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Katherine Anne "Kate" Austen is a fictional character on the ABC television series Lost, played by Canadianmarker actress Evangeline Lilly. She is the de facto female lead. In the original plot, in which Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) dies when the group finds the cockpit, Kate was to emerge as the leader for the survivors, motivating them to build shelter and begin considering life as permanent residents of the island. In the original description for Kate, she was a slightly older woman separated from her husband, who went to the bathroom in the tail-section of the plane. However, that idea ended up being used for Rose Henderson (L. Scott Caldwell) and her husband Bernard Nadler (Sam Anderson). Yunjin Kim originally tried out for Kate. The producers liked her but didn't think she was right for the part, so they wrote the role of Sun-Hwa Kwon for her.

Character biography

Prior to the crash

Born and raised in Iowamarker, Kate is the daughter of diner worker Diane, and Sam, a U.S. Army Ranger and Gulf War Veteran. At an early age Kate's parents divorced, and Diane married an abusive alcoholic named Wayne. When she was a child, Kate was caught trying to shoplift from a store, but was spared when Jacob offered to pay for the stolen merchandise. Jacob asked Kate not to steal anymore. As an adult, Kate killed Wayne, which she confessed to her mother before disappearing. Diane called the authorities, where Kate was arrested and pursued by Edward Mars. Kate then confronted Sam, who revealed that Wayne was her biological father. Under the alias of Lucy, she met an out-of-luck con artist named Cassidy Phillips, who helped her confront Diane in a diner restroom, where Kate learned that despite Wayne's abusive nature, Diane still loved him.

Kate fled to Miamimarker under the alias "Monica", where she dated and soon married a police officer named Kevin Callis. After a pregnancy scare and Kevin's purchase of two Oceanic tickets to Costa Ricamarker for their honeymoon, Kate confessed her fugitive past and laced his drink with a sedative before disappearing. After months of traveling around the country under numerous aliases, Kate learned that Diane was dying of cancer, and decided to visit her. She reunited with her childhood friend Tom who arranged a meeting between Kate and Diane. As Kate tried to apologize to her, Diane started screaming for help, prompting Kate to flee the hospital with Tom. A policeman opened fire on their getaway car, killing Tom and forcing Kate to flee the scene of the accident.

Months later Kate staged a robbery in New Mexicomarker with several criminals to infiltrate a bank's safe deposit box, where Tom's toy airplane was being stored. She fled to Australia where, while sleeping in a barn, she was discovered by a farmer. Posing as a Canadian hiker, Kate worked on the farm for three months. When the farmer caught her attempting to sneak away, he offered her a ride into town the next morning. During the journey however, Kate discovered that the farmer had learned of her true identity and notified Edward Mars of her whereabouts. Kate grabbed the wheel and crashed the truck into a field but instead of running, she helped the unconscious farmer from his vehicle, giving Mars time to pursue and arrest her. Escorting her to the airport in handcuffs, Mars briefed local security officers on Kate's fugitive past and revealed his locked carry-on case containing five firearms. As the plane was bombarded with escalating turbulence, Mars was knocked unconscious by luggage from the overhead compartment. Kate stole the keys to the handcuffs and attached an oxygen mask to Mars before taking one for herself, as the plane splintered and crashed onto the island.

After the Crash

Season 1

Having survived the crash, Kate stumbles out of the jungle to encounter a wounded Jack Shephard, whose wounds she agrees to suture. That night, the two explore the inland area to search for the missing cockpit, accompanied by Charlie. They are thrown into disarray by the arrival of the "Monster," who kills the pilot.They return to the beach and she later joins several survivors who accompany Sayid as he attempts to transmit a distress signal. Upon returning, she examines the injured marshal, only to be strangled. She asks Sawyer to kill him, but he fails and only worsens Mars' condition, leading Jack to kill him. Later, after Jack discovers the caves, Kate decides to remain on the beach. When Sawyer is being tortured by Sayid to find Shannon's missing asthma inhalers that they believe he has, he says he will tell her if she kisses him. After they kiss passionately, he reveals he doesn't have them.

When she discovers the marshal's case, she and Sawyer fight to gain possession, but she eventually asks Jack for help, who agrees but decides that they open the case together. Kate continues to maintain a helpful attitude throughout the camp, as she joins the search party for the kidnapped Claire and Charlie, returning only with the latter. When Claire returns two weeks later, Kate also helps capture Ethan. Whilst in the caves with Jack, she is sent to retrieve alcohol when Locke carries in a mortally wounded Boone. She becomes sidetracked when she discovers Claire in the jungle going into labor, and must deliver the baby without Jack's help.

