What lies beneath on ‘Lost’

Lost
“Whatever the Case May Be”
Originally aired January 5, 2005

Even the most devoted Lost fans have episodes that they feel, well, meh about. And if I were totally honest with you, kind readers, I’d tell you that “Whatever the Case May Be” and the next episode, “Hearts and Minds,” are on my meh list (right up there with “Stranger in a Strange Land,” and “Everybody Hates Hugo”). It’s not the flashback that I find so lacking: I think the bank robbery story is great fun, and I think it may have some greater significance for the show and its themes as we can discuss later. No, my problem with this episode are the events on the island. Or, rather, the lack of events, as I should say. Nothing much happens. They find a case. Kate wants the case. Sawyer takes the case. Jack gets the case back. They open the case. The end. And I have to say, recapping it wasn’t a piece of cake. There are only so many ways to say: “Now Sawyer has the case.” “Now Kate has it,” before I wanted to poke my eyes out. I considered writing the entire entry in Pirate-speak just to keep myself awake, and to honor “Talk Like A Pirate Day,” which just happens to be today. I didn’t. You can thank me later, mateys.

pirate delirious smile

So, Kate, or rather “Miss Ryan” as she’s being called today, is in a bank, applying for a loan. Well, what on earth for, I wonder? New running shoes? Anyway, Miss Kate Ryan is making sweet eyes at the loan officer and explaining that she’s a photographer, working here in New Mexico on a coffee table book about old movie houses in small towns. Quaint.

And Miss Kate Ryan has the manager hook, line and sinker — looks like she’s going to get that loan! When all of a sudden, a bunch of masked, and very armed robbers come bursting into the bank, all shouty and demanding that everyone get on the ground. That means Miss Kate Ryan, too. You know, maybe if the robbers were a little more polite, people would be a little more cooperative. And then they could get the funds that they need to (SPOILER ALERT!) go to Australia to catch the perfect wave a little bit faster.

Lost note: Kate’s in New Mexico, near Ruidoso, to be exact, and we learn in “Every Man for Himself” that Sawyer wants a trust set up at a bank in Albuquerque for his daughter Clementine. What’s interesting is that this suggests that Cassidy, Sawyer’s baby momma, lives in New Mexico, right? But Kate crosses paths with Cassidy in Iowa. Which isn’t a huge surprise, because Sawyer himself crosses Kate’s mother’s path in a diner in Iowa while conning Cassidy in “The Long Con.” So, what’s with the bank in Albuquerque? This is probably ultimately meaningless, but from what I can tell, Clementine was born in 2002, sometime after Kate and Cassidy met, and then Cassidy must have moved to New Mexico. Was she living there at the same time as the events in this flashback? Does it matter at all? Sigh. Probably not. But I thought it was worth bringing up, just in case.

arrested development lucille i made a pun

Right, so the leader of the robbers, Bodhi, a.k.a. “Reagan,” is busy yelling at the bank manager to give him the key to the money cage. Yelling yelling yelling. And then, on the ground, another of the customers whispers to Miss Kate Ryan that he’s pretty sure that he can take Roach, a.k.a. “Nixon” over there, who’s not paying any attention.

Miss Kate Ryan urges Johnny Utah to do no such thing, but off he goes, taking Roach off-guard, who drops his gun. The gun, somewhat fortunately, slides toward Miss Kate Ryan! Who picks it up! Shoot them, Miss Kate Ryan! SHOOT THEM! Alas, Miss Kate Ryan says that she doesn’t know how to fire a gun, and Bodhi is all over her before she can save the day. Boo.

“Okay, little hero,” Bodhi says while grabbing Miss Kate Ryan by the neck, “let’s go have a little talk.” Bodhi hauls Miss Kate Ryan into a private office, where he rips off his mask to reveal his glorious blond surfer locks, and bursts out laughing at the idea that Miss Kate Ryan doesn’t know how to shoot a gun. And then he kisses her passionately. WHAT?!

