Digging up the past on ‘Lost’

“Born to Run”
Originally aired May 11, 2005

Because we all need to spend a little more time with our friends and families this time of year, and a little less time obsessing over who Kate will choose: Sawyer or Jack, or who Jack called on the walkie-talkie, or where the polar bears came from, this will be my last entry for a few weeks. I know it will be rough for both of you who continue to read these Lost recaps, but I’m sure you will have plenty to do to fill your time, like constructing gingerbread hatches, or wrapping your gifts with DHARMA wrapping paper, or playing Santa for the kiddies in your Mr. Friendly costume. The good news is that when we meet again, it’ll be less than a month until the season premiere for an abbreviated season four! So to kick off the holidays, let’s discuss an episode that celebrates going back home, and spending time with family and friends. It only seems appropriate!

A motel somewhere in corn country … who’s this blonde getting out of a car? Why does she have so many license plates in the trunk of her car? Why is she slipping into that recently vacated room and placing the “do not disturb” sign on the door? Why, it’s not a blonde at all, but Kate in YET ANOTHER TERRIBLE WIG.

born to run lost kate blonde wig

Seriously, is the wig thing an in-joke? It is, right? And I just am humor-deficient? And I know that I have a tendency to harp on the wig issue, and y’all are probably all bored with it, but COME ON. It’s just so bad. This wig appears to be perched rather precariously a good three inches on the top of her head. And yet, she seems to be dying the wig, which seems silly, since if she wanted to change her appearance, all she had to do was REMOVE THE WIG. But, you know, whatever.

After dying her wig, Kate heads into the office of the motel and asks if a letter has arrived for Joan Hart. And indeed! One has! Kate then takes this letter and heads back to her car to read it. And apparently, it’s bad news because she’s crying, despite the wad of cash the letter also contained.

Next time we see Kate, she’s in a hospital, bearing a huge floral arrangement, and looking for someone named Diane Jensen. Kate’s pointed toward Ms. Jensen’s ICU room, but when Kate sees the cop guarding it, she just keeps on walking.

Plan B: Hide in the back of some poor guy’s car and startle the beejebus out of him when he gets in. The guy, who happens to be a doctor, is named Tom, and he seems to know both Kate and this Diane person who is dying of cancer. Kate wants to see her, but she needs Tom’s help to do so.

So when they get back to Tom’s house, he makes a phone call to his friend Adam and schedules an MRI for Diane. Kate, in the meantime, gazes affectionately (and a little sadly) at the refrigerator covered in Tom’s family photos.

born to run lost tom and baby

Tom explains that the baby in the pictures is his son, Conner, and that the boy and his mother, Rachel, are off visiting her family. Since the MRI isn’t until 5 a.m., they have some time to kill. Hey! Suggests Kate, let’s go see if “it’s” still “there!” After all, they might not have any more chances to do so.

Lost note: this flashback is just full of recurring names, isn’t it? We’ve got Tom, Adam, and Rachel, as well as Diane.

Tom is also the name of Claire’s baby daddy:
raised by another lost thomas art

Tommy is Charlie’s friend that introduces him to Lucy Heatherton:
homecoming charlie and tommy

and the first name of “Mr. Friendly,” the Other:
the hunting party lost kate hood

Adam is the name of Shannon’s dead father:
adam rutherford

And the grouchy Other at Juliet’s book club meeting:
a tale of two cities lost adam other

Adam is a member of Locke’s commune (the guy in the purple shirt):
further instructions lost adam

Adam is one of Anthony Cooper’s aliases:
deus ex machina lost anthony cooper

And of course “Adam and Eve”:
skeleton 2 lost house of rising sun

Rachel is the name of Claire’s friend who brings her to the psychic:
raised by another lost rachel and claire

And Rachel is Juliet’s sister:
not in portland lost juliet and rachel

Diane isn’t actually repeated, but Juliet speaks to a Mittelos employee named “Diana,” in “Not in Portland.”

And then there’s Conner. Conner is not actually repeated in any other episodes, and while the name is of Gaelic origin (meaning: Lover of hounds), it also is conner — as in one who cons. Which, you know, has an application on this show.

