It took only a matter of minutes to kill off three main characters in “The Candidate.” That’s how quickly things happen on “LOST.” You survive a plane crash, periodic attacks from polar bears, a mercenary strike team, and a pillar of black smoke that may be Evil itself, only to die aboard a submarine on your way home.
The title refers to sideways Locke being a candidate for an experimental surgery that could allow him to walk again — a surgery he absolutely does not want — as well as Jack being tapped as the one to take Jacob’s place. “It’s going to be you,” Sayid says before he pulls an Ilana and goes ka-boom.
On the island, Widmore throws the Losties in the polar bear cages last seen in Season 3. Sawyer and Kate have been here before — “Feel like we’re running in circles,” Sawyer says — but it isn’t long before they’re bailed out… by the Smoke Monster. Jack is there, too. “I’m with him,” he says, nodding at the Smoke Monster as it tears through Widmore’s henchmen.
There’s now been official mention of something that was only glimpsed in an earlier episode: Kate was indeed a Candidate, but her name had been crossed off the wall in Jacob’s cave. What does that mean? Don’t know. Originally It seemed that Candidates had their names crossed out because they died or were killed, but that’s clearly not the case. So why didn’t Kate make the cut?
Things continued to move at a brisk pace. After escaping the cages, the Losties almost boarded an explosives-packed plane, opted instead to steal Widmore’s sub, which then sank, taking three major characters along with it. Jack’s rule of survival on the island — live together, die alone — wasn’t enough to save them, and the number of Candidates is down to three.
As bad as I felt about the deaths of Sun and Jin, from a storytelling point of view their time was pretty much up. It’s almost as if the writers were simply waiting for the two characters to be reunited, then… bye-bye. Same goes for Darth Sayid. After he was “claimed” by the Man in Black, it seemed only a matter of time before someone killed him, or Sayid killed himself. He ended up doing the latter, but not before redeeming himself and proving that he does indeed have a soul.
The big question of the episode seems to be, would the bomb have gone off if Sawyer hadn’t pulled the wires? I’m guessing it wouldn’t have, but we’re entering a grey area here in terms of the Candidates and what constitutes suicide. The Candidates can’t kill themselves, but does that count if Jack took the explosives from Locke, even if he didn’t know they were in the backpack? I’m thinking this will be one of the questions that won’t be answered on the show, and I’m fine with it. It’s the sort of mystery that is best left unexplained. If the characters will never know, neither should we.
For me, the most powerful scene was right after the sub sinks and Jack, Kate, Hurley, and an unconscious Sawyer are on the beach. When Hurley started sobbing… well, it almost got me going. You could really feel the loss and despair they must have been experiencing at that moment. Not only are they still stuck on the island, but three of their friends have died as well.
The fate of Lapidus is not quite as clear. His was the only body we didn’t see in the sub. Yeah, he got hit with that big metal door, but I don’t think he’s dead. It’s like Chekhov’s gun, the one that, if you introduce it in the first act, must go off in the last. Same goes here. If you’ve got a plane that hasn’t blown up yet, and a pilot who’s death was ambiguous at best… well, that plane is going to be flying before the end of the show.