So Miss Kate Ryan has been working with the robbers, and she urges Bodhi to hit her and make it real — the manager won’t talk if the details are off. Bodhi chuckles at her: You and your details, Tyler Ann Endicott, Oops! I mean, Maggie. He called her Maggie.

whatever the case may be lost kate split lip

Bodhi backhands MaggieTylerKate, leaving an angry, but convincing! red mark across her face, and then drags her back out into the lobby, urging the “hero” to shut up. Bodhi asks the manager if he’s really going to protect a vault that doesn’t even belong to him, and then holds the gun on MaggieTylerKate, while promising that he’s going to shoot her on the count of three if the manager doesn’t hand over the key to the money cage. So he does.

Once inside the vault, the manager asks Bodhi to release MaggieTylerKate as the robbers/(SPOILER!) surfers shovel money into their bags. BodhiMaggieTylerKate was the brains of the operation! She chose the bank! She chose this very vault! And then Bodhi removes his Reagan mask, which MaggieTylerKate knows is NOT a good sign. Bodhi levels the gun at the manager, and tells MaggieTylerKate that he’s just cleaning up after himself. But MaggieTylerKate, unhappy with this turn of events, grabs the gun out of Grommet’s hand and levels it at Bodhi. If he shoots, she’s gonna shoot, because she stipulated that no one was going to get hurt in this deal. Bodhi? Totally doesn’t believe she’ll shoot him, so MaggieTylerKate cocks her gun. MaggieTylerKate shoots him in the leg and then shoots Roach and Grommet for good measure.

MaggieTylerKate then demands the bank’s key to safety deposit box 815 (although, curiously, the closed captioning on my DVD says 850. 815 makes more sense, but whatevs). She has a key to the box already, but is not on the signatory card, and thus participated in the robbery to get her hands on the second key.

Bodhi, overhearing this, is really mad now. She set him up, just to get into a safety deposit box? He urges “Maggie” to be sure to kill him lest he ever come after her: and MaggieTylerKate tells him that her name’s not Maggie. The manager gives NotMaggieTylerKate the safety deposit box, and she goes into the vault, removes the box, hesitates a moment and then opens it. WHAT’S INSIDE??!!? WHAT! IS! IT! An envelope.

Airline tickets to Bells Beach, Australia in time for the 50-year storm, mayhaps?

point break surf

Lost note 1: Note that again, Kate tells someone what her name isn’t, but not what her name is, just as she does in “I Do.” In fact, as pointed out before, the only person in the flashbacks that she properly introduces herself to is Cassidy in “Left Behind.”

whatever the case may be lost kate

Lost note 2: Kate takes out this safety deposit box, places it on the table, and hesitates before she opens it. In “I Do,” Kate brings a box into her hotel room, sets the box down on a table, and hesitates before opening it. Of course, in that instance the mystery object is merely a wedding veil, and (presumably) she didn’t have to shoot anyone to get it.

whatever the case may be lost surf cases

As Sawyer told Sayid in last week’s episode, the tide is indeed rising up the beach and very quickly carrying everything out to sea. A bunch of red shirts are running around in the surf, frantically dragging suitcases and tents out of the waves, and here’s the thing … why? Why are they doing this now? Shannon asks Boone what he’s been going in the jungle with Locke for the past 4 days, so we know that 4 days have passed since the last episode, so we know that the tide has been rising up the beach for 4 days at least, SO WHY ARE THEY JUST NOW DECIDING TO REMOVE THEIR PERSONAL ITEMS FROM THE SURF? FOR SERIOUS. Blah blah blah, Sayid notices that the tide is really weird, blah. But still. He had plenty of warning.

