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I began my Season 6 Rewatch yesterday, and after the near-flawless "LA X, Parts 1 & 2" I decided to analyse the next episode, What Kate Does using the knowledge that we have now at our disposal, i.e. that the flash-sideways universe is a subconscious state in which the characters create scenarios in order to resolve outstanding issues from their lives, by reconnecting with the people who matter most to them, and ultimately, moving on together.
I regarded this episode to be extremely underrated after my first watch back in February. Critics were less than fond of the flash-sideways idea, and coupled with the polarising characterisation of Kate's character, many were left bemused by what this episode had to offer. The on-island story was extremely interesting, touching upon what the status of "candidate" meant for these characters, and the rules they could abide by. Dogen's insistence that Sayid must take the poison pill willingly perplexed me a little. From Dr. Linus and The Candidate, it became clear to me that candidates could kill each other, but could not commit suicide, an idea given by the scene with Richard and Jack in the Black Rock. So, with this knowledge in mind, why would Dogen insist that Sayid take the pill willingly knowing that the rules of candidacy would prevent him dying? Perhaps if Jack was the person who convinced Sayid to take the pill, then it could be argued that it was a case of candidate killing candidate?
Elsewhere on the Island, Sawyer's emotional trauma over Juliet's death again spoke to me, and I loved that Kate finally made peace with the fact that James belonged with Juliet. The writers, in this way, managed to redeem her character going into the final season, finally ending some of the cringeworthy love triangle storylines that had been plaguing the past five seasons. Also liked the return of Claire, even if it was a tad predictable due to her prevalence in the sideways world..
Ah yes, the sideways world, which was more fulfilling for me personally. Again, looking at this episode with a clear vision of the nature of this universe, it is interesting to analyse. Kate claims she is innocent of murder, but is still running from the law. She possessed many of the character traits that we have known since Season 1, but there is one big difference, and this comes to light in her treatment of Claire. Kate's criminal past was littered in rash decisions that were either far too extreme (the murder of Wayne), or contributed to self-advancement resulting in tragedy for others (Tom Brennan). Kate treated Claire with empathy and compassion, helping the young woman in distress in a way that was both practical and sensible. Claire embodied the spirits of the many people who Kate wronged throughout her life, and in helping her, Kate redeemed her character.