Saturday, June 5, 2010

Lost 6.14: "The Candidate"

“No, we’re not strangers. We’re family.”


“The Candidate” was certainly an emotional episode of “Lost,” although I don’t think I’d consider it one of my favorites. I didn’t find the sideways-verse story as compelling as it has been in previous episodes, most likely because Desmond wasn’t involved. Except for the climax of the episode where things are going wrong left and right, I also didn’t find the on-Island story to be especially compelling. It was more characters moving around and loyalties shifting. It feels like on “Lost,” whenever things go wrong, the answer is to move to a different location or split into different groups. I think it’s just been done too many times at this point.

The sideways-verse story in this episode focused on Jack and Locke, which is probably why I didn’t find it all that compelling. The episode begins with Locke waking up from surgery to see Jack looking down at him. Jack tells Locke that he got a look at Locke’s initial injury while fixing the damage from his close encounter with Desmond. Jack thinks Locke is a candidate for a new procedure that would most likely cure him of his paralysis. Locke, however, isn’t interested in being cured, and this irks Jack to no end.

Jack goes on a medical ethics-bending crusade to learn more about Locke in an effort to figure out why Locke wouldn’t want the surgery. His investigation leads him to Bernard, who happens to be Locke’s dentist, and to Anthony Cooper, Locke’s dad. Sideways Anthony Cooper can’t walk and can’t talk. He’s been in a horrible accident. Later, Jack confronts Locke about what he’s learned, and we learn what accident injured Locke and his father in the sideways-verse. Locke had just earned his pilot’s license and asked his dad to be his first passenger. Long story short, it didn’t go well. Locke still caries around an enormous amount of guilt over what he accidentally did to his dad, and that’s why he doesn’t want the surgery. Paralysis is his penance.

The one thing I did really like about the sideways-verse story in this episode was a scene between Jack and Claire. Claire finds Jack at the hospital because she has a lot of questions about their father. She shows Jack a music box that plays “Catch a Falling Star” (naturally) and tells him that the lawyer said their father especially wanted her to have it. She was hoping Jack might know why, but he doesn’t. What I love about this scene is what happens at the very end of it. Jack asks Claire to stay with him while she’s in LA. Claire is a little hesitant, but she accepts the invitation. I liked the scene because I thought it showed a much more mature Jack than the Jack we’re more familiar with. He’s not freaking out over what his father did, he’s embracing new family.

Much on the on-Island action in this episode takes place on Hydra Island. Jack wakes up from being knocked unconscious in “The Last Recruit” to find Sayid has taken him over to Hydra, and Widmore is herding all the Losties who came over on the Elizabeth into the polar bear cages. Locke, Jack, and Sayid end up breaking the Losties out of the cages by cutting the power so the sonic fence won’t work anymore. This is bad news for anyone who works for Widmore, because Locke goes on a Smokey rampage. After killing the lackeys who had been guarding the Ajira plane, Locke discovers the C4 Widmore placed on board. With a satisfied grin, he pockets it for himself.

Locke tells the group that their means of escape is going to be the submarine. Jack one again asserts that he doesn’t intend to leave the Island, but Sawyer is perfectly happy with the plan since it is what he has wanted to do since Locke showed up in the first place. There’s a shoot-out with more Widmore lackeys at the sub, and Kate is hit before Locke makes quick work of them. The wound doesn’t seem that severe, though. The group except for Locke and Claire are all on the sub, and Sawyer orders the sub to dive. Claire is furious until Locke tells her that she really doesn’t want to be on that sub. Clearly, he had some underlying nefarious plan.

That nefarious plan is revealed in short order. Jack opens the backpack he was given by Locke to find the C4 inside. It’s rigged to a detonator that is set to go off in minutes. Sayid looks at the bomb and says he thinks it could be rendered inert if the wires were pulled out simultaneously. Jack has a different approach. He thinks that the bomb won’t go off because the rules prohibit Locke from directly killing candidates. It’s the same attitude he showed with Richard in their Black Rock stand-off. Sawyer isn’t buying it though. He pulls out the wires, and the clock starts counting down even quicker. That’s the loophole. Technically, Locke won’t be killing them, Sawyer will. Sayid, finally showing signs of humanity again, takes the bomb and runs down the corridor as far away from the other Losties as he can get before it explodes.

Sayid, sadly, isn’t the only casualty. After the explosion, Lapidus is knocked out and Sun is pinned under some debris that nobody can move. Sawyer is unconscious as well. Jack has several oxygen canisters at his disposal, and he has Hurley take one of the canisters and Kate up to the surface. Jack is going to take Sawyer. He wants to give the other canister to Jin, telling Jin he thinks he can make it without one, but Jin’s not hearing it. He intends to stay with Sun until the end. I knew when Jin promised Sun he’d never leave her again that it wouldn’t end well. Sun and Jin declare their love for each other in both English and Korean before they drown, and a beautifully framed shot of their hands falling away from each other is the last we see of them. Although it was emotionally effective, the major problem I have with Jin and Sun’s death is Ji Yeon. Even though an earlier scene was included where Sun and Jin talk about Ji Yeon, I find it unconscionable that Jin would choose to drown rather than be there for his daughter.

At the end of the episode, the remaining Losties regroup on the beach to lick their wounds and mourn their losses. When Jack tells Hurley and Kate (Sawyer’s still unconscious) that Sun and Jin stayed with the sub, Hurley and Kate immediately break down crying. Jack takes slightly longer. His breakdown happens as he walks to the edge of the water and looks out to where the sub went down. It’s really an incredibly sad end to the episode, although not unexpected. “Lost” has never shown a resistance to killing of major, even beloved, characters, even back in season 1.

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