Lost: Smokey on the Water


The Candidate
Season 6 Episode 13

My lord.

Well, I can’t say that nothing happened.

But I am a recapper with hater issues. For the uninitiated:

• Evil with a capital E bums me out.
• So does Jack’s “fix everything” complex.
• I actually really enjoyed Titanic.

And yet despite my proven tolerance for melodrama and watery graves, I just can’t get onboard for dialogue like, “Go. Save yourself!” let alone an episode in which Sayid swerves, without meaningful transition, from zombie assassin to holy martyr; in which parents never mention their toddler as they die; and in which practiced con artists fall prey to the half-assed schemes of a mustache-twirling, unambiguously evil Smoke Monster. (And despite Cuse’s frankly infuriating explanations, it makes no sense that if Smocke “killed just one of them, everyone would know what he was up to.”)

By now, my heart is so cold that even the death of characters I once loved — and Sun and Jin, for the first several seasons, were fascinating figures — just made me sigh. This isn’t raising the stakes (a few episodes ago, we heard Smocke tell Jacob he’d kill all his candidates!), it’s just cheap narrative manipulation meant to punch people in the tear ducts.

Saving grace: There was a suggestion that during the original flight, Rose and Jack made the mile-high club, which I will take, in and of itself, as an homage to Titanic.

And on to the recap …

“Mr. Locke, can you hear me?” says happy Jack. He’s fixed Locke’s dural sac and what’s more, Locke’s a candidate … for a procedure which might make him walk again! BWA bwahhh.

Locke refuses. His blandly sunny soul mate walks in, to love him in pure ways.

Meanwhile, in the island timeline, Jack wakes in a boat. “Welcome to Hydra Island!” says Sayid, like a zombie Mr. Rourke.

As the Losties are gun-butted into cages, Widmore threatens Kate and there’s bickering about whether she’s is a candidate. Sawyer does his puppy dog Freckles-love surrender face. “You may not believe this, but I’m doing this for your own good,” says Widmore. “You’re right, I don’t believe it,” Sawyer Sawyers, in the first of many by-the-book zingers.

See also: “We may not have an hour!” and “He’s coming.”

LOST logo, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

Jack arrives to question Dr. Nadler, a.k.a. Bernard, Locke’s dentist. (Stalker doctors can find your dentist, but there’s no traceable record of a tragic plane crash?)

Anyway, Jack is about to explain that after six seasons, he’s still got the same old “I must save everyone!” complex in every single timeline — but before he gets that far, Bernard intones “Oceanic 815,” and in the episode’s single funny moment, accuses Jack of flirting with Rose. Then he gets creepy/knowing and name-checks Anthony Cooper.

Back in the Timeline of Will Evil Triumph Over Good?, Sayid explains that Locke saved Jack and the extras fled, since this episode might as well be titled “Cleaning House.”

Smocke shows up with his plan: rescue Losties, run to plane, get off island. But someone has switched Jack’s toggle switch to “Locke” mode and he ain’t leaving.

They have a totally insane conversation about trust, which, in the land of Smokey logic, is grounded on the fact that Smocke could KILL them, KILL THEM ALL! “Will you help me?”

“I feel like we’re running around in circles,” husks Sawyer. And he explains to Kate that her name was crossed out. She’s peeved.

The Kwons canoodle.

There’s “be tense!” music and someone kills the power and there’s whoosh-whoosh wind and a shot of the pylons and — SMOKE! A dead guard. A spare key. Kate strains to reach it. Frank kicks out the door. And then, as ever, Jack. Hey Jack, let Frank be leader.

The Losties go on their 3,400th hike and Jack and Kate have their 4,200th conversation about tactics. (For those who missed it: Jack won’t leave the island.)

Back on the timeline-that-makes-no-sense-but-is-fun-in-a-stupid-way, Jack runs into Saintly Helen and discovers that Anthony Cooper is a drooling catatonic.

On the Island of War, What Is It Good For?, Smocke twists flunkie-heads, putting to rest theories that he can’t kill. He steals watches. Enters planes. Looks angry; searches.

When the Losties arrive, they find the dead crew. Smocke delivers a baffling speech that everyone falls for: Widmore WANTED him to kill those guys, he explains, because they were just a diversion, because Widmore’s trying to trap them all in a nice confined space and … what? Widmore just had them all in cages! Nice and confined!

“Kill us with what?”

Locke shows them explosives Widmore plans to use to blow up the plane.

So they need to take the nice, confined submarine instead.

Hurley’s doubtful. Sawyer’s fake-pro-Smocke. Jack’s not leaving the island.

