Lost Episode Recap: "The Candidate"

In this confusing, heartbreaking hour of Lost, three original castaways died at the hands of an increasingly menacing Man in Black. Jack made the decision to stay on the island. In the sideways world, Jack wanted to save a deeply damaged Locke, but failed to convince him to have spinal surgery.

Who died?

RIP, Sayid, Sun and Jin. A crafty Man in Black smuggles explosives into Jack's backpack, which he carries unwittingly on to the submarine. When Sayid is unable to defuse the bomb, he sacrifices himself by carrying the bomb away from the others. The resulting explosion floods the sub and traps Sun under debris.

Jin lobbies valiantly to free his bride, but when he can't, he tells her he won't leave her again, and they go to a shared, watery grave. Yunjin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim's facial expressions break my heart here, and I wonder how much of it is actually acting. Filming in a water tank has to be legitimately scary, and the Kwons' Charlie Pace-like death is both poignant and harrowing.

The final image, of the lovers' hands almost touching underwater, a perhaps-too-literal reference to the hands of God and man in the Sistine Chapel, reminds me of the porthole creating a watery halo around Charlie's head as he drowns. Darlton sure knows how to stage a pretty death tableux, no?

But! There's an unspoken question that hangs in the air as their lungs fill with seawater: What about Ji Yeon? Sure, Jin had a terrible choice to make, but what kind of parent knowingly orphans his child in a scenario that was, let's face it, avoidable. He didn't have to die. Logically, it makes sense that Jin would sacrifice himself for his lost-in-time lover, especially after their painful prolonged separation, but wouldn't he also hunger to meet the daughter he's never known?

Who is still alive?

Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sawyer grab oxygen tanks from the submarine and escape pretty easily considering their predicament. Kate is shot in the shoulder by Widmore's henchmen as they're boarding the sub, but it seems like one of those injuries that would, in the real world, require six weeks of bed rest, but on TV, is cured within 84 minutes or so. Lapidus gets clocked by an exploding hatch door, but I'm confident that he's still alive — mostly because I'm still waiting for Jeff Fahey to have his moment. Seriously, what has the guy been doing but playing "follow the leader" for the last season? By May 23, he is sure to have his moment, so stay tuned.

Who is the candidate?

Just before Sayid threw himself on the bomb, he tells Jack that Desmond is trapped in a well and that he'll need to find him to do what he has to do. "Because it's going to be you, Jack," he says significantly. Does this mean that Jack is "the candidate" of the episode's title? I don't think anyone would be surprised at this point if he is, based on his 180-degree conversion and subsequent devotion to the island.

Did Desmond "cure" Sayid?

Should we believe Sayid? I mean, the dude is nothing but watery pink mist now, so we have no choice but to examine his last words closely. I might just be hoping beyond hope, but Sayid seemed to be back to his old self on board the sub, no longer the glassy-eyed zombie who pledged his devotion to the Man in Black after his disturbing resurrection.

One possibility: Once Sayid heard Desmond out that day at the well, Des somehow "cured" Sayid. It's a nice thought, especially considering that if we don't take him at his word, it means that a) Des is dead, which he clearly isn't, or b) Des isn't in that well, which, well, we're running out of time, so he just better be. I know this makes me sound like a mouth-breathing simpleton, but at this point in the series, I'm craving streamlining. I want this crazy, twisty, wholly fulfilling narrative to start coming together in satisfying, digestible bites. Further complication will just piss me off, I think.

What's in the box?

This might be a minor point, and maybe my Lost memory center is failing me, but what's up with the music box that Christian left Claire in his will? I seem to recall seeing it before, but I can't remember the context. At any rate, does it make me a total sap to say that I like seeing Jack and Claire finally discover each other and tentatively feel out their unusual siblinghood.

Emilie de Ravin is always at her best when Claire is the smiling, flirty, charming "Aussie gull" with whom we all fell in love. (On the flip side, I think Off the Reservation Island Claire is kind of a disaster, acting-wise.) Even though it's a ridiculous plot point, I like that Jack invited Claire to come stay with him, and I look forward to sideways Jack feathering his domestic nest with healthier familial influences.

Why won't Locke have the surgery?

It's an interesting twist. Initially, one might believe that John Locke was afraid of having spinal surgery because of the possibility of failure. The beaten-down Locke appeared to not want to set himself up for yet another disappointment. Further, there was a degree of pride in play as well. Locke is a man who has learned to live with his condition, embrace it even.

But no, there's a whole lot more to his decision to remain in a wheelchair, and perhaps not surprisingly, it stems from daddy issues. Though Anthony Cooper is not the organ-stealing monster we've thus far known him to be, he is still the source of Locke's angst. It seems that in this timeline, Locke asked his dad to accompany him on his maiden flight after getting his pilot's license. They crashed upon take-off, both men were paralyzed, and Cooper was left in a catatonic state, drool and all.

Locke sees his condition as his rightful punishment, and no mere spinal surgeon can convince him otherwise. "I can help you, John. I wish you'd believe me," Jack says to Locke, a clever echo of Locke's suicide note from "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham." There's a flicker of recognition, but Locke remains steadfast in his desire to stay in the chair.

Will the two universes converge?

Exhibit A: As Juliet slips into death, she very clearly says to Sawyer, "Sure, maybe we can grab coffee some time" and then "We can go dutch." Add that to Miles' later discovery that Juliet said "it worked" after she died. Was her sideways self peeking through, giving us a glimpse of her life three years after Oceanic 815 landed?

Exhibit B: In the season premiere, Jack goes to the lavatory on board Oceanic 815 and notices a small cut on his neck, the source of which he clearly doesn't remember. It's my contention that at the end of the series, we'll see how Jack got that injury, on the island, perhaps just moments before he "flashes" on to the plane.

Exhibit C: Locke mumbles two things in his unconscious haze — "push the button" and "I wish you had believed me" — lines we've previously heard in the other timeline.

It seems clear that Desmond's job is to "wake up" the passengers of Oceanic 815, get them to remember their island adventure. So far Charlie, Desmond, Hurley and Daniel (if they were a band, they'd be called The Romantics) are hep to his jive, but what's it going to take to get the others on board?

Where are we heading?

"It feels like we're going in circles," Sawyer says when Widmore's henchmen lock Sawyer, Kate, Hurley, Lapidus, Sun and Jin in the polar bear cages. (Remember the last time Sawyer and Kate were locked in a cage together? Rowr!) Anyhow, Hoss makes a good point. We're totally circling the drain that is the 19-hour series finale on May 23, and I still have little idea where we're headed. Sure, we all have our theories about how it will all end, but deep down I think we all want to be wrong. We want to be surprised by how it all comes together, don't we?

We've only got two episodes to go, including next week's mythology-busting meditation on Jacob and the Man in Black, "Across the Sea," before the finale. I'm in mourning already.

What did you think of "The Candidate"?

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