Kate and Tom drive into a cow pasture and stop at a giant tree. There, Kate counts out 6 paces and they begin to dig … What will it be? A body? Ancient ruins? ANOTHER HATCH? THAT’D BE AWESOME! As Kate digs, Tom tells her that it’s unfair for her to come back home. And Kate’s like yeah, whatever, I FOUND IT!

born to run lost new kids on the block

And “it” is an old New Kids on the Block lunchbox. Faithful readers may be forgiven to assume that I would find this unspeakably cool, given my penchant for boy bands and going to Las Vegas to see former boy banders in concert. But the simple truth of the matter is that while NKOTB is much more of my generation, they just never did it for me. I was too busy trying to prove how cool I was by wearing all black and moping to The Smiths and The Cure to have time for NKOTB. Although I do have tremendous respect for the Wahlberg brothers’ acting careers. Who could have guessed!

happening confused

The lunch box is a time capsule from when they were kids! Aww! And there’s the airplane that Kate was so desperate to get back … uh-oh, wait. Didn’t she tell Jack it belonged to the man she killed? That can’t bode well for Tom …

Anyway, the two get back into Tom’s car and listen to a cassette tape they recorded in 1989 when they made the time capsule. On the tape, Young Kate and Young Tom discuss what their lives will be like in 20 years when they dig the capsule back up: Young Tom thinks they’ll be married with 9 kids, but Young Kate’s pretty sure they should just get in the car and drive away. Young Tom knows why. Tom and Kate share meaningful looks and then kiss. Kate! You homewrecker! The kiss breaks, and they head to the hospital.

At the hospital, Tom brings Diane into a private area and sneaks Kate in to see her. Diane? In rough shape. And Kate’s mom! Kate awakens her mother to tell her, weepily, that she’s so sorry for what she put her momma through. But her mom? Not really glad to see Kate. In fact, when Diane realizes that it’s Kate, she begins screaming out for help.

diane screming born to run lost

HELP! HELP! Kate rushes out of the room, only to be stopped by a security guard whom she clocks with his walkie-talkie, but not before he has called for backup.

RUNNING! TOM! GIVE KATE YOUR CAR KEYS! RUNNING! The two jump into his car, with Kate behind the wheel. There are cops! They are blocking the parking garage! Kate orders Tom to get out of the car, but he refuses, so she drives at full speed to the police officer who is SHOOTING AT THEM! Kate plows through the cop’s car and is getting away! When! She’s hit by another car! And Tom! Tom’s been shot! Tom’s dead! OH NOES! But Kate! Has to run! KEEP RUNNING KATE! And with one backward glance at the time capsule in the backseat, Kate jumps out of the car and runs away.

born to run lost magnetic resonance imagining

Lost note: What do you make of this? As Kate is fleeing the MRI room, there is a quick shot of the sign on the door. Now, those of you familiar with MRIs know that it stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. But that’s not what the sign says. Was this just a production goof? A joke played by the producers? A clue toward the hated “virtual reality” or “all in one person’s head” theories?

Let’s head back to the island to see if Kate can run away from there, too. (Spoiler: no. Well, at least, not yet.)

First: Claire gives Charlie a haircut as he writes new Drive Shaft songs. He suggests to Claire that she stay with him when they are rescued and get back to Los Angeles. Aww.

Second: Sayid brings Jack out into the middle of God-knows-where, and Jack keeps demanding that Sayid tell him where they’re headed, but Sayid’s like: no! it’s a surprise! And that’s when Locke steps out of the jungle and does his Creepy Locke Thing and is all: secrets! open mind! come look! And then he shows Jack the dug-out hatch, and Jack’s mind is blown.

So then Jack is all grouchy with Locke for keeping this from him for the past three weeks, and Locke spits back that A. Who put Jack in charge? B. Jack kept the secret of the Halliburton case from everyone and C. Locke simply used his best discretion in not telling Jack.

born to run jack sayid and locke hatch

So how do we open this thing, Jack asks, and Sayid freaks. Who said anything about OPENING it? We should BURY it! Who knows what’s inside! But Jack, in a moment of extreme stupidity, argues that the best-case scenario is that there are supplies inside, and the worst-case scenario is that the survivors could use it as shelter. That’s his worst-case scenario?!? Sayid and I both yell at Jack. Have you idiots noticed that there’s no HANDLE on this hatch door? Which, you know, might suggest that something isn’t supposed to get out of the hatch?! Gah.

