Lost: Whatever The Case May Be   Rewatch 
April 23, 2023 4:58 PM - Season 1, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Kate and Sawyer find the marshal’s case.

S1E12: Whatever The Case May Be (Lostpedia | transcript): air date 5th January 2005 • writers Damon Lindelof & Jennifer Johnson • director Jack Bender • days 21-22 on the island • Kate flashbacks

Southern perverts • don’t we deserve something good? • Sawyer swimming in his jeans • ew, bodies * that case ain’t yours, is it • moving up the coast • you’re useless • old theaters in small towns • pick the lock on a Halliburton • impact velocity • Locke and Boone, uneasy jungle pals • physics, my ass • tell me what’s inside and I’ll give it to you • I don’t know how to use a gun • best way to learn a foreign language • what else is in the case, Kate? • there’s no reason to be happy, things are awful • you need to ask for help • I needed to bury him • some real good sleight-of-hand • completely useless • however she talked you into this, she lied • my name’s not Maggie • it belonged to the man I loved • it belonged to the man I killed * Charlie asks for help • des reflets changeants sous la pluie

Emily St. James, Vox: The Lost Interviews: Whatever The Case May Be
Damon Lindelof: “There was also this sense of ‘Could Kate be trusted?’ Here you have Evangeline Lilly who’s [an] immensely heart-on-her-sleeve, endearing character who you always trust. Wouldn’t it be interesting to just have her out and out lie on occasion, both to the character that she’s talking to in the scene and the audience? And how would they begin to feel about her?”
Nate Owens, The Rumpus Room: Re-Lost: Whatever The Case May Be
The main problem is in the flashback. If Kate is supposed to be sympathetic, it’s not good to show her knocking off a bank, posing as an innocent bystander, lying to her co-conspirators, and shooting three men. There’s just too much misdirection here, because the audience doesn’t know Kate well. We can’t tell that she’s not really into the ringleader of the robbery, so when we find out that she’s lied to everyone around her, in different ways and to different ends, it feels like we’re being jerked around. It’s one twist too many, and that’s a very fine line that Lost is capable of navigating much better.
The Television Lady: LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, episode 12, Whatever the Case May Be
Sawyer doesn't care exactly about the contents of the case, but rather the contents’ significance to Kate and furthermore, her desire to lay her hands on them. Jack shares this interest but only because he wants the truth from Kate, and in this way, Sawyer and Jack's mutual desire of Kate seems to be equally strong but for opposite reasons. Sawyer wants the case to prove Kate's badness (to match his own therefore proving them equally matched) while Jack wants the case (or Kate's honesty about it) to prove her virtue. Jack already knows Kate is flawed, criminal even, after the business with the marshal became known, but he holds her to higher moral standards nonetheless, like Sawyer, on equal footing with himself. In the end Kate provides both men with what they're seeking — the toy plane belonged to a man she “killed,” which she admitted honestly to Jack, who didn't believe her.
Therese Odell, Houston Chronicle: What lies beneath on Lost
[spoilers for future events and episodes throughout]
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.

