05 May 2010

LOST 6x14 - "The Candidate" Review and Commentary

Despite this being the week of move-out and graduation on campus, I am going to get a review out for "The Candidate." It may be a little rougher around the edges than usual.

Bottom line, I loved this episode. It had so much great stuff going on in it: emotion, drama and tons of action. I was a little underwhelmed with the flash-sideways this time around since it seemed to lack the momentum of the last few episodes, but it was still good. It featured lots of Locke, and new and improved Jack, so that's all I can really ask.

Most of all, it really felt like an episode that was three away from the finale. After this there are roughly three hours of LOST remaining when you take away 20 minutes per hour for commercials. Can you believe it? 3 hours, or 180 minutes, left of the greatest television show ever made.

Didn't it feel really good seeing most of the oldschoolers back in action as a team again? It's been almost three seasons, when you think about it. The first big split of the series came when the freighter arrived, and Jack and Locke went their separate ways based on Locke's belief that the freighter folk were dangerous.

There was another shuffle for season 5, when the Oceanic 6 were off-Island trying to get back, and the Left-Behinds were traveling through time.

Later in the same season, the cast was divided between those who flashed to 1977, and those who remained in the present.

The point being, it's been a long time since everyone was together like this. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Sayid, Sun, Jin, and Claire are all original season 1 survivors. Add Terry O'Quinn, though not playing the same character, and you have all of the season 1 cast who were still alive. Lapidus was the only real odd man out during the captivity, escape and submarine raid scenes.

With that in mind, let's talk about the deaths. Death is a constant on LOST. Some major, beloved characters have been killed off over the years, from Mr. Eko to Charlie to Faraday. Some have gotten their due, others not so much.

It used to be a tradition on LOST for major characters to have a centric episode when they died. Shannon had "Abandoned," Ana-Lucia had "Two for the Road," Eko had "The Cost of Living," and so on. The actor playing the offed character would often appear the next morning on the Today Show as part of the tradition.

It seems these days that LOST has too much plot and too little time left to have long goodbyes for even the oldest fan favorites. The idea that Sayid, Sun, Jin, and maybe Frank got killed in one episode would have been unthinkable back in the leisurely days of season 2.

That having been said, I think the important things happened for each of the characters before they shuffled off the mortal coil. The biggest thing I wanted this year for Sayid was an act of redemption, and he got it.

Sayid has been one of the most complex characters on the show. As he evolved, his issues and themes changed. At first he was coming to terms with his past as a torturer, trying to atone for his sins. He had a life filled with pain and sadness.

He was looking for Nadia since season 1, but there was also that brief relationship with Shannon, which I really liked. As Naveen Andrews himself said, it was a bold decision to put two completely opposite characters-- a blond American "princess" and an Iraqi Muslim who used to torture for a living-- together.

But Sayid's heart always belonged to Nadia. They found each other too, and married. As one of the Oceanic 6, Sayid made it back to the world, but because of the out-of-order storytelling, we knew his happiness wouldn't last.

After less than a year of real happiness, Sayid's life was thrust back into misery. With nothing to live for but revenge, he let Ben convince him that Widmore was responsible for Nadia's death. He became an assassin. Ben told him that he was born to be a killer.

When he was revived in the Temple's healing pool, other people told him the same kind of thing. He was "evil." There was nothing that could be done to save him, they said, so it was better to just kill him outright.

In an interview, Damon and Carlton said that was the point of Sayid's arc this season. If someone convinces you that you're evil, you might come to accept it. You might get sucked in by that deception and embrace darkness.

But Sayid's loyalty to his friends, and to Nadia, eventually brought him around. Desmond made him think about Nadia, and what she would have to say about his actions as the Man in Black's puppet.

When the time came, Sayid ended his life by doing something selfless, something to help others at his own expense. It fulfilled a prediction he made three seasons ago, when he said, "I'm willing to give my life if it means securing rescue, but I'm not giving it up for nothing."

This noble act was Sayid's redemption. It proved wrong the years of berating by Ben, the Man in Black, and others in his life, who told Sayid that he had no choice but to be what his darker instincts told him to be. In the great "free will vs. destiny" debate of LOST, Sayid's life becomes a notch on the "free will" side.

So what does this mean, mythology-wise, for the whole "claiming" concept? I think it just means that it can be fought, just like a person fights against any other kind of "sickness." Except being claimed by the Man in Black's evil influence can be counteracted by the heartfelt words of friends and loved ones, as has also happened to Claire.

Before he left, Sayid also gave two more parting gifts. He told Jack that Desmond was alive in a well on the Island, and he indicated cryptically that Jack was "the one," presumably the chosen candidate. Most people predicted he didn't kill Desmond, but Jack and the others now have a clear goal after washing up on the beach.

