Jin: "I don't understand."
Oh sure. I step away from the television for just a few seconds to attend to a pressing matter, and everyone dies on my favorite show.
Well maybe not everyone. That's a gross exaggeration. But gross exaggerations and sweeping generalizations are how I make a living so there it is.
There are only two more episodes of Lost before the series finale. "The Candidate," losing three major characters within 45 minutes, seemed to throw the show's trajectory off the happy-ever-after ending: an intersection of the Oceanic 815 survivors with their island experiences to their apparent happier-ever-after post-flight lives. Despite finding out why Locke is in a wheelchair in the Sideways World and the Sideways characters getting additional glimpses into their "weird" connections, more questions are still being raised than answered, frustratingly so close to the end. Confusion reigns, accompanied by a lot of Hammond organ.
In a quick, no doubt, insufficient recap: John Locke and Jack Shephard continue their parallel dancing with the fates. Doc saves John Locke in the Sideways World, and John Locke as the Smoke Monster saves Doc from the "I know what's good for you" ministrations of Charles Widmore.
In the Sideways World, Jack snoops around, determined to determine why John Locke refuses to be his candidate for surgery. All questioned are very guarded: Bernard (in a welcome appearance): "Can I ask why you want to see his files?" Helen: "What do you want with Anthony?" John Locke: "Why?!" Everyone is suspicious of Jack's Nancy Drew ways.
On the island, Sawyer loses his talent for lies and deception: "That's twice you saved our asses. I guess I was wrong about you."
"The Candidate" was all about action on the island and continued tacky, ironic dialogue from Lapidus – but that's no reason to kill him. There's a break out of the polar bear cages, broken necks, and the hijacking of the submarine. Added action: SchLocke, who can't be stopped by bullets but apparently can be pushed into the water, and Jack, seemingly so clueless at the submarine bomb site, was bewilderingly confident: don't worry about that ticking bomb; we are all going to be okay.
I'm being facile with Jack's dilemma, but then again, his argument for not touching the bomb is in typical Lost fashion: vague, vague, misdirectingly vague. Even the other characters noticed it. I'm assuming that the bomb would not have gone off without Sawyer interfering with it, but that theory may not hold water.
The death count was high but surprisingly underwhelming. After watching so many people reappear after their tragic demises, it is hard to take anyone's departure to heart. Sayid was a doomed man from the beginning of the season. Lapidus, I was particularly sad to see go because with him goes my theory of his unique importance. And then there's Jin and Sun. Of course this was sad, but I can't see why Jin wouldn't save himself for the sake of his daughter. Is it better that she is an orphan?
Certain themes reappear: a watery death a la Charlie, nobody believes Island Jack, and "Catch a Rising Star." Claire's music box invokes Jacob's reading "Everything that Rises Must Converge" outside John Locke's initial accident. Flannery O'Connor's short story gives me hope that there will be some resolution after this six year journey, not necessarily a joyous ending but an ending, but right now, I'm as mystified as Jin was. And see what happened to him?
I have to cut this short for today (I hear your sighs of relief!) because I have to go finish what I started. Next week: Across the Sea. Perhaps we'll find out what it means for Jack to be 'The One' as Sayid said, and we might find out what John Locke's self-berating over the (separate) plane crash might mean. All indications point now to Claire cutting her hair and being the hero. All answers may lie in the Aero Bar.