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.

Share with fellow Losties

Written by


I really am from Portland.

15 thoughts on “What we learned from “What Kate Does”

  1. Havent read everything…Im with #2…Jack healed him…not positive, but it was my first thought during the episode as that scene aired.

    I cant agree on the importance of this episode…Lost was BUILT on episodes like this.

    It has to happen. Everything is not candy and rainbows, and a story needs some boring to punctuate the inner-workings of a storyline.

    I wish you would have posted this sooner after the episode…its a good debate, but I feel it belongs in “general”…if not theories.

    You covered the important parts well. Dabs recent post covers a lot of the “inside the temple” stuff that was also passed over, but is crucial to the story.
    I think that this post most importantly plays into what…oddly enough…Kate did…since it was to be the focus point.

    You make a good point on something here.

    Many are talking about “when the timelines overlap”…or when “they come together or converge”…but it is already happening in the most subtle ways.

    Beginning with the premier on the plane, right into what you bring up that “Kate did”…it cannot be ignored and is crucial to focus on Kate off and on island, the inner workings of the temple, and already happening convergence of realities.

    Good post Kim…I can truly appreciate you sticking up for the show and bringing out some overlooked focal points.

  2. Thanks A.E.S. Maybe I’ll move it over to General.

    I wrote it Friday and didn’t have a chance to post it. I believe you have called things your own “off-island” issues before… 🙂 Yeah, I’ll borrow that line from you. Life happened, but it didn’t keep me from waking up at 3am and thinking about Kate’s metaphorical freedom we might have witnessed…

    Anyway, I had a feeling you might have some similar thoughts on this episode. There was so much more that could have been written out on some of the ‘overlap’ or mirroring of scenarios that I referenced and how that is extremely significant. I’ll go check out Dabs’ post, too, but I like how you describe the “convergence of realities” because I think that is what we have to be paying attention to at this point.

    Glad I’m not the only one thinking that Jack’s ‘touch’ could have been the source for Sayid’s return. The more I have thought about it, I think that Dogen (and possibly Lennon) are aware of Jack’s ability and know that’s how it worked, too. The leadership pep-talk conversation, the baseball, Jack being the one to give him the pill. I think it’s pretty viable.

    I think this episode was far from boring… I have a feeling that when all is said and done, it is going to be one of those, “Ohhh, now I get it” type of things for a lot of people.

    Thanks for the comment, A.E.S.

  3. Although I was bashing this episode 5 minutes after it aired, I like your ideas on this episode nonetheless.

    As you mention, the flashbacks/forwards that we’ve experienced to this point have allowed us to dive deeper into these people’s lives. It allows us to understand why they do what they do…..

    That’s why I’m having a serious problem with this alternate timeline. The purpose of the writers showing us this is still yet to be determined, and it’s extremely hard to invest in because of that. It almost seems pointless at times, especially when I feel like I’ve seen this all before.

    So far, it looks like it’s just a way of showing us how the universe course corrects itself. Christian’s coffin disappears again. Claire still names her baby “Aaron”. It even looks like maybe Locke gets to walk again, with Jack’s professional help this time instead of the island’s.

    I’m not calling this episode a COMPLETE filler. We did learn some things as you point out, things that will have some significance in the future no doubt. The story sure as hell didn’t progress very far though, and it sure wasn’t very exciting either (I understand that’s just a personal opinion, but seriously it wasn’t).

    Anyway, this post of yours showed me that maybe there was more to this episode than I originally thought. So, well done.

  4. Hi kimberly, I’m with AES on the “I wish you would have posted this sooner”….I totally relate to life issues that prevent you from being present on the site.

    I really feel that this episode in particular, happened to be one of those episodes that was underrated for the volume of clues that it held. These are the types of episodes which on the surface may appear very boring, but have the most in substance and depth.

    You did a lovely job explaining Kate, btw. Your other points are well taken too.

    I also agree with the other sentiments AES has addressed. Nice theory, and nice to have you back theorizing again. It’s been awhile.

  5. Wow Chief, I will take that as a compliment! It’s always going to come down to personal perspective, isn’t it? 🙂 Thanks for being willing to consider a few things, and I’m glad you found something that resonated even just a little.

    Do you (anyone for that matter) realize that if Kate did what she is destined to, which is to keep Aaron and Claire together, then she could be killed off next week? Not saying she will, but it’s that kind of stuff – the big picture “destiny brought us here for a reason” kind of stuff – that would allow for that kind of character loop to close. I don’t think she will die tomorrow… that’s not my point. I’ve just been trying to look at what is happening in the two timelines with “destiny” and choices on the line, which makes both timelines really interesting and really important.

  6. Thanks Dabs!

    I wish I could have posted sooner, but oh well…what happened, happened. 😉

    I seem to remember someone (AES, perhaps?) recently talking about how Kate is still a mystery at this point. Isn’t that interesting that this MAJOR character that she is still leaves us wondering at times, and then this Kate-centric episode is the follow-up to “LA X”? Yes, I would say it’s laden with clues and meaning, and we are probably exactly where the writers want us to be.

    Thanks for the comment, Dabs. I’ll go check out your theory while I can.

  7. kimberly, I also walked away from this past episode feeling like Kate is the only character I have little to no insight about.

    She is definitely not someone who is easily understood. I feel I actually know less about her than I did in the beginning, but am not picking up on many of the clues.

