Whatever The Case May Be (S1, ep. 12)
Oh, Claire. How quickly you’re forgotten.
In a strange mirroring of Season 5, in which Claire’s character was never seen and little remarked-upon despite vanishing mysteriously into the night during Season 4, this episode begins with the characters seemingly unconcerned with her fate.
That makes a certain amount of sense, because this is a Kate episode, and if we’ve learned one thing about Kate over five seasons of this show it’s that Kate is wiggy, self-centered and focused almost entirely on what lies ahead while simultaneously bound to great anchors of personal guilt that keep dragging her back into past tragedies of her own making - tragedies she seems condemned/content to keep perpetuating. Wait….is that a description of Kate or of every single character on this show?
Whatever The Case May Be spends time centered on a mystery that I frankly don’t care much about in retrospect. The first time through, the potential contents of the safety deposit box Kate takes in her little bank heist kept me chomping at the bit to see what was worth all the effort. Was this the heist that got her on the Most Wanted list? Was there something
mystical/dangerous/compelling in that box?The answer: NO.
This episode left me a little cold, and it’s the first one to do so. No major revelations here, mythology-wise (but some truly excellent, truly sneaky hints/clues about the future of the series and plot points that wouldn’t become clear for seasons to come).
I will say this: Sayid and Shannon’s relationship starts here, and it’s more believable than I’d given it credit for at the time. The problem with this hour, I suspect, is that I don’t feel dramatically invested in Evangeline Lily’s performance here. Everyone likes to joke about Jackface (and who wouldn’t? It’s fun and funny), but Kateface isn’t so much funny as it is frustrating. Lily has two faces: Happy and ‘sad’. Happy Kateface is a natural fit for her. “Sad” Kateface is not. This doesn’t actively bother me so much as it keeps me at a distance. I don’t buy her inner pain. I enjoy the construction of her plotline despite the actresses’ relative inability to convincingly portray that pain.
This episode makes me believe that the writers would like Kate and Sawyer to end up together by the end of the show. And this episode makes me think that, had Juliet and LeFleur not formed such a compellingly-perfect couple last year, I’d be perfectly okay with their decision. “Sad” Kateface or not, she’s relaxed and open with Sawyer in a way she’s not with Jack. But I’m suddenly not okay with that potential possibility, thanks to the effectively-portrayed relationship between Mitchell and Holloway in Season 5.
Here’s where I go off on a rant: I appreciate that dramatically it’s more interesting to kill/endanger/sacrifice Juliet and see Sawyer’s (heartrending) anguish over this. But as a viewer, and especially as a viewer that came to resent Joss Whedon’s penchant for ensuring No Happy Endings Ever for any couple on his various shows, sometimes I want things to not only work out for two lovers – but to work out well. It’s kind of a bummer at this point to think that after all the growth and effort Sawyer has undergone, he may end up back with the woman he started off sassing and flirting with. But then, it’s rare enough in real life for ‘ideal’ couples to stay together, and perhaps their mutual growth means that Sawyer and Kate will end up happy. It won’t hurt my long-term appreciation for the show if they end up together, but I’ll continue to hope for a loving couple like Juliet and ‘Jim’ on a genre show that don’t just survive, but thrive.
Let’s talk about what I do like, most of which centers around various throw-away lines and strange moments scattered through the episode that only now begin to make (potential) sense:
Kate and Sawyer discover the titular case at the same pool/falls where Kate, Jack and Hurley will mysteriously appear halfway through Season 5. I’d forgotten about the sunken bodies in the water – that can’t make for a sanitary swimming experience.
Interesting Sayid Line: “This can’t be normal – the tide shifting so suddenly? Rising in so short a time?”
I believe the audience just watched the Island move for the first time, without even knowing it.
According to Sayid, who has enlisted Shannon to help him translate the French portions of Rousseau’s map/documents, the equations that Rousseau has written are beyond anything Sayid has ever seen. This may indicate a lack of higher mathematics in his education. But it also indicates that Rousseau’s calculations were time-related, and similar to the kinds of calculations Daniel makes in Seasons 4 and 5.
Random Observation: Sawyer and Kate sure do like to wrassle.
In keeping with the subtle War on Terror subtext, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the Marshall’s case is a “Halliburton” model, or that the “Halliburton” model was directly commissioned, originally, by the founder of the Halliburton company now justifiably infamous for it’s GWB-era, Iraq-related shenanigans.
The safety deposit box number containing Kate’s ‘treasure’: 815
Random Observation #2: There are a few too many of these “We think Sawyer has our stuff” episodes up front. They go back to this well too often, but it’s not a cardinal sin, just a minor nitpick.
Shannon successfully translates Rousseau’s foreign jibberish with the help of a movie with ‘cartoon fish’ in it. Is this Finding Nemo? Some other gem? Never has a Bobby Darin song sounded so haunting to me. Is this song a clue as well, or just a sadly poetic allusion? We've yet to see someone travel directly from the mainland to the Island - is the Island 'beyond the sea' in some sense? Or is this just a clever way to cap the episode?