Analysis: 6.14 The Candidate


Hurley’s guttural sobs and Jack staring out to a dark night sea choking back tears pretty much captured the emotional landscape this episode left us all looking at. Indeed, this may actually be the very last night we see on the Island; dawn, daylight and illumination threaten to break but for now this is a dark, dark time.

Nameless finally played his hand, luring the potential candidates to the point that he had promised: escape. I can’t decide if he has been incredibly smart or bafflingly over-complicated.

The upshot of his plan was to promise the candidates passage off the Island. By gathering them together, united in this one aim, he could get them in one place and there engineer their demise. This rather elaborate scheme seems to have been concocted in accordance with a ‘rule’ that Nameless cannot directly kill the candidate, or candidates.

On this I am not so clear. Let’s consider that Jack is the candidate just for example purposes (even though I have for quite some time believed he really is!).

Whilst Nameless claimed that he could kill Jack and everyone else if he wanted to I have to believe that was a lie. Nameless could not directly kill Jack. If Nameless had gone all Black Smoke crazy Jack, somehow, would not have been harmed. Does the same principle extend to the other candidates? Was the fact that Jacob ‘touched’ them somehow enough to generate a form of immunity to direct murder at the hands of Nameless? I think that’s the conclusion I am falling upon unless I hear different.

So Nameless had the problem that he could not directly kill any of the candidates and so wanted to get them altogether and into a situation where they could be killed by their own actions. Why didn’t he just leave the C4 explosives on Ajira 316, get the candidates onboard and let Frank trigger the explosion?

Wouldn’t that have worked? Perhaps. Perhaps not. The practicalities of these rules are rather sticky to unpick. For example, we’ve seen Nameless save the lives of both Sawyer and Jack. He grabbed Sawyer when he almost fell off the rope ladder on the way down to the cave in the cliff, and he shoved Jack aside when Widmore’s rockets were landing on the beach. Why? If the goal was to get the candidates dead, why save them?

Well, the argument could run that the candidates simply could not be killed. If Sawyer had fallen off the cliff, he would not have died. Had the rockets directly hit Jack, he would have survived. What Nameless was doing, in effect, was ensuring they remained ignorant of their immortality.

Only that doesn’t feel quite right. Locke was a candidate, and he died. Sayid was, too, when he died the first time! If Jack really is the one and only true candidate then perhaps this invulnerability only extends to him – like with the way he stared down lit dynamite in the Black Rock with Alpert.

Yet that still brings me back to the question of why did Nameless save Jack’s life, or Sawyer’s life? Was it really as convoluted a reason as to purely get all the candidates together to take a shot at killing them all in one go?

As we saw it’s not as if all the candidates have to die at once, together, in order for death to claim them. Sayid, Jin and Sun didn’t make it. Jack, Sawyer and Hurley did. 3 died. 3 didn’t. Kate remains in a grey area regarding her status on the Island, for the Island, and the last we saw of Frank was him being hit with a door on the sub. (I’ll go by the principle that if we didn’t see him die then he’s surely not dead. I can’t help but wonder if Frank will return to Ajira 316 on the quiet and get busy fixing the plane to stage a late ‘surprise’ rescue.)

Like I said earlier regarding Nameless, I can’t decide if he has been incredibly smart or bafflingly over-complicated. It seems to me that Nameless could have let Sawyer fall off the cliff and that would have killed him; he would have had one less candidate to worry about, one body closer to achieving his mission. He literally put all his eggs in one basket but only some of them broke.

Let’s take the notion to the limit of credulity. As events transpired Nameless switched packs with Jack and left him with a ticking bomb. What would have happened had Jack not needed his bag to get an item of clothing to use as a bandage for Kate’s wound? What would have happened had the bomb not been discovered?

Jack was convinced that doing nothing would have prevented the bomb from exploding. Like the way he could stare down lit dynamite – his faith in the Island, in himself, was such he felt certain of it. I suspect he was right, too. That the bomb was rigged to detonate faster once tampered with insinuates Nameless set it up that way, aware of this same truth Jack believed in. So you have to figure that if the bomb had remained in the bag unnoticed it would have simply ticked down to zero and never exploded!

That’s a large piece of fortuity Nameless depended on for his plan to work!

I realise I do seem rather hung up on the mechanics of how the candidates were to be killed, and the murderous machinations of Nameless, but I feel that the whole series has almost built to this point and, really, it doesn’t quite logically stack up as tidily as I’d want it to. It should be stated that Nameless’ perspective has been that people are corrupt and selfish so, within his own comprehension of people, he believed strongly that they could be manipulated to this moment of total wipeout. It is on that basis that I can reconcile why Nameless saved individuals to serve his larger scheme – and it was his failure to see good in people, as Jacob does, that foiled his plot.

