It’s been a rough few days for us uber-obsessive Lost fans. People are calling for the heads of the Lost writers, calling them liars, hating Kate more than anyone should ever hate someone so pretty, and threatening to give up on a show they’ve followed closely for six years. The Lost writers have fought back by telling us that if we thought the episode was “filler”, we should all stop watching Lost and instead watch NCIS: Los Angeles. Yikes! Intense!
What happened? Were the expectations just too high? Did the writers really drop the ball on this one, but are too cocky to admit it? Or are we all just going a little crazy since we know there are so precious few episodes of Lost left, and we’re afraid of life post-Lost?
I have to admit, I might have been a little overly critical of my Instant Review of “What Kate Does” as well. The episode wasn’t a total waste of our time. It moved a few of the characters around to allow their storylines to progress, gave Juliet’s death some resonance by affecting some of our characters, and gave a few more hints to some of the big mysteries of the season. I think it’s more the way the episode handled these things that was the problem. Getting characters from Point A to Point B involved some pretty hokey plot points and dialogue, and it felt like the majority of the “action” from the episode could have been condensed to a single act of an episode, rather than being dragged out over the course of a full episode. This is Lost we’re talking about, so it’s not as though we haven’t seen the show drag out simple storylines for multiple episodes – so what’s the difference now?
For one, during the few seasons, we were trying to get to know the characters for the first time. Their flashbacks were fascinating because they gave us new insight into the characters. The on-Island interactions developed new relationships. We were excited to learn new things because the characters were still a mystery. Now, we already know the characters pretty well, and have seen their relationships with other characters develop over the five seasons we spent getting to this point. Although none of us fully understand the Off-Island action (yet), it feels like a fake repeat of the process since many of the details of the characters’ lives are now changed. Unless there are some pretty dramatic things happening Off-Island, the audience is going to lose interest in the storylines because they feel equal parts “been there, done that” and “why do I care about this imposter version of a character I’ve known for years”?
Again – this will all change once we understand the Off-Island storylines (I hope). But for now, giving us little vignettes into the “what could have been” lives of our Survivors Off-Island is going to feel like a “filler” to the vast majority of the audience.
The other big reason? The storylines on Lost have actually been zipping along pretty quickly ever since the midpoint of Season Three when the writers agreed to an end date for the series. “What Kate Does” felt like they suddenly slammed on the breaks and returned to the Season One style of storytelling when we are so close to the finish line – and it was very noticeable. I don’t think the audience expects huge action or reveals each episode, but simply to have events take place that are meaningful to the overall plot. Although it didn’t feel like there were very many of these in “What Kate Does”, let’s analyze what actually happened.
Off-Island. Let’s start with the Off-Island activity from this episode, which unfortunately I am no closer to understanding this week than I was last week. For now, I’m still sticking with (and hoping for) my “Scenario #3”, where the Off-Island action represents a previous iteration of “Jacob’s Loop”. If you look at the hard facts from this episode, there was one underlying theme – that the lives of our Survivors wouldn’t be that drastically different if Oceanic 815 never crashed on the Island. Call it “whatever happened, happened” or “the universe has a way of course correcting itself”, but a lot of these scenes felt strangely familiar…
- Claire still wasn’t successful in giving Aaron away to an adoptive family.
- Kate is still right there when Claire is giving birth.
- Claire still names Aaron Aaron.
- Ethan Goodspeed (not Rom) is still sticking Claire with needles. Although this time he says “I just don't wanna have to stick you with needles if I don't have to”, as opposed to On-Island.
- Aaron will eventually have the same stuffed animal whale.
What does it all mean? Claire says she named Aaron “because she knew it or something”. Is this her consciousness from a prior Loop bubbling up to the surface in the current loop?
Jack and Kate share a moment before she speeds away in her cab. Is this because they know that they know each other (in a Biblical sense) from a past life?
If the Universe did “split” into two separate but equal paths when Juliet detonated the Jughead, is information from one reality bleeding into the other?
Or does it just prove that things happen for a reason, and even if the circumstances change, the fundamental events will still occur the way the universe / God intended?
Like I said, I have no better answers or theories this week than the three I laid out last week. We’re going to have to let this topic ride for a while longer to see if any new hints emerge.
One last item of note: the date on Claire’s sonogram is 10/22/2004. Oceanic 815 crashed on 9/22/2004. If this change is intentional, it means that there is a LOT more different between the Off-Island scenes we’re seeing now and the flashbacks from the previous five seasons – because for all those characters to end up on that same flight one month later in time than originally would mean a lot of things in their lives would be drastically different. I can’t even comprehend how many changes could take place if each person had an extra month of living under their belt… and what about characters like Christian Shephard, who died? He had an extra month of living before going on a drinking binge to Australia. Who knows what kind of mischief and tales of daring do he experienced during that month.
The moral of the story is that if this date is correct, the Off-Island characters we’re seeing now may be way more different than we ever imagined.
