Why I Hate Kate From ‘Lost’ THIS time

Posted: January 7, 2010 in Jeff Holland, Threat Quality
Tags: , ,

Having just re-watched season 5 of “Lost,” I think I’ve come up with, quite possibly, the best reason to hate Kate.

Granted, there are already plenty of good reasons. She constantly, CONSTANTLY acts counter to the requests of people because she seems to think they’re always saying “No girls allowed!” but has NEVER ONCE had that contrariness rewarded with positive results.

There’s also the writers’ insistence on teasing interesting backstory they can’t possibly deliver. Go back to that first season. You’d think she was some kind of criminal mastermind, the way that her mom was terrified of her and what with that marshal chasing after her (to Australia, even!), and how she’d concoct these elaborate plans to steal something like a toy plane.

Turns out she’s a hick who blew up her abusive stepdad. THAT’S ALL SHE DID. That is IT.

But let’s get back to season 5. First, we have the Unreasonable Story Expectations Syndrome thrust upon us again: Kate, after insisting she and her quasi-son Aaron will never, ever, everevereverever times a BILLION go back to that island, shows up on Jack’s doorstep, childless and weepy, tells him she WILL go back but to never, ever, everevereverever times a TRILLION ask what’s happened to the kid.

(Oh, and then she bangs Jack, just to light a fresh fire under the Jack/Kate/Sawyer/Juliet love-rhombus that viewers have long since stopped giving a shit about because DUDE THERE ARE TIME PARADOXES TO WORRY ABOUT NOW.)

What could POSSIBLY have happened, the show asks us histrionically, to change Kate’s mind about going to the island? And where’s Aaron? WHEEEEERRRRRE?! And then it doesn’t answer the question for like six episodes, but finally, the answer is: She left him with his grandma while she goes to look for his real mom.

That’s…that’s not that dramatic. It is, in fact, the most sensible thing Kate’s ever done.

This is followed up with Kate displaying another uncharacteristic trait: maturity. And that’s where the real problem’s setting in. In a nutshell, here’s what’s going on at the close of the season:

Trapped 30 years in the past, JACK has been given a chance to preemptively halt the chain of events that led to their plane crashing on the island. This will save the lives of about 300 people who died either in the crash or during the nightmarish following months of being hunted by strange islanders, dying from exposure, drowning in the ocean, or fighting over diamonds and getting buried alive.

(Whether Jack thinks blowing up the hatch will simply reset the timeline or create an offshoot alternate timeline is never really brought up, because the fact is Jack’s not that smart and probably hasn’t thought that far ahead; we would check with the guy who actually IS that smart and whose plan it was in the first place, but he has just been shot by his mom. Time travel is a bitch and a half.)

It will also mean (theoretically) that the few survivors who got off the island never had to suffer through the relative hells their lives have become. And it has been pretty sucky for MOST of the Oceanic Six, marked by mental instability, inconsolable mourning, and hair products in exchange for hitman services (I’m assuming that was Sayid’s deal with Ben, anyway).

In fact, the only one for whom things haven’t been that bad – in fact, they’ve been pretty fucking swell – is KATE. Kate beat a murder rap, reconciled with her mom (sort of), got a big fat settlement and a beautiful house, gained a trusted confidante, and learned the transformative power of parenthood by caring for Aaron.

So what’s Kate’s argument? Jack cannot be allowed to undo all this, because good or bad, those were their experiences and were part of what’s made them into the people they are today, and how dare he try to change that, and erase their shared experiences?

This is actually the most mature thought process Kate’s ever shown – it’s meant to show just how far she’s come. And it’s not unreasonable – in Kate’s plan, nothing crazy happens. In Jack’s plan, time itself may implode.

But Kate’s argument is mostly formed by the fact that her life experiences were the only ones that didn’t result in a mental breakdown or death.

So, to recap:
Jack’s argument: We have to at least try to save the lives and souls of everyone that was on that plane.
Kate’s argument: I like life better where 300 innocent people are dead but I’m a good mom.

God, I hate Kate.

  1. Tad says:

    I’m not sure if I agree that Jack’s primary motivation is to save the lives of 300 innocent people, I think its more along the lines of Jack is unhappy with how things worked out with Kate and rather than TALKING TO HER, he is going to try blowing up the island so that he can start from scratch without her knowing what a jerk-off he is. The potential saving of several hundred innocent lives is just a bonus.

    I’d say Jack and Kate are pretty equally far down the moral crapper on this one.

