INTRO: Bad Idea
While it may not have been the myth-busting explosion of answers many LOST fans are now eagerly anticipating (and expecting) in this sixth and final season, the third episode “What Kate Does” offered up quite a decent helping of surprises. For the most part the revelations were strictly personality-based. Character-development has always been one of LOST’s strengths since the series premiered, and it is what originally kept me glued to the screen with the need to learn more about each of the survivors’ lives. (OK, ok, the monster noises kept me watching even more...I won’t deny it!) But honestly, historically speaking I have never been a huge fan of the Kate-centric episodes.
Now before any “boos” and “hisses” start flying my way, it is important for me to note that this is not because I always consider the story of Ms. Austen to be what is referred to as “filler”, though we have had a handful of episodes in past seasons that may have fit this bill. Her life on and off the Island has had its share of complexity, emotional turmoil, and total excitement. We all know that Kate and running are like polar bears and fish biscuits. She has demonstrated a strong will to survive no matter what, and a tenacity that has for the most part remained unmatched by any of the other female roles in the show. And of course, Kate has had a severe fondness for getting into all kinds of trouble, with or without a firearm in tow.
I’m just not really a fan of her character’s personality overall, and even though I tend to steer clear of persecuting her in my recaps, snide comments are often going off at a rapid-fire pace secretly inside my head. Please also know my view has nothing to do with Evangeline Lilly’s acting. She’s handled this complex, self-motivated role with true professional style. At times there are even echoes of Sigourney Weaver’s “Ripley” in regards to her strength. Ms. Austen has had some truly amazing moments where my respect for her character has unexpectedly been raised up a level. But in my opinion, overall she just isn’t the most likable person there is in the LOST universe.
With that being said, the new timeline is offering Kate a lot of potential, and I must say that this episode was an exception to my usual view of her story. I definitely enjoyed the unfolding tale of how she handled herself in this installment, especially in relation to Claire, and towards the end actually found myself wanting more.
When we last left Kate at LAX, she was, surprise (!) running from that darn Marshall Mars again in a cab she hijacked with poor Claire already in the backseat. It was great to see David H. Lawrence, if only briefly, as the flustered cab driver. He did a tremendous job even with this minor role, though a small part of me kept hoping he would bust out some superpowers and take control of Kate like he would do as Eric Doyle the “Puppet Master” on NBC’s Heroes. I loved when he frantically bailed out of the cab and left the wheel to Kate.
Is it just me or did that mechanic who helped her lose the “bracelets” look familiar? He reminded me of someone from her past. Wait. This whole Timeline X thing is really messing with my head. I want to refer to Kate’s past flashbacks, but if things have changed then I suppose I can’t necessarily count on knowing her life as before. None of us know really how much of our survivors’ pasts had been altered by the bomb’s explosion and its subsequent “butterfly-effect” through time. Oddly though, not enough changed to keep certain people from meeting and affecting each other’s lives in Timeline X just as they always had in the normal course of events.
For instance, we’ve now seen Kate and Claire team up in both normal time and X-time. Now, logic tells me that Claire would have immediately gotten out of that cab and called the police to report the hijacking and stolen luggage. And even though this is a TV show where small things like this are more than likely left out for the sake of the overall plot, I still want to try to explain it somehow. So perhaps, just as Jack seemed to have a little case of déjà vu on the plane, and just as Kate seemed to recognize Jack on some deeper level as she was escaping the terminal, Claire also had some indefinable knowledge deep down that she and Kate needed to reconnect. Now we can almost begin to draw a parallel line between events on the Island and events in Timeline X. Whereas Kate returns to the Island in 2007 to search for Claire, in 2004 off-Island Kate also loses her, and then returns to find her. Now I’m no Eloise Hawking, but it sure sounds like a little case of the ol’ course-correction to me.
Song for the Dumped
Even in the new timeline it would seem Claire was also meant to keep her baby. This makes me wonder once again about the psychic Charles Malkin, and whether or not he knew the “nice couple in Los Angeles” was going to be a lost cause. Was he just giving Claire false hope by sending her to the states? In our original timeline, he tried to tell Claire that she needed to raise the child on her own, but then later told her he found parents who were “good people” that would adopt her baby. I always wondered if he actually foresaw the plane crash and knew that this would be the only way to force Claire into raising Aaron herself.
Now I am wondering the same thing for Timeline X, and if instead of the crash of Flight 815 Charles saw the couple splitting up, again forcing Claire to be on her own with the child. The other part of this mystery is the fact that Charles told Eko that he was a fake. I’ve always thought that Charles only said that to Eko to get the church to leave his family alone. If you remember, his daughter Charlotte was clinically dead for a brief amount of time when she, much like Sayid, passed through the Other Side during death and was able to communicate with Eko’s dead brother Yemi. To me it seemed the writers were hinting that some kind of ability did indeed run in the Malkin family. Then again, at this point it is hard to know if Claire even went to see the psychic at all in this timeline. However, my thought is that she did, since she had obviously still travelled to the states to meet the people in L.A. who were going to adopt Aaron.
