Lost in Retrospect: What Kate Did

The beginning of a long, long, long run of weak Kate episodes, and not even a few brilliant dramatic scenes and some exploration of the Hatch can keep this one out of the negative column.

For a quick refresh on this episode, I suggest you check out Lostpedia’s excellent Wiki page.

It was a mistake on the part of Team Darlton to pick up the dramatically compelling threads of the lackluster “Collision” with a Kate episode, because the shine has worn off the apple and the her two-dimensionality is really showing. What started as a strong, independent character with an interesting backstory has devolved into the worst of all television constructs: a soap opera character, who can never decide which boy she really loves and does little else but think about it. At least other episodes had her tromping off through the jungle chasing someone who told her to stay behind, or occasionally shooting bad guys, but here it’s literally just running from Sawyer’s arms to Jack’s arms and back again. The flashbacks were only a fraction more interesting, as they seemed to cover the same old ground as episodes like “Whatever The Case May Be’. Sure, we find out what Kate’s crime was and a bit about her screwed up family and the resulting issues (drink!*), but the net result was just more scenes of a potentially awesome character being not awesome. What happened, Darlton? What happened to this character? And why did it take until season 5 for someone to fix things?

The Hatch stuff wound up being a big letdown, but in hindsight, I can see the psychological hands behind this action, further manipulating and breaking the audience as they do the characters. And the fact that the characters were as let down as the audience says that the writers’ didn’t intend this to be a huge earth-shattering revelation and it simply fell flat: we’re meant to feel let down, dejected and just a little bit faithless. The Hatch is doing it’s dirty work of breaking people down into tiny, useless lumps of humanity; it it any wonder Locke lost his shit at the end of the season? It’s an incredibly ballsy move for a show to put the audience in the mindset of someone like John Locke when the story is currently trying to break Locke’s faith in the great “plan” of the Island. More than a few people lost faith in the great plan of the writers and wound up quitting, like Locke does at the end of the season.

Mind you, we’re a bit better off than Locke and Eko, since immediately after the important instruction to not use the computer for communication, we see Michael doing just that and have to wonder what badness will come of this. I’m wondering now who exactly was on the other end of that IM chat: Walt or the Others, trying to lead Michael into a trap. At this point, I don’t think it matters and in the muddle of season 2, I’m happy to let this one slide off my mental plate.

But for it’s seeming uselessness, I have to give props to Terry O’Quinn and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje for wringing every bit of tension they possibly could from their scenes together. Both characters seems calm and zen-like, but so much comes through in their powerhouse performances. It’s a shame we couldn’t get years of these two verbally sparring. Similarly, everyone involved in the funeral scene deserves some kudos, because that was an absolutely heartbreaking, tearjerking sequence. Even in the brief reaction shots of the castaways, everyone brings their A-game and makes you feel the loss of a Lostie.

A few scenes of brilliant performances don’t excuse the standard fare of season 2, which is nothing and lots of it. It’s by no means the worst episode of Lost, but it’s near the bottom and only a necessary watch if you’re a completist like me.

* The Lost Drinking Game. Mummy/Daddy issues? Drink!


2 Responses to “Lost in Retrospect: What Kate Did”

  1. Justin Mazaleski Says:

    I was just wondering why everyone seems to dislike Kate’s story. I watched the first 5 seasons of LOST before I got the Internet (I was the last person in the world to do so), and I was not aware of the public backlash against her character. I personally have no problem with her character. Just wondering…

  2. I think ‘backlash’ is the key word. She started as an awesome, affirmative character, but as the series went on, all her positive traits were stripped away or just forgotten, and by late season 2/early season 3, Kate did nothing but change her mind about who she loved and insist on coming with whoever was going off on an A-Team mission. Had she not started out as a great character, I think reactions to Kate would’ve been fair to middling, but the fact that she seemed to devolve over five years is what really pisses people off. Or at least, that’s how I see it.
    Part of what I really like about season 5 is that towards the end of that season, it actually gave Kate some motivation and room to develop beyond “I love Jack. No, Sawyer! No, Jack! No…” and I think by the end of season 6, she’s been well and truly saved as a character, but there’s such a dip in the middle there.

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