(Note - what you are about to read is just my recap of the Sideways Story from "The Candidate." Check back later this week for the recap of the Island story).
Sometimes, an episode title on Lost is a spoiler. After all, we never see them in the episodes themselves, so you have to go out of your way (or read the entry on your DVR) to find them. Sometimes, it’s a foiler (i.e. a seeming spoiler, which actually misdirects the audience). The title of Season 6’s 14th hour – “The Candidate” – is perhaps a double foiler. Whaaaaat? you ask, incredulously. Here’s what I mean. On first blush, those of us who knew we were seeing “The Candidate” this week assumed the mystery of Jacob’s replacement would be solved. But what did we get instead? A clear narrowing of the playing field, as well as a sideways story in which Jack2 told Locke2 that he was a “candidate” for experimental spinal surgery. (This, of course, makes Locke2 the titular referent in two episodes this season – “The Substitute,” and “The Candidate”). But, in a line that went by in a cough-and-you-miss-it kind of way, I believe that this episode indeed did reveal who Jacob’s replacement is, or at least who it will be. But we’ll get to that when we get to it….(i.e. when I post the rest of the recap). So, on with it.
Smokey’s endgame revealed! Jack2 gets smacked around by island world hints and still stays clueless!! The deaths of more main characters in one episode than we’ve ever seen before!!! All this, plus Smokey wiping out some ill-equipped armed physicists, all in, “The Candidate”
Sideways World – Jack2 (with a Healthy Dose of Alterna-Locke)
Locke2 wakes up in the hospital to the voice of Jack2, saying, “Welcome back.” Locke2 gazes at the doctor, then says, “I know you.” Jack2 explains they were on the same flight, and Locke2 blinks it off.
Aside #1 – (What, already?) even as island Jack, finally, in the final hours of the show, is at last becoming the kind of hero you can root for, his sideways self remains an enlightenment killer. More than any other character, he has been presented with little hints of his other life, yet Jack2 just keeps missing the point. I truly believe that Locke2 – a much more level-headed, grounded version of John Locke – was starting to remember, not the airport, but the island world, when he said, “I know you.” But whereas island Jack and Locke would have sparred over the meaning of this recognition (Jack – “It’s just a coincidence”; Locke – “Why don’t you believe that déjà vu proves we are the center of everything?”), Locke2 just accepts Jack2’s more mundane explanation and shrugs it off.
Jack2 tells him about the car crash, and his ruptured dural sac. He says saw Locke2’s initial injury while operating, and asks about what caused it. He’s a candidate for a new procedure – he may even walk again. “I think I can fix you,” Jack2 says, echoing his island counterpart’s obsessive mantra. “No thank you,” Locke2 dismisses. Jack tries to convince Locke2, to no avail, and then Helen2 comes in. She kisses Jack2 and thanks him for saving John2.
Jack2 finds a dentist carving a dental mold…it’s Bernard2. He introduces himself, and asks for Locke2’s patient files, to figure out why he was so hurt (Bernard2 had done the emergency dental fix after Locke2’s initial accident). Bernard2 tells him he remembers him from flight 815, and suggests he may be on to something here, what with all the connections he keeps stumbling upon. Bernard2 recalls another man in the same accident – Anthony Cooper. Bernard2 wishes him luck, and hopes he finds what he’s looking for.
Aside #3 – I get the feeling that Bernard2 is fully island-flashed at this point, but part of the understanding he has gotten, much as seems to be the case with Desmond, is that each 815er needs to find the truth on his or her own. The thought now occurs to me that, if Bernard2 is thus enlightened, perhaps Rose2 is, as well. Maybe it was no coincidence that she sent Locke2 to that particular school as a substitute teacher. Maybe she knew Desmond would come to find him there, and this was all part of the path to setting Locke2 about his destiny…
As Jack2 tries to get access to Cooper2 at some sort of hospital, Helen2 comes in, surprised to see him. She tells Jack2 to “just go.” Jack2 pleads that he can’t understand why Locke2 doesn’t want the surgery. “You saved John’s life, why can’t that be enough,” she asks. Jack2, still stuck in his must-fix-everything obsession, responds only, “because it’s not.” So she leads him in to the visiting room, where Cooper sits in a wheelchair, catatonic. She wipes his drool off, and introduces him as John2’s father.
Aside #4 – I wonder if, in the remaining 4 ½ hours of Lost, James2 will continue his search for Cooper2. On the island, there was an easy to understand satisfaction in killing the bastard who practically taunted him to do so after having been his bogeyman for so long. But how would he react to seeing this pathetic creature? To the extent the sideways world corrects something in each person’s life, perhaps James2 was set up to give up on revenge. After all, even if he found the answer to his private Sawyer mystery, there could be no satisfaction in killing this man.
