"I don't trust myself. How am I supposed to trust you? Let's see where trust gets us."

-- Jack Shephard to Dogen the game-playing, baseball-spinning Temple master

 

Yes, "let's see" indeed. So this episode clearly was heavy on the trust theme, which is interesting considering the timing and the fact that a lot of viewers are losing trust that LOST is going to get them the answers they want in the manner in which they want them delivered, and ironic considering the central character of the episode's title is simultaneously one of our most/least trustworthy. Kate Austen can't be trusted to stay in one place or tell the truth, yet also is fairly certain to return to the place from which she ran.

 

Let's get it out of the way early - no, I didn't much like this episode. But just as I don't like every episode in my wife's life, it doesn't much matter. I long ago pledged love, commitment, faith. To her and to this show. And I still believe neither will let me down in the end.

 

That said, there's not a lot of plot to sort through this week, so let's cover topics instead…

 

THE MEANINGLESS SCENE

 

First, a gripe. At the 56-minute mark of this episode, right as we're depending on conclusions, reveals, and answers, we get a scene that involves only this: Kate fills up a canteen from the spicket outside a barracks house. Sawyer slouches by, all bummed, walks into one of the barracks.

 

That's it.

 

Believe me, I rewound this scene about five times to make sure I wasn't missing anything - some clue in a corner of the screen, some Easter Egg, something hidden in plain sight that would explain why we're seeing this. If you saw something I didn't, please let me know. Because all I see is that with both this episode and the show's final season on the line, our storytellers, who are preaching trust even as ours wears thin, are showing us filler material?! Containing information we already knew (Sawyer's bummed his fiancé-to-be died! Really?) or wouldn't have questioned (hey, how'd Kate refill her canteen?).

 

We're trusting you guys here. Stop playing games. Oh, which brings us to…

 

THE GAME OF TRUST

 

It starts with Dogen submitting Sayid to torture, but torture unlike Sayid has ever known, because it doesn't involve getting information from him. Or at least, information he realizes he can provide. The "test" Sayid was put to involved:

  1. Ash. Was that ash being blown over his body?

  2. Electricity. Wires are hooked into Sayid's torso, and Dogen cranks up a charge.

  3. A Red Hot Poker. Was this placed at the spot of Sayid's healing bullet wound? At first I hoped this might just be a form of branding, of being marked as an Other, in the same sense that Richard once said if Ben underwent the baptism that he would forever be "one of us." But alas, no.

It did strike me that the items used in the test are some of the crude elements involved in ways life has been described throughout history. Ashes to ashes… the electrical life force (see Frankenstein)… pain ("Life is pain")… body (ash)-soul (power)-spirit (flame)… that sort of thing. Either way, I don't understand how Sayid failed to pass the test. He reacted to each of these things the way any normal living breathing human being would have - at least to my eyes and ears. Is that the point? Would someone freshly back from the dead who HASN'T been "claimed" react differently? How would we know? That's part of why this episode was so frustrating. At least Sayid realizes he didn't really pass the test… even though Lennon told him he did.

 

That's when we play the game with the poison pill (Dogen even spins a baseball during this just to emphasize how the game is afoot). When Jack shows up, Lennon says, "Hey Shephard, we were hoping you'd come on your own." And there's that free will, has-to-be-your-idea thing again. Is this what they wanted to talk with Jack about at the end of the last episode before Sayid woke up? Probably, but how does that jive with Sayid not having awoken yet? And if that topic was to be something else, what was it?

 

Lennon also tries to play the ol' "come with us first, and then we'll tell you everything you want to know" game with Jack. Jack, having a second doctorate in Linusology by now, immediately sees through this old hackneyed ploy.

 

Unfortunately for Dogen and Lennon, they didn't realize that Jack is a champion poker player, and knows how to call a bluff. Lennon even seems admirably surprised when he asks if Jack really swallowed it. Dogen had even tried to play upon Jack's already-established feelings of guilt over Sayid being shot to get him to administer this medicine.

