Last week’s lackluster episode “What Kate Does” looks even shabbier when compared with last night’s “The Substitute.” Of course, any episode featuring John Locke—and in this case, un-John Locke, too—then the episode’s bound to be great. Terry O’Quinn is a superb actor, and his portrayals of both a despairing John Locke and an angry, mysterious Smoke Monster Man thing are top notch.
First, the Flashsideways. I’m struggling to hang on to the importance of the Flashsideways. I understand that the Losties all had miserable lives. The only compelling thing about this reality is the subtle differences from Season 1. Perhaps this is all just showing how life would be without the Island, but for now it’s failing to keep me excited.
I did like seeing John Locke with Helen again, and I was glad for their love. The meeting between Hugo and Locke in the parking lot was endearing and funny. Meeting Rose was nice, but not spectacular. The best meeting by far was the substitute teacher meeting Benjamin Linus, the history teacher. Juxtaposing that scene with the other timeline, with the fact that Linus killed Locke (and attempted to as well), was great.
Now, on to the meatier and more interesting aspects of “The Substitute.” Seeing through the eyes of the Smoke Monster was cool and unexpected. When unLocke cut down Richard from the tree, and after he refused to travel with him, I fully expected unLocke to kill the man. I suppose he would have, had he not seen the Boy With Bloody Hands. (This scene was beautifully shot. The surrounding greenery of the Island, the concentrated light on the boy, the pale colors and the stark, red blood. Great shot.) Their talk of candidacy put more questions in our heads, and soon unLocke was with Sawyer, convincing him to travel with him. Having nothing to lose, James agrees.
They both met the Boy Who Had Bloody Hands and Sawyer asked who that was. Surprised that he could see him, unLocke chases him down and is reminded about the “rules” and that he can’t kill him. Like the real John Locke, he responds with a defiant “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” (This makes me wonder how much humanity and control the Man in Black has in this body, or does the deceased John Locke still possess some strength, too?)
After a few more interesting things (Sawyer being warned by Richard to flee from unLocke, the Of Mice and Men scene, unLocke saying how he is “trapped,” and a dangerous descent down a cliff-side), the duo arrives in a cave. unLocke removes the white stone from the scale, giving the black side complete domination, and tosses it into the ocean. Then he shows Sawyer why he, and all the other Losties, are on the Island.
The Numbers show up next to a list of scribbled names. Most are crossed out. Six are not. 4-LOCKE, 8-REYES, 15-FORD, 16-JARRAH, 23-SHEPHARD, 42-KWON. Locke simply says Jacob had a thing for numbers, and that all of these names are candidates, candidates for Jacob’s job, to protect the Island. He gives Sawyer three choices,
1. Do nothing and see how it all plays out.
2. Take up Jacob’s job and protect the Island “from nothing.”
3. Get off the Island, but they do it together.
Of course, heart-broken and angry, twisted and misinformed, Sawyer chooses the third option. Surely this is what the MiB wanted all along.
The other POV party—Ben, Sun, Ilana, and Frank—all decide to head to the Temple, but first they choose (at Sun’s behest) to bury John’s body. We’re taken back to the cemetery and Locke is laid to rest. Ben gives a truthful and touching eulogy, commenting on Locke’s faith and lamenting the fact that he murdered him.
Thoughts and Opinions
- The candidates were the most interesting thing from this episode. What does it really mean? Surely MiB is lying about things, but what? Are the Numbers really unimportant and random or are they purposeful?
- I’m guessing the Boy With Bloody Hands was a young Jacob? Could Richard not see him because he denied unLocke, but Sawyer could because he accepted him?
- Kate’s name was not listed as a candidate. Yay! But we knew from early on that she was not “on the list.”
- In the Flashsideways, Helen says something about Locke and his father at the wedding. In this timeline, are Locke and the Man from Tallahassee on good terms? If so, then does that imply that “Sawyer” never existed and never wronged James Ford’s family?
- Next week’s episode, “Lighthouse,” looks awesome, too.