Oh Lost, how you wound me. You tear out my heart and strap it to some C-4, leaving it inside a sinking submarine.
Even now, hours after my initial viewing, I'm still in shock, and more than a little depressed. Just Sayid dying would have been a tragedy in and of itself, without the even sadder Jin and Sun exit to top it off. Throw in Frank's demise (yes? maybe? too soon to call?), and I just can't take it.
Still, I have to hand it to the writers. They sure know how to make me simultaneously hate and love this show. I'm deeply saddened by what happened, but I can't deny that it made for a brilliant hour of television. In all honesty, this has to be one of the strongest episodes in all six seasons.
Before I get to the recap, let me offer a quick apology for not producing a proper recap of "The Last Recruit". I graduated from the University of Michigan last week, and I really just had a lot going on. By way of apology, I'll offer some brief thoughts on the episode before getting to "The Candidate".
It's interesting that Jack is the new John, and the new character who looks like John despises his philosophy. Flocke calls John a "sucker" for believing that they were meant to stay on the island. He also reveals that he was the ghost of Christian Shephard all along. I'm inclined to believe that at this point, we won't ever get explanations for the Christian apparition in Jack's hospital or on the freighter, but based on what we've learned, I would have to guess that they were either the real ghost of Christian (remember that Hurley sees real ghosts all the time, so they do exist, maybe), or Jacob appearing as him (assuming Jacob has that power, which he may not). The ramifications of the Christian reveal are very interesting, though. Jack's father, the real John and the Man in Black all exist to some degree within the Flocke entity. We know Flocke has access to John's memories - what if he has Christian's, too? That would mean he knows an awful lot about Jack. Since I'm still wondering whether John has any influence over Flocke, I'm very intrigued by the idea of a triple (or even quadruple, if you think of Yemi, Alex Rousseau, etc...) persona entity.
Desmond is pretty creepy in the ATL. It seems like his goal is to get all the passengers to run into each other, hopefully channeling their memories of the other reality. But what will establishing these memories accomplish? Will our characters just throw up their arms and say, "Hey, that's weird! Oh well!" It can't be. There has to be a point to making them remember. Either this will have some discernible effect on the Island reality, or it will somehow negate the ATL reality.
Okay, I'm eager to tackle "The Candidate", so here we go.
On the other side of Hydra Island, basically everybody else is being put in the polar bear cages. The irony isn't lost on Sawyer, who grabs Seamus's gun and threatens to kill him. Widmore holds a gun to Kate's head and declares that he has no qualms about killing her, since she isn't on his list. This was an important admittance, which Sawyer confirms for Kate by telling her about the names on the cave walls. Apparently, Sawyer did notice that her name was there but crossed out. I was immediately concerned that Kate was in danger, but as it turned out, you were better off not being a candidate this week. Much better off.
The Smoke Monster attacks, kills several members of Widmore's team, including Seamus, who became the "Phil" of season 6. Jack helps them out of the cages, saying that he's with the Smoke Monster. I know it was only temporary, but still. Can you imagine watching the "Pilot" episode six years ago and being told that one day, Jack will aid the Smoke Monster?
Who's with who" has always been a dominant theme of Lost, but it's been even more pronounced this season. Even the titles "The Last Recruit" and "The Candidate" allude to membership and allegiance. The sides are constantly being redrawn, even as what each side stands for is being re-evaluated. After this episode, it will be hard to deny that Flocke is the "evil" side, but I don't know what that means for the "other" side. More on that later.
Speaking of who's with who, where were Widmore and Zoe during all of this? We don't find them at the plane or the sub. I'm guessing they paddled over to the main island, perhaps to look for Desmond, or even Richard.
Flocke was pretty convincing, but based on later events in the episode, we know that this is not true - Flocke is the one who wanted to kill all of them. Widmore obviously doesn't want that, or else he would be working with Flocke, or would have just killed them himself. Why then would Widmore rig the plane with explosives? I'm tempted to believe that Flocke sneaked aboard the plane and put the explosives there himself, but then I don't know what the point of showing him discovering it was. Maybe for Widmore, keeping the candidates alive is important but not as important as just plain stopping Flocke from leaving the island, but then I would have expected the submarine to be rigged to blow, too.
In any case, the C-4 plays right into Flocke's hand. After auspiciously grabbing a watch off a dead guy, he explains that the plane is too dangerous and they'll have to steal the sub. Sawyer pretends to be with him (again), but immediately starts hatching a plan with Jack (again). Unfortunately, not only is Flocke expecting Sawyer's betrayal, he's counting on it.
