Sunday, May 09, 2010

Season 6, Episode 13: "The Candidate"

Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. If there was one gripe I've had with the last few episodes previous to this week, it was the feeling that the end was near but the story was not moving forward fast enough to keep up. Well, this week the writers had the last laugh, leaving us bruised and battered after seeing three (!) main characters bite the dust. I was pretty much on the edge of my seat for most of the episode, one which I think will rank up there with one of the best the season has had to offer thus far. Aside from the obvious, there were plenty of little clues dropped in this week, so without further ado, let's get to it.

Starting right at the top, I found the very first scene between Jack and Locke to be pretty significant. If you remember, Locke wakes up after surgery and sees a saintly looking Jack Shepard standing calmly over him. Locke's first words - "I know you" - immediately evoke a sense of awareness of who Jack is and what he represents. Sure, he could have simply remembered Jack from the missing baggage office in LAX, but I think we're too far down the line here to ignore the fact that instead, Locke remembers Jack from the Island. To be sure, Locke's next question is asked with a sense of grave trepidation; "Am I......Am I alright?" In that pregnant pause I believe that Locke was about to ask "Am I dead" instead of "alright." It makes perfect sense....if Locke has an awareness of the other side, he knows that his life was cut short in the Island world, and therefore his biggest fear is that the same will happen in the Sideways. But instead, he learns he's just fine...well, as fine as he can be for a paraplegic.

Next, Jack goes into Mr. Fix It mode, telling John about how he is a "candidate" for a new procedure that could restore the use of his legs. But in a curious turn of events, Locke wants nothing to do with the opportunity, and isn't saying why either. We later learn that Locke suffered his accident while flying - and crashing - his maiden voyage on a plane with his father, Anthony Cooper, in tow. So instead of being the victim of his Father's brutality like in the Island events, Locke is now the one responsible for Anthony's catatonic state in the Sideways. But regardless of the details, in both scenarios it is Locke's inability to let go of his Father's pull that holds his life back from where it should be. In the Island World, he continued to try and gain his acceptance, which essentially lead him to be manipulated and coerced, ending him up in a wheelchair for his efforts. In the Sideways it is his guilt for what happened that leads him tied to the chair, not letting himself get the opportunity for repair as long as his Father remains so damaged by Locke's hand.

On Jack's end, his desire to fix Locke consumes him. He goes so far as to track down the oral surgeon (Bernard!) that worked on Locke and Cooper three years earlier. The conversation he has with Bernard is interesting on a couple of levels. First off, when learning that Bernard was also on flight 815, Jack's "this shit is too crazy to be a coincidence" bells start going off, just as they have been doing so on the Island for a little while now. Additionally, after giving Jack the only bit of info he can without violating "the rules" (yes, I think Bernard may know more to what's going on than we think), Bernard utters the familiar line, "Jack, I hope you find what you're looking for."

This statement, of course, is something that has been drilled into our heads for 6 seasons now. If nothing else, this show is about our characters finding themselves, their purpose, and their key to happiness. And up until this season, Jack has assumed that fixing other people's problems was his purpose. What he failed to realize though is that not everyone needs fixing. People make choices on their own, and those choices will reflect how their lives are lived outside of his sometimes overpowering interference. Island-Jack is first to come to terms with this notion. This season Jack has taken a back seat in the shot calling, letting others take the lead that he so comfortably assumed in the past. And this week in the Sideways, we similarly start to see Jack finally understand that he can't fix everything, especially if it's against the other person's will.

In the end, Jack and Locke have a very heady conversation in the hospital revolving around the idea of "letting go." Both acknowledge their inabilities to let go of the events that shaped who they became to be, for better or worse. But at the same time, Jack continues to try and at least influence Locke to see his predicament in a different light. "What happened, happened," he says, attempting to convince Locke that in order to move on he must let go of the guilt he carries for his Father's condition. This, more than wheelchair itself, is what confines Locke. Jack ends with, "I can help you, John. I wish you believed me." Let's not forget that this exact statement was what Locke wrote in his suicide note - addressed solely to Jack - two seasons ago. Jack no longer wants to "fix" John, he simply wants to help him. And if restoring his ability to walk will help heal his soul, then that is what he can try to do. But first John has to believe in that notion too. He needs to embrace it with open arms, and choose to put his trust in Jack for that help. How ironic: the one who so earnestly wanted to gain Jack's trust on the Island won't allow himself to trust Jack in the Sideways. "I wish you had believed me" works both ways.

