Jack, do you have any idea how badly I want to kill your entry right now? Your stubbornness on Lost is starting to resemble the other Jack—the one we all tired of in Season 2, when he became completely self-obsessed.
On to your seven problems with last night’s episode. (Seth, for fairness’ sake we should note that you didn’t like “The Candidate” too much either. But it’s far more enjoyable to beat up on Jack.) Let’s classify the seven like so: four concern absurd feats of strength underwater; three concern the characters’ somewhat bizarre behavior.
Regarding the underwater shenanigans, I will reiterate something I’ve told you many times before: This show has never been real. In Season 3, Mikhail got electrocuted and shot through the heart with a harpoon, yet still managed to destroy the underwater Looking Glass station. After Sawyer jumped off the helicopter in Season 4, he swam ashore to the precise spot Juliet was enjoying some Dharma-brand booze. In Season 2, Desmond shot a 1970s-era computer, and Sayid put it back together. All those examples, Jack, are from seasons you liked. So I ask again: What has changed? Because it’s sure not the show.
Now, about the character issues. Jack, your Sayid quibble is outdated. Sayid actually broke free of his demon spawn/zombie trance last week when he decided not to kill Desmond. That he is choosing martyrdom is common sense. He has nothing left to live for. The love of his life is dead, his friends are all terrified of him, and he has betrayed a murderous pillar of black smoke.
I do agree, begrudgingly, that Sun and Jin should have been speaking Korean. The fact that they spoke in English dampened a rich, emotional moment and also erased the kudos Lost earned in subtitle-heavy Season 1. But it was still a rich, emotional moment. My friend Jamie, who graciously hosts me every episode, was in tears, and the whole room was bereft when the commercials started. Sun and Jin took all this time trying to find each other, and the only place they could be together forever was at the bottom of the ocean. That’s good, powerful storytelling; even if it’s obscured by lame, clichéd dialogue.
And, OK, it’s a little strange that Smokey uses a gun. Maybe he’s nostalgic for the feel of an AK-47 against the diaphragm. Maybe he was worried his smoke form would crush the watch that he needed as a bomb timer? Maybe he can only shapeshift once per episode. I have no idea. But you know what, Jack? I don’t care. And I wonder why you do.
Allow me to play your psychiatrist. You, Jack, like to be a great man. And great men surround themselves with greatness. But you’re coming to the realization that Lost isn’t great—it has too many tics to be exceptional. You’ve invested six years in this not-great-but-maybe-good TV. Now, you feel tarred by association. And so you rage against the show—constantly asking it to be something that it is not.
When Lost first debuted, the show had tremendous potential. It could have been a network version of The Wire. Morally ambiguous characters, sprawling backstories, and an existential theme—these are the elements of Great Television. But as the show nears a close, I think it’s time to stop trying to mold Lost into some version of the Great American Novel. It’s a genre show. It can be good; it can be bad. But it can never be what we thought it might be: great.
See what you’ve done to me, guys? Your negativity has infected the place. I’ve turned from a naive apologist to a jaded realist. I much preferred the former.
But back to last night’s episode. Things happened. Things we can analyze. The important stuff:
- Jack is Jacob’s successor. Or at least Sayid thinks he is. “It’s going to be you, Jack,” Sayid says before running off with the bomb. Is Sayid opining or does he have inside intel? Maybe during a heart-to-heart, Locke told Sayid who the real candidate is? Jack has certainly been acting like Jacob 2.0, and he seems to be wise to the rules of the island. It appears our prediction—or was it that college kid’s prediction?—that Smokey can’t kill the candidates was correct.
- Kate’s on the wall! But her name’s crossed out. She sure looked bummed when she found out, even though she doesn’t really care about the island. The only other living character whose name was crossed out is our (long-“lost”!) friend Ben Linus. Essentially, that renders Kate and Ben muggles.
- Before dying, Sun and Jin reminded the audience that they have a daughter. I’m looking forward to seeing Ji Yeon—maybe in tandem with Aaron—in the finale.Do we think Locke was in the other timeline when he was dream-talking? “Push the button,” and, “why didn’t you believe in me?” are lines we’ve heard him say before, on the island. This is a new way of consciousness-hopping; one that not even Desmond has indulged in. (His Faraday fever dream in Season 5 doesn’t count.) Also, I think Locke had a whiff of the alternate timeline when Jack said, “I wish you believed me!”
- When Smokey tears through the Widmore camp, there are white flashes of light. We’ve never been told what they mean, but we first saw this phenomenon when Smokey encountered Juliet and Kate in the jungle in Season 3. I’ve long theorized that the flashes allow Smokey to see into your soul. But why flash the Widmores before killing them? This is a mystery I have a feeling won’t be answered in the finale.
- The scene in which Jack purchases the Apollo candy bar in the hospital was filmed just like the scene in which Jacob touched him—in the original timeline.More mirrors last night! This time both Jack and Claire looked into the same one. But no recognition occurred, which makes me think these reflections could be red herrings. There are no patterns.
- Bernard sure seemed like he knew about both timelines, didn’t he?
One last question: What did last night tell us about Widmore’s endgame? He suggested that he had a list of names requiring protection—and that Kate wasn’t on it. Now that Jin and Sun are dead, is his plan ruined? To answer that question, of course, we need to understand his plan. This being Lost, we don’t.