While looking back at some of the articles I have written about “LOST” and its characters, I discovered that I have written at least five articles that were either about the character, Kate Austen or in which she featured heavily. One would think that she is such a compelling character. But I do not think so. I suspect that my problem with Kate is that she is one of the most badly written characters on this show and in the history of television . . . and she is the female lead. And I find that disturbing. My dislike of the character went up a notch after I had watched the Season 5 Kate-centric episode, (5.11) “Whatever Happened, Happened”:
“LOST” RETROSPECT – (5.11) “Whatever Happened, Happened” (Or . . . The Emergence of Saint Kate)
Set mainly in 1977, this episode of “LOST” – (5.11) “Whatever Happened, Happened” – was badly written. It really was. I felt as if I had watched the emergence of a character called “Saint Kate”, instead of an interesting episode about the reasons behind a woman’s choices. But there were no reasons given for Kate Austen’s sudden desire to save young Ben Linus’ life. Instead, the episode had her in a state of frantic over Ben’s condition that did not make any sense. Even worse, the episode went too far and had her donate blood to him in a heavily contrived attempt to make her seem selfless and worthy to the fans.
First, I want to focus on the situation regarding young Ben’s shooting. Why did spinal surgeon Jack Shephard refuse to save Ben? Was his reason the same as Sayid Jarrah’s? Because Ben will grow up to be a manipulative and murderous man? How did Jack suddenly become anti-Ben, again? I read a piece on this episode on WIKIPEDIA, which claimed that Jack was to blame for creating the monster, Ben Linus. I find this hard to accept. It seemed as if they are trying to absolve Sayid of his crime. And that does not work with me.
Speaking of Sayid’s crime, it seems that Ben will no longer have any memories of it, following Richard’s treatment. If this was the case, what in the hell was the point of Sayid shooting Ben in the first place? What were the writers trying to achieve? Was the shooting nothing more than a contrived event to make Kate lovable to the fans again? Was it a plotline to explain how Ben became so murderous? Hell, they could have done that and allowed Ben to retain his memories of the shooting. This whole “erasing Ben’s memories of Sayid’s crime” made no sense to me. What was the purpose of it? To explain how Ben “lost his innocence”? Ben was already on that road by living under an abusive father.
But you know what? Despite Sayid shooting him, Jack’s refusal to save him or Others’ subordinate Richard Alpert’s memory-wiping cure, the one person who is mainly responsible for Ben’s moral downfall . . . was Ben. Other people have come from traumatic backgrounds and managed to make decent lives for themselves. Ben does not have any real excuse. Sayid has to deal with his crime of shooting an innocent boy, himself. Jack has to deal with his refusal to treat that boy. But they are not mainly responsible for Ben’s crimes. Ben is.
When I heard that Kate might finally confess about the lie surrounding Aaron Littleton, the son of Australian castaway Claire Littleton, I thought she would end up confessing to James “Sawyer” Ford, Juliet Burke and the other castaways. Instead, Sawyer’s old girlfriend, Cassidy Phillips, exposed her true reason for claiming Aaron as her son. I found this very disappointing. And now, Sawyer never really knew about the lie surrounding Aaron. And he did not find out, until Season 6 that Kate’s reason for returning to the island had nothing to do with saving his life. And she continued to have the murder of Wayne Jensen, her drunken father, hanging over her head. If we were supposed to root for them to get together following this episode, I think that the writers have failed. At least with me.
Regarding Kate’s decision to return to the island – she told Cassidy that her intention was to find Claire and get her back home to Aaron. During the early spring of 2009, I found myself pondering on how she had intended to achieve this. Was Kate really that stupid? She did not know about the runway that Frank Lapidus had used to land Flight 316, until her return to the early 21st century at the beginning of Season 6. Locke had destroyed the Dharma submarine back in Season 3. And Kate knew about the destruction of the freighter. How did she planned to send Claire back to Aaron? Or had she been talking out of her ass?
You know, ever since (4.04) “Eggtown”, Kate’s story arc had been badly handled by the writers. It started with that ludicrous attempt by her to get information from Miles Straume about her status as a fugitive. Then it developed into the storyline surrounding her custody of Aaron that went no where. The only thing that the Aaron storyline achieved was a temporary estragement between her and Jack. It was revealed in (5.04) “The Little Prince” that she had decided to claim Aaron as her own, because she was traumatized over losing Sawyer. And yet . . . “Eggtown” made it clear that she was willing to use Aaron to re-start a romance with Jack. If Aaron had represented a substitute for the loss of Sawyer, why did she have a photograph of both Aaron and Jack on her mantlepiece in Los Angeles, after her break up with the surgeon? Had the photograph been a symbol of her continuing desire for both Jack and Sawyer? Or what? And the storyline surrounding her return to the island . . . contrived and badly written. After refusing to return to the island for Sawyer’s sake, she visited his ex-girlfriend, confessed the Aaron kidnapping and vowed to return to the island in order to find Claire Littleton and send the Australian woman back to her son and mother . . . without knowing how to achieve this little act. The only thing Kate did right was hand Aaron over to Carole Littleton, his grandmother. And I saw that coming a mile away. Once Kate had returned to Los Angeles following her visit to Cassidy, she used Jack for comfort sex and later rejected him after boarding Ajira Flight 316.
And in late Season 5, the producers dumped the badly written “Whatever Happened, Happened” episode on the viewers in order to make Kate favorable to the viewers again. They had her acting like a frantic Florence Nightengale over a kid she hardly knew. I understand if she was perturbed over young Ben’s situation, like the others (sans Jack). But the writers . . . took it too far with Kate’s frantic desire to save him, which included her donating blood to him. And they even used this episode to blame Jack for Ben’s slide into darkness. I guess that the show’s writers and producers’ attempt to redeem Kate in the eyes of the viewers seemed to work. The viewers eagerly lapped up this shit like it was Turkish Delight. But Lindehof and Cuse achieved this at a heavy price. In the end, all they did was sacrifice any semblance of artistic achievement for bad characterization and mediocre writing.
But there is a post-script to Kate’s story. After airing the questionable (6.03) “What Kate Does”, the writers finally set about redeeming her character. She ended the flaky love triangle by finally admitting that Jack was the true man after her heart. More importantly, not only did she finally confessed to Claire that she had been wrong to claim Aaron as her son in (6.13) “The Last Recruit”, she became the only castaway who made any real effort to help the emotionally damaged Claire get off the island via the Ajira 316 jet in order to reunite her with her son.
Filed under: Essay, Television | Tagged: daniel dae kim, disney, elizabeth mitchell, emilie de ravin, evangeline lilly, jorge garcia, josh holloway, ken leung, late 20th century, lost, matthew fox, reiko aylesworth, time travel |