The fact that Nameless knew his plan had failed was interesting, though. He waited with Claire and knew not all the candidates were dead purely, I suspect, because of what didn’t happen.

Either Nameless expected the Island world to collapse, or that he’d be whisked off ‘home’ in some fashion. Whatever it was it was something he would have known about from where he was standing – and it didn’t happen. Now what? Now the remaining candidates are hurt and angry but are also, crucially, completely aware. Nameless isn’t going to be able to trick them easily – so how does he expect to achieve his goal? I can’t answer that, but it’s one factor that makes the next episode so tantalising!

Of course, criticising Nameless’ failure is also to overlook his ‘success’. The deaths of Sayid, Jin and Sun weren’t a clean sweep for him, but they were massive bombshells to the watching audience. Sayid didn’t give us much chance to fear for his survival; he found his redemption the only way he was ever going to find it since his soul was lost. . .

. . . by giving his friends a fighting chance, taking the blast away from them and creating an exit hole. His last words to Jack, after telling him about Desmond, were: “It’s going to be you.”

I can only assume that Desmond’s serene awareness means he understands something about the Island, Jacob, or Jack’s fate and has shared some of that with Sayid. The obvious conclusion would be that Desmond knows Jack is the true candidate and told Sayid as much, and thus Sayid sacrificed himself for the greater good. Not only did Sayid’s actions save Jack, his words may have also been enough to provoke Jack into abandoning Jin and Sun – Jack himself recognising that leaving them to their fate in service of a higher purpose was the right, albeit gruelling decision.

No wonder he looked so devastated afterwards. As were we all. Even to the very last seconds I kept dim hope that Jin would somehow find the strength or the ingenuity to free Sun and only that final, heartbreaking image of their hands drifting apart confirmed the awful truth. They were gone. Ji Yeon was orphaned. Jin and Sun were dead.

Quickly after this scene we were taken to the Alternate Timeline and saw Jin walk by, dressed in a dark suit, carrying flowers, almost like a salute to his own funeral. Yet his presence reminds us that there is a timeline where Jin and Sun live, where their baby survives. It makes me wonder if the brutality of this episode on the emotions will eventually be tempered by some form of compromise, or unification, of the Alternate Timeline with the Island Timeline to make happier times.

But this has been a longstanding matter since Season 6 began and we’re really no closer to understanding how any form of consolidation can be sought. I do feel reasonably sure that some form of happier conclusion will occur. The characters we have known for so long just seem on the Island too decimated, too bleak, to be the finishing line-up.

Whilst no one actually died in the Alternate Timeline there did transpire a tragedy of sorts that underlined a heartbreaking relationship central to the show. Jack and Locke here were unable to find common ground on their usual science vs faith differences, only this time it was reversed.

Jack was convinced he could help Locke walk again, but in the Alternate Timeline Locke is filled with remorse over the accident with his father and has no faith in hope, no faith in science. Jack could not turn Locke around, could not make him believe, and his “I wish you believed me” plea only emphasised this disparity.

Locke’s suicide note, to Jack, echoed the exact same sentiment. I wish you believed me. If Alt-Locke had believed in Alt-Jack maybe he would have one day walked again. On the Island if Jack had believed in Locke’s faith in the Island then the terrible tragedies Nameless had wrought would surely not have come to pass. It wasn’t as blatant as the death of Jin and Sun but, quietly, I found this just as moving.

So now what? Well, there’s still plenty in play. Desmond the wild card is inevitably going to prove crucial, and we still don’t fully know what Widmore is doing (or, indeed, who he is doing it for: Himself? Nameless? Jacob?). Someone ought to tell Widmore’s guys that shooting at the Black Smoke, or Nameless in human form, is utterly redundant. But Widmore clearly doesn’t want the candidates dead (or, at least, knows they can’t be killed!?) and presumably had some form of plan by wiring up Ajira with C4.

Ironically, when I saw the explosives on the plane I immediately wondered if Alpert, Ben and Miles had been the ones to plant it – the last we saw of them they were going to The Barracks with the agenda of getting explosives to blow up the plane!

Maybe they even were responsible for planting the C4 on Ajira after all and the next episode will depict events from their perspective and show as much (though the presence of Widmore’s men suggested otherwise). Maybe. Or maybe not. But either way they still have a part to play. I think what makes seeing an end tricky is that we’ve only ever been informed about how Nameless wins – we have no real idea how ‘the candidate’ (which, again, I am still backing as Jack!) steps up to take Jacob’s role on the Island. Killing Nameless isn’t the answer – the Island needs a successor so the two can balance.

Again, I see Jack and Locke as those two counterpoints. Dually-locked together, forever in disagreement and yet vitally important. Prospectively that’s how it’s going to be on the Island of the future – whatever form that may take.


