|"The Other Woman"|
"The Other Woman" is the 78th episode of the serial drama television series Lost and the sixth episode of the show's fourth season. It aired on March 6, 2008 on the American Broadcasting Company in the United States and on CTV in Canada. The episode was written by co-executive producer Drew Goddard and executive story editor Christina M. Kim, and was directed by Eric Laneuville.
The narrative begins on December 24, 2004, 94 days after the crash of Oceanic Airlines Flight 815. Recent island arrivals Daniel Faraday (played by Jeremy Davies) and Charlotte Lewis (Rebecca Mader) leave the survivors' camp without notice for the Dharma Initiative electrical station called the Tempest. In flashbacks that depict events on the island, Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell) discovers that her boss Ben Linus (Michael Emerson), the leader of the island's original inhabitants referred to as the Others, is in love with her.
The writers advanced several story lines with "The Other Woman". The episode furthers Juliet's back story and relationships, sheds more light on the season's new characters, and features the first appearance of Harper Stanhope (Andrea Roth). The introduction of the Tempest further develops the series' mythology, specifically the "purge". In the third season, the purge was mentioned in episode "Enter 77" and seen in "The Man Behind the Curtain".
"The Other Woman" was watched by 15 million Americans and received mixed reviews. Critics from the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, and BuddyTV deemed it the worst episode of the season, partially due to a flashback storyline that was seemingly recycled from the third season episode, "One of Us". Another criticism was that audiences actually learned more about Ben than Juliet, despite the focus on Juliet. Emerson also received more praise for his acting than Mitchell, who plays Juliet; however, Mitchell won a Saturn Award for her performance. Positive reviews commended the action in the episode's climax.
The episode opens with flashbacks to Juliet's life on the island following her recruitment in September 2001 by the Others. Juliet has an affair with an Other named Goodwin (Brett Cullen), who is married to therapist Harper Stanhope. Harper discovers the affair, and warns Juliet that their leader Ben will punish Goodwin because he has a crush on Juliet. Following the crash of Flight 815, Ben sends him to infiltrate a group of surviving passengers; Goodwin is murdered by one of them after they realize he is not a survivor. In October 2004, Ben invites Juliet to what he initially describes as a dinner party, but is actually a private date. Ben leads Juliet to Goodwin's impaled corpse, where she accuses him of having wanted Goodwin to die. Ben reveals his love for her.
On the night of December 24, 2004 (three months after the crash of Flight 815), two members of a science team from the Kahana freighter anchored offshore—Daniel and Charlotte—who landed on the island three days earlier with a hidden agenda, sneak off to find the Tempest. Juliet and the crash survivors' leader Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) notice their absence from the beach camp and pursue them. After hearing the whispers, Harper approaches Juliet. She tells her that Daniel and Charlotte intend to kill everyone on the island by deploying a lethal gas at the Tempest and that Ben's orders are for Juliet to kill them. On a trek back to the beach in the morning, Kate encounters Daniel and Charlotte and is knocked unconscious by the latter. Jack and Juliet come across Kate and they split up: Juliet continues for the Tempest alone, as Jack minds Kate. Inside the station, Juliet finds Daniel in a hazmat suit at a computer. After a standoff, Daniel and Charlotte convince Juliet that they are not going to kill anyone; they are neutralizing the gas in case Ben decides to use it again, as he had twelve years earlier in an Others-led purge of Dharma. Jack arrives at the Tempest and Juliet explains that those on the freighter came to the island to wage war against Ben and she expects him to win. She fears for Jack because Ben thinks that she belongs to him, but Jack shows no worry and kisses her.
In the Barracks, Ben bargains with 815 survivor John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) for his freedom. He reveals that Charles Widmore (Alan Dale)—the father of Desmond Hume's (Henry Ian Cusick) girlfriend, Penny (Sonya Walger)—owns the freighter and hopes to exploit the island. Ben also tells Locke who his spy on the freighter is. Ben continues to reside in the Barracks following his release.
When asked about what she learned about her character through "The Other Woman", Elizabeth Mitchell surmised that Juliet's "mistakes are morally questionable, if not morally wrong. But you do see that behind this is a human being who is struggling to live and have a life that makes sense to her." Mitchell did not think that Juliet was too surprised that Ben has romantic feelings for her, but "it was horrifying under the circumstances" because she had just found out that Goodwin had died. Michael Emerson thought that his character Ben was childish when he shouted "you're mine!" to Juliet; Mitchell compared him to "a twelve-year-old boy throwing a temper tantrum over ... his first love". Mitchell said that "it was emotionally draining shooting this episode" because she was intimidated by Emerson and Matthew Fox's acting skills.
