"There's no reason to be happy.
Things are awful.
We're stranded on an island.
No one's coming for us.
There's something in that jungle that eats people.
And I know there's a person or people trying to hurt us."
LOST, Season One, Episode 12, Whatever The Case May Be pursues a classically Orson Wellian tact a la Citizen Kane (1941) utilizing a Haliburton suitcase as the episode's MacGuffin. Seemingly innocuous things can turn out to be something rather significant later in LOST, but it's uncertain if that's what this case may be. Still, nothing wrong with a little product placement while cleverly referencing classic cinema and television plot devices.
Highlight: The waterfall swim between Kate Austen and James "Sawyer" Ford delivers high on sexy chemistry between these two deliciously beautiful characters against the gorgeous Hawaiian island backdrop. It's LOST's version of The Blue Lagoon (1980) for just a few minutes.
The Kate back story, our second fully dedicated Kate flashback since Episode 3, Tabula Rasa, is decent if not entirely convincing.
LOST as a series is filled with loads of personal moments between characters and rarely do they ring hollow. Most resonate and ring true often beautifully executed. One of those character exchanges in Whatever The Case May Be is between Rose Henderson and Charlie Pace and is utterly moving. It is a truly real, tender, thoroughly human exchange---all of it lovely.
For a complete analysis of gender politics on the island or the man versus woman dynamic, which is completely subjective and the politics du jour of the left, one can look at Nicki Stafford's book Finding LOST: The Unofficial Guide. This writer doesn't connect particularly well with the politics of that book, but Stafford enjoys exploring the "gender hierarchies" as she sees them explored on LOST. She covers them in the extreme for a deep dive of this episode in particular. In fact, Stafford would have had an issue with Kate's bathing suit had it not been for a near naked Sawyer. Personally the nudist in me declares set yourself free.
One can see some of the limitations set upon LOST by network television. Nevertheless despite those walls, the series performs some mighty boundary pushing at the time. NETFLIX, FX, HBO and a number of other sources truly get to flex their creative muscle far beyond the boundaries of television that are constricted here with ABC, yet LOST still somehow managed to deliver significant dramatic punch despite those constraints.
Regardless of shortcomings seen through the prism of standards set for today's television LOST was indeed a powerhouse in storytelling ideas. It still holds up despite time's passing.
Whatever The Case May Be is generally dismissed and not considered a season highlight. Incredibly though, for a long season of television, LOST provides solid enough material even amidst the lowlights of a full twenty-five (25) episode season. That's no easy feat. In other words not-so-great-LOST is still pretty damn solid.
Writer: Damon Lindelof/ Jennifer Johnson (Alcatraz, LOST's The Moth).
Director: Jack Bender.