Acharaisthekey said...

I think Anti Locke/Nameless/MIB needed a complicated plan that included all of the 'candidates' together dying so no one can do the "AVENGED LOST" thing.

I truly beleive all of the candidates can die once a candidate is chosen....what we don't know...I think Jack was chosen the moment he looked out to see.

Anti Locke made the bomb to explode only if someone tampered with it....expecting one of them to do something...since...he can't kill them...they can simply...or indirectly...kill themselves.

I think this is how he lives, devilishly now he can blame others for the deaths that take place....he interferes...but it's their CHOICE to terminate or interfere and therfore the blood is on there hands.

I truly think Nameless/MIB/Anti Locke's home is DEATH...I don't think he was brought back to the island somehow by Jacob...remember the conversation between MIB and Richard in Ab Aeterno when MIB said to Richard "He took my Life and my Humanity".

I think he can only die if this island ceases to exist....where dead with no island allows you everywhere...while dead on the island...keeps you trapt here.

Because the island's nature is about BALANCE...he knows as long as there is the GOOD (Jack/Jacob, etc...) he has to exist on the island....

I donno, that's how I see it shaping week will be interesting as we should have no questions other then finality going into the 3 final hours (or 3.5 hours now).

I thought this was best episode all year!! A+ (though the absence of Richard and Ben were dissapointing)

Anonymous said...

"Devastating" is the perfect word for this episode. Wonderful insights into the show as usual.

The gem I take away from this analysis is the explanation regarding Nameless' actions in saving lives:

"What Nameless was doing, in effect, was ensuring they remained ignorant of their immortality."

I see you don't exactly like this idea, but if Nameless is setting a game of Mousetrap (as we saw Locke play in a flashback), then he needed Sawyer to be alive and not trust Jack on the sub. His 'mice' were finally under the net, but when it dropped, Sayid's redemption spoiled the plan. His narrow view of humans will be his eventual downfall.

I think the sub gave us an iteration of that idea.

Thanks for posting. . . gosh I'll miss your insights when LOST is over.


The Rush Blog said...

So you have to figure that if the bomb had remained in the bag unnoticed it would have simply ticked down to zero and never exploded!

That’s a large piece of fortuity Nameless depended on for his plan to work!

For the plan to work, Kate had to be endangered. She was Jack's Achilles heel. If Kate had not been shot, Jack would have never carried her aboard the submarine or opened the backpack.

Garett said... know, I was doing OK. I admit, it was probably because I was still trying to absorb what Sayid had just done and was still in shock from that. But I held it together through the realization that Sun wasn't going to make it and Jinn wasn't going to leave her. Even the touching scene of their hands drifting apart, I'm OK. But then Jack tells Hurley and Kate about them. There's a dramatic pause as it sinks in for all of us and Hurley starts sobbing. Damn if I can't hold back the tears anymore either!

I've said for a long time that Sawyer will be Jacob's replacement. Why? I've seen all the signs pointing to Jack, just as everyone else has. But I've expected a last-minute twist from the writers. Only now, its gone on for so long and Jack's character has evolved so much, I'll be disappointed if its anyone other than Jack. If you think about it, the show has been about Jack from the beginning. He's been the central figure throughout the series; to tap anyone else would be a injustice to the series.

I think this episode that Jack has shown that he's ready to replace Jacob. He's always had a hero-complex and this season we've seen him take a step back and allow himself to be led and accept things are outside his control. Very important for The Candidate. But this episode has shown that Jack will take the greater good, even if it means sacrificing someone else; even friends. No way does the Jack of last season accede to Jinn's wishes and leave them. He'd kill himself trying to save them. But now Jack shows he will take the long view. Jacob took some flak when he touched Sayid, but allowed Nadia to be killed. But she needed to die as a catalyst to get Sayid back to the Island. It doesn't mean Jacob was cruel or callow, he was taking the long view of the greater good.

I've believed the Jack-Kate-Sawyer triangle has been dead ever since Jack and Kate had time together off the Island in Season 4 (and Sawyer and Juliet shacked up together). For me, it was never going to happen once Juliet was killed. I never saw Sawyer betraying her like that by fulfilling her suspicions (the whole reason she and Sawyer went back to the Island, instead of safely escaping on the sub). But for anyone who still harbored hopes for "SKate" (gosh, i hate that term), I think we can put the nail in the coffin. Sawyer is lying on the beach, pretty much unconscious, as Hurley helps Kate to them. Her first words were not about the unconscious Sawyer, but "I couldn't find you" as she breaks down in tears at finding Jack. Wow, some powerful scenes back to back to back. I had chills with this one.

Corellian said...

