Left Behind was a transitional episode, finally separating the 815 survivors from the Others. Once again we have two distinct groups. Not much new was revealed, but the "us vs. them" stage is reset - with slightly different sides - as we head into the last half of the season.
Juliet Makes Sandwiches Like a Sick Maniac
She must've worked at a deli. In any case, the way Juliet handled Kate's would-be surprise assault reaffirms her hardcore badass status. In my opinion, she's never to be trusted. Notable is the reappearance of Locke's MouseTrap game in the rec room, but I also took a good look at the rack of balls on the pool table behind Kate. It looked like there were two cue balls mixed in amongst the regular balls within the rack. Outside of the rack, where the cue ball ought to be, was the red ball. Perhaps the white balls are the 'good' guys (i.e. Others) living (or soon to be living) amongst our 815 survivors. Juliet would be one, but who would be the other? Perhaps the red ball represents Locke - now broken free from the 815 group and joining the others... at least for a time. Or perhaps (and more likely) I'm just looking a little too deep into the pool table reference. After all, the balls were all changed again 20 seconds later as the camera panned out at the end of the scene.
I loved the exasperation Kate showed as Locke calmly walked into the rec room and announced that he'd be taking a casual stroll with the Others. It's like everyone around her has been taking crazy pills lately. Locke's whole attitude was very interesting - he was cool, collected, even apologetic, yet he was firm and gave no direct answers. He's definitely been issued a copy of the Other's employee handbook. Still, I'm not counting him out.
This may be marked as the episode where Locke "joined" the Others, but I'm not so sure he'll ever be a full-fledged member. Not for lack of the Ben's recruitment either. Examining Locke as a person, he owes no real allegiance to anyone. He's always been a loner, and any attempt at a close relationship with anyone has always failed. Locke is an opportunist, and for this reason I think the Others are once again getting more than they bargained for. I'm sure they've put him on a strict "stop blowing things up" policy, but at the same time Locke is going to do what Locke (or the island) wants him to do. For the time being, the path of opportunity lies with Ben and company, so Locke wisely rolls with it. He's perhaps the one character able to emotionally separate himself from the things the Others have done; the lies, the deception, the kidnappings... Locke's able to put that stuff to the side in order to advance his own agenda.
This is not to say that Locke doesn't feel some type of attachment to his fellow 815 survivors. His plea to bring Kate along may have fallen on deaf ears, but he did try. Locke recognizes Kate as important and resourceful, but wasn't aware of what she'd done. "They're not very forgiving" was their judgement, not his. He probably didn't even try to plead a case for Sayid or Jack. The science of both those characters has been clashing with Locke's faith since day one.
I'm Not Supposed To Be Here
Those were amongst the first words out of Hurley's mouth this episode. He said them as he turned to the ocean and looked into the sky. Although technically meant for Sawyer, it's obvious to me that those words apply to Hurley himself.
More than once I've put forward the theory that Hurley's the key to the whole show, so I won't go into detail about it again. Long story short he shouldn't have been on the plane, wasn't supposed to make the flight, he's not on any 'list', and may be one of the only characters on the island with clean hands.
Hearts and Minds
Hurley's whole banishment con was pretty slick, but I was a little disappointed that Sawyer didn't see it coming. Tricking Sawyer into being nice for a while was pretty funny, especially the scene with Claire and Aaron. Watching him fish, hunt boar with Desmond, and coordinate a pig roast - all good stuff. But grooming him to be their new leader? I think even Hurley would recognize that Sun would be a better candidate.
Halfway through the episode Sawyer tells Desmond "Ive got Hearts and Minds to change". This was of course the title of the episode where Locke gets Boone to let go of Shannon. Interestingly enough, in that episode Boone and Shannon run from the monster and hide in a mangrove tree - exactly the same way Juliet and Kate do this episode.
Still, the Hearts and Minds reference represents what Sawyer must do to gain respect and trust amongst his fellow survivors again. After three months of scathing nicknames and brute force, he must reverse tactics and use sugar and honey. Perhaps more than any other, Sawyer's character has been undergoing the most drastic changes this season. Yet just when the music's playing, the Dharma A-1 is flowing, and the echos of laughter are enough to make even Sawyer smile... he has only to look over at Sun for it all to end. Her "I still haven't forgiven you for what you've done" scowl was enough to remind him of just who exactly he really is.
Backpacking Party - By Invite Only
The whole scene where the Others donned backpacks and masks before gassing the camp seemed very strange to me. Assuming they only left four people behind (Sayid, Jack, Kate, Juliet), why go through such trouble? Two of these people are already bound up and the other two are cooperative... why not just toss them into a single building and gas them all at once? Why gas them at all? Drug them and leave, no? Doesn't make sense.
I thought maybe the masks had less to do with the knockout gas and more to do with the journey they were about to take. Before I saw the cannisters I thought maybe they were travelling through an area where masks were necessary to guard them from the sickness.
Wherever they went, they did it in a such a way that Sayid was unable to track them. "It's as if 50 people just disappeared". Maybe they gassed those they left behind so that they wouldn't see or hear the METHODS they used to leave the camp, rather than just the direction the Others went. Hmmm. Still didn't see any kids, either.
Kate's Backstory - Weak and Repetitive
Jack's traveling to the South Pacific and Desmond's traveling through time. Locke's growing herb and flying through windows. But Kate? Every single one of her flashbacks is the same old story. Iowa's not really interesting to begin with, and I'm sure I'm not the only one getting tired of the inside of that diner.
