I was not a happy camper with “What Kate Does”. It seemed like a bizarre way to use one of the series’ final fifteen episodes – a curious detour on our way to answers. There is so much to do and so many things to explain, but we were served up with a warmed over episode potmarked with clichéd vagaries and tired back stories.
I suppose I shouldn’t be too critical of any episode that focuses on Kate as that means a lot of screen time for Evangeline Lilly. But I have a tough time caring about her character within the context of the safe-815 world. The potential intrigue and excitement of the characters that landed safely at LAX is how their past lives have been different from the ones that we have already understood and how the characters themselves are different than their on-island counterparts. But with Kate we got exactly what we were expecting – a dogged fugitive with the occasional sentimental weakness. Her narrative orbit between Jack, Sawyer and Aaron is well-worn now, known to the viewer and never all that interesting in the first place. This episode pioneered no new territory. There was no clarification on her pre-815 life or any suggestion that Kate might be somehow different than the same character we would have expected to find. So effectively what Kate did was bring whatever momentum was built from the season premier to a screeching halt. There seemed to be about 20 minutes worth of story that was stretched into the full episode, which probably explains my surprise when I fast-forwarded through what I thought was the second commercial break, but was in fact the last of the episode.
Though to be fair, it wasn’t entirely Kate’s fault the episode collapsed faster than the 4-toed statue. I am quickly growing tired of the Temple captivity and worry that the location itself symbolizes season 6 as a whole – a once intriguing location that once reveled leads only to a disheartening let-down. If things don’t turn around quickly, the temple could be to season 6 what the Hydra was to season 3, shackling the story telling because the producers think the location is much more interesting than it really is.
Perhaps the temple’s most interesting superpower isn’t the ability to heal the lifeless, but actually to compel those within its walls to speak in unnecessary vagaries. I mean seriously…why don’t they actually just tell Jack what the hell is going on. The stupid euphemisms and vague descriptions are getting really old, really quickly. It was a fine tactic to use in season three – loosely define what is happening so the audience has a whet appetite for three more years of being strung along. But guess what? We made it. You made it interesting enough for us to wait it out for six years and interminably long breaks between seasons. We are sufficiently interested in the show. We aren’t going to leave you now. We have too much invested and too much hope that the payoff will meet our buy-in. SO STOP EXPLAINING THINGS USING WORDS LIKE “INFECTED”, “CLAIMED” OR “CANDIDATE”. EXPLAIN TO US WHAT THE HELL IT MEANS AND WHY WE SHOULD CARE. THERE ARE ENOUGH DAMN MYSTERIES…GIVE US THE PAYOFF. WE ARE SMART ENOUGH TO PICK UP YOUR KIERKEGAARD REFERENCES AND OBSESSION WITH ALICE IN WONDERLAND…WE CAN UNDERSTAND WHATEVER DARKNESS IS TRYING TO GET NEAR SAYID HEART IF YOU WILL JUST GODDAMN WRITE IT DOWN FOR THE ACTORS TO SAY IT. WHY THE HELL DOESN’T JACK ASK “WITH WHAT?” WHEN HE IS TOLD SAYID'S IS “INFECTED”? HE IS A GODFORSAKEN DOCTOR DAMNIT. HE CAN UNDERSTAND AND WE CAN TOO. WE ARE NOT CHARLIE BROWN AND YOU ARE NOT LUCY. LET US KICK THE DAMN FOOTBALL…WE’VE WAITED LONG ENOUGH. I feel sometimes like the producers treat us like we are in second grade. Like they are a parent after a car breaks down and we ask what happened, but the only thing our parents will tell us is “the car is sick”. Scratch that…they would tell us the “car is infected” and leave it at that. That is more frustrating than trying to explain why Claire would get back into a cab with a woman who held a gun to her head. Wouldn't she have gone right to the police after getting forced out of the cab?
That being said, I suppose there were a few cool moments. Ethan showing up as Claire’s doctor was interesting for sure and gave me hope that Ben and Juliet will be – or already are – interacting with the 815 passengers in some way in the future. And I suppose the return of Claire was interesting as well, as she has now become the Island’s new Rousseau – a deranged wanderer who has lost her child after giving birth on the Island. Kate’s moment of recognition, driving by Jack outside of the LAX terminal, was also significant, but only so because it was the first time someone other than Jack seemed to stir a lost recognition in the fog of their mind. But the moment was fleeting.
The “nothing happened” complaint is one heard frequently, though it is often misplaced. The importance of a single episode is rarely immediately evident and the lines of demarcation in a serialized drama like LOST should be unimportant. It is all just one big story. Nothing is self-contained. And until we get a proper look at the entire mosaic, the importance of each tile can’t be fully appreciated or criticized. I am just not sure right now what this piece adds, especially with precious few left to reveal.