So, because of the quickly eroding beach, Sayid and Jack are, once again, disagreeing about where to move everyone. Jack, of course, wants to move everyone to the jungle for the Others to pick them off more easily. Sayid, unsurprisingly, wants to move to another part of the beach. Seeing that this argument is going nowhere, Jack asks Sayid to take him to the Crazy French Lady — maybe she knows something about the Others? Nope, says Sayid. She crazy. Fine — what about all those maps and papers you took from her? Maybe they’re helpful? asks a hopeful Jack. Yeah, remember the part about the French Lady being totally crazy? Her papers? Totally crazy.

ANYWAY. Everyone is busy fishing their effects out of the ocean, except for Charlie. Charlie’s still pouting about being hung and left for dead by Ethan, and Rose has had just about enough of it. She orders Charlie to help her carry the giant metal chunk of airplane that she’s dragging up the beach (?), and tells him that he’s hardly the only person on the island who’s got troubles. Word squared, Rose.

Charlie’s incredulous that Rose seems too happy, what with the man-eating monster and the crazy people who like to abduct them and try to kill them, and the no one coming to rescue them. But Rose cuts to the chase and assures Charlie that no one blames him for what happened to Claire. After all, he nearly died too. Maybe I should have, pouts Charlie. Rose, always calm, tells Charlie that he needs to seek help. Who’d help me? asks the poor little hobbit.

whatever the case may be lost grave

(Cut to the cross marking the marshal’s gravesite in another storyline that we will get to … the producers managed to not include a COUGH, COUGH or a giant flashing arrow pointing to it in a remarkable display of restraint).

flashing arrow

Right, so later that night, Rose and Charlie are still hanging out by a fire, and Charlie notes that Rose’s husband was in the tail section … Yep! replies Rose, but he’ll be back because he’s alive despite all the evidence to the contrary. How do you know? asks Charlie. Fine line between faith and denial, explains Rose. It’s much better on her side. And that’d be the faith side, see. Poor little hobbit starts crying, and begs Rose to help him. But Rose isn’t the one that can help him, he’s going to need to appeal to a much higher authority. Rose prays for Charlie: “Heavenly Father, we thank you. We thank you for bringing us together tonight, and we ask that you show Charlie the path …”

Lost notes: I had forgotten about this moment in Charlie’s ongoing relationship to his faith, but it’s lovely, no? Charlie seems to attach himself to the spiritual figures on the island, hoping that one of them can help guide him on his path. First it’s Locke, then Rose, Eko, of course, and then finally Desmond, who, while not as spiritual as say Eko or Rose, was once studying to be a monk. I’m not sure what to make of the fact that it is Desmond who leads Charlie, quite literally, to his destiny, but it’s curious to consider in light of Charlie and Desmond’s shared faith.

As I noted, it’s been about 4 days since Jack found Charlie hanging in that tree, and we know this because Shannon wants to know what Boone and Locke have been up to during that time. BEING OF USE — UNLIKE YOU, Boone snaps at her. Nice, crabby-pants. Nice.

No, what Boone’s been up to is serving as Locke’s errand boy, carrying axes for him through miles of jungle. “Isn’t there any easier way to get there?” Boone asks. (Which is a totally reasonable question, Boone, and one I’d be asking ALL THE TIME. It may be for the best that you make an untimely exit before you learn that there is actually A DOOR to the hatch like RIGHT ON THE BEACH.) And Locke’s all: “The easiest way isn’t always the best,” and “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop,” and then some other stuff he read once in a fortune cookie. And then they bang on the hatch with the ax. Or so it’s suggested.

And Shannon? She’s still miffed at Boone calling her useless. I mean, is she useless? No doubt. Her major activity — sunbathing — doesn’t really do anything to help their little society, besides provide eye candy.

Which is what she’s doing when Sayid approaches her and asks for a favor. It seems that the notations on the French Lady’s papers are surprisingly in French. Would Shannon be interested in helping Sayid by translating them for him? She’s reluctant at first — she doesn’t know French very well — but agrees to try when Sayid makes big doe eyes at her (I wouldn’t be able to resist either, Shannon, and I don’t speak French).

