Thursday, February 11, 2010

What Did Kate Do?

Hey all,

In wake of what has been a crazy couple days in Lost fandom, I thought I'd comment a little bit on the fans' reaction to episode 6x03 "What Kate Does" and Damon Lindeloff's reaction to that reaction.

First, let me say that I LOVE LOST. We have 135 episodes in the books, and will have many more in the future. We plan to discuss the show long after it has ended it's run and I also know all of us will continue to spread of the word of Lost and try to get friends and loved ones to get into the show. I don't think I need to exactly prove how much I like the show, but there seems to be some who think those that do not love and gush over every episode are somehow not real fans.

I think this to be an extremely faulty assumption. It's not like I or anyone else said that this episode ruined the series, or we'd never watch it again. I think there was just a decent of disappointment. For me it would be like if one of my best friends stole money from his job. Would I never speak to him again? Would I turn him in and want the police involved? No of course not. But you can bet I would chew him out and almost demand that he own up to his crime, and take the punishment. And all the while I'd stand beside him and support him in any decision he made. That's what friends do. It's a similar idea here. I was disappointed in the episode to be sure, many of us were. But it's clearly out of love. I want to know so much and learn so much I get frustrated when almost an entire hour of the remaining few we have left is taken up by the "Kate episode". It's like in Star Trek when every year there needed to be the Troi episode, the Geordi Episode, and so on. I mean why did she need an episode? What happened in the episode that gave us incite into her or Claire. We knew Kate was a fugitive and Claire was pregnant and going to give the baby away. I didn't see any character building or story building in the flash sideways. I like Kate a lot, I always have. At times I've gotten sick of her, but she's a great character. It helps that Evie is a very beautiful woman, but it's more than that. Kate is not your typical female role, but they give her so many typical problems. She could seriously be the Ripley of LOST. The "girl" that can kick anyone's ass at the drop of a hat. But no, they give us episode after episode of her love triangle issues, and random need to save Claire. Maybe I'm a horrible person, but I think I'll gag if I see Kate bring Claire off the island and there is the long drawn out slow motion reunion scene with her and Aaron(a kid she never wanted, and would have killed like 20 times w/o Charlie).

Ok, that's a long rant, sorry.

Here's the second part. Mr. Lindeloff, if you are reading this, THANK YOU, you are the friggin man!!! Ok but also, you have all the right in the world to tell us fans we are spoiled brats who wouldn't know a good piece of television writing if it walked up and stole our kidney. Honestly man, never "hold you tongue". Never think that we would some how be upset, offended or put off if you spoke your mind. Also, you could curse us all out on the podcast, and make us cry, and we STILL would be clawing at the walls for the next episode of LOST and the episode after that. Not to mention whatever it is that you and Mr. Cuse decide to do next, whether that be together or separate. About other projects for a moment, is Khan in the next Trek movie? and if so I think Navim Andrews should play him, he would KICK ASS!!! But back on topic, I suppose some fans might point out without us there would be no LOST as it is today. Well, that's true, but with out LOST being the way it is, I would not have met some of the most awesome people I've ever met. So that trumps that.

In closing I want to point out that Kate had one of my favorite lines of the episode. They are about to leave the Temple to find Sawyer, and Aldo says to Kate, "you better not slow me down". Kate looks down and under her breath says "you better not slow me down!". LOVED IT. SuperKate indeed!!!

I look forward to comments.


Patrick J. said...

Good blog (aside from some obvious typos). I definitely agree with a lot of what you had to say.

In my opinion, it's what of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations, a catch-22 if you will. If we went the whole final season without a Kate episode, people would be ticked. However, Kate episodes are loathed by the fanbase majority my default. In the first season, she was a very interesting character, being the SuperKate we knew and loved. Then she got all emotional and frakked (with) Jack & Sawyer and we didn't care. At all. We don't want to see another example of Kate being a nice person and Claire being a bubbling idiot who gets in a car with and trusts a woman who put a gun to her head and dumped her on the street.

