Stephen King’s Carrie appears in the opening moments of season three. A group of people gathers at a woman’s house (we later learn that her name is Juliet) to discuss Carrie as part of a book club. Juliet explains that the book “is her all-time favorite book” but the group seems to disagree on its merits and questions Juliet’s taste. Just then, we hear a loud noise and the group rushes out of the house to see what the commotion is. Oceanic 815 is breaking up over ahead and we quickly figure out that the members of the book club are Others. Looking back, it’s hard to remember just how shocking this was, but in this single scene, the Lost creators tore down everything that fans thought they knew about the Others in just three short minutes.
Carrie White is the girl in high school that gets mercilessly picked on by the cool cliques. You feel bad for her but, man, she sure does not make it any easier on herself. The story opens in the gym locker room at Ewen High School. Carrie is the last girl in the shower when she suddenly gets her period. Once the girls in the locker room see the blood trailing down her leg, they begin to loudly mock her and throw a variety of tampons and maxi pads at her. The gym teacher comes running in and is initially horrified at Carrie for not cleaning herself up. However, it quickly becomes clear that Carrie has no idea what’s going on: not only is this her first period but, thanks to a sheltered home life, she doesn’t even know what a period is.
The narrative is interspersed with an array of fictional medical reports, police reports, and journal and magazine articles, all written after the climax of the book. These documents give background on Carrie’s life. Her father died when she was young. Her mother is a mentally unstable Shi’ite Christian whose definition of sinning is so broad as to include menstruating. She continually abuses Carrie – sometimes physically, but often emotionally, and locks Carrie in a closet whenever she “sins.” We also learn that Carrie has some sort of telekinetic powers. When she was 3, after a particularly painful verbal beatdown from her mom, stones suddenly fell from the sky and crushed the White’s house. She has been picked on her entire life and has never had any friends or fit in at school.
After the period incident, Carrie is given time off from school to let the gossip die down. During this time, Carrie begins to harness her telekinetic powers. Eventually she is able to move large pieces of furniture on command just by thinking about it. In the meantime, the school principal (coincidentally named Henry Grayle) suspends Chris Hargensen, the ringleader of the locker room girls, and bans her from the school prom. Hargensen vows revenge against Carrie for making her miss her senior prom.
Sue Snell, one of the locker room girls, begins to feel bad for Carrie. She convinces her boyfriend Tommy Ross to ask Carrie to prom to make her feel better. At first Carrie believes that this is just another trap to make her look like a fool, but she eventually relents and says yes to Tommy. At prom, Carrie and Tommy have a great time. They sit with some of Tommy’s friends and, for the first time, Carrie feels like she actually belongs. King and queen voting is done in couples – because Tommy is so popular, a very nervous Carrie is elected prom queen because she is King Tommy’s date.
Things take a drastic turn for the worse when Carrie and Tommy are called on stage. Unbeknown to anyone else, Chris and her boyfriend hung two buckets of pig blood from the bleachers. Once Carrie takes a seat on her throne, they pull the drawstring, soaking Carrie with the blood. The crowd is momentarily stunned before erupting in laughter. Carrie snaps. Chaos ensues.
Carrie stumbles out of the auditorium and locks the doors behind her using her telekinetic powers. The auditorium lights short out and an electrical fire engulfs the auditorium as the kids are trapped inside. Her work at school done, Carrie begins a rampage of telekinetic destruction through Ewen as she makes her way back home. The town puts out distress calls to neighboring towns for help but Carrie continues on. Eventually she makes it home and kills her mother, but not before her mother stabs her. Now slowly bleeding out, Carrie continues to destroy the town until she winds up at a bar frequented by Chris and her boyfriend. As they try to escape by car, Carrie controls the car with her mind and rams it into a brick wall, killing both of them. Finally, Sue Snell finds Carrie after Sue telepathically senses something is wrong. Carrie spares Sue’s life after she scans her mind and realizes that she wasn’t in on Chris’s plan. Carrie then passes out from loss of blood and dies in Sue’s arms.