How convenient that the news of that broken marriage sent Claire into labor with Kate right by her side to help out. The fact that Kate risked her own freedom to get Claire to the hospital was one of the moments that made me think better of her character. She was obviously drawn to Claire, as you could see a faint glimmer of recognition when she was searching through Claire’s luggage and found the same type of stuffed whale that Aaron had played with during her time raising him in our “normal” chain of events. Again it seems that these two different timelines overlap and connect in some way. Once more Kate is there with Claire for the birth of Aaron, and even though it was a false alarm, I get the feeling that she will still be there whenever Claire does decide to go through with it. Kate didn’t consciously know why she was holding Claire’s hand during the ordeal, why she was drawn to this total stranger, and why she immediately cared for her well-being. Claire didn’t consciously know why she started calling her child Aaron, as she said it just came to her.
I was totally surprised to see our old friend Ethan as Claire’s doctor once again. He seems like a much gentler, well-adjusted person in the new timeline. There was a great moment when he mentioned how he didn’t wish to stick a bunch of needles into Claire if he didn’t have to which directly corresponds to the episode “Maternity Leave” where we saw him do that very thing. I also noticed that his last name was Goodspeed instead of Rom. This is interesting and makes me ponder what happened on the Island in our normal timeline that gave him a different last name than his parents. My best guess is that right before the incident Horace sent Amy and baby Ethan off-Island via the submarine, just as Dr. Chang had ordered. It is possible that once on the mainland she either reverted to using her maiden name, which could have been Rom, or she remarried someone else with the name. At some point Ethan may have been recruited by the Others to return to the Island as their go-to doctor/fix-it man. Of course I could be wrong about all of this, and I am hoping at some point this little bit of missing info from the story comes back into play.
Battle of Who Could Care Less
Back in the regular timeline on the Island, Sawyer was staging his own great escape. At that point he was pretty much of the mindset that he was going to leave the Temple and the Others were going to have to shoot him to stop him. What was most interesting to me was the fact they let him go without much of a fight. I was under the impression that Jacob needed the entire party to stick around, at least while the Lockeness Monster was roaming about. Perhaps if Dogen and the gang had not been so stingy with their secrets and explained better why our survivors were so important, Sawyer would have potentially seen things a little differently. The again, the man was so bitter and grief-stricken he still probably still wouldn’t have cared.
I did love how Kate acted as if she had some kind of say in the situation. It’s evident that she under-estimated Sawyer’s deep love for Juliet, and up until this point she had been speaking to him in ways that might make one think she believed he still held the torch for her. You could see her self-confidence rear up as she pulled out one of those classic hurt puppy looks that she keeps tucked away for when she wants a man to do something for her. She called his name as if she expected him to just drop everything. It was oh-so-excellent to see this quickly stifled by Sawyer’s determination to leave, and lack of concern for Kate and her attempt to stick her nose into his plan.
Satan Is My Master
At the same time, I couldn’t be happier than I am to see Miles and Hurley continuing to serve as the comedic duo of the bunch. With Sayid recovering from his adventure through the Underworld, Jack moping in the corner like a kid in time-out, and Sawyer seeing the world through funeral-colored glasses, we needed a little levity, and these two have steadily provided it. The first thing that gave me the giggles was Miles’ way of catching Sayid up with the latest developments. He says as sarcastically as humanly possible, “Yeah, and as you can see, Hugo here has assumed the leadership position, so…that's pretty great.”
Yeah Miles, it IS pretty great! If there is anyone in the group who can be counted on to be a just leader, it’s Hurley. Sure he’s no firearms expert, and he won’t be winning any shootouts. No, he can’t break a man’s neck with a swipe of his ankles, either. But give the man a DHARMA van, and he’ll run you down like nobody’s business.
In essence, Hurley is basically the most selfless character on the show. If we put aside his early issues with the Hatch food pantry way back in season 2, we can say that he has consistently demonstrated the desire to help others and he has done all he could do in the attempt to make them happy. Hurley has done everything from building a golf-course in order to alleviate post-crash depression, to putting his own reputation on the line to try and help Sawyer become accepted by the group during his more anti-social days on the Island.
Everyone else, whether they are “the good guys” or not, only too often make decisions motivated by their own demons and desires. Meanwhile Hurley is the most genuinely caring and giving of anyone on the entire show. I could definitely see him as the one leader out of all of them who is likely to make decisions purely based on what’s fair, what’s safe, and perhaps even what’s fun. How ironic it is that his own life is plagued with so much “bad luck”. He is really just a good soul through and through.
