"I'm very disappointed with all of you." - the Man in Black
Truly loving Lost means we have to be honest when it misses the mark. And this episode, my friends, was a dud. While Kate episodes aren't known for being the finest hours of the show, this one was particularly distasteful due to some especially uninteresting subplots and irritating character motivations.
How bad was it? Does it truly belong in the company of "Fire + Water" and "Expose"? Was it the next "Stranger in a Strange Land"? I think it'll take a couple more days to properly reflect on how bad it was, but I'm with the majority of you who were unkind to it in the polls.
That said, there's always plenty to discuss, even when it's negative. So here is my review of "What Kate Does".
But before I go there, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who read my first recap last week and posted comments. I deeply appreciate all the feedback and am tremendously grateful for such a warm reception. Please keep letting me know what you think so I can improve my recaps!
For clarification, I'm referring to the on island events in 2007 as the MTL (for main timeline) and the events in the side-flashes as the ATL (for alternate timeline).
The commentary at the bottom of the screen explained that Jin works for Mr. Paik, a supposed Korean mafia boss. But here's the thing - that's not necessarily true. In this universe, Paik might never have turned to a life of shady Korean crime. He could be a philanthropist for all we know. Heck, if not for that letterhead, we wouldn't even know for sure that he's a businessman in the ATL.
This might not seem significant, but the next caption claimed, "On the island, Sun revealed she secretly learned English so she could leave Jin at the Sydney airport and disappear to a new life." Is it being implied that Sun did the same thing in the ATL?
My point is that the things we've learned about these characters over the first 5 seasons aren't necessarily applicable here. The the fact that Hurley is now the luckiest man alive suggests to me that we should expect to come across plenty of differences. So either these enhanced episodes are simply wrong and don't apply to the ATL, or watching them is now critically important.
Luckily, for those of you who, like me, don't particularly enjoy being spoon-fed information this way, we have every reason to believe that the facts in the enhanced episodes are erroneous. Case in point: When Zach and Emma showed up on screen, a caption wrongly claimed that their parents died in the crash of 815. We know this to be false, as Emma explained in "The Other 48 Days" that they were going to meet their mother in Los Angeles. She didn't die on the flight.
I guess my point is, ignore the enhanced episodes. They are lies - all lies! We shouldn't assume anything about the ATL until we see it for real.
To be fair, the Kate parts weren't the worst thing about this episode. Let's start with them.
During my first viewing of "LA X", I mistakenly thought that Kate clung to Jack for so long when she came out of the bathroom because she recognized him. But after watching the episode again, I don't think so - she just wanted his pen (and Jack, for his part, was all-too-happy to let this pretty lady lay her hands on him). So if Kate didn't recognize Jack while she was feeling him up on the plane, why did she recognize him in a distant glance during a frantic escape scene?
I think I have an answer. Let's consider the timelines side by side. In the ATL, where the turbulence subsides and the plane doesn't crash, Jack heads to the bathroom at some later point and doesn't recognize Kate. But in the simultaneously occurring timeline where the plane does crash, he hasn't necessarily met her yet. Kate and Jack don't cross paths on the island until after the crash sequence when Jack goes for some alone time to stitch himself up. There's no way to be certain how much time has elapsed, but it's quite possible that outside the plane bathroom, Jack and Kate don't remember each other because they haven't yet met on the island.
But by the time Kate's making her escape in the taxi, several hours have come and gone since the turbulence. On the island, Jack and Kate are forming a tight bond. And that is why, upon seeing him now, Kate is transfixed. Maybe.
Kate then goes to some car mechanic to get her handcuffs removed. At first, I thought the man behind the protective eyegear was so going to be Tom the Other. Wouldn't it make sense that in the ATL, gay Tom is an auto mechanic? But alas, just some (rather helpful) guy.
After digging through Claire's baby stuff and feeling guilty, she goes back for the Aussie, who's surprisingly willing to accept a ride from a handgun-wielding fugitive. It's possible to chalk this up to Claire recalling Kate from the other reality on a distant, subconscious level, and thus trusting her. But if we precede along the lines of the people remembering each other theory that I just proposed, Kate and Claire probably wouldn't remember each other yet, as they don't share a scene together on the island until much later.