After Rousseau arrives on the beach to warn the camp of the Others' imminent arrival, she takes Kate, Jack, Locke, Hurley and Arzt to the Black Rock, where they attempt to carry dynamite to the hatch discovered in the jungle. Arriving at the hatch, she and the others peer inside.

Season 2

Kate and Locke descend into the hatch, Kate entering first. Once inside, she is locked by Desmond. Kate arrives in a room with a computer, where she overpowers Desmond after Jack arrives. She accidentally damages the computer in the crossfire, causing Desmond to panic and flee. Kate is placed on a rotation to enter a few number numbers into the computer. While picking fruit Kate sees a black horse from her past. When she returns to the hatch she hallucinates that Wayne is channeled through unconscious injured Sawyer and Kate freaks out. She eventually returns to the Hatch to tend Sawyer, and partially confesses her crime to him. They venture outside and both witness the black horse lingering nearby. When Michael runs off in search of his son, Kate follows him, but is kidnapped. After Jack refuses Tom's demands to hand over the guns, Kate is brought out and held at gunpoint to force the men to give up their guns.

When Claire's baby falls ill, Kate joins her on a trek into the jungle to seek Rousseau's help. The three head inland, where they discover the Staff station. Later, Kate and Jack discover a mysterious and unnoticed food drop in the jungle. They return to the hatch, where hostage "Henry Gale" is exposed as an impostor. Later, Kate joins Jack on a trek back to where they encountered the Others. The two make camp, when an exhausted Michael stumbles out of the bushes. Michael invites her to follow him to the Others' camp when he recovers. The next day, Kate, Jack, Sawyer and Hurley join Michael Dawson as they head for the Others' camp. They are ambushed, gagged, tied up and taken to a pier.

Season 3

Kate is placed in a cage opposite Sawyer to work for the Others, under the eye of Pickett. After discovering they are on another island and Sawyer's life is threatened, the two have sex unaware that they were briefly caught by Jack on a surveillance camera. When Jack contacts her via Pickett's radio, informing her that she has a head-start to escape, she and Sawyer run towards the beach. They encounter Alex, who gives them her boat in exchange for rescuing her brainwashed boyfriend, Karl.

When arriving on the beach, she scolds Sayid and Locke for not bothering to rescue Jack. They head into the jungle and find Rousseau, who agrees to help them after learning of Alex's status. The four trek into the jungle, where they discover the Flame station. There they confront the Other Mikhail and take him hostage. The four resume their hike, eventually arriving at the Others' barracks, and see Jack socializing with the Others. That evening, Kate approaches Jack, but the Others capture Sayid and her. Jack abandons her because he made a deal with The Others for permission to leave the island upon saving Ben's life. The following day, she is gassed and wakes up in the jungle, handcuffed to Juliet. They eventually return to the beach with Jack and Sayid.

Upon returning, Kate is still wary of Juliet, especially in Juliet's developing relationship with Jack. Later, she learns of Naomi's arrival. Kate is then shown Jack and Juliet's plan to deal with the Others' imminent attack while the majority travels to the radio tower. En route, Sawyer tells Kate that he's turning back to help the survivors on the beach. They eventually encounter Ben and Alex in the jungle, at which point Ben is taken hostage.

Season 4

Kate follows a trail of Naomi' blood until being attacked by Naomi, who suddenly dies. After a confrontation between Jack and Locke, Kate decides to stay with the former of the two, but questions Sawyer when he decides to go with Locke. Later, they come across Daniel Faraday, whom they believe has arrived to rescue them. After finding Miles, Kate and Jack find themselves at gunpoint until she takes them to Naomi's body.

Later, they team up with Frank, who managed to arrive on the island with the helicopter. Upon learning of the location of the final team member, Charlotte Staples Lewis, Kate accompanies Sayid and Miles to the barracks. They are eventually captured by Locke. Kate decides to remain at the barracks, in an attempt to extract information from Miles. She arranges for him to speak to Ben, but is caught by Locke. She spends the night with Sawyer and tells him that she is not pregnant. They argue over his exaggerated show of relief, and Kate heads back to the beach. When Sawyer returns with Miles and Aaron, she also takes over as Aaron's primary caretaker when Sawyer reveals that Claire has gone missing. Later, Sayid and Kate follow Jack and Sawyer to avoid them being attacked by the boat's soldiers. They meet up with the remaining Others and join forces to defeat the boat's soldiers. They all board Lapidus' helicopter, Sawyer having decided wherever Kate goes, he goes. But as they travel back to the freighter a fuel leak is discovered, and after all the excess weight is thrown out, Sawyer kisses her passionately then asks her to do a favor for him back home, and jumps out.

