Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Lost 6.14, "The Candidate"
Despite my not insignificant issues with the quality of the show this season, there's no doubt that it was exhilarating to see Lost kick it into its stretch run so definitively. There's no turning back now. No more running in circles and meeting new factions and working on little projects that ultimately won't matter. If this episode did nothing else -- and it did plenty -- it laid out the following as clear as day: DarkLocke wants the candidates dead; he can't kill them directly; he's trying to find ways to make them kill themselves. For a show that often layers itself in vaguery and a lack of information, to see something like that stated so plainly had an electric charge to it.
The episode also saw a number of characters finally making decisions that felt like a long time coming. Jack finally trusted Sawyer in his plot against Locke. Sawyer ultimately couldn't trust Jack and his bomb theories (more on this in a second). Sawyer definitively turned his back on Claire. Jin decided to never leave Sun again.
That last moment is what everybody's talking about today. And intellectually, I recognized it as a Big Moment, a Powerful Moment, and something that should really be hitting me hard. And yet those thoughts had a hard time making their way to my gut, and I have to think the reason is the Sideways timeline. Not knowing how that timeline is going to ultimately resolve itself, it's hard to view these deaths (and Sayid's, and Lapidus's) as final when we know at the very least that the alt-universe versions of these characters will still be around. And while I don't really believe the alt-universe's existence means these dead characters will be resurrected in the real universe, the fact that we still don't know where the alt-universe is going means it's still going to be a nagging thought at the back of my mind. (Also, if I'm being nitpickily honest, it did seem strange that in the whole teary-eyed lead-up to Jin's final decision, neither one of them mentioned their daughter.)
But it's not all negativity! For an episode that featured so much Jack Shepherd, I didn't yell "Shut up, Jack!" at the TV once. Which may be a record. I didn't much care about the events with alt-Jack trying to restore alt-Locke's legs, but that's nothing different than the rest of the season. But on the island, I was actually down with most of what Jack was doing. He wants to stay on the island? Fine! His innate self-righteousness makes him a perfect choice for new Jacob. And the fact that he's stopped trying to make his decisions count for the whole group counts as progress. And even though he was talking Man-of-Faith crazy about the bomb in the sub, he was probably right. Of course, you can't exactly blame Sawyer for not trusting Jack's little leap of faith. The last time he did that, his girlfriend got killed.
That said, all this "Emmy-worthy Matthew Fox performance" talk is ... well, kinda retarded. He was fine, but ... okay, I'm just going to say it: if you're going to have a big emotional climax where three of your four surviving protagonists break down in tears over the deaths of their friends, it is often an asset to employ actors WHO CAN CREDIBLY CRY ON CAMERA. Evangeline Lilly? Nope. Matthew Fox? Getting closer ... kinda. Poor Jorge Garcia is never going to be confused with a great actor, but by the time they had to hide his unconvincing sobbing behind his own hair, I started to laugh. Not the reaction I was hoping to have at that moment.
All in all, this was a very good episode that essentially stuck a rocket up the show's ass and pointed it in the direction of the finale. I'm glad DarkLocke has a more defined purpose now. I'm glad they found a way to redeem Sayid and still kill him off. And I'm glad that Anthony Cooper's vegetative state didn't turn out to be yet another long con. I wish I could've cared more about Jin and Sun. I wish the actors could cry. But I'm just not going to get everything I want out of this show. And I think that's mostly okay.