Monday, May 10, 2010

Thoughts on LOST: The Candidate

I had a really weird response to this episode...I had two separate conversations with people that started with me saying how awesome this episode was, immediately followed by me complaining for 20 minutes about the problems I had with it. (Yes. These are the type conversations I have the day after LOST. If you don't want to have these conversations, just don't talk to me. About anything at all, really, because trust me...I'm going to find a way to steer the conversation toward last night's LOST, even if you've never watched a single episode.)

It's like this...as a standalone episode I thought this was great, but I also think it magnified some issues that I have with this season as a whole. So, in order to keep from getting bogged down even more so than usual in the recap, I'm going to just recap the episode itself as we go, and then put all of my "big picture" stuff in the "Final Thoughts" section.

- We open with what was a disturbing phenomenon in this episode...Jack watching Locke while he's sleeping. Dude...boundaries.

- I definitely think that Locke is at least a LITTLE aware of the Island timeline...we see some evidence of that here, I think, when he recognizes Jack (I don't think it's just from Lost Luggage). We'll see more later, and there is also his line in the ambulance: "I was going to marry her..."

- Jack: "I think you're a CANDIDATE.......for this new procedure".
Very funny, Jack.

- Jack hasn't completely gotten over his Hero Complex...he is still trying to "fix" everybody. I just think he has it a little more under control now, although that theory will definitely be tested in this episode.

- I was fairly convinced last week that Sayid was "back", and his opening scene this week sealed the deal for me. "Welcome to Hydra Island...at least you didn't have to paddle".

See, I don't think Zombie Sayid was really interested in making jokes.

This begs the question...what does it mean to be "infected"? We've seen both Sayid and, to some extent, Claire kind of "wake up" and start to demonstrate their old personality.

I'm thinking it's kind of like hypnotism...in order for someone to be hypnotized, they have to be open to suggestion. In this case, Smocke used ideas that his subjects were very vulnerable and open to (Claire's feelings of abandonment, Sayid's view of himself as a heartless, evil monster) in order to exercise some level of mind control. But, as usual with this show, there is always a choice, an opportunity to express your free will. Once Claire and Sayid realized that, they were able to break that control.

That's my theory for this week...we'll see what happens in the next episode to blow it to smithereens.

- Back to the Hydra cages:
"Well, I've got the gun, so you - "
"Not anymore, doughboy"

HA!

- Widmore threatens Kate, Sawyer caves, and then Widmore tells him: "You may not believe it, but, I'm doing this for your own good".

Sawyer doesn't believe him (of course...why should he), and I still don't think I do, either. Until I've seen him do something that is obviously for someone's benefit other than his own, I'm still not buying that he is a good guy.

- Hey, it's Bernard!

I'm telling you...both Bernard and Rose know SOMETHING. He is way too familiar with both Jack and Locke's case...seriously, why else would he remember Anthony Cooper's name from three years ago? Cooper wasn't even his patient.

And..."I hope you find what you're looking for".

AND....Bernard/Rose. Light/Dark. ROSE AND BERNARD ARE THE KEY TO EVERYTHING!!

(just kidding...unless it turns out to be true. Then I was TOTALLY serious).

- Back to the Island...interesting that Jack tells Smocke, "They're not my people". I assume that's either because he doesn't want Smocke to think he has any influence on them anymore, or if he's just still pissed at Sawyer about the whole "Get off my boat" thing. Maybe because they wouldn't listen to him about not leaving?

Anyway...Jack still doesn't want to leave. Smocke does his typical awesome job of mixing just enough truth with his lies...I think he CAN kill them all. I just don't think he's ALLOWED to and still be able to leave, or do whatever it is he's trying to accomplish. Back to that in a little bit...

- Sawyer lets Kate know that her name was crossed out in the cave...on this week's podcast, Darlton says that this will be addressed in an upcoming episode, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time theorizing on why she's been crossed out.

- Sun and Jin have another BRIEF conversation (more on that in the Final Thoughts section), and then....SMOKEY!!!

Yeah, I know that Smocke is the personification of evil, blah, blah, blah...but I freaking love Smokey.

- Doesn't Kate have the shortest arms of anybody in that cage? Why is SHE the one trying to reach the key?

- Jack: "I'm with him".

Hee.

- Sideways: Jack is REALLY not doing a good job at "letting go" here, is he? He has now tracked down Anthony Cooper in his nursing home and shows up unannounced and uninvited. That's...creepy, isn't it?

