Last night’s episode, “The Candidate,” offered no answers to Lost’s myriad remaining mysteries, which are still begging for them. (Excepting the mysteries of Reality X—what happened to Locke’s father?—because they still don’t matter.) But it did offer some serious fucking Action! Not to mention Drama! And Deaths! Last week’s episode, “The Last Recruit,” was a classic move-the-pieces-into-play episode, the kind of which are necessary if you want to have such a balls-to-the-wall blowout like this.
Still, I was skeptical for about the first 15 minutes or so last night, despite the promising action sequences. (Oo, Smokey! Hey, get those keys! Swipe! Hey, it's Jack! Nice!) I’m restless for information this late in the show, so I find it hard to get sucked into conspicuously deferred reveals: obviously we’ll find out how Locke X got in his wheelchair in the last, or penultimate anyway, scene of the episode, and I have little patience for watching Jack X play Philip Marlowe, M.D., in the meantime, gumshoing across L.A., slowly discovering that everybody he runs into was on Oceanic Flight 815. I get it; things are backwards: in Reality X, Locke is the candidate (for surgery!), and Jack’s the one saving his life; Locke X is the one who threw his father to earth from a great height; a plane crash cost him his legs, not vice versa! Will the ironies between these parallel realities never cease?
Of course, the more some things change, the more they stay the same: in Reality, we saw Sawyer and Kate get thrown into the polar bear cages—while Locke X had some pretty serious Season Two flashes in his drug-induced sleep—because their names were on a “list”. Well, Sawyer’s was, anyway: Kate is not a candidate, and therefore expendable. In fact, she even took a bullet in the shoulder tonight!!! How many Lost fans started cheering the moment they saw blood? Could she die of infection as early as next episode?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. What was most grating about the beginning of “The Candidate” was how conspicuous the throat clearing was starting to look: OMG, Widmore’s holding them hostage...for about five minutes. Oh, they finally got to the plane...but now they need to get to the sub. But these turns turned out to be less lazy storytelling than clever diversions, leading me away from the episode’s, and the season’s, big twist: THE SMOKE MONSTER DOESN’T NEED ANY OF THEM TO GET OFF THE ISLAND!
Seriously, I did not see that coming! (Was it just me? Comment section below.) The writers cleverly played off of their own predilection for parallels by convincing us that of course he would need all of them to leave, because all of them had to arrive together. It just made sense. But, in fact, he wants them all dead, which he nearly accomplished by tricking them all to get onto the submarine with a ticking time bomb he’d planted on them. Oh boy, here come the waterworks: not only floods of water from breached hulls but of tears, from jerked eyes.
Has Lost ever executed a better set piece than that entire submarine sequence? Starting with the argument about pulling the wires—ten times tenser than a similar and much-celebrated scene with Richard way back in “Dr. Linus”—through to Sayid’s sacrificial sprint, to the reluctance of any of them to leave the others during the ensuing mayhem, and culminating in Jin and Sun’s Romeo and Juliet-style suicide. Well, Sun just died. And Jin chose to die with her. Forget that he voluntarily orphaned their daughter—it was so romantic!
Three main characters dead in a single episode—now that’s how you do a final season. The episode ended with the remaining survivors—a panting Hurley, a bleeding Kate, an unconscious Sawyer, and Jacob-to-be Jack—weeping on the beach for their lost comrades. It was a rare moment of sustained emotional observation, though perhaps not the last, as I wouldn’t be surprised if many more characters were to die before we were through. I’ve been waiting all season for next week’s Man in Black flashback episode, but now I’m so enraptured in the on-island plot, I almost don’t want to see it. Nah, scratch that—let’s get some answers, then go back to Action!