Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Talk to the Flocke: Reactions to the Lost episode "The Candidate"

I've got my work cut out for me this morning. Insta-reactions last night from two of my dearest "Lost" buddies were not incredibly kind. Then this morning, a third amigo (happy Cinco de Mayo to everybody who didn't pass that law in Arizona) came forth and declared himself to be a doubter of "The Candidate." Hell, even the producers clearly felt a bit nervous, as they climbed down from their normally very high perch to explain why they did certain things (read here if you wish). That's particularly shocking because (A) oftentimes the twitter feed of Damon Lindelof is used to say "suck it" to anybody doubting a particular episode and (B) the creators are big on the "we don't answer questions, we let the show speak for itself" mumbo jumbo (which is why they're going into "radio silence" after the finale). Add to all of this the fact that I hated, hated, hated, hated the first half hour of the show tonight, and I'm going to have my work cut out for me proving why this is, for me, one of the most definitive and ultimately awesome episodes of my favorite television show.

I'm going to do this by flipping my usual order: I'm going to give you what I DIDN'T like up front, so we can all agree on what sucked. But before we do that, another quick note about "cheese." There are two kinds of cheese (three if you count the kind you can, you know, actually eat). There's the kind that works, and the kind that doesn't. All that really separates the two is how it affects you. For example, everyone in the world agrees that Lapidus's "Looks like somebody got her voice back" is the cheesiest line not spoken by a mouse with its mouthful. Yet, when Charlie wrote that list for Claire saying goodbye, why wasn't that cheesy? Because it was effective. A lot of your reaction to the "death" of Sun and Jin is based on whether or not it "worked" for you. It did for me. Did I have problems with the set up, with the dialogue, with how long the scene went on? Yes. Did I almost get sniffly thinking about what I would do in that moment, when we saw their hands slowly separate? Yes. Yes I did.

This is all about individual reactions, and I can't tell you that you're wrong about your feelings. I can tell you that I found the second half of this episode to be about as good as the show has ever been. Had it been paired with a good first half, it'd make my top 5. Let's dig in to why. Buckle up, I'm going to try to make you love this.

Things I didn't like
  • Sun and Jin must live in Arizona - Because suddenly the two abandoned their native tongue as if some law were passed requiring them to do so? Seriously, "Lost"...what the hell? No way these two speak in English to one another. It's not their native language. Plus, what they're saying throughout the whole episode is so personal, they WOULDN'T want anyone else to hear. Did your translator get laid off? Did you run out of "subtitle money?" What the hell were you thinking? They're drowning to death with one another and their last words are in a language they've only mutually spoken to each other for one day? Suck it. This was the dumbest thing in the show EVER.
  • Submarine has a boo-boo - So....C4 detonated inside a submerged submarine gives the ship a HOLE IN THE SIDE? Really? After Flocke did the whole "there's enough C4 in there to blow us all to kingdom come" schtick, you really think that because Sayid kind of smothered it a bit that it would only blow a hole in the side? Seriously? Watch how easy this is for me to solve: Sayid says everything the exact same, opens a hatch, flies outside, water is pouring in the ship but somebody thinks to seal an emergency hatch, he explodes outside, which damages the sub. Better than hugging a bomb to only give the ship a boo boo I'd say. Dumb.
  • The entire first half hour was lame - It wasn't good, right? We get a lot more "let's go here, let's go there," the cages made a return (the only thing more hated than Nikki and Paolo), and we got to the plane only to immediately leave it and go to the sub. Seriously, it was wretched.
  • The flash sideways still suck - They never worked. Let's just admit it. Even if they reveal what I think they're going to (namely that I've been waaaay wrong and that the flash sideways IS going to be the consolation prize for everyone who dies...we'll get to that in the Reflections section), they have been boring all season long. You can't basically be annoying for let's say 6 combined hours of screen time and then think that one revelation makes up for all that boredom. I thought we were headed for something lately, with everyone coming together, and then...nothing. Ooooh, Jack and everyone keeps mentioning 815. WE KNOW. Desmond is M.I.A. and nobody seemed to be "awakened." Why did Des run over Locke? Who knows? Maybe we never will. Hate em. The writers/producers defend them to their death, but they were a bad move in an attempt to be clever ("Hey, we did flashbacks and flashforwards, let's do flashsideways!"). Even if it is some quantum other reality, they could have shown us that in one later episode and made it work. This was a waste of screen time.
Things I liked