I think this is one of those things like I've mentioned before (Claire trusting a gun-wielding, cab-hijacking stranger with her life and her credit card, for instance, or Penny not freaking out when a perfect stranger approaches her in an empty stadium, passes out, and then invites her out for a coffee) where there is just a "pull" between these people that they can't shake. Jack NEEDS to fix Locke...like he tells Helen, it's not enough that he saved John's life. He has to FIX him.

- And Anthony Cooper is...gone. Completely. Sorry, dude...I don't feel bad for you. You kidney stealing, lying, son-crippling thief.

- Back on the Island, Smocke goes all Terminator on the folks guarding the plane...interesting that he stops and gets the guy's watch BEFORE he steps on the plane and sees the bomb. Almost like he KNEW there would be a bomb there, huh? Some have said that they think he and Widmore may be working together, and this is evidence of that, but I think it's something else. Not sure what, yet, but that doesn't feel right to me.

Also...we haven't seen Richard's group since they left the smoldering Black Rock with plans to stop Smocke from leaving the Island at any cost...could they actually be the ones who rigged the plane?

- Lots of quick plot development/exposition here...they give up on the plane and decide on taking the sub, Hurley still doesn't trust Smocke and wants to reconsider helping him leave the Island, Sawyer is still conning Smocke into thinking that he trusts him and is going to let him leave with them, Jack is willing to help everybody else leave but has no interest in actually leaving himself, and Smocke is still stringing Claire along.

Got all that? Cool.

One interesting note...Sawyer tells Jack to just "get it in the water" and he will take care of the rest. Based on that, and what we've heard before about Smokey not being able to travel over water, I was expecting something big to happen when Jack pushes him in later. Did Sawyer think that, too, or did he just want Smocke distracted so that they could make a quick getaway? Because falling in the water didn't seem to have any effect on Smocke that it wouldn't have had on anybody else. Just annoyance.

- And, back in the hospital, Jack is watching Locke sleep again! He's creeping ME out!

- Obvious proof that, at least on some level, Locke is aware of the Island timeline, as he's murmuring "Push the button...I wish you had believed me".

Just an aside...I think it's interesting that what it takes for these characters to achieve "awareness" is so different for each of them. Libby sees Hurley on TV, Charlie has a near-death experience, Daniel sees Charlotte across the room, Sun is shot and on her way to the ER, etc, etc...in Locke's case, he gets hit with a car, and it still seems he's only PARTIALLY aware, like maybe even subconsciously.

Not sure what it means...maybe it's harder for Locke because his Island self is being occupied by MIB?

- Claire shows Jack the music box that Christian left to her. Of course, it plays "Catch a Falling Star", and there is also a shot of both Jack and Claire in the mirror, continuing that motif.

Some interesting notes on the "history" of Christian here...if I remember correctly, in the original timeline, doesn't Claire remember her father singing that song to her? Apparently, Sideways Claire has no such memory.

Also...some things may have changed, but Christian still drank himself to death in Australia.

- Jack is finally starting to put it together...something is strange about the fact that every new person he meets was on Oceanic 815.

- "We're not strangers...we're family".

I think that, in a nutshell, is the "answer" we are going to get for one of the earliest questions ever asked about this show...what is the connection between all of these people? Why are they so intertwined in each others' lives? I don't think we're going to get a deeper answer than that...they are connected. It was not random that they were the ones on that plane.

Personally, I don't need any more explanation than that, but I know there is sizeable portion of the audience who is looking for more "answers" than I am.

- Back on the Island, about to board the sub. From here on out, I had a hard time remembering to breath, so excuse me if I miss a couple of points due to blackouts.

- JACK!!!! CHECK YOUR BACKPACK!!!! HE CHANGED BACKPACKS ON YOU, JACK!!! YOU'RE FALLING FOR THE OLDEST TRICK IN THE BOOK!!!

GAH....I hate it when TV characters ignore me.

- "Whoever told you, you needed to stay had no idea what he was talking about."
"John Locke told me I needed to stay."

AWESOME.

Man...who knew I was going to end up loving Jack this much?

- Confession/Complaint...I read Doc Jensen's article on EW.com on the day of the episode, and he said that he was going to have a "special" interview up as soon as the episode was over with somebody we were going to want to hear from after seeing this episode. I was ticked, because I read between the lines enough to know that somebody was going to die, and I am VEHEMENTLY anti-spoiler.

