Here’s something rare: a Kate-centric ep that’s a must watch! I know, I’m as shocked as you are. No toy planes to be found anywhere, I promise. Moreover, we get a major monster download, with the creature doing two things we’ve never seen it do before. Throw in a great Sawyer/Hurley B-plot and you have the start of a great final run of episodes to close out Season 3 of Lost.

Left Behind

4) In Short

"Smile for the camera!"

8) On the Island

Kate sits idly in the Barracks game room. She spies Juliet walking by, and quickly behinds the door. However, instead of laying the smack down on Juliet, her captor dodges her attack and kung fus her to the floor.  Anyone keeping a running tally of how many Lostaways Juliet has beat up by this point?

A little later on, Locke visits Kate. He tells her that he’s leaving with the Others. She worries he’s been brainwashed; he flatly tells her he doesn’t want off the Island at all. He also tells her he made a strong case for bringing her along, but then he learned what she had done before coming to the Island. As he leaves the room, Kate asks about the state of her friends, but Locke silently leaves without giving any answers. Damn, he IS an Other. And hey, what’s up with the bandage on his hand, eh?

On the beach, Hurley tells Sawyer that there’s an upcoming vote in which the Lostaways are going to vote on the fate of Sawyer’s place in their camp. Hurley suggests he try and make amends before the vote, but Sawyer merely says that Hurley’s "rotund" figure is ruining his view of the ocean.

The following morning in the Barracks, Kate eyes the now moldy sandwich brought by Juliet the night before. She hears commotion outside, and sees various Others walking out from their bungalows bearing backpacks and…gas masks? An Other opens the door to the game room and tosses in a canister, which quickly fills the room up with smoke. Unable to find an exit, Kate soon passes out.

Kate walks up in the jungle, disorientated. Also? She’s handcuffed to Juliet. Man, if I had a dollar for every time this happened to me, well…I’d still be unable to buy anything on McDonald’s Dollar Menu. She disarms Juliet of her pocket knife, prompting Juliet to wake up and instinctively grab Kate’s wrist. She proclaims that she doesn’t know why she’s out there either. Kate smirks and says, "Welcome to the wonderful world of not knowing what the hell’s going on." It’s indeed an awesome world: most of us have been there for the past 4 seasons!

Sawyer tries to fish for himself, to no avail. Nearby, Sun gives him the stink eye while she and Jin gather enough fish to feed an army. Sawyer eventually manages to catch a fish, but the gutting of it grosses him out. He’s soon all but running to Hurley, asking how to make amends. First up? Hurley asks him to apologize for all the nicknames. Once Sawyer does, Hurley takes him back towards camp.

At night, Kate is anxious to return to New Otherton. Juliet? Not so much.  Juliet accurately predicts a imminent rainfall, and oh boy, here we go: Juliet tells Kate she hopes she’s not going back for Jack. After all, Juliet was there when Jack told her not to come back, and now that Kate destroyed his only chance off the…AND A RIGHT HOOK BY KATE! Girl fight, and it’s a damn solid one, very creatively choreographed considering their are handcuffed. Kate ends up dislocating Juliet’s shoulder, right before the ominous sounds of the monster are heard. Brilliant scene.

But wait, it gets better: Kate leads Juliet inside a set of banyan trees. We get a few POV shots of the Monster slowly, inexorably coming towards them. We see the pair look at the monster, and then…a series of bright flashes, flashes that oddly seem to slow time upon exposure. The monster then quickly backs away. Holy moly. I need a drink.

Next up on the Sawyer Rehab Tour: Claire! Hurley suggests that Sawyer show some interest in Aaron, and give her a blanket. Aaron hysterically cries upon seeing Sawyer. Sawyer acts as if he’d rather be back in prison, dropping the soap, than standing over her at this moment. However, he manages to get through 30 seconds of non-ironic discussion, leading Hurley to give him the thumbs up.

Back in Banyan Land, Juliet tells a disbelieving Kate she’s never seen the monster before then. Juliet wants Kate to pop her shoulder into place, stating it’s the least Kate can do for her in that she stranded her as much as she’s stranded Jack. She coldly tells Kate that the real reason Jack told her to not come back was that he saw her and Sawyer engaging in some jungle love (oh ee oh ee oh), and that it broke his heart. Stunned, Kate wordlessly pops Juliet’s shoulder into place. Well, that’s three freakin’ incredible Kate/Juliet scenes in a row.

