Given the total adrenaline-fueled roller coaster ride the was “LA X”, It stands to reason that this week’s outing in Lost’s final season had a good chance to be a bit of a letdown.
I hoped that season 6 would be devoid of talky, largely uninteresting filler episodes, but unfortunately, that’s mostly what we got with “What Kate Does”.
Even the most ardent of Lost fans will tell you that Kate-centric episodes are no picnic. She’s always been a character that’s sort of hard to get your arms around. Whether it’s her waffling between Jack and Sawyer, making really questionable decisions or forcing you to think long and hard about whether or not she’s really a good person, Evangeline Lilly has done the best she could with this somewhat difficult character. Knowing this was a Kate outing heading in (title sort of give it away, no?) I had a cautious optimism, but I was ready to give it the benefit of the doubt, as I actually enjoyed last season’s Kate Episodes, “The Little Prince” and “Whatever Happened, Happened”.
Let’s start with the LAX timeline. Some of the luster had worn off of seeing our characters moving through this parallel timeline, partly since the novelty of the concept in the premiere wasn’t new and exciting anymore, but mostly because, you know, it’s Kate.
From a purely narrative standpoint, the LAX timeline story arc in “What Kate Does” was a total mess. Take your pick, really: Kate’s commandeering of a cab, as opposed to a regular car she could just drive herself, or Claire’s total 180-degree turn of putting her full trust into a woman who not 20 minutes ago was waving a gun in her face, followed by giving that same stranger your credit card. I understand the significance of putting Kate and Claire together and hearkening back to their on-Island kinship, as Kate essentially delivered Aaron herself right in the middle of the jungle. But the episode really strained to make these rekindled moments of closeness seem genuine.
There were bright spots though. Chief among them was William Mapother’s pleasantly surprising return as the creepy Other-doctor Ethan. Only, he wasn’t so creepy. Quite the opposite in fact. He went out of his way to avoid drugging and needling a belabored and frantic Claire, which is in stark contrast the hellish, trippy experience he unleashed on her back when he kidnapped her in season 1. But let’s face it, he was still a little creepy, since he’s got that whole “William Mapother Face” going on.
It comes as no surprise that the night’s most interesting events unfolded when Kate was nowhere in the area code. I particularly dug the central conflict at the temple. Namely, what in the hell is going on with Sayid? Internet speculators ran rampant with theories about the stimulus for Sayid’s apparent resurrection. The prevailing theory seemed to be that Sayid had been embodied by the recently-knifed Jacob. For a bit, that seemed to have some legs, except when it became clear that the erstwhile torturer had not in fact passed his own torture-heavey “test”
I’d like to take this time to dole out some praise for Matthew Fox. Jack was really on the money in pretty much every scene, particularly in his attempts to get Sayid to take his (poison!)medicine. You really felt the genuine concern and the conflict that still exists within the good doctor. Also, his conversation with Dogen was dripping with tender emotional beats (the line “I don’t even trust myself” was a particular biggie, if you know anything about Jack) and mythologically rich buzzwords like “infected”, “claimed” and “darkness”.
If we’re to take the Sayid has been taken over by the Monster/Man in Black, and that the same thing has happened to Island-Claire we’re forced to consider a few things about Smokey’s rules of possession.
Can Ol’ Smokey take control over several bodies at once? It seems so, and if that’s the case, then to what end? Could we be seeing what is, in essence, a sort of draft for the cataclysmic “war” that Widmore and Bram spoke of last season?
Problematic as the episode was, I’m really not worried that it’s a sign of troubling things to come. The episode suffered from a lack of the MiB/Richard/Beach dweller set, which I can’t think will be something we’ll got much more of. Also, I think showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are not stupid. Though they would never admit it, I think they know in their heart of hearts that Kate episodes are not now, nor have they ever been, the show’s bread and butter. With that said, I don’t think it’s coincidence that we got this story so very early in the season. Think of it as sitting through a dopey prop comic before watching Chris Rock take the stage.
Even the Island version of Kate was outshined by a rock-solid performance from Josh Holloway. Sawyer’s quest to get back to New Otherton in search of some sort of catharsis for Juliet’s death was pretty mesmerizing, cresting with the scene on the dock where he first convinced Juliet to stay on the Island, ultimately setting her fate in motion. Admittedly, the choice of having Sawyer divulge his intentions to propose to Juliet and never being able to forgive himself for what happened in full view of Kate was a refreshingly compelling take on the sometime tiresome love triangle business. If next week’s episode is as Sawyer-heavy as the promo indicated, I’d say we’re likely to hop right back into the swing of things.
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney returned as Aldo, last seen falling for the Wookie prisoner gag in season 3’s “Not in Portland”. I can’t exactly put my finger on why he was asked back, but I suspect all the Mac fans out there appreciated it.
- Miles wins the the Line of the Night award for his thrilling rendition of “We’ll be in the food court if you need us.” Classic.
- Despite the shortcomings, no one can deny that Lost can still craft a hell of a cliffhanger reveal. The parting image of the Heart of Darkness/Rousseau-esque Island Claire was nearly enough to wipe the narrative foibles from my mind. Nearly.
- I’ll miss Hurley being the group’s de facto leader.
So, that’s about where I’m at. What did you all think of this season’s first (and hopefully only) subpar episode. Blip on the radar, or sign of things to come? Hell, am I totally wrong? Maybe you really dug it. Either way, don’t be shy to let me know in the comments or shoot me an email. Until next week,