Feb 11 2010 2:40pm

Lost Round Table: “What Kate Does”

Hey, fellow Lost junkies! We’re back with our weekly round table discussion featuring bloggers Theresa DeLucci, Rajan Khanna, and Bridget McGovern. Fair warning: spoilers abound below the fold; if you’re cool with that, please join us and chime in with your thoughts, opinions, insanely complex conspiracy theories, rants, and predictions for this final season (plus some bonus Lost-related links)...

Theresa: I like how the title of this episode can read like a Lost Mad Lib. “What Kate Does is...” continue to do the exact opposite of what people ask and generally act so annoying viewers forget that way back in the series pilot, everyone thought she was cute and endearing. When Kate was revealed to be a fugitive, I had hopes that her crime would be really bad and the Losties had a female Richard B. Riddick in their midst along with the smoke monsters and polar bears. But of course Kate committed an “acceptable” crime, killing her abusive step-father. So of course we’re supposed to root for her and not think she’s something of an impulsive psychopath who constantly makes bad decisions. (On the topic of female killers, I have a whole rant on audience reactions to Kate vs. Ana-Lucia, but I’ll spare you.)

This episode was pretty sloppy and boring to watch, up until the last ten minutes. Even when Kate’s carjacking someone, she feels entitled to demand personal information. Nosiest. Carjacker. Ever. And how stupid is Claire to get back in a car with the woman who just robbed her at gunpoint earlier that morning?! The biggest highlight of that story for me was the car mechanic who helped Kate out of her cuffs. I loved that guy as Willow’s scuzzy magicks dealer on Buffy. Lost is where all the cool character actors go.

The irony of Sayid, the torturer, being tortured again got old about four seasons ago. Seriously, he’s been tortured at least three times now. Anyway, while it wasn’t Richard Alpert chained up (much to Bridget’s disappointment, I’m sure) I will overlook this tired convention because at least we got to see some shirtless Naveen Andrews. So there’s that. I’m curious if this infection Dogen talked about was the same sickness that killed off Danielle Rousseau’s team in the ‘80s. So how can you make a child-shooting torturer even darker? Guess we’ll find out more when we learn where Darth Claire’s been all this time.

Raj: I agree that after the excitement of the premiere, this episode was a little disappointing, not the least because it focused on Kate. It’s nice, at least, that she finally got around to remembering Claire. I’m a little unsure about everyone’s starting position in Earth-1. Kate is as annoying as usual, Sawyer’s all angsty, and Sayid is, well, weird. Of all of them, I think Hurley is the one who is impressing me with how he’s behaving. But it’s probably not a good sign that I find the two new characters (Lennon and Dogen) to be more interesting than the Losties.

Interesting that there was no glimpse of what is going on on the other side of the island.

I agree with you, Theresa, that the infection seems related to the sickness that Rousseau talked about and what made her team all crazy. And it seems Claire got it, too, which is why she was like Rousseau reincarnated at the end. Whether this is related to Jacob and Silas remains to be seen.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m tired of people trying to escape the Others. I know it probably sucks being stuck in their temple with armed guards all around, but they’re the only ones who seem to really know what’s going on and you’d think by this time the Losties would want answers and want to know everything. I was actually impressed that Jack asked a few questions this time. But still not enough.

What’s next week’s episode called?

Theresa: The Temple has a food court! Why would you want to leave?! I wonder if there’s a Sbarro on the Island?

Next week’s episode is called “The Substitute,” and rumor has it focusing on Locke.

Bridget: Okay...was it me, or did this episode have a certain melodramatic, soap opera quality to it? I felt like the combination of shocking reveals (Ethan Rom!!! Secret, tragic engagement rings!!! “Because it happened to YOUR SISTER!!!”) and unbelievable or uncharacteristic behavior (Kate and Claire’s post-carjack, buddy movie-style bonding seemed a little rushed, didn’t it? “Take my credit card,” Claire? Really? And what was with Sayid’s blind trust in Jack after being tortured in the Pit of Despair?). I know the writers have a lot to cram in, but I have to agree with you guys that this felt a little sloppy.

Having said that, I love all the connections they’re making to the past in both realities; obviously this week’s title clearly echoes the second season episode “What Kate Did,” but the new episode also contained significant links to season four’s “Something Nice Back Home.” The stuffed killer whale toy in Claire’s guilt-inducing suitcase of sadness belonged to Toddler Aaron in that episode, as Kate and Jack’s engagement storyline crashed and burned into a wet pile of boring tears and drunken shenanigans.