The following morning, Sawyer is hunting for boar with Des. Desmond wants to know Sawyer’s "angle," noting he’d barely spoken three words to him before that day. "I got hearts and minds to change," notes Sawyer, a phrase with more meaning that he probably intended.

Juliet and Kate are still inside the banyan tree the following morning. While walking back, Juliet reveals that she knows about 7,309 more things about Jack than Kate does, deepening the knife in Kate’s back. No time for more soap operas, however: that pesky monster’s back! They run towards the sonic fence, falling in the mud. I’d love to make a stupid immature joke here, but all I’ll say is that they are now looking like muddier versions of the hillbilly incarnation of the Others and leave it at that. Cuz, you know, that might be a huge clue as to why the Hostiles used to clothe themselves in that color.

They reach the sonic fence, with Kate unwilling to cross it. After a brief argument, Juliet busts out a key, uncuffs them both, and runs through the pylons where she enters a code into one of them. She suggests Kate get on her side of it. After Kate does, Juliet pushes a button, activating the fence. Kate keeps running, but Juliet stands put. In the near distance, three distinct pillars of smoke combine and head directly for Juliet, stopping when they hit the fence. The smoke spreads out, then hastily retreats. Juliet+Kate+Smoke Monster: best Three’s Company evah.

Kate’s more than a little peeved that Juliet forgot to mention anything about the key, in addition to feigning ignorance about the monster. About the latter: they don’t know what it is, but know it hates their fence. About the former: Juliet hoped that if Kate thought they were in it together, maybe she wouldn’t get left behind again. Kate fumes, and walks back to the Barracks.

Sawyer stands proudly over his newly marinated boar. He tells Charlie to remember this meal at their meeting later on. Charlie’s confusion makes Sawyer finally realize that Hurley’s conned him all along. Hurley calmly states that such an exercise was necessary for Sawyer to be the de facto leader of the group. Sawyer doesn’t want such a role; Hurley merely notes that Jack probably didn’t want it either. Sawyer looks back upon the happy scene he’s created thanks to Hurley’s con, and gets a "eh, this ain’t so bad, is it?" look across his face. But Sun’s continuing distrust shows just how far he has left to go.

Back in New Otherton, Kate finds Jack passed out in his bungalow. She apologizes to Jack for keeping him on the Island. Jack seems more concerned with Juliet’s well-being than Kate’s apology, much to Kate’s chagrin. He decides it’s time to go back to Lostaway Camp. Outside, Sayid notes that there’s nary a trail to be found; it’s as if 50 people up and disappeared. Jack and Juliet make to leave, much to Sayid’s concern. Jack insists that she’s coming with them. Kate says, "Hey, that’s my line!"

15) Off the Island

Kate’s sportin’ an Aston Kutcher-esque trucker hat as her car gets towed. Turns out she needs a new fan belt, and in Iowa? That takes three days. She tells the tow man her name is Lucy. Upon arriving at the nearest gas station, who should Kate run into but Cassidy, still pulling the same jewelry scam she did with Sawyer. The owner wants the tow truck driver to call the cops on her, but Kate steps in and buys a necklace. As the two men walk away, Cassidy and Kate re-exchange the money for the necklace. Cassidy quickly figures out that Kate helped her not out of a sense of girl power, but because she didn’t want the cops there any more than Cassidy did.

In a nearby bar, Cassidy and Kate discuss life on the run. For some reason, Kate feels she can tell Cassidy the tale of her father’s/step-father’s demise. She asks Cassidy’s help in seeing her mother, the reason she’s in Iowa in the first place. Cassidy agrees, stating that she’d been recently conned by a "bad man" and that one of them deserves something good. (How about an "interesting flashback?" Don’t we as an audience deserve that?)

Kate walks up to her mother’s house. Upon opening the door, a half-dozen marshals descend upon her, including Edward Mars. We soon realize, along with Edward, that it’s in fact Cassidy in disguise, and that she’s merely sussing out the security by way of Bible salesmanship. Not bad. Not bad at all. She later returns to Kate’s motel room later, convinced that their task is all but a suicide mission. Kate reveals that she is doing all this to understand why Kate’s mother chose her psycho dead husband over her by turning Kate over to the police.

