Lost Season 6 Episode 14: The Candidate
It’s common when commenting on long-running shows to assign characteristics to ideas and places, e.g., “Manhattan is the 5th character on Sex and the City.” While it’s probably accurate to characterize “the island” as a character on this show, especially since it’s regularly spoken of in terms of consciousness (“The island isn’t done with you yet.”), we’d say it’s far more accurate and telling to say that Death has always been a central character on Lost.
From the opening moments of the pilot episode, which was practically awash in death, straight on through to last night’s devastating deathfest, we think it’s fair to say that in many ways, the story of the survivors of Oceanic 815 has always been the story of people struggling mightily to keep Death at bay and failing one by one. Of the 300+ plus occupants of 815, roughly 70 survived the crash. Of those 70, only a handful survive: Walt, Kate, Jack, Sawyer, Hurley, Claire, Aaron, and possibly, Rose and Bernard (it’s also possible stewardess Cindy and those two kids survived, but we don’t think it’s likely given all the explosions and gun fire lately). We have spent the last 6 seasons essentially watching the crash of 815 happen in slow motion, continuing to take people’s lives long after the wreckage stopped smoldering.
There are types of scenes that play themselves out over and over again on this show, the most commonly cited being the “tearful reunion in slow motion as the orchestra music swells” scene and admittedly, that’s a scene we never get tired of seeing because they do it well. But they’ve also been extremely adept at depicting devastating death scenes; some of the most memorable in the history of television, in fact: Boone, Shannon, Ana Lucia & Libby, Charlie, Michael, Locke, Charlotte, Daniel, Juliet. They all got deaths that were either shocking, heroic, or devastatingly sad; sometimes, all three.
In addition, the characters on this side of the divide are constantly spending their time hunting down or running away from ghosts both literal and psychological. From Ben and his mother to Jack and his father to Ecko and his brother to Hurley and everyone else, the world of Lost is a world where anybody can die at any moment and death doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a conversation.
Our point is, Death really is a character on this show and like all the other characters, it was time for an episode centered around it. And in order to do a Death-centric episode, the writers knew they really had to pull out all the stops.
You see, Jin and Sun are dead.
Call us drama queens if you must but we wince just typing those words. The fabulous, talented and strikingly beautiful Yunjin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim are alive and well, of course. Intellectually, we know that. But the Kwons, the couple whose journey we followed every step of the way, from blushing society princess and the waiter she loved, to troubled wife and the conflicted husband she feared, to adulteress and the clueless husband who caused her lover’s death, to stereotypical Asian couple, he of the barking orders and she of the submissive downcast eyes, to two people who finally can’t keep their secrets from each other and let it all out, warts and all, only to find a fierce, undying love that surprised them both and kept them afloat through their long separation from each other to their final reunion and now, their death. Of all the characters on Lost, the Kwons probably went on the greatest journey since the show’s beginning and we were with them every step of the way, totally on their side and wishing only the best for them.
We want to be angry at the writers for putting us through this but that wouldn’t be fair. After all, it’s the writers’ jobs to be putting us through this; to create characters so engaging and engrossing that we can’t help but be horrified and terribly disappointed with their final fates. And if we’re being perfectly honest with ourselves, we have to admit we saw this coming. Maybe not exactly this turn of events, but didn’t we all assume that Big Deaths were coming before the end? Clearly, Jack wasn’t going to be one of those deaths (not yet, anyway) and in all likelihood, we figure Kate and Sawyer are going to make it at least until the climax of the story. Sayid’s been slowly dying all season, so in order to have a Big Death, one that’s going to rock the show to its core heading into the climax, either the Kwons or Hurley was going to have to die. It was practically inevitable.
Of course having FOUR lead characters die in one episode has to be a Lost record. You could argue that Lapidus wasn’t a major character, but hey, he was there, right up to the end, offering his sardonic asides like only he can. For a character who had so little to do, Chesty made a lasting impression and went out with a perfect Lapidus-like “Aw hell…”
And even if we wanted to succumb to a purely emotional, irrational reaction to this episode and scream and yell and rip up throwpillows, we would have to admit somewhere in our rantings that this was one of the all-time most exciting and tense episodes in the history of the series and that’s really something to say about a series that opened with a plane crash and ended last season with a hydrogen bomb going off. We were hoping to see a ramping up and we got it, even if it did come at the expense of some long-time favorite characters.
Sayid got to go out heroically and that’s the best we can ask for with this character. Again, and we don’t mean this in a triumphant “We KNEW it!” manner, but wasn’t Sayid’s death an inevitability for most of us? He’s been dying all season. The point has been made repeatedly that no matter what he does, in ANY reality, he’s not a good man, no matter how hard he tries to be. Sayid’s entire arc for the last 3 seasons has culminated in the only way it could and gave him a good death. It also provides some hope for the fate of Claire, because if Sayid can be “cured” of the infection – and he clearly was; that was pure old school Sayid at the end – then maybe someone can turn Claire around (although it’s not looking good what with the group abandoning her AGAIN).
