A Kate-centric episode? GASP! The horror.
When it comes to any episode that's centered around Kate, there are some LOST fans that will never be pleased. If Kate is selfish and self-centered, she's villainized. If she pulls a few selfless acts (as in tonight's case), the episode is declared boring or slow-paced. Action-packed writing is great, but character-driven writing is what has always made LOST stand out from other TV shows. The recipe for LOST's success has been an equal amount of both, which is why we can't always jump on the 'lame, boring, filler' bandwagon whenever it rolls into town.
Last night's episode was good but not great, but even a good episode of LOST is better than 95% of everything else on television these days. The other day I was trapped in a waiting room while they made vibrator jokes on The View (no joke). Ugh. Kate-haters and action-junkies aside, What Kate Does was pretty solid. Things I Noticed:
Kate-Centric Episodes v6.0 . . . Now With 50% More Gunplay!
If there's one thing Kate knows, it's the value of a good hostage. Her departure from LAX may have seemed rather cold, but that's because getting away from the marshal requires some serious effort. Kate wasn't too good at noticing that Claire was pregnant, but she sure as hell recognized Jack as the taxi driver stopped so Arzt could pick up his, uh, excessive baggage.
"But Vozzek, Kate's gaze lingered on Jack only because she recognized him from the airplane!" Yeah, okay. And Claire blurted out Aaron's name this episode because it happened to be rattling around in her head after reading a baby name book. C'mon, really. It's season six. We threw coincidence out the window years ago, and it cartwheeled through the jungle like the fuselage of Flight 815. At this point, the looks and sudden flashes of recognition we're seeing are our main characters channeling their experiences from another timeline. Kate and Jack didn't lock eyes simply because she remembered stealing his pen as he left the can... her look was a lot more telling than that.
But hey, I'm not here to convince anyone. If you want to believe the alternate timeline has nothing to do with the previous events we've seen for the last five years, go crazy. :)
No More Whoooosh
For five years, we've heard the same familiar sound byte used as a changeover effect, signifying on-island events transitioning to off-island memories or flashbacks. Yet these new flashes sound different now; broken or disjointed... maybe even from the other side of a mirror. It reminded me of the lead-in from the backward episode of Seinfeld.
Miles, Get Us Some Water... And None of that Brown Stuff They Drowned Sayid In
Sayid seemed more than a little confused after his apparent resurrection. He was totally blanked out - his mind resetting to the moment he got shot. Jack makes no bones about the fact that he died, and the temple-dwellers seem to understand this too. If Sayid had been healed by the water, he would've been fine, but that's not what happened. Somehow Sayid has returned from the dead, and in the eyes of Dogen's people, that presents a very big problem.
Did Sayid spend some time at the "in-between" place mentioned in the Eko-centric episode entitled ? Totally. Just as Charlotte Malkin drowned and later came back to life, it seems Sayid might've dipped into this realm for a few minutes himself. It should be interesting if he regains memories of being in that place, and can somehow talk about it the way Charlotte told Eko of seeing his brother, Yemi. Sayid's mention of the last thing he remembered also seemed similar to Locke's words when he woke up on the beach after the Ajira flight: "I remember dying".
Sawyer's line about Sayid coming back because he was a torturer and child-killer was him channeling his anger at what happened to Juliet. Yet in a very 'only the good die young moment', it reminded us of some Purgatory-like rules: the greater the sin, the more the suffering. Perhaps Sawyer has it all backward. Maybe Juliet was allowed to pass on because she'd reconciled herself and made peace with her past. Sayid on the other hand, had drifted into unconsciousness knowing and believing he'd end up in a very terrible place. That place? The island, all over again. If it does turn out to be a place of suffering, it would make sense that the island isn't done with him yet - the same way it wasn't done with Michael.
After We Torture Sayid For a While, We'll Be Happy To Do Some Q&A
It's funny how much less patience our main characters have with the Others nowadays. Their captivity somehow feels different this time around, and it's like they all know it. Jack doesn't believe for a single minute that they'll get any form of answers from Dogen or his people, and Sawyer's willing to back out of the temple behind the business end of a heavy pistol. Nobody does much to stop him, and I think that's for a variety of reasons.