Co-executive producer and staff writer Adam Horowitz stated that "It's always interesting to pull back another layer on one of our characters, and to see another chapter in Juliet's story on the island and bring us to where she is now was great", while fellow co-executive producer and staff writer Edward Kitsis thought that "the interesting thing about the episode is the way Ben looks at Juliet ... everything is informed by that look." Horowitz also enjoyed the juxtaposition of Juliet's character development with the revelations on the "freighter folk". Kitsis picked the episode's final scene where Hugo "Hurley" Reyes (Jorge Garcia) and James "Sawyer" Ford (Josh Holloway) discover that Ben has negotiated his release and will be dining with them that evening as his favorite of the episode. Actress Rebecca Mader, who plays Charlotte, said that she was "so excited" for the episode to air because she thought that it was "even better" than the previous episode, which is widely regarded as one of the best episodes of the series. Charlotte knocks Kate unconscious with the barrel of her gun and asks "what?" to a speechless Daniel in "The Other Woman". Mader found this hilarious and described it as "the pinnacle of [her] career".
Andrea Roth makes her first appearance as Harper in "The Other Woman". During casting in early October, Harper was described as "a tough, no-nonsense and beautiful [therapist who has a tendency to be] overly controlling and obsessive." The character was also noted as a recurring role; however, Harper did not make another appearance in the season. The writers have since stated that she will eventually reappear. A jungle scene with Mitchell, Fox and Roth was filmed until 4:00 a.m. on October 27, 2007 with industrial sprinklers and Mitchell referred to this as her "most intense experience on the show". Harper's appearance and disappearance in this scene are sudden so fans speculated that this was actually an apparition or manifestation of the island's black smoke monster. This was refuted by Lost's writers.
Named after William Shakespeare's 1610 play of the same name, the Tempest first appears in "The Other Woman" and is apparently alluded to on an unseen layer of the Dharma "Swan" station's blast door map of the second season. The writers wanted to explain some of the island's history in the fourth season and decided that "The Other Woman" would reveal where the gas that Ben used came from and that Dharma had stations set up for protection against hostile forces. They also enjoy having Goodwin on the show and wanted to bring him back. "The Other Woman" had commenced filming by October 11, 2007 and was completed on October 30.
"The Other Woman" contains Jack and Juliet's second kiss. Juliet was conceived by the writers as the next possible love interest for Jack after the death of the second season character Ana Lucia Cortez (Michelle Rodriguez). Fans hated Ana Lucia so the writers did not pursue the romantic story arc. Mitchell guesses that her character was created because "they needed a bridge between Ben and everyone else, and they needed someone to come in and be a little salt in the oyster of Jack and Kate." She believes that Juliet did genuinely fall in love with Jack, but not knowing whether "her attraction to Jack or her willingness to do anything to get off the island" is more important to her. Juliet forms something of a "love rectangle" with Jack, Kate and Sawyer. Mitchell "feel[s] like [Jack and Juliet have] a very grown-up relationship. They seem to really respect and like each other", whereas Sawyer and Kate are like "rambunctious teenagers". The couple has gained an Internet fandom and been given the portmanteau nickname "Jacket".
"The Other Woman" was watched live or recorded and watched within five hours of broadcast by 13.008 million viewers in the United States, ranking seventh for the week in television programs with the most viewers and achieving a 5.4/13 in the coveted adults aged eighteen to forty-nine demographic. Including those who watched within seven days of broadcast, the episode was watched by a total of 14.933 million American viewers; this number went toward the season's average. 1.439 million Canadians watched it, making Lost the eighth highest-rated show of the week. In the United Kingdom, 1.1 million people viewed the episode. The episode brought in 691,000 viewers in Australia, placing it as the twenty-second most watched show of the night.