Cassidy is eating inside Kate’s mother’s diner. She intentionally spills her chili onto Diane, and when Diane goes to clean up, who should be inside but Kate? When confronted, Diane merely says that you can’t help who you love. And Kate? Kate burnt that love to a crisp. She gives Kate a head start this time, but the next time she sees her daughter, she will alert the marshal. As Cassidy drops Kate off, she reveals that she’s pregnant with Sawyer’s baby. Kate suggests she call the cops to have him locked up, and finally tells Cassidy her real name.

16) The Mythology

So which came first: the smoke monster or the fence? That’s the big question. It all depends on the origin of the monster. You can look at it one of two ways.

In the first, the monster came first. Thus, the Dharma Initiative constructed the pylons as Step 1 of their Island-based edifices, ensuring a safe build of New Otherton within its perimeters while providing for a safe environment for future denizens.

In the second, the fence came first. As such, the fence was initially designed to keep people in, not smoke monsters out. This is one of those "mind into matter" items: it’s possible that something akin to an "incident" could have produced the monster in its current form, and if related to the fence, would have something approaching an adversarial relationship with it. Oil and water, as it were.

Let’s look at Ben’s hieroglyphic door for a potential answer. This is the door that he enters during the incursion of Keamy’s Krew back in "The Shape of Things to Come." The fact that the monster arrives soon after his entrance through that door suggests that the Barracks were built over a pre-existing "holy land" for previous residents of the Island. So it seems pretty clear that what Danielle refers to as a "security system" predates the Dharma Initiative by quite a while. So, case closed, right?

Not so much. There’s nothing to suggest that the smoke monster has always been a smoke monster. It might have been, but it’s not a definite. So while the entity pre-exists the DI, the smoke monster might not have. So let’s look at the other bit of mythological sexiness in this episode: the way in which the monster "flashed" on Juliet.

If you compare this to the way in which the monster "scanned" Eko back in Season 2, there’s almost no comparison. Seemingly. However, perhaps the monster was merely going about the same task in different manners. In Eko’s case, it was seemingly reading his mind, absorbing the salient facts of his life, then moving on. Perhaps he did the same thing with Juliet. So why didn’t it flash on Eko?

Perhaps is as simple as this: it couldn’t "see" Juliet, at least in a way useful. And what did the monster need to see? Juliet’s eyes. This could explain every shot of eyes in the show: not only are they the window to the soul, but window to the mind as well. Juliet wasn’t "on file" with the monster since Ben had kept her under lock and key since her arrival.

Now, I direct you all to the Season 3 promotional poster, as I have done so often in the past here. You can look at this as simply a representation on the massive amounts of data collected by the Others on the Lostaways. And prominent in all these photos? Peoples’ eyes. So perhaps these photos come not from Mikhail’s hard work, but Smokey’s hard work. And this is the strongest case for the fence coming before the smoke monster: if the monster is a security system, and once functioned as an intelligence-gathering device on behalf of the DI, then what we have now is the result of some cataclysmic event in which something man-made interfered with the unique properties of the Island to form what we know today.

Debate below! There’s no right or wrong, unless you opt to argue that the smoke monster is made of taco salad. Because that’s a straight-up falsehood there.

23) The Moment

The monster clanging against the fence, with Juliet staring it down, rules all.

42) In Retrospect

I love the small scenes between Sawyer and Claire, if only as a way to contrast just how protective of her he later becomes. In many ways, this episode marks the start of the Sawyer we know now.

108) In Summary

Not even the lame flashback can stunt this phenomenal outing, which is essentially a two-person chamber play surrounded by smoke monsters and sonic fences. The interplay between Juliet and Kate is fantastic, with Hurley’s con of Sawyer a worthy B-story that has long-lasting effects.

It’s also the start of a PHENOMENAL run of episodes to end Season 3. Honestly, there’s not a bad episode left. We’ve suffered through the slowness of Season 2, and made it through the early slog of Season 3: now’s our reward, kids.

Leave your thoughts about this episode below!

Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude, then peruses Zap2It’s Guide to Lost Facebook group. He also encourages you to join the all-new Zap2It’s Guide to Lost Twitter feed. Pretty soon he’ll have as many platforms as Ben has pieces of leftover chicken.

Posted by:Ryan McGee