Breathe in...breathe out...breathe in...breathe out. No, I'm not singing Mat Kearney, and no, I'm not just making a predictable joke considering that the last third of this episode essentially took place underwater...I'm just catching my own breath. As I sit down to write this recap not even 10 minutes from the closing credits of "The Candidate", I'm still trying to make sense of it. I'll do my best...
As always, mouse over the pictures to see the captions below.
I used a hockey analogy in describing the pace of last week's episode. Well, if that was the end of a hockey game, then this was a drag race. Again, no "Previously on Lost" since we're going to need every minute in this hour, and we open with a shot of John Locke in the hospital in the FS World. Locke is greeted by Jack, and what ensues is an incredibly well-written scene, where every single word seemingly meant something in both realities. From Jack explaining to Locke that he may be a "candidate", to him declaring that he thinks he can "fix him", to Helen exclaiming "thank you for saving him."
Cut to Hydra Island in the Island World (now with Sayid as the official Hydra Island Greeter!), for a reversal of what we just saw. We cut from a scene where Jack has saved Locke, to a scene where (F)Locke has saved Jack. This scene's express purpose was to show that juxtaposition between the two, and to explain that Flocke, Sayid, and Jack are now on Hydra Island after traveling over in the outrigger.
Widmore's cronies marched our Losties to the cages that we all know only too well from Season 3, and despite some initial refusal from Sawyer (including calling Chip from Kate and Allie "doughboy") they ended up in the cage after Widmore threatened to kill Kate. Widmore rhymed off the names from "the list", which didn't include Kate, so he truthfully declared that he didn't care if she lived or died.
If you read my post from The Last Recruit, you'll remember that I introduced a concept of Mirror Imagery from previous episodes, and there were a number of them once again in this episode, so I'll start here with Mirror Image #1: Kate is threatened at gunpoint outside the cage in front of Sawyer, mirroring when Sawyer was threatened at gunpoint by Pickett outside the cage in front of Kate in the Season 3 episode "I Do." (alternate Mirror Image: Kate held at gunpoint by Juliet in front of Sawyer while they are building the runway in "The Glass Ballerina")
So it all comes full circle and now Kate and Sawyer are back in the land of the Fish Biscuit. But let's be honest, we weren't really expecting a hot and steamy Round 2 with them in that cage, were we? I mean, Sawyer is still presumably grieving Juliet (somehow), and there's no way they would put such a show on for all the others in there, right? The ones we should have been worries about were Jin and Sun after their reunion last week. Hey Widmore...If the cage is a rockin', don't come-a-knockin!
Back in the FS World, Jack pays a visit to Bernard's dental office snooping for info on John Locke. Bernard keeps his oath as a doctor (do dentist's still count?) and doesn't share confidential information, but still helps to steer Jack in the right direction, despite mentioning that he recalls Jack flirting with his wife on the plane. (What?!) Interesting that Jack told Bernard that he needed to fix John, while his Island persona seems to have released that need to fix everything.
Bernard seemed to have a "knowing" look in this scene(not the one in the picture above), and his tone of voice made me wonder if he was aware of both realities. When they realized the Oceanic 815 connection, Bernard said "Maybe you're on to something." And their last exchange seemed to mean more than it appeared on the surface alone:
Jack: "That was three years ago. You just remember that?"
Bernard: "Of course I do, Jack. (pause) Good luck, Doc. I hope you find what you're looking for."
Which is exactly what Kate told Jack in Episode 5 of this season, "The Lighthouse."
As we see Sayid and Jack on the beach on Hydra Island once again, we hear him tell Jack flat-out "Locke saved you." When Flocke joins them, Jack tells him that he's not sure he plans on joining him in his plan to leave the Island. Flocke says that he hopes Jack will change his mind, paralleling the FS World where Jack hopes that Locke will change his mind about the surgery. Flocke is unhappy about Jack's decision and launches into a tirade about how he could have killed Jack and everyone else...but didn't. I'm not sure that was the best way to build trust, it came across as pretty threatening.
In Cage-Land, Sawyer confirmed that Widmore was telling the truth about Kate not being on the list, and we saw a scene between Jin and Sun where they caught up on Ji-Yeon, pictures, and Jin's wedding band. I made a note watching that scene, that it seemed like a 'housekeeping' scene, just to neatly tie things up before the end. Boy, would that note come back to bite me in the ass...
