When we first meet Juliet Burke, she is an absolute enigma. Who is she, really? What does she want? More importantly, whose side is she really on? As it turns out, knowing where her loyalties lie is moot, since Juliet herself doesn’t always know which side she’s on. She shifts allegiances depending on what works best for her at any given time. However, once she does decide to have someone’s back, you have her loyalty forever, no matter what.
The more we discover about Juliet, the less we seem to know about who she really is. She operates with resigned stoicism and deadpan snark, but she is seen to be friendly and compassionate. She wields guns like she was born holding a rifle in her hand, and she shoots with no hesitation, or, seemingly, remorse, but she also ran a book club. Her ability to shift gears (and personalities) is one of the most fascinating things about her, and why the other characters have such a difficult time trusting her. This fluidity makes her one of the most fascinating characters in the entire cast.
What initially drew me to Juliet was her matter-of-fact attitude towards everything, no matter the situation. She could be running from a smoke monster or pointing a gun at someone’s head; she would still be cool and collected. Just another day for a gun-toting Other. One of the observations made about her by Sawyer is that she would have no problem shooting her gun and killing someone – not because she’s a stone-cold killer, necessarily, but because she’s practical and does what needs to be done. She is capable, independent, and resourceful. When you’re running from someone who wants to hurt you, Juliet is the person you want on your side.
Proof of Juliet’s pragmatic attitude comes to us shortly after her introduction. Juliet is holding Jack captive under the orders of Ben, the Others’ leader, but rather than convincing Jack to operate on Ben’s cancer, she instead asks him to kill Ben during surgery and make it look like an accident. She does this by playing a video that faced away from the surveillance cameras Ben was observing, while having a perfectly measured conversation with Jack that certainly had nothing to do with killing anyone. It is cold and methodical and sneaky as hell.
But I want to make note of Juliet’s compassion as well. She is, after all, a fertility doctor, dedicated to helping women have children. Her quest to cure her sister’s infertility is the crux of her story; her love for her sister informs nearly everything she does, including her desire to leave the island. Her compassion, though, is not a trait she displays readily or often, which leads most people to think she is cold and apathetic.
I loved Juliet Burke from the moment I met her. I simultaneously felt like I wanted to be her and that she embodied every aspect of my personality. To this day, there is no fictional character I feel more connected to on every level. Even after writing all this, I feel like I haven’t truly conveyed how incredibly layered and complex Juliet is, or how much I love and admire her (that would be impossible to do without a lot of capslock and incoherent flailing). In case it’s not clear, Juliet is one of my favorite characters of all time. I probably wouldn’t re-watch Lost so many times if it weren’t for her.