Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz
Directed by Paul Edwards
If the whole purpose of the sideways world is to show us that the passengers on Oceanic 815 have gotten a do-over, then the writers couldn't have made a poorer choice with who they started with. For the character (as you can tell by the title) is Kate Austen, and it appears that she's doing what she always seemed to be doing on and off the island --- running away.
For some reason, the episode starts by replaying the scene with her we saw in the last episode --- her taking a taxicab inhabited by Claire hostage. She throws Claire out of the cab, grabs and drives to some mechanics shop where she manages to bust free. She seems more hostile then before --- until she looks into Claire's baggage and seems to realize what's she's done. She then drives back to the exact spot that she left her, finds that Claire hasn't moved (which doesn't make much sense) gives her luggage back to the very pregnant Australian, who promptly asks her for a ride to the house of the parents she was going to give her child up for adoption to. This may be an alternate reality, but it does seem like the characters are totally disconnected from in this sequence.
Claire than finds out that the couple that she was going to give her child up to for adoption have separated and no longer want the baby. (This does seem a little different from the reality we know, where it was pretty clear that psychic Richard Malkin was making a couple out of thin air.) Claire then goes into contractions (just like she did when the plane crashed) and Kate drives her to the nearest hospital. Eventually she gets a doctor to look after her, and he's a familiar face --- Ethan.
Now here's an arc I wished the writers had pursued. This Ethan seems different from the one we met on the island --- for starters, he's calling himself by his actual last name: Goodspeed. For another, his care and bedside manner are much better than they were on the island. He's still treated her unborn child, but he doesn't want to stick her needles, and once he's done his job, he leaves quietly and without any introduction. This opens all kinds of possibilities. Did Ethan live his entire life free from the influence of the Others? Has he gotten a do-over because the Dharma Initiative somehow didn't stay on the island? There are all kinds of possibilities here, but there is never any explanation. (And if you believe the real explanation as to what the flash-sideways mean, it makes even less sense that he would be here. But I'm getting ahead of myself again.)
Kate doesn't seem to have changed that much from what we saw in the other world, so this particular flash doesn't seem to make much sense. (Neither did the explanation that she was innocent of the crime she was charged with. Like millions of others, I hadn't been to the 2009 Comic-Con.). In other words, it seems like we're running in place again.. What does seem to connect is her link with Claire. We know she came back to the island to try and find her, and we've never seen any proof yet that she is dead. (We're about to get evidence to the contrary).
It's a little frustrating to get this big reveal in the first episode, and then appear to run in place. What it makes it less so, is what's happening on the island. Sayid has just come back, apparently from the dead, and no one at the temple seems particularly happy about it. His friends are very confused and concerned, but proving that he has completely lost the ability to care, James says that it makes perfect sense. He's a torturer and a man who shoots kids, naturally he gets a chance to live. He doesn't add, "And Juliet doesn't," but he doesn't have to. Once again, the Others grab Sayid and refuse to answer questions. A fight breaks out, and James fires a gun. The old Sawyer who was "every man for himself" seems to have come back, and he has no interest in helping his friends or anyone else. Kate and Jin convince the Others to let try and track and James, though both have an ulterior motive for wanting to get away.
Meanwhile, the bearded Japanese man (who we'll soon know as Dogen) puts Sayid in the same position that he put so many people in throughout his life. But unlike Sayid, Dogen has no interest in any information as he electrocutes him and torches him with hot pokers. He says that he's testing Sayid and that he passed, but we don't even have to hear him tell Lennon (Dogen's mouthpiece) to know that this is a lie. Something happened to the fountain he was healed, and he was dead for two hours. Nothing good can come from that, even on the island
Dogen tries to persuade Jack (and, as he does with Hurley, drops the illusion that he doesn't speak English) that Sayid has been 'infected' and that he needs medicine to cure him. We don't buy this any more than what he saw from the test, and by now Jack doesn't seem capable of trusting anyone. So he ends up taking the pill himself --- and is nearly body-checked by Dogen, who finally does something that Ben Linus never did when he was leader--- level with an outsider. Sayid is not infected, he's been claimed, and while he is still maddeningly vague, the words he uses to explain it are the exact ones that are guarantee to strike fear into Jack's heart --- whatever it is, somehow Claire has been touched by it.
Meanwhile, a couple of very hostile Others are leading the search for James, but they encounter a trap. It looks like one of Rousseau's, but we know she's been dead for three years. Jin breaks away trying to do something he's wanted to do since he heard Ajira had landed on the island: find Sun. Kate goes after James, but it's not clear what she's thinking hear --- if the last person he wants to see right now is Jack, the second last would have to be her--- if she hadn't gotten on the submarine, Juliet and James would be back in the real (1977) world right now, and she knows it. She then gets back to the Barracks (which are receiving more use over the last few days than they have in the last three years) and finds that it's worse then she thought. James was going to ask Juliet to marry him (is there a Cartier's on this island that we somehow haven't found yet?), and seems utterly uninterested in any apologies Kate tries to make. Then he completes his break with the life that he had by throwing the ring into the water (just like Desmond did when he first tried to propose to Penny), and leaves Kate behind completely devastated.
And Jin finds that just getting away from the Others remains just as difficult as it has ever been. He is cornered by Aldo and Justin, springs a trap and is saved(?) by... Claire? Who seems to really resemble Danielle, save for the fact her hair is blond.
Part of the reason so many people had a problem with this episode was that by now the majority of the fans had gotten tired of Kate's facilitating and running away. She doesn't seem to have changed that much on the island, or in this new world., and all of the interesting things about her seemed to have turned to irritants. But there was a possibility for redemption on this island for her, and she will at least atone. The series would give her that much. It's a shame that they had to come at it erratically.