  2. Jeff Holland says:

    That is a good point – however, if I’d spent the last five seasons trying to reason with Kate, it’s possible I’d find “blowing up the timeline” to be a preferable option, too.

  3. Tad says:

    Has he really tried, though? I agree with you on Kate, so I’m not arguing that he would be successful reasoning with her, but shouldn’t he make the effort at least once before getting moody, becoming a raging alcoholic, growing a beard, and then ultimately blowing up Jughead/the Island/the timeline/whatever he thinks he’s doing?

  4. Jeff Holland says:

    See, this is why Kate’s plan makes sense dramatically, at least – the goal, from a narrative perspective, is for Jack to grow into a guy CAPABLE of having an effective conversation with someone without it devolving into moodiness/alcoholism/beard-growing.

    Kate is working in the best interests of everyone’s Character Arc, but she can’t know that because she’s not aware that she’s a character on a TV show (unless, of course, there’s a mind-blowing Season Six Twist!).

    Which is why I’m so frustrated with her – from my perspective (guy watching TV show and hoping for satisfying conclusion), I agree with her and actually want her to succeed. But were I a character on the show, “everyone growing as a person” would take a backseat on my priorities list to “Remember all those people who died? It’d be nice if they hadn’t.” (I’d hope, at least. More likely, I’d just end up like Frogurt.)

  5. braak says:

    Listen, though: there are a lot of ways that people can grow as people and become mature. THEY DO NOT NEED TO CRASH ON A DESERT ISLAND TO DO THAT. Saying, “We have to kill 300 people and crash a plane on an island so that other people some of us can grow as human beings” is crazy.

  6. Jeff Holland says:

    The OTHER other thing that pissed me off about Kate (but this post was running long as it was), is how dismissive she was of Locke.

    “Kate, you have to come back to the island. People need help.”
    “Have you ever loved someone, John?”
    “Yes. Helen. Our flashbacks were very moving UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE’S.”
    “I think you’re just a sad old man.”

    Like, WHOA, he’s been in your kitchen for a MINUTE, give the guy a glass of water before shitting all over him. He’s never been anything but cordial to YOU, Kate.

  7. Tad says:

    I’m not crazy about the writing of the whole Bentham saga. They wanted a good season-ending twist so they used the fake name, even though in the eventual narrative it makes no sense for them to use the Bentham name instead of Locke. Since they made Kate so angry at the mere mention of Bentham/Locke in the season 3 finale (that was the first flash forward one, right?), and didn’t have time in season 5 for Locke to have more than a minute or two with the O6, she had to get angry right away. So yeah, Kate was nasty in that scene, but she had to be to line up with how she and Jack acted in an episode from several seasons prior.

  8. Jeff Holland says:

    Yeah, that was another way the writers set us up to expect more than they could deliver. Locke/Bentham apparently told Jack things got horrible on the island, because he left, infuriating them all while also terrifying them.

    But then we see that he was talking about the time-travel problem, which, yes, not an IDEAL situation, but probably not what the grim island-apocalypse the audience was picturing.

    (I was having trouble understanding why Locke thought it happened because the O6 left, until I remembered he was told that by Alpert, who was told that by future-Locke, who was actually Esau/Guy-in-Black/Titus Welliver, and presumably had his own reasons. So…yeah!)

  9. Tad says:

    You know what, I never thought about the fact that it was actually MIB telling Locke via Alpert that. At the time, it obviously seemed like Locke telling himself via Alpert, and I haven’t gone back to watch season 5. Interesting. These are the things I miss out on now that you don’t live at my house anymore!

  10. Arya says:

    Throughout the entire show, Jack shows an inability to see the big picture. That’s why he splits up the group when he moves half of them to the caves. That’s why he doesn’t listen to Locke. He’s stubborn and small-minded, a man of no faith at all.

    By season six, Kate has matured because SHE BECAME A MOTHER. Like Locke (when he saw himself at the hatch when it lit up), she knows that all of our experiences (good and bad) shape who we are. Also: everyone dies sometime. Changing what happened is no guarantee that everything will be better or that everyone will live in the newly created timeline. It might even be worse. Jack is too self-absorbed to realize that.

  11. msecrest says:

    Just started watching this show and from the very first episode I couldn’t stand Jack & Kate’s self righteous pieces of crap who always turn to violence first. Now I’m almost through with season 5 and that opinion hasn’t changed. The fact that Kate just can’t leave Sawyer alone, even though he’s happy with Juliet, really makes her a sickening charachter. Even Ben is more likable and he’s a crazy person. All in all the show is interesting but it could have done without Jack & Kate… especially Kate.

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