See, so far I agree with you on all the flaws, right? We are on the same page! So why does this episode almost get an "A" grade? Five reasons:
  1. Death-splosion - In a season where we all figured bodies would be hitting the floor like the lyrics of a shitty rock song, they haven't. Until now. Whammo! The wisest decision was opting against slowly parceling out deaths throughout the season. That would have felt like a lame farewell tour. Instead, they made the deaths hurt by doing it all at once. When Hurley started blubbering on the beach...tell me that wasn't emotional. When Kate came running up to Jack and just declared so very genuinely "I couldn't find you"...God that was incredible! It felt HUGE and REAL and IMPORTANT even though we all know that nobody's "dead" so long as we're seeing them in the sideways. It was the perfect way to "use" the deaths we all knew had to come at some point. Admit it, even though you can say some of it was "cheesy," the speed with which it all unfolded made it feel intense. That was cool and emotionally hard hitting. Plus, how great was it when you realized that bomb was GOING to go off!
  2. Jack-tastic - The biggest point of contention with me and everyone else has been Jack's "letting faith take the wheel" journey. I hear all the time that "we've seen him let faith guide him before." No. We haven't. Every other time, be it when he returned to the island, when he was back in the past, or when he was angry at the Black Rock with Richard, it was different. Why? Well, he went back to the island out of guilt, not faith. He didn't "trust" that things would work out with the whole bomb, he hatched another goofy-ass Jack plan to "save everybody" (it was actually the ultimate in not letting faith guide him). At the Black Rock, he was pissed and was unsure what would happen. He didn't believe that it would spare him, he believed that he may finally be released. What happened last night was that he was so sure of what his role is, what his journey has been, that he solved it! Jack was, wait for it...RIGHT last night. Someone else's plan went to shit, not Jack's. Had Sawyer listened, they'd be fine. Oh, and let's talk about that great Jack/Sawyer moment! I mean, how incredible was it that all of the emotion of losing Juliet finally came back in that one moment. Sawyer just couldn't trust Jack again. It was perfectly set up.
  3. "Because it's going to be you, Jack." - During Sayid's farewell speech, he revealed Desmond to be alive. Thank GOD. No, not that he's alive, we knew that. Thank God that the producers knew that we knew that. I was going to hate waiting on that stupid piece of info. Plus, it was great how he concluded the truth: If the MiB wants Desmond dead, we need him. But the best was his line to Jack. Yes, we all "knew" that Jack was the replacement for Jacob, but to hear it said like that was like hearing one of those great "Lost" lines. I put this up there with "Ethan was not on the manifest" and "We're going to have to take the boy." I loved it. I also liked Sayid's death. Why? Well because it seemed unfair to have him die as some kind of villain after all he's done on the show. He deserved something like this, a way to redeem himself kind of but not all the way. Plus, I'm totally counting that as "Sayid killing someone." Although, I don't know what to name my column next week. Sad.
  4. Villainy REVEALED - No more lies. No more deceiving. Even though in the episode "Ab Aeterno" they revealed the MiB to be evil, evil, evil; even though he told Jacob that he would kill any candidate Jacob came up with; even though we all knew better, there were times when we would be confused as to what the intentions of the MiB were. We know now. Definitively. He wants to kill everybody. Also, Widmore is a good guy. He was trying to protect the candidates. He did a piss poor job, but he was trying. What we know now is the final battle: Our heroes versus the MiB with Widmore's help and Desmond as the weapon. Let's do this.
  5. It's always darkest before the dawn - What's the best Star Wars movie? Empire Strikes Back. Why? Because the good guys lose. Same with the end of last night's episode. Instead of feeling like we're about to have some triumph, the show knocked us down with a big set of losses. We're reeling, not surging ahead. That's a great set up for the finale. By the way THE FINALE IS EXPANDING BY A HALF HOUR!!! Yeah, that's right. We're getting an extra 30 minutes. The show is now 2 and a half hours. That's awesome. Much like the second half of tonight's episode.