On-Island. Back On-Island, it was a Kate-centric episode, where we were reminded about how far Kate has come as a character, and why she agreed to come back to the Island in the first place. Honestly, I had totally forgotten about the promise Kate made to Claire’s Mom, that she would find Claire and bring her back to Aaron – but it was a good to get that refresher about Kate’s mission before the big “reveal” at the end of the episode (which I apologize for spoiling by posting a picture of Crazy French Claire on this Blog a few weeks back. Blame ABC, not me! They should have never showed me in the first place!) As for Kate herself, she’s no longer running away from people – she’s chasing them. In both her Off-Island and On-Island action, she had the chance to run away and fend for herself, but in both cases she took the higher road and attempted to help console a friend (Sawyer) or complete stranger (Claire).
Where does she go from here? Unfortunately for her, she left Jin’s company right before he stumbled upon the “new Claire”, which keeps in line with the storytelling style of almost every other prior season of Lost – separating our Survivors into a few different groups, and eventually having those groups reunite as we approach the finale. At the end of “What Kate Does”, there are four main groups on the Island:
1. The Temple Survivors (with Others)
2. Kate and Sawyer at the Barracks
3. Jin and New Claire in the Jungle
4. SmokeLocke and Friends heading… somewhere
Let’s analyze what happened to each group this episode:
Dogen’s Tests. For starters, thank you Lost writers for having Dogen speak English for the majority of the episode. This minor change alone made me like his character more. I also appreciated that there was at least a little bit of logic behind why he rarely spoke English (besides “I don’t like the way it tastes on my tongue” – you know what, Dogen? I don’t like how vegetables taste on my tongue, but I eat them anyways. They’re good for you, just like English is good for efficient storytelling). Dogen uses Lennon (his translator) as a way to keep him separated from the “Common Others”. He and Jack shared a moment this week talking about the hardships of leadership, which seems to be hinting that Jack will be returning to an overall “leadership” role on the Island, even though he claims that he doesn’t even trust himself anymore.
But the big action at the Temple this week surrounded the tests on Sayid. First, Dogen blew ash over Sayid, which may or may not have been the same ash that is used as a barrier to keep Smokey away (I would bet it’s the same ash). He followed that up by jolting Sayid with electricity, and ended with a few burns from a hot poker for good measure. At no point during the torture did Dogen ask Sayid any questions. At no point during the torture did Sayid react any differently than you would expect from someone being tortured. Yet Dogen claims that he failed the test.
Well, maybe it was the fact that Sayid didn’t react any differently than you would expect from someone being tortured. After all, Sayid was a specialist in torturing people back in the day, and just like Jack Bauer, I would assume that this means he can take torture like the best of them. Perhaps the fact that Sayid was crying “I don’t know anything” and “why are you doing this?!” instead of just coldly looking at Dogen and saying “that’s the best you got?” indicated that Sayid had changed.
As a result, Dogen determined that Sayid must be given a Poison Pill, and that it must be taken voluntarily. Was this simply a hokey plot device to have Jack question how far he was willing to go to gain redemption on the Island? Or is there a real reason that the pill must be taken voluntarily? I’m hopeful of the latter, and think there’s a reasonable explanation for why Dogen couldn’t administer the pill directly.
Towards the end of the episode, Aldo wants to shoot Jin and claim they found him dead in the Jungle – but Justin stops him and says “You can’t. He’s one of them”. Coupled with the fact that Jacob’s note allegedly said everyone was screwed if Sayid died, it would be understandable that the Others would be hesitant to kill one of our Survivors – even if they were worried that they were “claimed” by the darkness – out of fear that they would screw up Jacob’s plan and / or face his wrath. Perhaps Dogen was trying to cheat the system by having Jack administer the Poison Pill. That way he would still prevent Sayid from becoming Evil Sayid, but just in case Sayid isn’t really “claimed”, he can say “Well, I didn’t kill him – Jack Shephard did!” and keep a clear conscience.
This would also explain why the Others are protecting our Survivors in the first place, and why they want Sawyer back at the Temple (where they can protect him) instead of wandering out in the Jungle. If they were all called to the Island by Jacob, they must have some role in his master plan, and if something were to happen to any of them, it might totally wreck that plan.
Sayid. So what happened to our favorite Iraqi torturer? Some of the pieces of the puzzle are finally coming together. If dead people on the Island can be “claimed” by Anti-Jacob, it would explain why the Others were so concerned about burying their dead right after they died – or lighting them on fire and setting them out to sea (remember Colleen?) That prevents their brethren from becoming evil Anti-Jacob zombies!
(PS – how hilarious is it that Damon and Carlton have been joking about the “zombie season” for years, and we all laughed at how outrageous the idea was… yet this week we had Hurley ask Sayid if he’s a zombie, and it’s looking like dead people do “come back to life”, potentially evil (assuming Jacob is the “good guy”), just like zombies. Oh Damon and Carlton, you are clever in your ways.)