Not at all like, say, a zombie! The fact that the LOST writers take the time to include little winks to the hardcore fan base is one of the reasons why I love the show so very much. But I never would have guessed we would get such a straight-forward shout-out to the now legendary Zombie Season. This is what fans refer to when discussing the prospect of yet another year of the show where all of the characters who have died in the past are brought back to life, as zombies of course. Sayid’s blank expression and deadpan delivery of the answer to Hurley’s inquiry made me literally fall over in my seat, “No…I am not…a zombie”. I am still giggling about it even as I write this, as it was worth a few rewinds just to re-watch this little exchange.
Selfless, Cold and Composed
It’s a good thing Dogen performed his little experiment on Sayid in private, or else Hurley for one would have had another major protest about how the Temple Others were treating our beloved Iraqi. Ah, how the Life and Death of Sayid Jarrah overfloweth with irony. Besides the whole Sayid-shoots-Ben, Sayid-gets-shot-by-Ben’s-dad coupling, we’ve now had the former torturer laid out on a table reminiscent of his time spent in captivity by Rousseau and witnessed him on the receiving end of one very strange, painful ordeal.
What kind of voodoo did Dogen do, anyway? POOF! A little cloud of black powder was spread over Sayid’s abdomen. ZAP! A healthy jolt was provided from old-school electro-shock therapy. SIZZLE! Some hot-poker action was administered to scorch his side. Sayid screamed and pleaded for Dogen to explain why he was being treated like a lab rat, yet Dogen just remained entirely silent the whole time. I for one am growing tired of Dogen’s consistent lack of dialogue, as well his bedside manner leaves something to be desired. It matters to me not that there is an immediate threat that was driving his actions. I am getting quite impatient in the long wait for this man of what appears to be both science and faith to give us some straightforward answers.
Thank goodness Jack felt the same way. It’s about time someone really stood up and demanded to know what all the secrecy is about and why in Jacob’s name they felt the need to torture poor, dear Dead but Here Sayid. Dogen then attempted to play the “redemption card” against Jack as he knew that Sheppard was feeling a tad guilty about all the bad decisions he had made while on the Island. Just like Richard’s crew, these Others seemed to know everything about our survivors, and did not hesitate to use this information to manipulate and motivate them towards some still unknown goal.
But Jack really shined in this part of the episode as he debated whether or not to have Sayid take the pill that Dogen had whipped up in his little garden of herbal delights. His usual stubbornness is now being channeled towards learning exactly what these Temple folks are all about. It really shows how far Jack has come from his earlier days of needing to blindly take charge of every situation in an attempt to “fix things”. He now seems much more humbled and accepting of his shortcomings. At the same time, recent events (i.e. Jughead) seem to have given him a new attitude, and he longer just allowed the new Others to make demands of him without giving him a reason. Jack has always been a brave fellow, but he kicked it up a notch when he decided to call Dogen’s bluff and swallow the pill intended for Sayid. I believe we have a new Sheppard catch-phrase in the form of, “I don't trust myself. How am I supposed to trust you?”
Indeed it was a shock to learn the pill was poison. However, Jack’s move forced Dogen to reveal his intentions and we finally learned why he had been “diagnosing” Sayid. Of course what we received was pretty much the same type of vague, partial explanation that LOST usually provides us, as it only brought about more questions.
Sayid had been “claimed”, but now we must ask, claimed by who? The most obvious choice would be the Monster in Black. For one thing, Dogen’s test reminded me of ways in which the Monster operates. During the torture scene, it appeared that he covered Sayid with black ash, which we now know the Monster expresses an aversion to. In addition, the Monster seems to have some type of electrical static charge as it moves around the Island. This is reminiscent of the electric-shock portion of Dogen’s investigation. Finally, at this point it is safe to say the Monster uses the dead, typically by taking their form and speaking through them to manipulate our survivors. So does this mean that when a person dies on the Island (or arrives dead) the Monster has the ability to “infect” them somehow and either brings them back to life or take control of their body for his own purpose? Another question I have is in regards to the time it takes for the “darkness” to take effect. What takes it so long?
And why on earth did Dogen say that Jack’s sister Claire was also filled with this “darkness”? My thoughts on this in a bit.
Don't Change Your Plans
Meanwhile Kate, Jin and two Others named Aldo and Justin were on a little jungle adventure of their own. Kate once again used her master manipulation skills to convince the Others that she could bring Sawyer back to the Temple. Most of this part of the episode was a bit annoying and predictable to be honest. Actually, perhaps it was just the Aldo character.
I’ve heard a lot of people in the LOST fan community express a fondness for Aldo, who we first met back in season 3 at the Hydra station. However, I found these scenes to be too over-the-top, especially Rob McElhenney's acting. I did however enjoy his description of the Monster to Kate, as “a big pillar of black smoke, makes a tikka-tikka sound, looks pissed off”. But as far as the rest of this part of the story went, it was just meh. For one thing, Aldo’s disdain of Kate was not portrayed as very realistic, but instead was bordering on comical. And really, it’s just ridiculous to me that he was so willing to just shoot Kate and Jin when the Others were supposedly trying to protect them all.
