Claire is easy to forget about. I mean, she’s a very major part of Lost, but she just seems so effortlessly pleasant, one of the more low-key characters on the show. She isn’t plagued by a lot of the horrible character flaws that many of the other characters carry around, so it’s nice to get around to her first centric episode. It’s another good outing for Lost, one that ties together its A-story and B-story really well. It’s not perfect, but it’s a solid episode, and it has a terrific ending.
Up until this point, each episode has kind of bobbled between a main story, focused on the flashbacks of a single character, and then it keeps a little potboiler of a story in the background. That B-story is typically more focused on the overall arc. Usually, this works pretty well. It gives us a chance to meet the characters, and even if the overall story moves slowly, it still allows for it to roll along steadily. But “Raised By Another” is something of a convergence. Claire’s story leads really well into the realization that one of the survivors, Ethan Rom, isn’t so much a survivor as he is a spy. It’s a really good payoff, and the final shot is one of the all-time great cliffhangers in the entire series.
Just as impressive, if you ask me, is the opening dream sequence, where Claire meets a somewhat demonic Locke in the jungle, before finding a crib filled with blood. It’s terrifying, disorienting, and a great way to open the episode. Pay close attention to Locke’s eyes: one is white, and one is black. It’s kind of a broad clue, but it definitely points to Locke’s nature in seasons 5 and 6. If there’s anything this rewatch has shown me, it’s that the writers had at least a little idea of what they would do down the line. The clues were vague to make it easy to either ignore them, or to fit a variety of things into them. To their credit, there’s a lot of foreshadowing that pays off later.
And that’s really the main problem with “Raised by Another.” We sure get a lot of ominous talk about what will happen if Claire’s baby is raised by someone else. I do like Claire’s flashback, particularly the ambiguity about the psychic, but if I’m trying to think about how well the show hangs together at the end, I have to say that this particular thread never really pans out, at least not in a satisfactory way. I mean, Claire’s separation from her baby absolutely does affect her in a negative way, and she is a genuine danger in the final season. But Aaron never becomes anything beyond a plot device, and knowing that tempers the episode a little bit. And I feel inclined to overlook that fact, except this foreshadowing just seems like one hint too many. Even when I saw it for the first time, knowing nothing of future episodes, it felt a little forced.
But that’s not really a deal breaker for me. As we’ll see in the future, a lot of plots are never really fulfilled, but we still get a satisfying hour to TV out of them. And “Raised By Another” is indeed a very good episode. It’s hard to not immediately pop in the next episode.
- I love the description of Charlie’s dream. I kind of wish that I remembered more dreams like that, because I think it’d give me a good laugh.
- We learn Hurley’s real name, Hugo Reyes. Unless I’m much mistaken, “reyes” is Spanish for king or royalty. More foreshadowing? Names in Lost are never accidental.
- Jack is in tone-deaf mode here, ever the skeptic. He must be an amazing surgeon, because he’s not great with people.
- This was originally pointed out by Noel Murray on the AV Club, but both Ethan and Kate claim to be Canadian. Is that just the easiest country to lie about?
- The best thing about the ending? The fact that it is genuinely surprising. Ethan is there, being Ethan, but we don’t think a lot about it. And for that matter, the whole census plot doesn’t really point to it either. But it definitely works when you know how it ends. Another fine bit of plotting.
- Next Tuesday, we’ll see that “All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues.” Be there!