The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

I believe in the infection of the dead

with 3 comments

Season 6, Episode 3: What Kate Does

Dear Natalie,

I know the episode is called “What Katie Does” (a throw back to the episode “What Katie Did” – was that all the way back in season 1?!) and I will get to the Kate, Claire (Ethan!) story in a moment. But I want to start at the Temple with Sayid’s resurrection, or, if you believe Dogan and Lennon, his infection. It should be pretty clear by now that I am putting most of my explanatory eggs in this basket – figuring out the whole relationship between dark and light, good and evil, Jacob and the Man in Black seems the key to the rest. Which force is which and what power do they really have? I am totally open to the idea that the lines between good and evil aren’t as neatly drawn as they sometimes appear – in fact, I’m all for that. I am also open to the idea that what seems good might be evil and vice versa. But the heart of the island mystery does seem to revolve around this cosmic struggle and I want to get to the bottom of it!

This episode helped advance our knowledge, at least a little bit. Or, in good Lost fashion, it at least gave us small pieces of the puzzle that we can try to fit together. Like the fact that once Sayid comes back to life (or seems to come back to life?), the Temple Dwellers get mighty suspicious and subject him to diagnosis that looks an awful lot like torture. They tell him he passes the test and then admit to each other that they are lying. They are convinced that he is infected, but as they tell Jack later after the poison pill wrangling, by “infected” they mean “claimed.” It can’t be a coincidence that they use the same word for Sayid’s supposed infection that Rousseau used to describe what happened to her people, especially since we are about to meet her re-incarnation in the infected Claire at the end of the episode. Infected, apparently, does not mean possessed, if we think of whatever is happening to not-Locke as a kind of possession. I have not gotten the impression that Sayid is another vessel for the Man in Black, at least not in the same way. But the fact that Rousseau’s infections began after her people get dragged to the Temple by the Smoke Monster seems to suggest that whatever this infection is, it has to do with the MIB and the general creeping darkness he has so far represented. I have to admit, while I want to know more, I like this language of being “claimed.” To my ears it suggests that there might be a way to refuse or shake off the claim, where possessed is a bit more thorough-going. Granted, Dagon and Lennon don’t think Sayid stands much of a chance fighting the growing darkness inside him, hence the poison pill, but one could presumably renounce a claim.

And I have to get a bit theological/philosophical at this point too. Remember that the big argument between Jacob and the MIB has to do with the fundamental corruption of the human person and the capacity for free will. If the MIB is someone responsible for this claim of darkness, it would fit with the kind of cosmic wager the two seemed to be having over whether or not humans can choose the good on their own. It is also interesting that if whatever is infecting Sayid (if we can trust the Temple Dwellers to begin with) is the same thing that infected Rousseau’s people, that the clearest manifestation we saw of it was when Rousseau’s husband tried to lull her into a truce only to try and shoot her. In other words, this darkness is primarily directed at other people – it is the very manifestation of fighting, killing, backstabbing, and destruction that the MIB claims is true of all people and that Jacob wants to resist. I have to wonder if somehow the whole season isn’t going to revolve around this basic axis: can our characters choose grace for each other, instead of suspicion and self-interest?

Not fully understanding how this whole infection/claim thing works, I am not sure just who it is Jin encountered in the figure of Claire at the end of the episode. Is she dead? was she dead? Is she fully given over to infection? If she is supposed to be a Rousseau figure, does that mean Rousseau was deluded all along and it wasn’t her companions but herself who was infected?

We were prepped for the return of the wild, bereft mother figure by the presence of Claire in the Alterna-Universe. There is so much to say there: about her relationship with Kate, her impending decision about what to do with Aaron, about the surprising and fantastic return of Dr. Ethan Goodspeed!! I am going to leave this to you, or to each of our future musings if you don’t want to go there either.

I want to close with two last observations: 1) Sawyer’s speech to Kate on the dock was one of the most emotionally honest of the entire series for me and I think a lot will hinge on how he continues to deal with his very real, palpable grief. 2) the theme of leadership was brought to the fore in a totally new way, with Miles explicitly suggesting there is “a leadership position” that presumably only one person can fill at a time, and that Hugo (!) has currently filled it. Except that Jack pretty much still seemed like the leader…

