Season 2, Episode 15
Date of airing: March 1, 2006 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 16.43 million viewers, 9.9/15 in Households, 6.9/16 with Adults 18-49
If there was ever any doubt that Henry Gale was one of them or an innocent who got himself involved in one of the crappiest moments of his entire life, this episode made sure that you know who the guy really is. It’s his first full episode of being a prisoner in the Swan station and he is already starting to manipulate Locke into seeing the villain in Jack, to create that conflict between the two prison guards, to make his life a little easier behind that locked door. It’s the first real sign of Henry Gale not being so innocent, and it’s the first move by the writers to depict that who Jack and Locke have locked into the weapons chamber is actually a villain. So far we have only come to see the Others from the distance, in a group, unknown to everyone but themselves, almost as they were ghosts. But Henry could be the first step towards humanizing the villainous characters and to make sure that they appear human in future episodes, and not like ghostly monsters who show up when they need to kidnap a kid or draw metaphorical lines in figurative sands. For one and a half seasons the others haven’t been much of villains, and with the writers barely using and explaining the black smoke monster or other dangers coming from the jungle of death, it was about time that at least the human villains would start become more integrated in the plot. Henry Gale is that point of connection, and he is starting it off like a good villain.
The episode was otherwise solid, even if someone like me didn’t get much out of it being a Claire-centric episode. Emilie de Ravin hasn’t shown why she was allowed to be a central character in the show, but she did show why the writers gave her less and less screentime, as she isn’t much of a great actress when things are demanded of her. Claire stood in front of Danielle Rousseau as she was starting to remember things and connect the dots, but de Ravin’s face was of an actress who just stepped out of a daily soap opera to guest star on a weekly primetime television mystery science-fiction survival drama. I wonder no more why Claire has always been drawing the short stick when it comes to storylines in the show, but I do have to ask myself why I liked the character when I first saw the show back in the spring of 2005. Was it just because de Ravin was an attractive young woman whom I could easily have a crush on and that is all my 18-year-old mind needed back then? Or is this episode one of those prime examples of a high-concept television drama with an extra order of episodes has to be produced on the fly whenever the producers have the chance, and the scenes in the DHARMA hospital station were produced more with speed and less with precision? There could have been a great conflict between Claire and Danielle about who scratched whom and why, and whether or not Danielle was actually bringing Claire back to the Others, but the writers didn’t focus on that story at all and instead just went with the team-up of three women, who decided to head into the jungle with one pistol and one rifle (and whatever else Danielle had in her backpack — probably some more explosives) and enter a DHARMA station for the sake of advancing the mythology. Okay, now I know what happened: The writers chose quantity over quality.
And of course the writers had to wait until it was time for Claire’s episode to let her have a few flashes and start remembering, although I do found it to be a nice idea that this is the first episode with flashbacks set after the plane crash on the island (let’s exclude “The Other 48 Days” for now, because that whole episode is a flashback). With Claire it seemed quite obvious, since she couldn’t remember what happened in the two weeks between episode ten and fifteen of the first season, but now I’m sort of wondering if there will be other instances that includes characters flashing back to times on the island after they have crashed, instead of before. Is there even logic behind this idea?
The rest of the episode was good enough to awaken my interest for a few minutes. Granted, Mr. Eko wasted his conversation with Henry, although it was a scene that pretty much had Eko believe Henry was one of them. I was however a bit disappointed that Sayid was nowhere to be found during this hour — yes, he may be shocked of himself again after using torture techniques to get a person to answer questions, but it’s not like his actions came out of nowhere in the previous episode (for heaven’s sake, he introduced himself as a torturer), but it’s almost like the writers did not want to deal with the character, considering this was Claire’s episode, and it was supposed to advance Henry’s manipulative tactics, which would have otherwise been in the way for a story headlined by Sayid.
There was one weird thing about Danielle though: Not only was she the catalyst for characters heading straight into the jungle of doom again to experience an adventure and a development in the mythology, but I found it quite convenient that her daughter is both alive and obviously the person who helped Claire escape. As if this world didn’t have another teenage girl with blue eyes to offer who somehow ended up on this island to be the voice of reason, the person with empathy. It would make sense that the girl who helped Claire is Alex (this is still a television show, and Alex still being alive is a well-done twist), but damn, if LOST isn’t a show that likes to put on a show of conveniences…