Lost note: WAIT A MINUTE. So why is it that Shannon has a (barely) working understanding of French, having lived there briefly, but Sayid? Who lived in Paris? Doesn’t? Methinks I’ve caught the writers in a bit of a mistake. For shame, y’all.

whatever the case may be lost danielle maps french beyond the sea

So, Shannon heads on over to Sayid’s tent, and he assures her to not worry about the equations, just the French. She’s still uncertain of herself but Sayid’s all “You can do it!” Which is all well and good until Shannon starts telling him that the French says a bunch of nonsense about the “sea of sparkles” and “blue infinity” over and over again — and somehow it’s familiar. Which isn’t what Sayid was expecting to hear, and he gets all grouchy demanding that there must be something about longitude or latitude or stars or SOMETHING, and Shannon’s like YO! It’s not my crazy French writings so BACK OFF. And then she stomp stomp stomps off when Sayid tells her that this whole thing was a mistake. THAT’S RIGHT. I’M USELESS, Shannon yells back at NotBooneButSayid.

Later, Shannon finds Sayid again, and explains that she was involved with a man in France whose son watched an animated fish movie (Finding Nemo — Nice synergy there, ABC/Disney!) over and over again. The song that played over the end credits included the words that she was struggling to translate. Sayid asks her the song, and Shannon begins to sing La Mer, otherwise known as Beyond the Sea, as Boone watches angrily from the jungle.

Lost note: Finding Nemo, huh? Those of you who don’t have small children may not be familiar with the Finding Nemo story. But basically, there’s this dad whose wife has died too early, and he has to raise his only son alone, right? And then one day a boat full of bad people scoop up his son and take him away. Far away. To Australia. The father, however, never loses hope that he’ll be reunited with his son and does whatever it takes to find him. Sound familiar?

finding nemo

So, while everyone else has been busy dragging suitcases out of the ocean, feeling all sorry for themselves, or doing homework, Kate’s been climbing trees in the depths of the jungle — but she’s being useful: she’s in the trees to collect fruit, not to pout about not being rescued. She hops down from a tree, bag full of fruit, and quickly realizes she’s being followed.

Undaunted, she grabs a rock, and throws it into the nearby bushes, thwacking one Sawyer in the head. See, Sawyer’s been “protecting” her after what happened to Claire, and by “protecting” he means “stalking.” Kate assures him that she can take care of herself, and bicker bicker bicker until they come across a pretty hidden pool and waterfall.

whatever the case may be lost waterfall

Sawyer immediately strips down and urges Kate to join him — after all, they deserve something good after all they’ve been through. Kate apparently agrees, strips down as well. SWIM SWIM SWIM. FROLIC FROLIC FROLIC. (Isn’t interesting that it’s never, say, Rose and Hurley who find the hidden waterfall and decide to take it all off for a dip?)

whatever the case may be lost corpses

And the two are having a great time until they discover the two corpses still strapped into their airplane seats at the bottom of the pool. Just, eww. Sawyer, always the scavenger, decides to go after the corpses’ wallets, but Kate has her eye on a bigger prize: the large Halliburton case underneath the corpses’ seat. Problem is, she can’t get it up by herself, so she tells Sawyer that the case is hers and asks him to help her pull it up. Sawyer helpfully complies. Once above the surface again, Sawyer hands the case to her and asks if she has the key. Yeah, about that … and Sawyer correctly guesses that the case is not Kate’s at all, so he takes it. Kate glowers.

expose lost nikki paulo waterfall

Lost note: Of course, this is also the pool where Nikki and Paulo go looking for the script bag (and where Paulo finds the missing diamonds) in “Expose.”

But there is also in this episode this interesting repeated imagery of people retrieving luggage from the water. It terms of the chronology of the episode, this scene is taking place as the rest of the red shirts are hurriedly reclaiming their suitcases from the rising tide.

