Lost (“Whatever the Case May Be”)

Season 1, Episode 12
Date of airing: January 5, 2005 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 21.59 million viewers, 8.4/21 with Adults 18-49, 12.8/19 in Households

An entire episode about what’s inside the case, and it turns out it’s just a toy plane. It reminds me of the flashback story of the season three episode “Stranger in a Strange Land”, but in two seasons from now the writers were power-hungry, and they felt like they could do whatever they wanted, and they believed whatever they did would be swallowed by the audience like it’s television’s hottest television series. Only the third season wasn’t plastered with great episodes, and “Stranger in a Strange Land” will be a weirdly fascinating episode, although for all the wrong reasons.

At least this particular Kate-centric episode was part of the first season, when the writers didn’t know what kind of cultural phenomenon LOST would become, so all the writers could do at this point was waste a little time, focus a lot more on the characters, and fill the airtime with somewhat meaningless stories, because none of them further the characters’ agendas. And I really have no idea what Kate found so precious with the toy plane, and whether some of what she screamed at Jack was in fact true (I was kind of expecting for Kate to fake-cry, and that’s being revealed after Jack walked away from her). I have no idea if I should take anything of value during Kate’s flashback story, and I don’t know if it was such a great idea to absolutely show nothing what she was after during the bank robbery. Okay, it was most likely the toy plane, but are we already this deep in the mystery-writing of it all to not reveal during he flashbacks that Kate was after a toy plane?

It’s extremely hard to only look her in the eyes right now.

It was not a particularly eventful episode, but I can say that character arcs were developed. Not really Kate’s, because all we can hope for is that none of her words to Jack were a lie, but Shannon was thrown into the spotlight for a few scenes, Charlie’s trauma became visible, and thing are generally changing just a tad bit for the survivors on the beach, as they had to move further up the beach, or they would have found themselves drinking salt water until they drown. And I did love Charlie and Shannon’s development in this episode – especially the latter’s course of nature, as the notion of being a useless member of society is definitely alienating for some, and it’s not like Shannon has ever been anything more than a useless member of the island society. That hurts even more when she has to hear that from someone who is a tech guru, has tried countless of times to get the survivors off and rescue closer to the island, went hiking into the distance and was tortured by the creator of the 16-year-old SOS signal. Of course Shannon would be unable to hold her strength against that kind of adventure, so it felt pretty real that she would alienate herself from Sayid, when he wasn’t happy about the result of the partnership with her. And all of this makes for a great character arc – the greatest Shannon has so far, and before she even had her own flashback episode, the writers have given her some depth. Considering how much of the other characters have been neglected over the course of their non-central episodes, it’s almost a wonder that Shannon was the second female lead of the episode.

A quick shot of running through the woods.

Meanwhile, the case of the Marshall’s silver case was not that thrilling. All that came out of it was four handguns essentially, so in a way the survivors have a bit of ammunition now, whenever the situation may call for a little bit of firepower. Considering how the survivors didn’t even have weapons before, but were just enriched with four guns means that it became something of a MacGuffin in this episode – weapons to be brought back to the story sooner or later, because the characters will need it. Still, all that doesn’t excuse the fact that the hunt for the case was rather time-consuming, even though the episode could have spent more time on focusing on Charlie and Shannon instead, which were more entertaining figures in the drama story than Kate was with her I-don’t-answer-to-you attitude. She kept secrets even though there was no reason for her to do so (no one is interested about Kate’s personal belongings in a case that has four guns inside), and because she kept secrets, her story was less developed than those of Charlie and Shannon, and this was a Kate-centric episode. Talk about not developing a character enough, even though it’s their episode.

This wasn’t the only time Kate was looking into the barrel of a gun.

Best part of the episode: “Is he your new boyfriend?” Well, at least Shannon has some zest left in all that useless-member-of-the-society attitude. She should have continued burning her brother with homoerotic comments, just to make Boone feel like a useless member of society as well. Besides that, with Boone having teamed up with Locke, and Shannon getting character depth in this episode, the siblings have finally been introduced to something that resembles a story.
Worst part of the episode: Kate not talking about anything, when she didn’t even have a reason not to talk and give answers. Especially Jack. Her behavior was so cryptic, I wouldn’t even be surprised if Kate happens to have less friend by the end of this episode.
Weirdest part of the episode: The cadaver of the US Marshall looked like it has been a few months old (the bones of his skull already showing). Does the rotting really happen this fast? Do the worms eat dead human flesh really this fast?
Player of the episode: Rose gets the award for teaching the lesson she has learned the few days after the crash. She is giving away the moral she learned, and Charlie is wiser than he was before he couldn’t help Claire. I loved that pairing, and I loved that Rose turned into a main character with this episode, giving help to the one person currently in need of one.

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