Image Credit: Mario Perez/ABCI can only imagine what you’re thinking. I can only imagine what you’re feeling. And if I had to put a voice to those thoughts and emotions, I suspect it would sound something like this: “You know, the last thing I want to read right now is a couple thousand words from Doc Jensen about the relevancy of existential literature, progressive rock, and the films of Andrei Tarkovsky to Lost. What I really want right now is to hear from exec producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof about why they did what they did tonight during ‘The Candidate.'” Spoilers ahead, Losties. SERIOUS MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED “THE CANDIDATE,” STOP READING RIGHT NOW.
But back to your thoughts. “Forget the title of the episode. ‘The Candidate’ had absolutely nothing to do with finding and naming Jacob’s replacement and instead had everything to do with making me feel really, really, REALLY crappy! How dare they take down Jin and Sun in a sinking submarine! How dare they make the Korean couple’s daughter Ji-Yeon an orphan! And how dare they kill Sayid! So what if he died a heroic death and by trying to smother the Locke-ness Monster’s bomb? He’s Sayid! We love him! Why did they have to die? WHY?”
“Because now you know this show is willing and capable of killing anyone,” says Damon Lindelof, suddenly materializing in my office in a puff of brimstone accompanied by Carlton Cuse. (Actually, that isn’t true. I interviewed the producers over hamburgers… but I’ll tell you that boring story in Friday’s Doc Jensen column. On with the important stuff!) Why was it so important for Lost to prove that it can be downright homicidal during its last season? To establish once and for all that the Locke-ness Monster is the true villain of season 6 and quite possibly all of Lost. “There is no ambiguity,” says Cuse. “He is evil and he has to be stopped.”
Or, as Terry O’Quinn told me in a recent interview: “Puffy is one nasty mo-fo.”
To be clear, the producers are not heartless bastards. They’re only semi-heartless bastards. They knew fans would be devastated (and angry) about the deaths and were pretty broken up themselves about offing three beloved creations. “When we watched the death scenes ourselves, it was brutal,” says Cuse. “[But] the story always comes first.” Lindelof elaborates: “In many ways, the season was structured as a long con on behalf of the Man In Black. Once we revealed that Locke was the Monster, we knew the audience would immediately mistrust him, and we would have to spend at least a dozen episodes of Locke trying to convince the audience that he did not have malevolent intention, that all he wanted to do was get off The Island. But everything he was doing was leading up to one moment, which was [trying to] get the candidates in one fell swoop. He knew if he killed just one of them, everyone would know what he was up to.'”
Says Cuse: “There will be very little debate at the end of this episode that [Fake Locke] is evil and bad and has to be stopped. The main narrative reason for him killing our main characters is to establish how much of a bad guy he is and to clearly identify him as the antagonist rolling into the end of the series.”
Lindelof recognizes that there’s something “brutal” about killing Jin and Sun just one episode after their long-awaited reunion — which, he says, is exactly what made the lovers such an apt choice for making a statement about Fake Locke’s malevolence. “At least they got to die in each other’s arms, so they’d have some sense of victory,” he says. And Sayid? Lindelof explains: “Sayid’s entire season-long arc has basically been, if you tell him that he is evil, you can convince him he is evil. But if you tell him he is good, maybe you can convince him he is good. We basically decided that in a moment of pure instinct, if he did something, if he sacrificed his own life in favor of saving the other people’s lives, that would convey to the audience, ‘This guy was actually a good guy.'”
The good news for fans of Lost and fans of Jin, Sun, and Sayid in particular is that they are technically still alive — in the Sideways world. “Still, it’s bittersweet,” Yunjin Kim told me in a recent interview. “They were kept separate for so long, and then they came together to die together.” She found it “beautiful” that Sun and Jin were given an end that served as an affirmation of their love and the heroic sacrifices they made for each other. “We’ve come full circle,” she says. “Sun came back to The Island [and] risked her life to save her friends and Jin, and then Jin does the same thing back.” When I asked her how she prepared for Sun’s final Island moments, Kim told this story: “Right before we started shooting, [director] Jack Bender took me aside and told me about story that he read a long time ago, about this woman who was missing her dead husband, and how she had this beach ball that he blew up before he died. Every day she took a little breath from the beach ball. And that really got me right into the emotional core of where I needed to be to play that scene. Can you imagine that woman, taking that breath little by little every day, just to feel her husband’s presence?”
Daniel Dae Kim’s thoughts on the end of Jin and Sun? “They were the Romeo and Juliet of the show, and the fact they didn’t have a happy ending does make me sad,” says the actor, who then expanded on the greater significance of the deaths to the show — but I’m afraid sharing his insights (including his take on the fate of Ji Yeon) at this point would be a bit too spoilerish. What was it like shooting his watery demise? “It was pretty difficult that day,” says Kim. “Shooting in water is never easy. But the crew was considerate and made the water warm for us, in more ways than one. Let’s just say certain members of the crew who were in that water for a very, very, very long time without ever leaving. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Now that’s evil.
I’m still processing the chilling events of “The Candidate,” and my own thoughts and feelings about the deaths of Sun, Jin, and Sayid. My recap of the episode will post sometime tomorrow. In the meantime, use the message boards below to start the discussion — and express your grief.