Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"LOST: What Kate Does"

DISCLAIMER: In a previous post, I discussed the importance of ABC's "LOST." Therefore, I am beginning a series which briefly explores thoughts on the show with respect to FITmedia and Truth in Fiction. Being as the posts are philosophical in nature, I will try to keep story spoilers to a minimum. However, because many of the philosophical pillars are tied to critical events, it is impossible to discuss without some spoilers. For those of you not following the show, I hope that these posts will be worthwhile on their own merit, and should they inspire you to watch the show, that they will not have ruined the plot for you. You have been warned.

"What Kate Does"

It has been pointed out by executive producer, Damen Lindelof, that "like all good mythologies, it ultimately comes down to the battle between good and evil." The unique thing about LOST is the ambiguity with which it has always approached the concepts. For example, time and time again, we find ourselves wondering if we can trust Ben Linus, even though he is a self-confessed liar ("The Incident"). Also, despite their ominous nature, the Others maintain that they are the good-guys.

So let me ask the question that the show implies: how do you define good and evil. It seems to me that Jacob and his nemesis are on opposite sides of that fence. Though, despite the colors they wear, we are not clear what actions are attributed to which character. For example, when Ben was sent to kill Danielle Rousseau, but discovered baby Alex, he was concerned that the baby's death would not have been what Jacob wanted. So who gave the order? Was it Jacob, for the larger service of the Island? Is the Island worth the life of a baby? Is Jacob evil for ordering such a thing, or was it really Nemesis who gave the order? It is unanswerable, therefore, we cannot assume that the man in black is evil and Jacob is good. To make this ruling, one must define evil. Then one must identify its source.

Which brings me to the predominant philosophical theme of this episode: guilt. I don't exactly mean the feeling of guilt, but the fact of guilt. Who is responsible for a given action or its results? Jack had already taken responsibility for Sayid's death in "LA X," and maintains his guilt in this episode. The fact that Sayid is now alive, is a subject I will return to momentarily.

The episode centers around Kate, whose story is the very definition of guilt as a matter of fact. This episode, we discover that, like the Kate we know, "sideways" Kate is also under arrest for murder. Interestingly, she has a remorseless demeanor in spite of her guilt. This is another thing they still share. In previous flashbacks, we find that she feels justified in her actions ("What Kate Did"), and is shocked that others do not agree.

Sayid expressed remorse for his actions, when he pondered his impending death last episode. He reminds us of what he has done and asks where he will go in the afterlife. In contrast to Kate, Sayid does not seem to feel justified in his actions, but expects something terrible. We find he is partially right as made manifest by Dogen's "diagnosis," which Sayid considered torture despite the lack of questions asked. This harkens back to "The Brig" where the idea was presented that the Island is like Hell for those who deserve it.

That being said, James "Sawyer" Ford is enduring the emotional agony of having lost the woman he loves, Juliet Burke. He recants Sayid's crimes by way of saying it's not fair that a torturer gets a second chance. Kate tries to reason with Sawyer by saying it's her fault that she got on the sub ("The Incident"), preventing his escape. But Sawyer feels nothing for Kate, and again she seems suprised. Sawyer blames his own selfishness because he talked Juliet into staying on the Island. In a twist of irony, it was because he didn't want to be alone that he talked her into staying, and now he is alone.

We learn that Sayid's hell is possibly owed to the fact that he is "claimed" by some "darkness." It seems apparent that this refers to the Nemesis. This bears a similarity with the way characters are taken by the dark side of the force in the Star Wars Trilogy. However, unlike Star Wars, we learn that Claire has already been claimed. Archetypically, Claire has represented what is good and nurturing, even being a stand-in for an angel or the Virgin Mary in Charlie Pace's vision ("Fire + Water").

In the flashsideways, Kate takes Claire to the hospital, an action that is strange in the context of their recent interactions. It is as though the good nature of Claire awakens something human in the hardcore fugitive that is Kate. Claire helps her escape in return for her help. When Kate suggests she might be innocent of her crime, Claire seems to make a character judgement and replies to the effect that she could believe it. On-Island Claire seems to be the antithesis of what she has always been, unless we simply do not understand the nature of good. Very thought provoking.

Perhaps the Nemesis is the rightful inhabitant of the Island, righteously sworn to protect it by any means. I submit the story of the Ark of the Covenant from the Bible. When God told them not to touch it, He meant it. As the tale goes one of its carriers tried to stop it from falling over, and he was struck dead. Perhaps the Island is that important, and Jacob and all the people he brought are merely intruders.

Or perhaps we can take the Nemesis at face value, perhaps he is over stepping his bounds. Maybe he wishes to control the Island when it is not his place. To reference the Bible again, this is similar to the conflict between Satan and God, where the evil one was the highest of angels, but was cast out because he wanted to be God.

What do you think?

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