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.


jessica said...

See, the reason I couldn't feel anything about Jin and Sun is that I've already felt everything for them. I've cried my eyes out at least 3 or 4 times over those two and it just wasn't happening again. And yes, the sideways timeline was in the back of my mind as well - the same way it is for Juliet, who I expect to see in the last episode meeting Sawyer for coffee or some such - so it was hard to feel any gravity in that moment when the sub sunk. Totally agree about Sayid, though, and the electric-shock of that moment when Jack spells everything out. It was like FINALLY something was said that made perfect sense and wasn't cloaked in thirteen allegorical riddles. I was irritated with Frank, though. Earlier in the episode I was wondering why he was there, why was he drawn in to the island with the others, and then they just go and kill him off without any real Lapidus insight. It was sad and frustrating. Still, I am anxious and excited for the end game.

Chanie said...

I loved Sayid (not that much this season, but still) and I liked Jin and Sun well enough, but their death didn't shock me. I think TV in general and this show in particular have yanked my death chain enough times with "he's dead, wait he's not, now he is, wait he's back", that I have some difficulties now feeling sad over characters dying. The last straw may have been Juliet's death, when I saw her fall in the well like four times on season 6 premiere date, and then she wasn't dead... but died five minutes into the episode.

Not that I think that Jin, Sun and Sayid are coming back, not at all, but I kept expecting someone to find a way to get them all out of there before it was too late , I guess.

Kris McN said...

"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."

THIS! I kept yelling, "LEEEEAVE HERRRR! How about if you go remember Sun TO YOUR DAUGHTER!"

"For an episode that featured so much Jack Shepherd, I didn't yell "Shut up, Jack!" at the TV once."

I know, right? Amazing.

I'm really looking forward to next week. If it's a explain-y about Jacob and MIB's relationship/existence it'll be awesome!

Jenn said...

Call it denial, but I'm not going to buy that Jin and Sun are actually dead until/unless their bodies show up. J.J. Abrams fooled me once with a character-you-think-drowned-didn't-really twist on Alias; I'm cautious about being fooled again.

JA said...

Not that the scene wasn't already riddled with cliche - really, a bunch of submarine tubes of indiscriminate purpose just happened to wrap themselves around a character? - but I'm glad they left the "Think of our baby!" card not played. It made the scene a lot more interesting for me. Because I think it was there in Sun's pleas, for one, but at the same time it left it possible that Sun just really didn't want Jin to leave at all, which seems honest and human to me. And I think Yunjin Kim is such a terrific actress that she almost seemed to be sucking the words back into her mouth as she said them, when she told him he had to go. That seemed like a really interesting way to play the scene to me, and the way their hands drifted apart underwater after they'd drown only underscored it for me. They were a couple of strange off-key notes, that is, that twisted the moment into something I found interesting anyway.

Joe Reid said...

Ahh, but JJ Abrams hasn't had anything to do with Lost (besides cashing some fat checks) for years, right?

In fact, I'm not sure how involved he was in the day-yo-day at Alias when that particular rabbit came out of the hat either.

Joe Reid said...

Sorry, that comment was for Jenn.

As for what Sun left unsaid ... I kept looking for it in her face and I never saw it there, to be honest. But then again, I was also the guy yelling "Enough mooning at each other lovingly! More struggling to escape!"

mathan said...

This episode has been getting tons of buzz, I hear Stormfront crowd really loved it. I wasn't that big a fan, but in hindsight (and thanks to Joe) I realize that it really wasn't that bad.

Your point about it being a Jack-entric episode made me realize that I didn't hate it. And I didn't yell at the screen either. That's certainly a landmark. I also liked the complete unmasking of Locke.

I guess it wasn't that bad.