In the same episode, Claire abandoned Aaron to follow Christian (or the Adversary in Christian-form?) into the jungle, and now she’s back as feral, shotgun-toting Claire, and I don’t care if she IS evil—I’m happy to see her. Who knows, it might be an improvement! But all of this re-opens the central question of who is actually supposed to raise Aaron... Not Jack, according to Ghost Charlie (via Hurley), which leaves psychic Richard Malkin’s insistence that Claire must raise the baby herself—but clearly he is suspect on several fronts since he is an admitted fraud and is directly responsible for Claire being on the original Flight 815 when it crashed. Poor Aaron—that towheaded little blob must be the most often-abandoned kid since John Locke.

As far as the Island-based action, I just can’t be bothered with another one of Jack’s crises of conscience, and as much as I enjoy It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, bringing back the character of Aldo was just annoying and felt like a gimmick. Everybody gets hit in the face with a rifle butt sometime, buddy—it’s the Island! Stop whining. I’ll be with Miles and Hurley in the food court until something good happens…like a Miles/Hurley episode. Or better yet: spin-off!

Agree? Disagree? Please weigh in the comments! In the meantime, here are some more delightful Lost links for your amusement:

• Imagine “an alternate history where Lost was created and aired in 1967 as a campy sci-fi action series.” Genius.

• A hilarious, character-by-character throwdown pitting 2004 against 2007, based on last week’s season premiere (via

• A magical montage of Sawyer Bein’ Sawyer, featuring all his snarky nicknames from Seasons 1-3.

• “11 Early Roles the Cast of Lost Wishes We’d All Forget.” Warning: May be painful to watch; cannot be unseen. (Compiled by the awesome Sam Greenspan at 11 Points).

• For those interested in a mythological reading of the show, check out Doc Jensen’s intriguing, insanely ambitious theories following the end of last season over at

• And finally, while ABC doesn’t seem to be offering Lost Valentine Day’s cards again this year, you can still find them online...You know. If you’re into that whole thing.

Theresa DeLucci is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in Chizine. She is fully supportive of a Miles/Hurley spinoff show.

Rajan Khanna is a graduate of the 2008 Clarion West Writers Workshop and his fiction has appeared in Shimmer Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn with his two cats, Chloe and Muppet.

Bridget McGovern is a lit nerd, a film geek, and a complete pop culture junkie. She enjoys David Bowie, roller coasters, and The Venture Bros. more than anyone probably should.

Rajan Khanna
1. rajanyk
One further thing that occurred to me on thinking of the episode - what was the torture supposed to reveal with Sayid? How was he supposed to react? And why a poison pill? They had him tied down to the table, why not just kill him then? And why would the pill only work if he took it willingly? It seems with that they were more interested in playing Jack than anything to do with Sayid.
Jason Henninger
2. jasonhenninger
When they said the Japanese dude with the nice hair was named Dogen, I couldn't help but wonder if his name is supposed to actually mean something, or if all the characters on the show with philosopher names (and there are a ton) are just a gimmick. Is Dogen in any way reminiscent of the historic Dogen? Or Locke or Rousseau? It doesn't seem so.

By the way, "a wet pile of boring tears" is a fantastic description!
Bridget McGovern
3. BMcGovern
@Raj--I agree; it seems like the writers may be setting up Dogen as a kind of foil for Jack. Dogen's line about remaining separate from the people he's in charge of definitely resonated with me, recalling all the painful, unnecessary brouhaha surrounding Jack's tattoo...traumatic memories of Bai Ling aside, the translation of the characters given on the show was "He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us." Jack, of course, rejected that interpretation at the time (and who knows whether the phrase actually refers to Jack at all?). But in any case, his ambivalence about the responsibilities of leadership make for some interesting interactions with Dogen and Lennon, who seem to know his weaknesses, playing on his hyperdeveloped sense of guilt as well as noting his utter lack of a sense of humor. (Which was awesome, by the way). Up until he popped the poison pill, I felt like they were playing him like a cheap accordion...

@Jason--Why, thank you! I've been wondering the same thing lately...I'm holding out hope that the names will all gain significance after the show wraps up--that we'll be able to read meaning back into them once we can see the whole picture. I *so* want to believe, can you tell? IT WILL ALL MAKE SENSE ONE DAY. It has to! But until then I'm willing to take your word as our official Resident Buddhism Expert :)
Bridget McGovern
4. BMcGovern
A quick note on names, since people seemed interested in teasing out the Jacob/Esau connections in the comments last week. I found it interesting that Claire had already decided to name her baby "Aaron" when she went into false labor in L.A., since she didn't officially name him on the Island until well after she'd given birth (when he was stolen by Rousseau). So is "Aaron" some kind of predestined name?