Later, Kate sneaks into Sawyer’s tent as he sleeps, and spots the case tucked between his knees. She tries to remove it without waking him, but this is, not surprisingly, unsuccessful. TUSSLE TUSSLE TUSSLE, and Kate pins Sawyer down. Sawyer suggests that perhaps Kate is there for something other than the case, and in response, Kate head-butts him. For a moment there she has the case, but Sawyer quickly gets it back, and refuses to hand it over to Kate when she demands it.

The problem for Sawyer is that he has NO IDEA how to open the case. He tries picking the lock, without success, but with much cursing. Which draws the attention of Michael who promises Sawyer that Halliburtons are impossible to pick. In fact, Michael tells Sawyer, if he can pick the lock on a Halliburton case, Michael will put Sawyer on his back and fly him back to Los Angeles. Sawyer, being Sawyer, tells Michael he needs to find a runway because there isn’t a lock he can’t pick. But Michael promises that the only way he’s going to open the case is to use force — impact velocity. But I don’t know how much more impact velocity you can get than an airplane crash, so good luck with that.

Lost note: A runway? Interesting that this is exactly what Sawyer and Kate will later be put to work on by the Others.

Indeed, Sawyer’s having no luck bashing the case on a rock, so he attempts to throw it from a great height onto some rocks below. Unfortunately, all that happens is that Kate grabs the case and runs with it, while he’s stuck on the rock face above. But Kate doesn’t get far before he catches up with her again, tussle tussle tussle, head-butting, Sawyer manages to get the case back. He makes Kate a deal, though. If she’ll just tell him what’s inside, it’s hers. He just needs to satisfy his curiosity about why it’s so danged important to her. But that? That’s not gonna happen. Kate sets her jaw and is silent.

And what Kate is thinking is — time to get Jack on the case. Literally. She approaches Jack, informs him that they have a problem, and since he’s the only one who knows about her, she needs his help. See, the thing is, the marshal who escorted her on the plane was carrying this Halliburton case that was loaded with money, personal items, and a whole lotta guns. Four, to be exact. Oh, and some ammo. And the problem is that Sawyer has the case. Fortunately, he can’t open it. For now. But! Here’s the thing! Kate knows where the key is! Unfortunately, that’s in the marshal’s wallet. And he was buried a while ago. Kate wants to know where the grave is. But Jack wants to know what’s really in the case. Just the guns! protests Kate. Fine. You want my help? We open the case together, Jack asserts.

Kate and Jack head over to the marshal’s grave (marked with that cross I mentioned they cut to when Charlie asks who would help him). Kate wonders why Jack didn’t burn him along with the rest in the fuselage. Because I needed to bury him, explains Jack. (Psst: he’s talking about his dad, yo.) And they begin to dig. And. Just. Eww.

and the scent is strong snl gross nasty smell

Sure enough, they dig up his rotting corpse, and it’s really smelly, as corpses are wont to be, and Kate offers to jump down into the pit to retrieve the wallet. Eww. Eww. Eww.

kristen rhony gross gag

Kate opens the wallet to find a bunch of maggots (EWWWWWWWWWW), and drops it in horror.

and then i barfed snl gross ew yuck no

Jack, less bothered by maggots (Eww.) …

gag-gross-no

picks up the wallet (Eww.) …

vicki-rhooc-gross-vomit

… and notes that the key isn’t inside.

It’s not? asks a convincingly surprised Kate. Nope, because you swiped it. Good sleight of hand there, Kate. And sure enough, when Jack opens Kate’s palm, there’s the key. Oh. Kate.

whatever the case may be lost kate key

Jack, key in hand, confronts Sawyer and demands the Halliburton. Sawyer figured Kate would get Jack to do her dirty work, and wonders why he’d just give Jack the case?

Because if he doesn’t, Jack’s going to withhold the antibiotics that Sawyer’s been taking for his shoulder injury and eventually Sawyer will offer the case to Jack in exchange for Jack cutting off his arm, it’ll be so infected. Sawyer’s not sure that he believes that Jack would really do that, but gives the Halliburton over, you know, just in case. (Ugh. I kinda hate myself for that one.)