 

For Sayid, all he has left in life is his trust for Jack. Nothing else makes sense (we know the feeling). Even though Jack admits he didn't heal Sayid - the Others did - Sayid still can only cling to his trust for Jack. It's both sad and admirable. And it's this trust that leads Jack to march back in to Dogen and swallow that thing himself to really find out what's going on. He wins the battle of wits, which are all one really has when they trust neither themselves nor anyone else. So what knowledge does Jack learn as his prize? Over the course of the episode, he finds out that: 

  • Dogen was "brought here, just like everybody else." Jack is supposed to know exactly what this means. We have to assume that Jacob called them.

  • He intentionally keeps a language barrier between himself and his people because it "makes it easier on them when I make decisions they don't like." He seems to know Jack can relate. The line also invokes a theology of some persons who believe this is one benefit of God's separation through holiness from his sheep-like creatures who baa and moo about every little happening.

  • Sayid's "infection will spread" if this pill is not willingly taken by him. Spread? To everyone else?

  • His sister Claire's alive, but infected.

  • Sayid has been "claimed." Jack's next question is interesting. It's not "by whom," but rather, "by what?" He is informed there is a darkness growing in Sayid (recall that Smokey informed Ben he's not a "what," but a "who")

‘SUP WITH SAYID?

 

The first words of this episode are "He's Alive." Lennon speaks them to Dogen after we are shown how he has marched purposefully and barefootedly through the tunnels of the Temple to deliver this news. The words perk up the ears of anyone who's ever been in church on Easter Sunday. Usually they are followed by an exclamation point, and much rejoicing, especially when they follow the knowledge that someone had been dead (Jack will soon confirm to Sayid that, "You died"). Wow! What once was dead has been brought back to life! And yet…

  • Sayid confirms to Hurley that he's "not a zombie" (although… how would he know?). And he doesn't fit our concept of zombies as brainless, rotted corpses. He might, however, fit the newer zombie mold of suffering from a blood pathogen or other "infection"

  • He's not quite Frankenstein's Monster, either

  • He's definitely not Jesus

  • He tells Miles he experienced none of the typical (I think we can trust Miles' expertise on these matters) dying experiences: bright light, singing, ancestors, angels, etc.

  • His wound is almost completely gone. Even Jesus' wounds stuck around for a while. What's healing him? Sayid assumes Jack did it. That's some serious faith and trust he has in the good doctor.

As a result, we don't really know what to do with Sayid. Dogen's own reaction to the news "he's alive" was to stare into the distance and grab the hourglass (?) around his neck. Should we rejoice? Eh… we'd like to be glad one of our favorite characters is alive but… Should we get our torches and pitchforks? That seems to be what some of the Temple folk would like to do. But there again you run into a dead-end of weirdness and head-scratching. Dogen and Lennon want to kill Sayid by giving him poison. But they also tell Jack it won't work "unless he takes it willingly." What? I mean, that line fits really nicely into our recurring "power of choice / free will" theme as it pertains to the Others' way of doing things, and Ben's manipulations, and the game Jacob and his Nemesis have been playing, and religious metaphor and so forth. But if medical science has found a poison that only works if a person chooses to take it rather than having it forced down his throat, it'd be convenient to know about it. It's possible, of course, that this poison/medicine would have only killed the darkness, and not Sayid. But I can't buy that being the case, because if it were, Dogen and Lennon would have had nothing to lose by playing it straight with Jack.

 

Which brings us to the question of: Why kill Sayid? First, it makes me feel wrong about what I wrote last week, which is that the whole reverse-baptism sequence went exactly as it was supposed to, that Sayid was supposed to "die" during it, and his coming back to life was also as planned. Well, clearly it isn't. Is this all because the pool wasn't clear, which is probably because Jacob is dead? If so, then why did Jacob tell Hurley to bring Sayid to the Temple, and why did he send a note with all their names indicating, as far as we know, that if Sayid dies it would be very very bad? Is it because Jacob knew Sayid would then be "claimed" by the dark side? Is it still possible Sayid has been claimed by Jacob, and Dogen & Co. are too blind to realize this?

