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Any time the writers on Lost run a Kate episode, I find myself feeling a little bit “meh.” Maybe it’s because her story line is always the same: She runs, she runs, she runs and then she runs again. And then she gets accomplices to help her maintain her fugitive lifestyle.

This episode, “What Kate Does,” showed viewers that as much as she’s grown on the island, good old Kate still hasn’t changed much.

The writers are doing something interesting with their parallel worlds theme and I wonder if this is how it’s going to be the entire season. What the characters accomplish in the altered 2004 L.A. reality – what executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are calling a “Flash Sideways” – is similar to what they do on the island in 2007.

When I say “similar,” what I mean is that here we see 2004 Flash Sideways Kate successfully escaping from the U.S. Marshal (who had caught her in Sydney and escorted her on her plane ride to L.A.), and then we watch her interrupt her escape to help Claire (the stranger she had just carjacked) when she discovers Claire is pregnant (based on Claire’s rapper-pose Polaroid).

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And 2007 Island Kate defers from her plan of finding Claire on the island (her until-now hidden mission, her reason for “going back”) so that she can help Sawyer grieve for Juliet.

In the one world, Kate’s helping new life, and in the other, she’s helping put life to rest – both put Kate in a “counselor” position, something that has to be unfamiliar for someone like her.

Kate is like Ben in that she has a soft spot, something she refuses to hurt or kill in her efforts to save herself. For Ben, it’s babies. For Kate, it’s single mothers. Maybe this is because her crime, the one she’s run from her whole life, involved saving her own mother from her father’s abuse.

She seems destined to be Aaron’s caretaker, whether it’s on the island or off of it. In this 2004 sideways world, the characters still have the same basic personalities, they are still the same archetypes. There are subtle differences, but their interactions are basically the same. It’s like the writers are showing us how some things are simply fated to happen in our lives, how we are drawn to certain people for reasons unknown to us.

Notice how Kate squints at Jack while she’s in the cab outside the airport, as though she knows him from somewhere. This wasn’t because of her recognizing him from the plane… this was the writers showing us how even though this is an alternative reality, there is still some spiritual recognition going on. Like how Claire calls the baby Aaron in the hospital and says, “I don’t know why I said it, it’s like I just knew.”

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Adding a much-needed dose of humor, Horace Goodspeed’s obstetrician son Ethan makes a return appearance in this episode. How funny is it that he tells Claire that he doesn’t want to give her any medicine, stick her with any needles, if he doesn’t have to? On the island world, he was so eager to do so (and also take her baby!) that he kidnapped and drugged her in the middle of the night!

This was an interesting “doctor” episode. Here we have Ethan practicing honest medicine for once. And then we have Jack admitting to Sayid that he wasn’t “the one who fixed him” when Sayid thanks him for saving his life. And then we have Dogen, who might be a doctor, or maybe just some sort of medicine man, torturing and then trying to poison Sayid with a mystery pill in a post-it note.

Is it pretty much established now that what’s happening to Sayid is the same thing that happened to Rousseau’s team? It’s the “sickness” she always talked about and hid from in her island life. People get infected by the Smoke Monster somehow… they become some evil, twisted version of who they were. Rousseau had to kill each infected team member. Would Jack and the Others have to do the same thing to Sayid? Why did Jacob tell Hurley to take Sayid to the temple if this was a possible result?

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I love how the writers still insert the sci-fi references. Like when Sayid has to explain to Hurley, “No, I am not a zombie.” There have been quite a few Star Wars shout-outs in the past three episodes (last week’s episode counts as two). They are mainly Return of the Jedi references, I guess because this is the final season of Lost, just like Return of the Jedi is the sixth and final movie in George Lucas’ series.

For example, on the last episode, when Kate, Jack, Hurley and Jin got captured by the Others, and they were brought out into the light (much like the blinding light outside Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine), Jack asked Kate, “You all right?” And Kate responded, “Yeah, you?” It was reminiscent of Luke and Han greeting each other in Jedi. Held captive by Jabba’s guards, Luke asks, “Are you all right?” Han answers, “Fine. Together again, huh?”

And Lennon’s way of translating for Dogen is much like Bib Fortuna (and later C3PO) translating for Jabba.

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Dogen and Jack have a very Yoda/Luke moment. Jack is mistrusting of Dogen, just like Luke is of Yoda. But then notice Dogen’s mention of Claire, Jack’s sister – and he didn’t even know he had a sister! Just like when Yoda tries to tell Luke, “There is another Skywalker.” This could not possibly be a coincidence on the writers’ part. Jack’s a bit luckier than Luke though, in that he never accidentally kissed Claire.

And, holy crap! Claire’s alive?

But back to Kate.

I think the “meh” feeling I get with a Kate episode is because, of all the characters, Kate seems to have changed the least. Her story lines are always predictable. She is basically a normal woman… she’s just developed a talent for saving herself above all else. She’s gotten away with it for so long that she doesn’t know any other way to live.

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The best way to sum up Kate’s spiritual journey is Jin’s question on this episode: “What do you care about?” It’s through her sensitivity to Claire having a baby or Sawyer missing his chance to propose to the now-deceased Juliet that she reveals how much she really does care… and that’s the great sadness Kate must live with. She really does want a normal life, but her circumstances have made that impossible.

Because her struggle seems never-ending (and therefore, sometimes dull), Kate’s much more interesting as a catalyst for change in other characters – she’s the kind of person who always takes initiative and takes risks where others won’t. She’s a motivating sort of character, something many of the other characters really need in their lives.

And Jack and Sawyer both showed growth in last night’s episode, much of which wouldn’t be possible without Kate.

Josh Holloway was brilliant as Sawyer, showing anger and grief because of finally allowing himself to trust someone enough to fall in love with her… and then losing her.

And Jack finally admitted to the fact that he “can’t trust himself.”

Notice how just before Kate leaves to find Sawyer after he flees from the temple, Jack grabs her, almost kissing her. The writers likely inserted this just to show that the romance is still alive for them. My prediction: Kate’s love triangle with Jack and Sawyer will still be a very strong driving force this season.

As usual, thoughts, comments, questions (and answers) welcome below! Especially if you don’t make fun of my fondness for Star Wars.

By Laura Carney

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