'Lost' examines 'What Kate Does' in the sideways universe

evangeline-lilly-lost-s6-320-3.jpgDamon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have often joked about the fictitious 7th season of " Lost," which they dub the "zombie season." Thoughts of that season pervaded my thoughts as the show toyed with the "What the heck is Sayid now?" storyline all hour. Luckily, we also got a heaping chunk of the long-lost Claire. We saw her exploits with Kate in the sideways universe, as well as her brief but intriguing new status in the Island universe as well. Both Sayid and Claire appear to be "claimed," and I don't mean that in a tax refund kind of way. What does it all mean? Let's get to the recap and find out!

4) In Short

Images of broken light which
Dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe....

8) Sideways Timeline

We see Kate once again hijack Claire's cab. With Edwards in pursuit, the cab drive stops as Arzt drops his luggage in front of them. That gives Kate a chance to look around and see Jack. The two seem to share a look of, "Hey, don't I know you?" as music usually used for the transition between the sideways and Island universes plays. Her spell is broken as Claire tries to escape, and soon the cab (with Arzt's luggage still underneath it) take off.

The cabbie makes a break for it outside the airport, at which point Kate takes over the driver's seat, demands Claire's purse, and then kicks her out of the car. She drives off without letting Claire even get her suitcase. She finds a local mechanic and tries to use Mars' gun to get him to remove her handcuffs. He notes that doing so won't be possible while she holds him at gunpoint, and soon a deal is struck for $200 in exchange for a free pair of wrists.

Flirting with the man after obtaining her freedom, she asks to use his back room to change. After opening Claire's bag, she realizes what the astute observer already did when Claire left the cab: she's a mother to be, extremely pregnant, with a bag full of baby-related clothing and stuffed animals. Seeing these items stops Kate in her tracks. She has to go back. SHE HAS TO GO BACK!

Luckily for Kate, Claire hasn't really moved from the place that she left her. Claire's suspicious of Kate's intent upon returning, checks to make sure her wallet still has cash, and starts to walk off.  She soon stops, and confesses that she's going to meet the couple that are going to adopt her baby. She's unclear why they didn't meet her, half-heartedly theorizing that maybe they got the days mixed up. Yes, just like coupled dying to adopt always do. In any case, she agrees to let Kate Austen's Fugitive Cab Service drive her to their home.

On the way to the adopted family, Claire addresses the elephant in the room: their absence at the airport. Claire apparently had a heaping helping of denial along with her small bag of peanuts on Oceanic 815. She asks Kate to accompany her to the front door. When it opens, a crying woman answers the door, shocked to see Claire in front of her. Turns out her husband just left her, leaving her unable to raise the child on her own. It's almost as if the universe doesn't want this child raised by another or something. And right on cue: contractions!

OK, here's where everything goes crazy-go-nuts awesome with Unbelievable Scene #1 of the night: Claire arrives at the hospital with Kate, declaring that the contractions started three minutes ago. (Three is the new four, people. Seriously. Start keeping track of The Numbers Minus 1 in this universe.) The obstetrician on call at the hospital to which Kate took Claire? Ethan Rom! Excuse me, Ethan Goodspeed in this universe, keeping the birthname he shed in the other one. What follows is an insanely clever play on everything from "Maternity Leave," with Ethan taking care of Claire in similar ways to the ones he performed inside The Staff on the Island. As they discuss treatment for the child, Claire decides that she's not ready to give birth just yet, opting for drugs to delay the eventual birth. Just then, monitors start buzzing, and so does the activity in the room. Claire starts to panic: "Is everything OK? Is Aaron OK?" Whoa. Ethan finds the unborn child safe and sound inside, and declares that Aaron will be a "handful." No diggity, no doubt, Ethan. A relieved Claire holds Kate's hands tightly. Bravo, "Lost." That scene was freakin' outstanding.

In the hospital room a little later, the cops looking for a "Joan Hart," one of Kate's oft-used aliases from the universe with which we "Lost" fans are familiar. Kate thanks Claire for covering up her whereabouts. Claire even offers Kate her credit card as recompense for helping her out. Before she leaves, Kate tells Claire how much she likes the name Aaron. It seems as if that name just suddenly popped into her head, like she instinctively knew it. Hmmmm. "I think you should keep him," Kate says, and two part ways. For now.