Claire is having second thoughts about giving up the baby, and to top it off, the adopting couple doesn't want the baby anymore. The potential mom cites her husband leaving as the reason. This wasn't really working for me as a plot development. It seemed like a lazy way to remove the adoption possibility. But it makes me wonder whether Richard Malkin was still the one who sent Claire to Los Angeles.
We've been led to believe that he put Claire on the plane knowing that it would crash and that she would be forced to raise her baby rather than give it up. Would he still send her to LA if he didn't foresee the crash? Of course, as things turned out, Claire only ended up raising her baby under the crash scenario for about 100 days, anyway. And Malkin did tell Mr. Eko that he wasn't a real psychic. In any case, I'd love to run into Malkin again in any timeline.
Interestingly enough, Claire names her baby Aaron in a moment of panic that is both very similar and very different to the way in which he was named in season 1. On the island, Claire doesn't name her baby until Rousseau kidnaps him a few days after his birth. In the ATL, Aaron's name comes 40 days early, but also under duress.
Events in the ATL end in kind of a weird place. Claire doesn't have her baby then and there, but it seems that she'll probably keep it. Kate takes off. For a Kate episode, though, we didn't learn very much about her alternate character. Kate says to Claire, "Would you believe me if I said I was innocent?" But we don't know whether she's innocent or not in this timeline. And if supplemental Lost content is to be believed, she in fact killed someone other than her father. I would have liked to hear about some of that rather than focusing so exclusively on Claire, happy though I was to have her back.
But apparently that's not okay with Temple Others Dogen (Samurai guy) and Lennon (literally, John Lennon). The fact that they quickly dispatch a team to bring Sawyer back gives credence to the theory that the Others need the people who were touched by Jacob for something.
Kate, Jin and two Others head out to recover Sawyer. And guess what - one of the Others is Aldo, vigilant guard of Room 23 (and I thought he was blown up at the beach raid in "Through the Looking Glass"!). I kind of liked Aldo showing up, mainly because he adds a degree of continuity to the Others, which is something the Others sorely lack most of the time. Apparently he's been holding a grudge against Kate for knocking him unconscious three years ago, motivating him to spend the entire episode as an incompetent jerk. But he's an Other, so I guess we shouldn't expect anything other than constant, needless violence and threats from him.
The Sawyer-recovery team encounters some jungle booby traps reminiscent of Rousseau, though it's remarked that she's been dead for years. Rousseau was all over this episode, thematically speaking. Kate and Jin manage to escape Aldo and his pal, only to discover that they've got different goals - Jin wants to find Sun and the Ajira plane, while Kate wants to look for Sawyer (and Claire, as it turns out). So of course it's Jin who actually runs into Claire, looking decidedly Rousseau-esque. It's strongly hinted that she's the one setting the traps. She also kills Aldo and the other guy in an episode that's counting for double points in the Fantasy League. Thanks, Claire, for losing me so many points I might as well have picked the Smoke Monster.
It's nice to see Claire's on island counterpart again, though. It'll be exciting to hear her speak (hopefully next week). I like the parallelism between her and Rousseau. They have a history, and it looks like Claire has very much taken over the French chick's roll as roaming island crazy person.
More on Claire in a bit.
Meanwhile, Kate finds Sawyer at the Barracks continuing to mourn Juliet. He even digs an engagement ring out the floorboards of his old house and, like Desmond in "Flashes Before Your Eyes", he chucks it into the ocean. He won't go back to the Temple with Kate, though it's not entirely clear that she's headed back there, anyway. If the Others' goal is really to unite the "Touched", they're sure doing a lousy job.
Speaking of the Others...
I'm realizing that I've actually been annoyed with them for a long time, but it's only just sunk in now that they've really been in our faces for two straight hours. It's hard to tell what's more infuriating - their refusal to answer any questions (answers that would make things easier on us, the Losties, and the Others, too) or their illogical and extreme violence.
The treatment of Sayid in "What Kate Does" is an excellent example of this. They could have explained that they needed to test him for the infection before they actually did it and possibly gained his cooperation. But alas, no Other can pass up an opportunity to torture someone without explaining why. They also could have talked with Jack about their reasons for wanting to kill Sayid all over again, instead of trying to trick him into it.
We may have actually stumbled across clues to the nature of the sickness, but Jack had to do some serious arm-twisting to get them. Check out that ashy smoke that Dogen sprays on Sayid. Related to the circle of ash that keeps away the Smoke Monster? Quite possibly.
