Intellectually, we knew the stakes were life and death. We knew not all of our cherished survivors would make it to the final act. Yet, knowing is one thing. Seeing and feeling the sudden and tragic loss of beloved characters is another thing entirely. The skeptic in me, the spoiler addict in me, saw it all coming. Yet still, I was devastated. I thought I’d stemmed the flood of tears, until Hurley, Kate, and even Jack broke down on screen. Jen was a wreck, literally speechless, and ended her evening with the final thud. Cling as we might to the flash-sideways as a possible escape hatch to happiness, and as warm and wonderful some of those off-island moments have been, it’s obvious tonight that our hearts were with the characters on the island. The ones we’ve followed for half a decade.
Sun and Jin were reunited only one episode back, and it was a moment that felt incomplete, rushed. We voiced fears that their days were numbered now that their characters’ primary objective had been met. But so soon? So beautifully cruel? I stopped breathing the moment we saw that Sun was trapped. I tried to muster at least an eye roll, but it was too late. I was a goner. Giacchino’s powerful “Life and Death” theme was perfectly cued, a bullet to the heart.
I half expected, hoped, and even rationalized that Jin would indeed leave Sun one last time. After all, don’t all “go on without me!” scenes end that way? And what of Ji-Yeon? But he chose to perish with her, the two of them indeed together forever, entombed in a submarine. The parallels to Charlie’s death were not accidental… and surprisingly powerful.
And Sayid! His heart to heart with Desmond did light a spark of goodness in him, as we’d hoped. But moments after he confirms that he did not kill our damp Scotsman, he makes his final move, his selfless act, giving up his life to a bomb blast so that others may live. He wasn’t, after all, what everyone said he was. Say what you will about how weakly his character had meandered through most of this season, I now can’t help but look back over his first days on the island. An Iraqi, a former member of the Republican Guard, a torturer, a born killer. That this Middle Eastern character dies by self-inflicted bomb in an act of heroism is… eerily poetic.
(Though the much ballyhooed ethnic diversity of “LOST” was certainly thinned tonight.)
And a brief salute to Frank, the hapless pilot, always ready with a one-liner as he was dragged hither and yon. We loved how his eyes twinkled as they returned to the plane, ready for the still seemingly impossible challenge of getting it airborne. Alas, he died but a passenger inside another metal tube. Last words: “Aw hell.”
Deaths aside, the most powerful scene tonight was the showdown between Jack and Sawyer. Jack, realizing that they were exactly where Unlocke wanted them, insists that the bomb won’t kill them unless they do something to allow it to do harm. It directly referenced the amazing scene on the Black Rock earlier this season, when Jack bet his life that the dynamite wouldn’t blow because he lit the fuse. They can’t kill themselves, but they can kill each other… as previous arrivals to the island no doubt did. But Sawyer couldn’t bring himself to trust Jack, especially given what happened the last time he believed Jack’s plan. I could wholly identify with both of them.
Yes, Sawyer pulled the wires, and his action did accelerate and ultimately lead to the C-4 sinking the sub. Why did that happen, when the fuse Jack lit went out? Well, Sawyer did survive the blast. It killed people, including other candidates, but it didn’t kill him.
Meanwhile, an endless debate is born: was Jack right? Had Sawyer not acted, would nothing have happened? It seems a heck of a gamble on Unlocke’s part, putting a timer on a bomb on a submarine (a very direct act), with the expectation that someone would discover it and set it off for him. Just how indirectly do his actions have to be to cause the death of a candidate without breaking the rules?
The one other top-shelf reveal in “The Candidate” seems to be the fact that Unlocke is The Bad Guy. Full stop. No more ambiguous hints and sympathetic overtures. After weeks of being merely menacing and threatening, this week he’s downright merciless, walking right into a hail of bullets and killing without breaking a sweat. And his plan all along was, indeed, to eliminate the candidates. He wanted them all together because they’d be easier to kill together. But he knows some survived, and he’soff to finish what he started.
Does this mean that Unlocke The Man in Black, the smoke monster, what have you — is actually the embodiment of a great and powerful evil? An evil from which the rest of the world must be protected? It would seem so. And given what Sayid said moments before he died, it sure looks like Jack is Jacob’s successor. He is The Candidate. He sure said that he’s not leaving the island enough times tonight. What else could his calling or purpose be at this point but to continue to confound Unlocke’s attempts to leave?
Desmond, though, remains key to the end game. And that’s something that Widmore seems to have known all along. And it’s Widmore’s role that remains a mystery to me. After all, the C-4 that blew up the submarine came from a booby trap on the plane, one that does seem to have been set by Widmore. If Widmore wanted to destroy the plane, he could’ve done so already. So, couldn’t he have helped Unlocke exterminate the candidates, had they all climbed aboard and turned the key?
Then again, Widmore did try to lock the candidates up in cages, telling them it was for their own good. If it’s as simple as that, though, what is Widmore up to?
As for the flash-sideways, more wonderful moments, to be sure. Just this week, they were greatly overshadowed by the island timeline.
I like that Jack knows himself well enough to see how strange it is that he’s compelled to learn why Locke doesn’t want an operation. Helen asks why it isn’t enough that he saved his life, and Jack says, “Because it’s not.” Seeing the once intimidating Anthony Cooper reduced to an invalid was a surprise. Discovering that it was Locke who caused his father’s paralysis, as well as his own, in a plane crash was cool twist. Locke had his crossover moment, mumbling “push the button” and “I wish you believed me.” And then Jack makes a connection, telling him the same. Their chat in the hospital hallway, when Jack tells Locke to let go even when he can’t let go himself, was great.
What of the music box from Christian? “Catch a Falling Star” has followed Claire around from the beginning. Will Christian be revealed, so very late in the season, as someone else who knew or saw “the truth”?
Two more Tuesday nights. Then, the two and a half hour (yes, they announced the extra 30 minutes tonight) series finale on May 23. There’s not much “LOST” left. I have to say, even if on a purely visceral level, “The Candidate” is the first episode of this last season to feel like I expected this last season to feel like. It shocked me. It angered me. It hurt me. I expect nothing less over the final hours of the best show on TV.
- Is it shocking to kill off several main characters in one episode? Yes. Is it unexpected? No. And stepping back a bit, I’m glad they hit us late and hard, rather than killing off one character every few episodes. Back in the early seasons, there was a “Survivor” like element as we bet on who would be the next to buy the farm. The deathwatch mindset kind of trivialized things. Sure, more characters will be lost over the next few hours, but in this last act, that comes with the territory.
- Flash-sideways Jack is increasingly likable. Standing there, looking dashing in his scrubs as Helen thanked him for saving Locke’s life, he seemed almost ready for a guest appearance on “Gray’s Anatomy.”
- All season long, the writers go out of their way to say, “We don’t know whether Sun or Jin is the candidate.” With both killed off, it looks like we’ll never know.
- Kate, meanwhile, hears twice that she’s not a candidate and not needed. The more that’s emphasized, the more it feels like she’s being set up to be a spoiler.
- Neat “mirror moment” with the music box, when we see both Claire and Jack reflected.
- Sawyer’s nickname for geeky Widmore thug: Dougboy. Jen had been calling him Pugsley.
- Locations: The hospital and care home were both the Rehab Hospital of the Pacific in Liliha. Bernard’s dental office was Kahala Dental Care in the Kahala Office Tower (adjacent to Kahala Mall).
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