15) On the Island

Lennon runs through the corridors of the Temple to alert Dogen that Sayid is alive. And he's a ZOMBIE. I kid. It's just fun to say. Back at the reflecting pool, Jack looks incredulously at Sayid. Across the room, Sawyer looks angrily at Sayid. "He's an Iraqi torturer who shoots kids. He definitely deserves another go around," he tells Kate. Ouch. He asks Kate for details on the security of the Temple, and declares his intention to run. After all, she'd know all about that, right?

Jack and Jin bring Sayid outside for some good Temple air as Hurley explains the situation. "As you can see, Hurley's assumed a leadership position, so, that's pretty great," says Miles. Heh. Jack notes that Sayid's wound has almost completely closed, a fact for which Sayid thanks Jack. Before Jack can explain the giant vat of soiled healing liquid, out pops Dogen and Lennon, who want to talk to Sayid alone. "Talking to people alone" is a frequent activity in the Temple.

Jack tries to ask some questions of his own, but gets nowhere. A fistfight breaks out as The Others use force to stop the line of questioning. Sawyer opens fire, which stops the fighting as soon as it starts. Lennon and Dogen both instantly change their attitudes, imploring Sawyer to stay. But Mr. Ford slowly backs towards the door, tells Kate not to come after him, and disappears. Lennon asks Jack where Sawyer went, but Kate steps up and insists she can track him. Jin volunteers to go along as protection. Hey, it's not like his wife is somewhere else on the Island, right? That can't be why he wants to go. Kate and Jack say their goodbyes, with each promising the other to be careful. At one point, Jack leans in for what looks like a kiss, but she leaves before he can reach her.

Dogen's idea of a 1-1 with Sayid? Strapping him down to a chair, blowing ash all over him, hooking him up to electrodes, then cranking that baby up to 11. Youch. And since that wasn't ticklish enough, Dogen then grabs a red hot poker and rests it upon Sayid's chest. Sonofa... My. God. The Mr. Miyagi comparisons can straight up die now, people. Lennon tells a whimpering Sayid that what just transpired was not torture, but a test. And hooray! He passed! Oops, maybe not: after Sayid leaves, Dogen confirms that Lennon's diagnosis was a lie. The public health care option on the Island sucks.

In the jungle, two Others (Aldo and Justin) accompany Jin and Kate. Aldo insists they are protecting them from the monster, but all Jin wants to know about is the status of the Ajira flight. Aldo plays dumb, but shuts Justin up as soon as he mentions information about it. Kate points out Sawyer's decoy trail, much to Aldo's chagrin. Turns out he's still annoyed about the events of "Not in Portland" in which they knocked him out to free Carl, and even madder that she can't even remember. Dude, like, 6,347 crazier things have happened to her since then. Don't feel bad.

Just then, Kate nearly steps on a booby trap, saved by Justin's quick-thinking. Jin thinks it's one of Rousseau's traps, but Justin thinks it's the work of...well, Aldo won't let him tell us. I hate Aldo. I wish someone would hit him. Hey, Kate, thanks! She sucker punches Aldo, sets off the trap, and takes out Justin with a falling bag of rocks. Ah, Season 1 Kate, nice to have you back on my screen, kicking butt and being awesome.

Back in The Dr. Pepper Room (the pool looks like a giant vat of the delicious beverage, sorry), Sayid informs Jack of the torture that just happened. Dr. Shephard walks up to the two guards blocking the way to Dogen's chamber, and orders them to step aside. They do, which allows Matthew Fox to play this hysterical, "holy crap, that actually worked" look as he storms in, all anger and righteousness. Lennon's pleased to see Jack arrive of his own accord, but Jack's all business. Why did they torture Sayid? Lennon insists they didn't, and claims that Sayid is "infected."

Luckily, the samurai botanist has a little green pill to cure all of Sayid's woes. Jack is skeptical of the pill's contents. Lennon insists that Sayid has to take it willingly, otherwise it won't work. What's in the pill? Hey, awesome question, Jack. Direct, and to the point, and offering no way to let them avoid answering it. So, naturally, they avoid answering it, and I start balling my hand into a fist. Dogen digs into Jack's psyche, calling to mind all those, including Sayid, that have died or been injured under his watch. He calls the pill "a chance to redeem yourself." He insists that the infection will spread if Sayid doesn't take the pill. Look, the French team didn't take the pill, and they were fine, right? Oh. Never mind.

Jack returns with a small pill and a heavy heart to the Dr. Pepper Room. He asks Hurley and Jin for some time alone. "We'll be in the food court if you need us," replies Miles, who is on FIRE this episode. Too bad he's only in about 45 seconds of it. What follows is an absolutely top-notch scene between Jack and Sayid, two grizzled warriors exhausted from fighting a war they increasingly don't understand. Between them sits the pill, the symbol of everything mysterious, inexplicable, and dangerous about the Island. "I don't care about what fixed me. I only care about who I trust. So if you want me to take that pill, Jack, I'll do it." Who's better than Sayid? Poor, infected Sayid.