 

It's a bit of a tangent, but this is where I want to bring up a tiny line spoken by Justin to Aldo about why they shouldn't hurt or kill Jin: "Aldo, no, we can't! He's one of them!" One of them? Hold up. First, we've heard this phrase of being "one of us" or "them" (two-sidedness, black/white, the war, etc.) over and over again, but since when has being a non-Other equaled protection from the Others? All I can assume is that "one of them" means "the people on the list" inside Jacob's ankh, which = the Losties Jacob once touched off-island (Jin, Sun, Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sawyer, Sayid (plus Locke, who is dead), which also = the ones Jacob referenced when he said, "They're coming."

 

If Sayid is one of these, why didn't they just let him die of his bullet wound rather than drowning him in their possibly-broken pool? True, the Others warned of possible "side effects" of the process. But what would ideally have happened to Sayid? All we really know is this: Sayid appears to us to be his same old self, but like the time Frodo was stabbed with a Morgul blade on Weathertop, he will cease to be himself if whatever's inside him reaches his heart. Unfortunately, I haven't seen Hugo Weaving or Liv Tyler wandering around the island, so it looks like he might be doomed. But what would that mean? Craziness? Zombieism? Death? Which brings us to…

 

The Sickness.

 

If you have read my recent marathon of recaps from Seasons One-Five, you know how tiresome the mentions of sickness and infection grew at times when they never seemed to go anywhere. I actually hoped it was all a red herring, used by both the Others to control behavior (like keeping people in the hatch), and by the producers to throw us off the scent of what was really going on. So why am I disappointed to find out it was quite probably real all along? Most likely because of all the new questions this creates for me:

  • Does the sickness really kill you, or does it cause you to want to kill everyone else?

  • It doesn't present as a normal sickness or infection. Dogen even laughs a bit when Jack mentions Sayid has no fever.

  • Is it a form of madness?

  • Where does it come from? From having died and then having been claimed by some mysterious force?

  • Is this what Claire has, as Dogen says to Jack? Well, how did she get it? Was she really killed - as I and others suspected - when her house was bazooka'd? Did she catch it hanging around Dead Christian? When we see Claire, only thing that appears to be wrong with her is she's the new Crazy Chick, the new Rousseau, which then makes us ask…

  • Was DANIELLE the sick/infected one, and everyone else on her team was sane? And she murdered them out of her sickness rather than to keep their sickness away from her? Which would make us ask…

  • Was Robert intending to kill Danielle because SHE was the sick one? What really happened when he and the other French guys went into the tunnels? I already suspected this question might come up when we saw Montand's skeleton last week. All didn't appear as it should have (see below for more on this).

For now, I'm running with this scenario:

 

Claire died when Keamy's team blew up her house, and Sawyer found her under a collapsed wall. Afterwards, she didn't feel quite like herself, and Miles the Ghostbuster kept staring at her funny-like. She got claimed by the dark side, which is why she goes off with Dead Christian (who does the bidding of Smokey?), and why Locke sees her in the cabin. After this, after she served her purpose (which was what, exactly? To abandon Aaron so he might be "raised by another" in the real world, perhaps because he's been "claimed" too, perhaps so this nasty dark force can extend out into the real world?), was she summarily dumped back into the wild to fend for herself, ala Rousseau?

 

Beyond that, I'm clueless to know what's really going on here, though I will say that Bitter Sawyer's quote to Kate about how OF COURSE an Iraqi torturer who shoots kids deserves a second go-round (while a cute blonde fertility doctor does not) not only showed where Sawyer's head is right now, but also suggested and implied that, well, don't assume this is a good thing for Sayid or anyone else, James. Sometimes it's better to have died and stayed dead…

 

SO, WHAT DOES KATE DO?

 

Kate does what she always has done - run, go back. Run, go back. She dumps Claire and takes her stuff, then comes back after she gets the cuffs off. She came back the time Jack specifically never told her to do so. She went back to the island to find Claire. She went back to save Ray the Rancher when she could have gotten away in Australia. She went after Sawyer when he left the Temple. In doing, she left the Temple, but now has nowhere to go but to head back there. She's not really my favorite character, even though she has her good points, emphasized here when she helps Claire, and I guess when she is moved to tears by Sawyer's heartbreak? Or is that more of a self-pity cry there on the docks, realizing that she has blown it with both of the guys she strung along? I couldn't tell, and honestly, I didn't much care.

