What Kate did to make her a criminal has been a mystery of the show since the second episode. However, this episode has always been a problem for me, simply because I don't really like it. It's technically a good episode, yet it never sits right for me, and I can't help but dislike it.
Almost every thing that happens in this episode is both good and bad for me. I'll start with the main plot, which is Kate's story. Kate sees a black horse on the island that we later learn is from her past, all while she's trying to care for Sawyer. I'm sorry, but this plot wouldn't seem out of place on a soap opera. Kate spends the whole episode sitting around and moping, all because she's thinking about her past. This episode, to me, officially kills all interesting aspects of Kate's character, and turns her into a whiny teenage girl that's trying to make two different guys notice her. Gone is the criminal who will do anything to achieve her goal. The fact that she's reminded of her previous life and goes nuts over it is ridiculous in and of itself. First of all, all the bad things that happened to her, she was responsible for. If she had not killed her father, she wouldn't have had to go through all of those events. Compare that to Jack, who's been reminded of his past life, also seeing a vision from it. Not only did he not flip out over it, but there wasn't anything he could have done differently. Sympathy goes to Jack or Locke, because they were victims of their circumstances; life dealt them a bad hand. I could care less if Kate's feeling remorseful, because everything that happened to her was her own fault.
The character herself is not the only problem I have with the story. The events surrounding her are way too sci-fi/melodrama for me. The black horse at the beginning of the episode has no reason for being there, other than to make seeing the horse in the flashback more impacting. The horse represents escape for Kate-it helped her escape from the marshal, and then she sees it when she has escaped from Wayne at the end of the episode. What has she escaped from earlier on? Wayne is the other problem I have with the storyline. What is up with him possessing Sawyer? I get that it's needed to develop Kate's character, but it comes completely out of left field, and is never explained beyond Hurley's transference moment (I do love the "Rose's husband's white. Didn't see that one coming."). Developing characters is one thing, but coming up with outrageous plot situations to do so is quite another. I'm sure that the writers could have come up with a better way of developing Kate's character, although what's developed other than her deciding she likes Sawyer this week, as opposed to Jack last week? The kiss scene in the jungle felt terribly tacked on, as the whole episode has focused on her relationship with Sawyer. Yes, it's to show that she's seeing if Jack is her man, but it still was completely unnecessary.
The flashbacks, again, are all right purely from an objective standpoint, but I don't like them at all. The marshal, who has been brilliant up to this point, is terrible here. He used to be kind of annoying, yet never over the top. He goes way over the top in this episode, and it's as if the writers knew nothing about Kate's back story except that this guy was annoying, so they went for annoying (The writers of the episode were not involved in Season 1, so that could explain why so many things seem strange). Fredric Lane does the best he can with what he's got, and I commend him for that. The rest of the flashbacks deal with Kate's family problems. One flashback shows how she cares for her mother, and another deals with her finding out some things about her father, or stepfather, whatever. That's the first problem-the plot of the flashbacks should not leave one scratching their heads trying to figure out what's going on ("So wait, she thought the army guy was her father and that the drunk was her stepfather, but he's her real father, and the army guy's her mother-no wait, that doesn't sound right."). The biggest mystery of the episode is not supposed to be who's related to whom in the flashbacks. Also, Kate is extremely bloodthirsty here. Sam says he didn't tell her about Wayne because he knew she'd kill him. What? I thought Kate was supposed to be a goody two shoes, and that's why her being a criminal is so shocking. But her father, (sorry, stepfather), knows that she would kill Wayne upon finding out that he's her father? Then, Kate asks why Sam didn't kill Wayne. Did I miss something? Would Kate have been happy to be a nine year old without a father, because of the fact that the guy might have been a jerk? The guy could have turned out differently, he could have cleaned up for his kid. The last flashback makes no sense whatsoever, and only Lindsey Ginter's fine acting stops it from being painful to watch.
The subplot of the episode is far more interesting. Eko gives Locke a missing piece of the Orientation film, which says not to use the computer for anything other than the code. Terry O'Quinn and AAA do a great job here, especially AAA. Every word Eko says sounds carefully measured, as if he doesn't want to say one word more than he has to. This could be disastrous in the wrong hands, but the silence of the character makes him intimidating and very likable at the same time. It's also interesting that he says, "Do not mistake coincidence for fate." We thought he was just like Locke up to this point, but Locke would never say that. Or so we think…. When we do see what was missing from the film, I have to be honest. It was disappointing. For Marvin Candle to basically say, "Don't use the computer!" again and again and in different ways, the cosmic fate/coincidence thing kind of goes out the window.
There are other little character bits that I like. Jin and Sun together is fun to watch, especially with Hurley's thumbs up. I also like Ana-Lucia and Jack together, because it seems like they've been waiting forty-nine days for that to occur. However, for Jack to remember the drink she had at the airport is completely ludicrous. Sayid is the character that always makes me the saddest this episode. It's an insult to him to make him dig Shannon's grave alone, and I always feel terrible when I see it. It's also interesting to note that a little over a week previously (on the island) Sayid attended a funeral for Boone, where Shannon was shattered. Sayid was fairly indifferent there, and didn't really seem too sad. At this funeral, he can't even complete a sentence without breaking down, and Naveen Andrews absolutely breaks my heart, and I feel his pain every time I watch the episode.
The last thing of note is Michael's examination of the hatch. There are blast doors, and he looks at the cables behind the computer. That's when he gets an "instant message". It's an excellent cliffhanger, and for all the bad that comes of this episode, this is one good thing. The "Dad?" moment is excellent, and will carry over interest to the next episode (that was six weeks away when the episode aired).
In conclusion, I personally dislike this episode, and think it's very poorly done. Aside from a couple of small subplots that take up less than ten minutes of screen time, the episode is largely illogical and boring. Josh Holloway and Evangeline Lilly are the two bright spots of the main story, but they can't save it from bad writing.