At the end of the day, I like Kate. She’s far from my favorite character, but she has a good redemption arc like everyone else on the Island. The love triangle between her, Jack, and Sawyer is overplayed throughout the whole show, but it never really sinks things. And I can understand what they see in her too. Jack likes hard-luck cases, and Sawyer recognizes a kindred spirit there, so in some ways it works well. In fact, I’d say that no one really hates Kate at all. Instead, they hate most Kate episodes. For some reason, she tends to get stuck with a lot of sub-par material. That’s what we have here. We all want to see more of Kate’s backstory, but “Whatever The Case” seems hell-bent on making Kate as unlikable as possible.
The main problem is in the flashback. If Kate is supposed to be sympathetic, it’s not good to show her knocking off a bank, posing as an innocent bystander, lying to her coconspirators, and shooting three men. There’s just too much misdirection here, because the audience doesn’t know Kate well. We can’t tell that she’s not really into the ringleader of the robbery, so when we find out that she’s lied to everyone around her, in different ways and to different ends, it feels like we’re being jerked around. It’s one twist too many, and that’s a very fine line that Lost is capable of navigating much better.
And then there’s the whole issue of the case. I don’t doubt that a lot of people found it to be a compelling question, in a sort of Pulp Fiction way. But it didn’t do much for me. Maybe because there are much more interesting things happening elsewhere on the island, all of which have a lot more to do with the overall arc of the show. Sayid and Shannon are trying to decipher Rousseau’s notes. Charlie is getting over his survivor’s guilt with the help of Rose. Locke and Boone are beginning to work on the mystery of the hatch. Heck, the Losties are even beginning to move their camp to where it will be until well into Season Four. All of these things are more compelling than unravelling the mystery of the case. Usually, I don’t mind when Lost takes a break from forward momentum to deepen characters. But it’s not a very enjoyable bit of character-building, because Kate just looks bad the more we dwell on it.
It’s not entirely wasted time though. Charlie’s interactions with Rose are a highlight for me. I like that Rose sees right through his self-pity and guilt, and the moment at the end where she prays with him is kind of lovely. We also have the first hint of the romance between Sayid and Shannon. That’ll come up more later, but for now it’s neat to see someone treat her as human and not a mooch. And even the time with Kate and Sawyer isn’t wasted. There’s always been a certain playfulness between them, and this is the first time we see that quality. Still, this is the worst episode of season one so far. The central story is mostly padding, the development of Kate is mostly squandered, and it focuses on everything except the interesting parts.
- It barely gets touched on, but I like Locke’s tendency towards secrecy. What is he so worried about?
- Did we ever find out why Rousseau is quoting song lyrics? I can’t remember…
- I had completely forgotten why everyone moved to a different part of the beach. Shows how good my head is for details.
- The first glimpse at the dark side of Jack, when he threatens to take Sawyer off the antibiotics. I used to think that Sawyer called his bluff, but after the rest of the series I’m not so sure.
- I like that Hurley laughs at Sawyer’s attempts to open the case, like Hurley’s been there several times himself. Here’s a funny game: picture every scene of Sawyer trying to bash the case open, only replace Josh Holloway with Jorge Garcia.
- Next up, “Hearts and Minds.”