The Biblical Aaron was, of course, a descendant of Jacob--but you can't swing a golden calf without hitting one of those in the Old Testament. I find it more interesting to consider that fact that one possible etymology for the name is based on the Hebrew word for pregnancy or conception. Given Lost's preoccupation with fertility and birth, that seems to add additional significance to Aaron's role in the various destinies unfolding.

Also, for those interested, here's some info on the historical Dogen mentioned by Jason Henninger @2. For extra credit, read up on the concept of Dharma transmission! (The Zen kind, not the kind involving Radzinsky).

And finally, I love that they brought back Kate's old "Joan Hart" alias, which was originally an in-joke referencing the fact that the actress playing Kate's mom had actually co-starred with Melissa Joan Hart on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. I'm sure there's a terrible Clarissa-explaining-it-all joke to be made here, but I'll hold off. I promise.
Rajan Khanna
5. rajanyk
I took Claire's sudden production of the name, Aaron, to mean that there was some memory, or at least some residue of Earth-1 in the Earth-2 universe. I suppose it could also mean that certain things are pre-ordained. But since I feel like this is a lot about free will, I think it's supposed to be some kind of connection.
6. Alfvaen
Earth-1 memory echoes might also explain how Claire began to trust Kate.

I always figured the reason nobody wanted to stick around with the Others was that they were always being heavy-handed, throwing their weight around, and pointing guns. I can totally see how that puts some people's backs up. Nobody ever just approaches somebody else on the island and is friendly right off the bat. You know why? Because all those people were killed and eaten by the other groups. It's like a big freakin' Prisoner's Dilemma. Or something.
Mitchell Downs
8. Beamish

I also see this connection between the Altera-characters and the original 815 Survivors. The reset was not completely cold - the events of the 815-Crash universe are informing the new Alternate Universe.

This is why I had no trouble with Claire trusting Kate, or with Kate becoming invested in helping Claire and then reacting when Claire names the baby Aaron. The same reason Jack and Locke suddenly felt comfortable enough to exchange life dramas with one another in the premier. Then there was Kate and Jack sharing the odd look as she escaped in the cab - it seemed to go beyond mere curiosity and into the familiar.

None of the Alterna-Losties know why but they feel drawn to each other. Their connections from the pre-Jughead universe still resonate in this new one.
Bridget McGovern
9. BMcGovern
@Alfvaen--Nice point; now you've got me thinking about what it would be like if Richard Powers decided to rewrite Lord of the Flies--which is really not that far off from describing the current state of the show...

@Beamish (and Raj)--I fully agree that there are definite resonances and connections between the Losties in the post-LAX reality, although I'm not sure to what degree, or how they will ultimately play out. I was just musing on the importance of the name "Aaron" (if there is any at all)...but yes: Desmond officially wins the most prophetic catchphrase award for his "See you in another life" routine.
10. rogerothornhill
(1) Yes, they are absolutely recognizing each other, which is part of the fun. (2) Repetition is part of the road to redemption--Jack is getting healthier with each iteration. (cf. Peter Brooks). (3) Never underestimate the syncretic importance of Beth Broderick. Then again, I am apparently the *one* person on planet earth who actually liked the Jack's tattoo episode--including Darlton--so who am I to expound? (4) "if Richard Powers decided to rewrite Lord of the Flies" :) Right there you've pretty much got the reason to check out t-dot on a weekly basis.
11. shilpa6
It is interesting stuff.

Tax Attorney Attorney Temecula
12. Liesel
I would *love* a Miles/Hurley spin-off! They would be awesome in the talking-to-the-dead business. It would definately have to be a sitcom, though.
13. sofrina
so what you're saying is while i was in the next room ignoring this show, jeff kober, himself of "china beach" fame who played two "buffy" villains (remember "helpless" when the watchers took away her powers to make her fight a crazy vampire?) deigned to grace this show with his brand of greatness?!
Rajan Khanna
14. rajanyk
I remember Jeff Kober most from X-Files (the episode "Ice") and from that vampire show, Kindred. But yeah, he's been in everything.
pete hindle
15. petehindle
Did anybody else notice that the shifts between Island and LA were heralded by a sound effect which sounded like the creaking of a sailship?
Rajan Khanna
16. rajanyk
@15 - I didn't, but now I want to go back to check it out.

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