So, when Kate took a bullet, I thought for sure she was dying. If only.

(that's only about 20% because I wouldn't mind seeing Kate die...mostly, it's because I would rather lose ONE than what ended up happening)

(BTW...the interview was actually with Damon and Carlton, and it was a good one)

- Claire gets left again...though, to be fair, both Sayid and Sawyer tried to get her to get on the sub, but she was too busy playing Annie Oakley.

- So...were those actually Widmore's men firing at the sub? If so, why did they wait until half the group was already on the sub to start firing?

Maybe they were waiting for Smocke to show his face before they started firing...IF Widmore is actually a good guy (a HUGE if), than he probably doesn't care that the Losties leave. His concern is making sure Smocke doesn't.

- Back on the sub...the C-4 is discovered, and Jack figures out immediately what happened...Smocke tricked them all into thinking that he wanted to leave with them on the sub, but actually he just need all of the remaining candidates in one place so that they could kill each other.

(Still fuzzy on the "rules" here...was Locke no longer a candidate, which is why Ben could kill him? Maybe the candidates can be killed by anybody other than Smokey or themself?)

Anyway...as is the trend this season, I am 100% in agreement with Jack. If they let that timer go all the way to zero, that bomb doesn't explode. I think that this has been the cycle for years...the Man in Black manipulates candidates into killing each other, and then another cycle starts. (aside...maybe that's the story behind the Purge, as well?)

If that's the case, then my guess is that as long as either Jacob or ONE candidate is still alive, then MIB is still trapped.

Which, by the way...he obviously didn't want to leave the Island on that sub. So how was he planning on going "home"? What constitutes "home" for him?

- Sawyer doesn't trust Jack, and why should he? It's only been a few days since Jack's last big "Trust me, I know I'm right" moment...and that little plan got Juliet killed.

But this time...Jack is right.

- Sayid's redemption arc is complete...I loved it, and was actually happy for him in a really sad way, but...I'll get to the rest in the "Final Thoughts" section.

- "It's going to be you, Jack."

Anybody out there that does NOT think that Jack is supposed to be the new Jacob? I don't know that it's going to play out like that, because I think Jack is going to be given a choice, and what he decides will ultimately decide the ending of this show. But I am about 99% sure that he is the Island's choice.

- And now the hits are coming in rapid succession...Sayid blows up, Lapidus takes a bulkhead door to the face, and Sun is trapped behind what looks to be a large filing cabinet. Oh, if only Widmore had joined the rest of us in a paperless society!

- "There is no Sayid!"

Is it wrong that this made me laugh a little? Yeah? OK...moving on.

- Now Sawyer is unconscious, and Jin makes Jack get him out of there, leaving Jin and Sun trapped in the sub together.

Another confession...the first time I watched this scene, I totally took myself out of it emotionally. Number one, I didn't think they were actually going to die...I was in some state of denial that convinced me that Sayid was the "big death" we were going to get in this episode.

Secondly, I was extremely distracted by the fact that Sun never once mentioned Ji Yeon when trying to get him to leave. Not that I thought that her doing so would be enough to convince Jin to leave her, but as a parent it just didn't seem natural that she wouldn't bring it up, so that was distracting to me.

And the third reason...I will get to later.

Having said all of that, when I went back and rewatched the episode, I was definitely more emotionally impacted. I wasn't even as bothered by her not mentioning their daughter...in a way it made it even more gutwrenching, because it was this unspoken thing that was so terrifyingly heartbreaking that she couldn't even bring herself to say it out loud...but she was saying it, I think. At least I can make it be that, as a fan, and that's good enough for me.

And what a fantastic job by Daniel Dae Kim (Jin), Yunjin Kim (Sun), and director Jack Bender. Beautifully shot, heartbreaking scenes. Once I stopped watching this scene as a blogger and just watched it as a fan...well, let's just say that my reputation as a big ole crybaby is still intact.

- Said reputation, by the way, was only enhanced by the next two scenes...fair warning.

- Jack approaches Locke in the hallway, questioning him again about the surgery. Locke starts his story with, "I was in a plane crash.." and I thought for sure this was it, the moment when these two finally figure things out and start working together. Not yet...but I still think that time is coming.

- My weekly "Terry O'Quinn deserves every single Emmy that is ever awarded, in perpetuity" moment...compare the Locke in that heartbreaking explanation of how his father came to be an invalid with the one we see now on the Island...how is that even the same person? You can even see it in his EYES...the almost feral Smocke, compared to this sad and guilt-filled man. Terry O'Quinn is a frakking genius.