The main problem of the episode was clearly the flash-sideways. THAT can be defined as filler, and until the flash-sideways bear some sort of relevance to the overall story, despite the producers urging to not treat it as an alternate reality, but simply another one, the flash-sideways are filler. There will probably be some awesome Locke stuff next week, but even if that contains some fine acting from Terry O'Quinn (which it probably will), and it contributes little to the story of the season (and the series), it will be filler and I will treat it as such.

Patrick J. said...

Also, favorite line of the episode was what you said with Kate's "You better not slow me down" as well as Aldo's amazing "After you, princess."

Josh said...

I appologize for the typos. I'm having computer issues so I wrote that entirely on my iPhone. I try to catch each "correction" it makes but sometimes I miss them. Example, I just wrote the word "sometimes", but hit a wrong key and it read "sometome". Instead of changing that to what it should have been it corrected it to read "downtown". I love this thing, but the predictive text is really dumb downtown. (it did it again and had to have it stick. Too funny).

Patrick J. said...

I'm now substituting downtown for sometimes in my vocabulary.

Petor23 said...

Today's featured article on wikipedia is a polar bear named Flocke.

Petor23 said...

And more on topic, I see your rant, and raise you a counter-rant.

I have two conflicting views on Damon and Carlton's fan contribution. It's certainly nice to think that we, the fans, have some sort of control over how the show develops, and Darlton have really made Lost the first major TV show to feature this level of interactivity, with their podcasts, ARGs, and even to some extent, the easter eggs and whatnot they leave for us in every episode. However, as some other shows have recently proven (Chuck mostly), listening to your audience can end up producing major flaws in your show, and it almost means that your show becomes fanfic and a parody of itself. Luckily for Darlton, up to this point they haven't made any major errors in judgement in regards to popular demand, and they have been able to accurately determine what complaints are valid, and what are just fans being short-sighted.

The other major problem with this level of intimacy with your audience is how it will stand against the tests of time. Darlton have said that they want Lost to be regarded highly by future audiences. Luckily for them, the fact that it has nearly always been set in the past means that they haven't tried to make the show always look contemporary, as many other shows do, which inevitably leads to the show looking dated when they talk about antiquated technology that was hot for about a month when it aired.

Unfortunately, future audiences will miss out on one element that has proven to be so strong - the audience participation, as mentioned above. They won't have podcasts, reviews, recaps each week, they won't be able to theorise, they will just watch another episode and have everything explained to them when they want it to be.

With such a high level of feedback, Darlton also feel like they feel indebted to us to explain everything we want them to by the time the show finishes. Most other mythology heavy shows in the past (BSG, The X-Files) have always fallen into this trap, and I feel doomed to watch the same thing happen to Lost.

However, look at some shows like Twin Peaks, which never even attempted to tie its mythology up in a nice wrapper (that's not to say that it doesn't make sense). There are still many theories around that attempt to explain the mysteries of that show, which is what gives it its timeless appeal to those who want it.

Lost is currently at a state where we have enough information to make informed guesses as to what is going on, and there isn't all that much that still needs explaining. In fact, I would go so far to say that the mysteries that really do need explanations, are those from previous seasons that still do not actually make sense in terms of the overall plot. The sickness was one of these, but I don't honestly expect them to address these issues, and in the end they will become plotholes.

Yet the increasing audience demand for straight out answers (as was seen in the fan reaction for What Kate Does), means that they will instead focus their efforts in this regard.

Another issue I have is that we start to hear the voices of the writers instead of the voices of the characters. I particularly mean this in regards to recurring elements such as philosophy and literature, where the characters only do something because the writers want to show us something. This definitely makes for a deeper show, but not always one that makes sense.

Petor23 said...

