Angry Robot

Lost Season Six Episode Fourteen, "The Candidate"

The dangerous thing about this season has of course been the sideways flashes replacing the flashbacks or flash forwards of past seasons. The flash sideways at the beginning of the season felt like “hey what would happen if the plane never crashed” speculative time-wasters, which contrasted poorly with the tension and action ol’ smokey was causing in the “real”(?) storyline. The pacing was just too different, and we weren’t told why we should care, as we had no idea about the ontological status of the sideways world. Things felt better with the Desmond injection the sideways received a few eps ago, which projected the alterna-plot forward at a satisfying clip. But this one felt like a touch of a regression. It’s impossible to have a scene like the one with Claire & Jack be satisfying, as it had no apparent purpose or relationship to the main story, and its touchy-feely vibe was an unwelcome break from some machine-gun battlin’, balls-to-the-wall suspense and action on the island.

Do I think the flash sideways are a waste of time, then? Not at all. The writers are doubling down on sideways, and there will be a payoff, which we can at least hope will cover the dramatic debt they have incurred with us by keeping the purpose of this strange universe completely hidden.

So what were the themes, then? A lot of things recurred:

Essentially, Sawyer killed three main characters tonight. His decision to attempt to defuse the bomb was obviously the wrong one. It contrasts with Jack’s decision at the end of season five to detonate the bomb, which cost Juliet her life and earned Sawyer’s rage. Sawyer’s decision was motivated by mistrust, whereas Jack’s was motivated by trust (in Faraday’s theories, and that he could ‘fix’ everything).

I do think Jack’s theory, that the MIB cannot kill the candidates, is sound. The mysterious kid who appeared to Locke and Sawyer said as much, and frankly, if he could kill the candidates, he’s had plenty of chances. Also, it fits in perfectly with MIB’s dim view of humanity, as seen in the finale of season 5: “They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt.” Humans are so ready to kill each other that he need only gently nudge them in the direction of self-interest, as Jacob does the opposite way. “Live together, die alone.”

And wow, the death count: three, maybe four characters massacred in one go. In an interview that was published quickly after the episode, Darlton state that the point of the slaughter was to establish that Smokey is the villain: “There is no ambiguity… He is evil and he has to be stopped.” While I wish poor Sayid had a few more violins playing him out, it was ultimately as redemptive a death as a character like him can aspire to.

So, the view from here. Next we get “Across the Sea,” reputedly the Jacob/MiB flashback-origin story and certainly the episode I’ve most been anticipating. After that comes the alluringly-titled “What They Died For,” which I hope will contain some more backstory for some deceased characters, especially Daniel Faraday, whose time in Ann Arbor with Dharma in the 70s seems crucial for more than one strand of narrative. And then, we end with two and a half hours of “The End,” which could theoretically pick up right where The Candidate left off. Damn son, not a long way to go.