Lost: Stranger in a Strange Land

What an odd episode. Lost: Stranger in a Strange Land seemed almost one-note, to borrow from Tim Gunn, in it’s singular pursuit of explaining the “mystery” of Jack’s tattoos.

I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but here are my brief thoughts:

  • He Walks Among Us But He Is Not One Of Us
  • The meaning of the Chinese letters tattoo on Jack’s arm given to him in Phuket, Thailand by Achara.

    Actually, according to Jack, that’s what they “say” not what they “mean”. Maybe he groks the tattoo on a different level.

    I’m also uncertain/unconvinced that we’ve put the tattoo issue to bed just because we got a little backstory. We’re still missing the part about the number “5” (not one of the numbers) and the symbol that appear above the Chinese characters.

  • Stranger in a Strange Land
  • The title of the episode is both a reference to Jack’s tattoo, but also to his position both in Thailand and amongst the others.

    It’s also a reference to Robert Heinlein’s novel
    Stranger in a Strange Land which may or may not deal with a divine being, a saint or an angel, coming back to earth.

    Could Jack be some kind of deity reincarnated?

    Or is it also a play on the story of Gershom? Does that make Juliet into Moses and Ben into God (or some other permutation – it’s late and I’m not biblical scholar)?

    I think what it means is that even though Jack is an “outsider” in one sense, he’s mostly an outsider because of himself. He choses the lonely, isolated path.

  • Situational Morality
  • I really don’t want to go here, but Jack is making me or, more precisely, Jack’s decisions are making me.

    He won’t help Juliet save Ben’s life because then he’d be doing Juliet a favor, but he will lie for her to Isabelle/The Sheriff?

    He won’t do something because Juliet wants to be the self-sacrificing one, but he will do it because he gets to be the savior?

    He won’t do it to save Ben, but he will save Ben if it gets him closer to Juliet and forges some kind of alliance between them?

    I really can’t figure out the motivations because I think they’re not rational (which is OK) and I think they tie back into these conflicting desires to receive love/acceptance AND to be some kind of maverick/savior. The two can sometimes happen together but they can’t peacefully coexist forever, something has to give.

    Look at Achara. He could accept the love and deny his desire to fix and save, his quest for self-knowledge OR he could follow his heart (and her) and get that tattoo. I’m saying his heart wants two different things, which is part of the reason he can’t find happiness, he’s defining it twice and looking for one answer (consciously) and two otherwise. I think. ;-)

    Plus, from a law enforcement standpoint, is the end-around of the “law” of death penalty committed by Ben a good precedent and how does this affect the Others?

  • …In Translation
  • Clever reference to a Season 1 episode, …In Translation, by Isabelle.

    The flashback deals with Jin and Sun, most importantly Jin working for Sun’s father. Another man who walked with people but was not one of them.

    It could also be a commentary/clue concerning the tattoo itself. The biblical passage, Exodus 2:22, is often translated in many different ways and biblical scholars still argue about it’s meaning.

    Also, just for kicks, wouldn’t it be cool if Jack had fathered a son with Achara?

    I also think we’re meant to believe that the island(s) have a government or laws, but that system is being lost in translation somehow. Who is Isabelle and from whence does her authority eminate? Likewise, who is Benjamin Linus?

    Bonus point: for all you official podcast listeners, anyone care to define the “3 secrets revealed!” from tonight’s episode. Cuse and Lindelof spotted us the tattoos, what were the other two, in your opinions?

    Other ephemera: “ursa theodorus” was cute; Kate and Sawyer bonding (through argument) as opposed to the inverse previously; Cindy (and the kids) not knowing about Ana Lucia’s death (shouldn’t they have known, especially if they’re “watching”).

    That’s all for tonight; I’m tired.

    Leave a comment.

8 thoughts on “Lost: Stranger in a Strange Land

  1. megan says:

    re: cindy and the kids “watching”…..they were there to watch the trial, that doesn’t mean they’ve been watching everything that’s been going on with the big island

  2. Dan says:

    My take on Cindy saying “we’re here to watch” was to view Juliette’s execution. I’m almost wondering if the kids and adults the Others snagged are incorporated into the Others’ society now. Each of them possibly brainwashed like Karl in room 23 (as seen in 3 eps ago). Just my 2 cents.

  3. Nick says:

    I think the second “secret” is why they took the kids. Karl said it was to give them a better life than the other survivors. Better life than being stranded on an island, being in a somewhat civilized community?

    Also, one thing I thought I saw. It appeared that Achara only gave Jack the chinese characters on his arm (I’m not positive, I haven’t rewatched.) If so, the 5 could symbolize the 5 guys that kicked the crap out of him in Phuket

  4. Good call on the “better life” line Karl mentioned about the kids.

    I did mention that the tattoo wasn’t “finished” like it is on Jack’s arm.

  5. Cindy says:

    great observations as always, Seth!
    I thought it was interesting that Jack’s tattoo has Chinese characters and not Thai. Such a big deal was made about Achara’s gift being for “her people” and all. Her and her brother definitely looked Thai to me, not Chinese. I realize that the show is working around Matthew Fox’s real tattoo, so I’m wondering why they didn’t locate this storyline in China or even Taiwan.

    I’m struggling to come up with the 3 revealed secrets too. Jack’s tattoo, where the taken kids and people are (tho I thought they were stretching here) and …what’s the last one?

  6. David says:

    I’m not sure that one of the secrets was where the others had taken the children and people. If you recall, Goodwin tells Anna Lucia that they are in a “better place”. I realize this left a lot open to interpretation, but it is still fairly close to what Karl said, and not a whole lot more.

    As far as other ideas for what the secrets were, how about the fact that the others live on the original island and have some sort of civilization set up there? Just a thought…

  7. Here’s my theory:
    There weren’t three secrets revealed. The promos were deceptive in order to get people to keep watching. Once people watch the episode, they probably forget the three secrets revealed promise. Am I the only one that doesn’t consider Jack’s tattoos a “secret”? I don’t know where Hurley buys plus size clothing, but I don’t consider it a secret. This show is getting boring. What about the polar bears, smoke monster, other hatches, Rousseau, Walt/Michael, etc.?
    Every week I say I’m gonna stop watching, but I keep hoping…

  8. Dave, I’m with you on the island “secret”.

    Robert, please tone down the conspiracy theory/comic book guy stuff. Don’t believe the negative hype about poor ratings and just enjoy the show.

    Sure, it isn’t the first season but it couldn’t be and you wouldn’t really be enjoying it.

    My advice: stop watching.

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