The character of Justin was by contrast very likable and reasonable. He saved Kate from a giant rock-filled trap only to then be knocked out by it himself. He actually tried to answer questions even though he was consistently quieted by Aldo. Justin even attempted to calm Aldo’s trigger-happiness by reminding him that Jin is “one of them”. I am guessing he means the special ones from Jacob’s list, as in the group that Jacob personally touched and brought to the Island to fulfill a purpose that we still have not learned. It was unfortunate that his fate was the same as Aldo’s, as they were both shot dead in the end.
The best part of the episode (besides the mention of zombies) was also the most emotional. Lately it seems that every time something major happens to Sawyer’s character I get the pleasure of being amazed by Josh Holloway’s portrayal of his reaction. In one of the most heart-wrenching moments ever on LOST, we learned that Sawyer had been planning to propose to Juliet. I don’t know what Holloway was channeling to bring himself to tears in this scene, but it was extremely convincing. As he sat with Kate and cried we learned that he actually took that blame for Juliet’s death by asking her to stay on the Island instead of letting her take off after it had been moved.
Without saying it in words, I believe he was letting Kate know that it was his sadness from losing her that was directly related to his need for Juliet’s comfort after he had dived off of the helicopter. Whether or not Kate got the hint, Sawyer was definitely more than direct in letting her know that he really didn’t want her around the barracks at that point, and suggested that she immediately head back to the Temple before nightfall.
Best Imitation of Myself
Of course the major shocker came in the form of the first appearance of Claire on the Island since season 4. At this point it would appear that she has taken the same type of role as Danielle Rousseau once had. This is another woman who lost her baby and has been forced to survive in the jungle alone with a gun and some clever traps. How she managed to get a giant net full of rocks up into the trees is a mystery, but perhaps when you have been claimed you have a little extra strength and stamina. I suppose now the questions are why and how she is also infected with the same darkness that is apparently taking over Sayid.
In my article on season 4’s episode “Something Nice Back Home” I explained Claire had more than likely been killed by the explosion when the freighter people blew up her home or she possibly died shortly thereafter. The last she was seen by any of our survivors was when Miles saw her walking off into the jungle with the form of Christian Sheppard. We can now look at this scenario in a new light, for if Christian was the Monster in human form, then we might have a reason to believe that this is when Claire was claimed. It makes more sense now, and explains why Aaron was left behind in the jungle. Claire is no longer herself, as many of us already had noticed when she showed up again in “Cabin Fever”. It is almost as if the Monster collects the dead, but the reason has yet to be revealed.
It is even stranger to me that she is just left to live in the woods on her own, that is, unless she has been given a certain task by her new master. For example, she may be protecting the Island in the same way that Rousseau’s crew was after their encounter with the Monster. They all came out from that hole in the Temple wall looking the same, but with a new purpose. Either way, it will be interesting to see what Claire is like now and how she treats her fellow Flight 815 passengers, if she even remembers them.
By the end of the episode we had witnessed several situations which seemed to serve the purpose of splintering the plot a bit. Sawyer went off on his own. Jin left to search for Sun but then ran into "Claire Rousseau”. Kate is also somewhere in the jungle, and we have two groups of Others on different sides of the Island. This is most definitely a set-up, and I predict the next few episodes will involve a scenario where everyone makes their way towards a major re-grouping and subsequent face-off with the Lockeness Monster.
It was nice to see Kate’s character develop a bit more, as the long-standing issue of her constant indecision between Jack and Sawyer has finally been resolved. I am sure there are some very disappointed ‘shippers’ out there who have been waiting for many seasons to see Sawyer & Freckles become a real couple. This chapter has been given some closure, which is probably for the best. It is a much better fit for Kate’s current state of mind, as the only guy that Kate has truly and consistently seemed to love has actually been Aaron. This is what motivates her now, and I really am excited to see her and Claire finally reunite no matter how much “darkness” Claire is filled with at this point in time.
In essence this installment was not as Kate-centric as some of her episodes have been, but instead was much more balanced. If anything, it was somewhat Claire-centric as well. Overall I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that “What Kate Does” was filler. Instead, to me it seemed like the necessary pause before a much deeper conversation. I for one am looking forward to the discussion to come.
*I write about LOST because I love the challenge of deciphering the clues and adding the pieces together. My thoughts are based solely on the show and random research, as I try to avoid spoilers, promos, and even future episode titles. I love to guess what is going on, but I also like to do so in a way that leaves some of the conclusions still up to you. I do not know the answers and am often wrong. Whatever the truth turns out to be, it has been the journey that has been the most meaningful to me.*