His loaded gun aside, the temple-dwellers simply can't force Sawyer to stay. They could bring him there, bully him, and even claim they were protecting him. But the moment Sawyer decided to leave on his own volition? I got the definite feeling they had to let him go. I think this had to do more with the concept of free will, and allowing individual choices. It also seems critical that the people on Jacob's list stay safe, because if they were to be killed off it would apparently ruin everything.
For these two reasons Dogen steps forward, and using English, very nicely asks Sawyer to stay. When he refuses, he allows Kate and Jin to go after him because, as Kate puts it, she intends to 'convince him' to come back. Although they might've dragged Sawyer there the first time around, I think Dogen knows it's important that he come back to the temple on his own, like the rest of Jack's group did. Maybe this is even why Sawyer leaves in the first place.
I'm still not sure how Dogen's diagnosis of Sayid was supposed to work. Either he electrocuted Sayid because he'd watched a little too much Rambo II, or he felt the need to perpetuate the season one parallel of Rousseau zapping Sayid with a car battery. After sprinkling him with some volcanic ash, Dogen wordlessly seared Sayid's wound with a hot poker, all the while looking into his eyes for his reaction. I watched this scene several times, and I'm not sure at which point Dogen determines that Sayid is somehow infected. The first scream he lets out seems a bit inhuman and unlike Sayid, but I guess that's to be expected. Ash or no ash, you could've covered Sayid with cherry Fun Dip and he was still going to scream like that.
Cool Star Wars reference when Sayid was returned, post-torture, to see the rest of his friends. "They didn't even ask me any questions." Excellent job channeling the Han Solo.
Not Too Worried About Hurley's Red Shirt
I'm thinking they've dressed Hugo in a red shirt this season in complete defiance of the red=dead policy. If you believe like I do, Hurley is and has always been completely untouchable by all island forces. The color of his shirt might be the writers handing us a 4XL clue: no matter what the hell happens, Hugo just can't be affected. Red shirt or not, we'll dress him however we like.
Are You A Zombie Dude?
Well, not yet, anyway. The LOST zombie season (or at least zombie-episode) is foreshadowed here, and I think it's all a matter of destiny. Break out the makeup, and check your S6 DVD for easter eggs.
Please Don't Go? Dogen's Making Tea, and Later On We're Picking Sides For Baseball...
Dogen was good this episode - I liked him much better than last time. He demonstrated some qualities that seemed to humanize his character, from contemplatively spinning the baseball to pounding out his letter to Santa on that old typewriter. Although still cryptic and demanding, the Other Others chilled out a lot more this episode, and started recognizing our 815 characters as both equals and allies. With the exception of Aldo (who thanks to Claire I don't have to worry about anymore) the temple-dwellers are actually starting to grow on me.
The scenes in which Dogen spoke to Jack were also pretty telling. As he explained his arrival on the island, I got the impression he'd been there for quite a long while. You could also tell that he missed home. Speaking Japanese in lieu of English might've been Dogen's way of protesting the island's captivity, and this was something he and Jack both shared. At this point, everyone is showing a weary bitterness at having been dragged to the island and not permitted to leave.
For a fleeting moment, I also got the impression of even greater age - as if Dogen's history extended back way beyond modern times, back to when having such a territorial disdain for the English language might be a lot more common. While I'm not saying he's as old as Richard Alpert - not even close - I will go out on a limb and say perhaps he's from another era, or time. Maybe even during WWII, an already common theme throughout LOST.
How Dogen got to the island isn't as important as his role as temple leader. He has a sense of duty and an air of resentful detachment. He's still very secretive, but in S6 style he also relents and eventually reveals some big information (although it takes Jack almost killing himself to do it). The coolest part about watching these temple scenes is that, at any moment, huge answers could suddenly be revealed.
Claire's Back! And This Time Around, She's Taking The Bus
Taxi-jacked at gunpoint... all of your belongings stolen... dropped off in the middle of nowhere with a bootprint on your ass. Do you call the police? Dial 911? Nah. Instead you find the nearest bus stop, sit down, and wait for your assailant to return with a free ride. Hey, what can you do? It's all necessary to advance the plot.
