I have three words for you, Lost fans: Mackenzie Freakin’ Astin! That’s right, Andy from The Facts of Life is here to rock your flashback world in this week’s episode, in which at least one girl is poison. Well, poisonous, I suppose, is more accurate. But still. It’s a Kate-centric ep, which might give some of you pause, or give some of you the heebies and/or jeebies. Trust me, I was right there with ya at the beginning, but let’s go to it with an open mind and newly opened bottles of water and see what we find, OK?

Born to Run

4) In Short

"Know where Tom died? On Thunder Road. There was Darkness on the Edge of Town that night. You might even say those were Badlands for years afterward. Wonder if her Hungry Heart will haunt for years to come. These were certainly not her Glory Days. Nope, I’m actually not remotely done, got me about thirty-six more of these. You want the recap? Fine, as ye wish."

8) On the Island

Kate’s playing with her toy plane alone on the beach. Charlie comes over, theorizing that when he returns to the real world, Driveshaft will be more famous than ever. The thought of being "famous" freaks Kate out a bit.

Back near the raft, the Artist Known as Arzt, the world’s most annoying biology teacher, makes his presence known. He’s going on and on about the trade winds being all wrong, and being his usual blowhard self, freaking Michael out more than a bit. Get ready to drink, y’all, as Kate tells Michael she’s going with him. I wonder if Kate’s old boyfriends got upset every time they excused themselves from the dinner table to go to the bathroom only to find out she was coming with them.

Michael explains that the ship’s full, no dice. Mentioning Walt shouldn’t go doesn’t earn her points with him, so case is closed. Back at the boat, Sun wants to know if Jin’s really leaving. Affirmative on that account.

Sayid is bringing Jack out into the jungle for reasons unknown. Locke appears, telling Jack he wanted him brought out into the jungle with an open mind. He then shows Jack the excavated hatch. Cue blown mind. Locke says, "I guess it’s time we talked about this." Amen on that front.

Sawyer and Michael are arguing about supplying the boat, which prompts Michael to wonder if he’s picked the right man for the boat. This sends him right to Kate, who theorizes getting on that raft is the only way she could avoid getting arrested if a rescue ship came back for the rest of the survivors. Kate declares his spot hers should she actually want to join the voyage on the S.S. Craphole. Then Michael doubles over in pain, clutching his stomach in agony. Should have run that water through a Brita.

Jack and Locke in engage a series of "I’m not the a-hole here, you are" exchanges. Not quite the Lincoln/Douglas debates here. Jack wants to open the hatch, which alarms Sayid and aligns him with Locke. While walking back, Walt catches up to them, alerting the trio to Michael’s condition. Jack does a brief exam, but can’t figure out why Michael’s in such bad shape. Talking the symptoms over with Locke, Jack quickly deduces that the water was poisoned.

Michael’s got one suspect in mind: Sawyer. Locke’s questioning Hurley, and once Jack joins the discussion, Locke learns of Kate’s fugitive status. Once again, "I’m not the a-hole here" rears its ugly head. But all signs point to Kate, leading to a tense discussion between Jack and Kate in the caves. Feelings are hurt, freckles are frowned.

Walt finds Locke in the jungle to tell him he didn’t poison his dad. Locke knows he didn’t, tries to comfort Walt, and while doing so touches his arm. This wigs Walt out, and not in a Chris Hanson way. He tells Locke, "Don’t open it! Don’t open that thing!" over and over while backpedaling as fast as he can.

Michael informs Sawyer that he’s off the boat, still suspecting him of being the culprit. This sends Sawyer off the deep end, incredulous at this turn of events. Michael declares he doesn’t want a scavenger and criminal anywhere near his son. Seeing Kate nearby, he steals her bag, revealing one incriminating item: the passport of the woman who drowned all the way back in "White Rabbit." Can you say "awkward?" I knew ya could.

She then confesses to the group about her past, her status on the plane, and why she wants to get on the raft so badly. Everyone then walks away, hypocritically disgusted at her. Puh-lease. I’m hardly the biggest Kate fan out there, but how the murderer, the druggie, the woman who abused her step-brother’s affection, and the woman who wanted to give up her child get off judging her kinda makes me a little ill. Not Michael ill post-poisoning, but still.

Jack finds Sun on the beach. He’s figured out that she wanted Jin to stay, and so poisoned his water bottle just enough to keep him on the Island. The water bottles merely got mixed up. Jack tells Sun that she should say goodbye to Jin.

That night, Sawyer tells Kate he’s back on the raft, and they are sailing the following day. Kate wants to know if he’s there to say sorry. She wants to know why he wants off so badly. He tells her there’s nothing left to stay for. Ouch-o-rama. Walt finds Michael, now fully healed. He confesses that he burned the initial raft. But now? Walt wants to get the heck out of Dodge, thanks to Locke’s magic touch. Creepy. As. Hell.

Sun tells Kate that Jack knows, but won’t tell. Turns out it was Kate’s idea in the first place, meaning she was playing about four cons on four levels at once. Both wish they could be so lucky, so lucky in love.

15) Off the Island

A blonde woman pulls up to a motel parking lot. She switches the license plate on the back of her car. She snags a few towels from the maid service outside the rooms, goes into a room, and starts undressing. At this point you know it’s Kate because the show can’t resist showing her wearing as little as possible. Sure enough, it’s Kate, whose blonde locks melt away in the show. Posing as "Joan Hart," then picks up a letter at the front desk waiting for her. She reads it in the car outside, bursting into tears.