    I do feel that Kate’s perception of herself was ‘skewed’ and that what she was running from has always been herself. Perhaps, Aaron’s presence in her life, has given her purpose, beyond herself.

    Once again, nice work.

  8. Oh…I hope you didnt take the “…post sooner” comment the wrong way. I was focused on other things and never got in line with combating the people who felt this episode meaningless.

    I was happy to see you tackle many of the issues you caught that many missed, and even a few that I didnt think anyone got…one being Jack touching Sayid, and possibly saving him. Great job summerizing as well.

    The Jack and Sayid thing…that will be one of those argument starters once wind picks it up…

    I can say that viewing this from 2 womens perspective makes understanding Kates story easier, and I am serious with that comment.

    Its interesting. Sawyers babys momman says the very same thing about why she lied about Aaron…she needed someone to give her life purpose. Sawyer left her, she picked up Aaron…and Jack briefly.
    But the point is, she has always been selfish in that manner.
    By her doing this…attempting to help Claire keep Aaron, gives her life purpose that benefits someone else.

    I did talk about Kates meaning Kim…I believe it was something along the lines of her being more than the bottom of an on island triangle…She has to have some great meaning…some very large role.

    I like this theory a lot, and have to go over all the points again, but it is great to have out before the new episode.

  9. I know that a lot of emphasis has been put on the little love triangle between Kate-Sawyer-Jack — but I do find it interesting that this emphasis was put on her at the same time we see Sawyer headed one direction while Jack is very much headed another. It brings her role into that much more tension and ultimate power between the sides that will come out in the days ahead.

    We finally saw in both timelines where Kate is finally running “to” something rather than “away” from her circumstances or as you (Dabs) point out, herself. Her acknowledgment of it in this episode felt a lot like Jack’s acknowledgment of his trust issues and him not trusting himself. I would think that this kind of acceptance or ‘letting go’ is key to them (and us) figuring out the bigger picture, or what they are ‘destined’ to do.

  10. As you guys say Kate is still a big mystery. So is another woman on the Island, Ilana. Situations all seem to relate to one another; Ben and Whidmore, Jacob and Nemesis not being able to kill each other. The way situations seem to mirror each other in the two different timelines/ realities we are watching. I’m know there are lots of examples but I’m tired and not willing to look things up right now. Dabs brought up this idea months ago. At the time it hit me that Jacob and Ilanas little chat reminded me very much of Jack and Kates relationship.
    Now I’m thinking Jack, Sawyer, and Kates triangle may be mirroring something that happened in Jacob, Nemesis and Ilanas past. The only thing is, Nemesis didn’t recognize her when he came out of the temple. Which may not mean anything, Ilana might not have looked as she does now. I’m a little Ilana obsessed. Who the hell is she? Her and Kate have a strong character resemblance to one another. Both are very strong woman who seem to get the things they want done by themselves not relying on someone else to do it for them. I think if we find out more of one we will know more about the other.

  11. Wow AES, I think you commented as I was writing about the island-triangle thing, too. Funny timing and no wonder it’s familiar.

    It makes sense because if she is finally living beyond herself (as in no longer protecting herself under the guise of protecting others) then it is very similar to Jack finally living up to his ‘destiny’ and I see how these two roles will be so significant to the “sides” among the Losties on the island. And besides, it’s not only Jack living up to his destiny (as opposed to thinking he can control everyone else’s) but that is really going to be the ultimate question for all the remaining Losties – even (dead) Locke.

    For some reason Ben’s line “Destiny is a fickle bitch…” is what comes to mind as I keep thinking about Kate and her destiny… yes she’s been fickle, but I think the implications of fickle meaning ‘unpredictable’ is nagging at me with her.

    Thanks for the comments and continued discussion!

  12. Hi kimberly, I am reminded by one other thing about Kate. In Kate’s former life, her decisions for herself and other people were based upon her own needs, and not on the needs of other people. As, in killing Wayne. That was not her mothers wishes. She chose for her, because she thought it was right.

    She took Aaron because it was what she wanted and needed. Now, she has chosen to be ‘selfless’ and is making choices in the best interest of others, specifically Claire and Aaron. By doing this, I think Kate will end up finding the peace which has alluded her.

  13. Nice post as always 🙂

    I have been thinking about what Dogen said to Jack about Sayid. He said “There’s a darkness growing in him. And once it reaches his heart, everything your friend once was will be gone.”

    I have the feeling there’s something to that sentence, because everything Sayid once was, was, in particular, a torturer and killer. At least that’s what the writers made clear to us.

    Could it be that it actually means exactly the same as “he will lose his innocence” (Ben)? As we all know, Ben has a very dark side to him.

    It would mean that Richard is responsible for the growing darkness inside Ben, and that he could very well be in cahoots with MIB/Smokey/Darkside.

  14. I have about one minute to post, but I am looking forward to coming back in a bit to follow up on a few of these thoughts. Thanks so much everyone!

    Here’s what crossed my mind this morning…

    Is it possible that the vial of sand that Richard brought to young Locke as one of the objects was actually ASH instead of sand?

    Wouldn’t that make the ash connection that much more interesting?

    I know that Lostpedia says it’s sand, and we have generally thought sand to represent the island…but I am going out on a limb and thinking it could be ash.

    I have to rewatch the scene with this at some point.

    BTW – Roland, good thoughts on bringing Ilana back into the mix! She definitely needs to be explained, but I like how you pointed out that she potentially looks very different now than she might have before. Good call!

Leave a Reply