We’ve been told for years that “a war is coming” – so perhaps this “claiming” is how Anti-Jacob is gathering members for his team. Jacob goes Off-Island, touches people, and influences their lives in minor ways to bring them to the Island. Anti-Jacob picks up Jacob’s scraps once the people he brings to the Island die. If this is the case, it would explain why it’s important the Others keep our Survivors alive. Right now they’re on Team Jacob – but if they die, it might shift the balance to Team Anti-Jacob.
The weird thing is that plenty of characters on Lost have died over the years without becoming Anti-Jacob Zombies. Sayid was only “dead” for a few minutes before coming back to life, potentially claimed by Anti-Jacob. Other characters were dead for hours before being buried, and didn’t suffer the same fate. Maybe Anti-Jacob is choosy about who he claims?
Claire. Which brings us to Claire. According to Dogen, she represents what will eventually happen to Sayid. If this is true, it means that Claire did die during the explosion at the Barracks in Season Four – and although she was walking and talking like good ol’ annoying Claire shortly after (just like Sayid!) eventually Anti-Jacob came knocking to fully claim her – in the form of Christian Shephard… which actually makes total sense.
It means that Oceanic 815 did put Christian’s body on the plane, inside his coffin (as opposed to my earlier theory that they didn’t, but just sent the coffin to appease angry Jack at the customer service desk), but Anti-Jacob claimed him once he crashed on the Island. He would have had to do this almost immediately, since we saw that Christian approached and spoke with Vincent before Jack opened his eyes after the crash. But it explains a lot of his actions over the course of the series, like convincing Locke to turn the FDW and get off the Island (twice!) as part of his master plan to bring dead Locke back to the Island.
But the real question is – if Anti-Jacob has the ability to inhabit the dead bodies on the Island to become members of his Zombie Army, why didn’t he inhabit John Locke? Why are there TWO John Lockes walking around on the Island?
It almost makes me wonder if there’s some third entity at play on the Island – Jacob, Anti-Jacob, and the Island Zombie Spirit. Or maybe we’re just over-thinking things at this point. It seems pretty late in the game to introduce a third entity on the Island. Maybe John Locke is just special – and he’s been claimed by both Jacob and Anti-Jacob or something. Although that would mean that Sayid is the same way – as they are the only two characters that have been touched by Jacob Off-Island, and been dead On-Island. Intriguing. If Jacob and Anti-Jacob are picking sides, Anti-Jacob has two very strong first round picks in Locke and Sayid.
Back to Claire – if she really is “claimed” by Anti-Jacob, it would make sense that she shot both Aldo and Justin, but not Jin (yet) at the end of the episode. After all, the Others are on Team Jacob, and could be viewed as “the enemy”, whereas all our Survivors are free agents who could still end up on either team. Or perhaps there’s still a bit of Claire left inside, who recognizes Jin and remembers they used to be semi-friends.
Claire’s resemblance to CFL seems intentional, given that Aldo and Justin twice referenced CFL during their walk through the Jungle with Kate and Jin. They mentioned that the traps they found looked like CFL traps, even though she’s been dead for years… which hints that they were set by someone else – like Claire. So Claire is setting traps, wielding a rifle, and looking crazy with wild hair – just like CFL… and Claire has allegedly been claimed by Anti-Jacob. Does this mean that CFL was similarly claimed by Anti-Jacob?
I don’t think so. Everything we’ve seen about CFL’s past (so far) indicates that she was the ONLY one of her team who didn’t get claimed by the darkness – and that those who were claimed attempted to kill her. I always assumed that she went crazy because of the things that happened to her on the Island (having to kill her friends and lover, having her child stolen, being alone for years on a wacky Island) rather than her dying and becoming possessed by Anti-Jacob.
But if this is the case, are all the similarities between Claire and CFL just a coincidence? Did Anti-Jacob observe how CFL was able to survive on the Island by herself for so many years and adopt that lifestyle with Claire to help her survive? I’m not sure, but for the first time in many years, I’m interested in a Claire storyline on the Island, and that is a good thing.
Adding more mystery to all this Sickness / Darkness / Claiming stuff is all the vaccines that we have seen on the Island over the years – if Anti-Jacob can only claim those who are dead, what’s the point in taking the vaccine while you are alive? To protect you just in case you die? Or does Anti-Jacob have the ability to claim the living if they are vaccine-free? That would turn all these theories on their head, and raise a ton of new questions as to why he didn’t claim all of our Survivors long ago.
I feel like we’re getting closer to answers to all these questions, but we’re not there yet…
I think that’s all for this week. Hmmmm – over three thousand words about an episode I called a “filler”. Maybe there was more to this episode than meets the eye… or maybe I could write a few thousand words about anything if I tried. But if I missed anything, let me know in the Comments section.
Until next week!