"Lost" in Translation: What Kate Did Doesn't Matter.

Turn your head and cough!

This episode, titled “What Kate Does,” features a serious thematic revelation: Sayid, we learn, has an infection. A really bad one. LIke, it’s going to kill him bad. Here’s the worse news: Everyone else has it, too. And not just the people on the screen.

He was killed, then resurrected, seemingly none the worse for the mortal wounds he sported just hours/minutes ago. Everything about him seems normal. He looks the same, acts the same, knows everyone and re-engages where he (briefly) left off.

But he’s infected. There is, Guru whotk tells him, a “darkness” growing within him. “and once it reaches his heart, everything he once was will be gone.”

This revelation comes late in the episode, but it hardly seems surprising. Because what we’re really talking about — what we’ve seen repeatedly during the episode, throughout the entire history/ies of “Lost” and our own lives — is original sin. The seeds of darkness that exist in the foundations of everyone’s consciousness, growing (or not) according to the quirks of character, experience and, more grandly, fate.

Which brings us to the most fundamental questions of existence: Are we free to create, and re-create, ourselves? Or are we merely enacting our part of a story long since written by larger hands?

And this takes us back to this hour of “Lost,” the second episode in the series’ final arc, in which we are to learn, finally, What It All Means. Ooh, delicious! Only here’s a prediction: The final answer will (or should) be that there aren’t any real answers. Because the deeper you travel into your own soul, the more shadowy and deceptive it all becomes.

Darkness, darkness, be my pillow. But let’s follow the jump first.

And if this season of alternate existences and timelines seems to be proving, no amount of running or hiding or even leaping planes of existence is going to change anyone’s essential nature.

When Kate gets in a tough spot, her first, all-but-undeniable impulse is to hit the road. To do a geographic, as our 12-stepping friends will say.

Sawyer, meanwhile, can’t escape the externalized self-loathing (his anti-social impulse; the hair-trigger temper and guilt) he’s felt since witnessing the murder/suicide of his parents.

Jack’s compulsion for super-human status — the impulse to heal the sick, to save everyone in sight, to be the hero no matter what — plays out in his surgical practice at home. On the island it compels him to be an action hero. Trouble is he knows he’s only a mortal, just like everyone else. His decisions are far from infallible. He takes wild risk and other people suffer and die.

Claire, who shares Jack’s distant/screwed-up dad, both yearns for connection (to her son; to her friends; to anyone) but ends up wandering wild-eyed in the jungle. As the temple guru tells Jack, she’s already fallen to the same “infection” that will inevitably claim Sayid.

Back to Sayid, then. The guru and Lennon perform “tests” to see how profound his infection has become, and they amount entirely to the same tortures he once performed as a Republican Guard in Iraq. “Why are you doing this!?” he wails, as if he didn’t know. And maybe that’s exactly what reveals how far gone he is: That the blood on his own hands has seeped so deep into his own soul that he no longer remembers how it got there, or even realizes that it exists.

Also significant: the alt-timeline/off-island appearance of creepy villain Ethan Rom as a white-coated, seemingly sweet natured Dr. Goodspeed, who now tends to Claire’s false labor with warmth and kindness. Only why does this feel so unsettling? Are we responding to what we THINK we know about Ethan based on his Island self? Or does his essential creepiness flourish no matter where he is?

Ultimately all these scenes about parents and children, fundamental health and sickness, the balance of light and dark and how difficult it can be to tell the difference, boils down to the foundations of existence:  Where we came from, who made us, and how we can (or can’t) will ourselves into becoming something else.

They called the episode “What Kate Does.” And maybe what this means is that whatever Kate does can’t really make a difference. No matter how fast and far she runs, when she arrives she’s still going to be Kate.

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