Obviously, not many mythological answers.
  • The Man in Black CAN survive being submerged in water, which was a popular theory...but he sure didn't seem to like it. It took him awhile to get out and he didn't go all smokey on people shooting at him...come to think of it, why even kill those guys? They can't hurt him. He was just pissed about being wet?
  • They can't get off the island in the submarine. That's about it.
  • Everybody but Jack - I keep revising my "sacrificial" predictions a little. Here's my final Jack thought. He's going to be the only one who survives. In sort of a double-sacrifice, Jack is going to realize that he can send everyone into the sideways world...but that he has to stay. My guess is, he has to die in the sideways world.
  • Flocke's frustration - He's going to have to try to get them to kill each other...but how now? How can he get them to do that? Jack has it figured out, so he won't participate. Sawyer's unconscious! Not sure how that will work...
  • Sideways movement - So there's no doubt in my mind now that I did have it wrong. The show isn't going to give us some grim world where everyone we've ever cared about is really dead and gone. Thus, the sideways IS going to be some kind of escape hatch. In a sense, this completes the whole "quasi-purgatory" angle we've all talked about for so long (and hated...hated a lot). It still doesn't make me like the sideways. Plus, I have this feeling like we may not get an exact answer. I have this feeling like we're going to be lead to believe that this is the case, but not specifically told. That would be even more irritating.
Okay, enough already. I give the first half of the episode a C- and the first half an A, so that means I'll round up and give the whole thing a solid B. I wish it were more consistent, but it wasn't. For all those who disagree with me, I refer you to the beautiful Miss Lilly:

I kid. Next week is the uber big one guys. If you don't know because you're that spoiler-free (even though the previews for next week's episode sort of showed you what's up), I won't say anything about it until next week's predictions. Let's just say that it's going to be a mythological revelation like we haven't had on the show to this point.

One last plea: Dislike the episode all you want, really. Just enjoy this ride. You've invested 120 hours in this endeavor, let yourself have some fun. Don't sit there with your fists clenched because you know how much they have left to do: Relax. Sit back. Let it wash over you. There will be time for discussion and displeasure later.

I'm counting down the next 7 days....what say you all?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't hate the first half as much as you did but I spoke out-loud 3 times during the show (a cardinal sin in my house): #1- "Somebody please shoot Claire!", #2- "Sun and Jin should be speaking Korean!", and #3- "That was so hoo hoo!"
Seriously- only a SNIFFLE?? I've cried for Jin 3 times now (the raft, the freighter, and the sub) and, thanks to a friend's spoiler-ific facebook status, I knew he was going to die but STILL wept like a baby. I sniffled for Lapidus, who I thought had overstayed his welcome, but I truly cried for Sun and Jin, the daughter Jin will never meet, and the fact that their reunion was so short-lived and so tainted by stupid lines and English.

May 05, 2010  
Blogger Ryan said...

It was Hurley who broke me. That and the genuine line reading from Evangeline Lilly (maybe her best of the whole series) when she said "I couldn't find you" so desperately!. If it makes you feel better, I had my suspicions that they were all going to live out their lives in the sideways when Sun's baby didn't die DESPITE HER BEING SHOT IN THE STOMACH. I think they'll get a happier ending there.

May 05, 2010  
Anonymous Zach B. said...

I freaking loved this episode. I agree that the first half wasn't very good, but the second half had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I definitely bought into the Jin and Sun dying together, tears welled up in my eyes at that point. And for some reason I really really don't want Hurley to die, I just don't think I can take that one. I know that he's going to have to, I've come to terms with it, but I've grown really attached to Hurley this season. Also, I was sad that Lapidus had to die like that. I understand that his time was up, but watching the door crush him? I thought that he could have died with a little more dignity.

Couple questions: where did the Flocke not liking water thing come from? And where did Sayid say he stashed Desmond? He was talking really fast and I must have missed it.

Finally, I LOVE the fact that the candidates have to kill each other, Flocke cannot kill them.

May 05, 2010  

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