In the jungle, Jin and Kate split ways in order to fulfill their personal missions: Jin to find Sun, Kate to find Sawyer. Kate tracks Sawyer to his old house in New Otherton, where he is digging up a floorboard in his former bedroom. He pulls out a shoe box, and a piece of black cloth inside of it. Kate tries to leave without being heard, but those crazy, creaky Dharma floorboards give her away. He sees her in the hallway, and sullenly walks past her to the sub dock.

On the dock, Unbelievable Scene #2 unfolds: Kate confesses her plan to find Claire, and that she hoped the two of them could find her together to redeem all the heartache and loss that's resulted since she returned. "I never should have followed you," she says "Which time?" he answers, which is simultaneously hysterical and heart-breaking, given the way Holloway plays it. The pair has not been better since Season 1's "I Never" game as they sit on the dock and discuss the person virtually between them, the person whose absence fills the entire dock and most of the shore, the woman that sat in that same spot in 1974 as Sawyer asked her to stay. Sawyer blames himself for her death, and pulls out the contents of the black cloth from his bedroom: an engagement ring. I feel like I'm watching Juliet die AGAIN as he throws the ring into the ocean and walks away carrying what looks like a million pounds of weight on his shoulders.

At the temple, Dogen idly spins a baseball as Jack enters. Man, looks like all the Others got Jack's dossier from Mikhail. The two play nice to each other, even as they size each other up. Dogen confesses that he uses a translator in order to separate himself from the people for whom he makes decisions. He claims that, like Jack, he was "brought here" to the Island. Jack plays dumb about what that means, but after 400 conversations with Locke about this very topic, I think he gets the gist of things.

Dogen asks why Jack hasn't given Sayid the pill yet. The two go back and forth, with Jack asking "What's in it?" and Dogen saying "Just give it to him" and Jack asking "What's in it?" and Dogen saying "I'll give you a pony if you give it to him" and so forth and so on. Finally, Jack says, "Let's see where trust gets us," and takes the pill. Ninja Dogen takes over, and does the ancient 5 point palm exploding Heimlich maneuver on Jack, forcing him to choke up the pill. Finally, Dogen gives up the secret ingredient: poison. So, not a Flintstones chewable then. Got it.

Lennon's shocked that Jack swallowed the poison pill as Dogen brews tea for Jack. Poison tea? Nah, regular kind. The two tell Jack that Sayid is "claimed," with a darkness spreading inside of him that, if it reaches his heart, will render everything about Sayid gone. How does Dogen know this? Because it happened to Claire. Oh sure, that makes sense...hey WHAT?

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the Aldo's peeved tonight. He and Justin find Jin and are ready to come back with one less Korean man to the temple. Before Aldo can fire, Jin rushes off, straight into a bear trap. Helpless, he stares up at the Others...who summarily take bullets to the chest thanks to the infected, Rousseau-esque Claire.

16) The Moment

Claire calling out Aaron's name as Ethan Goodspeed frantically looks for a heartbeat. Sawyer's tear-stained speech on the docks runs a millimeter behind.

23) The Mythology

A few biggies this week.

The "sickness" explained! For years, we wondered about Rousseau's claims of sickness, about Quarantine signs on Dharma hatches, about vaccines with The Numbers on them. Tonight we finally got insight into what happened to Rousseau's team in 1988: they were "claimed" by the monster/Man in Black and turned into something else entirely. What's that "something else"? Well, it's evil enough to make you try and shoot the mother of your unborn child, people. And if you thought Sayid could achieve evil before? Well, you ain't seen nothing yet. Here's the ironic thing: playing back everything Dogen says to Jack, you realize he's telling the truth every step of the way about the purpose of the pill. He just chooses to omit its main ingredient. Man, those Others sure can tip toe around those morality lines, can't they?

Does "the sickness" explain the Man in Black's ultimate goal? Think about it this way. Dogen's prepared to poison a "claimed" man with a pill derived from plants grown inside the Temple. Seems to me these were homegrown weapons against potential claimed victims, meaning this type of infection happened often enough for a "cure" to be developed. Maybe the Man in Black seeks to bring out man's inner darkness, the layer that he's convinced lurks under us all anyways. Not sure I like the idea that the show's leading to a war to prevent the essential zombification of the world, but it seems like a possibility now, no? (I'm personally a bigger fan of my "Cloverfield" theory, in which I incorrectly stated years ago before its release that "Coverfield" was a covert "Lost" movie about what would happen if the monster were released as a byproduct of the Oceanic 6 leaving. I've been wrong a lot, but never quite on such a big scale. I rule.)

