What we learned from “What Kate Does”
I know plenty of people hated last week’s episode. I’m okay being in the minority (which is why I post this in the debate section) but I think that there were at least a few things learned from “What Kate Does” that are worth noting.
The more I think about this episode the more I like it.
1. ASH — SMOKE(Y) — FIRE — Part of the test we saw performed on Sayid involved blowing ash over him. Ash is once again seen as significant as it relates to Smokey. The irony and hopefully staring-us-in-the-face clue is that ash and smoke (the visible form of “the Monster”) are both correlated to fire. Fire is the very place that Jacob ultimately died, beneath the Greek symbols for “The fire pit burns brightly to ash.” Bram carried ash with him and instantly knew to use it as protection when facing Smokey. The Others got out their stash of ash to use as protection against “him” coming. Fire, ash and Smokey = all related, all worth paying attention to. They could have used plenty of other symbols or items that would ward off a Smoke Monster, like water (oh hey dirty fountain water) or trees (which seems to have been important in the past) but we keep seeing the use of ash.
2. HOW IS SAYID HEALED: MIB? JACOB? JACK? — It’s not yet possible to identify exactly how Sayid came back to life, even if he is considered alive-but-infected. On Chief’s post, I threw into the mix the possibility that Jack healed him. Jack is now actually being the most honest and humbled he has been in awhile, if not his entire life. It would be fitting that Doc the healer for the past 5 seasons is finally owning his limitations and inability to control things at the very time that he now can actually heal as he has been destined to heal and lead. (I throw “lead” in there because that little sit-down with Dogen and the talk on leadership was not ‘filler.’) This possibility also fits with the past seasons leading us to believe that Jack is special and his role as leader/healer and “Shepard” bloodline is significant.
3. CLAIRE — Claire is infected and Danielle-esque. There is plenty of conversation on this elsewhere on the site, but it still counts as something we learned.
4. “THE DARKNESS IN HIM” — This isn’t just about Sayid. Sawyer is headed down a dark path of isolation and hopelessness. This is one more significant addition to the storyline of “sides” and whose side he will end up on, as well as the overarching trust issues that we are finally getting to. The Losties divided has never worked out well, and at some point he will have to make series (and character) resolving decisions based on who he trusts and what he does because of it.
5. MORE SYMBOLISM — Obvious use of images (and one previous episode’s statement) that symbolizes being bound to each other: an engagement ring, handcuffs, and from LA X, the line “nice to see you out of those chains.” In Kate removing her handcuffs, is she finally free? (See #6 below.) If anything, to me these were symbols to pay attention to as the theme of trust and sides in point #4. Should we count on Sun & Jin’s wedding ring making an on-screen appearance soon to remind us of these ties and eventual divisions between the Losties? Most likely. And thinking more on that…the fact that Jacob appeared to Sun & Jin at their wedding, where they gave each other their rings and his blessing to them was about their love (unity), it’s quite fitting that Crazy Claire finds Jin of all people. But hey, maybe that was just filler. Just kidding.
6. WHAT KATE DOES — Finally, to Kate and what she DOES. The episode is called what Kate DOES, present tense. She did in one timeline what she is trying to do in the other. (Seems pretty significant to me.) In Sideways timeline (no 815-crash) she accomplishes the very goal that motivated her to go back to the island in the 815-crashes timeline: find Claire in order to reunite Claire with Aaron, as Kate believes that Claire should be raising her son. In the no-crash timeline, she finds Claire (on the street) and in the hospital she offers Claire the advice, “You should keep him.” Which is like another way of saying, “you and your son belong together.” (She could have added, “TRUST ME, I KNOW” if we are to think that the characters have some soul-type connection to their “other” timeline self.) The belonging together type of statement sounds a lot like Kate believes a bit in destiny.
The fact that Kate DID what she is trying to do elsewhere is so critical to our understanding of how the writers are leading us through these two timelines. If we miss these types of overlaps, I tend to think we are missing the bigger picture. All of the past seasons use of Flashbacks and Flashforwards were vital components of how we understood what was happening with the characters, why they were making the choices they were, and they also provided major clues to some of the very things us viewers have been debating and trying to figure out. Whether it is about changing the past, destiny, course correction, or resolving who represents “good” based on the choices that they make — this “new” timeline has to be paid attention to for how these major themes get resolved.
Obviously, everyone who hated this episode can hate it. To me there was plenty to chew on, and ultimately I believe character-centered answers are going to trump obvious ‘island-mystery’ answers whether us viewers like it or not. I think plenty about the island will be answered soon enough, but not at the expense of showing us how significant certain tensions, divisions and resolutions are for the main characters first.