Boy, does that Kate have some daddy issues.
Wednesday's episode of "Lost" tried throwing everyone for a loop. When Kate blew up her mother's house, you figured it was her stepfather passed out inside, or maybe her mom's abusive boyfriend — but by hour's end, it was clear that things in Kate's family were a wee bit more complicated.
For that matter, life in the hatch became a good deal more convoluted, with a bunch of questions that won't be answered before Jan. 11, when the next new episode is due.
This week provided the long-awaited backstory on the fugitive with the captivating smile, and yes, it was arson that got Kate on the lam in the first place. That and the fact she tried to punch out a U.S. marshal (Edward Mars, who would eventually track her down in rural Australia and haul her onto doomed flight 815), then absconded with his car.
Granted, the man Kate killed, Wayne, wasn't much of a father figure. He beat up Kate's mother, and was a drunk who made eyes at Kate. But was that enough to make Kate torch the house? (The Zippo she played with at the beginning of the episode was a nice little tipoff.)
Kate's mother didn't think so — and later ratted her daughter out — after Kate walked into the Iowa diner where her mom worked and handed her an insurance policy. When she asked what Kate had done, her daughter replied, "I took care of you, Ma. I gotta go. You're not going to see me for a while."
Kiss me, KateBack on the island, it was time for the Sawyer-Kate-Jack triangle to boil over. Jack finally pried Kate away from Sawyer's side, but as she was gathering fruit, a woozy, ailing Sawyer asked Jack for her, then uttered the three most improbable words ever to come out of that con man's mouth: "I love her."
Shortly after, it was Jack who found Kate in the woods, embraced her as she cried, and got a big wet one planted on him ... before Kate ran off.
What had her spooked was a black horse standing in the woods. Lest you think this is another polar bear moment, it showed up again as Kate later led Sawyer outside the entrance to the Swan station.
"You see that?" Kate asked.
"If you mean the big-ass horse standing in the middle of the jungle, then yeah," Sawyer replied.
Either Kate's not crazy, or they both are (a distinct possibility), or you shouldn't go judging sanity by whether people see random animals appear on Crazymaking Island.
"You know that horse, Freckles?" Sawyer continued.
A horse is a horse ...Of course she did. She'd seen the same horse briefly after the marshal's car hit an animal (not, as best freeze-frame can reveal, a horse) while taking Kate to her arraignment. The accident stunned the marshal, and Kate finished the job by knocking him out and driving off.
Next stop Down Under? Nope. Kate went to find her father, army sergeant Sam Austen, in a recruiting office.
Well, not quite her father. As she told him, she discovered he was stationed in Korea until four months before her birth. (If she meant during the Korean war, Kate's a lot older than we figured. We assume Austen was posted to the DMZ in the 1970s. Also, an image of Sayid was visible for a split second on the recruiting office's TV.)
Kate revealed her true father was ... Wayne, which makes her big hidden "Lost" secret that she burned her own father to death. So much for Edward Mars' "nice cornfed farmgirl" theory.
In case the island love triangle wasn't trouble enough, Kate's tender moments with Sawyer took a turn for the bizarre. After putting Patsy Cline's "Walking After Midnight" on the turntable, Kate made cute ... until Sawyer woke up, grabbed her throat and asked, "Why did you kill me?" (Or until Kate imagined it.)
Later, Kate spoke to a sleeping Sawyer as though he were Wayne: "You asked me why I did it? It wasn't 'cause you drove my father away, or the way you looked at me or because you beat her. It was 'cause I hated that you were a part of me, that I would never be good.
"Every time I look at Sawyer," she continued, "every time I feel something for him, I see you, Wayne, and it makes me sick."
Like we said, daddy issues. But more than that. Why is Kate obsessed with being good? Why did her would-be father tell her he sees murder in her heart? Why does she see Wayne in Sawyer?
Like everyone else, Kate has carried her own rather profound demons to the island with her. If now-departed Goodwin was right, the island (or the Others) will sort out the good and the bad, and Kate's beyond conflicted about which category she belongs in. Also, one of her two crushes reminds her of her dead daddy, and she's going to have some 'splaining to do when lovebird Sawyer finds out about her playing kissy-face with Jack.
Between that and the Sayid/Ana-Lucia tension, Hurley's going to have a lot of peacemaking in his future.
Coincidence or fate?Meantime, the island's two presumptive holy men — Locke and Eko — finally hunkered down. Locke played the Dharma orientation film for Michael and Eko.
The film unsettled Eko, who later revealed to Locke what was hidden inside the Bible found in the tail-enders' Dharma station: some of the film's missing footage of Dr. Marvin Candle.
Demonstrating that he could run enigmatic circles around Locke, Eko prefaced this revelation by recounting the biblical tale of Josiah (the Judaic king who purged the Jerusalem temple of idols and repaired it), drawing a parallel between Josiah's rediscovery of God's laws and his own discovery of the Bible.
When Locke marveled at the coincidence of it all, Eko replied, "Don't mistake coincidence for fate."
The Josiah thing is admittedly puzzling, and how fortunate there's six weeks to hash it all out. For one thing, Josiah later fatally led his forces into Megiddo, the valley where Armageddon supposedly will take place. There's Kate's black horse, which also has apocalyptic overtones. Add that to last week's curious moment with Locke filling "Gilgamesh" into his crossword puzzle, responding to the clue, "Enkidu's friend." Is Locke Gilgamesh? Is Eko Enkidu? (Totally confused?) Nothing like a Christmas-vacation research project.
So what did the missing film snippet reveal? Marvin Candle warned the Dharma researchers to avoid temptation and not use the computer to contact the outside world.
"Atempting to use the computer in this manner will compromise the integrity of the project, and worse, could lead to another incident," he said.
Yet Michael, tinkering with the Swan station hardware, found the computer screen prompting him: "Hello?"
"Hello?" he wrote back.
"Who is this?"
"This is Michael. Who is this?"
Pairing upWalt may only have appeared via some Apple II-era Instant Messenger, but nearly everyone else has been enjoying a real-life reunion of late. Sun and a shirtless Jin emerged from a beachside tent. Bernard and Rose are together again.
And was Jack ever surprised last week to find out that Ana-Lucia, whom he last saw in a Sydney airport bar, was alive and kicking. This week he made nice by bringing her tequila as she brooded over having killed Shannon. Maybe she'll take his mind off Kate's psycho-coquette behavior.
"You're going to try to convince me that everyone here doesn't hate me," she said.
"Only if you're going to try to convince me that every woman in the world's not crazy," he replied.
Now the castaways' two holy men and two de facto leaders have been reunited. It's time to get back on track with the season's Big Questions. What's the deal with Dharma? Where the heck did Desmond go? What happens when the hatch button doesn't get pressed every 108 minutes? And when's the big showdown with the teddy-bear-carrying Others?
You've got six weeks. Discuss.
MSNBC.com lifestyle editor Jon Bonné wonders where the marshal's car was when it crashed — and exactly what sort of animal it hit.