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TV Review: Lost – “The Substitute”

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Is that it? One of the big questions of the show was the persistence of Hurley's lottery numbers. We've seen them everywhere, and at long last, we have an answer — or so Fake Locke says. Fake Locke finds Sawyer drinking with music blaring in the barracks and invites Sawyer along to find answers. Locke takes Sawyer to a cliff and, after avoiding a disaster, brings him into a cave.

Inside is a wall filled with numbers and names. Each number corresponds to a different person: 4 (Locke), 8 (Hurley), 15 (Sawyer), 16 (Sayid), 23 (Jack), 42 (Kwon). Most conspicuous is the absence of Kate, and Kwon which could mean either Jin or Sun. There are other crossed out names on the wall, so there may be an explanation for Kate. (As far as I can tell, the rest are scribbles, so there's no way to discern other names and numbers.) And what does it mean for everyone else on the island? Why are they on the island?

Locke tells Sawyer that Jacob chose them to protect the island, and there are three choices. Sawyer can take up the mantle as the new Jacob, do nothing, or leave the island with him. Before telling Sawyer what to do, Locke manipulates Sawyer by telling him that Jacob has been manipulating him his whole life, to position him to be in this very place and situation. It's the one thing Sawyer doesn't like — people telling him what to do. Sawyer chooses to go with Locke, cementing Smokey's hold on him. It looks like Locke has a willing ally who doesn't care anymore, and Sawyer could be very dangerous to oppose when there's nothing at stake.

In the jungle, Fake Locke sees a blond-haired boy who is clearly out of  place. The first time, Richard doesn't see him, but the second time, Sawyer can see him. Could it be because Sawyer was chosen by Jacob? Fake Locke runs after the boy, and in of his few moments of vulnerability, trips and falls in front of the boy. The boy tells him that Fake Locke can't kill him. Is that young Jacob? An island defense mechanism? Fake Locke still doesn't have free rein over the island, so he's recruiting people for a mini-army against Jacob's followers. We still don't have a clear picture of the scale or position of Jacob vs. MiB, but the struggle is definitely not over. Jacob's body burning into ashes could mean anything. Ilana gathers the ashes into a pouch, so a return of Jacob is foreseeable.

While I was watching, I kept thinking whether Smoke had taken on some Locke characteristics as he took over his body. His body is a shell with the real body sitting on the beach, but his "don't tell me what I can't do" sounded awfully like the Locke we know who would go against all odds on blind faith along. Fake Locke does the same thing, defying the rules of the island to kill Jacob. The boy is an indication he hasn't really succeeded, but he's still trying. Fake Locke also has the tactics of Locke to use and manipulate other people. Locke wasn't malicious, but he did string people along so they'd help him.

A big problem with the first three episodes was the disconnect between the island and the flash-sideways (or whatever you want to call it). There is no indication of the relationship between the two, so it's hard to be interested in a new world when we've been following the island for five seasons. The alternate world puts a new spin on everything that's mildly interesting, but unless there is a real connection not held together by theory or speculation, there is a degree of pointlessness that would certainly put damper on the final season of one of the greatest television shows of all time.

The Kate-centric episode wasn't received well mostly because it was a Kate-centric episode. It's understandable, but I don't hate Kate as much as some people, so it was fine for me. This episode was Locke-centric, and if there's one character with the most intrigue and gravitas, it's Locke. There is power and helplessness in him that Terry O'Quinn captures perfectly.

Locke is doing way better than expected, but his struggles still persist. Helen is back and she's as supportive as ever. There's no word on how he dealt with his father (apparently they are on good terms since Helen wanted to go to Vegas with her parents and his dad), but she stayed regardless of what happened. Maybe he lost the use of his legs another way. Locke is working at the box company, and is fired by the same douche Randy, but meets Hurley outside. Hurley owns the company and gives Locke the number of someone at the temp agency. He meets Rose there and gets a job as a substitute teacher. One of the teachers is none other than Benjamin Linus. Now there's Ethan and Ben out in the real world. Are they Others? The island is underwater in their world, so are they normal people?

Coming back from his walkabout, Locke is still frustrated with his life. Although his life is marginally better, there is a void in him that can't be filled. He turns to Jack's card and calls him, but hangs up. Helen reaffirms her love for him, and all is well, but this is Locke we're talking about. There are no happy endings.

The offerings both on the island and the other world were much stronger this week than last week. Locke's story had me somewhat invested in what he was doing and was about 100 times better than the Kate mess last week. Smokey is making his moves with Sawyer in tow. We know what the numbers are and why certain people are on the island (as long as we trust Smokey which is a dubious subject). There's plenty of time to go, so maybe all our questions will be answered eventually (yeah, right).

Random Thoughts/Observations

At the mouth of the cave, there is a scale with balancing white and black rocks. Locke takes the white rock, throwing it out and tipping the scale in favor of the black stone. It's symbolic of the triumph of evil over good (though I doubt it's that simple). With Jacob in ashes, it would seems appropriate for the white stone to be tossed out, but what about the boy? Is Locke tossing the stone out in reality or is it just wishful thinking?

What happened to Desmond?

Did the breaking ladder do anything for you? Sawyer couldn't have been killed and the situation was resolved pretty quick.

After burying Locke, the remaining people on the beach, including Sun, are heading to the temple. Jin is held at gunpoint by Claire, and is right there in the jungle. A reunion seems so close, but will it happen?

Sawyer talks with Fake Locke about Of Mice and Men, but Fake Locke says it was after his time. Sawyer pulls a gun on Fake Locke and Flocke explains that he was once a normal man and is trapped. Is he trapped on the island? Or is he just manipulating Sawyer? A combination of truth and manipulation?

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