'Lost' - 'The Substitute' Recap
by Jason Hughes, posted Feb 17th 2010 8:05AM
(S06E04) The numbers! The numbers!
Lindelof and Cuse have been teasing us for a while now that they might not reveal the significance of the numbers. Without doing so directly, I think they gave us something huge connected to them tonight. Finally, after a lackluster episode last week we're getting some information we can sink our teeth into. Locke-centric episodes always seem to be good for that.
The character connections in the flash-sideways reality were really coming at us hard and heavy tonight, with appearances by several favorites as we discovered how John's life could have been. It would appear that some things have definitely gone better for our paralyzed friend, while in some other respects he's the same sad sack John Locke we came to know and love over the past five seasons.
Locke was still on the flight because he tried to go on that walkabout, and got rejected. This time though, he had a fiance to come home to. Katey Sagal was back as Helen. In the Alpha-verse, Helen left Locke when he again want back to get screwed over by his father some more. Now, not only are they together and getting married, when Helen talked about their wedding, she suggested they do it shotgun style with just her parents and Locke's father. Does this mean they truly made amends in the Beta-verse? Considering Helen and Locke met after the first time Locke's dad screwed him out of a kidney, you have to assume that event still happened; though I guess it is possible they met under different circumstances.
Locke went back to work, where Randy was still a douche, but probably justified in firing him. The Australian trip was expensed to the company for a seminar which he didn't attend. It also looks like Beta-Locke didn't tell Randy about the trip at all before he went on it, while Alpha-Locke was planning it for awhile and even got teased about his plans by Randy. More little differences for us to ponder.
Nevertheless, an 815-Crossing helped Locke out. A chance encounter revealed that Hugo owns the company Locke just got fired from. The question of how Hugo Reyes could have possibly gotten out of his Hummer when it was parked so close to Locke's car did come up at my house, but there's always the possibility he had a driver.
Hugo sent Locke to a temp agency he also owns, which led directly to 815-Crossing #2: Rose. Beta-Rose is just as sweet and kind as her Alpha counterpart, but sadly is also saddled with the terminal cancer that the sunken island cured in the Alpha-verse. She hooked Locke up with a substitute teaching position, where he actually managed to look somewhat happy. There he met and shared another one of those oddly "knowing" glances with Benjamin Linus, a European History teacher. Somehow, the thought of Ben being a crotchety high school teacher without the influence of the island makes perfect sense to me.
After getting fired, Locke came clean to Helen about the walkabout and losing his job, and told her he didn't want her waiting for some miracle. He was tired of living as if he was expecting to walk again soon, because it isn't going to happen. Helen assured him that she loves him for who he is, and tears up Jack's card as proof.
When Ben told Ilana Locke killed the men in the Temple, she assumed Locke killed Jacob, too, and Ben's not one to miss an opportunity like that. Of course he agreed. She also offered up a little bit of information about the Man-in-Black-Locke. With no explanation of how she could know this, she insisted that he is now stuck in Locke's form, which means he can't take on the shape of other dead people, as he's been known to do, though the smoke monster form is still good to go.
She took a bit of Jacob's ashes with her before leaving the Temple, which should come in handy later, either to resurrect him or, if he is inside Sayid, to somehow manifest him there, perhaps (it could be related to the ashes Dogen blew on Sayid to diagnose him last week)? At the worst, she could sprinkle his ashes into the sea, or blow them into MiB-Locke's eyes if she needs to make a quick getaway sometime later.
MiB-Locke is on a recruiting drive, or so Ilana says, though for what purpose we're still not sure. Locke first tried to recruit Richard with promises of answers about the island, but when Richard refused he found a more willing recruit in Sawyer, as well as the location of the other survivors.
In his encounters with both men, Locke saw a young blonde boy in a brown vest and yellow shirt. With Richard, the boy had blood down his arms, but they were clean when he and Sawyer saw him. When Locke discovered Sawyer could see the boy as well, he gave chase, and for his troubles received admonishment. "You know the rules," the boy told him. "You can't kill him." This would seem to be indicating those rules between Jacob and the Man in Black, so is this boy an island manifestation of Jacob (same blonde hair) or something else entirely? Perhaps the Man in Black himself, and the blood is symbolic of Jacob's blood on his hands.
In a brief encounter, while Locke was chasing the boy, Richard tried to warn Sawyer away, telling him that Locke wanted him dead and everyone he cared about dead. "He won't stop--" Richard started to say, before dashing off when Locke returned. Seeing Richard battered and completely out of sorts isn't something I'm completely comfortable with, though with Jacob dead and Locke running about, it's understandable. It is indicative of the disarray on the island, and why everyone is seeking sanctuary at the Temple.
