Lost recap: Three candidates go down as the Man in Black reveals his masterstroke
Roaring back from a week where fans had to make do with a rerun, Lost presented one of its most action-packed episodes yet, "The Candidate" -- which started with our favorite Losties stuck in a cage and ended with three beloved characters gone, seemingly forever.
Along the way, the episode confirmed what I had always suspected about the show's endgame -- that the series' villain, the Smoke Monster (a.k.a. Man in Black) stuck in the form of John Locke, needs all the candidates who might succeed island caretaker Jacob to be dead before he can leave the place.
To say the least, this post has got some serious spoilerage coming, so don't read on unless you've seen the episode or don't mind reading about it early.
And, as much action as they packed in, producers still provided no additional revelations for our list of questions the show MUST answer. Thank goodness they decided to expand the May 23 finale by 30 more minutes to run 2 1/2 hours -- we're going to need that much time to really believe it's over...
This week's installment started sedately enough, with Matthew Fox's Jack Shepard waking Locke in the sideways reality where our castaways never crashed on the island. In that reality, adventurer Desmond Hume ran over a wheelchair-bound Locke while he was leaving his high school teaching job, a move seemingly inspired by Hume's newfound ability to sense the other reality.
Unfortunately, we never learn why Hume attacked Locke in sideways-land, though it may have been an attempt to push him into contact with Shephard, a surgeon who saved his life after the accident. As the episode progresses, Shepard proves the hub of contact with many different losties, including Locke, half-sister Claire and dentist Bernard. More and more, it seems Shephard is positioned to be the candidate who eventually lands Jacob's job.
In the primary reality, our castaways have been taken prisoner by mysterious mogul Charles Widmore, who cryptically tells them the jail cell he's sticking them in is for their own good (fans will recognize it as the place where Jack, Kate and Sawyer were held by The Others in season three).
Why Widmore doesn't just keep them in the headquarters he already has shielded from the Smoke Monster, I'm not really sure. But Smokey finds them, helps free them and convinces them to follow him in taking over Widmore's submarine. When they lock smokey out of the sub and take off, our losties think they've won -- but our villain is a much better chess player than that.
Through both realities, Shephard is emerging as a man of science turned into a man of faith. In the sideways world, he is trying to convince Locke he can cure his paralysis with an operation; in the primary reality, he tries convincing Sawyer that the bomb Smokey slipped into his backpack before they jumped on the sub won't explode if no one disturbs it.
He fails in both attempts.
But Shephard's failure allows others to discover their own faith. Sayid learns to care about his fellow castaways again, grabbing the bomb and running to a distant part of the ship, presumably killed when it detonated (will we ever learn how he was resurrected from the dead, why it left such a black hole in his heart and why he suddenly recovered in this moment to save his friends?)
Sun and Jin have a love that even a flooding sub cannot tear apart, as Jim seemingly chooses to drown with his wife when she is pinned inside the sinking craft.
This may be one of the most heart-rending deaths of the series, on a show where minor characters often drop like flies (indeed, Tuesday's episode featured something like four deaths besides the main characters who perished). Still, these deaths were personal for Lost fans -- the passing of characters we had come to know and root for over years of twisted plots, time travel and sideways realities
I'm using weasel words to describe these deaths, because one of Lost's biggest lessons is that even death sometimes doesn't take you out of the action on this show. So we may yet learn the losties we feared are dead met a different fate.
But for now, three candidates remain alive in one reality, as Hume is working to unite the candidates in the sideways world and Smokey is gearing up to "finish what I started" on the island. Read Entertainment Weekly Lost-ophile Doc Jensen's interview with the series executive producers on why they killed three beloved characters here.
And, of course, the deaths of Sayid, Sun and Jin also sends another message to fans, sharp as an elbow in the ribs:
No one is safe.
Cant wait until next week...below is the latest cast shot; click to expand and sift through for clues.