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League of Inveterate Poets

The out-of-context contextuality of a foolish sage

LOST Retrospective: “Raised By Another” (Season 1, Episode 10)





By on July 28, 2013

(This post is part of a series. I’m blogging through all the episodes of LOST, taking a new look at them in light of what we know now that the series is over. Click here to read my introduction to the series and my thinking behind it.) Click here to see all my LOST posts.

Warning! If you have not watched LOST all the way through to its finale, this essay contains spoilers!

Charlie: “I will never let anything happen to you.”

Claire Littleton

Claire Littleton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quick synopsis: Focus: Claire. Claire has a nightmare (or is it?) in which she follows the sound of a baby crying into the jungle, to find a crib, which instead of a baby contains a pool of blood. In flashbacks, we see Claire in Australia finding out she is pregnant, and then visiting a psychic who sees something about her baby, but freaks out and refuses to tell her what it is. Later he agrees to continue the reading, and tells her that danger surrounds her baby, and that it is absolutely imperative that she raise the baby. Claire ignores his pleas and pursues adoption. But at the last minute she agrees to go with the psychic’s plan, which inexplicably has changed from her raising the baby to givingt the baby to a couple in Los Angeles. He gives her a plane ticket and insists she must be on flight 815 the next day. Back on the island, Claire is attacked in her sleep by someone who tries to stick a needle into her pregnant belly. Claire decides to move back to the beach, but along the way she goes into a false labor. Charlie helps Claire realize that the psychic had tricked her into getting on flight 815 so that she and the baby would end up on the island. Meanwhile, Sayid returns with the news that they are not alone on the island, and Hurley discovers that Ethan was never on the plane. The episode ends with Ethan menacingly confronting Claire and Charlie in the jungle.

“Raised By Another” is yet another brilliant double meaning title. Obviously it refers to Claire’s baby, and her intention to give it up for adoption despite the initial warning of the psychic that only she must raise the child. But it also could refer to Charlie, who emerges as Claire’s protector. Thus though alone in her plight, she is “raised [up] by another.” And it’s Charlie, the selfish “rock god,” who after his rebirth in the moth cave is now ready to give himself for another.

This relationship between Charlie and Claire is the next development in LOST’s “live together or die alone” plan of redemption. Whenever characters move toward each other and take on self-sacrificial roles, they advance in their journey toward their ultimate heavenly reward. Of course, we know that Charlie’s promise to Claire that he will never let anything happen to her will one day be put to the ultimate test.

Claire Littleton's ticket

Claire Littleton’s ticket (Photo credit: wcm1111)

In this episode we get the clearest example so far of the island’s ability to draw its chosen ones to itself. When Claire tries to thwart her predestined role to raise her child, forces conspire against her plans. None of the pens will work when it comes time for her to sign over her parental rights. And when it becomes clear that she is not going to heed the psychic’s warning, he is led to trick her into being on flight 815.

A child represents new birth and new hope. We know that the survivors have been brought to the island to find both of those. But they will not come easily or automatically. They must struggle and suffer to obtain their redemption, and forces have been brought to the island to make sure they do both. The Others are out there, and now we know that Ethan will be the first of those Others to confront them.

We also get more strong hints that Locke is already in some way merging with the island, or at least its dark side, and is its voice. In the initial scene when Claire wanders into the jungle (sleepwalking or in reality, we’re never quite sure), she first encounters Locke sitting at a table dealing out cards (tarot cards?). He angrily upbraids Claire for “giving it away,” telling her that “it” was her responsibility, and now because of her everyone must suffer. When he looks up at her, his eyes are backgammon pieces, one white and one black. This ties back to his backgammon game with Walt in the pilot, and even further back (in time) to the last season where Jacob teaches his brother a game with black and white pieces. Throughout the series we are constantly teased with whether Locke is good or evil, white or black.

 

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