The Candidate (+ Season round-up)
Previously on Lost...
This week, since we are so close to the end, I'm going do a round up of the alternate reality aspect of the season and state why I think 'that' part of the show sucks and how it could have almost ruined the entire season.
To some one who had never watched Lost, reading around on the internet about season six, you would get the impression that it's dividing fans. Personally I am enjoying this season, it has a slight problem with fractured groups of people and lots of running around, but there's still plenty to love, genius additions to the mythology and some great action sequences. However I am not liking the "alternate reality" scenes. They just haven't worked for me. When writing reviews I've found it simpler to break down the episodes by completely separating the "alt-reality" and the island story line. This is because I feel they have very little connection with one another and it's a lot simpler to keep track what's happening if you remove the cuts back and forth.
This alt/reality/universe (whatever) aspect of the season was introduced to bring the show full circle and make season 6 work more like season 1. They didn't want the viewer to have to deal with complicated time travel again as some viewers struggled to keep track of everything. The flashbacks of season 1 worked in a simple way of informing the viewer about the back-story of the characters on the show. They showed you where people were coming from and as the flashbacks centred on one character at a time, they was able to give some insight into the motivations or actions of that character on the island. As a story telling device it worked quite well, even if at times it took the viewer away from the action. When used in John Locke's episode to reveal of him in a wheelchair, the result was great TV.
As the series evolved over the years, this "flashback" mechanic changed a few times. They've have flash-forwards and even had Desmond "inhabiting" his flashback in order to save himself from imminent death. That was clever and made for possibly Lost's best ever episode, “The Constant”. For season 6 they wanted to change up the story mechanic again. At the end of season 5 there was a major "time-line shattering" cliffhanger which would result in one of two outcomes. Everyone was on tenterhooks waiting out the months, wondering which way they were going to go. Do they erase the entire show? Well they can't really do that. Or do they make Miles correct when he said, at the end of season 5, that them blowing up the bomb is actually and what happened anyway and would change nothing? Cleverly they decided to do both. They choose to have and eat their cake.
So the re-jiggered "flashbacks" device became the entire other half of season 6. The show is literally in two pieces now and we've been given two conclusions to the show. The problem is, we've aren't interested in one of those conclusions, because it's boring. In making that decision to break season 6 into two parts, they aren't doing justice to what they had built up already. My initial fear with the massive "event" at the end of season 5 was that erasing the entire show and all the events we've been through with these characters meant you are left with people we don't know and don't care about. They are the essentially new characters. Now it feels like they are muscling their way into the precious time we have left with the people we do know.
But the writers have thrown some things into this alt-reality to try and minimise the unfamiliarity and inject some plot. Firstly the characters aren't exactly the same as the ones we know from 2004, the event back in the 70's changed history slightly. Here is where they made a big mistake (aside from wasting our time with this " alt-iverses" in the first place). To remove all trace of the 'character growth' we've experienced with these characters is bad enough, to delete even more of them, to the point where they are completely different people, is just plain stupid. The purpose of the original flashbacks was to inform the audience about the island character's, the alt-characters are so far removed that it simply isn't possible for them to be relevant to our characters any more. They've, kind of, tried to use them in this manner once or twice in season 6. Ben's episode ("Dr Linus", one of the best of the season) had a thematic link. Ben sort redemption on the island and alt-Ben gave up personal gain for a student (Alex), but it was very weak link.
The Second thing they did to spruce up the alt-universe was they bunched up all the characters so all their lives cross one another (with some cameos of 'the others' thrown in). This was error no.2. Doing that they infused the alt-reality with some mystical importance It also worked for practical reasons, because it kept everyone together. Obviously I'm writing this before the end of the show, but I have a feeling that this "mystical" convergence between everyone will amount to nothing more than 'fate'. I hope I'm wrong but I can't see us getting anything on this. They'll be a lot of "wtf's" about this alt-reality and that will be one of them.