Jack and Sawyer conspire, calling Smocke “it” and triggering a long internal monologue of anger in which I repeat loudly to my brain all of my objections to this entire season being a battle against a Johnny-Come-Lately Monster Devil who is essentially an Other without psychological depth or a meaningful motive, however many mommy issues bubble up in some future monologue.

I snap out of it to take notes on Dr. Jack and Locke, since Locke’s murmuring, “Push the button … I wish you had believed me.”

Claire arrives with a box Jack’s dad bequeathed to her and Jack explains how Christian died (Really? Claire went to the reading of her father’s will and never asked how the guy died?). Anyway, yeah, Oceanic Flight 815.

Jack doesn’t know what the music box means, although I suspect it contains a Key, in a False Bottom, or perhaps the Music is a Clue that will help him find his Destiny. He invites her home, for they are not strangers, they are family!

War drums. Sawyer as leader. BUM BUM BUM music. A plan for Jack to ditch Smocke.

Sawyer and Frank gun their way into the sub, and as the Losties and that blonde badger on Claire’s head run to reach them, Jack gun-butts Smocke into the water and all hell breaks lose. There’s a sniper shootout (Kate’s shot, Claire kills the sniper), and Locke guns all other extras down.

But as Smocke races up the dock, he’s ditched. Claire is distraught, but Smocke is pleased.

“Trust me, you don’t want to be on that sub,” malevolizes Smocke.

Because, yes, Jack finds a bomb. “It’s Locke. We did exactly what he wanted.”

So Frank, who can steer submarines, needs to go back up. They ain’t got five minutes. They’re about to go all 24 on the bomb when Jack makes a strangely convincing, existentially nuts argument: Maybe Locke NEEDS them all dead — but can’t kill them, since if he could, why hadn’t he done it? Therefore, they must leave the bomb alone, because only by messing with it can they kill themselves. “You just have to trust me.”

Sawyer pulls the wires. The bomb stops — then starts again, even faster.

So Sayid saves them all by sacrificing himself. (First revealing that Desmond is alive.)

Then the bomb goes off, water floods the sub, knocking my beloved Frank down, and they all start squirming Titanicistically around, with the weak females groaning with their respective gunshots (Kate) and being-squashed issues (Sun). Hurley is deputized to rescue Kate. The boys de-squash Sun. Sawyer passes out.

I nearly pass out myself when Sun actually says, “Go. Save yourself!”

They’ve just given up, says my husband.

“Go,” says Jin. “Save Sawyer.”

Jack decides between Sun/Jin (soul mates reunited, narrative resolved) and his own soul mate (homoerotic subtext, possible parallel to Smokey/Jacob), and so he swims out with Sawyer.

“Jin, you have to go,” begs Sun, but “I won’t leave you,” says Jin.

Why are they talking in English? Jin obliges by saying, “I won’t leave you,” in Korean, and neither of them brings up Jin’s obvious reason to flee: to raise Ji Yeon.

They regress back to English to announce “I love you,” smooch, and drown.

Soft music plays to memorialize the death of once good characters, as their hands drift apart in what appears to be an actual homage to Titanic, or maybe Michelangelo.

In the timeline that occasionally annoys but does not drive me crazy, Locke rolls past Jin in the hospital hall. Then Jack approaches for the Locke backstory: He was in a plane crash. He took his dad with him, looked him in the eye, and said “trust me.” It was his fault that his father, whom he loved more than anything, will never walk or talk.

Violins play and they deal with loss. “What happened happened, and you can let it go.”

Terry O’Quinn is such a good actor it makes me sad to see him trapped in this episode.

On the island, Jack drags Sawyer up the beach, but Hurley and Kate arrive before the boys can kiss, and everyone grieves (Hurley cries, which is upsetting to watch). I hope Jack is learning that he can’t fix everything now, even season six.

Smocke senses that not everyone is dead and he’s off to finish what he started.

What We Know Now:
• Smocke is such pure evil he’s practically demanding rent — and his goal is to have the candidates kill one another, so he can leave the island.
• Therefore Widmore is good (ish)?
• Everyone is going to die except the Dread Love Triangle and their jolly buddy Hurley.

The Wha? Factor:
• Who put those explosives on the plane?
• When Sayid said “Because it’s you” to Jack, did he mean Jack is the New Jacob? Yeah, probably.
• What are the Rules of Smocke? He can kill people; he can go in water. Why didn’t he let the candidates expire one by one when he had the chance (when Jack was shot, for instance)? Or do they have to kill themselves and/or one another? What happened to the whole free-will issue that was (faintly) the theme this season? Or are we just down to Heroes Redeeming Themselves One by One Against the Bad Man? Because that’s what it looks like in these dark final Hater days.

Lost: Smokey on the Water