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Lost – The Candidate

About ten minutes into this episode, I started formulating a basic blueprint of what I was going to write about this episode.  I was going to go on a lengthy tangent about how Lost should be spending less time with pointless, expository scenes and focus on answering some of the long-standing questions.  I was going to ramble on about how there’s only three episode left after this, so time shouldn’t be wasted on scenes that don’t matter in the long run.  But it appears the phrase “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is still important advice to follow.  Tonight’s episode of Lost was heart-breaking, action-packed, emotional and written incredibly well.  While I don’t believe it was the best episode of the season, it certainly elicited the strongest reaction from me once the credits started rolling, and if this episode tells us anything, it’s that Locke means business and that he’ll stop at literally nothing in order to get what he wants so he can prove to Jacob that man is inherently evil.  There was a lot going on tonight, but unlike previous episodes, the writers took the time to flesh out these more emotional scenes.

Season 6 has given Matthew Fox a chance to show us an entirely different side of Jack.  No longer the man who has the compulsion to fix people left and right, he’s a broken-down individual who is trying to figure out his purpose on an Island where people seem to be dropping dead like flies and where people are fighting to the death over things that he doesn’t even completely understand.  I’ve found Matthew Fox to be one of those characters that people either love or hate.  Some people claim he’s one-note and boring, but I fall into the camp of people who appreciate what he’s done on this show.  Perhaps the most under-rated character of the show at this point, Jack has become more interesting than anybody else, mostly because he’s turned his back on his old beliefs and is siding with John Locke’s theory of taking a leap of faith.  Tonight, we saw Jack in the middle of a personal crisis.  No longer on anybody’s side, he’s become a renegade of sorts, following Locke and Sayid around while figuring out his own agenda.  It was nice to see him helping his old friends again, even if it was for Locke’s benefit.  In the alternate universe, Jack and Locke are also interacting with one another, but without the gunfire and the ominous threats.  Instead, Jack seems strangely interested in why Locke refuses to accept his offer for free surgery that will heal his legs.  What results is a touching story that sends Jack to visit with some familiar faces, including Helen, Locke’s one-time love, as well as Bernard, our favorite dentist and Jack’s sister, Claire.  Every one of Jack’s scenes with these individuals were very emotional and well written.  I complained last week that Lost has the tendency to rush scenes that should be powerful and end up deadening them with bad pacing.  This week, I have no complaints.  They took their time in allowing Jack and Claire to finally talk one on one, and the scene where they look into the mirror while “Catch A Falling Star” plays gave me chills.



Perhaps one of the most interesting things for Jack in the alternate universe was how Locke seemed to drift from universe to universe while he was asleep.  Jack stood over him and heard him mumbling certain familiar non-sequesters such as, “You have to push the button” and “I wish you had believed me.”  When Jack yells this same line to Locke near the end of the episode, a familiar look washes over Locke’s face, which really makes me wonder when the writers are finally going to merge these two universes.  It’s clear this alternate universe doesn’t exist simply as a way for the episodes to reach their forty three minute quotas.  It’s only a matter of time before they collide, and after tonight’s episode, it’s sure to be a tumultuous collision.