But what's important here is the finality of Jack's revolution. In both worlds he has an understanding of what he needs to do, as clear as day. So when Sayid says "because it's going to be you, Jack" before sacrificing himself to save the others, we have little trouble believing him. Say hello to the true "Candidate."

So what went down on the Island this week? Oh yeah, a ton of shit. But for the most part, understandable shit. Basically, Flocke's long con finally came to fruition, with varied amounts of success. And while I hate to pat myself on the back - oh who am I kidding I love patting myself on the back - I had anticipated this move from Flocke long ago. Below is a little excerpt from my recap of the season's third episode, "The Substitute:"

"So, as we all know, MIB concocts a plan to get [off the Island] by manipulating Locke, taking over his body, and eventually persuading Ben to kill Jacob. But the game doesn’t end with Jacob’s death. In order to free himself completely, he needs to be sure that the remaining candidates – Hurley, Jack, Sayid, Jin (I’ll explain that one later), and Sawyer - are eliminated so that Jacob’s role isn’t fulfilled once again, which would keep the never-ending battle alive. But as we know from the rules, he can’t simply kill the candidates himself....So he does the next best thing. He sets the stage for them all to kill each other."

Ok, so maybe it wasn't rocket science, but more than enough people were starting to think that Locke simply needed the candidates to leave the Island with him, and that no blood would be spilled in the process. He is, after all, a pretty convincing dude. But his little speech at the plane after finding the C4 on board ("Widmore wants us all in the same place, at the same time. A nice confined space we have no hope of getting out of...and then he wants to kill us") rang a little too close to what I figured was Flocke's plan all along. And sure enough, the sub is an even nicer, smaller, more confined space to get everyone in and blow a couple packs of C4 off, right? And if it weren't for Sayid's heroics, his plan probably would have worked. (And yes, I do believe that if Sawyer hadn't touched the bomb that it would not have gone off. Jack was right. By touching the bomb, Sawyer effectively took the blood off of Flocke's hands and is responsible for Sun and Jin's death. Again, Locke set up a scenario where the candidates were effectively killing each other.)

But coming out of this at least now we know what everyone is angling for as we enter the last three episodes, which is exciting. And while we're offering predictions, why not offer a couple more:

To start, I'm not convinced that Lapidus is dead. Sure, it looks grim for our fuzzy friend, but he didn't come all this way just to get unceremoniously killed in a flash of the eye, right? (editors note: Really? You remember how Ilana died, right? Alright, whatever....continue). We didn't necessarily see him die like we did Sun and Jin (which, I must admit, was pretty damn sad), and I'm not sure the Island is done with him yet.

Next; how is the Island and Sideways world division going to be resolved? If you've been keeping track of any interviews with the show's producers this year, the only "promise" we've gotten is that this many worlds issue will have a resolution. Well, I've been wracking my brain as to how this could happen, and this is what I have so far...

We've discussed how our characters' lives are affected by the decisions they make in the Island World. And for the most part (though certainly after some hiccups), things seem to be working out for most folks in the Sideways. Specifically, Sun and Jin's story wrapped up quite happily...Sun and her baby recovered from the gunshot wound and when Jin reunites with her in the hospital he says to her, "It's over...and we're all going to be okay." Could this be a clue that while their story ended so sadly in the Island, that the true ending is what we see in the Sideways? Are they being rewarded for staying with each other to the end, trusting that their love for each other would overcome the mysterious blackness of death?

However, in theory, this ending only works for those that die in the Island. Assuming that not everyone gets dusted, what happens to the characters that survive Flocke's wrath? How will their worlds be resolved? Well that's where Lapidus comes in. As noted above, I think Lapidus lives, and is able to pilot the Ajira plane for those that make it through whatever might go down on the Island in the upcoming episodes. As they fly away from the Island, the plane experiences a flash similar to the event that transported the crew to 70's Dharma in Season 5, but this time instead of flashing through time, they flash through worlds. Cue requisite close up on an eye opening in the Sideways and viola, everyone lives happily ever after.