My how times have changed. The paperback edition of this book sold over one million copies in 1975 and served as a rallying cry for tormented youth everywhere. After the Columbine tragedy in 1999, if written today, this book would not have been published at all.
For Lost, this book sent us a powerful message about Juliet before we ever really met her. Elizabeth Mitchell as Juliet has an innocent girl-next-door type of look. When we first meet her, she is baking (and burning) muffins for a book club meeting while singing along to Petula Clark’s Downtown. And then we find out that her all-time favorite book is Carrie. Wow. Beneath the smiling, muffin baking, ’60s-pop listening exterior lies an angry, bitter outcast.
Ben was a book club member but was not at the meeting. Adam, another Other, tells us why in this exchange:
ADAM: It’s science-fiction — now I know why Ben isn’t here.
JULIET: Excuse me?
ADAM: I know the host picks the book; but seriously, Julie, he wouldn’t read this in the damn bathroom.
JULIET: Well, Adam, I am the host and I do pick the book. And this is my favorite book. So I am absolutely thrilled that you can’t stand it. Silly me for sinking so low as to select something that Ben wouldn’t like. Here I am thinking that free will still actually exists on–
Juliet is interrupted by the plane breaking up overhead, but her thoughts are clear. She’s the rebel and the outcast. And Ben doesn’t like the book because he doesn’t approve of the message of dissension that the book advocates for. Although Juliet takes Ben’s constant punishment like Carrie, internally she is a ticking time bomb. She doesn’t fit with the Others and eventually she’s going to snap.
Six episodes later, in Not in Portland, we learn a little bit about why Juliet is this way. In her pre-Island life, she was a fertility doctor. Her boss is her ex-husband, a jerk that emotionally abuses her. He flaunts new girlfriends in front of her and threatens to expose certain moral implications of her work if she doesn’t give him co-authorship of her papers. Juliet believes in her work and needs her ex-husband’s prestige to get the funding for it, so she takes the abuse, all the while steaming inside.
Then fate seems to shine upon her. Her husband is run over by a bus and a couple of representatives from a company called Mittelos BioScience offer her a six-month position to study fertility problems. Skeptical at first, Juliet accepts the position. Of course it’s a trap: she is sent to the Island and Ben Linus has no intention of ever letting her leave. Once again her friendly and well-meaning nature has been taken advantage of.
Like Carrie, Juliet is a mistrusting outcast. She’s been mistreated by almost every person she ever cared about besides her sister Rachel. We find out in season five’s The Incident that even as a young child she felt betrayed by her own parents when they divorced.
In season three’s Left Behind, Kate winds up handcuffed to Juliet when the Others leave her behind after they leave the Barracks. Juliet claims that she staged the handcuffing because she didn’t want to be alone, but we later learn that this isn’t exactly true: the Others left her behind on purpose to spy on the Losties. By the time she gets to the Beach Camp, she switches sides again, siding with Jack and the rest of the castaways. None of this should be surprising – Juliet is too distrusting to fully commit to one team.
Juliet might be the most individualistic character in the entire series. Throughout much of season three, Lost fans question Juliet’s motives and whose side she actually was on. Finally, we start to fully trust her in season 5 when she falls in love with Sawyer. But even then she couldn’t make herself completely vulnerable. When Kate joins Juliet and Sawyer on the submarine leaving the Island in The Incident, Juliet commandeers the sub and goes back to the Island because she knew she would never be able to fully trust Sawyer with Kate in the picture. We spent so much time thinking Sawyer and Kate were the outcasts destined to be alone; it turns out that Juliet is an even bigger outcast than either of them.
Carrie was a fun book to read because it was different than a lot of the books in Lost. In most of the books, I’m reading to either learn about the mysteries of the Island or to see where the book influenced a plot in the show. This one was different, as it was essentially an analysis of the personality and inner torment of a main character. We spent the better part of two seasons not being able to fully trust Juliet. But it turns out that was a two-way street. This book showed that the real reason for that is because Juliet was unable to fully trust anyone on the Island. It’s just too bad that Juliet didn’t have telekinetic powers…now that would have been a fantastic episode!