Bringing it back to the present, I was one of the seemingly few people who actually thought that What Kate Does was a relatively strong episode as a whole. Sure, it wasn't perfect by any means, but I felt it "suffered" (as the majority of the audience sees it) from the same "problems" that season 2 did as a whole (yes, I am also one of the few fans of that season also). These problems include simple things like favouring character development over action, merely having a disliked character as the centricity (and likewise, not showing people's favourite characters), giving hints to mysteries instead of answering them outright, etc. Things like Claire in the hospital being treated by Ethan, and Kate bonding with Claire once more give way to the overall mythology in such a more subtle way by bringing into the foreground questions like destiny.

I can see why a lot of people have issues with Kate's involvement in the love-polygon, and I am also one of them, but I really felt like this episode brought some sort of conclusion to that by the end of it. People saw Kate's crying at the end as some sort of jealousy and bitterness that she doesn't get to be with whom she had chosen for that day, but I thought it was more her remorse over how she had acted with both Sawyer and Jack. She could clearly see how much Sawyer cared for Juliet as she was standing in the hallway, and that is why she decided to leave without her presence being felt. Her remorse also came to the play when she discovered the soft toy in the flash-sideways. She was ashamed at how she had treated such an innocent person in her attempts to escape, and desperately wanted to rectify that. Perhaps her reasons for ditching Jin weren't quite so sound, however, especially as staying with him would have led to her finding her goal there and then.

As for the other characters, Jack's feelings of hopelessness came to a conclusion as he finally decided to play his hand. I am reminded of the B plot of the episode Lockdown, with Jack and Sawyer's poker game, and they seem to have finally decided to bring this element of Jack's personality back.

Petor23 said...

And as for The Substitute, it was an "awesome" episode, but not necessarily a good one. This episode to me felt more like fan service most of the way through. The easter eggs in the flash-sideways with Rose, the psychic from Tricia Tanaka, Ben, etc just felt gratuitous, and merely an attempt to provoke fan reaction by shoving as many people they could in one episode, and I think this is the major reason for people reacting to this episode as they are. I know I mentioned with What Kate Does, the issue of destiny, but that could be shown simply with Locke's encounters with Hurley and Ben. I can't see that there will be any reason whatsoever for the psychic's appearance, other than the aforementioned fan reaction, and even with Rose, it makes little sense to me at the moment. And why would the mere passing near the submerged island be enough to suddenly make Locke meet 3 other people he knew from the island in just a few days?

As to Sawyer on the island, I can't honestly believe that he would go with notLocke just because he claimed to be able to give a reason for his presence. Perhaps if notLocke had mentioned Juliet, Sawyer would have followed, but no, he is the one person to be offered the real answers behind the purpose of the island, and I would personally place him roughly or exactly on the bottom of the list of people actually interested in these deeper mysteries.

The cave, again, was awesome, but I can't call it much more than fan service. The whole "inside joke" thing with the rocks makes me more and more irritated with each passing moment. I'm sure they'll give more explanation later, but this is exactly the type of problem with this fan-service. Inside jokes are great with they're on a comedy show, but to cheapen the mysteries of a supposedly serious drama to mere inside jokes is just frustrating.

And lastly, the writing on the wall. I'm going to have to wait to see where they go with this, but if they're reducing everyone's presence on the island to simply Jacob looking for an heir, I can't say I will be particularly pleased.

Perhaps my complaints about this episode were due to the specific writers of the episode. Although I love Elizabeth Sarnoff (really the only times she wrote a bad episode, was when she was paired with Christina M Kim, who thankfully appears to have been removed from the writing staff), she hasn't really had the opportunity to do a major mythology episode up to this point.

Petor23 said...

Wow, I am sorry for the spam, I think I got a bit carried away.

Petor23 said...

Oh, and lastly, I am not questioning anyone's enjoyment of the episode, I enjoyed it too, but I find too many problems with it to call it a great episode.

Josh said...

Thanks so much for the comments Petor!! You should come to the live taping of our show. Unless you live in the west or even another country making that impossible. (I apologize if you've previously explained that).