The three head back to camp, where all sorts of craziness has broken out. But we should start from the beginning.

Kate is hanging out on the beach, playing with her toy plane, when Charlie comes over and starts burbling about what a huge star he’s going to be when they’re all rescued (he talks about his “platinum” records — get it, because right before this was Kate’s flashback when she dyed her platinum blonde wig … ). And Kate’s suddenly like, hey! Wait! Rescued! But, I’ll be in huge trouble when the rescuers arrive! What to do?

In the meantime, Michael and the raft crew are being lectured by “Dr.” Arzt that they need to get on the high seas like yesterday. Because the trade winds that would push them toward the north and shipping lanes, are about to turn south seeing as it’s monsoon season, and southern trade winds will head them straight toward Antarctica. Which would be bad. Very bad.

Fun fact! The name “Arzt” means “doctor” in German. Doctor Doctor, can’t you see I’m burning burning …

After Doctor Arzt’s little speech, Kate approaches Michael and suggests that she go with him on the raft. When Michael assures her that the raft is full, Kate’s like, with who? Sawyer? Because he can’t sail, and she spent a few summers crewing J boats. But Michael’s a man of his word or something, so he tells her no.

But Sawyer doesn’t do himself any favors by wondering to Michael about Jin packing so much fish on the raft. Michael realizes that perhaps Sawyer isn’t the best choice for the raft crew, which makes Sawyer indignantly wonder who it is that will take his place.

born to run lost passport burning

And STOMP STOMP STOMP goes Sawyer straight over to Kate who is busying herself with burning a photograph off of someone’s passport. Sawyer tells Kate that he knows everything: that she was the marshal’s prisoner, and that she’s trying to get on the raft because she’ll be arrested if they get rescued. Being on the raft will be her one shot to run. But that’s too bad for Kate because she can’t have Sawyer’s spot. Au contraire, Sawyer, if Kate wants your spot, she’ll take it.

Now. In the meantime, Walt, Michael, and Jin are hurriedly working on finishing the raft, and drinking a lot of water since it’s really really hot. Hydration is important! Anyway, Walt asks Michael if when they get rescued, they’re going to come back for the rest of the survivors and Michael? Seems a little hedgy about it. He tells Walt that they’ll try … after all, the island might be hard to find again. Well, that’s optimistic, Michael! And then he doubles over with stomach pain and collapses.

Get Jack!

Kate finds Jack in the jungle, and brings him to Michael. Who claims to have been eating all the same foods as everyone else, and drinking plenty of water … so is it THE SICKNESS?? DUM DUM DUM!!!!

Um, no. Jack explains to Locke that he’s pretty sure it’s something in the water Michael is drinking. When Jack mentions this hypothesis to Michael, he immediately thinks it was Sawyer. Because he’s everyone’s default suspect. And, I mean, I guess I get why Michael jumps to this conclusion, but aren’t the survivors a little tired of the Let’s Blame Sawyer So That We Can Be Proved Wrong. Again. game? ‘Cuz I’m tired of it.

Locke, in the meantime, questions Hurley about how Michael and Jin have been getting along when Jack interrupts that Michael thinks Sawyer did it. Oh, because of Kate? asks Hurley. Hmm? What’s that? And Hurley explains to Jack and Locke that Sawyer and Michael had been fighting about who would go on the raft, and Hey! Maybe Kate did it! Since she’s a fugitive and all! But? The thing is? Locke didn’t know about Kate’s criminal past. And Jack shrugs it off as using his discretion.

Speaking of Kate, Jack confronts her with whether or not she poisoned Michael and she’s all offended that Jack thinks she’s capable of that, but yo. Come on. Jack doesn’t know what she’s capable of. Which, on the one hand, has gotta sting, but on the other hand, sometimes the truth hurts, you know?

Right, so Sawyer brings Michael some Pepto-Bismol, and Michael, not feeling particularly grateful, informs Sawyer that he’s off the raft. Which seems reasonable since Sawyer is a criminal and stuff, and poisoned Michael. But this is news to Sawyer, who is deeply offended. Unfortunately for Kate, this is when she decides to return to the beach, and Sawyer grabs her, declaring to the amassed crowd that she’s the real criminal. He grabs her backpack, and fishes out the passport, and explains that it is Joanna’s, the woman who drowned a while back. Seems Kate’s plan is to assume Joanna’s identity so she can make her escape in the event of a rescue.