She tell you what’s inside? Sawyer asks, because that’s all he really cares about. Nope, Jack (sorta) lies. Sawyer assures Jack that he’s going to need the jaws of life to get this, shall we say “female dog” open, and that whatever Kate said to get Jack to retrieve the case — she lied. Jack stomps off with the case.

And heads directly to Kate, telling her that they are going to go open it together. Why? Kate asks. Because I said we’d open it together.

Before opening it, though, Jack asks her if there’s anything else she may want to tell him. Nope! Let’s get this baby open! Jack opens the case, and sure enough it’s filled with guns, money, and ammo. And an envelope marked “personal effects,” which he hands to Kate. WHAT’S IN THE FREAKING ENVELOPE ALREADY?

And Kate! Pulls out! A toy airplane?

whatever the case may be lost kate's toy airplane

WHAT IS IT? Jack and the audience ask Kate. Nothing, Kate sulks. TELL ME THE TRUTH! Jack and the audience yell at Kate. JUST THIS ONCE! It belonged to the man I loved! reveals Kate. THE TRUTH! Jack yells! It belonged to the man I killed! Kate finally sobs. And then Jack storms off with the case.

Seriously. All that for a toy plane.

And maybe that’s why I don’t care much for this episode: because I know what the toy airplane really is, and I don’t really care that much. All this build-up? For that? And then later, when we learn that the toy airplane is merely a toy airplane? Ugh. Who cares?

whatever the case may be lost haliburton contents

But. Maybe the most important thing in the case isn’t the toy airplane, but the guns themselves. Just as Kate pulls that sleight of hand with the key in the marshal’s wallet, perhaps the writers have pulled a sleight of hand by diverting our attention to the toy airplane, instead of really thinking about those guns and what trouble could come of them. After all, at this point, the survivors are without working weapons — the marshal’s gun ran out of ammo a while back. Now that loaded guns are available, what mischief shall come of it? It’s a little Pandora’s Box, no? Kate’s desperate to get that box open, and for what? A toy? A memento? She does not stop to think about the unintended consequences of retrieving her toy: the survivors are now armed. Or maybe she does, and she thinks it’s a good idea in light of Claire’s abduction …

BUT THE POINT IS (I hate when I distract myself), the point is that it’s all a sleight of hand: Hey! Look over here! Lookee at the thing that Kate was so fixated on getting out of the case! Never mind the rest of it … it’s a distraction — a con, just as Kate cons the bank robbers, using them and their robbery as a means to access the safety deposit boxes, and the way that she attempts to con Jack with the marshal’s wallet. What’s interesting about Kate’s sleights of hands are their varying degrees of effectiveness. Kate completely pulls one over on the bank robbers, but not on Jack. Why? Because she says it herself: Jack’s the only one who “knows” about her.

Which is interesting when you consider the imagery that accompanies the robbery: Kate is just as complicit in the bank robbery as the armed robbers (in fact, it sounds as though she was the mastermind), but she is completely exposed. She is unmasked. That said, no one knows who she is. Not the bank robbers, not the bank manager, who goes so far to even ask: “Who are you?”

Which, of course, is the entire point of the episode: who is Kate? There is an interesting parallel here with Michael; after all, what we have here is Michael and a group of disguised people (the Others with their fake beards and tattered clothes) scheming to break into a sealed vault to attain something: Benry. (Of course, we know that Michael isn’t the mastermind here, unlike Kate.) But the idea is the same: We think we know who Michael is — here he is, no mask, no fake beards or torn up clothes, no deception, but yet he is capable of such alarming violence. Same with Kate.

