With the season and series rapidly drawing to a close, there was little doubt that the casualty list would continue to rise. It has been abundantly clear that elimination of the Candidates was part and parcel of the plan by Jacobâs rival to escape the island. What wasnât clear was how many of the beloved characters would end up victims of that plan, and how hard the tragedy would hit.
Since the end of the episode, a single word has repeatedly come to mind: brutal. Because that it what the episode was for the longtime fans of the story. A true endgame is never bloodless or painless, but itâs still hard to watch pieces removed from the board in such a rapid and heart-wrenching fashion.
The brutality begins at the very start of the episode, with the revelation that most of those who joined Jacobâs rival were either killed or scattered back into the island. This doesnât bode well for Cindy or the children who were abducted by the Others. In fact, at this point, the vast majority of the islandâs population has been wiped out, which is hard to reconcile after so long.
But in a way, they served their purpose. Jacobâs rival only needed the Others and non-Candidates for presentation purposes. He had to convince the Candidates that his goals, while perhaps questionable, were reasonable enough for people to follow him. By dangling out the carrot of leaving the island once and for all, he overcame whatever fear and terror his attack on the Temple and other actions might have generated.
Jacobâs rival finally triggers his plan for the Candidates in this episode, and to some, it might smack of convenience. But it is entirely in keeping with his contention that humans will always fall victim to their own self-interest and corruption. While Jacobâs rival didnât take every action to bring the Candidates together, he eventually was able to manipulate enough of them to get them all in the same place and plant the idea of leaving the island by any means necessary. Planting the idea that they were âhisâ people now, and thus tainted, was a ruse to prevent them from considering rejoining Jacob.
It all came down to using Sawyer. Sawyer was the one who ultimately came up with the idea of using Jacobâs rival to get everyone off the island. It seems rather clear at this point that the mission to get intel on Widmoreâs group on Hydra Island was a pretext. Jacobâs rival needed Sawyer to get fixated on leaving the island so that he could focus on making sure all the Candidates were eventually on board with the idea.
Widmore appears to know just enough, perhaps due to communication with Jacob in the past and present, to attempt keeping the Candidates safe and secure until the situation is resolved. His reasoning was ultimately sound, but his methods were foolish. Unless there is a rule that prevents Widmore from telling the Candidates the plain truth, it would have made more sense to explain everything once he had everyone secured. After all, Widmore was doing everything in his power to keep Jacobâs Candidates from Jacobâs rival, and didnât anticipate Jack and Sayid sabotaging the plan so efficiently.
Jacobâs rival adjusted to the circumstances perfectly. Why Widmore would have rigged the plane is not entirely clear; it might be a gap in his knowledge regarding Jacobâs rival. Either that, or an explosion in a confined space would disperse Jacobâs rival long enough for one of the Candidates to take over Jacobâs role and end the threat. As Jacobâs rival said, however, it was too obvious a set-up. And it gave him the perfect scenario to manipulate the Candidates even further.
By telling them that Widmore was trying to kill them with explosives in close quarters on the plane, it disarmed any suspicions they might have had about the sub. Logically, there would be no reason for the Candidates to take the sub by force. If it was about taking the sub to leave the island, Jacobâs rival could have walked up, killed anyone showing resistance, and then let Widmoreâs snipers take out the Candidates in the meantime.
Jacobâs rival let the Candidates do all the work, and then seem to prevent him from getting on the sub, because the fight could have gotten some of the Candidates killed and the struggle would convince them that the escape was genuine. As Jack says, he cannot directly kill the Candidates through their own actions, and Candidates are protected.
So once again, Jacobâs rival set up the Candidates perfectly, using Sawyerâs lingering anger towards Jack as the catalyst. Had the bomb gone unnoticed, it wouldnât have exploded. Had Sawyer listened to Jack, the bomb wouldnât have exploded. Even if someone had taken a minute to run to another part of the sub, dropping off the bomb, and then shutting every door behind them on the way back, the bomb probably wouldnât have exploded. (And if it had, it would have been because the Candidates would have survived.) But this is where Jackâs strident assurances leading up to the Incident come back to haunt everyone. When Jack insists that Sawyer trust his judgment, Sawyer has every reason not to listen.
And therefore, by attempting to disarm the bomb, Sawyer becomes the direct agent of action. The bomb is in play, and events unfold in their brutal fashion. Sayid gets his moment of redemption, sacrificing himself for the wrongs he has done. He gets to point the remaining Candidates to Desmond, which is clearly important to the resolution of the endgame. Jin and Sun get to be together in their last moments, completing the process that began at the very beginning of the story. (It would have been better if they could have left and been reunited with their daughter, but this is more in keeping with the darkness of âLostâ.)
One can also assume that Frank is dead, given how hard he was hit by the door. This is unfortunate, considering that the Ajira plane is still intact and could, presumably, be used to leave the island. (Otherwise, why would Widmore rig it to explode?) Granted, this could become a moot point if Richard, Ben, and Miles come along and disable it before the very end. They are still active piece on the board, after all.
By the end of the episode, only four Candidates remain. This assumes that Kate remains a Candidate, since her name was still âactiveâ in the Lighthouse, despite being crossed off in the cave. In fact, the outcome of the sub disaster falls completely in line with the prediction that Jack, Kate, and Hurley will end up being the new triumvirate on the island. As noted in reviews for previous episodes, there are arguments for all three of those Candidates being the replacement for Jacob.
Since Jacobâs rival wasnât ever intending to follow-up on his tempting promises to the Candidates, one can then conclude that the âLost Xâ timeline will not be presented to the remaining survivors as a choice as part of any grand plan. Yet âLost Xâ must have some profound meaning in the story, or all the time used to cover it (especially in this episode) would be ridiculous. Add to that the notion that Desmond is seen by Jacobâs rival as a dangerous wild card, and Desmond was able to see âLost Xâ as a viable reality, and it has to serve a specific function within the context of the solution to the current crisis.
Having some choice or event in âLost Xâ factor into the resolution of the âLost Primeâ conflict would be a bit of a cheat. On the other hand, given how much happier (or, at least, better adjusted) the characters are in âLost Xâ, right down to everyone still living, and it may be that the reward for stopping the end of the world in âLost Primeâ is the right to replace âLost Primeâ with âLost Xâ. But they would still have a bit of work to do within the story to make such a resolution to the story palatable, given the lack of any hint that such a thing would be possible.
Speaking of âLost Xâ, with so much pain and suffering in the âLost Primeâ plot thread, Jackâs hunt for the truth about Lockeâs medical condition seemed a bit disconnected and unnecessary. It did follow up on the notion that the various Oceanic 815 passengers were becoming more and more interconnected, and there were tons of callbacks to earlier episodes in the dialogue, but it really didnât seem to point to some upcoming subsequent event of import. Perhaps the point was simply to show that in both timelines, Jack turns out to have a central importance.
Overall, this episode delivered a massive punch to the gut, bringing much of the season into focus and revealing the full manipulative powers of Jacobâs rival. With the loss of so many beloved characters, it is very clear that the endgame of âLostâ may be rewarding to the faithful, but also heart-wrenching.