Then the power cuts, we hear the tika-tika-tika that we all used to get exhilarated over, but now seem to respond to with significantly less excitement (am I wrong?), and the Smoke Monster is back in all of his delicious, Smokey form. Chip from Kate and Allie gets chucked into the cage, and lays there with the key dangling off his belt as Kate strains to reach it.
I had a problem with this scene, and it wasn't Frank's faux-heroic attempts to kick open the cage door. It's the fact that the last time Kate was in this cage, she climbed out of the cage through the top...but now's she reaching through the bars unable to get the key off of Chip's belt. Just as I'm yelling at my TV, Jack saves the day once again and unlocks the cage for them. As Kate asks what he's doing there, he responds with "I'm with him", echoing the end of last week's episode, but I didn't believe for a second that Jack was referring to anything other than proximity.
After the escape from the Cages, the Losties (with Flocke) make their way to the plane. Now, before I continue, I have to point out something that has been annoying me for the last couple of episodes. I'm not generally one to pick out continuity errors, but in the last couple of episodes, the day-night switching has just been lazy.
Last week's episode ends in the daytime with Widmore and Zoe taking the Losties hostage, but this week as they were walking to the Cages, it was night. Are we to believe that in the time it took Flocke, Jack, and Sayid to recover from the attack, and paddle over to Hydra Island, as it switched from day to night...that's how long it took Zoe and the Losties to walk from the beach to the Cages? Come on! And then after the nighttime escape from the cages, it's suddenly daytime on the way to the plane?
But back to the story, where in the FS World, Jack continued his creepy ways by tracking down Anthony Cooper. As he ran into Helen in the lobby and explained that he wanted to help, she told him to "leave this alone", but then his response to her was the good old Jack Shepherd we've always known:
Helen: "You saved John's life. Why can't that be enough?"
Jack: "Because it's not."
And as we saw Anthony Cooper for the first time , we didn't see the sleazeball con man we knew him to be...we saw a catatonic creature in a wheelchair (nice touch). It made me think of Ben and Roger in the FS World...and how both Ben and Locke had been cursed with horrible fathers previously, but now the situation was quite different for both of them.
At the Ajira plane, the two "guards" fired on Flocke, and were summarily dismissed. I have to think back to earlier this season, when Bram fired on Flocke and was killed, and then when Ilana cocked her gun when he came out of the statue, Richard instructed her NOT to shoot. Is this the theory I posed earlier, that he can act only when directly threatened? It still doesn't explain the Oceanic 815 pilot or the Temple dwellers, but it may be something...
I saw him take the watch from the dead guard, and then find the explosives in the plane, and I was disappointed that I knew what would be coming...
One question I have about when the Losties arrived at the Ajira plane, was how come we didn't get a scene of Sawyer and Kate looking at each other and saying, "So that's what we were building the damn runway for!" And I actually laughed out loud when Sayid diagnosed the dead guard..."He's got a broken neck." If anyone knows about snappin' necks, it's Sayid.
As they left the Ajira plane, Jack held firm to his insistence that he would not be leaving, and even though Flocke said "fair enough", I didn't buy it for a second. Claire then apologized to Flocke for deserting him earlier, and he gave her a forgiving pat on the back and told her he understood why she did it. He still seemed protective of her, and it made me think of something in terms of how they all refer to the entity I call Flocke or the Man in Black (MIB).
Have you notice that those that trust him, and are "with" him, refer to him as "Locke", or"him", or in Claire's case, even "my friend"...but those that don't trust him, refer to him as "it", or "that thing", or something similar. It's almost as if not trusting him gives them an inability to personalize how he/it is viewed.
In the FS World, Locke woke up in his hospital bed saying "Push the button", and "I wish you had believed me." In an effort to keep this recap to a reasonable length, I'll let you take that one in the Comments section, because I could write a whole post on that.
But out in the waiting area, Jack talked to Claire and we saw Mirror Image #3: where Jack purchased a candy bar in the hospital vending machine and offered in to Claire, mirroring what we saw in the Season 5 finale "The Incident", where Jacob did the same with Jack.
And as Claire explained to Jack that she too was on Oceanic 815, it seemed as if Jack was starting to realize that something was going on after finding out the same thing with Bernard, but we were sidetracked with Claire's gift from Christian, a music box that was playing "Catch a Falling Star." I was expecting that song to be a trigger for one or both of them, but it wasn't.
