Nurse Betty? No…Nurse Katie Please!
--- A Sequential Review of the Good Doctor’s Tried and True Right-Hand Woman --- By: Erica
Kate Austen is a woman of great compassion, genuine sentiment and true concern for others, but no one can convert her into action-mode quite like Dr. Jack Shephard, the man she has found herself side by side with, from the affecting moments after she awoke on the Island after the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, to this very point in the LOST narrative. 'There is great symbolism to this repeated action, of Kate as the one to tend to Jack in such an intimate way, never batting an eye or in any way squeamish about it, very content with playing nurse, not only to Jack’s doctor, but FOR Jack himself, period. Mythological cues ring loudly here, as well as Kate’s seemingly innate protectiveness of Jack. This list is comprised of the top ten, contextual and chronological moments of Kate’s poignant, personal and profound care for Jack and just how it emphasizes her enduring love for him. Enjoy.
Pilot: Part One – “I might throw up on you”
One moment in time can define us, change us, and transform our being into what it was always meant to be. The sewing scene is a defining moment for Kate, and is indeed her very first scene of the series, and it revolves around her instant connection to this mystery man, Jack, who is pleading with her, the signals of distress in his eyes, to sew up this revolting gash with a simple needle and thread. She looks at him like he’s insane, the churning urge to run bubbling up in her stomach, but his suffering is too affecting to ignore, something about this man, about his unassuming kindness and belief in her that suppresses her instinct to bolt. This is the scene where Kate’s entire life changes. It’s where the entire theme of this article begins.
Scared and frightened, Kate is still unsure of whether she can do this and yet there is something that can't be helped: she is completely spellbound by him. She looks into his eyes, completely mesmerized, his pain matching her own, and yet he’s so there, so in control, so unmoved, so confident that she can do what she explicitly says she cannot do. She finally agrees to help him, and does so in a way that is both focused on helping him and not causing more pain for him, but she sees that he is in pain, she knows that she wouldn’t be able to take it, and yet, Jack doesn’t complain one bit.
As Kate focuses on the wound, she tells him that he doesn’t seem afraid, and that she doesn’t understand that strong presence of fearlessness that washes her away. Jack shares a very poignant story about fear from his own life experience, about facing it and overcoming it. The tone of his voice, his posture and his overall presence telegraphs the emotion that the story holds for him, so meaningful for all of the other experiences in his life beyond that point, passing it on to this woman, who is so touched and grounded by his strength and prowess.
White Rabbit – “So, where were you today, Jack?”
Jack, exhausted and dismayed by the loss of one of the survivors, works at moving things away from the shore of the beach. Kate catches up with him, to talk, to be there for him. Mid-conversation, Jack sees someone, his deceased father, standing along the shore, and asks Kate if she sees it too. Her concern deepening, she immediately inquires about how much sleep he’s been getting, the anxiousness written on her face. Dazed, Jack ignores Kate’s worries and resumes his task.
After a peculiar pursuit to find what he knows is not there, while inadvertently stumbling upon exactly what the group so desperatelyneeds --- a fountain of abundant, pure and clean water --- Jack returns to camp. After delivering the wake-up call that the group dreadfully needed, with both authority and strength while in an unusual predicament of being placed as the leader, Jack sits on the beach, alone, deep in thought, his mind racing and his heart heavy, not quick to drown his sorrows and soothe his throat with a single drop of the water he has found, but finding comfort in that he was able to provide for these people who have grown to depend on him way too quickly.
Here she comes, Kate, to offer to him what he needs, but what he’s too selfless to take for himself. She hands him the small pool of water and sits down comfortably next to him, as if they’ve done this for years. No one else even cares to sit with Jack, to ask him where he’s been all day and to truly listen to him, but Kate is so ready and willing to pry the information out of him with a, ‘So, where were you today, Jack?’ He offers an ambiguous, ‘I had something I needed to take care of’. She knows that is all she’ll get out of him, says so in fact and she respects that, but is disappointed that he isn’t comfortable with sharing more, and then he does. ‘My father died…in Sydney.’
