"Maternity Leave" is the 39th episode of Lost. It is the fifteenth episode of the second season. The episode was directed by Jack Bender, and written by Dawn Lambertsen Kelly and Matt Ragghianti. It first aired on March 1, 2006 on ABC. The character of Claire Littleton is featured in the episode's flashbacks.
Aaron has become ill with a rash and fever, and Claire sets off in the night to find Jack. Locke intercedes and goes instead of her. While Locke is gone, Rousseau appears and tells Claire that Aaron is "infected." Claire has a flashback where she remembers being injected with a needle while pregnant. Kate sends Rousseau away, though Claire is now convinced that something is seriously wrong with Aaron.
Jack assures Claire that Aaron is fine and the fever will soon break, but Claire is unsure. She speaks to Libby, who helps her recall memories from the two weeks when she was abducted by an Other named Ethan Rom. Claire remembers what resembles a doctor's office, and Ethan giving her injections. She was confused (apparently drugged) during this entire ordeal, and believed that she was still in Australia and about to leave for the United States.
She also remembers Ethan talking to "Mr. Friendly," only without his beard and wild hair. "Mr. Friendly" tells Ethan he is unhappy that Claire was brought to the facility as the list had not been prepared, and that a higher authority will not be pleased. Ethan tells "Mr. Friendly" that the survivors had a passenger manifest and knew that he (Ethan) was not on the plane.
Claire enlists Kate to help her find Rousseau, and to find a vaccine she remembered from her memories, believing it is the cure for Aaron's ailment. Claire asks Sun to take care of Aaron while she is away. Sun tells her that a mother should never leave her child. Claire asks Sun if she is a mother, and Sun replies "No", agreeing to watch the baby.
Claire and Kate soon find Rousseau, who is puzzled by an increasingly irrational Claire. However, Rousseau takes Claire and Kate back to the place where Rousseau said she found Claire the night Claire returned to camp after her abduction. When she takes them there, Claire wants Rousseau to take her to the room with the vaccine and grows accusatory when Rousseau tells her she doesn't know where the room is.
Claire suddenly notices a stump in the jungle that triggers another memory: of Ethan Rom talking to her about leaving the baby with his group, while she returns to camp. Ethan tells Claire that she does have a choice in the matter. Ethan gives Claire some water from a canteen, and she complains of the sour taste. Ethan tells Claire that her baby is one of the good ones.
Investigating further, the three women find a concealed bunker with the DHARMA logo on it. Unlike the swan symbol in the DHARMA logo on the Facility 3 bunker, the symbol on this bunker is a caduceus. Inside, all but one of the lights are out and the bunker appears to be abandoned. Claire finds rooms familiar to her memories, while Kate investigates another part of the bunker where she discovers a set of lockers. She opens one and discovers tattered clothes inside, as well as a box containing makeup, theatrical glue and a beard — all parts of the disguise worn by "Mr. Friendly" in her previous encounter with him.
Claire locates the refrigerator where she remembered the vaccine being stored: it is now empty. She has a flashback of a young teenaged girl who rescues her from the bunker, telling Claire that the other members of her group plan to take the baby and kill Claire. Rousseau then leaves, telling Claire that she is "not the only one who didn't find what they were looking for." Claire finds a bootie she crocheted last time she was there and puts it in her pack.
Back in the jungle, Claire has one final flashback where she remembers that Rousseau aided her escape, and was not part of the group that kidnapped her. She asks Rousseau about the baby that the Others took from her sixteen years ago. Claire asks if the child was a girl to which Rousseau replies, "Yes, a girl, Alex, Alexandra." Claire then tells Rousseau that a teenaged girl with blue eyes helped her escape: "She wasn't like the others. She was good." Rousseau, on the verge of tears, then warns Claire that if Aaron is infected, she knows what she'll have to do. Claire and Kate return to camp, where Jack tells her Aaron's fever has subsided. Claire then takes out the bootie that she found in the bunker and gives it to Aaron.
Meanwhile, Jack and Locke are trying to decide what to do about their new prisoner, Henry Gale. Locke gives Henry a copy of the Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel The Brothers Karamazov. Henry remarks "Dostoevsky, you don't have any Stephen King?". Locke tells Jack that Ernest Hemingway wanted to be the greatest writer in the world, but felt that he could never escape being in the shadow of Dostoevsky.
Mr. Eko visits the bunker during this time and figures out what is going on. He asks Jack to let him visit with the prisoner, alone, and Jack agrees after Eko implies that he will tell the rest of the camp otherwise. Eko tells Henry about the two men he killed when they tried to abduct him from his camp. Henry asks why Eko is telling him, and Eko replies that he had to tell someone. Eko then cuts two knots out of his beard and leaves.
Locke brings dinner to Henry, who strikes up a conversation about Hemingway and Dostoyevsky. Henry has heard the earlier talk about the authors through the thin walls. Henry asks Locke who he relates to more, but Locke does not have an answer. He then asks Locke why he lets Jack call the shots, but Locke insists that he and Jack make decisions together. Locke locks up Henry and returns to the bunker's kitchen, where he loses his temper and violently sweeps the dishes off the counter.