Since Dogen used the same words as Rousseau - i.e., "infected" and "sick" - I'm going to venture that this sickness afflicting Sayid is the same one that claimed the lives of Rousseau's team. But this creates some inconsistencies. We pretty much know how Rousseau's team got sick: the Smoke Monster did something to them. It would then make sense that ash is used in both the sickness "test" and to protect oneself from Smokey. But how did Sayid catch the sickness? We've known his whereabouts almost the entire time he's been back on the island, and he never encountered the Smoke Monster. I guess going into the Spring could have something to do with it (on account of the water being murky), but Dogen and a couple Others went in there, too, and I'm assuming they're not sick.
But instead of telling Jack anything concrete or meaningful about the sickness, Dogen sidesteps questions by revealing that it "claimed" his sister - Claire. Does this mean Claire is going crazy and leaving traps because she's infected? That's a little strange, as Claire is acting like Rousseau, who is the one verifiable person that didn't get infected. Personally, I have trouble taking the Others at their word. But if he's telling the truth, we'll need to be shown some sort of flashback involving Claire and Dogen. But shooting Aldo doesn't make Claire an "infected" person in my book, yet.
You know what would be really helpful for the pro-Jacob forces on the island (which, as far as I can tell, is everyone except Flocke)? A Q and A session. The Others can share what they know, and the Losties will do the same. No one has to be tortured or poisoned or beaten up or shot at. But in typical Others fashion, none of them are talking.
I'm not done picking on the Others yet.
Who does this Dogen guy think he is, anyway? He tells Jack that he needs to remain separate from the people he's in charge of. What does that make him, Leader of the Others # 842?
Deciphering the Others' hierarchy has been a goal of Lost fans ever since Benry Gale claimed that bearded Tom was not the leader. That was four seasons ago. One would think we'd stop running into people claiming to be in charge of the Others by now.
Tom, Klugh and Isabel were possibilities a long, long time ago. Stronger contenders included Charles Widmore, Eloise Hawking, Benjamin Linus and John Locke, who have all claimed to be the leader. And when finally it's looking like the guy with the real authority has been Richard Alpert (on Jacob's behalf) all along, Dogen appears. Is Dogen above Richard? I hope not, as that would really mess with my conception of the Others. I'd like to believe Dogen is lower on the chain than the "official" leader bracket, but I can't really picture him taking orders from the likes of Ben.
Maybe the Temple Others don't fit into the chain of command. Maybe they're a distinct group. But let's not forget that Cindy and the kids have been with the Ben/Richard gang AND the Dogen gang, so they can't be too distinct. That said, I really can't picture many of these Others having ever lived in the Barracks or been part of Juliet's book club. (Not that I can really picture any of the Others having ever lived at the Barracks anymore.)
Sometimes they're ghost-like killing machines. Sometimes they're primitive. Sometimes they live in houses and eat chicken out of the refrigerator. They've dressed like regular people, pirates, savages and the U.S. military. I'm not sure I want to know who these people are anymore, because I'm not sure there's an answer that would satisfy me.
Actually, I think I'd be perfectly happy if Flocke showed up at the Temple next week and killed all of them, leaving only the Losties alive. At the very least, a change of scenery sometime soon would be nice. Basking in the glow of the Others' incompetence and inconsistencies isn't doing Lost much good, and is the real reason, in my opinion, that this episode was so unappealing.
2) I like Lennon better than Dogen, mainly because he hasn't claimed to be the leader of the Others yet.
3) What was with the baseball? Perhaps it was meant to remind us that like the Red Sox, the Others won't ever win the series.
4) Why not tell Jin where the Ajira plane is? Don't they need Sun, too? Is there actually a good reason to keep this information a secret?
5) As I said, I don't think it was the Kate story per se that ruined this episode for me - it was inexplicable Other antics. But you know what didn't help? No Flocke, no Richard, no Ben and no Ilana - easily the most interesting characters right now. Also, no Frank and Sun, which was disappointing after they didn't get much screen time last week, either. AND Hurley and Miles were featured very minimally. If any of those characters had been allowed to contribute a bit more, I don't think this episode would currently be ranked the second lowest ever.
Thankfully, next week's previews looked terrific. Flocke is back in action! Go tear the whole Temple down, Terry!
See you then,
- Robby "Robz888"