Thirdly they've made them "remember" the original universe which they are a tangent off of. This is the only place in the alt-universe where there is any semblance of worthwhile plot. Desmond has awoken in both realities and is trying to kill people to make them remember. Or in the case of Hurley and Libby, it's not a car bonnet to the face, it's true love's first kiss that wakes them up. Des can't try and kill Hurley, that's not cool like hitting the cranky wheelchair guy with a car. Ultimately I think this aspect will also result in another fail, but I'll get to exactly why a little later. All in all, I think that somewhere there was a good idea in this "show split", no one suspected it and it's really daring. That's exactly what you want. But they went way too far with it and let it consume far too much time. It would have been more satisfying if we stuck on the island for the whole season and got to see more of the Egyptian past or the well/tunnel builders. But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. The season is not over yet.
Now on to the episode itself. The gang are broken up again after being captured by Widmore. Jack, who swam back to the main island has been boated back over to the small island by notLocke. With smokies help, Jack breaks out those who were briefly captured. Then stuff happens, Kate gets shot, they escape from notLocke in the Sub, Claire gets left behind.... again. Then notLocke smirks because he double crossed them all and it was all a rouse to get them trapped in one place with a bomb. If the whole season notLocke's actions were to get them in that Sub, that's a very convoluted plan, but he is the god of convoluted plans, starting as he did by leading Jack to water in S1E1. Maybe he's just improvising as he goes.
Then the episode gets good. Jack discovers the bomb and they are left with very little time to defuse it. Going by his experience with Richard and the stick of dynamite on the Black Rock, Jack knows that if they do nothing, notLocke's bomb can't blow up and kill them. But Sawyer isn't having any of it and pulls the pins out of the bomb. Oops. With timing ticking down even faster, Sayid then takes control, tells Jack about Des in the well, and runs off with the bomb to sacrifice himself for others. I think a brief silence for Sayid (the man the myth the legend) is in order.... okay. In Sayid's sacrifice, as per Hurley's assumption a few episodes back, we find the only theme I can see for this season. You can always come back from the Dark Side. The Sub is now sinking, Lapidus gets a heavy metal door to the chin (and is probably dead), Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley escape and Sun is trapped behind a filing cabinet and some random pipes. Jin can't get Sun out and the Sub goes down with them holding hands.
The shot of them both dead in the water shows Jin sort of letting go of Sun's hands, there's still air left in the room and they aren't holding each other. So I'm not 100% on Jin being dead, he might have just waited with her. It's been driven home all season that we don't know which Kwon was on the list. Him being the last alive would resolve that. However if he is dead then I don't think it's a coincidence that right after they both die in the water, we cut to alt-Locke going down a corridor and Jin walks past him with a bunch of flowers. At the end of the last episode (“The Last Recruit”) alt-Jin says to Sun "it's all over now", because they are free of Sun's father and her baby is fine. So those alternate Kwon's have effectively been given our Jin and Sun's their happy ending. Albeit in a lame, inconsequential manner. The writers used the alt-universe to give them that. So my spoiler-ific conclusion is that Desmond is merely bringing the alt-characters together to give our characters their happy ending. That's it, he's aware of both universes, so he can bring them happiness, regardless of what happens on the island.
The other possibility is that he's bringing them together for some other purpose. But I don't see that he has done anything to bring about a team to do this or that. Daniel isn't exactly building time/dimension travel machinery with his piano. What he has done is bring Claire to her brother and stopped her from going to the adoption agency. He made sure Locke saw Jack again so that his back could be fixed. He brought Hurley and Libby together. Those happy endings may be all you get from the huge, time wasting, boring alt-universe.
So bear it in mind that this is a real possibly and forget about ever getting resolution on any of it. That way our expectations will be suitably dulled and the ending of the show might end up okay. Or at least you won't be distracted from enjoying the proper part of the show. If I'm wrong, which I usually am, then you'll be surprised and it'll increase your enjoyment. It's a win win situation.
Next week we have the proper flashbacks and the episode has the potential to be good (great?) one, it's all about Jacob and MIB.