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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lost 6x04: The Substitute

Now THAT'S more like it! "The Substitute" was Lost at its best, displaying both brilliant character work and compelling mythology, the first great episode of the season. It had disheveled Richard, pants-less Sawyer, douche-y Randy, and Other-less Ben. Mirroring the first season's "Walkabout", the focus was on Locke. On the island, Locke finally got a burial, appropriately added to the cemetery near the Lostie's beach camp and succinctly eulogized by his murderer, while the being wearing his shape recruited Sawyer and led him to some answers that underpin the entire mythology of the show.  

In the fashsideways world, Locke is both better and worse off than Island Locke. He seems less angry and more accepting of his condition; note the amusement on his face while getting drenched by the sprinklers, a call back to season one Locke's enjoyment of the island rain but also an indicator of how different this Locke is. Island Locke would have been embarrassed, angry at the seemingly endless humiliations life is foisting on him. Sideways Locke didn't chase away Helen and (judging from the offhand comment about his father) was never conned by Anthony Cooper (and perhaps was injured in a different way as well). While he shares some of the same frustrations as Island Locke, he seems able to prevent those frustrations from defining his life the way they did Island Locke's. Ultimately, by the end of this episode, Sideways Locke finds himself in a better place than his counterpart, perhaps even finding a friend and kindred spirit in Coffee Nazi Ben.

Of course, Sideways Locke is lacking the one thing that so defines Island Locke: faith. He doesn't believe in
miracles, destiny or any kind of higher purpose. While Island Locke suffered greatly at the hands of Cooper and toiled through a life of frustration, it drove him to believe that he was meant for something greater (whether or not he was right remains to be seen). Sideways Locke, more content, happier, lacks that drive, and thus, the faith that a greater destiny awaits him. Would Island Locke trade his faith for the more balanced, content but (to him) less meaningful life of Alt Locke? Maybe, maybe not.

The struggle between free will and destiny has never been closer to the surface of Lost's narrative, represented by the three Locke's in this episode: Dead Locke, whose faith led him to a grave on the beach, Not Locke, who rages against Jacob's conception of free will, and Sideways Locke, who sounds more like Jack in the Hatch than Dead Locke's counterpart. Which Locke has it right? IS there a right answer? The answers, it seems, are indelibly linked to the unfolding endgame.   

Stuff Worth Mentioning
Sawyer the con man sees right through Smokey's Locke con.


Sawyer: “Well, I guess I’d better put some pants on.” Heh.

The rules got mentioned again, by the Astral Kid Flocke saw. Presumably, these are the same rules that govern Ben and Widmore's conflict, mentioned in "The Shape of Things to Come". 

Ben's still somewhat shell shocked, but he's slowly coming back to himself: he lied to Ilana about Smokey killing Jacob.

As weird as it was to see Richard all unkempt and frantic, it was weirder to see Ben digging Locke's grave. We rarely see him getting his hands dirty, so to speak.  

Frank: “This is the weirdest damn funeral I’ve ever been to.”

Locke once said that nothing on the island stays buried. Now he's buried on the island. Might a (proper) resurrection of some kind be in his future?

Randy was Hurley's boss at the fried chicken restaurant and Locke's boss in the island reality. Apparently, he's a dick regardless of the reality.


The woman that asked Locke what kind of animal he is was the fake psychic Hurley's dad took him to in season three's "Tricia Tanaka Is Dead".


Alt Locke's alarm clock sounds a lot like the hatch's alarm. 

The last time Sawyer referenced "Of Mice and Men" was in season three, when Ben led him up the cliff to show him they were on the separate Hydra Island. Then, Sawyer cast himself as Lenny. Now, he's George. 

The white and black stones on the scales inside the cavern recall the black and white stones found on the Adam and Eve skeletons in season one, as well as Locke's explanation of backgammon in the pilot. Presumably, Flocke chucked the white stone into the ocean because Jacob is dead, shifting the balance of power to the black stone. The scale recalls the Egyptian god Annubis' weighing the hearts of the dead.


Sideways Locke, as a substitute biology teacher, is a man of science.

Lostpedia has a list of all the names visible on the cave walls. 

Questions Answered (assuming we trust Flocke)

Jacob's touch: As seen in last season's finale, Jacob's touch of the Losties seems to have marked them as candidates, and destined them to end up on the island. 

Why do the Oceanic Six need to go back? Because they're all candidates.

Candidates:  First mentioned by the Shadow Seekers last season, candidates are candidates to replace Jacob.

Now we know what Aldo meant last week when he said Jin "might be one of them"; they don't know which Kwon is a candidate. And presumably, the Temple Others are concerned with protecting the Losties because they know they are candidates as well.

More on the numbers: The numbers correspond to the surviving Losties on Jacob's list of candidates. It remains unclear if this is how/why they derive their power, or if this is just one more example of their popping up in significant places. 

