Borrowing a page from “24″‘s season eight playbook, ABC’s “Lost” proved Tuesday that it is willing to remove even the show’s most beloved characters from the equation ahead of this month’s series finale.

While it is unclear how Jin and Sun’s presence in the ‘alternate timeline’ will impact their standing come the series finale, their lives in the main, island universe have officially come to an end. The duo was killed during Tuesday’s “The Candidate” as part of an elaborate plot orchestrated by the Man in Black.

Throughout the season, “Lost” has maintained a tone of ambiguity regarding the intentions of the Man in Black (operating in John Locke’s body). Although most indications were that he was bad, his interest in getting the characters off the island created enough question regarding exactly how bad he truly was.

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Tuesday’s events, however, proved that he was indeed the ‘bad guy.’ Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Damon Lindelof explains that it was a “long con on behalf of the Man In Black,” adding, “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.”

The idea, as explained by Jack during a pivotal moment of Tuesday’s episode, was to ‘trick’ all of the candidates into getting in a tightly-enclosed area–the submarine set to leave the island–and allow them to “think” they were leaving him in the dust. Meanwhile, he would slip a bomb onto the submarine, hoping to scare the candidates into attempting a disarmament. While the ‘rules’ seem to prevent Man in Black from killing candidates (and thus would have prevented the bomb from exploding without tampering), the evil character was apparently sure that other candidates can do the trick–Sawyer’s meddling with the bomb transfered the blame for the explosion onto him, and it thus became possible for it to detonate.

Once convinced that the bomb was indeed set to explode, Sayid sacrificed himself by racing the explosive to a far corridor on the submarine–after letting Jack (who seems set to become “the” candidate) know that Desmond, an important part of stopping Man in Black, is still alive and in the well. He died, and while his efforts allowed Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sawyer to reach the shore safely, the explosion still managed to pin Sun against the wall via an immovable piece of equipment. Aware that the shrapnel could not be removed and that Sun was going to drown, Jin opted to remain by his wife’s side, and they died hand-in-hand.

It also appeared that fellow passenger Frank Lapidus died as a result of the explosion, although his death was not made as painstakingly certain.

Added executive producer Carlton Cuse in the EW interview, “There will be very little debate at the end of this episode that [Man in Black] 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.”

– This week’s “sideways” plot chronicled Jack’s effort to revive John Locke, whom Desmond had run down with his car. Jack successfully saves Locke’s life but finds himself perplexed when Locke bluntly rejects his offer to perform promising, low-risk surgery that could return feeling to his lower body. Investigating the situation, Jack finds out that sideways Locke’s paralysis resulted from an airplane accident–after receiving his pilot license, he invited his father Anthony Cooper along for his first ride. Something went wrong, and an accident ensued, leaving Locke in a wheel chair but Cooper completely paralyzed (Bernard served as Locke’s doctor at the time). Still feeling guilty, Locke wanted no part of surgery that could help him walk–a feeling Jack attributed to his refusal to “let go.”

While in the hospital, Locke was clearly having visions of the island universe, as he mentioned ‘pushing the button’ during an apparent dream.

Elsewhere, Claire met up with Jack following her bombshell revelation at the will-reading. She explained that Christian was very adamant that she receive an old music box, although neither Jack nor Claire could identify its importance. At the end of their exchange, Jack offered to let his “family” member stay with him while she prepared for giving birth.

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