Monday, August 3

Whatever The Case May Be (S1, ep. 12)

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?


  1. I think the first Island "move" on the show is actually during "Pilot, Part 1". The constantly changing weather patterns, complete with thunderstorms instantly giving way to clear, sunny blue skies, seems to clearly represent a move in space or time.

    Also, a deleted line from "Solitary" would have Rousseau reveal to Sayid that her research team was studying "time". ABC wanted to avoid any overt sci-fi references in season one.

  2. Thanks for your comments, spacktron. That's an interesting observation you make about the weather, and would certainly explain the sudden downpours. I'm less clear on how it might explain, say, the fact that it rains in the Dark Territory and stays sunny on the Beach during 'Exodus.' Any thoughts?

    And that's an interesting tidbit re: Solitary's deleted scene. This rewatch is 'in-show only,' meaning all RPGs and cut scenes are excluded, but its nice to have further confirmation that the writers were planning this wrinkle (in time) from the beginning!

  3. MMorse,

    So are you suggesting (with your island movement hypothesis) that we are seeing the results of one of the future island skips as a result of Ben turning the time wheel and throwing it out of sync? Similar to the skip that results in the drug plane crashing? That's interesting, and not something I'd ever considered. In my mind, I think I had mixed up the sudden tide increase with Arzt's later statements about the trade winds nearer the end of the season.

    It would be interesting to re-examine all of the time jumps in early Season 5 and see if any of them contain evidence suggesting they correspond to early in Season 1. But I suppose you'll be doing that when you get there.

  4. Additionally, I was very irked when the castaways seemed to just "forget" about Claire. Upon rewatch, Shannon's throwaway line about the trail going cold was just as irritating as the first time. I mean, come on, we are talking about a pregnant woman being kidnapped! If that doesn't activate every primal "protecting the tribe" urge, I'm not sure what does.

    This is just the first of a series of seemingly out-of-character behaviors we see. The overarching one Ben comments on later, where the castaways lose their curiosity about the weirdness of the island. That one I can buy as a sort of mix of terror and learned helplessness.

    Upon first viewing, the most irritating of these out-of-character patterns was, to me, the constant back and forth in season 2, where Jack and Locke cannot agree on what their position vis a vis Ben's imprisonment is. Episode after episode they flip-flop between one wanting to keep him locked up, one wanting to let him go, then switching. The only constant is that they must oppose one another. It took me a while to figure out that this was precisely the point.

  5. Greg,

    I'm suggesting simply that the Island has been established (via Season 5) as mobile. It moves naturally through space (and if you google the term 'vile vortices' you'll discover an interesting and possibly-pertinent map), which is one reason why it is so hard to find.

    I took the sudden, inexplicable shift in the tides to be evidence that the Island had performed one of these shifts in space (not in time). Appearing suddenly in a new location would cause the kinds of tidal shifts Sayid comments on.

    Alternatively, the Arzt comments from the end of S1 could also explain this detail, but I prefer my explanation ;)

    As for the 'out of character' stuff - the show has a bad habit of its characters refusing to talk, or avoiding a topic, or forgetting about a character when its narratively convenient. The group's reaciton to Claire's abduction really stood out for me on rewatch. It makes sense in one sense (they're all pretty much strangers at this point, so there's no personal motivation to go and find her in dangerous territory), but what doesn't make sense is the way in which the topic appears to go ignored. People would be talking about it, even if that talk was limited to excuses on why no one could go look for her.

  6. I don't think the island moved until Ben turned the wheel.
    Just because when they get "rescued" the same amount of time has passed on and off island.

    The possibilty could be that the time stays the same off island but changes on island.
    But then again this theory is crushed by Richards travel to child-Locke.

  7. In another deleted scene, Arzt confesses to Michael that he made up all that stuff. He wanted to get the raft off the island as quickly as possible, but he was "just a high school science teacher"