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The Darkness Within: Claimed By Another on "Lost"

Lost has always been about patterns: the causality of our actions and who we become (seen via the series' trademark flashbacks), the sense that a group of strangers are connected by invisible threads linking them together, and the sense that we might be locked into various behaviors, regardless of the timestream.

Last night's episode of Lost ("What Kate Does"), written by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis and directed by Paul Edwards, points to this very phenomenon as the castaways are once again captured by the Others and held against their will (this time at the Temple rather than the bear cages) while certain events are once more coming together for what I've dubbed the Lost-X group members.

Destiny is, let's remember, a fickle bitch and clearly has a sense of humor as well. While Kate might be determined to flee Marshall Edward Mars, convinced of her innocence, she's once more pulled back into the orbit of those who were on Oceanic Flight 815, whether or not the plane crashed or landed safely in Los Angeles. Try as she might to go it alone, she finds herself connected once more to her fellow castaways. After all, just because you didn't crash, doesn't mean you're not cast adrift.

So what did I think of this week's episode? Get out your mortar and pestle, heat up an iron poker, cuddle with your stuffed orca, and let's discuss "What Kate Does."

The episode's title is clearly meant to recall the Season Two episode "What Kate Did," in which we learn just what crime Kate is guilty of and in which she would appear to be "haunted" by a vision of a black horse. In this week's episode of Lost, however, Kate's past actions--whether they be murder, assault, and theft--matter less than her actions in the present. Throughout the series, we've been told that we are the sum of our actions, a very Aristotelian belief that posits that our state at any given time is comprised of our past actions, a moral equation that takes into account every single behavior that has come before.

But Aristotle also posited that there were four causes that comprised causality itself: a material cause (what an object is made out of), a formal cause (an idea or thought about an object; its shape and essence), the efficient cause (an agent of change or movement or rest), and the final cause (the object's purpose). The change effected by causation could be intentional or accidental.

It's interesting, however, to note the importance of the agent of change itself in a series that deals with metaphysical entities such as Jacob and The Man in Black. If we choose to use Aristotle's Four Causes as a way of investigating Lost itself, it provides a rubric for taking the characters through their journey, however intentional the causes would be. After all, Jacob selected these specific individuals for his mission: he has a purpose in mind for them (the final cause) and has intervened on their behalf to push them into place (the efficient cause), moving them about the board with a grand purpose in mind.

But while Aristotle may have believed that we are the sum of our past actions, that's not entirely true when looking at the Lost-X universe. Because certain elements of the equation have been changed (Oceanic Flight 815 didn't crash), the outcome appears on the surface to have been altered. But the final cause of any object--its intrinsic purpose--may affect all of the other causes, after all. It's not the past actions that matter here but the ones unfolding in the present tense. (It's a sentiment echoed by the title. What's important is not what Kate did, but what she does now.)

In other words: Kate's sole purpose in life is to flee, regardless of which reality she's in. Her status as international fugitive hasn't changed, even if the circumstances of her crime have been altered. Her mission is to get away: from her small town, from the law, from herself. But in the Lost-X reality, she doesn't flee. Faced with the identity of her hostage (a very pregnant Claire) after seeing the contents of her suitcase (which contained a stuffed orca identical to the one Aaron had in 2007 Los Angeles), Kate does something uncharacteristic: she goes back. Despite her circumstances, Kate is therefore a "good" individual, one whose moral compass points to true north, even if she's forced out of self-preservation to do something that might go against her moral code.

But it's not self-preservation that compels Kate to find Claire once more and return what she took from her: it's a sense of altruism and perhaps a tug on that invisible thread connecting them. Just as Kate helped Claire through her difficult pregnancy on the island, so too does Lost-X Kate help this world's Claire. (Every good turn receives another in kind: Claire shields Kate, or "Joan Hart," from the police when they question her in the hospital.) Likewise, Claire still does cross paths with Ethan, here OB-GYN Ethan Goodspeed, who is just as interested in the health of Claire's unborn baby but here appears altruistic and benevolent, worried about injecting her with drugs in a way that the regular timestream Ethan had no compunctions about.

Claire names her baby Aaron for no other reason than the name popped into her head and she "knew" it was his name. (Interesting that, it seems to be generated by the same sense of frisson that passed between Kate and Jack as he stood on the pavement outside LAX. Aside: also loved Artz's shout-out to Midnight Cowboy with "I'm walkin' here!") Kate tells Claire that she should keep Aaron and raise him herself, echoing the prophecy that warned Claire about letting someone else raise Aaron. These are patterns that echo but don't reproduce those on the island. Claire and Aaron aren't separated--at least not yet--but the fact that Claire has crossed paths with Ethan is also interesting. (I was waiting for Dr. Juliet Burke to show up as well, but it's far more likely that Kate will have to deliver this baby herself.)

