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Author's Note: Having grown tired of what's currently available on TV I've decided to rewatch some of my all time favorite shows. I'm limiting myself to one episode per week in order to experience the storytelling as it was originally intended, which hopefully will preserve the thrill of having to wait a week to see what happens next. This article covers the LOST episode “Raised By Another", which originally aired on December 1st, 2004.
Previously on LOST: Despite her reservations, Charlie is able to convince Claire to move form the beach camp to the caves. Sayid is captured by Danielle Rousseau but escapes with the knowledge that the Oceanic Flight 815 survivors are not alone on this mysterious island.
Through nine episodes Claire Littleton's character has gone largely undeveloped, serving more as a prop for other characters to interact with. She’s in the late stages of her pregnancy which draws her weekly attention from Jack, as well as Charlie who clearly has romantic interest in the young Australian. After weeks of nagging he has finally convinced her to join him at the cave camp and the perceived safety it offers, but as “Raised By Another” begins we see that staying on the beach might’ve been the wiser move for Claire.
The episode opens in a dream state as Claire wanders through the jungle which is painted in hostile shades of black and blue, a stark contrast to the gorgeous greens it offers in the daylight. She encounters a dream version of Locke, the island’s philosopher, who chastises her for giving her baby away, and that the decision will bring disaster to everyone. She moves on from this disturbing conversation, following the cries of a baby until she finds a crib in the jungle. There’s no infant inside though, and all Claire finds is a pool of blood that paints her hands crimson.
Claire’s screams awaken the entire camp, and it takes Charlie and Jack several moments to get her calmed down enough to tell them what happened. Her dream was so vivid that she injured her own hands by digging her fingernails into her flesh, but unfortunately for Claire the worst is yet to come. The following night she once again cries out in terror, this time claiming that an unknown assailant was trying to inject something into her abdomen. Jack’s medical mind insists that this is nothing but a nightmare brought on by her quickly-approaching delivery date and offers her a sedative, which inspires Claire to return to the beach in frustration.
For the second week in a row Hurley brings civilization to the island, this time in the form of a census inspired by Claire's attack that will help the survivors keep tabs on each other. He spends the day checking in with everyone from Locke to the mysterious Ethan Rom, who we just met in the previous episode. Boone mentions to Hurley that he should crosscheck his census with that of the flight manifest, which of course is in Sawyer’s possession. Hurley pleads to Sawyer’s humanity, and is rewarded with his prize with no need to barter or trade with the camp’s bad boy.
Charlie accompanies Claire on her journey to the beach, and it isn’t long before they’re arguing and the stress of the situation sends Claire into premature contractions. Charlie tries to calm Claire down but she’s had all she can take of the former rock star, especially once he lets it slip that he’s a recently-recovered drug addict. Her trust in him gone she demands he return to the caves to get Jack but Charlie only makes it halfway before he runs into Ethan, who he instructs to get Jack so he can return to comfort Claire. When too much time has passed without the doctor arriving Charlie turns to leave only to find Ethan, staring menacingly at the two of them. This scene is juxtaposed with Sayid returning to camp to announce that there are “Others” on the island, right before Hurley lets Jack know that the flight manifest revealed that one of the survivors wasn’t on the plane.
The flashback is an interesting one on multiple levels, giving us a hint at future events while also explaining why Claire is quick to mistrust Charlie. Pre-crash Claire is full of anxiety when we first meet her and we quickly discover why: she’s pregnant. While she’s initially terrified her boyfriend Thomas assures her that everything will be alright, that starting a family is an adventure that’s worth having. Claire’s friend convinces her to see psychic Richard Malkin and his initial reading of her palm terrifies him so much that he refuses to take her money, leaving the young woman confused. Soon afterwards parenthood doesn’t seem so fun to Thomas, who leaves Claire on her own to deal with the baby. It's easy to understand why she would have trust issues with men.
Claire returns to Malkin and demands he reveal what he saw before, but all he will tell her is that it is of the utmost importance that she raise the baby, which is eerily reminiscent of what Dream Locke said at the beginning of the episode. She leaves but he continues to harass her, calling in the middle of the night and parroting the importance of not giving the baby up for adoption. With Thomas out of the picture Claire simply isn’t ready to raise a child by herself and meets with a couple interested in adopting, but when it comes time to sign the paperwork none of the pens in the meeting work. Between Malkin the psychic and the sudden lack of ink we’re starting to see that magical things don’t just happen on the island in LOST.
Claire ultimately walks away from the adoption and visits Malkin again, who tells her that he’s arranged for a couple in Los Angeles to adopt her baby. He hands her a plane ticket for Oceanic Flight 815, telling her that it must be that flight and no other, and when Claire tells this to Charlie he suggests Malkin’s psychic powers are legitimate because he ultimately got what he wanted: with Claire stranded on the island there is no one else available to care for her child.
“Raised By Another” is a somewhat pedestrian episode, at least until the last five minutes which offer yet another game-changing reveal. Early LOST does this so well, throughout the first two seasons there’s rarely an episode that's obvious filler. While much of “Raised By Another” feels like little more than a character study of Claire, the ending helps set the stage for much of the tension that will plague the survivors for the remainder of this season.
Next week on LOST: “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues”, which delivers the second Jack-focused episode of LOST.