Let's get the uninteresting stuff out of the way. Sideways world was the Kate show this week, and let's say this about what might (hopefully) be the final Kate-centric episode: It was consistent with all other Kate-centric episodes. It made no sense, and it didn't accomplish much.
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What's left to say about Kate? She killed her father because she couldn't stand being the spawn of a wife-beating bubba, she ran from the law, she got her childhood boyfriend and countless others killed, and after all that she still maintains her innocence. She's an idiot, sure, but more than that, she's a vortex of nonsense, making not just her own actions but the actions of those around her completely ludicrous and impossible to justify. Let me just screenplay the whole drama out for you:
[SCENE: A parallel universe. INT. A taxi cab.]
Kate: [waving gun at CLAIRE] "You stay right here! Do not get out! Do not get out!"
Claire: [screaming] "Please let me out!"
Kate: [waving gun like a crazy person] "No! No! OK." [She lets Claire out.]
Claire: "Can I have my stuff?"
Kate: "NO TIME! NO TIME!" [She peels rubber out of there and drives to a garage. She gets out and points her gun at a MECHANIC.]
Kate: "I need a hydraulic flingnanger."
Mechanic: "No, you need a pneumatic angniplaxer, and you'll need my help."
Kate: "OK, will you help?"
Mechanic: "Well probably, but, and I hate to be a wet blanket, but . . .why the gun?"
Kate: "I a fugitive from justice, wanted for murder."
Mechanic: "Oh, well in that case, sure I'll help! I'll just stay calm, get your cuffs off, let you use the bathroom, and never even think of calling the cops or trying to apprehend you in any way. I'll just be as friendly as pie. Do you want some pie?"
Kate: "No thanks."
Mechanic: "Are you sure? It's apple."
Kate: "Just the bathroom, please. But I'm going to take my time. I've got a pregnant lady's stolen things to go through."
[KATE goes through the stolen things in a leisurely fashion. She sees a stuffed toy.]
Kate: "Oh my God. A toy. That means that that pregnant lady . . . is going to have a baby! Well, I didn't have time to let her take a half-second to grab her bags . . . but I probably have time to go back, pick her up, and drive her around all day. Maybe we'll even have time to sneak in an overnight hospital stay."
[KATE drives back to where she left CLAIRE. CLAIRE, who apparently has the problem-solving skills of cattle, is still just standing there.]
Kate: "Remember me?"
Claire: "Yes, you're the fugitive from justice who hijacked me, kidnapped me, threatened me with a gun, endangered my life and the lives of others in a high-speed chase, and then stranded me in the middle of nowhere. [Pause.] Let's be friends."
Kate: "Do you need a ride?"
Claire: "Sure do! Here's my credit card!"
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you . . . the Kate Austin LOST experience. Claire trusts Kate because of course.
The only points of interest in this thread were: (1) Dr. Ethan Goodspeed is still alive and well, so we can presume that the Incident Dharma Evacuation went down. We can also sort of figure that destiny (and island-aware-types) has still been guiding these people's lives in some way; (2) the deadbeats that were going to adopt Claire's baby are pretty much nobodies in the grand mythology of LOST, albeit nobodies who totally Junoed her; (3) it is clear by now that Kate isn't very competent at escape, it's just that the federal Marshall who is chasing her is really really bad at his job, and finally; (4) Both Other Kate and Other Claire seemed to have these little moments where they appeared to be trying to struggle to remember what is wrong with their picture. Much like what we saw from Other Jack and Other Charlie last week, there seems to be some very vague awareness of another destiny. If they develop this (and I think this will wind up being the major development of Other World), then it might help explain some otherwise completely inexplicable character motivation. It will still be dumb, though. That said, it's Kate, and I'm with Sawyer. If the choice is between a life of pain and Kate, I guess I will just throw my Dharma issue engagement ring into the ocean and choose a life of pain.
OK, now for the good stuff.
MAC! That's right, Mac from Always Sunny in Philadelphia shows up and proves conclusively that it is impossible not to laugh while watching Mac. I kept waiting for karate chops. You want continuity? Aldo brings the continuity! BOOOOOM!
Infection. In every season, there are a few big revelations that recode the narrative, and explain very large chunks of what had heretofore been unknown. In Season 2, we had the introduction of Ben, Widmore, and the continued revelation that human activity on the island had been expansive. Season 3 brought us the knowledge of the Dharma purge, the flash forward, and the introduction of Jacob as a concept. Season 4 gave us the first confirmation of an unique time/space situation for the island and expanded the reality of off-island factions fighting a long and ongoing war. Season 5 gave us . . well, a lot. A LOT. But mainly time travel, Jacob/Nemesis and loophole, and the Jughead. Now in Season 6 I think this idea of "infection" is going to be one of these re-coding moments . . . once we understand what it is. For now, a few words about this untranslatable-in-English concept of "infection", otherwise known as "being claimed."