Now, on Sun and Jin's deaths. It's really the only way these two could have died: as a couple. The relationship between the two of them was always what both characters were about, almost exclusively. That doesn't make them bad characters, just supporting characters, without the depth of a true leading couple.

Once they found each other, there really wasn't anything left for them to do but to die together. It sounds a little cold to say it that way, but Romeo and Juliet suffered the same fate, and theirs is widely regarded as the greatest love story of all time, so Sun and Jin are in good company.

I've heard some people that are angry that no consideration was given by either Sun or Jin to their daughter, Ji Yeon. I can understand that, but I can also understand the idea that Jin would not want to live if Sun died. His act of dying with her was the fulfillment of a promise that he would never leave her side again, which he considered sacred above all else.

So these three classic LOST characters didn't get a lot of time for their farewells, but their deaths were fitting and touching. The most heartbreaking part of it was seeing their friends mourn them on the beach. Seeing Hurley cry is enough to shatter the coldest heart. Jack, still determined to fulfill his Island destiny, is scarred but unbroken as he fights back tears at the edge of the night ocean. Very epic.

I won't say much about Frank, since his death is far from certain (Lostpedia is currently listing his status as "unknown"). If he did in fact die from being hit by the submarine door, then his character after season 4 was a waste. He's had almost nothing to do but stand around and make quips since he landed Ajira 316. The only reason he should have been kept around was if the writers had one last majorly cool thing for him to contribute. If not, they should have just let him ride off into the sunset at the end of season 4, a memorable one-season character.

There was a lot of other little stuff in this episode that I unfortunately just don't have time to get to this week. But I invite you to add any comments you like in the comments section. Next week I'll have the time to do a full review... and something tells me I'll need it.


Kevin Ford said...

To be honest, I think Ji-Yeon wasn't mentioned simply because Jin would've looked like a complete douche had Sun said something about it and he didn't care.

Meghan said...

I found Sun and Jin's death to be a little too "Titanic" especially as they were telling Jack that it was time to go...oy. Best dramatic moment for them in my book was when the freighter blew up, hands down.

I've believed since I saw "Kwon" on the cave wall that it referred to neither one, but both of them, as they honored their marriage vows and functioned as one entity.

I thought that Jack almost took a step backwards this episode, as he kept trying to fix Locke. I thought he'd evolved past that, but maybe his acceptance of everyone not being broken is his sideways-redemption.

Also, Locke had a positive relationship with his daddy? What up? Or, Anthony Cooper got what he deserved and Sawyer would never be faced with the temptation to kill him? V. interesting...

Rosanne E. said...

I have to get the fan girl out! "WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!" - in relation to Sayid's death. But I completely agree with what you said Ben, instead of acting as a mercenary, as he did for most of his life. He did something selfless to save his friends and I think that brought a great ending to his character (I always knew he was good!!).

I kept waiting for Sun to say to Jin, "Our daughter needs a father." I never expected them to really die together. I always thought of a spin-off or a epilogue that Aaron and Ji-Yeon would find each other off island.

When Hurley cried, that broke my heart. He such a big kid to me that hearing him cry with such raw emotion really brought the impact of their deaths home. I completely forgot that Frank was taken out by the door. Do you think he's really dead? This would disappoint me because I don't think the creators would have left him to be the sidekick who makes funny quips.

Kells said...

I thought it was a good send-off to Jin and Sun. I know a lotta people were disappointed that they didn't do much other than look for each other since the end of Season 4, and Sun did look poised to become more of a player off-island what with buying a controlling interest in her Dad's company, but I think that storyline more or less ran its course. To be honest, I find Jin and Sun to be kinda stiff and bland, and it seemed the only way to create dramatic situations with them was to keep them apart. Between thinking he blew up on the raft and thinking he blew up on the freighter, Sun's spent a good chunk of the series separated from Jin, and that's telling. But the goodbye WAS powerful!

...I'm just not 100% sure about how they got there. Is it me or is MiB playing kinda fast and loose with the rules? Planting a bomb on someone you're not supposed to be able to kill seems to be violating the spirit of the law, if not the letter! I know they set it off themselves, but it's hard to see how MiB didn't directly cause the deaths of everyone who went down w/the sub.

"Rodimus" Ben Lundy said...

@Kevin Ford, I think you're partly right. I also think that the writers never gave much consideration to Ji Yeon. She was really just a plot device to put Sun in danger with the pregnancy.

@Meghan, yeah, maybe sideways Jack took a step backward, but don't forget it's 3 years earlier for him. About Locke's dad, there may still be more to it, since Sawyer's back story was essentially the same. Maybe it was a different person who conned his parents.

@Rosanne, I feel for you on Sayid, but getting a hero's death is a great way to send him off if you think about it. And sideways Sayid will still be around.

@Kells, I agree that Sun and Jin were never super-complex characters. Their end was fitting for their love story.

Erin said...


Jin and Sun DIE??