Sideways Locke did lie to Boone in "LA X": he never went on the Walkabout, just like Island Locke.

Questions Asked
How much do we/should we trust what Flocke said regarding the candidates and their choices? Was Jacob truly manipulating the Losties, denying them their free will, or is that Flocke's skewed take on things? Was he telling the truth, the truth from a certain point of view, or outright lying?


Why is Alt Locke apparently on speaking terms with his father? Did he not con him or push him out the window? How did Alt Locke end up in the wheelchair, then? 

Why did Ilana scoop some ash out of Jacob's fire? Is it possible that Jacob has died and been cremated several times before, and the ash that protects against Smokey is Jacob Ash?

Why is Flocke stuck in the form of Locke now? Is it because Jacob is dead (since he took the form of Alex last season after assuming Locke's form)? 

Who was the kid who appeared to Flocke? Young Jacob? Aaron? Why could Sawyer see him while Richard couldn't? Can only candidates see the dead people on the island (remember, Richard was intrigued when he met young Ben and was told Ben saw his dead mother).


When did Jacob write the list of candidates? Have they always been there, and he crosses them off as time goes by? How does he determine who is or isn't a candidate? What, other than death, gets someone crossed off? In season three, when the Others saw flight 815 crashing, Ben tasked them with getting lists of the survivors. Did he bring these to Jacob, and Jacob cross referenced his list with Ben's? Was every survivor of 815 a candidate at one point or another?

When Eloise Hawking worked last season to get the Oceanic Six back to the island, was she working on the direct orders of Jacob?  Did she know they were all candidates?

Why wasn't Kate seemingly on the list of candidates? She was touched by Jacob. Did Flocke simply not point her out to Sawyer, knowing it might loosen his hold on him? If she is listed somewhere on the cave, what's her number, since all of The Numbers have already been assigned? Is she 108? Is she a wild card whose candidacy Jacob is keeping secret from Flocke by not writing her on the cave?

Is the Shephard on the cave wall referring to Jack? Could it mean Christian? Or even Aaron (who is, technically, a Shephard?) Could the Kwon refer not to Sun or Jin, but Ji Yeon?


This question, asked last season, still stands: is there any significance to the fact that while both Hurley and Sayid are candidates, they weren't touched by Jacob until AFTER they left the island the first time?

Is Jacob the source of the numbers' power, or is this just one more example of their coincidental appearances?

Next Week: Lighthouse
The season one recall appears to continue, with a Jack episode to mirror season one's White Rabbit, and we catch up with Clairesseau.

14 comments:

  1. Coffee Nazi Ben - Hehehe! Man, I know he was an annoying jerk but I think I would go out of my way to be around AltUniverse Ben. He's a jerk who you want to like you. Well, I do anyway.

    Remember when pre-island John was talking on the phone to "Helen"? Was that a phone-sex girl or was it really Helen? What the hell was up with that, do you recall?

    I thought it was a great episode too but now I am going to bitch about something that happened during the premiere: Why didn't Claire tell Kate how much money was on the card? Doesn't it seem weird not to mention a dollar amount?

    "I would like to buy this"
    "Your card is declined"
    "Oh, OK, how about this?"
    "Declined."
    "Hmm, well, let's try this."
    "I'm going to have to get my manager."

    Also, everyone knows you don't use plastic when on the lam! Why not talk on your cell phone continually too - leave a GD road map behind why don't you! Someone else mentioned on the Lost Noon Chat about what Claire is going to do now with no money too! Do you go to those chats? You should! I didn't mean to yell that at you, I just get over-excited easily!

    Someone else asked why Locke was buried while the other deadoes were just tarped over. Why do you think that was? Why wouldn't Annot Lucia bury her boyfriend? (Oh, yeah, they were totally boinking. Heh boinking.)

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  2. He's a jerk who you want to like you. Well, I do anyway.

    Me too! That's what's great about Sideways Ben: all the fun of Island Ben, without (presumably) all the moral quagmires of liking a manipulative SOB so much!

    As for Helen, my take on it has been that Locke was talking with a phone sex girl he either sought out because she was named Helen, or whom he asked to call Helen. The real Helen had left him, so he was trying to recreate that relationship as best he could.

    As for the credit card business, well, that's just one of several nits that can be picked when it comes to the Claire/Kate sideways story last week.

    Also, everyone knows you don't use plastic when on the lam!

    All I know is that Kate's about as good at being a fugitive as she is at picking between Jack and Sawyer and not being hella annoying in the process.

    Do you go to those chats?

    I do not. Tell me more, so that I might participate! (there, I yelled back out of excitement too).

    Someone else asked why Locke was buried while the other deadoes were just tarped over. Why do you think that was?

    Annot Lucia didn't seem to care too much about burying anyone, including Locke; Sun insisted on it, so I think Annot Lucia went along with it to placate Sun and keep them moving (at least tangentially) towards the temple.