The biggest revelation came in the cliff cave that Locke took Sawyer to. In it, he showed a ceiling and wall full of names, corresponding to numbers. Most are crossed out by this time, indicating their deaths, but a few remain. And those few numbers are very familiar, even if Locke doesn't offer any explanations as to their significance here. The names, with their corresponding numbers, are:
4 - Locke (John)
8 - Reyes (Hurley)
15 - Ford (Sawyer)
16 - Jarrah (Sayid)
23 - Shephard (Jack)
42 - Kwon (Sun or Jin -- we don't know)
Jacob wrote the names, according to Locke. All those chance encounters the passengers of Flight 815 had in their pasts with Jacob were Jacob's way of manipulating events here and there to lead them all to the island. He was recruiting them to potentially replace him as guardians of the island, which according to Locke is unnecessary anyway. There's nothing to protect the island from, he said, but considering he's Jacob's mortal enemy for who knows how long, I'll take that with a pillar of salt.
He advised Sawyer that the recruits had three options:
1) Do nothing and see how things play out; with the risk of having their names crossed out
2) Take the job as the island'sprotector
3) Leave the island and never come back
Sawyer asked how they can accomplish the latter, which Locke answered simply. "Together." When asked if he's ready to go home, Sawyer answered, "Hell yes." I'm not sure why Sawyer is going along on this ride. I know he's emotionally distraught, and possibly still a little buzzed, but he knows this isn't the real Locke, and he got most of Richard's warning.
Sawyer is not a trusting guy by nature. He was wary enough to almost kill Locke Of Mice and Men style, but didn't. I suspect he's either gambling that Locke can get him out, because he has nothing else to lose, or he's just working this angle to get more information before he makes his move. He is a con-man, after all.
THEORIES AND THOUGHTS (PROBABLY WRONG)
Jacob's manipulation of past events in the Alpha-verse throws into light the passenger list of Flight 815 in the Beta-verse. Even with the island sunk, the majority of the original passengers were still on that flight, with the exception of Shannon, and addition of Desmond that we know of so far.
If the Beta-verse doesn't have an island, then wouldn't it stand to reason that it doesn't have Jacob pushing these passengers onto that flight so they can crash on the island? Which means that either they got on of their own coincidental free will, or Jacob (or some other force) still needed them to share that flight for some reason. Perhaps it is Jacob, or something like him, reconnecting them to try and save the island in the Beta-verse. Maybe the Alpha and Beta realities are fractured, or incomplete, and they must be united or they'll both be destroyed.
It is interesting that MiB-Locke uttered Alpha-Locke's catch-phrase to the boy: "Don't tell me what I can't do." At the same time, Beta-Locke abandons that philosophy after the plane flight, and begins to learn to embrace and accept himself for who he is now; a lesson he learned from Rose's revelation about her own limitations in life. There's no reason for the Man in Black to utter that mantra twice, and so vehemently. Is there an aspect of Alpha-Locke within him somehow? Did it find its way to MiB-Locke when Beta-Locke abandoned it (yeah, that's probably a bit much).
In closing, I'd like to quote the very moving and touching eulogy Benjamin Linus gave over Alpha-Locke's hurriedly dug grave. "John Locke was a ... a believer. He was a man of faith. He was a much better man than I will ever be. And I'm very sorry I murdered him."
"This is the weirdest damned funeral I've ever been to," Frank replied. Amen brothers. Amen.
LOST AND FOUND (REVIEWS AROUND THE NET)
---"I think the cumulative effect of not truly understanding many characters' motivations is starting to wear on me a bit." [Chicago Tribune]
---"...and then to a cave with familiar names scrawled on the ceiling, each with a familiar number beside it. That's classic Lost right there-not just the answers that aren't really answers, but that sense of being led by torchlight to the kind of secret room that all the best stories contain." [The A.V. Club]
---"For some time now, I've been claiming Ben has always essentially been a good guy, and now I feel vindicated." [Mania]
---"If numbers can accurately predict the path of a comet or the proper combination of atoms to form basic building blocks of human life, why can't they predict the kind of people that can advance humanity to the next stage?" [Zap2It]
---"If John Locke Version 1.0 was searching for answers, John Locke 2.0 (in the flash sideways) seems content with what he's found, while the Man in Black has all of the answers but seems unable to accomplish his goals." [Cultural Learnings]
[Watch clips and full episodes of 'Lost' over at SlashControl.]