Kate, at Sawyer’s prompting, finally confesses to the crowd that she is indeed the prisoner who was traveling with the marshal on the plane, but continues to deny that she poisoned Michael.


And everyone walks away in silence, leaving poor Kate alone to pick up the pieces.


Anyway, Jack wanders over to where Sun is watching Jin work on the raft and notes that Jin appears to be determined to leave. Sun agrees, and then Jack asks if this is why Sun tried to poison him … so that he wouldn’t leave. Which Sun totally cops to, and she asks Jack not to tell the others.

That night, near a fire, Sawyer tells Kate that he’s back on the raft, but he’s not there to apologize for what he did to her. The way he sees it, she cornered him, and he did what he had to. Kate wonders why he wants to be on the raft so badly, and he responds that there isn’t anything on the island worth staying for.

a-ha ya burnt

So, then, we learn that the whole poisoning was indeed Kate’s idea. Sun, assures her that Jack won’t tell and that Kate shouldn’t be punished since she was only trying to help Sun. Poor, sweet, gullible Sun. Anyway, there’s some meowing about how they both thought that when they found the man they loved their lives would be awesome. Suckers.

And, no. I haven’t forgotten about Walt. See, Locke was treating his leg wound when all the brouhaha with Michael and the poisoning was brouhahaing. And Walt seeks him out to assure Locke that even though he burnt his father’s first raft, he didn’t poison his father. Locke assures Walt that he knows Walt wouldn’t hurt his father, but then? When Locke places a comforting hand on Walt’s arm? Walt recoils and tells Locke “Don’t open it.” HUH? “Don’t open it, Mr. Locke. Don’t open that thing.” I’M SORRY. WHAT’S THAT? “Just don’t open it.”

born to run lost walt locke don't open it

I love those give-you-chills Walt moments.

And then, later, Walt goes to his father and confesses that he, in fact, was the one that set the raft ablaze. Walt explains that he didn’t want to leave the island, and he thought he could stop Michael. Michael, clearly startled and moved, tells Walt that they don’t have to go — they can stay on the island. But Walt? Assures him that they do, indeed, have to go.

ooo-weee-ooo …

So, the hatch — remember when we didn’t know what was inside? And everyone was all WHAT’S IN THE HATCH? More Others? The sickness? Aliens? Nuclear weapons? PUPPIES? It’s kinda hard to recall how mysterious it was before we knew what was inside, but I for one, FREAKED OUT when they opened the hatch at the end of season one, but didn’t show us what was inside.

So, now that we know, what to make of Walt urging Locke to not open it? Because, if they hadn’t opened the hatch, poor Desmond would have been trapped inside indefinitely, right? And I suppose it wasn’t a great thing that Locke had his crisis of faith and prevented Eko from pushing the button, but I can’t figure out exactly what it is that terrifies Walt so much in this episode. Any ideas?

I will say this, I was struck by something while rewatching this episode … and maybe I’m crazy. But, there was something about the way that Jack said “My God, what is this thing?” when he first sees the hatch that reminded me of all things of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

monolith 2001

Remember, the big black thing at the beginning of the film that facilitates the evolution of the ape-like creatures into tool-using hominids? See, I never read the books, and Kubrick’s brilliant film, which I’ve seen a number of times now, still goes over my head for the most part. So, I used, what else, Wikipedia to look into the whole monolith thing, and found some interesting stuff.

In the 2001 series, the monoliths are structures that were built by an unseen extraterrestrial race that were deposited in locations where life exists, but perhaps needs a little evolutionary nudge. A monolith is unearthed on the moon after humans discover a strong magnetic pulse, which sets the events in the novels into motion. And the film, at least, ends with the antagonist, Dave, being pulled through some sort of time-space portal thanks to one of the monoliths. His line: “My God, it’s full of stars!” may be what made me make the connection.

ANYWAY. What am I getting at? Is the hatch extraterrestrial? Does it promote evolution? No. But both the hatch and the monolith have some sort of magnetic anomaly, and they both facilitate a character’s travel through time.