 

If there was one really cool thing about this episode, it was seeing Claire alive on the island again, looking and acting just like Rousseau: setting traps, saving a Lostie from Others with a shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude, looking all dirty and crazy. Does she recognize Jin there at the end? All we really know about her is that the Others know she is Jack's sister, and believe she's "sick." But most of the Claire story centered around what happened to her after Kate commandeered her taxi...

 

One difference in new-815 Kate is that she's a lot less evasive and more upfront than she once was. She tells both the auto shop guy and Claire things about her run that she previously would have avoided or lied about, such as being "wanted for murder," and "would you believe me if I said I was innocent?" This Kate also doesn't play Patsy Cline as she drives around LA in her taxi. She doesn't play any music at all. She does seem to know, though, that it's not going to go well for Claire at this house they're headed to. And it doesn't take a genius to know that a couple expecting to adopt would have been at the airport with bells on if all was well.

 

I did feel like Kate and Claire were being just a tad insensitive to the woman whose husband had just left her, even if they were in the right that a simple phone call to Australia would have been in order. The stress of this situation forces Claire into labor, which is how we get treated to Kate helping keep Aaron from being born, as opposed to the time she helped birth Aaron.

 

Claire names Aaron while he's still in utero. In the original timeline, on the beach, this would have been around the time she felt the baby kick, and referred to him as a "he." That time, this was her only insight into the baby - that he was male. This time around, she knows his name, something she didn't give him until after he was born originally. "I don't know why I said it. It's like I knew it or something," she tells Kate, in what marks another example of brief recognition since 815 has landed. When Claire screams out, "Is Aaron okay?" another look of recognition and déjà vu crosses Kate's face. Ethan… Aaron… Claire - where has she seen this before? She had the same look on her face in the taxi during her getaway when she saw Jack talking on his cell phone…

 

Ethan, as I and others have long been asking about, is finally using the surname Goodspeed. And he's a friendly, competent OB-GYN. My take is that Ethan and his mother Amy, in this timeline, were evacuated pre-Incident in 1977. Away from the island, he never joined the Others, and therefore never took the last name of Rom, or had to make up the last name of Rom. And he's lived a very useful life this way, away from the presence of Ben, who by the time of the Incident was living with the Others, and would presumably be dead with everyone else who plunged into the sea…

 

Ethan has a feeling that Aaron's "going to be a handful," and notes that "he likes to move around a lot." And I get those creepy baby vibes again… even though we've seen Aaron as a baby and a three-year-old and he's been nothing but delightful. But that was in the "815-crashed-on-the-island" scenario…

 

"What Kate Does", the episode's title, suggests present tense, real. Compare it to previous Kate-centric titles "What Kate Did" and "I Do." We learned from the pop-ups that the producers are officially calling the Los Angeles sequences "flash-sideways," meaning real-life looks at what would have happened if 815 had landed as scheduled, meaning this really could be what she does - help Claire again (help Claire every time?). Some things are just a little different in this iteration, bringing us to…

 

THE CONCEPT OF MIRRORS

 

I have mentioned previously that it seems mirrors and reflections have played a big part in the telling of this story. In one of Sun's flashbacks, nearly every sequence opens with her reflection. The show has used tons of Alice in Wonderland references, in particular ones involving "Through the Looking Glass." In the Season Six opener, we see Jack's bloody neck only in his mirror image. In this episode, after Kate gets her cuffs off, we see her facial expressions as she goes through Claire's bag only by way of her reflection in a mirror. What's more, more and more things are "mirroring" events between timelines:

  • Sawyer telling Kate "Don't come after me" mirrors Jack once telling her "Don't come back for me."