A common claim by critics of Entertainment Weekly, IGN, SyFy Portal, AOL's TV Squad and BuddyTV was that more was learned about supporting player Ben, instead of Juliet who was centered on in flashbacks. Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly praised Emerson's acting and stated that "in the end, this was really a story about Ben and the lengths he will go to protect himself and the Island from his enemies." SyFy Portal's Dan Compora said that "The more I hate Ben, the more I realize that Michael Emerson is just a very fine actor doing his job." Oscar Dahl of BuddyTV called Emerson an acting "god" and said that "The Other Woman" was "ostensibly a Juliet episode, [but] Ben's presence made a far bigger impression on me". Despite Emerson's shadow, Elizabeth Mitchell received the award for "Best Supporting Actress on Television" at the 34th Saturn Awards in a tie with Summer Glau, who plays Cameron Phillips in FOX's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
"The Other Woman" has been cited as the weakest episode of Lost's fourth season. Despite his claim, Patrick Day of the Los Angeles Times pointed out that "even this so-so episode of Lost stood far above anything else being shown on network TV this season". He noted that the "most heartbreaking scene" was Claire Littleton's (Emilie de Ravin) appearance because it reminded him of how little the character had done to advance the season's plot. BuddyTV's John Kubicek dubbed "The Other Woman" "the worst episode of Lost season four so far" because it "followed the soap opera that is the romantic entanglements of the major players, which is not the reason most people love Lost." Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly graded the episode as a "C–" and called it "the only true dud of the season". He thought that its "story was kinda all over the place" and that "the whole thing felt forced". Jensen was not fond of Andrea Roth's guest performance because he felt that "she came off as too arch and unreal." In contrast, TV Guide's Bruce Fretts praised Roth's "suitably creepy" appearance. Other critics also reviewed the episode as poor. Maureen Ryan of Chicago Tribune said that "The Other Woman" "seemed somewhat pallid and predictable … several elements … felt like they'd been recycled from previous seasons and story arcs." The Star-Ledger's Alan Sepinwall considered the episode to be the second weakest of the fourth season after "Eggtown". He criticized the Tempest storyline due to a lack of explanation for the station's original purpose and thought that Juliet's flashbacks were redundant.
"The Other Woman" was also the subject of mixed reviews. Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that "I really liked this episode, but I liked it less than the [preceding episodes] … it seems that someone took their foot off the gas just a fraction and the reduction in speed was notable. Time's James Poniewozik had mixed feelings for the flashbacks, but enjoyed Ben's character development. Nikki Stafford of Wizard "enjoyed" the "interesting" episode, although "not nearly as much" as the previous episode. She rejoiced at the return of her "favorite Other" Tom (M.C. Gainey) and wrote that "Locke used to be one of [her] favorite characters, but now he's a tool". Digital Spy's Ben Rawson-Jones stated that "the episode came together nicely in the end, with an expected twist and a snog, although for a great part it bordered on tedium. Juliet is a character who simply isn't interesting enough to fully sustain one's attention over a flashback. She's been so peripheral and irrelevant over this season, and it felt like a token gesture to foreground her at last. There was a nice pay off though, with a long awaited smooch between her and Jack." Daniel of TMZ graded the episode as a "C+"; however, he wrote that "the Ben/Locke scenes were great and Juliet in a bikini did not disappoint." TV Squad's Erin Martell was "not impressed with Jack and Juliet's chemistry" and found their kiss "unconvincing". Martell commended Emerson's acting, Ben's one-liners and his "too funny for words" casual greeting to Hurley and Sawyer at the end of the episode after he is released from captivity. The Huffington Post's Jay Glatfelter thought that "this was another great episode [that] could have lived up to last week's episode, but there was still a lot of solid character development."
Verne Gay of Newsday referred to the episode as "yet another brilliant outing by TV's best drama [that] keeps getting better"; she was not the only critic to give a positive review. E!'s Kristin Dos Santos thought that the fight scene between Juliet and Charlotte in the Tempest was "awesome" and suggested that Alan Dale receive a "lifetime achievement award for his parade of marvelously malicious patriarchs", such as Widmore. Chris Carabott of IGN gave the episode a score of eight out of ten and described it as "a good episode of Lost that has all the action, suspense and excitement that this show consistently delivers". Carabott wrote that "seeing how twisted [Ben and Juliet's] 'relationship' really is was fascinating". SyFy Portal's Dan Compora wrote that "this week's episode contributed to what is shaping up to be a pretty solid fourth season. … Fine acting carried the episode despite a few potholes in the plot." Compora also enjoyed the title and the "nice cat fight" in the Tempest between Juliet and Charlotte.