I think the allusion (if there is one) is more symbolic: the monolith, like the hatch, is a mystery. It represents the existence of some other form of intelligence, whose intentions are unfathomable. Monoliths and megaliths, of course, exist outside the realm of science fiction: ancient cultures all over the world have erected giant stones in specific formations. And the intentions remain something of a mystery to the modern mind: were they used for astrological purposes? burial? religious ceremony? all of the above? Some believe that monoliths are created on particularly powerful locations — going back to our ley lines, “axis mundi” discussions.

the brig lost ruins cooper

Of course, we have similar structures on the island. Which, I suppose, brings me to my point: the ancient ruins on the island and the more technologically advanced hatch are related in that they were both built to somehow harness the natural energies or powers of the island. They represent the specialness of the island, the mystery and power of it, and like the monolith in 2001 the hope that this power can perhaps change something.

Alright! Now that’s out of the way! I noted earlier that there are a lot of repeated names in this episode: Tom and Adam and Rachel, etc. And I believe there is a reason for it: the writers wanted us to pay close attention to the names. It’s not just that the names repeat, it’s that they have specific and significant meanings: Tom (from Thomas) means twin; Adam was the first man in the Bible; and Rachel was Jacob’s wife in the Old Testament. But the names that I find most important in this episode are Kate and Diane.

There’s some dispute, but most people seem to think that the name Katherine is from the Greek word “katharós” which means “pure.” Katharós is also the root of catharsis. Diane is a variation of the name “Diana,” and those of you who remember your mythology will recognize her as the Roman goddess of the hunt.

Diana was the equivalent of the Greek goddess Artemis, who was the virginal goddess of the hunt, moon, and chastity. Interestingly enough, Artemis was also the goddess of childbirth. She and her twin brother Apollo were born of Leto and Zeus. When Hera, Zeus’s wife, found out that he impregnated YET ANOTHER woman, she was a little ticked. So Zeus sent Leto to an island that he rose from beneath the sea, Delos, and the island was surrounded by swans. Artemis was born first, and the reason that she is the goddess of childbirth, despite the fact that she is a virgin, is that she assisted in the birth of her brother, Apollo. Right, so Artemis is a hunter and knows her way around the woods. She is chaste, undomesticated and fierce toward any man who would attempt to take her virginity, or even steal a glance of her naked form. In a lot of ways, she is a lot like Kate. Which is where the use of Kate’s name comes in: Katherine = Pure = Chaste = Artemis.

Still with me? Cool. As we’ve discussed numerous times, Kate is a runner. She is literally a runner from the law, but she is also a runner from domesticity. In “I Do,” we see that Kate attempted to live a normal married life, but eventually had to flee, even when given the opportunity (however real it was) to stay with her husband. Kate calls and provokes the marshal in that episode. It’s not that he was chasing her — she couldn’t stand not running. In this episode, Kate visits her first love, Tom, and while she flirts with having a relationship with him, in the end, she runs. But not before Tom is killed as a consequence. The men in Kate’s past tend to come to bad ends. She kills her father Wayne, she drugs her husband Kevin, and poor Tom is quite literally caught in the crossfire when Kate’s life catches up with her. Like with Artemis, men who try to get close to Kate, who try to domesticate her, or offend her, are harmed.

do no harm lost arron born kate claire

(Side note: another similarity is that Kate was the one who assisted Claire in childbirth, just as Artemis assisted her own mother in the birth of Apollo. I forgot to mention that a couple of weeks ago, but it probably is a more salient point this week, anyway.)

Now, compare Kate with Sun. Sun, who is married, is struggling to hold her relationship together. Both women use drugs to attempt to get what they want, but what they want are completely opposite. Sun wants to stay with her husband, to maintain domesticity, and so she attempts to poison him. Kate, however, wants to flee domesticity both in her marriage to Kevin and in her life on the island (domesticity = prison for Kate), and she attempts to poison someone else’s husband to do so.

Of course, it’s not just domesticity that is a trap for Kate. This episode is all about the dangers of digging up the past, of going back. Literally. Kate returns home to visit her dying mother, and wonder at what might have been with her childhood sweetheart. They dig up the past in the form of the time capsule, and what do they get for their troubles? Tom ends up dead, Kate is unable to reconnect with her mother, and she ends up on the run again, but this time having left behind the talisman that the marshal uses to lure her out of hiding. You can never go home again. And again, I am left to wonder how this plays into the flash forward in “Through the Looking Glass.” Kate attempts to go home, it’s a disaster, and innocent people are left dead. What happens when Jack and Kate return home from the island? What will the consequences be?