  • Sayid being electrocuted and tortured mirrored him undergoing the same treatment from Danielle

  • Claire's traps and appearance mirror Danielle's

  • Sawyer tossing his engagement ring into the water mirrors Desmond doing the same the time he threw Penny's would-be ring into the Thames

  • Ethan's phrases, appearance, and way with Claire mirror his way with her the first time around, down to "not wanting to" stick her belly with needles if he doesn't have to

  • On the same dock, Sawyer once asked Juliet to stay so he wouldn't be alone. Now, he asks Kate to leave because he's resigned to always being alone

  • Kate helps Claire keep Aaron in, as opposed to helping Claire push Aaron out

What does it all mean? Are the new timeline events happening simultaneous with the island events? Are the new events going to be able to hold true (was Jack's bloody neck the first sign that this universe can't hold together)? Are these events happening on the other side of the mirror - identical in some ways but opposite in others? We'll continue to track instances like this from episode to episode.

 

THE CABIN REVISITED

 

No cabin, no smoke monster (except by way of being referenced by Aldo - who we last saw as the Other who fell for the "Wookie Prisonser Gambit" when Kate, Sawyer, and Alex sprung Karl from Room 23), or Man in Black/Dead Locke in this episode. But thanks to the pop-ups on the rerun of last week's second hour, we did learn that when Ilana and Bram found the broken ash circle around the cabin, it meant that Smokey then was able to take over the cabin (can't remember the exact phrasing). The implication, though, was that it was not the Man in Black/Smokey who was imprisoned here. Apparently no one was ever imprisoned there. I'm now running with these theories:

  • Somewhere along the line, Jacob did take up residence in the cabin as a second home away from his giant foot

  • The ash circle was somehow broken by someone BEFORE Locke ever visited the cabin (there is one photo of the time he and Ben stopped at the line, and it appears like it COULD be broken then)

  • Still going with it being MIB/Smokey who threw Ben across the room and who Locke saw briefly and who asked Locke to help him

  • Still going with it being MIB's eye that Hurley saw in the window the time he peered into the cabin and saw Christian in the rocking chair

  • Unsure right now whether it was MIB or Jacob who pinned the picture of the statue to the wall that would indicate to Ilana's team where to find them

  • Unsure who broke the ash circle allowing MIB/Smokey to use the cabin

  • Unsure of why the cabin seemingly can move around

Finally, the first three hours of this season having me feeling very strongly that we missed some crucial information the first time around when we saw - through Jin's eyes - the flash to what happened in 1988 when Danielle's team encountered the Smoke Monster, who ripped off Montand's arm, and disappeared beneath the temple wall. I think we'll eventually be learning more about this, if not through flashback, then through suggestion or a story told by a character who should/could have been around that part of the island at the time (Dogen?). As mentioned above but expanded upon here, I have some ideas that this is a story where we really need to fill in the gaps:

 

1988

We know Smokey killed Nadine. For some reason, he didn't find her suitable for keeping/claiming/eating whatever and spat her back up.

We know Smokey next set his sights on Montand, dragged him down in the same manner and with the same sounds he was going to do to Locke in 1994. Locke really believed he would have been safe. Well, now we see Montand's body STILL sitting there. So it doesn't seem like he would have been safe at all.

We know Montand's crew - except Danielle (and Jin) - went down the hole after him.

We know Montand cried out from below that he was hurt and needed help. But was he already dead?

We know the crew came out, but DID NOT BRING MONTAND'S BODY WITH THEM.

Who did they encounter down there? Smokey? Like Ben did the time he fell below when he went to be judged? Or Others, like the ones who captured Jack, Kate, and friends when they brought Sayid as Jacob instructed?

We know that Robert knew about the Temple - he told Danielle that "the monster" is merely "a security system for the Temple." That would APPEAR to be a lie, from what we know of Smokey now. But if it's a lie, then why DOES Smokey get to hang around in such close proximity to the Temple? Especially if he causes everyone in the Temple to freak out, man their posts, and start pouring ash? Was he kept from harming them while Jacob was alive, and now that Jacob's dead, all bets are off? But how did Robert know about The Temple if he's never seen it? All we knew was he went down into the caverns.

Who infected Rousseau's team? She once was convinced that The Others were "the carriers," even though she obviously knew of the Monster, and could just as easily assumed it was the cause of the sickness.