And both Michael and Kate are breaking into vaults inside of another heavily guarded building. It’s not just the bank that Kate has to break into, it’s a safety deposit box. It’s not just the Swan hatch that Michael has to get into, it’s also the most interior space — the armory.

lockdown lost locke bank safety deposit box

There is also the instance in Lockdown,” in which Cooper asks Locke to retrieve a safety deposit box for him, as the bank is being monitored by some very bad men. In all three instances, one person uses another person to access the inner sanctum of a very heavily guarded place: Kate uses the other bank robbers, the Others use Michael, and Cooper uses Locke.

(Pardon me as I put on my tin foil hat.)

alex jones tin foil hat nodding conspiracy government

And now! For the conspiracy theory! Could it be that all these instances of a group of people using another group of people to gain access to the inner space of an incredibly guarded area be hinting at some sort of grander scheme on the part of an as yet unseen force or group using another group to try to gain access to something valuable on the island?

In simpler terms, and related to this episode: Could the Others = the bank manager; the survivors = the bank robbers; and Kate = Group X. Could the Others be protecting something that doesn’t belong to them (as Jason/Bodhi the bank robber puts it to the manager)? Could the plane crash have been a deliberate assault on the island, masterminded by some third party to get a group of people on the island and in conflict with the Others, allowing this interested party a means to get to the island retrieve whatever it is that they want from the island?

(You know, in a previous job I had to handle correspondence from the general public, and would often receive missives written in all caps ranting about the collusion of the President, the state of Monaco, MTV, Stephen Baldwin, and LEGOs to put radio transmitters in our cats and allow the FBI to have access to all our cat secrets. I’m concerned that I’ve become the person who writes these letters.)

You know, maybe — maybe not. What is certain is that the Halliburton is a huge symbol on the show. Closed boxes represent a mystery, the unknown, again: Pandora’s box — what’s inside?

pandora's box

Boxes, in Freudian terms, represent the feminine (quit yer immature snickering). And as such, using the two different symbolic meanings, we can further extrapolate that the Halliburton = the mystery of Kate. Both Sawyer and Jack want to know what’s inside the case/Kate. They want to unlock its/her secrets. They want to crack it/her open. And I mean that in both the metaphoric and the naughtiest of ways.

Note Sawyer’s lines about there not being a “lock” he can’t “pick,” or the part about how he hopes Jack has the jaws of life to use on the case, because that’s the only way he’s going to get this “bi*ch” open. Jack, conversely, ask Kate over and over again for the truth about what is inside the case. He’s not really interested in what is inside the case so much as he is interested in Kate telling him the truth about what’s inside. The men want to know Kate, and yes, I mean that both in the literal and Biblical ways. (Note that this is not the only mystery box: we’ve also got Locke and Boone swinging that giant phallic ax at the “hatch,” which of course is a big ol’ womb symbol, down to its name.)

But the Halliburton also represents bringing things that are maybe best left to rest back up to the surface. Dredging up the dead — quite literally. The case, and its key, are with corpses. And to retrieve both items, the survivors are literally grave robbing, mugging these corpses for their wallets. The past is not allowed to rest in peace at all. It’s exhumed, fought over, and eventually (partially) exposed.

I was also struck (and this is my requisite stretch for the recap) by a little bit of Excalibur imagery going on here: the Lady in the Lake gives the sword Excalibur to Arthur. Obviously, no sea nymphs are giving anyone anything here, but if you think about it, what’s in the case? Guns. Guns, like swords, are of course weapons, and also symbols of power.

Later, the guns most certainly become a symbol of power on the island: he who is in charge of the guns is in charge of the survivors. We could stretch here, and suggest that Kate, in some ways, is the Lady in the Lake. If she hadn’t brought the case up from the bottom of the lake no one would have known it was there. Once above the surface, Kate then chooses to whom she will bestow the guns, by revealing where the key is.