While it wasn't the most believable storyline, Kate returning to bring Claire her stuff was a major deviation from her past character. In prior seasons, Kate would've been flying down some highway with the occasional glance in her rear-view mirror. Instead, Kate not only risks returning to the very scene of her escape, but she offers Claire a ride and even accompanies her to the doorstep of her adoptive parents' home.
This time around however, as in many other places, something has changed. This time Claire might have to raise the baby - an idea that was a pretty hot topic back in season one. Even Kate suggests that she keep her son, as if she inwardly knows it's the right thing to do. If this alternate timeline is indeed the corrected one, then Claire staying with Aaron is an important positive change. Claire forging a friendship with Kate might be another. The fact that they bonded over some very intense experiences here may mean that Kate later becomes a big part of Claire's life, playing a mother-like role to Aaron after all.
The big evolution here is that Kate's suddenly a sucker for some baby washcloths and a big stuffed orca. Whatever Kate did, this is now what she does. These important character developments in the LAX timeline signify core changes in Kate's fugitive-like behavior. Apparently, Kate's now a fugitive with heart. Bringing Claire to the hospital was another big risk for her, and it almost got her caught. Still, people probably won't give Kate nearly enough credit here. Despite the fact that she's no more a murderer than Sayid, Locke, Eko, or Sawyer, Kate has traditionally received far less fan forgiveness for the things she's done. Kate-hating will still run rampant, due not so much to her characterization but to the fact that she's bounced back and forth between Jack and Sawyer, and this seems to piss people off to no end.
It's true that Kate has pulled some real wishy-washy romantic shit that has made us want to wring our own necks. But lately? The love triangle has been shoved aside in light of the sheer number of overwhelming experiences these characters have gone through. The writers want us to forget about love for a while, and this is good. The time for sweaty naked writhing on the jungle floor is over, just as our heroes sitting around waiting for The Others to always make the first move seems to be over too.
Ethan - Still Badass, Even In A Long White Lab Coat
Seeing Ethan in the alternate timeline was cool, but not all that surprising. As with everything else that's destiny-related, this seems to be a case of always having to do something over and over again. Just as Charlie is always supposed to die, Ethan is always supposed to be involved in Claire's pregnancy. This is apparently an unchangeable, uncorrectable event - like him not wanting to put needles into her belly. As cool as William Mapother's character is, I have to say I still miss psychotic, Terminator Ethan. That guy was badass. Would've loved to have seen a fight between him and Keamy.
Notice how the baby's heartbeat disappears the moment Claire says "I'm not ready". Not until Claire gets distressed enough to cry out Aaron's name does the heartbeat come back into view on the monitor. Once again, here's a case where wanting or believing in something seems to make it more concrete and tangible. The further Claire seems to get from her baby, the more disconnected she and Aaron become.
Damn, Justin Was Just About To Tell Us Cool Stuff!
Aldo's character was about as interesting and effective as Pryce. He quickly made us hate him this episode, not just because of his disdain for our main characters but also for trying to keep us eternally in the dark. Justin on the other hand, was about to reveal some cool and important shit. We were going to find out a little about jungle-commando Claire, and maybe even what happened to the forgotten Ajira people. Aldo shutting him up was similar to Widmore shutting up Cunningham during Jughead, although not as violently or permanently.
After Kate chumped Aldo for the 2nd straight time, it was cool to see Jin take on an agenda of his own. Following Kate on her never-ending Sawyer quest would've been outright lame. All too often Jin gets relegated to the back seat of LOST's big ride, but here he finally steps up to form his own plan. I was glad to see Jin taking steps to find Sun, especially after realizing they were probably in the same timeline. It's exactly what he should, and would do.
Justin's cryptic last words to Aldo regarding Jin also seemed important: "He might be one of them." We already know Jin is on Jacob's list, and both Aldo and Justin should know it too. So what else does "one of them" mean? Is there an ultimate purpose these people need to stay alive in order to accomplish? I'm thinking yes. What that purpose is however, will probably be one of our last mysteries.
What Part Of "Don't Come After Me" Did You Not Understand???
