Since I watched the first five seasons of LOST exclusively on DVD, Season 6 is uncharted territory. I’ve always had the luxury of being able to dispense with cliffhangers by cuing up the next episode, so I haven’t been part of the what-happens-next prognostication that accompanies LOST random.
In the comments section of last week’s episode, a reader asked why I hadn’t brought up the ash that apparently keeps the smoke monster at bay. There was so much going on in that episode that I missed it, but as I said in the comments section, I should’ve at least mentioned it in the Miscellany section at the end of the article.
What I’ll say about the ash (and all the other supernatural goings-on that dominate LOST now) is that I hope there’s a simple explanation. I’ve read a comment from either Carlton Cuse or Damon Lindelof that invokes the explanation of the force in The Phantom Menace. Did anyone hear that explanation and not think it was unbearably cheesy?
The LOST writers are on dangerous ground now that they’re going to have to start spelling out the explanations for all the mysteries on the show. To reiterate my point above, I hope they keep things as simple as possible. Look, I own every episode of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, so I’ve swallowed plenty of supernatural hokum. Still, I never enjoy being in those situations where I have to dispense part of a show’s mythology to another person whose face goes from confusion to skepticism to pity as I try to defend the logic behind the show (or movie or comic book or whatever).
But I digress. Since this is the first season that I’m watching LOST as it happens, I immediately seized on the title of last night’s episode and started making guesses. The title, “What Kate Does”, reflects the title of the Season 2 episode, “What Kate Did”, where we learn that she became a fugitive when she killed her stepfather.
Going into last night’s episode, original timeline Kate was in the Temple to bear witness to Sayid’s miraculous resurrection while alternate time line Kate had just carjacked a taxi cab with Claire in the backseat.
Going in, I expected the usual from what we saw in the first few seasons of LOST – that what Kate does in the original timeline and what she does in the alternate timeline would reflect one another, which is pretty much how it worked out. In 2007, she used Sawyer’s escape from the Temple as an excuse to begin her search for Claire. In 2004, she formed an unlikely alliance with the still-pregnant Claire after carjacking a taxi cab.
I have to admit that at this point, I’m not much of a Kate fan. I liked her well enough at the beginning of the show’s run, but as the revelations about her past came about, the character lost the mystique that had made her intriguing, and she was increasingly depicted as a woman ruthlessly dedicated to her own sense of self-preservation. Even her decision to take Aaron off the Island seemed to be in this spirit, despite her stated intentions to the contrary.
Since Kate episodes tend towards the melodramatic, I was worried this episode would quickly devolve into another installment of “Evangeline Lilly Sad Face Theater”. Fortunately, we were spared a sobbing/mopey-faced Kate until her conversation with Sawyer at the end of the show.
The 2007 section of the episode split focus between the aftermath of Sayid’s resurrection and Kate’s pursuit of Sawyer. Obviously, they weren’t going to explain the circumstances of Sayid’s return from the dead right away, and the obfuscation persisted throughout the episode.
In proud LOST tradition, last week Lennon demanded that Jack come with him to have a conversation that never happened. Dogen’s promise to answer all of Jack’s questions after torturing Sayid also didn’t happen. After Sayid was “tested”, we learned that he didn’t “pass” the test, and that not only had he been “infected”, but also “claimed”, and that a “darkness” would soon consume him, which, y’know, sounds pretty bad. This was the most mythology-rich aspect of the episode, and I’m sure it’s already been picked apart on the web.
Jack’s decision to take the poison pill himself was a welcome twist. The buildup to that moment had Jack rehashing the old destiny versus free will argument with Dogen, which I guess somebody’s gotta do with Locke being dead now. Jack has always represented the free-will argument on the show, and it was nice to see him use his freedom of choice to act rather than sit on his hands and do nothing.
Elsewhere on the island, Kate is tracking down Sawyer, who has fled the Temple to return to his old house in the Barracks. I’m sure Sawyer will come around eventually, but for now he’s taken himself out of the conflict and mystery at the heart of the show to grieve. In this case, I like that the show is dwelling more on character than plot, and letting his grief for Juliet persist before he becomes part of the main action again. Watching Sawyer pry up the floorboards in his old house echoed the times he pulled guns, medical supplies or girlie magazines from his “stash” in the first three seasons, and the revelation that he was looking for the ring he’d planned to give to Juliet was a welcome surprise. Josh Holloway really sold the character’s pain, which surprised me – I didn’t think he had it in him.
Kate’s motivation for coming back to the Island to find Claire is something the show really hasn’t earned. They tried to reinforce her bond with Claire with the 2004 story, and I know that Kate was there for Aaron’s birth on the Island, but how much of a relationship did those two characters really have? I just don’t remember them really displaying a bond, and as I said above, I question her motivations for taking care of Aaron, so her quest for Claire rings false to me. I suppose you could argue that she feels a need for redemption, but other than getting Samwise Gamgee’s brother shot, what does she really feel guilty for?
At this point in the season, pieces are being arranged on the board. Kate, Sawyer, and Jin are clearly special and important to the show’s end game, so they’ve been scattered around the island to raise the stakes. The Others’ agenda is still a mystery, and Sayid and Claire have been in some way compromised. Throughout the night, the ABC promos trumpeted that, “The time for questions is over,” but it seems like a few more are going to be raised before we get the ultimate resolution at the end of the season.
- Being new to watching LOST on a weekly basis, I’d never seen the “enhanced” versions of the previous episode with the explanatory titles at the bottom of the frame. Some of it was enlightening (such as the explanation of Montand’s book) but a lot of it felt like they were re-hashing plot points viewers should be familiar with.
- Re-watching LA X Part 2, I was struck by Miles’ genuine compassion for Sawyer after they buried Juliet. Both men put up gruff exteriors but have shown more tender depths.
- Tonight’s episode was full of parallels to Season 1. Sayid’s “test” paralleled his captivity by Rousseau; Kate was with Claire as she went into labor in 2004. Ethan’s comments about not wanting to drug/stick Claire with needles was a little on the nose.
- “You’re not a zombie, right?” “No. I am not a zombie.”
- I was especially pleased to see It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Creator/Star Rob McElhenney reprise his role as Aldo.
- So, presumably Ethan was evacuated as an infant along with Miles in 1977, right? I guess his mother was just more invested into returning to the Island.
- “I shouldn’t have followed you.” “Which time?”
- Nice misdirection with Aldo constantly interrupting Justin about the island traps. Looks like Claire is the new Rousseau, which begs the question, was Rousseau also “infected”?
- Was it just me, or was Kate’s knockout of Aldo and Justin terribly executed on a filmmaking level? Seemed to me like Evangeline Lilly oversold the grunt and the sound effects department didn’t do anything to emphasize the impact of her blows.
- We didn’t see any of the Others and faux Locke at the beach this episode, but there’s still the question of why Richard stopped Ilana from shooting faux Locke at the end of last week’s episode. Just wanted to write that down while I thought of it 😛
Let me know anything I missed or misinterpreted in the comments section!