‘Lost’ Recap: Episode 5.11

 It’s almost Pavlovian at this point: you realize you’re watching a Kate-centric episode of “Lost,” and you start to get that “oh, no” pit in your stomach. Let’s just say most fans of the show ill never, ever give toy planes to their offspring as gifts thanks to her backstory. But in “Whatever Happened, Happened,” we got a small miracle: a Kate episode that was not only decent, but downright fantastic.

4) In Short

“You guys didn’t see a flux capacitor aboard Ajira 316, did you?”

8 ) Off the Island

cassidy.jpgKate drives an infant Aaron to the ‘burbs. She sings “Catch a Falling Star” (awww) as she walks to the door. Who opens it? Cassidy! Well, that answers the most obvious mystery in the “Lost” universe: what did Sawyer whisper to Kate? It was either this or he asked her to bring back a Snuggie upon her return. Those Island nights can get cold.

Inside, Kate relays the entire story of their escape from the island while Cassidy angrily eyes an envelope of cash. Looks like Kate donated part of her Oceanic settlements towards the Clementine Foundation. Cassidy doubts the heroism of Sawyer’s leap from the helicopter; she thinks he did so just to jump ship from their relationship. She wonders if Aaron is Sawyer’s son, soon realizes that Kate’s left one part of her story out: Aaron isn’t hers. Takes a con (wo)man to see another, I guess.

Back to Slip 23, for the approximately 400th time this season. Kate takes off with Aaron after Ben unsuccessfully tries to recruit her. On the way back, Aaron complains of thirst, and wants milk. Once inside the supermarket, Kate gets a call from Jack. After not answering it, she realizes that Aaron is missing. What follows is a tense sequence in which we’re CONVINCED Aaron has been kidnapped. But here’s the clue: the juice boxes were in Aisle 5. Not Aisle 4, or Aisle 8. Totally safe. But Kate is totally wigged, regardless of eventually finding Aaron near the front of the store.

The following day, Kate returns to Cassidy’s house. Clementine greets Kate as “Auntie.” Awww. Kate takes a load off on Cassidy’s couch, relaying the whole “we have to go back” plotline. But more on her mind? The short disappearance of Aaron. Let me just type this out, because it’s fantastic.

Kate: “The crazy thing is, as scared as I was…I wasn’t surprised. All I could think was, it’s about time. Why would I feel that way? Why would I expect him to be taken?”
Cassidy: “Because you took him, Kate.”
Kate: “No, Claire was gone. She left him. I had to take him. He needed me.”
Cassidy “You needed him. Sawyer broke your heart; how else were you supposed to fix it?”

Lookie there. Clear, emotionally resonant dialogue that explains previously mysterious action. More, please.

Kate knocks on a motel door that night. The room belongs to Carole Littleton. She’s still pretty miffed about her encounter with Jack the day before. Kate confesses everything to a shocked Carole: Aaron’s identity, Claire’s survival, and the secret of the Sham Wow. OK, maybe not that last one. She confesses to Carole that she took responsibility for Aaron for primarily selfish reasons. Why did Kate lie about Aaron’s real identity? “Because I needed him.” Wow. Kate hands her a photograph of her grandson, and notes that he’s two doors down from, waiting to meet her.

Kate asks Carole to take care of Aaron while she’s away. Where is she going? “I’m going to find your daughter.” Again with the wow. Kate then looks at Aaron for perhaps the last time ever, kisses his forehead, and leaves after saying, “Bye, baby.” Those last two interactions were Evangeline Lilly’s finest moments in the history of the show. Hats off to her.

15) On the Island

Jin wakes up to the sweet sounds of Phil on his walkie. He alerts Phil of Sayid’s attack, discovers Ben’s limp (but not dead…just mostly dead) body, and hauls him into the van. Back in the Barracks, Horace is trying to warn the DI of an imminent attack. When Jack asks how Sayid could have started the fire from his cell, Horace condescendingly notes that he clearly had inside help in doing so. Sorry, Horace, but it’s hard to look badass with that ridiculous hairdo.

3×20_roger_linus.jpgAs Horace breaks the group up, Roger Linus asks Kate to help him de-van the burnt house. He’s…nice. Almost too nice. Oh, ew, he’s kinda hitting on her, discussing their respectively crappy jobs. Right when Kate finds out exactly who he is, Jin drives up with an ailing Ben.  Roger takes off after them in a panic.