In other words: there are many, many similarities between these two worlds but there are also many differences. It's also clear that these two timelines aren't unfolding at precisely the same points in history; Claire's ultrasound reads October 22nd, 2004, which is a month AFTER Oceanic's crash in the other timeline. Things have been altered; Ethan escaped the island on the sub before "The Incident" and was never raised by the Others. The plane didn't crash because there was no island for it to crash onto. If that's the case, then I can't help but wonder if the timelines will become increasingly similar or increasingly dissimilar, given the lack of influence Jacob and the Man in Black hold over the castaways.

Back on the island, Jack and the other captives of the Others at the Temple struggle to figure out just what happened to Sayid after he was placed in the murky pool and regained consciousness after being, well, dead. I'm still intrigued by just what Miles "heard" during the moments before Sayid was seemingly resurrected; his behavior towards Sayid is odd and standoffish, as though he knows more than he's letting on. Sayid is tortured by Dogen, who calls blowing ash on him, electrocuting him, and burning him with a red-hot poker a "test" that he claims Sayid has passed. (The ash here is also extremely significant, given its propensity for keeping the smoke monster at bay.)

But not quite: Dogen attempts to convince Jack to give Sayid a pill containing "medicine" that will make him better. He says that Sayid has become "infected" (that word again!) and that a darkness is growing within him. But the pill isn't medicine but poison, a fact that Jack learns after he calls Dogen's bluff and attempts to swallow it himself. Clearly, Dogen is afraid of what Sayid has inside of him and wants to kill him once more before the infection spreads. If it reaches his heart, he will no longer be Sayid... and Dogen has seen this happen before: to Claire.

The return of the infection is interesting and significant. Dogen spoke of great risk involved in attempting to heal Sayid using the pool, which wasn't clear but rather murky and tinged with red. We know that this was the same method by which Ben was saved as a child after Sayid shot him and Kate and Sawyer took him to the Temple to be saved. What if the pool isn't just a pool with mystical healing abilities but a form of cosmic judgment: the inverse of the black smoke? It saves but with a cost: the victim's soul, should its actions be judged more bad than good. After all, Sayid was a torturer, an assassin, and a would-be child-killer. Could it be that the pool judged him and the darkness claimed him?

One problem with that theory: Dogen says that Claire herself had been "claimed" by the darkness as well. Back in Season Four, it did seem as though Claire had been mortally injured when Keamy's men attacked the Barracks and before she wandered off into the night, leaving behind Aaron and eventually turning up with her father in Jacob's cabin. But was Claire ever placed in the pool? Not that we had seen but how else would Dogen know about the darkness within Claire? And, after all, Claire's past actions didn't involve murder or torture. Hmmm...

But Claire does seem to have undergone a massive transformation of her own. The final shot of the episode finds a wounded Jin, pursued by Aldo (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Rob McElhenney appearing for the first time since Season Three!) and Justin, gazing up at a mud-smeared Claire, looking for all intents and purposes like Danielle Rousseau. Given that Rousseau has been dead for three years, it's clear that the many traps that pepper the island belong not to her but to Claire. Is her behavior motivated by the darkness within her or was she able to fight against this infection, just as Danielle did before her? After all, it's Rousseau who says that her team--Montand and the others--were infected after they went into the wall of the Temple. Did they find the pool? Were they infected by the smoke monster? Intriguing...

Meanwhile, Sawyer fled the Temple to head back to the Barracks, pursued by Kate, Jin, Aldo, and Justin under Dogen's orders. Dogen wants all of them safe behind the Temple's walls--after all they were chosen by Jacob for a special purpose--and sends them out to retrieve Sawyer. Jin and Kate have different motives for going. Kate wants to escape (that old story) and Jin wants to find Sun, as she was aboard Ajira Flight 316 when it crashed on the island. Loved that Aldo was furious that Kate didn't remember him after she knocked him unconscious with the butt of her rifle... and proceeds to do the same this time around. But Jin's question, "Who do you care about, Kate?" leaves Kate with little choice: she has to find Sawyer.

Sawyer, for his part, has returned to the closest thing he can call "home," the house he shared with Juliet, where secreted beneath the floorboards is an engagement ring he intended to give to Juliet. I loved the scene between Sawyer and Kate on the ferry dock, in which Kate expressed her guilt for Juliet's death (if they had escaped on the sub, none of this would have happened), but it's Sawyer whose guilt is greater, as he says that he convinced Juliet to stay. He throws the ring into the ocean and tells Kate to get back to the Temple before nightfall.

It's interesting that Kate says that she came back to the island to find Claire and reunite her with Aaron, given that her actions in the Lost-X timeline result in Claire and Aaron not being separated in the first place. Could it be that the Lost-X timeline is more connected to the main timeline than we thought? Is it an opportunity to undo wrongs and put things into the proper places, a metaphysical tabula rasa where old ideas and actions matter less than the choices we make in the present?

What did you think of this week's episode? Did you find it frustrating not to catch up with Locke, Ben, Sun, and the Fake Locke? Were you happy to explore more of the Lost-X universe? Just what is going on with Sayid and Claire? And how does Dogen fit into the bigger picture? Discuss.