    Why didn't Sun want to also bury the people inside the statute? Pfft, what does Sun care? She doesn't know them from Adam. Hence, tarps are good enough! :)

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  3. I always like the Locke episodes best. He's the character with the most depth. Love him and sideways Ben as school teachers. Maybe the whole story is a metaphor for faculty lounge politics?

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  4. Yeah, the Locke episodes are almost always fantastic. I think it's a combination of Terry O'Quinn's phenomenal acting ability and the fact that the character seems to bring out the best from the writers (it also helps, of course, that Locke is a FAR more interesting character than, say, Kate).

    Maybe the whole story is a metaphor for faculty lounge politics?

    That would be hilarious! Flocke is just mad Jacob got tenured before him!

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  5. for now, i'm going with the boy being jacob as some sort of phoenix reincarnation dealio and that only the candidates can see him. we'll see how it plays out

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  6. That boy definitely LOOKS like Jacob, especially in the face. It was my first thought, at least.

    Someone on Nikki's blog theorized that maybe the boy was FLocke's son, and his death led to much of the enmity he has for Jacob. In which case, all the dead people taunting the living on the island may not be Smokey, since he's getting haunted now himself.

    It's an interesting theory.

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  7. and perhaps was injured in a different way as well

    Perhaps? Ummm...I think if you're inviting someone to your wedding then it's safe to assume they didn't push you out of an eight story window that ultimately paralyzed you from the waste down.

    Oh, and Randy is a dick but Locke deserved to be fired.

    And, speaking of picking nits, Locke went to Australia on the company's dime for a conference but was really going to go on the Walkabout.

    If Locke was in Australia for 7 - 10 days (I'm unsure about how travel time affects things). Also, he wasn't allowed to go on the Walkabout. What the hell was he doing for the rest of the time?

    Given his failure to go on the Walkabout, shouldn't he have just gone to the conference? Did he just spend every day outside the Walkabout office screaming that they can't tell him what he can't do?

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  8. I think if you're inviting someone to your wedding then it's safe to assume they didn't push you out of an eight story window that ultimately paralyzed you from the waste down.

    Good point. Then again...maybe Cooper said he was REALLY sorry. Locke's kind of a chump when it comes to his Daddy issues. :)

    Oh, and Randy is a dick but Locke deserved to be fired.

    Oh, definitely. Frankly, Locke's lucky all he got was fired.

    And, speaking of picking nits...What the hell was he doing for the rest of the time?

    Yeah, that's already become one of the favorite nits to pick with this episode. The other is how, exactly, FLocke and Sawyer are going to get out of that cave, considering Sawyer destroyed the ladder on his way down.

    Given his failure to go on the Walkabout, shouldn't he have just gone to the conference?

    Oh, absolutely. He also should have been smarter about it. At least check in, maybe make the rounds the first day THEN go on your walkabout. Maybe the timing for that wasn't right. But I feel like he probably could have at least checked in and potentially allayed some suspicion. And of course, go back to the conference when the whole Walkabout thing fell through.

    Did he just spend every day outside the Walkabout office screaming that they can't tell him what he can't do?

    That sounds about right.

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  9. Did anyone else think that jacob's ash that what's-her-name collected is possibly the same ash that keeps smokey out?

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  10. @Anne: I wondered that too. If anti-Smokey ash=Jacob ash, it would suggest Jacob's latest death is but one more turn in the cycle.

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  11. God, I hope Kate isn't a wild card. Katy and I were talking about the lack of Kate and came to that conclusion. Kate sucks. The last thing Lost needs is more Kate.

    I hope it turns out Kate wasn't a canidate because she is a woman. Jacob's position needs to be male or something. That way the Kwon isn't Sun and no Kate. Maybe something tied to the whole "birthing" issue on the island.

    Though I doubt Lost would make a move so sexist. I am pretty sure Kate is more insulting to the female gender than any possible implied sexist ideas...

    BOO Kate!!!

    also, this is Ian if you didn't know.

    also, I was saying Boo-urns.

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  12. The last thing Lost needs is more Kate.

    Agreed, 100%. Boo-urns indeed.

    I wonder about the whole "candidates are male" thing too. It kinda seems like that's the direction they're going, which does seem surprisingly sexist.

    Then again, it could just be written off as Jacob being old-fashioned in that way. Especially if he goes back to biblical times.

    I am pretty sure Kate is more insulting to the female gender than any possible implied sexist ideas...

    Are you suggesting that not all women are defined solely by their role within a pointless love triangle? Blasphemy, I say!

    Thanks for stopping by. Were you relieved that this episode (to me, at least) seemed to be moving things a little further away from your feared "Jacob and Smokey are aliens and the island is their ship" revelation?

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  13. A little. The talk of "candidates " at first made me think candidates to go into space with Jacob, like some freaky-space-comet cult.

    The alien thing is still my working theory.

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  14. Well, you've got me bracing for alien stuff now as well.

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