inversion of this philosophy. But this Fyodorov dude has a lot of interesting thoughts on transhumanism, immortality and resurrection that have not a little bit to do with Lost. It’s worth a peek at his Wikipedia page.)

And then there’s Claire. In this episode, she plunges into the depths of her subconscious, into her memory and discovers that she still wanted to give the baby away fairly late into her pregnancy. This isn’t the return to form quite like Sayid or Sawyer’s (or even Kate’s–what with her giving in to her running instinct in “What Kate Did”), but she does revisit a moment when she wanted to give up her child, just as she did before she arrived on the island. Her journey into the caduceus is a journey into the dark part of her soul. It’s a journey into her subconscious, into the belly of the whale.

Interesting that she ventures inside with a woman who lost her child, and the woman to whom she loses her child. Claire journeys into her past with the women who represent her future. And thus, the heartbreaking ending, wherein Claire declares (just like Benry in “The Other Woman” tells Juliet, after revealing Goodwin’s body) that Aaron is hers. “You’re mine,” she says in a motherly fashion, as opposed to the creepy stalker fashion that Benry does. “You’re mine, and we’re supposed to be together,” Claire assures the infant that she will be separated from in a couple of months. And once again, perhaps ridiculously, I’m drawn to the story of the Rebis, of Hermaphroditus, two entities that are physically joined and not supposed to be torn apart. Is this why Aaron and the rest of the O6 are supposed to go back to the island? Is it because Claire and Aaron were not supposed to be separated? That he wasn’t supposed to be Raised by Another? Does this upset some balance established by the Island that must be maintained?

So, in good news for all Lost fans, the season 5 premiere will be on Wednesday, January 21st, with a one-hour recap, and a two-hour (!) premiere! HOORAY! NO, I MEAN, SERIOUSLY! 71 DAYS. SEVENTY. ONE. DAYS. Yay for us! Boo for me, though, and having to try to get the next 8 episodes done in, what, 10 weeks? Yeah. Hold your breath. It’s going to be a nail-biter …

Lost originally aired on ABC and is now available to stream on Hulu and IMDb.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.

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