Stranger In A Strange Land was, to all intents and purposes, a woeful episode of Lost. It even knocked The Moth off the top of the ‘Worst Lost Episode Ever’ rankings, in my book. (For all The Moth’s rubbish Charlie flashback and overstated moth metaphor, it did have some good stuff going on elsewhere, like Sayid being hit by a then-unknown Locke when he was trying to triangulate a signal, for example.) And Stranger In A Strange Land’s awfulness can be part-blamed on one woman.
Can anyone spell the word ‘MISTAKE’?
Isabel, for those lucky souls so blissfully unaware, made her one and only appearance in Stranger In A Strange Land as, ostensibly, the sheriff of The Others. Yeah. You read that right. She was that crone that popped up to question Jack and Juliet about Juliet’s potential involvement in a plot against Ben, and the killing of Pickett. She was the one that was apparently able to pass a death sentence on to Juliet, only for Jack to save Juliet’s skin and let her off with just a branding of a weird symbol on her back.
Uh-huh. Can anyone spell the word ‘PROBLEMATIC’?
Let’s take this business with Isabel being a sheriff. With The Others having a sheriff. Firstly, if Ben hadn’t been laid up recovering from spinal surgery then can you really see him ever giving someone else the power to step in and pass judgement? Yeah, sure, he’s a major, bug-eyed control freak over his people but, you know, he’s pretty relaxed about giving one of them power to pass death and judgement over the rest. As if. Isabel even complained about being brought over to the Hydra Island, which suggests she spends all her time living at The Barracks. You’ve got to wonder: What does a sheriff of The Others over at happy Otherville do all day? It doesn’t strike me as a full-time job.
Besides, didn’t Alex say The Others have a pretty strict code when it came to law and order? An eye for an eye? With that kind of doctrine in place then being the sheriff of The Others must be a pretty tough gig, eh? I mean, if the group can’t work out a suitable punishment, and if Ben can’t manage to pass judgement himself, thank God that good old Isabel is on the scene to sort stuff out!
Isabel - “Ben has commuted Juliet’s sentence. Execution is off the table. He says the rules don’t apply. He has, however, ordered her to be marked.”
Brilliant! “The rules don’t apply.” Some sheriff! Can anyone spell the phrase ‘AS USEFUL AS A CHOCOLATE FIREGUARD’?
But wait. Hang around. I’m just getting started. Let’s take a moment to consider what may have happened had Ben not intervened. I mean, if Jack hadn’t got to Ben to change Juliet’s sentence, theoretically Isabel could have had Juliet executed, right? That would have been that. Juliet dead. I mean, it’s not as if we were shown in the episode The Other Woman that Ben is absolutely besotted with Juliet, and that The Others looked to her like she was a possible celebrity saviour!
So what? Kill her! Yeah, sure thing. Can anyone spell the word ‘HORSESHIT’?
But here’s the twist. And ordinarily, I’m a big fan of twists. I think something rubbish can be made into something good if it has a head-turning twist - but in this case I’m making an exception. See, the possible twist suggests that Isabel the sheriff and the trial of Juliet and the threat of execution was all just an elaborate con. A scheme that Ben devised to get Jack to nurse him back to health after his operation.
If there had been a scene at the very end of Stranger In A Strange Land between Ben and Isabel, with Ben congratulating Isabel for a fine performance, then the whole thing would have been improved immeasurably. An ending like that, The Moth would have still been taking pride of place as ‘Worst Lost Episode Ever’. Except that ending never materialised, and there has never been an inclination towards any such trickery being afoot. As far as we are to understand it: Isabel was a sheriff, she could have had Juliet killed, and that’s that. But hey, maybe it’ll all be revealed later on. . .
But I wouldn’t bank on it.
”There was a lot of house cleaning going on. There’s still a group that’s moving towards the temple, but Friendly is dead, and Isabel is dead, and Pryce is dead. Pickett obviously died earlier, Klugh is gone, Mikhail is dead. . .” - Damon Lindelof, August 2nd Podcast
Can anyone spell the phrase ‘PAPERING OVER THE CRACKS’?
For those that missed it, Isabel is dead. Yeah. She was part of that crack unit of Others that went to the Oceanic beach-camp to take pregnant women during Through The Looking Glass. You know, the group of Ryan’s ten best Others. The group that found themselves opening tents filled with dynamite that Sayid, Jin and Bernard shot sniper bullets at to detonate. Isabel was one of them. That’s right. No kidding.
You’re forgiven if you missed it, because they didn’t show it. Can anyone spell the word ‘AFTERTHOUGHT’?
I mean, pardon me if I sound at all cynical, but doesn’t it just seem that after season 3 was finished, Lindelof and Cuse and other high-ranking Lost creators all got together and reviewed what had gone on, and they thought about Isabel and figured, She was a crap idea. What are we going to do with her next season? And so they thought about it for a little while longer and then figured, Screw it. Make her one of those faceless Others that got killed at the end of season 3. That ties that stupid loose end up.
Like the way they shoot racehorses that have a broken leg. It’s the humane thing to do. Got a crap character? Kill ‘em off. It worked for Paulo and Nikki!