In the security station, Sawyer is surprised by Kate’s arrival. He orders her to leave, lest she draw attention to herself. Horace walks in, surprised to see yet another new face. Sawyer’s quick thinking gets her out quickly, then the sheriffs collectively examine the cell.  They find a set of janitors’ keys in the door, which begs the question why the three Dharma janitors have the power to open up a jail cell. Sigh. Anyways, Sawyer quickly grabs Miles and leaves. He orders Mr. Straume to collect Jack, Kate, and Hurley in the same house and keep them from talking to anyone else.

On the way into the infirmary, Roger asks Sawyer if his son’s OK. Before entering, Sawyer asks for his keys. Roger’s surprised he doesn’t have them on his person. Inside, Juliet is doing the best she can, but the usual doctor is in the Looking Glass station until Friday. Ben needs a real surgeon. Speaking of, Jack’s pretty miffed about the whole “house arrest” thing. Miles, however, kind of enjoys it.

Hurley hysterically checks his hands, wondering if he’ll disappear like the photo in “Back to the Future.” Miles dismisses his worry, and what starts is an episode-long discussion between them in which they essentially argue about the nature of time paradox in the “Lost” universe. It’s meta, it’s self-referential, and it kinda makes me hot. But before they can truly launch into the “he said/he always said” debate, Sawyer busts in, looking for Jack’s help in saving Ben. But Jack? Jack’s staying put, thankee kindly. Half the audience just cheered, and the other half just threw another dart at Matthew Fox’s face.

As Sawyer walks back to the infirmary, Kate asks why Jack’s making sandwiches instead of saving Ben. Jack points out that in thirty years from their current vantage point, this same scenario played out. He already saved Ben. “And I did it for you, Kate.” He thinks that maybe he was getting in the way before, and rather than for Jack to be Mr. Fix It, maybe the Island wanted to fix things itself. Kate doesn’t like the new Jack; Jack points out she didn’t much like the old one either. Normally I’d hate this type of scene, but it feels fresh as both sides carry a heavier load this time through.

Kate heads over to the infirmary to donate blood. This gives the two ladies a chance to bond. Also, talk strategy about saving Ben’s life. Their chat session is cut short by Roger’s entrance; he refuses to leave, and Kate kindly allows him to stay. Never would have pegged these two as the perfect partners to talk about the weight of parenting, but it works surprisingly well. Roger confesses that he thought he would be the greatest father ever, but “I guess a boy just needs his mother.” Kate couldn’t agree more. Just then, Ben goes into shock, and everyone else goes into panic.

milesseason5.jpgOK, The Paradox Debate continues with Miles and Hurley. It’s FREAKIN’ AWESOME. Hurley can’t grasp why Miles can’t accurately predict their conversation, if it happened in the past. Miles tries to explain that from their personal perspective post-Donkey Wheel, they are having the conversation for the first time. He explains how time is no longer a straight line for them. He then hands a gun to Hurley, asking Hugo to shoot him. Hurley thinks it’s a trick: how could he kill a man in 1977 who gets on a freighter in 2004? Miles points out that he already HAS gotten on the freighter, therefore CAN die in 1977. Everyone following this? Good. There are cookies and juice in the back if you get sleepy.

But here’s where it gets really good. Hurley tries to apply that death rule to Young Ben, but Miles says it’s no go. Why? Because 1977 is Ben’s past, and he still has to grow up. And Hurley, who is the greatest person to ever live, asks the question that millions of us have been asking: if Ben lives, why the hell doesn’t he mention something in 2004 when the same man who shot him as a child starts to torture him? This question stumps Miles, and makes me ridonkulously happy. Hurley crosses his arms in a way that made my wife say, “I am Fan Boy, hear me roar!”

Back at the infirmary, Juliet sends Roger to The Staff for extra medical supplies.  But Juliet knows it’s no use: he’s beyond her help. Kate thinks SOMEONE must be able to help Ben. The light switch goes on in Juliet’s mind: The Others can help. They have a super sweet PPO program. Really low copays. They’re all over this. They load Ben into the van immediately. Kate insists on going alone, even thought Juliet volunteers to accompany her. She agrees to stay behind, but tells her she can’t lie to Sawyer if directly asked about Ben’s whereabouts.

Kate drives out to the perimeter of the Barracks, and encounters a slight problem in her plan: the sonic fence. Luckily, Sawyer is in hot pursuit. He’s not there to stop her, but to help her. Why? In short: Juliet knows what Ben will become, but she can’t let a kid die. Seems to make sense to Sawyer. He’s doing all this for Juliet. Ouch. Kate did NOT expect to hear that so bluntly. But I dig that to him, the reason is that simple. They haven’t reverted to the Season 3 Quadrangle of Love Suck.