There it is, and she just…understands. Her face grows sad, miserable in fact, for this man, for all that he’s feeling, for all that he’s going through. “I’m sorry” she says, and he knows that she means it and he’s so grateful for it, to be understood, to share his grief with someone, of all people, this woman who never seems to give up on him, to forget about him, or to stop caring for him. Kate not only offers Jack water in this solemn moment, she offers friendship, camaraderie, compassion and a shoulder for Jack to lean on in those heavy and burdensome instances. To his surprise, he accepts what she is willing to give, falls snugly into it, and the bonds they know are there just keep becoming deeper.
The Moth – “Made you something”
Everything is moving so fast, one minute everything is fine and in the next, your entire world is crumbling and you’re running until you can’t feel your legs anymore, and the only way you’ll stop is when you know that everything is fine again. This is Kate, this is written all over her face, etched into her aching body as she runs to help Jack upon
finding out that he’s buried in a cave-in. One wrong move could end her time with him, his presence in her life. It’s both terrifying and cruel to her, all at the same time.
Once the climax of the dire situation settles, as Kate recovers from the emotional high that Jack being in danger has caused within her, after she nearly kills herself trying to dig him out, after she hugs him tightly to her once he emerges, just to feel for herself that it’s really him and that he’s really okay, unafraid of others witnessing just how much this man means to her, she presents him with a make-shift sling, in order to alleviate the stress on his recovering shoulder. Grateful for the care and consideration, Jack thanks her for being there for
him, more-so than anyone really has for him in a very long time. Neither truly understands this incessant ache for the other, and this protectiveness, caring so much more than they ever wanted to or expected.
Yet, something hangs over them, they know that it’s more than just a sling, it’s so much bigger than the thought of losing a dear friend, but neither of them wants to say exactly what it is that continues to grow between them. Kate is dismayed about returning to the beach while Jack is determined to stay in the safe, cool shelter of the caves. The inches they are apart feel like miles and in the wake of the close call they just had, it hurts to be separated in space, but they hold on to the moment and the special nature of it, and they know they will always be there for one another, it’s a silent truth they never dare speak too soon.
All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues – “You have to stop!”
Under the duress of losing sight of two of their own to the unknown and unpredictable enemy, Jack starts off after them, alone. Kate wonders where he is and soon catches up with him, worried about him and what he’s willing to do to find their lost friends, and is by his side as he is unstoppable and determined to complete his mission, successfully.
Eventually, Jack is confronted by their ominous foe, and ends up in a brawl with him, which ends with Jack on the ground, muddy, wet, and knocked unconscious. Kate, evidently panicked as she hovers over him, is melded with relief that he is alive, cups his face in her
trembling hands, inspecting his wounds with her fingertips. Upon the sight of him opening his eyes, on a shaky, anxious breath she asks, “Are you okay?” Even after that question, she is unable to keep her hands off of him as he stands up and looks around recklessly.
Jack, confused, fuming and ready to continue the fight that landed him in his current state, decides that it’s not over, that he’s not giving up on finding their friends. Kate physically stands in his way, as a human barricade, places her hand lightly over his erratic heart and tells him that the trail is ruined by the rain and insists that he has to stop, and urges him to think his actions through before he gets hurt further, but he doesn’t listen to her, more determined than ever to save his friends. Kate, uneasy about Jack and his mindset, follows behind him as he starts off again into the depths of the jungle. Kate understands that she can’t stop him, all she can do is be there for him, and she is.
The Greater Good – “I crushed up some sleeping pills…put them in your juice”
Life and death, hellos and goodbye, have occurred within the group at this point. As they struggle to survive, Jack at the helm of the efforts, is trying his very best to makesure that everyone is safe and cared for. Upon the joyous arrival of a new baby boy and the untimely death of a fellow survivor, Jack hits a wall, both physically and emotionally, unable to wrap his mind around what has happened and becomes poised to find the one responsible for the death, the culprit being one of their own. Marching off into the jungle, alone and unsure of where he’s going, Jack attempts to catch the offender, unaware of the fact that Kate has gone after him, worried that so soon after giving blood Jack is overexerting himself. Upon finding him, she urges him to return to the beach, to help the group mourn their loss, and Jack, not exactly throwing in the towel on his mission, decides to go back.