Josh Holloway was great in this episode. Sawyer's emotional struggle on the dock no longer included anger for Jack, but only self-loathing and blame at causing Juliet's death. This was similar to Ben's slow realization that he himself was responsible for the death of Alex, and not Martin Keamy or Charles Widmore. Sawyer saw himself as selfish for keeping Juliet on the island, just as Ben saw himself as selfish for trying to raise Alex as his own daughter when he really should've known better. And Sawyer throwing his engagement ring into the water mirrored Desmond's past actions in a very touching scene. These types of parallels are always cool, and this one was done exceptionally well.
In my opinion? This much selflessness completes Sawyer's journey. His character has come full circle. At this point we should be worried about losing him, as characters on LOST who have such deep revelations almost always end up leaving the realm of the island. Who knows where Sawyer might've ended up if Kate hadn't chased after him? Perhaps he would've completed his journey of self-discovery, like Boone... Shannon... Ana Lucia... Michael. Not all characters who reach enlightenment have happy endings on LOST, as Rose & Bernard seem to have. We need to recognize that.
Jack Shephard, Free Will, And The Importance Of Cleaning Up One's Own Mess
In what was the most crucial part of the episode, Jack storms into Dogen's study for some hard answers. Watch as he tells the armed guards to "step aside"... they glance at each other for a moment, then move to let him through as if they didn't have a choice. This seemed to make Jack important, even if he doesn't yet know it. Lennon's next words to him? "We were hoping you'd come on your own". They didn't send for him - possibly because they couldn't - but they needed him nonetheless.
Throughout LOST, one of the bigger recurring themes has always been choice. Dogen and Lennon needed Jack to show up here because he's the one who must deliver Sayid's 'medicine'. When Jack asks why they don't just give it to him themselves, he's told "Because it won't work unless he takes it freely. And he won't take it freely unless you give it to him".
Think back to season two for a minute, where Ms. Klugh was asking Michael to lure four of his friends to The Others' encampment. "Why don't you just get them yourselves?" Michael had asked her, to which Klugh replied "It doesn't work that way, Michael". The Others could've taken these people by force any time that they wanted, but for some reason they didn't. They even had three out of four of them at gunpoint, on the day Mr. Friendly drew a line in the sand. Yet somehow, for some reason, they needed these people to come on their own. Just like Jack did, here and now.
Now think back to season three, where Benjamin Linus was trying to convince Jack to do his spinal surgery. "You want me to save your life?" Jack had asked him incredulously. "No", Ben responded. "I want you to want to save my life". Although there were any number of ways Ben could've forced Jack to operate, he never did. He used Kate and Sawyer (and a live video feed of their heated cage-sex romp) to soften Jack up, and then sweetened the pot with an offer of freedom. Once this happened, Jack was willing to do the operation of his own free will... and I got the impression back then this was the only way it could've been done.
Here, Dogen wants to poison Sayid. He's already had him pinned down, strapped to a table, and could've killed him any time he wanted. We know now however, that this is not how things work. Maybe it's because Sayid is on Jacob's list, or maybe it's for another reason... whatever the case, there are some definite rules involved that prevent the temple-dwellers from just outright killing Sayid. Dogen and his crew need him to accept the pill willingly, yet one more direct parallel to the way Neo took his own pill during The Matrix.
Ah, but here's where things get even more interesting.
Not only do the temple-dwellers need Sayid to effectively kill himself, but they need Jack to act as the accomplice. You could argue that Dogen used Jack because Sayid inherently trusts him, but that's not the sole reason. Jack, and Jack alone, must be the person who gets Sayid to take the poison. And the reason for this is simple: Jack must clean up his own mess.
Go back to last episode. Right before they dipped Sayid in the spring, Dogen says "Who did this to him?" Jack steps up and claims responsibility. "My fault. I didn't shoot him, but it's my fault." This seemed pretty out of place back then, but Dogen puts the same question to Jack right now. He asks again how Sayid got shot, and Jack tells him what happened. "So, he was helping you?", Dogen asks, very specifically. "Yes", Jack says again. And from here, two things become brutally obvious.
