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.
Labels: Episode Analysis (Season 6)