But 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.
Rewatch companion: THE STORM: A Lost Rewatch Podcast - S1, E12: "Whatever The Case May Be" with Lindsey Romain
Dave Gonzalez: “It is really weird how both the men treat Kate. And I would almost say it crosses into, like, wildly inappropriate except—”
Joanna Robinson: “Absolutely.”
Dave Gonzalez: “Except the episode doesn’t — I don't think — think that too much, because it spends every time it can bouncing back to show us how untrustworthy Kate is until the very end. So of our flashbacks, only the very first one and the very last one could be viewed as even remotely Kate-positive. Otherwise: she's putting people in danger; she's selling out perfectly nice bank managers; she's conning criminals and then shooting everybody; and she runs out of options.”
Joanna Robinson: “It’s the same thing that happened in her first flashback episode. She saves the cat. She saves the bank manager. So we know she’s not really bad. She’s like, you said no one would get hurt. That was the point of this job.”
Neil Miller: “I think the thing that we learn about Kate in this episode is that she is — at least in the stories they’re telling us about her past – she has this sort of alternate or singular purpose that is unknown to the people around her. And that it’s all kind of selfish?... Yep, that's it.”
Joanna Robinson: “Yeah, I mean, it’s hard for me to argue with that, but at the same time, I’m just like, let the girl open the—”
Neil Miller: “Right, like the stuff that happens on the island, it feels unfair to Kate because they’re not seeing the flashbacks.”
Joanna Robinson: “Jack is such an asshole. Like, yes, she lies to him over and over, true, but like, he feels so — why? Why is he entitled to the truth when he doesn't share the truth with everyone on the island? Why is he entitled to know everything? When he specifically talks about keeping information from other people?”
Neil Miller: “I think he’s misreading his relationship with Kate. ”
Joanna Robinson: “And then she’s weeping. He's like, here, is this what you wanted? She has the plane. She starts weeping. And then he just walks out of that fucking cave. He’s just like, doo-de-doo, well, I'll pack up these guns and I'm gone.”
Dave Gonzalez: “But he kind of looks back at her at the end?”
Joanna Robinson: “Oh, great. Good job. Good job, bud. Like, Sawyer: I was rewatching this episode, which I’ve seen many times, I’m rewatching and I’m like, wow, Sawyer’s kind of a real piece of shit in this episode. And then Jack’s like, hold my non-existent beer. Hold my tropical fruit drink. I’m going to show you — like, it’s worse. I think what Jack does is worse. They’re both bad. And Jack’s style of it is worse because it's so… Like, Sawyer’s like, come on, girl, you’re down in the dirt with me. Just stay down here in the dirt with me. It’s fine.”
Neil Miller: “Sawyer’s feels consistent with his character.”
Joanna Robinson: “Jack is so self-righteous. He’s so fucking self-righteous. He’s just like, don’t, Kate, just don’t. And I'm like, come on, bud. Like, I don't know.”
Dave Gonzalez: “The only reason that the episode gives us for that explanation — which is not a way of defending Jack whatsoever — but the reason that the marshal’s involved in this whole case situation is because it’s supposed to remind us that the last time Jack tried to help out Kate, he ended up having to kill somebody. And that's why he didn’t burn him with the fuselage. And we have that line which Jack said: I had to bury him. And it’s supposed to remind us that Jack’s still raw from the previous Kate episode. But, you know, it doesn’t work because we're working in broadcast time, not on island time.”
Joanna Robinson: “Well, it’s a twofer, right? That’s true, but also: the marshal’s location needs to be information only Jack knew so that there was a reason that Kate had to go to Jack to get to the marshal to get to the key. Do you know what I mean? It’s a logistics thing. They needed to have a story, because before then we didn’t know what happened in the marshal’s body. We never saw Jack dig that grave. So we had to have this line where Kate’s like, why did you bury him all the way over here in this secret location that I then had to go to you to find out where he was? And Jack’s like, because I had to be the one to bury him. I don't always hate Jack, and I don’t always — and I don’t hate him. No, I kind of hate him in the episode. I don't always hate Jack, but this is just not a good Jack look this whole episode. And not that Kate looks great, but like, Kate at least has a really emotionally profound reason why; it's like Jack’s daddy issues. Like, this is her issue. This is her root issue. We don’t know all the information about it, but we do know that by the end when she’s racked with sobs that it’s the equivalent of Jack helplessly chasing his dad’s ghost through the jungle. And so then we have to have sympathy for her for that, because this is her deepest darkest thing; like Sawyer doing his worst around his letter. So you have to — or the show wants you to — have sympathy for whoever the core character is, because this is them, their worst, deepest, whatever it may be, whatever the case may be. But Jack doesn't have that excuse. Like, what entitlement does he have to know Kate’s secrets? Like, why? You know what I mean? I don't know.”
Dave Gonzalez: “Right. He doesn’t, yeah. Well, you know, it's part of the show, like, keeping Jack and Sawyer and Kate in a weird triangle, which is a thing. Because otherwise, you’re right. Like, Jack doesn’t do this to Locke. Jack doesn’t do this to Sayid. He doesn’t need to know everything about Hurley.”
Joanna Robinson: “Right. He has this, like, weird ownership thing with her. And Sawyer does too to a certain extent. And there are definitely — I just want to be fair to, to all sides — there are ways in which Kate knows that and manipulates that. That’s also true. It’s a toxic little thing. But there’s just something about, like, something weirdly off-puttingly paternalistic about the way that Jack deals with Kate, often, and in this episode specifically, that puts me on edge.”

“It's a fine line between denial and faith. It's much better on my side..”

posted by We had a deal, Kyle (3 comments total)
Currently streaming in the US on Hulu (subscription) and Freevee (free with ads); in the UK on Disney+; and available for purchase just about everywhere.Next episode will post Wednesday.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:11 PM on April 23, 2023

The "I don't know how to use a gun" in the flashback is a cool callback/tie-in to the scene in the jungle when Kate grabs the gun from ?Sawyer? and asks if anyone knows how to use it, because she wants to 'take it apart'. It becomes clear in this episode that she has definitely learned how to use this feigned ignorance to her advantage.
posted by Night_owl at 5:44 AM on April 24, 2023

Yeah, I like how this episode colors that scene differently: she was playing them back then too.

Surveying the watch/rewatch blogs for this one, there's a split between Jack-is-the-worst vs. Kate-is-the-worst ("she lies all the time!"); with the Kate hate having more than a whiff of the misogynistic Skyler hate that plagued Breaking Bad fandom. I quoted Joanna Robinson at length above, and she's also spoken elsewhere on the podcast about how time has shifted her perception of the characters: that Jack's and, later, Charlie's possessiveness has not aged well, that she has more sympathy for Shannon in retrospect.

And yeah, ugh, this whole episode is a parade of men behaving shittily towards women, no? Jack's resentful entitlement; Sawyer's constant aggressive come-ons; Boone's disparagement of Shannon -- I don't think Maggie Grace is given much to work with but she plays Shannon as both hurt by and internalizing that "useless"; Sayid's flirting with Shannon feels at least partially manipulative.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:45 PM on April 24, 2023

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