Lost: Before the Deluge

Screw the pleasantries. Let’s get right down to business. After the jump.

With 116 hours down and five to go, Lost sprung violently headfirst into its endgame with “The Candidate,” an episode that packed in more action and excitement than the rest of the season put together.

Smoke Locke’s plan became clear, three major characters died, and best of all, none of it was entirely predictable. Throughout the episode, every character veered back and forth between imminent danger and safety. The show kept us constantly on edge, never knowing who would survive, who would get killed, and who would do the killing — Locke or Widmore. The hour played out like a cross between an action movie and a dark thriller.

Sayid, Sun and Jin: all dead. And seemingly for real this time. “The Candidate” was, for lack of a better word, awesome.

/walks by mirror and looks at self strangely

Huh. That’s weird.

I feel…off. Oh no…am I…? Am I trapped in a Sideways World?

WOOOOOOOOSH!

Awesome? Yes. That episode also proved once and for all that Lost is not sticking the landing. When the nuclear bomb detonated, Juliet died (a couple times), and a parallel reality was introduced, my worst fear was that this new storytelling conceit would rob the show if its emotional resonance. And tonight conclusively showed that’s exactly what’s happened.

Jin and Sun, two crucial characters who have been around since the pilot, and two characters I’ve often liked a lot, died in what should have been an emotionally crushing scene. And it was a little sad. But it didn’t have nearly the impact it should have because of the sideways world, where Jin and Sun are alive and happy. We even saw Jin stroll past alterna-Locke in the hospital, carrying flowers for his wife. One of two things is going to happen: the sideways people are going to have to sacrifice that reality for the island reality, in which case we’ll have to basically watch the Kwons die again (along with Locke, Charlie, Boone, etc.). Or they’ll live on in the sideways world, rendering their death in the island timeline meaningless.

As Lost’s Sad Drowning Theme played, first heard when Charlie died, and the sub sank, I should have been breathless and devastated. Instead, I thought about how similar the scene played out to the sappy denouement of Titanic, and thought about how it’s a little lazy for the writers to go back to the drowning well as a means of killing someone off. I blame those intrusive thoughts entirely on the sideways world. Also: they’re speaking English to each other as they’re dying? Seriously?

And Sayid? Sayid was already a zombie. He’s already died. And he’s also still around in the alternate timeline.

Wait…I’m not done…

WOOOOOOOOSH!

This crackling hour of entertainment also proved that we might not need answers hidden under every rock in this final season. In fact, the answers Lost has doled out have been clumsy and awkward (“Why yes, Hurley, the whispers in the jungle are me and my fellow Purgatory ghosts.”). The finest moments of this season have been action- and character-driven, while much of the mythology has fallen short.

Look, I’m still going to be pissed if most of the major questions aren’t answered. Of course I will be. But entertaining forgives a lot, and tonight was entertaining as fuck.

The sequence on the sub was fantastic, as were most of the action beats. But “The Candidate also featured the show’s best acting in a while. Jack’s why-God-why moment on the beach at episode’s end was moving, and the look on Smoke Locke’s face when he told Claire, “You don’t want to be on that sub” was chilling. We also got great lines like Jack’s “I’m with him” as the Smoke Monster rampaged behind him.

Humor. Pathos. Action. That’s how Lost started, and it’s looking like that’s how Lost will go out.

WOOOOOOOOSH!

OK, Sideways me. I get it. You liked the show. But you have to be frustrated that Sayid died, was brought back to life as some kind of infected zombie, cured the infection and zombieness because Desmond made him feel sad, only to die again in an empty act of redemption. What was the point of the whole fucking arc?

And the sideways world once again dragged the show down. Those scenes may have been mercifully short this week, but the contrast between ticking bombs, sinking subs, people dying vs. Anthony Cooper drooling was marked. It’s too late in the game to be dealing with Peggy Bundy. And despite Alterna-Jack calling Locke a “candidate,” there wasn’t enough thematic integration between the timelines.

Sure, there were good wisecracks. There always are. But don’t we need more from Lost at this point? A lot of shows, as they’re wrapping up, reference things that happened earlier in an effort to show that everything’s coming full circle. The Lost writers are falling head over heels to do this. As Sawyer said, they’re running in circles. But having characters repeat the show’s famous quotes over and over again (“I can fix you,” “Whatever happened, happened,” etc.), and putting them in situations similar to what they’ve faces in the past (defusing a bomb, holding a gun to Kate’s head to compel Sawyer to do something) isn’t showing us what a complex, intricate tapestry Lost has weaved. It’s too on the nose, and it’s lazy, and it’s winking at long-time fans. I don’t want fucking winking.

Shit…

WOOOOOOOOSH!

All those complaints are completely justified, but the bottom line is that this episode worked. It was engaging, and fun, and the 60 minutes absolutely flew by. And the loss of Sayid and the Kwons pares us down to the essentials (which reminds me…where the hell is Ben?). Those characters had run their course, and had basically become extras in the central drama. Once Jin and Sun found each other, there wasn’t much left for them to do. And Sayid has flip-flopped between Stone Cold Killer and Heart of Ninja Gold so many times it had simply become a question of which side he landed on as time expired — who would have the ball last.

The final season’s cast had too many characters, especially with all the Dogens and Ilanas running around contributing nothing, and it was high time to give the precious remaining screen time to those who need it.

Four hours left now. And spoilers are out there…so be careful, kids.

Rose and Bernard Annoyance Factor: 2. Bernard’s not nearly as annoying as Rose, and he was only on screen for a couple minutes.

WOOOOOOOSH!

Rose and Bernard Annoyance Factor: 6,000! Fuck you, dentist! Fuck you and your fake kind eyes and your fake kind smile and your beholding to doctor-patient confidentiality. And I promise you: Jack was not flirting with Rose. Just the thought of that makes me violently ill. Jack was humoring Rose. There’s a big difference between flirting and politely humoring, you moron who obviously couldn’t get a real medical degree.

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1 Comment

Filed under Television Has AIDS, The Dilemma

One response to “Lost: Before the Deluge

  1. David Simon Cowell

    One of the most ridiculous things about this season (and that’s saying something) is that all these characters are focused on taking a transcontinental airplane off the island… and not one of them says, “Wait a second. How is this thing taking off? Don’t we need a really long runway? How are we going to possibly clear and grade a mile of jungle with no tools and Whitmore attacking us constantly?”

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