But yeah, I agree totally with the idea that Lost will not age like they hope it will. I know I will show it to people, but I doubt very much that 10 or 20 years from now people will pick it up for the first time and love it anywhere near like we do. After all, when it ends I'm sure it'll be big news what the ending was and the overall reaction.

The examples you gave, X-Files, BSG, and Twin Peaks all are cult shows. X-Files the most well known and most successful was still seen as a cult show. So when they ended the media didn't really take notice, and didn't report on the endings. Or maybe I just don't remember them doing that.

I think the "fan service" is good, but you're absolutely right. To much and it becomes a crutch. I don't think it's harmed the show, I think it has improved it in a way. ABC not the fans are to blame for the "action packed" episodes of early season three, and fans are to blame for the exit of Nikki and Paulo(their appearance was fans' fault too btw.) But with that said, I like the fan shout outs they've done throughout the series. Cooper calling the Island hell, Dave saying it's all in Hugo's mind, Ben's comment about giant hamsters. I love when they throw out a comment like that and us crazy fans know they are making fun of us and our theories.

My problem with What Kate Does, wasn't that it was lacking mythology or mystery, and packed with character development. I love character episodes. I mean I adore SOS. I would argue that What Kate Does had no real character development. Kate nor Claire did anything to further our understanding of who they are, or what they want. We learned nothing about them. You mentioned the only real pro of the Flashsideways in that we see Kate and Claire come together and bond off island as well.

But I thought the same point was being made in The Substitute, and in this case a much more important and character developing moment. Hurley already owned Locke's Box Company so that was a natural meeting that before seemed like just a coincidence to make us smile. Rose also working for Hurley and meeting Locke is a bit of a stretch, but imo there's no one better to explain to Locke that there is a difference between giving up and accepting one's own limits. I always saw Rose as the total opposite of Locke. Locke always saying "don't tell me what I can't do!!". Well I can't play in the NBA. Not cause i'm not allowed, but because I SUCK. There are limits to my abilities, just as Wheelchair Locke has limits. But he doesn't want to hear about them. Rose on the other hand has accepted her inevitable death from cancer, but embraces life and sees the Island as a magical place, but definitely not a place to be worshiped. By the end of the episode however, off-Island Locke is in the same camp as Rose. He's not going to call Jack. Not cause he's given up, but because he's finally accepted that he can have a full and wonderful life the way he is. And that is something that the original Locke never discovered, and trying to prove he was special and important and had no limits is what lead him to his death.

And about Ben, if that's all we get, then I also will be pissed at it. And see it as nothing more than fan service. However, I think we will see more of Ben Linus, European History Teacher!

once again. Thanks for the comments!!

Petor23 said...

I know what you mean about cult shows, but I don't think Lost will ever be anything more than "cult", albeit a relatively popular cult show.

I recently managed to get my mother to watch through the series, and she is just unable to pick up on so much of what is going on, simply because she is not part of the inner "cult". I try explaining a few extra things, but mostly I am resigned to her following the main plot.

It's easy to miss how other people react when you're in the midst of the cult, but there are many viewers out there who just aren't willing to put in the extra effort. I certainly don't blame them, it's merely a TV series after all.

Perhaps in a few years, you'll try and get a friend to watch through the series, and I suspect they will have the same problems; unless you hold their hand explaining all the inside jokes and theories, a lot will just go straight through them. For example, you can't really expect someone who has only seen every episode once (which even that is more than a lot of the casual viewers) to know who the woman at the Temp Agency was.

As for coming to the shows, I do live overseas, which means I can't get to the initial reaction shows, but I have attended a fair few of your regularly scheduled shows (haven't bothered to register on talkshoe though, so I would be one of those guests you keep seeing).

Josh said...

Aw. Hopefully you'll be able to make it to some of our post Lost shows. Something tells me we'll need a few episodes to cover the finale.

And if you can't make it to the shows, I look forward to your comments on the blog. Which as you can see, we're trying to get posts out much more frequently.