During a heated confrontation with the person responsible for the tragedy, Jack collapses as fatigue and severe sleep-deprivation finally catches up with him, Not surprisingly, Kate is right there by his side, demanding that he take a sip of the juice she made for him while urging him to lie down and rest, unwilling to leave his side until he does so. Adamant about justice being served, Jack rebuffs her suggestions and attempts to stand up, far too exhausted to even lift himself from his kneeled position on the ground.
Discovering that more is going on within his system, Jack finally lies back, completely void of control as the need for sleep is suddenly intensified. As he eyes Kate suspiciously, she tells him, “I crushed up some sleeping pills…..put them in your juice”. Dumbfounded, Jack mumbles incoherently as his eyes close and he falls into a deep sleep. Kate, still hovering over him quite narrowly and intimately, says, “Goodnight”, a sincere, genuine, satisfied grin on her face as she watches his chest rise and fall on even breaths, finally content now that she has achieved an impossible goal, getting the Good Doc to think of himself first and rest.
Hours later, Jack awakens, with Kate still beside him and smiles down at him adoringly as he sits up. Rubbing his eyes, Jack tries to focus his vision after being altered against his will, not at all upset about the ordeal, confident that Kate was acting in his best interest only. Truly pleased with the amount of rest Jack received, Kate retrieves a bowl of soup and offers it to him. Wary of accepting anything from Kate at this point, Jack jokingly asks if she tainted that as well, lightening the mood between them. They just take care of one another, no questions asked, no expectations of being taken care of at all; they just know that it’s vital to do so.
Left Behind – “I wanted to help you…”
So much symbolism here for the progressions and setbacks that occur in Jack and Kate’s relationship, and yet, Kate is still willing to take care of Jack and ensure his protection at the expense of her own safety. The aftermath of the tumultuous storm these two have been through, after being held apart against their will, emotionally manipulated to believe things about themselves and others, things that are not as they seem on the surface.
As Kate returns for Jack, for the second time, she storms inside his barrack, and amidst the debris all over the floor, tables, chairsthrown on their sides, she sees Jack lying there, helpless, a casualty to the destruction that the situation has caused. She runs to him, kneels next to him, using every fiber of her being to shake him, violently, terrified that he’s hurt, or worse, dead. Jack awakes with a start, unsure of where he is and what has occurred. The tension is unbelievably palpable between them as Kate apologizes profusely for ruining his chances for leaving the Island and for the actions that broke his heart. Jack’s emotions are written all over his face, in his body-language, and while he doesn’t talk much, he simply needs this woman and doesn’t know why it won’t stop. He just sits there, not sure what to make of what just happened. He’s disoriented, confused, and just tired, but Kate doesn’t give up on him at all.
As Jack attempts to stand, Kate rushes to her feet and as he tries to collect himself, leaning tiredly against the wall. She holds onto his forearm, not willing to allow him to fall again, eager to be his prop, his support, in more ways than physically. Jack instinctively leans into her, despite the hurt feelings, the confusion and the circumstances; she is all that he needs to survive what he’s gone though, and what he will go through. They walk together, slowly towards the blinding sunlight that streams in through the open doorway, Kate’s arm strapped protectively around Jack’s waist, his arm draped over the slope of her shoulders as they step into this new chapter of their relationship, another test of a bond that never seems to break, no matter what.
Through the Looking Glass – “Jack, your knuckles…”
While the camp, led by Jack and Kate, is headed towards the radio tower, they encounter Ben, who is attempting to thwart their rescue efforts. At this point, Jack walks towards them, and he looks around to see if they’re surrounded. Kate, in some way knew exactly what Jack was thinking and she ran off to check for tracks. It just identifies how connected Jack and Kate are. Jack knows that Ben would never come alone without backup and Kate knew the exact same thing. As we see in this episode, Jack andKate are a team again. They look out for one another, they help one another, and they trust one another. They truly need one another and it shows in this scene and throughout the episode.
After one hundred or so days on the Island, Jack and Kate are finally near the success of rescue, leading the group to salvation and there was little that would stop them from accomplishing that. Jack, after meeting and engaging in a heavy confrontation with Ben, returns with severely injured knuckles coated with blood and sweat. After he walks off to spend a moment alone, great agitation and anger radiating off of him in waves, something stirs within Kate to go after him, to be at his side, in love and in war, once again.