Island Claire is the new Danielle! She sets booby traps! She shoots Others! She wears flannel! She lost her infant child! She slices, she dices, she's the new and completely unimproved Claire Littleton! We'll all now have to go back to our DVDs and check out "Cabin Fever," and see if the Claire at the end of this episode could be the same, smug, creepy Claire from the cabin. The word "claimed" seems to apply to the mysterious way in which she disappeared in "Something Nice Back Home," but Danielle wasn't sick, just insane in the membrane from 16 years of isolated living. File this under "watch more closely as the season progresses."

The two universes are growing ever more "connected". Last week, I suggested that the cut on Jack's neck seen aboard Oceanic 815 was the first example of how something from one universe (in that case, Jack's bloody body post-Incident) could affect the other. This week out, two big examples in addition to a heaping helping of lesser ones. First up: Jack and Kate seeing each other outside LAX. Had that cab stayed there, I swear both of them would have started to glisten like Edward Cullen. Secondly, Claire instantaneously receiving the name "Aaron," a moment that made me downright giddy. Think about the latter this way: Kate's stated goal in Island universe is to reunite Claire and Aaron. Do we absolutely, positively know that her goal can't be achieved in the sideways universe to work? No, we don't. And that's pretty great.

Still unhappy trying to explain the relationship? Two words: quantum entanglement. What's that? Take it away, Wikipedia!

Quantum entanglement, also called the quantum non-local connection, is a property of a quantum mechanical state of a system of two or more objects in which the quantum states of the constituting objects are linked together so that one object can no longer be adequately described without full mention of its counterpart--even if the individual objects are spatially separated in a spacelike manner.

In short: we cannot talk about Sideways Claire without talking about Island Claire, because the two are the same, in ways neither we nor she can quite understand just yet. But hopefully, by the end of the series, both sides will.

42) Random Thoughts

Still trying to work out what I think happened to Ben in 1977 when Richard took him to the Temple. Seems a bit far-fetched to think that a "claimed" person could be considered an Other at all, never mind their leader. But we haven't seen what's supposed to really happen in the Dr. Pepper Pool when it's simply a magical Poland Springs fountain. The pool is supposed to rob your innocence, according to Richard Alpert, but not turn you into creature of darkness so vile that you need to snuff it out before it comes to fruition.

I'm waiting for the show to utter the words "Valenzetti Equation" so I can unleash my big theory on why the numbers 3, 7, 14, 15, 22, and 41 have changed everything. C'mon, "Lost," just say it! You know you want to! I have a nice green pill here full of "medicine" that says you want to say it.

You wouldn't know it from this recap, necessarily, but this episode was one of the funniest in the show's history. Aldo, Hurley, and Miles all got off plenty of zingers, which will be necessary in a season in which both mythological and dramatic stakes are raising higher and higher each week.

I'm still not buying The Temple-centric characters wholeheartedly, if only because they are just another group of lying liars that lie. As soon as they actually tell Jack and Co. why it's so important that they live and what's bearing down at them, I'll start investing in them.

No Man in Black, Ben, Richard, Lapidus, Sun. Sad. Please don't pull a "Heroes" and ignore characters for weeks on end, "Lost." We don't have much time left. And like Jacob says, it only ends once.

108) In Summary

Did the off-Island activity line up with the on-Island activity? Only in the barest of ways. Was this episode on par with last week's premiere? Absolutely not. Did it contain scenes of incredible beauty, based on character work and stakes earned over five seasons? Indeed it did. The strength of this season in its early stages has laid in small, two-person scenes involving characters we've followed since the beginning. Jack/Sayid. Kate/Claire. Kate/Sawyer. These moments carried the episode through some of its rougher patches and made it a fine, if imperfect, hour.

Enough about my thoughts: what are yours, "Lost" fans? Did it live up to last week's heights, or come up short? Leave your thoughts below!

Ryan writes about "Lost" over at Zap2it's Guide to Lost. He invites you to join the hundreds already in Zap2It's Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to subscribe to the Zap2It's Guide to Lost Twitter feed and Zap2it's main feed for all the latest TV, movie and celebrity news.

Photo credit: ABC