Jack2 stands over Locke2’s bed. Locke2 says, “push the button. I wish you had believed me” (the latter of which harkens back to the message in his “suicide” note to Jack). Out in the hall, Jack2 sees Claire2, who was looking for him. She asks him if they can talk. He gets an Apollo bar from the machine, but this one needs no help in falling. He apologizes for running out of Ilana2’s office. Claire2 says her father especially wanted her to have a box. He doesn’t know why, but then he didn’t know about her, either. She asks how their father died. Jack2 says he was found in an alley outside a bar in
Aside #5 – Aaaaargh! One of you two, flash already!!! Claire2, listen. Just listen. That’s the same music your island self remembered your father singing to you as a child, the same song you wished your baby’s adoptive parents would sing to Aaron, and the same song creepy island Ethan had a mobile play over the would-be nursery crib. And Jack2, for the love of Jacob, how many people of relevance to your life do you have to bump into from the same Sydney flight before you see what’s going on? On the other hand…it is nice to see that, rather than flashing back to their inchoate squirrel-baby/ I blew up a nuke and all I got was my friends killed world, that these two finally got something they never had before – a sibling relationship.
Locke2 is wheeled out, past Jin2 who catches his notice…only to have it fade just as easily. Jack2 catches him. He admits that he went to see Cooper2. He felt he had to understand why he didn’t want to see his father. Locke2 explains he was in a plane crash. He had his license for a week, and begged his father to be his passenger. They barely got off the ground. He doesn’t remember what he did wrong, but it was his fault, that this man he loved more than anything would never walk or talk again. Jack2 reminds him of how John2 had told him that his father was gone, and tells him that his father is gone, too. “What happened, happened, and you can let it go.” “What makes you think letting go is so easy,” Locke2 asks him. “It’s not,” smiles Jack2, nervously. “In fact, I don’t really know how to do it myself. That’s why I was hoping that maybe you could go first.” Locke2 laughs at this, and then says good-bye. As he rolls away, Jack2 says, “I can help you, John. I wish you believed me.” This seems to spark something for Locke2, but he rolls away, anyway.
Aside #6 – soooo much to unpack in this scene. First of all, Jin2’s appearance, even in the briefest cameo, is huge. In the normal order of the episode, this scene immediately follows our having seen Jin and Sun’s lifeless bodies sink with the submarine (oh, please, it’s no spoiler – you really wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t a big enough fan to have already watched it, right?). So the meaning of that is clear: Jin and Sun may have died on the island, but, like Libby and Charlie, they live on in Sideways world.
Then there’s this week’s bit of course correction – it seems Locke2 was going to have ambulation affected by air travel no matter what. But instead of regaining his legs in a plane crash, here he lost them. But pay special attention to the reveal that Locke2 has a pilot’s license. How much you want to bet that, on the island, Smokey got that knowledge, too? With Frank Lapidus out of the picture, and no more sub, that probably explains, in part, why Smokey chose Locke, apart from the reasons he gave Jack – because this was a guy who could fly a plane (albeit, not very well).
Jack2, of course, isn’t being completely honest about not knowing how to let go. Sure, he can’t stop fixing things. But, on the other hand, he has clearly let go of his fatherhood issues to develop a relationship with David.
And then, at long last, the big role reversal. Here, of course, it is Jack2 telling John2 he wishes he had believed him, had taken that leap of faith with him, the polar opposite of John Locke’s posthumous last message to Jack.
One last thing – excerpts from Doc Jensen’s take on the Sideways story this week…I thought John Locke was destined for a cosmic wake-up call after Desmond rammed him with the car. Nope. In ''The Candidate,'' we heard him suddenly blurt ''push the button'' in his sleep … do a double-take at Jin, and flinch at Jack's line ''I wish you believed me,'' which is what Locke wrote in his suicide note to Jack. But those dim epiphanies failed to blow his mind.
Jack's trademark ''fixer'' pathology was tempered with humility and self-awareness, wisdom and grace. He tried to coach Locke through his father guilt with counsel that his
Sideways Locke: What makes you think letting go is so easy?
Sideways Jack: It's not. I don't really know how to do it myself. Which is why was kind of hoping you could go fist.
I loved that exchange. I like the implication that these two flawed, fallen men could join forces and labor together to complete their respective redemption projects. This is what we religious people call ''church.'' But Locke wasn't quite ready to become a man of faith. He said goodbye and wheeled away. Jack stopped him in his tracks with ''I wish you believed me,'' (which, I must admit, felt a little forced, too, but I rolled with it) and Locke had a moment of recognition... and then kept on going.
It really does seem that there's something fundamentally ''off'' about the Sideways world. I come to this conclusion not because of what anyone said in the episode, but because of Jack's reactions to the increasing pile-up of incredible post-Oceanic 815 coincidences. Fellow passengers Locke, Bernard … and then another encounter with Claire — all of these moments made Matthew Fox do that weird blinking thing when he gets flustered. In the context of the Sideways world, it gives the impression of a man trying to wake up. Maybe that's going to be the key to Jack's Island Enlightenment: a slow, steady, gentle pounding of meaningful coincidences that will finally cause the wall between his
But first, I think he'll have to surrender his Sideways world attachments. That includes his newfound relationship with his half-sister, Claire, who may or may not be
And with that, Lostophiles, I leave you for now. Don’t worry, I’ll be back before long with the recap of the island world story, the bloodiest of its kind in the show’s history. And then, next week, oh, I am so looking forward to “Across the Sea.” But that’s getting ahead of ourselves, right? Check back this weekend for the island recap, and NAMASTE! (And, if I don’t get back before then, a happy Mother’s Day).