It's a new twist that Kate meets Cassidy right after Sawyer finishes conning her, but the story didn't really go anywhere. Judging by the overwhelming number of Federal marshals with nothing better to do than stake out her mom's house, this flashback must've occurred right after Kate escapes. Cass helps Kate see mom. Kate helps Cass fulfill her good deed quota by allowing herself to be helped. They share a tender Thelma & Louise moment, hug, and get out of the car scene with minimal lesbianism. Too bad.
I guess the Kate/Cass flashback was meant to parallel the Kate/Juliet story, but you've got explicit trust in one and total mistrust in the other. The only important line I could pick out of the whole thing was her mom's: "You can't help who you love, Kate". The double meaning is so cryptic it could apply to either Sawyer or Jack. It certainly doesn't apply to a coffee-slinging mother's love for her child.
In the end at least Kate seemed to finally get the fact that her mom has forsaken her, opening the door for a future flashback in which we don't need to see the Marshall's very angry grill. And we've finally got confirmation that Sawyer has a kid.
Juliet Just Can't Stop Lying
I think I figured out what the sickness is: it's pathological lying. And the Others are all rampantly infected.
I don't believe for a second that Juliet was gassed while making tea. I'm pretty sure she carried an unconscious Kate out to their place in the jungle, cuffed them together, and then played possum. Watch her reaction as Kate announces her intent to track back to the barracks. Juliet immediately wants to wait until dark because she wants the rain to wash away whatever traces she might have left behind. If they'd both been dragged there by a third party, she wouldn't be so nervous about Kate wanting to backtrack.
In my eyes one of two possibilities exist: the Others really did leave Juliet, but left her as a potential double-agent. They'd do this without telling her, which would give her no dangerous knowledge of where they were going. The other possibility is that Ben and Juliet are still in cahoots, and Juliet is a firm plant in the 815's camp. In this scenario I'd imagine Ben would be promising Juliet something she wanted - another trip off the island.
Either way, Juliet's got a pocket knife and a handcuff key. She knows the deal. Take a good look at her reaction after her "left behind" speech, just as Kate storms off disgusted. Juliet actually looks disappointed in herself, as if she's angry that she's still having to carry on such deception. I think that deception extends beyond the handcuff key - getting Kate to trust her was just another small part of a bigger plan, and Juliet's kinda pissed that it's actually working. She's getting sick of it all.
I will say though, that I imagine Ben's influence will eventually wear off. I'm thinking Juliet's exposure to the 815 camp will somehow bring back the good person she once was. This might happen through guilt or maybe through romantic feelings for Jack - but it will happen. Future prediction: Ben's overconfidence in Juliet's loyalty will come back to bite him in the ass. If I were him I wouldn't completely count on her, just as I wouldn't count on newly-acquired Locke to abide by their 'rules'.
Since the name first appeared on the blast door map, theories that the smoke monster = Cerberus have surfaced. They were all good theories too, and it seems they were confirmed this week. The smoke monster definitely had a three-headed appearance to it, almost as if it were three separate entities coming together to form a larger one. I've also read cool theories about how the clinking chain sound we hear would be the gates of the underworld being opened to let Cerberus out.
Whether the monster IS Cerberus or whether it was just a clever name Kelvin attached to the three-headed entity, I sort of (for once) believed Juliet when she said they "don't know what it is". When it stopped to scan Juliet, we saw no flashback imagry like we did in Eko's episode. At first I was thinking the monster blanked out because Juliet had no past sins to be reconciled. Then again, she just shot Danny. Then I thought maybe it couldn't read her for some reason we don't know just yet. Or maybe Juliet has no past. The way the Others are shrouded in such mystery, I wouldn't be surprised.
The big issue I have with the sonic fence is why Cerberus didn't just go over it. If Kate could climb the fence, surely the smoke monster could fly right over. Watching it flee after being shocked gave it an animal-like quality to me. Maybe it's not as smart as we think it is. Maybe it's ruled by animal instincts. The more I see of it, the more I think this.
Super-Crazy Knockout Gas
When Juliet and Kate finally reach the barracks, Jack's still unconcious from the knockout gas. Didn't that seem a little off? Haven't they been travelling through the jungle all night and into the morning? Why is he still sleeping?
This lends credence to the theory that Juliet brought Kate into the jungle herself, to establish a fugitive-type bond with her. Ben and Juliet could've hatched their plan, Juliet heads off, the Others get ready, and they gas Jack in the morning right before they leave. Or maybe Jack just consumed more of the gas being in such a confined space as that hallway.
Before concluding I'm going to offer up an even wilder theory: Jack's the other plant. Jack is the second cue ball in the 815 rack. Maybe Ben promised him another ticket home, and maybe Juliet knows about it. Maybe that's why Jack was so insistent that Juliet be allowed back to the 815 camp when Sayid was wisely trying to leave her behind. I'm not 100% behind this theory yet, but it did occur to me.
It's tough to say, because Jack's heart is broken. We can't tell if he's moping around because of the Kate/Sawyer thing or because of torn loyalty. I still maintain Ben allowed Kate the hole in her cage, positioned the cameras on Sawyer, and allowed Jack's door to be open - giving him access to the sex show. Ben knew this to be the only way to break Jack's will. If Jack truly is going to act as a double agent, it will be interesting to see what happens. If I had to bet on it, I'm sure his hero complex will override his desire to get off the island.
The telltale sign will be next week, when Jack will have the opportunity to assume his leadership role again. If he does, I'd lean more toward Jack still being somewhat under Ben's influence. If he comes back completely disinterested and forlorn over the whole captivity/Kate thing, I'd be inclined to think he's acting solo.