And briefly: it is interesting that this episode fixates so much on the fact that Kate will have to assume someone else’s identity to be able to live off the island. So, what’s the deal? How is she free in the future?

But, back to the whole you can’t go back thing. The reason that Kate wants to go home again is that she wants to make amends with her dying mother, she wants to atone for the sins that she’s committed against her, namely killing her husband. And this is interesting because it brings us back to my favorite topic! You guessed it! The Monomyth. Now. Here’s the thing. The monomyth is based on Freudian and Jungian psychology, and as such, it tends to be a little male focused. The hero is presumed to be male. Women tend to have something of a supporting role in the monomyth, either as a “goddess/mother/wife” figure or as an evil “temptress.” But what about female heroes?

Turns out, there is something of a model for the woman’s Hero’s Journey. In the female Hero’s Journey, the female hero fights against what society expects of her: she rebels against traditional roles. Think Thelma and Louise, La Femme Nikita or Kill Bill. But you know what is a great example of a female hero? Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz (a book that is often alluded to on the show). Check out this chart that someone made, comparing Dorothy to Luke Skywalker. There’s a lot here that corresponds to Kate’s story:

Leaving the innocent world of childhood/Call to adventure: Kate’s journey begins when she kills Wayne, thereby ending her childhood and setting her on an adventure. (“What Kate Did”)

Shattering the Mirror: recognize guides as captors: Kate begins to recognize that others are potential captors, including her mother, and her husband Kevin. (“Left Behind” and “I Do”)

Entering into a new universe: the island, obviously.

The choice between the “light” man and the “dark” man, one of whom would (as the chart words it) “re-imprison her in domestic enclosures:” Sawyer or Jack? Obviously, Kate is suspicious that it is Jack that will take her back to a domestic life, but if she is indeed pregnant by Sawyer, he seems the greater danger.

Return to the ancestral home, and the failure of the father: Kate returns to visit with Sam Austen, and confront him about her true parentage. (“Born to Run,” and “What Kate Did”)

But, since we are only halfway through the series, the rest has yet to unfold for us. We know that Kate returns home, but how? What will she find within herself that allows her to find the “ultimate boon?” How will she cross that final threshold? Has she created a new family?

But what I find most interesting is a particular step on the female hero’s journey that corresponds with the atonement with the father. For a female hero, however, that moment is when she recognizes that she is her own mother. Now, we can assume that Kate’s mother Diane is dead, and that there won’t be any chances for Kate to have a do-over and win her mother’s forgiveness. But. In terms of Kate’s own personal journey, what I suspect the atonement will happen when Kate has a moment when she comes to understand why her mother reacted the way that she did toward her. Kate will be able to forgive her mother for choosing her abusive husband over herself. (Will one of the men in Kate’s life be threatened by someone who believes they are acting in Kate’s best interest, as Kate did when she killed Wayne?) And when this moment happens, Kate will see that she is her mother. Kate is Diane. Kate is Diana. Kate is Artemis.

Bad news on the writers’ strike front. The two sides sat down again, but talks broke up at the end of last week, with both sides in a huff. SUPER-FANTASTICO. What this means is that it is looking more and more like an 8-episode season of Lost BAH. Additionally, from what I gather, it looks as though the last couple of episodes that they have in the can will lack Cuse and Lindelof’s attention to editing and post-production stuff, as they were filmed when the strike began. UGH.

Very disappointed. Very, very disappointed. And the mobisodes, as good as they are, just aren’t going to cut it.

So, I have my season three DVDs, but have yet had a free moment in the whirlwind of holiday stuff to watch any of it. As soon as this is published, I’m popping them in, mostly to check out the bonus features. If y’all want me to spill any secrets I find in the extras, just let me know. And I’ll tell all. But if you’d rather discover them for yourselves, I’m cool with that, too. Just tell me in the comments.

I hope everyone has a lovely holiday season, a happy and safe new year, and I’ll see you kids back here on January 9th, 2008!

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

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Tubular.

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