The title of this week’s episode didn’t give me as much to go on as last week, so I came into tonight’s episode figuring LOST could hit me with just about anything. Since the teasers showed Locke offering to explain to Sawyer why he was on the island, as well as Sawyer flying around on rickety cliff-ladders, I thought it might be a Sawyer episode.
So I was surprised, if a little confounded when we were delivered a Locke episode. Actually, at this point it’s more accurate to call this a Terry O’Quinn episode than a Locke episode. We had alternate timeline Locke, and we had faux-Locke, but the real Locke is just a corpse now. Ben’s surprisingly frank eulogy and Sawyer’s recognition that faux-Locke lacked the true Locke’s tell-tale fear were the only moments that belong to the character we knew through the first five seasons.
So what exactly did we see? Well, we saw substitutes. In 2004, the substitute Locke is still in a wheelchair, still tormented by his douchey boss Randy, and still shut out of the walkabout. On the other hand, he’s still with Helen, Hurley bails him out on the job front, and most of all, he seems at ease with his disability.
By the end of the episode, he’s found a fragile happiness. He seems to enjoy being a substitute teacher (thus making the episode title as literal as possible), and he and Helen have weathered the rocky patch of his unemployment and deception to continue planning their wedding.
While it’s nice to see a happy, well-adjusted Locke, it’s still unclear what the actual, y’know, point of these flash-sideways interludes are. Early in the episode, Helen makes a reference to inviting just her parents and his father to a private ceremony. From this, we can infer that Locke’s father did not steal his kidney, cripple him, or otherwise ruin his life, which means that Locke was crippled another way. Will we find out? Does it matter?
There’s lots of buzz around the web about the 2007 iterations of the characters and the 2004 iterations of the characters being linked, the details of which will be revealed when the timelines merge somewhere around mid-season. Right now, the alternate timeline in 2004 has been a fun excuse to play the “what if” game with the characters, but for it to signify, it has to reconcile with where the characters are in 2007. I dread a future in which we see awkward split-screen interactions between characters and their other selves, or a special effects frenzy in which the two versions of each character literally merge together physically. I’m hoping the LOST crew has better ideas.
While the 2004 substitute Locke was a wistful look at what-might-have-been, the substitute Locke in 2007 is determined to make things happen. Faux-Locke, we learn from Ilana, is “recruiting”. He tries and fails to bring Richard into the fold, but seems to have succeeded with an embittered Sawyer.
The new curve ball this week was the appearance of the mysterious blonde boy haunting faux-Locke as he travels around the island. I’ll take the obvious bait and assume that the boy is a younger version of Jacob, but go ahead Internet – fill me with your theories that it’s an older, time-traveling Aaron!
The crucial information that mystery boy relays is that faux-Locke is still bound by the same “rules” that prevented him from killing Jacob himself. Faux-Locke is defiant in traditional Locke fashion (“Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”), but he seems to be bound by the rules whether he likes it or not.
The big reveal comes when faux-Locke leads Sawyer to Revelation Cave (the little-known 9th Dharma Station) and shows him a list of names and numbers written on the cave ceiling. The names are Jack’s, Hurley’s, Sayid’s, either Jin’s or Sun’s, Locke’s, and Sawyer’s. Each one of them is matched with one of the six numbers that have run through the show’s mythology.
What do the numbers mean? Maybe something to Jacob, but there’s no elaboration there. As for the names, each of them are apparently potential successors to Jacob. One of them is supposed to replace him as the protector of the island. Faux-Locke insists the Island is just an island, and the show concludes with Sawyer agreeing to get off the island with him.
Of course, this information is only worth as much as the character speaking it. It’s hard to feel any satisfaction from these revelations when they seem to be made up of only half-truths. Characters are still being arranged around the island, but for the most part, we’re no further along than we were at the end of the season premiere – faux-Locke wants to get off the island, and the characters we’re supposed to think of as “the good guys” are, for the most part, in his way. The final confrontation is beginning to take shape.
- I think Katey Sagal is underrated, and Helen is probably my favorite flashback character; I’m glad they found a way to bring her back.
- When Locke falls on his front lawn and squints as his face is hit by the sprinkler spray, he does a fair impression of himself when he and Boone are caught in a storm while pursuing Ethan in Season 1.
- Ben works at the same school as Locke. With Ethan showing up at the hospital in last week’s episode, Sawyer and Juliet should be having coffee any day now. If they keep up with the Others showing up in the alternate timeline, who else is there? I mean, Tom for sure, but other than the fore mentioned in this bullet, the rest of the Others were just roster filler, weren’t they? As for Richard, considering he seemed to have some sort of eternal youth/immortality thing working on the Island for a long time, I don’t know how you explain him in 2004.
- Ilana tells us that faux Locke is trapped in Locke-form. I’ve mentioned this before, but that sounds more like a way to keep Terry O’Quinn as a regular than anything else. Also, if we see Christian again, does that mean that he was never the Man in Black? Mystery!