Was Danielle the one who got sick, by not having gone below? Is that why Robert was going to kill her? Is it the sickness that drove her crazy, or was it that she had to kill her husband and friends?

Now that Claire is a parallel to Danielle, and we have been told Claire is sick, does that make it more probable that Danielle was, too? Or is Claire just mad in the same way Danielle was, from having given up her child and being forced to survive here?

 

There's so much more we need to know to solve many things on this show, and I believe a lot of it starts with needing to learn what really happened that day in 1988…

 

OTHER THINGS OF NOTE

 

Dogen uses an old manual typewriter. What in the world is he typing? His research paper on reverse-baptism? Why not just write with his hand if he's composing a note or letter? Which brings into question who he might be writing to. Does he want to remain anonymous and therefore prefers not to have his handwriting on this communiqué? Where did the Others get a typewriter? From the Dharma folks, probably? And they haven't run out of ink ribbons in the last 30 years? Because those can be really hard to find stateside, much less on Mystery Frickin' Island, as Shannon once so perfectly called it.

 

Why is Aldo being such a punk over simple questions? It is so the audience won't mind what happens to him? (We've seen this ploy before with Juliet's ex-husband and with Radzinsky; the whole, "Well, see, they were total Jerky Jerkersons, so getting decleated by a bus or going crazy down in the Swan hatch and blowing one's head off are good things" thing). But we're in Season Six. What is the PROBLEM if Justin wants to tell Jin that, yes, the Ajira flight DID land on Hydra Island? Or wants to mention that Rousseau has been dead for several years? Come on, man! At least Aldo did take a moment to confirm that the 815ers are being protected from "a big pillar of black smoke, makes a ticka-ticka sound, looks pissed off."

 

Sawyer thinks "some of us are meant to be alone." He doesn't blame Jack (it appears), or Kate, for Juliet's death. He blames himself, for asking her to stay way back in 1974 on that same dock where he tells Kate. He's back to an "every man for himself" mantra now. He thinks none of these people are his friends, and the last thing he wants to do is stay with them. When he uncovers the ring he was going to give to Juliet in 1977, it's here in 2007-08, showing that it moved through time - buried under the floorboards of that house for 30 years - just like the rest of our characters. Dogen tried to plead with Sawyer to stay rather than leave the Temple area; there is truly something at stake that involves all of these Losties having to be in one place. And unfortunately, we know that MIB/Locke finds James out on his own in the next episode…

 

Kate uses yet another name of a saint as her alias, this time Joan.

 

What was Kate doing in the "Authorized Personnel Only" room when the cops came to visit Claire? She was in there before they showed up. Did she know they'd be coming for her? I guess that's a safe assumption. But how did she know when, and how did no "authorized personnel" come across here while she was in there?

 

I loved Miles' line about how he and Hurley will "be in the food court if you need us." Seriously. This Temple is very mall-ish. They have a library, an apothecary, a greenhouse, even a swimming pool. Why not a Sbarro's, too? Miles also shined when he explained to Sayid, "As you can see, Hugo here has assumed the leadership position, so… that's pretty great." And it looks like Miles has stepped up nicely to fill Hurley's vacated comic relief position.

 

Also loved how Arzt's big booty almost impeded Kate's escape from the airport, and how he pulled out his best Midnight Cowboy reference with "I'm walkin' here!"

  • Black-and-white: speed limit sign; stuffed Orca, same as the one Aaron once brought downstairs during an argument between Kate and Jack; Sawyer pulls a black box with a white lid out from under the floorboards; Aaron's ultrasound photo Claire holds; on the monitor when Aaron was shown there was a bigger-than-expected glare of bright white light over him. Accident? Symbolic?

  • The Numbers: 15 mph sign as Kate's cab leaves the airport; the taxi's license plate begins and ends in 4.

  • Deaths: Aldo; Justin? Both are shot by Crazy Claire, but it looked like Justin may have suffered just a fleshwound. Sawyer also shot an Other offscreen when he escaped, but we don't know if it was lethal.

Sigh, well… At least the preview for next week include a line from Dead Locke to Sawyer, saying, "I promise - I'll tell you everything."

 

Waiting.