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Lostwatch: No Island is All Man

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SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched Lost yet, avert thine eyes. Besides, aren’t you supposed to be working?

I don’t think I realized until watching last night’s episode how masculine Lost has been this season. Lots of Locke, lots of Jack, lots of Sawyer and Charlie — mucho testosterone-y bluster and bighorn-ram head-butting. The show has basically been thumping its big, hairy chest since September.

So it was good to see part of the island’s female contingent get center stage, in an episode that introduced a nice turn on the flashback device: having Claire flash back to her up-to-now-forgotten abduction, while pregnant, by the Others. When her baby, Aaron, comes down with a fever, she heads for the jungle — with Kate and mysterious Frenchwoman Rousseau — to find the hatch where she was held, and which she believes may hold the cure for the baby’s illness.

The episode offered some overdue spotlight moments for the underutilized Emilie de Ravin as Claire. (As my Aussie editor noted, "That woman does a pitch-perfect drunk Australian. Cheerful and gormless." And I totally agreed with her, at least once I googled the word gormless.) But it was even more notable for creating new sympathy for Rousseau, whose daughter, Alex — abducted by the Others 16 years ago —  was, the episode strongly suggests, discovered to be still alive.

When we first met Rousseau, you’ll recall, there were strong hints that the French scientist-turned-survivalist, with her stories of plague, attacks and abduction, was tout bonkers. While she still may be a few baguettes short of a patisserie, and dangerously volatile, we’ve at least discovered that much of her story seems to check out. Likewise, when Claire first claimed that the Others had tried to abduct her in the middle of the night, she was assumed to be hallucinating. It’s a classic scenario: when a man starts making outlandish conspiracy claims, he’s Fox Mulder. When a woman does it, she’s hysterical. (And — second word of the day — check out the etymology hysteria.)

It’s tempting to suggest that the episode drew out other differences between men and women: that the women, for instance, co-operated and got the job done without a bunch of Jack-vs.-Locke silverback histrionics, and that they (at least Claire and Rousseau) were driven less by anger and revenge than by practical mother’s instinct. But then again, Michael has been missing for several episodes, having himself stormed off into the jungle to retrieve his son Walt from the Others’ clutches. (Remember Michael? Because no one on the show seems to.)

One thing’s for sure: if Jack ever assembles that army to attack the Others head-on, he’d be unwise to forget certain women who showed their mettle last night. And so would Lost’s writers.