(There are also some interesting Celtic traditions that give way to the Excalibur myths: lakes and bodies of water serve as entrances to the underworld, and the Celts used to offer trophies, like a dead king’s sword, to the spirits who lived therein. Consider that this lake has these two dead bodies resting there, and it is where the survivors find both the Halliburton, and Nikki and Paulo’s diamonds — items that actually belong to dead men, not those who are seeking them — and there are certainly some echoes to Celtic funerary traditions and myths.)

Of course, the survivors can’t get the case open without the key. It’s fortunate, in a deus ex machina kind of way, that Kate happens to know where the marshal kept the key to the case. Kate is “the key to the box, now,” (as she says — out of context, perhaps — to the bank manager during the robbery) at least in terms of determining who it shall be that opens the box. Symbolically, keys represent knowledge, enlightenment, authority, and the power of choice, which Kate is certainly exercising right now in deciding who will open the case, and her past.

But aside from the literal keys that unlock cases or doors, there is another kind of key: a map key. And in this sense, Shannon serves as Sayid’s key to Danielle’s writings, even if they don’t make any sense. Interestingly, while Shannon is not literally deciphering information about herself, in the process of working on the translations, Shannon, like Kate, unlocks part of her past (and herself) to Sayid. (And interestingly, this sets up the love triangle of Sayid-Shannon-Boone, which is a minor echo of the Sawyer-Kate-Jack triangle.)

And I suppose we have to talk about Shannon’s translation, but I’m warning you, I don’t have anything enlightening to add. I, like Shannon and Sayid, have no idea what it all means:

Right, so the song La Mer is the same tune as Beyond the Sea, but the lyrics are not a direct translation:

“La Mer,” by Charles Trenet, translated from the French found on Lostpedia.com:

The sea which one sees dancing along the clear gulfs to sparkles of silver. The sea Of changing sparkles Under the rain. The sea Confuses the summer sky’s fleece With angels so pure. The sea Shepherdess of blue infinity. Look! Next to the ponds Those tall wet reeds. Look! Those white birds And those rusty houses The Sea Has cradled them Along the clear gulfs. And with a song of love The Sea Has cradled my heart for life.

Beyond the Sea by Jack Lawrence:

Somewhere beyond the sea, somewhere waiting for me, my lover stands on golden sands, and watches the ships that go sailin’. Somewhere beyond the sea, she’s there watching for me, If I could fly like birds on high, then straight to her arms, I’d go sailin’. It’s far beyond the stars, it’s near beyond the moon, I know beyond a doubt, my heart will lead me there soon. We’ll meet beyond the shore, we’ll kiss just as before, Happy we’ll be beyond the sea, and never again I’ll go sailin’.

What’s interesting is that Beyond the Sea is Desmond and Penny’s story almost verbatim, right? He goes sailing, he’s separated from his great love, once they’re reunited, they’ll be happy again … And there’s the reference to stars that Sayid was looking for. But that’s not what Danielle wrote. La Mer is poetic and weird and almost indecipherable. So what to make of this? I refuse to accept that it’s meaningless … so what do you think? Can you discern any meaning here?

And you’d think for an episode I didn’t care for, we would have all been out of here a little earlier, no?

Sigh.

Another video for y’all. You may have noticed that Sawyer had essentially one line on this entire episode that he repeated over and over. Something along the lines of “summawitch.” But not quite. A montage for you that I’m not going to embed, because, after all, this is a family publication. Don’t click through if the technical term for a female dog is offensive to your delicate sensibilities.

Many congratulations to Terry O’Quinn for winning the Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Emmy this year! Fantastic! (And a little surprising, frankly. I thought Michael Imperioli from The Sopranos had that one locked up. Of course, Edie Falco and James Gandolfini were also shut out, so go figure. I also thought that Michael Emerson, our beloved Benry, had a better shot, but I’m not complaining!) Although what Mr. O’Quinn was possibly thinking wearing that hot pink shirt and what appeared to be a bedazzled tie … just another mystery of Lost, I suppose.

Lost originally aired on ABC and is now available to stream on Hulu and IMDb.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.

Leave a Reply