Of course, along the way we'll be shown how our Sideways characters are acutely aware of their Island-selves, and that awareness will lead them to make correct life decisions based on what they learned and experienced there. Connections will continue to be made between our friends, bringing them closer together, just as they do in every iteration of this cycle. But the difference is that this specific cycle is the right one, the one that was always meant to be....because this world is a direct effect of good overcoming evil, light over dark, etc etc. The Island - no longer needed now - is underwater and irrelevant. Enough progress was made, and Jacob won the game over the Man in Black. Crazy? Probably, but I can't think of any other way as to how they will wrap this up. To me, it just seems more and more likely that the Sideways world will be the world we are left with after all of this. And I'm still waiting for that scene where Juliet meets Sawyer in a coffee shop...after all, she was the first to tell us back in Season 5 that "it worked."

Of course this theory brings with it many, many holes, but it's what I got so far. Chime in below with your thoughts. There's only 4.5 hours left, so now's the time to take some guesses!

Tid Bits

Where the hell are Richard, Ben, and Miles? The last we saw them, they were on the way to blow up the Ajira plane. So is it possible that the C4 Locke found was planted by them and not Widmore? Could be, but to my knowledge they didn't have access to any C4, just old dynamite. Food for thought, but I'm hoping that they will pop up I've kind of forgotten all about that crew.

Did everyone else pick up the gigantic irony revolving around Locke's paralysis in the Sideways and the lack thereof on the Island? That in one case, a plane crash gave him his legs back, and in the other, a crash took them away? Good. Now, which event is the "right" one?

I have to give a proper goodbye to our fallen friends on the sub. Sayid, ever the bad ass, was able to redeem himself by taking the impact of the bomb himself in attempting to save his friends. Hopefully this last heroic act can give him a chance to live a full and free life in the Sideways. But more importantly, his act proves that the hold that Flocke has over his minions is not all encompassing. Sayid was able to pull away enough to realize that what Flocke was doing was wrong. In doing so, he provided Jack with the information to go and rescue Desmond, likely a key event in the upcoming episodes. Next up to defect from Flocke's control: Claire.

Sun and Jin. Yes, the death was very Titanic-y, and yes they probably should have realized that in both dying they were orphaning their daughter, but nonetheless, the death was sad and somewhat appropriate. While tragic, dying in each other's arms seemed fitting. As I said above, I do believe that in staying together, their reward will be a long life of happiness in the Sideways. While I think the writers are having their cake and eating it too with this narrative device, but I'll let it slide...cause it would be too sad to see more of our characters bite the dust without some sort of hope that there could be a happy ending.

Alright, that's enough for this week. Strap in for the last few hours, because if "The Candidate" is any indication of how we're going to end this thing, it's going to be a wild ride.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little confused on something. In the "regular timeline", Sawyer was looking for the con man that destroyed his family. Which is Locke's father. Locke's father who conned Locke out of a kidney and pushed him out a window. In the "parallel timeline", Sawyer is looking for the con man that destroyed his family. Which is still Locke's father? Locke's father who had a seemingly good relationship with his father, enough that the dad would get on a plane with him right after he got pilot licensed? And probably didn't "steal" his kidney, but maybe got it honestly?

Basically is the con man that caused Sawyer to become a cop (instead of a con man), someone other that Locke's father in the parallel.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

It's a good question. I think at this point we just don't know the answer. As we know, many things between the worlds are similar, but at the same time there are major differences as well (Jack has a kid, Hurley is lucky, etc).

If Cooper was the conman that caused the death of Sawyer's parents in the Sideways, it would be ironic that Sawyer is plotting to kill a man that is effectively already dead. It speaks more to the "letting go" theme of the episode (and series)...Sawyer needs to move beyond the rage he feels for the incident, and move on in his life. Again, "what happened, happened."

2:09 PM  

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