And, yeah, I'm crying again...what of it? Shut up.

- At least Jack now acknowledges that "letting go" is not really his strong suit.

- That pause when Jack says those magic words, "I wish you believed me"....we are SO close.

- Nope...still not OK enough to recap the scene on the beach. Suffice to say that a grief-filled, sobbing Hurley was enough even on the first watch to snap me out of my "analytical blogger" mode. I was OK until Hurley wasn't.

- Like I said, I still don't know exactly what "home" is to Smocke...but he obviously knew or felt somehow that his plan didn't work. Maybe if they had all died, he would have been released immediately?

- Poor Claire....alone again.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
On its own, this was a fantastic episode of television. Action packed, emotionally jarring, beautifully and effectively shot/directed, and the usual Emmy-worthy acting from everybody involved.

OK...let's talk big picture.

I had separate issues with the deaths of both Sayid and Jin/Sun, but they were kind of connected.

With Sayid, I just felt like his "redemption" arc was really, really rushed. He's spent half the season or more wandering around like a zombie, apparently "infected"...but then we see one conversation with Desmond, and then one conversation with Jack, and then that's it...Sayid go boom.

My problem with the story is the pacing of it, and that is part of the problem I have with season 6 as a whole...I felt like we wasted an AWFUL lot of time in the first 6-7 episodes. Does anybody even remember Dogen and the Temple people? What was the point in spending all of that time there? Plus, we were spending half an episode every week in the Sideways timeline that had absolutely no meaning to us at the time, and only inklings of meaning now.

Again, I'm not somebody who is looking for every single answer to every single question...I'm OK with a Mysterious Island having a few mysteries, and I like to think I'm intelligent enough to figure some of these things out for myself without having the writers spell it out for me.

But...if we were just going to tread water for a third of the season, couldn't we have done it more productively? For instance...maybe if Jin is kidnapped by Widmore's group a little earlier, he could have spent a little more time in Room 23, which could have given us a little more insight into what that room was for, which could have given us more insight into....Walt. That would be a way to come back to that story that was a HUGE part of the first two seasons of the show, without having to deal with the fact that Malcolm David Kelley is apparently seven and half feet tall now.

That's just an example, but you get the point...there was a lot of wasted time. And now we are at the end of the season, and I feel like storylines (like Sayid's) are being rushed to completion. As you've probably heard, the LOST staff have asked (and been granted) an extra half hour for the finale, making it a total of TWO AND A HALF HOURS. Now, I'm not going to complain about more LOST...but it sounds to me like the writers were left with too much story to tell in the final episode, and needed more time to end it effectively. Maybe if we had not wasted so much time at the beginning of the season, they wouldn't have that problem.

As for Jin and Sun...my problem with their characters actually goes back two seasons now. Remember the end of Season 4? Jin was supposedly dead, but we all figured he had to be alive somehow, so there was a lot of intrigue over what that tombstone that Sun and Hurley visited really meant. Sun had just bought Paik Industries out from under her father, and had confronted Charles Widmore in a totally kick-butt scene that led you to believe that meek little Sun had morphed into a serious player in this game. I, for one, was really looking forward to what she might have planned

And then....NOTHING. EVER. HAPPENED. They spent the next two seasons doing nothing but uttering various permutations of "Where's my wife?" and "Where's my husband?", had a half dozen annoying "near misses" and a very cheesy and anticlimactic reunion, and then...they die.

That's what I was thinking about the whole time I was watching their death scene the first time...wasted opportunity. Bernie said it best in the comments after my initial post-episode thoughts: "Quite simply, Jin and Sun deserved better".

There's my list of grievances...feel free to chime in with your own, or to tell me to stop my whining and enjoy the final four and a half hours of one of the greatest and most influential and genre-changing television shows of all time. Either way, I'll probably agree with you.

Namaste.

4 comments:

James Stephenson said...

I think they may be making Jack a red herring. I mean how often has this show followed through with what you thought was going to happen?

Scott said...

Could be...I just think we are too close to the end for them to be able to pull off a MAJOR misdirection like that.

I could be wrong, of course...after all, I usually am with this show. :-)

amanda young said...

Maybe if we had not wasted so much time at the beginning of the season, they wouldn't have that problem.Amanda Vanderpool

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