Jack kneels on the ground nearby, the heavy load of the unfortunate death of his friends on his shoulders. Kate appears seconds later, kneels in front of him, and asks what happened and Jack resists at first, telling her that she should get everyone ready to go. Kate then notices the condition of Jack’s knuckles, startled with what he’s done to himself and immediately reaches in her bag, retrieves a cloth and attentively swipes it over his wounds repeatedly.
Again, she asks what happened, and this time, Jack holds nothing back, telling her about their friends and what he plans to do next. Deeply affected by his pain, Kate continues to tend to Jack’s hands until he stands, ready to continue their voyage towards rescue. In such a tender moment, it’s evident how Jack, for the millionth time, opens up to Kate without hesitation. He just lets her in, he trusts her enough to tell her what is happening, and Kate is always prepared to be the rock upon which he stands, the one person on that Island, in the universe, that he can trust all of who he is with. So beautiful.
Something Nice Back Home – “So, it looks like I'm gonna be your nurse”
One never knows what one has until one is threatened with losing it or indeed loses it. One never knows what could be until one runs the risk of never going for it at all. Missed opportunities become so much more vivid at these realizations and when Kate learns that Jack may indeed die if he doesn’t undergo an emergency appendectomy, all of her mistakes and the passed chances are illuminated and cemented. Completely terrified, remarkably inexperienced, and unsure of exactly how she can help, Katebuckles under the crippling fear that Jack may die.
Groggy and grumpy as he prepares for surgery, Jack emerges from his tent, intent on taking a walk down the beach. Instructed to stay off of his feet and rest, Jack deliberately ignores the directions. Kate, staring him square in the face, eagerly offers to help him. Wrapping his arm around her shoulders, Jack leans into her as they begin to walk down the beach together. Engaging in playful conversation about the familiarity of the situation, Jack begins to instruct Kate on what needs to happen if something happens to him.Unwilling to even imagine or talk about the possibility of something happening to him at all, Kate says, her tone shaky and emotional, ‘Shut up, Jack’.
The actual surgery proves to be so much more of an emotional trip for Kate as Jack wants her by his side during the entire procedure. Demanding not to be placed under anesthesia, Jack advises that Kate hold up a mirror, so he can witness the surgery for himself. Upon the first incision, Jack groans in great agony. Kate, eying him closely the entire time, visibly cringes at the sounds of Jack in such discomfort, understanding that this is what he wants, to be awake and aware of what’s going on, but so gravely affected by his pain.
As Jack howls in pain at the second incision of the scalpel, it is decided that he needs to be asleep for this surgery to not kill him. He begs Kate not to allow that to happen. Shaken and full of love, tears pool in her eyes and fall down her cheeks as she chokes his name on a hoarse cry, completely torn between giving him what he needs and doing what he wants her to do. Kate holds onto him, bows her head, drunk in Jack’s pain, as he is placed under anesthesia, staring into his glazed eyes as he falls into oblivion. If two people were any more connected than these two, I don’t know how it would be justified after that scene. Honestly.
There’s No Place Like Home – “Are you okay?”
Ending up separated, due to the news that one of their own is now missing amid other dangerous developments, Jack embarks on a journey to find the missing, while Kate isleft to take care of lingering affairs, insisting that he can’t go alone, worried about him after being on his feet and in such a stressful place so soon after his risky procedure. Jack overlooks Kate’s concern and starts off into the jungle.
Stepping over dead bodies, and avoiding the meaningless attempt at sparking both a conversation and her attention, Kate reaches Jack upon their reunion and immediately inspects his surgical wound. She intimately grabs at his waist and steadies him while she gets a closer look, the nearness of the moment on display for everyone to see. Noticing the distress and tiredness in his eyes, Kate looks up and asks, “Are you okay?” Jack, staring down at that familiar, friendly, all-encompassing expression of love and concern on her face,says, honestly, “I am now.”
Jack, a man who is not at all accustomed to being fussed over or being the core of anyone’s concern, is always the center of Kate’s attention and concentration. He lets her know that simply her presence makes him okay, completely okay. The smile on Kate’s face after hearing the sentiment is one of utter relief and fulfillment, not only at the knowledge that he’s indeed okay, but that she’s the reason he’s okay. It’s her most precious and imperative function and she lives it wholeheartedly.
