Really, though, "WHH" could have been 38 minutes of Ana Lucia talking about Jack's tattoos with Nicki and Paulo while Michael screamed "WAAAAAAALT!" and still have been an "A" episode, if only for this:
That, my friends, is how you effectively wink at your audience.
That scene didn't break the fourth wall, or take cheap potshots at a fanbase growing increasingly frustrated by not yet understanding the show's rules for time travel. It addressed the confusion head on, through lovable audience surrogate Hurley, and kept all the commentary extremely believable and totally in character. And made me laugh out loud.
So what else happened? Well, in a nutshell...
On the island in 1977, Sayid isn't as good a shot as we thought he was, or he missed out on anatomy class at Iraqi Community College, because that bullet didn't go through Lil Ben's heart. Juliet tries to save Lil Ben, but since his chest doesn't have ovaries, she needs some help. She turns to Jack for medical assistance, but he says "fuck it." (Is this an extension of the "kill Hitler" philosophy? Is it because he's still pissed at Kate? Or would this just harsh the new Jack's buzz?) Ben's dad takes time away from fretting over his junior punching bag's injuries to try to get in Kate's pants. Does he have a girlfriend, so we can have a "love hexagon" that includes Sawyer, Kate, Jack and Juliet? Kate gets some advice from Juliet, and decides to take a bleeding out Lil Ben (in what I'm sure is a comfy ride through the jungle in the back of a VW Microbus) to see The Others. Sawyer shows up to help, calls her "Freckles," but nicely reaffirms (yeah!) that he's happy with Juliet. Richard Alpert pops out of the jungle and takes Lil Ben and says he can save him (although, a little too conveniently, he won't remember all of this and will "lose his innocence"). Turns out, the island's PPO is really Smokey's Cave!
Of the island, in a flashback (or really, flashforward, since it's happening in 2007. Or it IS a flashback for Kate, since it's already happened to her. Hell, press "play" on the video above again, just to keep it straight), Kate shows up at Cassidy's to give her some O6 settlement money for her daughter (with Sawyer) Clementine. Yep, we all thought that was what Sawyer asked Kate before he jumped out of the copter in last year's season finale. Cassidy is a little bitter, but it turns out that she and Kate do some girl bonding over the three off island years, so much so that Clementine will eventually call Kate "Auntie." Kate freaks out in a supermarket when Aaron wants a juice box and ventures off on his own to find one (proving once again, that grocery stores are no place for children). Kate also winds up spilling more secrets than the movie versions of Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne combined. Over chick flicks, wine coolers and stories about robbing banks and banging rakish southern rouges, Kate comes to realize that A. she feels guilty about leaving Claire behind, B. she kept Aaron to fill the hole that Sawyer once occupied (which sounds far dirtier than it is), and C. she's going back to the island. So, Kate drops off Aaron with his grandmother, and tells yet another person the entire story of the island before showing up to board Ajira Air 316.
On the island in 2008, Old Ben wakes up to see the man he strangled to death, John Locke, sitting beside his bed. "Hello Ben. Welcome to the land of the living."
There was nothing hugely revelatory about Kate's flashback. Most of us figured that she would leave Aaron with Mrs. Littleton, and it turns out, that's true (though I still think there's got to be some way Goober gets back to the island eventually, given all his supposed importance to the story). Most of us figured that Ben wouldn't die, since the O6 still have to teach Chuck Berry's brother Marvin rock n' roll. Even without a noodle cooking plot twist, there were still numerous things to appreciate and ponder in "Whatever Happened, Happened:"
Miles now takes the lead in the island comedy sweepstakes: "No, you're all free to leave whenever you want...but I'll shoot you in the leg."
"I've already saved Benjamin Linus, and I did it for you Kate. And I don't need to do it again." (subtext: I don't know how much more cage fucking I can watch). It's interesting that Jack is now starting to become more resigned to "fate," and more a "man of faith" like his long time nemesis Locke.
"Maybe there's something THEY can do." There was a brief moment, nicely played as always by Elizabeth Mitchell, that I thought Juliet might be setting up Kate and Ben for something more sinister by sending them into the jungle. However, from what we see, I think she was acting altruistically. It was also nice that they didn't make a big honkin' deal out of the Kate/Sawyer attraction, and that he basically admitted to "Freckles" that he's become a different man, and IS with Juliet. "That's why I'm doing this. I'm doing it for her."
They made a point early in the ep about the cameras at the sonic fence. So since Sawyer, Kate and Lil Ben, and two Dharma vans, are quite visible there before heading into the jungle, I think Jim LaFleur is gonna have some 'splainin' to do when he gets back to Dharmaville.
Loved Juliet storming into the house looking for Jack:
Juliet: "Where's Jack?"Miles: "Hey, ask me more questions about time travel."
Hurley: "Is he in trouble?"
Question: How does Miles know about Ben turning the donkey wheel?
"I'm going back to find your daughter."
"Is that Benjamin Linus?"
"You two know each other?"
In perhaps the only false note in the episode, Richard explains things a bit too handily:
"If I take him, he's not ever gonna be the same again....He'll forget this ever happened, and that, his innocence will be gone. He will always be one of us. You still want me to take him?"Doesn't that explain too much? I think it would have been better to keep us in the dark, and not try to shoehorn in a Smoky explanation for memory loss and evil. (Does this same side effect apply to other "resurrected" or "healed" characters? I don't recall it). I'm not sure we can take this at face value, since adult Ben clearly (and fondly) remembers Annie, and we presume, Juliet.
More effective was the brief exchange between Alpert and one of his men:
"You shouldn't do this without asking Ellie. If Charles finds out..."In that little snippet, we learn that both Ellie (Daniel's mother, who will become off-island time travel expert Eloise Hawking) and Charles Widmore, are still on the island in 1977, and apparently in charge. And interestingly, it makes you think about Penny. How old is she exactly? If she's 30 or older, then it would seem she was born on the island. And could Ellie possibly be her mother, meaning she and Daniel are brothers?
"Let him. I don't answer to either of them."
All in all, another very solid of outing for the Losties. If you can make me thoroughly enjoy a Kate episode, then you're doing something right. Solid A