Sawyer tells Jack to get Flocke in the water. I don't recall Flocke telling Sawyer that he's adverse to water, only that he can't fly over it in the smoke-form, so I was little surprised that Sawyer thought that would work. And I think the only reason it did work was because Flocke wanted them to escape - he took his time climbing back onto that dock.
Anyway, a shootout at the sub dock ensues. Jack shoves Flocke like he's supposed to, but Kate gets shot in the shoulder. Jack had maintained all episode that he wouldn't leave the island, but with Kate's injury, he hurries aboard the sub to help her. But if Kate hadn't been shot, I don't know that he would have gone aboard. I wonder if Flocke somehow influenced Kate getting shot. She's not a candidate, so he definitely could have harmed her. Actually, that may have been the whole point of Widmore and Sawyer bringing that fact up earlier in the episode. So Kate getting shot was either a very, very lucky occurrence for Flocke, or he somehow planned it.
Fearing that Flocke is going to try to come aboard, Sawyer shuts the door and orders the sub to dive, leaving Claire out on the dock. At the time I felt sorry for her being left behind again, but since this ultimately may have saved her life, it's not actually too sad.
Even though the reason for why John would want to stay in the wheel chair is revealed later (he's punishing himself), I think it could be something else, too. If John is having any flashes to the other reality, think about what he would see: a man duped into thinking he was special, finally betrayed by that false belief, his body used as a pawn by an evil entity. Depending upon how cognizant John is of that other life, he might be very wary of someone telling him that he's "special" in this life. I want John to be special, though, so I hope the surgery does end up happening.
But Jack doesn't take no for an answer, so he decides to investigate what caused John's injury. He tracks down the dentist who treated John in the wake of his accident, and unsurprisingly, it's a familiar face.
Sam Anderson did a great job this episode. Bernard seemed like he knew something, didn't he? We know that that "knowing" is very possible. He absolutely could have had the flashes like the ones that Desmond, Charlie and Daniel experienced. He also recognizes Jack from the Oceanic flight, and points this out, saying something about Jack flirting with his wife. I'm glad that some of the characters are finally addressing the fact that everybody was on the same plane.
Bernard steers Jack to Anthony Cooper, who's being visited by Helen. Cooper can't move or speak, as the result of the same accident that cost John his ability to walk.
Yes, Cooper looks pretty pitiable here, but don't start feeling sorry for him just yet. Consider: Cooper could be every bit the evil con man that he was in the MTL. The real question is whether John still has a kidney. If he does, this would lead me to believe that the accident happened before Cooper could complete his con. Cooper might have had every intention of discarding John like a piece of trash after getting the kidney, he just never got around to it. There's some proof of this, since Anthony Cooper appears to still be the man who caused the death of Sawyer's parents in this reality. He might not be reformed at all - he's just trapped and unable to speak because of the accident. I almost hope this is the case, or else I would feel sorry for him.
Jack explains that if they do nothing, it won't go off, because Flocke can't kill them, despite what he said earlier in the episode. He also has the experience with Richard in the Black Rock to back him up. Jack correctly calculates that Flocke put them in a situation where they would do something to inadvertently kill each other. Here, Jack's faith is his defense. Unfortunately, it isn't enough for Sawyer, who pulls the wires and only speeds up the timer.
At first I thought this would violate the principal that Richard laid out in "Lighthouse", because Sawyer shouldn't be able to kill himself as a result of pulling the wires from the bomb, so it shouldn't have gone off. But if you think about it, this still holds to that rule, because Sawyer doesn't kill himself - he survives the explosion and the sub sinking. Instead of Sayid grabbing the C-4 and running into the other room, Sawyer should have simply thrown himself on top of it. That would have had to stop it, because Sawyer can't kill himself with the C-4 if we're still following Richard's rules. Instead, Sayid redeems himself and, completely unzombied, he tells Jack about Desmond, confides that it's going to be Jack, and runs off with the C-4 as it detonates.
We hardly have time to bid Sayid farewell (for the second time), as all hell breaks loose. Water rushes in, knocking out Frank. Sun is pinned. Sawyer is hit over the head. Hurley, who is a hero, I might add, rescues Kate and makes it out of the sub. Jack decides to save Sawyer. It was heart-breaking, absolutely heart-breaking watching the characters make these choices. Jack knows that he isn't going to see Jin and Sun again. He understands that Jin is going to die because of how much he loves Sun. It was heart-breaking. Watching people drown is absolutely agonizing. It was more emotional because Jin was free. If he had been pinned, too, it would have been different. But he was free to swim to safety, except he never even thinks about doing so. He isn't going to leave Sun, no matter what.
And so "The Candidate" becomes the first episode to kill more than 2 main characters in the same hour. Jin and Sun die shortly after their reunion - no happy ending for them, after all. In the end, we'll probably never know whether Sun or Jin was the candidate, and it doesn't even matter.