I can’t wait to hear what you thought…




Hey Kathryn,

Well I whole-heartedly agree with your comparisons between Claire and Rousseau; affirmed not only by the way Claire looks and her gun-toting appearance, but also by the reappearance of wild traps in the woods that Kate and Jin’s overly-chatty tour guides admit are no longer Danielle’s (um, did you also have a problem taking Mac from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia seriously in that role?).  And of course, there’s the connection between Danielle’s and Claire’s island pregnancies and safe-island deliveries. We are reminded of this as we get to watch Claire’s almost-labour back in the non-island world facilitated by the fabulously creepy Ethan (I have no idea what to make of that – if the alternate universe has island dwellers filling normal roles back in this world, how long can it be before we get to see the lovely Juliet again?!).  When he claims that he doesn’t want to stick her with needles, we remembered how he once did, but that he did so in order to inoculate her and keep her safe and, in so doing, sort of become her friend.  So I’m left wondering how pregnancy relates to the infection – sure, non-preggers folks get it too (Danielle’s friends, as you note, and now Sayid).  But as we’ve seen the only two island mothers catch the disease (Sun escapes before delivery), I have to wonder if there’s some play on ancient Greek tropes of women’s sexuality and childbirth blurring the boundaries between the natural and spiritual realms going on here.

I too am intrigued by this battle between encountering others with grace or malice and how it will play out in Sayid…especially knowing that he’s got whatever Danielle and Claire had/have (and how do the temple dwellers know that Claire is Jack’s sister?).  Certainly we saw Danielle’s ruthlessness, especially in her early relationship with Sayid.  But we also saw her begin to form alliances with the flight 815 folks, help them out, warn them about the black smoke monster, and eventually spend some time working with them to get her daughter back, who she then dies trying to rescue from the fake-Dharma folks.  With Danielle, then, the infection makes her totally badass and able to survive on her own in somewhat ruthless ways.  But it doesn’t make her incapable of relationships and forming bonds with others.  And so perhaps the current assessment of Sayid’s condition is not quite right – perhaps the Others only think the infection animalizes a human because they refused to treat Danielle as anything other than an animal?

We might also note, then, that if the infection makes its host totally badass and ruthless, that’s exactly what happened to Sun after she left the island and gave birth, as we’ve noted in numerous previous posts…so I’m wondering also if there’s some connection there too?

What I was left wondering with Sayid, though, was why he would need to take the poison pill willingly for it to work?  Why would Dogan and Lennon go through the rigmarole of having Jack give it to him rather than slip it to him themselves?  And how did the torture diagnose the disease?

I loved Sayid’s confusion about the torture – for him, they couldn’t possibly be seeking information with it because they weren’t trying to get him to say anything.  Little did he know, they were gathering information with it, just as he always attempted to do with his own torture practices; it just wasn’t the kind of information one speaks.  It’s interesting to me to note, then, that we’ve never really seen Sayid’s torture of others produce truth.  It’s always simply forced people to say whatever he wanted to hear…which makes me wonder if this torture-diagnosis has also produced whatever Dogan and Lennon were expecting to find, or if it brought forth something accurate.

At the very least we know that Sayid is not a zombie – I did love that line!

Oh, and I also loved Miles continuing to ask Sayid questions about his ‘death’ – was there a white light…did you see family?  Sayid only remembering being shot and nothing after continues to puzzle Miles in a way that we don’t yet understand, but I’m curious to know.

And finally, a few things I’m excited to watch develop: I was intrigued by Dogan’s use of language to separate himself from those he leads and wonder where that’s going; now we know that Kate can find Claire on the island (the reason she came back), what will happen when she finds her?; and we’ve long wondered what it is that Aaron is going to do or how he is going to be significant…I feel an answer to that one coming kind of soon!


PS: I do love your title for this week’s post – a lovely play on the creed that I’m sure our high-liturgy friends will enjoy!

PPS: Also, where did Sawyer get the engagement ring?  Is it Dharma-issue too?

Written by themothchase

February 10, 2010 at 9:11 am

3 Responses

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  1. I’m pretty sure that Rousseau was never “infected”. Her shipmates were, but she was reeling from the trauma of it all. This makes the Claire/Rousseau comparison (which seemed intentional) confusing….

    Mac was great in LOST. His Han Solo invoking of the term “princess” was only second to Miles’ line about Hurley’s leadership role.

    Thunder Jones

    February 10, 2010 at 10:58 am

  2. I also don’t think that Rousseau was infected… Although, perhaps it’s a relative term. Secrecy and distrust have plagued the Losties since day one, maybe that’s due to some supernatural cause rather than just convenient writing? I actually don’t think this is likely, but it would be interesting to make one of this show’s most frustrating elements have some thematic relevance.

    Jack was a better leader here than he’s been in a long time, actually discussing matters with Sayid and then forcing Dagon’s hand. I’m hoping this gets him back to leading by example rather than calling others to follow him over a cliff.

    I was really disappointed in the Claire/Kate alta-verse story. The flashbacks/forwards worked best when they augment the island story, this really didn’t add much.


    February 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm

  3. I just wanted to say, You have the most concise and legitimate discussion about Lost that I have come across.

    Very good arguments about Claire, leadership, and the relationship between Jacob and the Man in Black.


    February 10, 2010 at 10:12 pm

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