The most important thing we learned about the castaways in the first three seasons of the show was that they all had huge issues with their parents. And the one with the most complex ones was probably Kate. Her mother divorced the man she thought was her father, and her stepfather was a drunken lout who beat her mother, and probably abused Kate. She finally killed him when she learned that he was actually her real father. The man who she thought was her father loved her like she was his daughter, but was not related to her by blood. All of this needs to be taken into consideration when we understand Kate's relationship with Aaron, which is basically the same. All the evidence we saw was that Kate was a superb mother, and that she had even less of a reason to return to the island than Sayid did.
Part of the story of the last couple of seasons of Lost will involved all the characters achieving an understanding with their parents. We get the sense of that when Kate finally meets Roger Linus in the aftermath of the 'attack' on the Dharma Initiative. We've only seen him in the worst possible light so far, but when he learns that his son has been shot, the agony and grief he demonstrates feels genuine. Granted, it's a little difficult to feel sympathy for a man who beat his son hard enough to break his glasses, but we do get the feeling from his actions with Kate that he really does feel like fatherhood is a job that overmatched him (no doubt he missed his son's birthday again this year). And it is because of Kate's life with Aaron that she is able to do something that I honestly think would have been unthinkable of her even before she got on Ajira 316 --- try to find a way to save the young Ben's life.
Of course, she doesn't have much choice. Juliet, who now seems to have been promoted to head doctor, is doing to her damnedest to save the boy who grew up to make her life a living hell --- but she's a fertility specialist. When James goes to our resident surgeon, Jack now decides to demonstrate his new philosophy. Rather than jump at the chance to fix something, he decides that he's just going to make sandwiches and let the present work itself. Maybe he's working on the theories that Miles' is espousing in the side-splitting discussions he has with Hurley trying to explain how time travel works. However, I can't help but think there's a certain justification to it. He has saved Ben's life before (in the future; man Carlton and Damon are making this difficult) and maybe he just feels like that this is nothing but a zero sum gain. When Kate confronts him saying that she liked the old Jack, the one who tried to fix everything better, Jack counters by telling her "You didn't like the old me." Snap. He has a point there too, though.
One wonders why Kate ,who was essentially treated as chattel by Ben on the island the first time around, would want so badly to save him to the point of taking him to the Others. Maybe it has something to do with why she came back to the island in the first place. In the flashback, we learn that somehow Kate managed to locate Cassidy and Sawyer's daughter, Clementine. (How she did it is a matter that boggles the mind, considering: a) she never knew Sawyer's last name, b) she did know Cassidy, but she never knew her last name, and c) even allowing for b, Cassidy would never have given her daughter Sawyer's last name.) Cassidy has not forgiven him, and even when Kate tells her of Sawyer's heroic last action, she thinks that he did it because he was a coward and couldn't face his responsibilities. (Some people theorized that Cassidy was lying about Clementine being Sawyer's child, but when we see her at five, she looks a hell of a lot like him.)
Kate was struck by something else. She went to the supermarket to pick up some milk for Aaron. He walked away from her, and just disappeared for almost a minute. Kate panics and runs to the front of the store, only to find him in the hands a woman who looks an awful lot like Claire. I still don't believe Kate went back to the island for Sawyer, no matter what Cassidy might say about him breaking her heart. No, she couldn't live with the guilt that she had taken a child away from his mother, and that has always been bothering her, even as she has been showering Aaron with love. So she makes the decision which is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the history of the show --- when Kate goes to Carole Littleton, and tells her the truth about what happened to her daughter, and that she's going back to try and find her daughter, because a mother must always act in the best interest of the child. (Again we raise the question, where the hell is Claire. She doesn't seem to have been traveling with the island, and she doesn't seem to be in the present. It's only because we knew that she'd be coming back for the last season that I didn't seriously consider the possibility that Claire was dead.)
Now Kate has come back, and she seems to be raising havoc just by being here. Juliet's behavior is contradictory--- on the one hand, she gives him to Kate, saying she'll stall as long as possible before notifying James, on the other, she then goes directly to James, tells him what she's done, causing him to go back and help her. What's more, she has a really dark scene where she walks in on Jack, and demands to know why he left her in the lurch. Jack then gives the answer that he came back in order to save them, and when Juliet points out the obvious, he admits that he doesn't really know why he came back. Juliet is broken up by the fact that she might lose a patient, but she seems far more disturbed by the fact that she's sent Kate back into the jungle with the man she loves. James/Sawyer seems similarly tormented. He answers Cassidy's claim that he wasn't fit to raise a child by agreeing with it, and then seems all defensive when Kate asks him about the life that he's started with Juliet. It's hard to tell whether he's helping Kate because Juliet asked him to or whether it's because he believes he's supposed to..
In any case, they end up face to face with Richard, who is as enigmatic as ever. When Kate asks if they can save Ben, he says yes, but his innocence will be lost and he will always be 'one of us'. Even though this is probably the exact moment that Ben started down the path of being the monster he became (though as Sayid saw in the last episode, he was already halfway there) Kate doesn't hesitate a moment before handing him over. We're not yet sure what kind of problems Ben will face when Richard takes him to the temple. But his present isn't much safer. For in the last scene of the episode, he awakes to find John Locke standing over him, welcoming him back "to the land of the living." I hope to hell he was going to find out the true meaning of payback.
'Whatever Happened, Happened" is not quite as strong as some of the episodes we've had so far, but it featured superb work by Evangeline Lilly. I defy even the most rapid ant-Kate fan to watch the last two scenes with Claire's mother and Aaron, and not to at least shed one tear. (Giacchino uses some of his best music to wed the scene together as well, once again using the theme that "we're on a journey") Ken Leung and Jorge Garcia also provided this episode with some desperately needed humor as Miles tries to explain to Hurley exactly why and how time travel works. (Talk about the blind leading the blind, though; I think his explanation would give Daniel headaches.) I'm also a little upset with Cuse and Lindelof from cutting away from the Others just when it seemed like we were going to get some answers about the Temple, and basically, everything, but considering what we'll get in the next episode, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.