I imagine what would happen if all the candidates leave the Island... Would it be enough for Nameless? Because, if it was, than he had a hell of a plan. If they managed to escape with the submarine, there wouldn't be any candidate left and he would be free. If the bomb exploded, everyone would die and he would be free.

But if he really needs them killed, then it was certainly one of the most stupid plans I´ve seen in a long time...ahahahahaha...

And by the way, the guy is a hell of an engeener. I mean, how (and when!) did he created that sofisticated timer with only a whatch and some wires??

Jin and Sun death was definitely sad. But I do believe Lapidus is still alive. Just because there is any other reason they would have carried him throughout the entire season just to have a meaningless death like that one. Even Ilana served to a purpose, and died after it. Lapidus did absolutely NOTHING after landing the plane. He might as well have died on the crash and the result would be the same. So I still expect to see him flying the Ajiira out of the Island...

Andre said...

Do you think nameless saying "to finish what I started" somehow referred to Widmore, rather than to killing Jack and the others.

Anonymous said...

Even though all signs are pointing to Jack, I can't help but wonder why Jacob only touched Kate and Sawyer as kids. There's been mention of people being chosen at a young age and even though Jacob was watching Jack from the lighthouse as a child, he didn't choose to select / touch him then. Seems odd...Your thoughts?


Fred said...

I have been pondering this idea on another blog site. What if MiB's cunning plan (and I admit, it stretches the creduclous factor how involved he has been, much as Rowan Atkinson in Black Adder) was to reporduce his initial loophole with Jacob. From Sayid we learn, Jack is the one, i.e. the candidate to replace Jacob. Jacob was killed by Ben, one of Jacob's followers. So reproducing that loophole, with Jack as Jacob, may involve Sawyer taking Ben's role. Would Sawyer feel guilty about the sub sinking and the deaths of jin, Sun and Sayid (possibly Frank, too)? Sure, he would. But Sawyer's character swings between different moods, and Jack would say they all have to stay on the island. Sawyer could easily turn on Jack and seek his revenge on him, his Lockian talk of destiny, and even if Jack were to say something like Juliet's death was a sacrifice.

But agree with you AC, MiB has been running an exceedingly complicated plot, and at times it seems to be enacted on a wing and a prayer. I know the writers have to keep the story going, but at times plot development takes over from what makes sense. I am hoping some of this will be explained in the last few episodes.

Anonymous said...

I read a theory from that made a lot of sense to me regarding why MIB didnt leave the explosives on the plane. The theory said that Lost was a big game of backgammon. I myself have never played but if the way the guy described it is correct it would make a lot of sense( also in the preview for next week MIB and Jacob are seen playing backgammon). In order to take other pieces off the board the opponents pieces must all be moved to the end of the board... and one player's pieces can only take out another player's pieces. Candidate can finally die because they are all in place. MIB can't directly kill any of the candidates because he is not a piece he is a player. If Lapidus started the engine the plane would explode but no candidate could die because they are the pieces in the game, Lapidus is not. But, if MIB can get them on the sub and force one of the candidates to make a catastrophic decision(fooling with the bomb) they could die. The problem I do see with my conclusions, however, is that MIB has no strategy left for getting the candidate to take each other out. They all know not to trust MIB, he would have to come up with something crazy. But I could see Sawyer doing something else stupid that kills everyone.

Lojoz said...

Had a re-watch last night and realised mib took the watch before he saw the C4. I figured that mean't he knew about the explosives before hand. Sure enough he seems to go straight to the wires but we dont actually see what's in the overhead locker, and he looks absolutely furious when he looks in it.

Not sure it means anything this is Lost after all. Just made me wonder if it was actually something else in the plane, also made me think about Locke taking all the C4 in Enter 77 and going around blowing stuff up, did he use all that up? Second time Locke has blown up the only submarine and easy way off the island.

Also, AC I liked your idea that he knew some had survived because of what hadn't happened, but did notice he actually says it sunk, which doesn't quite fit. Unless something has partially happened.

Finally, I really like the backgammon idea above, it ties nicely back to season one. The problem I have with it, how do you copmplete a game when one of the players is dead.

Starbuck said...

MSHL here...
Perhaps a different tack...
Sayid tells Jack that he's the what? Successor to Jacob? Well that is what we are to infer...but it could as easily be a misdirection by the Lost showrunners as it could be a useful piece of information.
Perhaps Jack is only the one to defeat Smocke, not succeed Jacob. Jack could merely be the instrumentality with which Smocke is stopped while the real successor, brought by Widmore at Jacob's behest, is safe back on the a well.
After all, Desmond has had the longest island apprenticeship of any non-Other on the show.

The only time I remember things being as we predicted on this show was when we all assumed correctly that Michael was Ben's man on the freighter...other than that, it's been 6 years of misdirection.