First, Jack has to be the one to give Sayid the pill. It can't be Hurley, it can't be Miles... because Jack was the person directly responsible, he must also be the one to clean up his own mess. This very line is used more than once in past seasons, and we've already seen the theory in action:
During season three, Ben tried to make Locke kill Anthony Cooper. He even made it seem as if it were some strange test he had to pass. The truth of the matter however, is that Ben couldn't kill Cooper for a much different reason: Ben wasn't the person who brought the man from Tallahassee to the island in the first place. He thought it was Locke, and therefore needed Locke to commit the murder. But Ben turned out to be wrong here, because it was actually Sawyer who had brought Cooper to the island - a manifestation of his intense desire to find the man responsible for the death of his parents. Even Locke realized this, when he somehow couldn't even bring himself to kill the man who had caused his paralysis. Instead, Locke lured Sawyer to the Black Rock, where he strangled Cooper Jabba-the-Hutt style.
Confused? Don't be. Sawyer had to deal with Cooper because he was the one who brought him to the island, just as Jack had to deal with Christian and Hurley had to deal with Dave. In that respect, the island is much like that evil cave on Dagobah. What's in there? Only what you bring with you.
The second fact that becomes obvious here is how slick and manipulative Dogen can be. Knowing that Jack is the only person who can give Sayid the ill-pill, he uses Jack's guilty conscience against him. "Have there been others who have been hurt, or who have died helping you?" As Jack nods his head, Dogen offers him a chance at false redemption. He tries playing upon Jack's need to constantly save people, threatening the fact that his friend will die without taking the medicine.
Jack is smart enough not to go for it, and for that I give him credit. Dogen actually had me convinced the pill was a good idea. I thought it might've contained the volcanic ash, and that it would somehow exorcise the demons (or 'growing darkness') about to possess Sayid. Instead, it was meant to kill him - something Jack selflessly figured out on his own in much the same way he power-played Ben and Mr. Friendly to facilitate Sawyer & Kate's escape from zoo-island.
Jack's need to look out for Sayid overrode his own safety here. He was already feeling responsible for too many deaths. Although I don't think Jack has always given himself a fair shake, this was just another one of those times where he put other people above himself. When they live, he's a hero doctor. When they die, he gets slapped by others with the responsibility of their demise. In the grand scheme of things, Jack has a lot of messes that still need to be cleaned up. Fortunately for him, he also seems to hold some hidden power we don't yet know about.
The Closest Translation Would Be... Annoying
Sayid's soon-to-be metamorphosis seems almost moth-like, and raises some very big questions. Is the dark man the one who will be claiming Sayid, or will Jacob himself do it? I vote for Jacob - if only because it might mean Sayid's continued safety. I also think it's important that Sayid was dipped in the temple pool - whatever was left of Jacob's physical spirit may have entered him through that nasty water. The dark-shirted man also seems busy at the moment, and perhaps the Other Others don't know about him already claiming Locke. But if Claire was claimed in the same way... then whatever is about to happen to Sayid might be independent of both Jacob and his nemesis. Maybe.
Jungle Commando Claire Has A Bad Case Of The Frizzies
The sickness is back... and this time it's real? That one threw me. Even more important, why has Claire jumped into Danielle Rousseau's exact role... filth-smeared complexion, rifle, lost baby and all?
Did Claire skip through time with the island's movements last season? Did she spend three years on the island during 70's Dharma, or did she remain in the island present from 2004 through 2007? There are lots of immediate questions we need answers too, the least of which is what happened when she hooked up with ghost Christian Shephard.
Claire's existence as Danielle Rousseau should be more than a little troubling here. It's as if her body has jumped into a whole new role, adapting a whole new set of rules. Remember that Claire's mind was once "reset to the crash", way back in season one. What if this happened to her again? Or what if Claire's mind was reset so many times she went berserk with the sickness, with only vague recollections of her previous times through the island's historic loop?
Maybe she won't recognize Jin at all, but my guess is that some flash of vague recognition has given her pause right now. Just as Claire slowly began remembering things after returning from Ethan's captivity, perhaps her season one through four memories are being suppressed much the same way. If two weeks of her life went missing during Homecoming, why not three whole years? Yet none of this explains how closely she can be channeling Danielle Rousseau. It's not like making coconut net traps is a skill she could've picked up from one of Locke's survival magazines.
We need more. A quick glance and a squint isn't much to go on, so hopefully next week will provide some answers.
A Kate-centric episode? GASP! The horror.