As the Losties prepared to storm the sub, I watched Sawyer barrel his way down on to the dock and onto the sub like he was a cast member in Stomp, and even though I have no experience inside a submarine, I have to wonder how on earth the crew inside didn't hear them coming. Just before Jack and Flocke headed down, I saw Flocke hand Jack his knapsack, and while I couldn't tell if he switched them or just made sure Jack had his, I knew what it meant. Why the hell did he take that watch?
On the way to the sub, Jack knocked Flocke into the water as Sawyer had instructed, leading all of us Lost junkies to scream thinking that the long-standing theory that Flocke was weakened by water was about to be confirmed. Um...not so much. Credit to Damon and Carlton for the knowing wink from Sawyer telling Jack to "get it in the water", but it appears it was just a stall tactic.
Then my beloved Kate got shot and my jaw dropped. No way! I was too shocked to immediately recognize that I was seeing Mirror Image #4: the shootout at the sub that saw Kate shot and hustled into the sub, mirroring The Incident, where we saw Sayid shot and hustled into the Dharma Van.
As the shootout continued furiously outside the sub, we saw Sawyer go back for Claire, but when he saw Flocke coming for the boat, he abandoned her yet again, locking them both out. Little did she know that this time, she was actually saved, as Flocke told her "You don't want to be on that sub."
The bomb scene on the sub was reminiscent of the scene between Jack and Richard in the Black Rock...it was all about trust. And as Jack explained that they just had to trust him, that they were all going to be ok if they just let the counter click down...I believed him, and I believed him 100%. Did you?
Jack was bang-on in his assessment that the goal by Flocke was for them to kill each other, which is what they would be doing by messing with the bomb. And just as Jack has become the Faithful, like Locke...Sawyer has now become the Non-Believer, like Jack once was.
As the bomb ticked down furiously, Sayid grabbed it and gave Jack a message about Desmond on the Island, and how Jack would need him. His last line before running off with the bomb was "It's going to be you, Jack", which I can only imagine refers to the title of the episode, 'The Candidate", and that Jack will be the one to replace Jacob.
Very few scenes in this show give me full on goosebumps anymore, but Sayid's slow-motion run through the submarine before blowing up was one of them. Just when I thought I didn't care what happened to him...wow.
The sequences on the sub all happened so fast that I can't really take them all in without a second or third viewing. Frank gets a door blown in his face (mirroring Jack on Hydra Island?), Jack screams "There is no Sayid!", Hurley tries to get Kate to safety, Jack leaves with Sawyer, but then it all came down to Jin and Sun.
Now I've been very vocal with the use of these two characters this season, and what I perceived as their uselessness, and that they were a love story that I just wasn't buying into. But as I watched the water rise to Jin's chin, and saw Jack leave them alone on the sub, and remember back to what I called the "housekeeping" scene in the cage...it became clear what I was watching.
And I lost it. If you would have told me I would be bawling my eyes out at Jin and Sun drowning, I would have scoffed at you, but that's the damn magic of this show. They remind you that just when you think you don't care anymore, you still do. I'll leave more accomplished recappers like Vozzek and Jeff Jensen to break down that scene, but if you weren't emotional in that closing shot of the hands separating with the flashing red light behind and the musical score playing, I would argue that you don't have a heart.
But as I shook off the emotion of that scene, and watched the show switch back to Locke in the FS World, I found myself wondering if perhaps Locke was responsible for Cooper's condition...and that's why he didn't want to talk about it. And in that closing FS scene between Jack and Locke, that appears to be what we are being led to believe, but I think it's something else...
Did you notice that when Locke saw Jin in the hospital hallway, he paused as if he recognized him? I'm now wondering if the Locke we are seeing in the FS World is indeed the Man in Black, and he too has traveled between the two realities. It would make sense that he would refuse the surgery, because he would NEED John Locke to not be able to walk, so that the Island would still give him his faith once he was there. Make sense? Probably not...it's getting late and I'm clearly starting to ramble.
Jack and Locke talked fathers, letting go, and "what happened, happened", and then in a final un-Locke-like laugh, John rolled away as Jack called after him "I wish you believed me." Mirror Image #5: this is the same message from John to Jack in "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham."
The surviving Losties, Jack, Hurley, Sawyer, and a wounded Kate reconvene on the beach where Hurley breaks down, and Jack seemingly acknowledges that his faith is being tested.
Then we switch to Claire and Flocke, and somehow the MIB knows that the sub sunk, and not everyone is dead...and stomps off "to finish what I started."
Body Count: Sun, Jin, Sayid, Chip from Kate and Allie, a number of randoms, and possibly Frank. Quite a statement for one episode.
You can breathe now...
Until next week.
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