Lost Redux

Spoiler: We take a look what’s new and confusing in Episode 4 of the final season.

By Laura Dannen February 17, 2010

Poor Locke. Photo courtesy Mario Perez.

Now we’re getting somewhere! This week’s episode, “The Substitute,” was easily the most satisfying of the season…so far. They hint at what the numbers mean and what “candidates” are, and we also catch a glimpse of either Jacob’s or the Locke-ness Monster’s (new nickname alert!) secret island cave—a very Harry Potter/Voldemort moment. By the way, I’m refraining from making Lost-related Plato/Allegory of the Cave analogies; I showed up late to that class in college and any speculation would do us more harm than good.

Know what never hurts? An all-Locke episode. I could watch Terry O’Quinn shift between sad Locke and bad Locke all day (it’s all in the eyes). This week’s Alternate Reality shows a Locke in love—still in a wheelchair, but with Helen at his side. More on that in a bit.

Mystery #1: Why is the Smoke Monster running around as John Locke? Or should I say, zooming around. The show opens with a series of shots from the point of view of the Smoke Monster—which was, um, awesome. If the people at Disney doesn’t take that idea and make it a new theme park flight simulator, they’re crazy. Once Smokey takes the Locke-ness Monster form again, he stops for a little chat with Richard, whom he’s sentenced to hang in a bag in the trees for a few days. Richard, quite understandably, is annoyed. He wants answers. “Why do you look like John Locke?” he asks. “Because I knew he’d get me access to Jacob. He was a candidate— was a candidate.” Ouch. Don’t forget: Poor past-tense Locke is lying dead on the beach, doomed to a hereafter as an avatar for evil black smoke (not sure if that’s what Locke had in mind when he talked about having a purpose). At least he gets a proper burial in this episode, with Ben delivering the line of the night during the eulogy: “He was a better man than I’ll ever be, and I’m sorry I murdered him.” Classic.

Which brings us to…

Mystery #2: What the hell is a candidate? If you believe what the Locke-ness Monster tells Sawyer as he lures him into the aforementioned secret island cave, Jacob was in the market for an island protector, and he maintained a list of “candidates” who might be worthy. But Locke wasn’t the only Oceanic 815 survivor in consideration. Also on the list, which we see scrawled on the ceiling of the cave: 4—Locke; 8—[Hurley] Reyes; 15—[James “Sawyer”] Ford; 16—[Sayid] Jarrah; 32—[Jack] Shephard; 42—[Sun? Jin?] Kwon. AHHH. The numbers! "Jacob had a thing for numbers,” the Locke-ness Monster says dryly. Right. I’m betting good money this is an ordered list; after all, wasn’t Locke the top candidate? The only one we ever heard about? There are lots of other names up there, all crossed off (because they died?) but Kate’s is nowhere to be seen. What does that mean? And which Kwon is a candidate? Meanwhile, why are these humans with serious character flaws—one’s a torturer, one’s a con man—in line for island bodyguard? And how did the numbers end up on Hurley’s lotto ticket, and on the hatch? Does any of this matter now that Jacob’s dead? Or is he…

Mystery #3: The weird little blond boy with bloody hands. The disappearing-reappearing boy speaks just once: “You know the rules: You can’t kill him.” My theory is that the boy is Jacob reincarnated, though he also bears a striking resemblance to a young Sawyer. What I love is how much this boy spooks the seemingly fearless Locke-ness Monster, even prompting him to shout a Locke catch phrase: “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” Seems like there’s a bit of Locke left in the Monster—I’m hoping it alludes to future crossover between the Alternate Reality and the island reality.

A few random thoughts…

—What a great new storyline they created for Alternate Reality Locke. It’s a bit of redemption after that whole "murdered by Ben" thing. So what if Locke was unceremoniously canned from a soul-sucking job by his prick of a boss? He has the love of a woman, a dad who presumably didn’t try to kill him, and now, a better job as a substitute teacher—at the same high school that Ben Linus works at. Ha! As an aside, does anyone else find it funny that Ben teaches European history? He even looks a little like Napoleon.

—Why does Sawyer get hotter as he gets grimier? Even when he’s sitting around in his dirt-covered tank and boxers getting drunk on whiskey, he still looks like he had time to whiten his teeth. They’re beautiful.

—Sawyer might be lost (ahh pun) and despondent without Juliet, but I still don’t think he’s dumb enough to side with the Locke-ness Monster. The dude’s pulling a con, and I can’t wait to see where this goes.

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