Next week on Lost ("The Substitute"), Locke goes in search of those who would help his cause.


melissa said…
First point, Ethan was born on the island, he never "arrived". The Dharma camp still existed in the CGI model, so I guess we are to assume that he was on the sub with his mother at the time of the incident or before whatever happened to sink the island.
This bodes well for people who are afraid that either Penny or Faraday will not exist in the alternate time line.

Sayid's willingness to give up information in order to not be tortured is very suspect. His soft voice and blinking are very reminiscent of another character that whose death is on Jack's conscience.
I feel like Dogen's "claimed" explanation is a way of manipulating Jack to get him to do what he wants, not necessarily a plot point, but I am eager to see how it unfolds, regardless.
Bella Spruce said…
Glad they're finally dealing with the "infection" mystery and also Claire. She definitely seems to have taken on the role of Rousseau (which is particularly interesting since they both had a child on the island that they had to give up to be raised by other people) but Rousseau was not infected and Dogen is saying that Claire is infected. Of course, Dogen has not proven himself to be the most trustworthy person so who knows but I'm looking forward to finding out!
rockauteur said…
Yeah for a long time I thought the infected thing was something made up by the Dharma Initiative (hence the warning on the hatch door and Desmond urged to wear the yellow contamination suit (and inject himself with the serum), but looks like this might be finally paid off... Still though, Montand was never infected since he died right inside the wall to the temple after his arm was torn off by the Smoke Monster... but yeah - what about the rest of Rosseau's friends that she claims were infected? How deep did they get into the temple? And why is the temple now a safe haven away from the Smoke Monster (before they put the line of ash down) when it seemed to be his home in the 1980s Rosseau storyline?

I don't think Dogen was using the same ash on Sayid that they use against the smoke monster. It seemed more of a dust or powder to me that was greenish in tint, rather than the black ash they use to keep the smoke monster at bay.

Wonder if Ethan's mom Amy and dad Horace are still around in the Lost-X timeline? Are they still involved with Dharma in the Looking Glass station? Or have they given it all up? Its still not clear to us what happened to the 1970 Dharma folk who didn't leave the island, i.e. Miles' dad, who made additional videos following The Incident...

Also I wonder if Claire traveled through time following the island being moved or if she was able to stay in the 2004 timeline with the Others. Why did The OThers not move? Did the temple protect them from moving throughout time? or did they move while inside the temple (and thus see Rosseau's friends)?

Also... loved seeing Aldo back again in action! Too bad he got killed! Though I don't think Justin is dead - he seemed to just be wounded in the shoulder and still moving after Jin noticed Claire... Wonder what it means that Justin referred to them as "one of them" a call back to the castaways referring to The OThers as well, the Others... Are these castaways the new Others? What is their purpose? And how did Claire escape the clutches of Christian to become new Rosseau?
Anonymous said…
Dogen's conversation with Jack about his use of Japanese to separate himself from those he had to control was interesting. Its too easy to see forces of Jacob as good and MIB as bad...maybe both are niether good nor bad, something like the Vorlons and the Shadows in Bablyon5.
ninja raiden said…
Jace, do you think the "Nothing Happening" complaints are only going to grow after this episode? Or have a lot of people forgotten that Lost is a Drama first and foremost?
Jace Lacob said…
Ninja Raiden,

There's always an ebb and flow to the narrative form, especially on a hugely serialized series like Lost. While many people are complaining that "nothing happened," pieces are being moved into place on the grand chessboard that is the series. Things will begin to pay off and questions will be answered. But I think that the eight month break between the seasons has left viewers hungry for answers NOW. And there are still quite a few episodes left before the end...
The CineManiac said…
Personally I enjoyed the episode, was it a bit slower than the premiere? Yes. Did it offer a ton of answers? No. But like you said, it was setting up the pieces. Sometimes you have to do some setting up in order to knock it all down, etc.

melissa - I still think Faraday would be dead, assuming it's the bomb that changed the flight landing safely. Because his mom wasn't part of Dharma, she was a "hostile" as Dharma was calling them back in '77. So it's unlikely she'd be on the sub, the same goes for Charles Whidmore.

But I do still think Penny is alive, because we know Whidmore was banished for fathering a child off-island. I think this is Penny and based on her age, she was born prior to 1977.
cory said…
From the way Sayid is acting and the "claimed" comment I'm wondering if the infection is a form of possession or something.

Anyway I very much enjoyed this episode, it felt important to me and I didn't mind setup. And I'm actually enjoying the flash sideways a lot more than I thought I would. I wish this season was going to be 23 or 24 episodes.
Stephen Cornish said…
I enjoyed the episode too. I did think that the two others with Kate/Jin were the most unlikely others ever! It's like they attended a 'faking it' course. Far too chatty, social and also rather useless at following tracks! Isn't that supposed to be one of the things that others are great at?

Also, the whole Lost-x world; I was finding it very hard to believe that Claire or anyone would get back into a car with the same person that held a gun to them moments before. That was far too silly for words.

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