1) Before Sayid was drowned in the temple's pool, Dogan warned Jack that "there are risks." I would presume that "infection" is the risk, or one of them. However, the properties of the pool has certainly changed. Also, I think it is obvious that the Jacobians in the temple were not expecting Sayid to come back to life. Therefore, I am going to say that the Jacobians think that this is what happened to Sayid. I don't think it is clear that this actually is what happened to Sayid, though it is certainly possible.
2) Based on how torture-y and poison-y the Jacobians become at the prospect of an "infection," I'd guess that either it is a very horrible thing for the person (thus a mercy-killing is in order), or a very dangerous thing for the tribe (suggesting a Nemesis possession), or both. So . . . this is something that has been going on for some time, and in fact it is something that we have observed with Rousseau's team. Remember that it was Rousseau who first brought up the idea of a sickness (ironically to Sayid), which had claimed her team. In the time-travel last year, we saw that happen, following a Nemesis-attack. It appeared to make the French team very murderous toward Rousseau, and thus she had to shoot them. Also, you test for it by covering the individual with that anti-smokemonster dust (I think) and then administering two tablespoons of torture. All this would seem to point toward the "infection" being essentially the same thing that we've observed happening with Locke and Christian and Yemi and others, in which the Nemesis assumed their forms.
3) On the other hand, the Nemesisizing of Christian and of Locke and of Yemi appears to be of a different kind, in that there is (in the case of Locke or Yemi) an observable-yet-separate dead body concurrent with the existence of the Nemesis version of the person. In the case of Christian, the body was never recovered, but the man had already been dead for a while. In the case of Sayid, that's still Sayid. There's not Sayid-esis walking around, while Sayid's dead body is still lying by the pool. It's just Sayid. So it would seem that the "infection" is something distinct from what I'll call Nemesis Assumption.
Riggstad had a great suggestion during a chat yesterday, to the effect that one that is "claimed" or "infected" is available for Nemesis Assumption. Thus, their soul is essentially scooped out, leaving them in some sort of feral state, until such time as the Nemesis has need of that persona. They also wouldn't need to be alive for this to work. This would fit in well with the idea of a person being "claimed." It's both the Nemesis possession AND the soul zombie theory, and it seems to fit. We shall see. For now, I'm sticking with it.
If that is the case, is it possible that the cabin ringed by Smoke B Gone® dust was to keep the Nemesis out and the remains of some specific and important "infected" individual in?
4) I think given that we now know that "infection" is a previously-observable (if not common), we'd do well to think back over various characters of the island, and consider which of them may have been "claimed." Here are the main candidates.
Claire. I think this one is obvious, since it was baldly stated by Dogan to be the case. So when did she become infected/claimed? I would guess it was when she was killed in the mercenary attack upon New Otherton. The only problem was, the temple water clearly was not involved. Perhaps the whole water table of the island is Jacobish. Whatever "infection" looks like, we'll want to watch Island Claire closely. One thing that's clear: "infected" doesn't mean dead, and it doesn't mean you lose your ability to reason -- at least enough to set some pretty sweet booby traps.
Rousseau. The parallels between infected Claire and Rousseau have been so clearly and specifically drawn that it is hard to imagine that Rousseau wasn't infected. If that's the case, were her fellow team-mates among the infected, or were they trying to kill off her crazy dangerous infected self? Or, perhaps, they were all infected. This might explain why Widmore and the Jacobians sent Ben to kill her. If Rousseau was infected and her team wasn't . . . well, Rousseau was the only one who didn't go down to the temple following the Nemesis. Also, if Rousseau was "infected" then infection doesn't even mean losing your emotions or affection for those you love. It's getting confusing. We're missing something, but we are close to something big.
Ben. Richard Alpert warned Kate and Sawyer that, if Richard healed the boy, he'd "lose his innocence." Clearly, Ben got dunked in the pool. Was he somehow "claimed" at this point? If so, how was this hidden? WHY was it hidden? I think it is safe to say that the Jacobians aren't comfortable with a living "infected", much less one in leadership. But, you know, it would explain all the evil.
Widmore. What exactly is the nature of the schism between these various factions of Jacobians? Perhaps it is the infected versus the non-infected.
Locke. Locke's obviously been Nemesis Assumed at this point. However, presuming the Riggstad Corollary is correct, when was he "claimed"? I keep going back to Season 1, when Locke met the Nemesis and emerged, secretive and filled with purpose about the island, willing to obey what "the island wanted", even if it meant attacking his fellow survivors. It may have been then. Does Locke's "claimed" status explain why Christian-esis couldn't help busted-leg Locke down by the broken time wheel?
My final thoughts? This was a set-up episode. Move the pieces, set things up for something awesome. Miles is hilarious. Josh Holloway is an excellent actor. Kate is really dumb. And guilty.
Oh, and one other thing. When Lennon-glasses goes back to tell Dogan about Sayid's resurrection, he says, "It's" alive. Not "he."
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