Back in the Barracks, Juliet busts in on Hurley and Miles playing dominoes. It’s not backgammon, but it does feature black and white. They sense Juliet means business, and scoot. “Hey, ask him more questions about time travel!” Miles says as they leave. More Miles, please. Pretty please. Juliet confronts a half naked and very wet Jack in the shower. She has a mixture of hate and unspeakable sadness in her eyes. She accuses Jack of coming back not for them, but for himself. Why did he come back? “I came back…because I was supposed to.” Spoken like a man unsure of what that means.

In the jungle, Sawyer carries Ben’s limp body towards The Others. While they take a water break, Kate catches Sawyer up on the life and times of Clementine. Sawyer looks at her as if his daughter might disappear from existence if he blinks. Kate also relays Cassidy’s theory on why he jumped from the chopper: “She thought you were worried about what would happen if you didn’t.” Double meaning much, Ms. Austen?

As both are unable to look at each other, Sawyer admits that he was as ill-equipped to be Kate’s boyfriend as well as Cassidy’s father. When Kate notes that he’s doing OK with Juliet, he notes he’s done a lot of growing up over the past three years. Just then, The Others appear out of nowhere, like they usually do, and a man who looks an AWFUL lot like Mikhail announces they have broken the truce. Sawyer points to Ben’s limp body, and says if they don’t want war, they’ll take him to Richard.

The Ageless Wonder appears out of nowhere after the group walks a bit. He’s shocked to see Ben Linus in Sawyer’s arms; Sawyer’s shocked to realize Richard already seems to know him. Kate asks if Richard can save his life. His response? “If I take him, he’s not ever going to be the same again. What I mean is, he’ll forget this ever happened, and that his innocence will be gone.” OK, so he’s either taking Ben to the Temple or a brothel near Bai Ling’s tattoo parlor. Richard finishes by saying, “He will always be one of us.”

Even under these conditions, Kate and Sawyer agree to let Richard take him. As Richard takes him in his arms, MaybeMikhail steps in and says, “You shouldn’t do this without asking Ellie. And if Charles finds out…” Richard cuts him off, insisting that he doesn’t answer to either of them. Kate and Sawyer are set free, and Richard takes Ben to the Temple. He gives one last look at the horizon (maybe at the Statue) before taking a deep breath and entering.

In the Hydra Station during present day, Benjamin Linus walks up in his hospital bed. Locke looms over him. “Welcome back, Ben. Welcome to the world of the living.” Ben gets that look that people usually get when looking at him: that “ruh row” face.

16) The Moment

A lot of shocking stuff in that Richard Alpert scene, but Kate’s line about going back to find Claire just killed me. Made perfect sense, and yet I’d never looked at her actions that way. Loved, loved, loved it.

23) The Mythology

Having Ben saved by The Others in a procedure that conveniently erases his memory from before the shooting is either a brilliant masterstroke that solves all the paradox problems you could ever have or complete lazy BS concocted by the writers who wrote themselves into a corner. At least, that’s how I can see the general response from viewers after tonight’s episode.

Ever since the incidents in New Creepington during “Namaste,” the war has raged on: did Lapidus and Sun step into an alternate timeline, one that did not include the actions we previously saw occur in 2004 upon it? The show discussed both possibilities by staging some dialogue between Hurley and Miles that served as a proxy for the message board chatter over the past few weeks. To boil it down to its essence: the show largely sides with Faraday’s assertion (the title of the episode, “What Happened, Happened”) but did allow for the chance that theoretical analysis of time travel paradox might come up short when met with practical application. Sayid tried to literally shoot a hole in Faraday’s theory.

benandrichard.JPGIn many ways, Season 5 has been building up to this moment. Hell, the first five minutes of the season expressly called it out, with The Orchid’s foreman joking about using its unique energy to go back in time and kill Hitler. Chang stated this was impossible, but the show went and tried to kill a man that many would say is the equivalent of Hitler. I’m loathe to compare anyone to Hitler, since that’s usually used in a hyperbolic fashion, but the show still is asking the questions inherent in the Hitler paradox: is the death of one justifiable if it saved countless others? Millions of others? Would the attempt even work? And what if, just what if, said attempt is what sends Hitler down the path to genocide itself?