After the Island

In "Eggtown", Kate goes on trial for her father's murder. She is later released on ten years probation, providing she does not leave California. Kate's mother, the prosecution's star witness, tries to reconcile with Kate, and then decides not to testify. In "Something Nice Back Home", Kate is seen living in an established relationship with Jack, who is also acting as a surrogate father for his nephew Aaron. Later, Jack asks Kate to marry him, which she happily accepts. Jack later confronts Kate about her "errands", Kate reveals she is keeping Sawyer's promise and refuses to tell him any more details, Jack yells at her, attempts to assert himself over Sawyer then Aaron wakes up. Kate rushes to comfort him then Jack leaves, ending their relationship.

In "Through the Looking Glass", Jack informs her of John Locke's funeral. Jack then tells her that they need to return to the island, but Kate grows furious and leaves.

Season 5

Kate is surprisingly confronted by Dan Norton, a lawyer who is asking for a blood sample from both her and Aaron to determine their biological relationship. Norton refuses to tell Kate who his client is, and Kate denies giving him a blood sample. Kate visits Sun, who convinces her to go see Norton and try to get him to reveal who his client is. Kate leaves Aaron in Sun's care while visiting Norton's firm, but cannot get a name out of him. Kate and Jack follow Norton to his clients house, who turns out to be Claire's mother. Jack goes in to talk to her and then realizes that she isn't the client they were looking for. When approached by Ben later, Kate discovers that he was the one who was trying to get a blood sample from her.

Kate realizes that she is not supposed to raise Aaron, that she took him in order to replace the unconditional love she received from Sawyer, and leaves him in the care of Claire's mother. She returns to the island with the other survivors on flight 316. She is reunited with Sawyer (now in a relationship with Juliet) in 1977 and joins the Dharma Initiative with Jack and Hurley. Sayid shoots a young Ben Linus and Kate saves his life by bringing him to Richard Alpert. After refusing to aid Jack in his plans to detonate the hydrogen bomb, Kate returns to the Dharma Initiative, to then be put on the Dharma sub with Sawyer and Juliet. However, she insists that the three leave the submarine to prevent Jack from detonating the bomb. When the three return to the island, they eventually reunite with Jack, Jin, Sayid and Hurley. Although Sawyer tries to persuade Jack not to use the bomb, his efforts are in vain. Kate tells Jack that if he really believes that detonating the bomb is the best thing, then she will help him. She assists Jack in getting the bomb to the required location, but when he drops it down a tunnel, it does not go off, despite the fact that it is supposed to explode on impact. Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Juliet are shocked, but immediately, the Dharma drill that had been drilling deep into the pocket of magnetic energy that Jack was trying to contain went too far, and Juliet was ultimately dragged down the tunnel, into the source of the energy. Kate attempts to remove a distressed Sawyer from the scene along with Jack, but little do they know that Juliet remains conscious for now and desperately attempts to detonate the bomb, eventually succeeding.

Development

Around seventy-five women of different shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages auditioned to be Kate. In the initial plans, Jack was going to die midway through the first episode, and then Kate would emerge as the leader. She was not going to be a fugitive, instead her husband was going to go to the bathroom shortly before the plane split in mid air, and she would remain adamant on the Island that he was alive. This ended up being used for Rose’s character. The producers were impressed with Canadian Evangeline Lilly's audition, as she displayed the confidence with vulnerability that they were looking for. As this was Lilly's first role, she had difficulty obtaining a visa to work in America. She was supposed to start on the first day of filming, but the schedule was rearranged to give her more time, and in the mean time, the producers began auditioning again in case the visa did not come through. However during one of the auditions, they got an email confirming that she had obtained her visa and could start work on the show.

Reception

Robert Bianco of USA Today praised Evangeline Lilly's performance in "Eggtown," saying that it was almost worthy of a Primetime Emmy Award nomination. However, Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger was unimpressed and does not find Kate to be a compelling character. Lilly's performance in "Whatever Happened, Happened" also received heavy praise from TV critics and fans of the show alike.

The character of Kate Austen (and by extension actress Evangeline Lilly) has made an arguable impact upon the world at large. In 2007, she was voted #1 Sexiest Woman on Television by TV Guide and made FHM's Top Sexiest. Spiritual website Beliefnet named her among the Top 10 Most Empowering Women on TV Today, along with fictional characters Betty Suarez (from Ugly Betty) and Claire Bennet (from Heroes).

References

  1. "Before They Were Lost". Lost: The Complete First Season, Buena Vista Home Entertainment. September 6, 2005. Featurette, disc 7.
  2. Bianco, Robert, (June 12, 2008) " Who Will Make Emmy Happy?", USA Today. Retrieved on June 13, 2008.
  3. Sepinwall, Alan, (February 21, 2008) " Gone Baby Gone", The Star-Ledger. Retrieved on February 28, 2008.



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