Kate walks into a hospital, carrying an impressively large bouquet of flowers. She shifts the flowers to block her from the view of the sheriff posted outside someone’s room. Next thing we see is a doctor getting into his car, only to be startled by Kate already in the back seat. She’s crafty (she gets around). Looks like she needs some help from the doctor, someone she knows as Tom.

Tom’s on the phone at his home, asking for some MRI time from a colleague. Kate’s in the foreground, looking at pictures of Tom’s wife and child. The MRI call earns Kate some alone time with Diane. The two of them go to the tree from the opening credits of Six Feet Under in the middle of the night. From the trunk, they count their steps, and start digging.

Tom cracks open a few beers for them, while stating it’s not fair for her to have come back home. Looks like Kate and Tom totally got to second base once upon a time. Kate finally finds what they were digging for: a time capsule contained within a New Kids on the Block lunch box. In it? Well, the right stuff, of course, hangin’ tough after all these years. I’m now anxiously awaiting Tom to tell Kate, "Please don’t go, girl."

Most important item in the time capsule? The toy plane that’s now so important to Kate. Also inside the capsule is a recording made when the two were young, in which Kate expresses a nascent desire to escape, to flee, to run away. Then two then smooch, because there’s nothing hotter than being reminded of the fact that the girl you always thought you’d marry decided to skip town and leave you with what’s behind Door #2.

We’re in the MRI room now, and we learn Diane is in fact Kate’s mother, in case that wasn’t too terribly obvious already. At first, Diane is dazed, then shocked, at seeing her daughter before her. Kate tells her mother how sorry she is for what she’s put her through. "Shocked" turns to "terrified" as Diane starts crying for help. A doctor comes through, Kate runs, and soon, the cops are alerted to a disturbance.

She and Tom drive away in his car as the two pull a Grand Theft Auto and haul on out. Given the police presence there, "visiting your cancer-ridden mother while wanted by the cops" earns you a two-star rating. She barrels through the barricade, escaping the police momentarily but not without a cost: Tom lies dead from bullet wounds. She leaves his body in the car and runs down a ravine.

16) The Mythology

Well, the Walt/Locke scene still sends shivers down the ol’ spine, doesn’t it? In many ways, the following three seasons were predicted in this one scene. The only downside to this scene is that there’s really been no follow-up in terms of Walt’s precog-via-touch powers. We’ve seen him astral project, we’ve seen him kill a flock of seagulls with his freakin’ mind, but we’ve never seen him predict the future except for this one case.

Now, is this nit-picking? Perhaps, but when dealing with someone like Walt, it’s very important to not give him powers based on narrative necessity. It’s incredibly cool and dynamic to use Walt to foreshadow ominous portent, but I want it tied into a consistent set of abilities within the child. Maybe Season 5 will explore his precognitive abilities more: using them as maybe Linus and Widmore already do, perchance?

In any case, this scene places Walt firmly on Team Jacob. After all, Jacob hates him some technology, doesn’t he? And given that Jacob looks to be trapped at the moment, he could use someone like Walt on his side. Too bad Ben didn’t realize this back when Walt was in Room 23.

23) The Moment

See #16.

42) In Retrospect

  1. Really tight storytelling to include a look between Kate and Sun at the beginning of the episode that gives away the ENTIRE PLOT of the episode if you know what you’re looking for. That, "Oh, crap, Michael got sick, not Jin" look is loud and clear. Well played.
  2. Loved Locke and Jack working together. While hardly Holmes/Watson, the two made a formidable team, with the situation at hand benefiting greatly not only from their different perspectives but also due to their inherent need to be the alpha male in the relationship. They essentially are in competition with each other, something not necessarily bad in all cases. Course, by the time Season 4 rolls around, it’s kinda bad, I’ll give you that.
  3. I found it interesting that Michael insists that Sawyer be nowhere near his son at one point in tonight’s episode, given what Sawyer tells Tom at the end of Season 3.
  4. When Kate asks Sawyer why he wants to get off the Island, he essentially cuts her to the bone, saying he no longer had any feelings for her. But now, we know a really, really good reason why he might want to get back, don’t we?
  5. Not only do we now know why Diane called for help, but we know exactly why Kate wanted to run away as a child. Turns out the two things are intimately related.

108) In Summary

You know, this was surprisingly watchable this time around, if for no other reason to watch a season’s worth of bad blood, sexual tension, and love/hate boil over into a confrontation between Kate and Sawyer in front of the majority of the survivors. While I thought their reactions were by and large petty, it does not negate the power of the interaction between the two.

On another front, Sun’s actions are roughly 834 times more potent if you know what happens in the season finale between the two of them. In fact, watching the Sun/Jin dynamic play out again is one of the great joys of rewatching Season 1.

Setting up the final arc of the season (Operation Hatch) rounds an episode I initially loathed and appreciated this time around as a necessary cog in the overall Lost wheel. It moved certain people around, set up the eventual Kate/Sawyer reunion in Season 2, and added grave peril and mystery to the already perilous, mysterious hatch. So while not in the upper echelon of Lost episodes, a solid outing altogether. There, I said it: I kind of enjoyed a Kate episode. Beware of those flying pigs.

Leave your thoughts about this episode below!

Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude, then peruses Zap2It’s Guide to Lost Facebook group.