Sawyer’s plan to steal the submarine and take everybody off of the Island took up a majority of the episode, and his plan turned out to be a bust, mostly because Locke has him beaten at his own game: the long con.  Locke sets Sawyer up and ends up trapping all of the candidates, the men and women preventing him from leaving the Island, in the same enclosed space.  The episode is misleading in the way Locke’s plan is set-up; at first, Locke finds explosives inside of the Ajira plane that Widmore set up.  After Jack and the others meet up with him, he claims that they must take the submarine to get away, because Widmore put explosives on the plane and he doesn’t trust it anymore.  As it turns out, from the very beginning, Locke had adopted Widmore’s plan: get all of the Candidates in the same enclosed space and kill them all at once.  This is where the episode got its emotional punch… actually, scratch that: emotional WALLOP.  As everybody figures out what do with the bomb, Jack suggests they don’t do anything.  Much like in the episode “Dr. Linus,” Jack relies on faith alone to determine the lives of multiple people.  Sawyer, of course, reacts the way Jack used to react to Locke and pulls the wire from the bomb, which only speeds up the timer.  Sayid quickly grabs the bomb, and showing the first signs of a conscience in awhile by running down a long corridor into a separate room, resulting in his death.  It was quick, almost a “blink-and-you-missed-it” death, which is unfortunate, especially since Sayid has been around since the Pilot episode.  However, the tragedy didn’t end there.  As everybody attempted to escape, Sun got trapped underneath a massive metal pole.  Jack, Sawyer, and Jin attempt to help her escape, but Sawyer gets knocked out.  Jin tells Jack, Hurley, and Sawyer to leave, and after much pestering, they leave Sun and Jin behind.  Sun tells Jin to leave, but in one of the most touching moments of the entire series, Jin tells Sun, “I’m never leaving you again.”  If you didn’t feel your eyes watering at this point, I declare you a robot.  As Jack and the rest of the survivors escape, the submarine continues to sink towards the bottom of the ocean, with Jin and Sun in it.  OH, and Lapidus.  That’s right, they barely referenced his death, and it was caught in the middle of a few major characters, which is unfortunate for him.  He was a funny character who provided some comic relief in the midst of some emotionally heavy material, but he was never given the same attention that Faraday and Miles were given.  Either way, there hasn’t been an episode where this many people died in awhile on the show.  In fact, I’m positive this is the episode where the most people died in the shortest amount of time. 

This episode was exactly what Lost needed at this point: a boost of adrenaline for any fans who thought the show wasn’t answering any questions even though the finale is rapidly approaching.  Well, perhaps questions were not answered, but significant events were happening, which gives the episodes leading up to the finale a new sense of urgency, something I felt was missing from some of the earlier episodes this season.  Locke also established himself as the kingpin of Season 6, the true villain who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.  I used to believe that Ben Linus was the true villain, but somewhere in between the awful things Ben has done, he’s found ways to redeem himself by letting slivers of humanity shine through his thick granite exterior.  Locke (or The Man in Black, whichever you name prefer) was sadistic tonight, shooting Widmore’s men, snapping their necks and telling Jack that he could kill any of them at any time.  My only problems with the episode was how little amount of time they spent with Sayid’s death.  Sayid has been one of the cornerstones of Lost and the amount of time they spent on his character’s death compared to Sun and Jin was a damn shame.  It’s true that Sun and Jin had a relationship that was as complex and compelling as any other couple on a TV show, but that doesn’t mean that Sayid is any less important then them.  If anything, he deserved a bit more attention after what the writers did to him this season (turning him into an emotionless zombie).  However, the writers somewhat redeemed themselves by providing solid scenes in both the regular universe and the alternate universe.  Normally, they’re uneven and one always gets more focus than the other, but people shouldn’t forget about tonight’s alternate universe scenes with Jack and Locke, even if they are sandwiched in between some of the most powerful moments the show has ever had.

Next week is an episode that focuses entirely on Jacob and The Man in Black and explores their background and motives.  Sort of like “Ab Aeterno,” I’m worried that an episode like this so far into the final season will ruin the forward narrative momentum the show has had of late.  Although I’ve been begging the writers to explain who exactly Jacob and the Man in Black are, after the events of “The Candidate,” I feel like we now have less time to watch the fate of our favorite characters.  I realize it’s a necessity, and after spending three seasons being teased with hints at who Jacob or The Man in Black are, we’ll finally be getting some answers.  However, even if next week’s episode is superb, something tells me it won’t feel nearly as powerful in the light of “The Candidate,” an episode that proves Lost can still bring tears to your eyes and give you chills six years after they first crashed on the Island.
Rating
9.4

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