“Because it’s going to be you, Jack.” Sayid’s parting words could be a fakeout from the writers, but again, we’re heading to the last pages of the book and hasn’t this always been Jack’s story all along? If he is the candidate, as this episode implied, then we can only say good job to the writers on this show, because taking the story as a whole, from the opening seconds of the pilot, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the story of Lost is largely the story of Jack Shepard as he goes from man of science to man of faith and all the things he had to suffer through and give up along the way to get to that point.
On the OTHER hand, if this IS a fakeout and someone else turns out to be the candidate, it’s still a possible win situation for the writers because they managed to go the unexpected route and surprise us all in the process.
But we’re pretty sure it’s Jack.
And let’s face it, in a lot of ways, this last season was Jack doing penance for his sins and coming to a better realization of himself. It’s no coincidence that we’ve been watching the slow re-emergence of Heroic Jack. Remember him? “Live together, die alone?” He’s perfectly positioned at the tail end of The Hero’s Quest and ready to step up now, for whatever it is he needs to be doing.
Nothing could illustrate that better than several major deaths, and for once, it wasn’t Jack’s fault. This time, if fingers are to be pointed, it’s Sawyer’s fault. He was the one barreling ahead and not listening to anyone else – he made Jack jump off a boat for disagreeing with him, remember – and he was the one who pulled all the characters together and got them to head in the direction he wanted. The entire plan with the sub and attempting to lock Smokey out was entirely Sawyer’s. It should be interesting to see if he gains some new forgiveness toward Jack for Juliet’s death once he wakes up.
And speaking of, that ending scene on the beach with these 4 people: Hurley, Jack, Kate and Sawyer, battered and bleeding, unconscious or sobbing, has to be the lowest point of the series so far. Of all the bad moments (plane crashes, impromptu surgeries, gun fights, drownings, explosions, and even frigging time travel) never have things been so bad for these characters. Our minds are still reeling from the fact that they’re it; they’re all that’s left. Sure, you’ve got Miles, Richard, and Ben traipsing about, plus the major question mark of Desmond, who will surely play a major part going forward, but of those original survivors; those people who lived on the beach in season 1 and had adventures and extravagant problems, only these 4 are left. It’s pretty sobering, especially since they’re not looking so good at the moment.
In fact, with the deaths of so many characters, isn’t this all making the supposed “wrong” L.A. timeline look more and more appealing? If the island reality means that everybody dies; well hell, let’s all live in L.A. together, happily ever after.
Obviously, it’s not going to be that easy, although things are really shaping up over there, wouldn’t you say? Jack is totally weirded out that he keeps running into people who were on Flight 815 and he’s got to be asking some questions, even if he is yet to have any flash of the other timeline. It’s interesting to note that alt-Locke, despite Desmond’s attempts to force it into him at 60 miles an hour, doesn’t seem to have gained that deep an understanding of the island timeline either. Sure, he mumbled “Push the button” and “I wish you had believed me” when he was coming back to consciousness, and he did seem to pause and consider some things, but we never really got the wham moment like when Hurley or Desmond remembered. It could be that those in the alt-timeline who have a vested interest in keeping the status quo, like Locke with the love of his life and Jack with a son, are the hardest to get to remember. Charlie, Hurley and Desmond were leading pretty empty lives in the alt timeline. Sun seemed to remember Smokey when she thought she was going to die, but she woke up from surgery with Jin there and the baby still growing inside her and any memories of the island seemed to evaporate. Interesting.
We guess we’re going to have to sadly let go of our theory that alt-Locke is Smokey. It was a fun possibility (and truth be stubbornly told, it’s still a very minor possibility), but there’s too much information now for us to conclude anything but that the John Locke in L.A. is John Locke, albeit one with a significantly altered personal history.
Before we get to the bullet points, we just want to say that the final shot of the Kwons’ lifeless hands unclasping underwater was one of the cruelest things they could have shown us, but it really needed to be shown. One of the most haunting images the show’s ever had.
*D.A.N.G.E.R. N.E.R.D.S. ARE DOWN. Aw, we’ll miss those puffy little gun-toting geeks. We await the Cartoon Network spinoff.
* Scream-at-Kate moment: When she’s struggling mightily to get the keys off the dead nerd. Hey dumbass, you can climb right out of the top of those cages, remember?
*Alt Jack searching for (and finding) Anthony Cooper. Isn’t Sawyer looking for the same guy? How bad a detective is he? And why do these two (Jack and James) keep missing each other in the alternate timeline when they’ve had many opportunities to cross paths?
*We did the gay gasp when Kate got shot. In a way, there’s been a target painted on her for a while, what with the revelation that she’s not a candidate. For a split second, we really thought she was dead.
*Scream-at-Claire moment: Get in the damn sub, you crazy bitch. Stop wandering off and maybe they wouldn’t leave you so much. Pain in the ass, squirrel-baby carrying, bad-wig wearing loon.
*”I will never leave you again.” Truly one of the most epic of the death scenes, given the history of Sun and Jin and the separations, both emotional and physical, that have characterized their relationship. One annoying thing: Why were they speaking most of their final words to each other in English?
*Is anyone out there still holding on to the “Maybe Smokey’s not so bad” theory at this point?
*It’s really almost over. Better brace yourselves. You’re going to get answers you don’t like, or answers you don’t accept, or no answers to the things you want, and more people are going to die before it’s all over. We can pretty much guarantee all that.
[Photo Credit: abc.go.com/shows/lost]