The show seems to be hinting at this latter possibility with the end of the episode. Know how Ben always insists that he was born on this Island, and that makes him special. We’ve just always thought of that as one of his lies. But what if he actually believes it? What if it’s not only metaphorically true, but in his eyes, literally true? His memory loss not only explains away the “why didn’t he recognize anyone as Henry Gale” conundrum, but also gives new context to every action taken as leader, his relationship to the smoke monster, and to Jacob himself.

It also gives provocative new context to his feud with Eloise and Charles. Assuming that we’re watching what always happened, then we’re witnessing the birth of Ben’s usurpation of their power. It’s natural to ask what happened between the 1954 and 1977 in terms of the Others’ hierarchy, but it’s clear that Ellie and Widmore are near the top of the food chain, power-wise. Maybe they are lovers, maybe they are frenemies, maybe one is the Daniel Larusso to the other’s Johnny Lawrence, but Ben’s “baptism,” as it were, will mark the beginning of the end of their time on the Island.

Here’s the biggest reason I’d suggest that Ben’s memory doesn’t get completely erased: Annie’s wooden dolls. He’s still carrying them around, looking at them on his birthday. You do remember birthdays, don’t you, readers? You’re not some Richard Alpert type, are you? Annie gave him those dolls before this supposed mindwipe: why hold onto anything from his former life if he doesn’t remember it? Moreover, will he just be reinserted into Dharmaville life as essentially a Cylon, programmed to perform the work of the Others? And do the Purge still occur in 1992? Was Roger OK with his son’s miraculous recover? Or did Sayid’s shooting only accelerate (as opposed to radically alter) a predetermined timeline?

Here’s what I mean. Let’s flip, “whatever happened, happened,” to “whatever was supposed to happen eventually in some way happened.” This shift allows for variances on a micro-level, but course correction on a macro-level. Maybe Hawking and Widmore know that Ben can’t NOT ascend to the leader of the Others, but they can perhaps alter his rule in a way that is beneficial to them. Just keep in mind two things: 1) we can’t completely rule out alternative timelines, as much as some of you hate to entertain the thought, and 2) more than ever, we have to look at Hawking and Widmore as manipulating events before Ajira 316 to maximize the benefit to themselves.

42) Random Thoughts

  1. The “hip” thing to say about Season 5 is that it’s “Season 1-esque”: this means, to my mind, character-based dramas as opposed to blooping Islands. But to me, this season didn’t truly get “Season 1-esque” until tonight. Why? Because everything in the show was centered around a boy’s life hanging in the balance. Around complicated parental relationships. About trying to make amends. All in the context of a seriously sci-fi show, but grounded in human intentions.
  2. Again, hats off to Evangeline Lilly. Helluva job. Then again, it’s pretty clear this was the first show all season she was actually excited to be in. She’s been on record saying how much she hates the sci-fi angle of Season 5, and tonight’s performance certainly shows that.
  3. I’d love to hear thoughts about MaybeMikhail. It’s probably not him, but man, spitting freakin’ image. With all the crazy things on this show, I can imagine that man losing an eye in the eventual war with the DI and developing a Russian accent for the hell of it. Once you accept smoke monsters and donkey wheels that manipulate time, a lot more things become acceptable to one’s mind.

108) In Conclusion

I could damn this episode with faint praise and call it “The Greatest Kate-Centric Episode Ever,” but I won’t. It was a damn good episode. I appreciated that Kate gave up Aaron willingly, not through pressure. I appreciated the grown up way in which she and Sawyer ended any chance of rekindling their relationship. I love that the show’s playing with paradoxes overtly in ways both cheeky and yet extremely relevant to the overall story. This episode just plain worked for me.

But that’s just me. What did you think? Did Kate’s actions make you cheer, cry, or groan? Did tonight’s episode shut down the possibility of multiple timelines, or actually confirm them? And how long do you think Jack can really stand by and just watch the world go by him? Leave your thoughts below!

One Comment

  1. Lisa Cirincione
    Posted April 5, 2009 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Obviously I don’t know what the writers intend with the time travel paradox, but I believe that even though “whatever happened, happened” …. it hasn’t all happened yet. The Ben being held captive by Sayid in the Hatch doesn’t remember being shot by Sayid when Ben was a child because at that point in time, it hadn’t happened yet. Desmond didn’t remember when he met Daniel that Daniel knocked on the Hatch door, because at that point in time it hadn’t happened yet. When it did happen, Desmond woke with a start, with a new memory.
    We’ve seen in Ben’s flashbacks that he remembers his anger at his father, and of Annie and the dolls and of meeting Richard. So if Richard now erases his memory of all that… that is not what happened before.?