The Incident – “Does it hurt?” / “JAAACK!”
Within Kate’s mission to stop Jack from detonating a hydrogen bomb, with the intent to turn back time, he is confronted with a fellow survivor who, like Kate, is against his idea. The confrontation comes to blows, and soon after the altercation, Jack resides in a corner of the jungle, preparing the next move of his plan. Kate catches up with himand instantly notices the large gash at his temple, blood flowing freely down the side of his face, and he doesn’t seem to be the least bit worried about it, but Kate definitely is. She looks poised to find Sawyer and drop him on his arse for this, but opts to take care of Jack over all else.
Grabbing his face in her hands, Kate examines the abrasion, her eyes in narrow slits as she observes the extent. There is this intense expression on her face, in her eyes; it’s fierce, sorrowful, and furious. Jack’s ease over his wound lightens the mood for her, because
when he laughs a bit at how serious she is, she starts to smile and lightens up. Asking if it hurts, and receiving confirmation that it doesn’t, Kate begins to carefully tend to the wound as if it’s the most natural action in the world to her. Jack’s blood is caked on her hands, in her fingertips and within the slits of her nails, a far, distant cry from her timid and squeamish nature of sewing him up in the Pilot.
The gentleness of her hands, her fingers lingering lightly over his cheek and the curve of his neck just a tad bit longer than necessary, as if she enjoys the attention that she’s giving him even more than he does. And here she is again – right back to where she’s found herself so many times in the past…unable to stay away from him and unable to stop caring for the man she loves.
Later, after Jack has implemented his plan and getting caught in the dangerous crossfire, is banged firmly on the back of the head. Kate screams his name and, dodging everything in her path to reach him, is by his side. This speaks volumes, Kate being the only one to tend to Jack this way. Call it a caveat of the mythology or just plain old protectiveness on Kate’s part, but it’s always there, and it’s always strong.
The Shape of Things to Come – “You should eat some crackers”
This scene is not a blatant moment of Nurse Kate, but it is indeed one that can’t go unmentioned, based on the sheer fact that Kate has this radar when it comes to Jack. It’s completely undeniable.Jack goes into the privacy of his own tent, after exchanging a cordial, yet sexually-charged greeting with Kate, and aims to lessen the pain in his lower right side by taking a few pills. Soon, Kate is right there at the opening of his tent, peeking inside to check on him. So comfortable around him, she easily invades hispersonal space, sits down on his make-shift bed and asks him what those pills actually are, because she can tell that he’s not doing so well, fully aware that Jack is a very proud and self-neglecting man, who wouldn’t dare draw any attention to himself.
On that note, Jack was up and walking around the beach for awhile, where any one of his fellow survivors could have asked him how he was doing, or if he was okay, but again, the one person who checks in with him and is fully involved and invested in his welfare is Kate.
Jack, minimizing the extent of his pain to a simple stomach bug, is aware that it may be more severe, but doesn’t want to tip Kate off tothat fact. Kate, still not fully convinced by Jack’s diagnosis, is positive that he’s diminishing his condition, and charmingly suggests that he eat crackers. Captivated by this green-eyed beauty that worries about him more than he worries about himself, Jack smiles and chuckles, maybe the first time he has in days. It’s a very cute and unassuming moment between two people with an incredible aptitude for caring so much for one another within an incredibly small timeframe, as if it’s the most genuine feeling in the entire universe.
True love is placing the welfare of the one you love before your own. Being there for him, whether it be to wipe a gunk of blood from his temple, or to tend to scarred knuckles, or to let the tears take over as you hold his hand through surgery is never what you feel obligated to do, it’s what you do regardless, because it’s what you want and need to do. Simply put, his hurts are your hurts, you feel the dizzying effect of blood loss at the sight of it pouring from him, and you feel the stinging prick of numbing madness at the sight of his distress, so connected to him that it’s almost too much to be near him. As the love is all-consuming, so is the need to look after him, to baby him if that’s what it takes, at any and all cost.
Bottom-line, in all instances of Nurse Kate flair-ups, Kate is so affected by Jack, so pulled into him, drawn to him in this mesmeric manner, the poetry of her multi-dimensional attraction to him and care for him is beautifully rhythmic and truly expressive in both execution and effect. ♦