HE'S NOT DEAD: I would have expected them to at least show his body or something, if that was really it. I know he's not the most important character ever, but not to even dignify him with a confirm-able death is pretty cruel. And Jack, Kate and Hurley don't mention his name among the dead. Again, he isn't their best friend, but I would expect a little acknowledgment. Also, Frank (along with Richard) is the only main character with absolutely no flash-sideways counterpart. I'll admit that Frank has always been one of my favorites, so maybe my judgment is clouded, but it wouldn't surprise me if he washes up on shore. Jin did it in the wake of the freighter explosion, after all. This is Lost - if they want a character to inexplicably survive, the character will inexplicably survive.
HE'S DEAD: Then again, this is Lost. Let's return for a moment to the death of one of my other favorite semi-important characters, Ms. Danielle Rousseau. Sure, they left it ambiguous at first, but ultimately it didn't matter: she was dead. I feel like Frank probably just got the same treatment. He's not a candidate, they probably won't be leaving on the Ajira plane so they don't need a pilot... why keep him alive, when there's barely been anything for him to do all season? Really a bummer, though. I hope he's alive, anyway.
As it turns out, Hurley's plan to meet with Flocke was a terrible one. Richard had it right all along when he told Sawyer in "The Substitute" that Flocke meant to kill all of them. These deaths are the fault of Hurley for wanting to go to Flocke, Jack for backing him up, Sayid for turning off the fence, Sawyer for pulling the wires... and on and on. They've accidentally killed each other, which is unfortunately the only way Flocke can get them.
Anyway, I wonder what Richard's group is up to. It wouldn't surprise me if they meet up with Widmore and Zoe, and maybe even Desmond. Wouldn't it be cool for a Ben-Richard-Widmore reunion? Also, I'd love to see Ben and Desmond cross paths again.
Jack, Sawyer, Hurley and Kate wash up on the beach of what I assume is the main island and mourn their losses.
At the Hydra Island dock, Flocke is acutely aware that not all the candidates are dead. I know people are now attributing psychic powers to him, but he doesn't necessarily know which candidates survived. I think he might just be able to tell because he knows he isn't free yet.
Flocke is certainly evil, but I still maintain that that doesn't make Jacob good. It was on Michael's advice, wasn't it, that Hurley led them to Flocke? I was assuming that Michael was speaking on behalf of Jacob. Yet, it was this plan that resulted in all the deaths. I'm still very troubled by the way Jacob treats his followers.
As Flocke no doubt begins working on a scheme to rid himself of the rest of the candidates, his plan will probably concern Claire, and maybe Kate, too. The fact that Flocke can kill those two directly worries me greatly. And as Lost once again demonstrated, no one is safe.
Jack knows about Desmond now, and he knows it's going to be him. It's very likely that everyone else will die in the next four (and a half! did you here the good news?) hours, but Jack is going to live long enough to defeat the Man in Black once and for all.
When ATL characters look into mirrors, they appear to have some awareness of themselves in the island reality. Was this why Christian left it for them? Did he intend for them to open it together and see each others' reflections while recalling the island? This makes me wonder if the Christian Shephard whose body came to the island but was never found can somehow commune with his ATL dead self.
And finally, as John leaves the hospital, Jack learns of his accident. In yet another Emmy-deserving performance, John admits: "I was in a plane crash!" He had made his father his first passenger after getting his pilot's license, and disaster struck. John punishes himself for what happened, and is unwilling to have the surgery because he can't let go of it.
I was very intrigued by the revelation that ATL-John learned to fly planes. If the end of the ATL involves them all getting on a plane, maybe it will be John piloting it (this might also make Frank even less needed, unfortunately).
Jack tells John to let it go. During this speech, I felt like Jack was speaking to us, the Lost-obsessed fans. He was warning us that very soon, it's going to be time to move on - we'll have no choice. We'll have to go on with our lives without Lost.
It ends with little certainty that John will have the surgery, but I'm still hoping he will, eventually. Finale material, right?
As for the direction of the ATL as a whole, I'm really unsure. For the first half of the season, I thought, like many of you, that the ATL would simply serve as some sort of epilogue (which I wasn't thrilled with). But ever since Desmond's return, it's seemed like the ATL wasn't supposed to happen, and that by making everyone aware of the other reality, they would do something... and that something would lead to negation of the ATL, or a merging of the timelines. Now, I don't know again. Everybody in the island reality is dead. Are they really supposed to negate the much happier reality, however incorrect it may be?
Goodbye Sayid, Sun, Jin, and for good measure, Frank. As for our remaining heroes, please take care of yourselves.
Until next week,
- Robby "Robz888"