Feb 17, 2010

The Substitute

After the underwhelming "What Kate Does," Lost knocked it out of the park with "The Substitute." Now this is the kind of Lost we've come to know and love. Since there's so much parallel between season 6 and season 1, "The Substitute" may go down as this season's "Walkabout." While I'm still not sure what to think of the flash sideways story, this week's one delivered more mystery and intrigue that last week's one. (Sure it was cool to see Ethan and wonder why he was now a doctor in L.A., but this week we had Helen, Rose, Hurley and Ben Linus all show up in Locke's new(?) life.) Onto to my thoughts, questions and other thinking-out-loud analysis of "The Substitute."

Flash Sideways Story
This week's flash sideways story focused on John Locke. We pick up just as Locke arrives home from the airport, and we soon learn that he's living with Helen so at least we know this life's better than before ... not so fast. He seems to have lied to her about his trip to Australia. That same lie ends up getting him fired from his job at the box company, by his same boss as the original timeline, Randy Nations. He confesses to Helen that he tried to go on a walkabout, but was turned away. This version of John Locke seems to be giving up on miracles and destiny and is ready to deal with his life in a wheel chair.

A few interesting notes from these scenes. Locke and Helen are getting married and interesting that Helen brings up Locke's dad. Seems that Locke and old Anthony Cooper are on good terms here, as Helen wants to invite him along if they elope. This brings up the question of how Locke ended up paralyzed in this time line. If he's on good terms with Cooper, then obviously Cooper wouldn't be the one to cause him to be in the wheelchair ... interesting.

It was also noticeable that Locke isn't the one spouting off about destiny and miracles, but its Helen who is pushing these concepts. Locke starts to call Jack's office about the consult, but it seems like both Locke and Helen are ready to just accept his condition.

Not everything went wrong for poor old Locke though. After being fired, he runs into Hurley, who also owns a temp firm. There Locke meets Rose who sets him straight about his lofty expectations and his "don't tell me what I can't do attitude." Looks like Rose still has terminal cancer but she's still living her life. Jack's plan isn't turning out so great for everyone off the island. Charlie's still an addict, Rose has cancer, Kate's on the run, Locke's in a wheelchair. Good job there Jack.

Locke gets a job as a substitute teacher and who should he run into at the school but Ben Linus himself. Why Ben's just your everyday European history teacher, that's all. With this new timeline, its interesting to see what happened to the flight 815 passengers, but huge questions forming about why/how the Others are just average citizens off island. First Ethan's a doctor and now Ben's a teacher. There's definitely more to this, and we'll just have to wait and see how it plays out.

Smokey = Man In Black/Not Locke
Before we get into analyzing the on island story, let's address this mystery. Just in case it wasn't clear enough in the season premiere, the writers of Lost banged us over the head in the coolest of ways with this answer. For those who were still doubting, we got to see the island from Smokey's perspective as he was traveling between New Otherton and where he kept Richard, or as Ilana put it, "recruiting." The coolest shot came when he stopped outside Sawyer's house and you could see Smokey's reflection in the mirror.

Jacob's List/The Numbers
Let's tackle the biggest "why the face" moments first (shout out to Modern Family fans). You want the answer to the island's biggest mystery, why were they all brought here? Well here it is, Jacob thought they were candidates, candidates to take over his job as protector of the island.

Man in Black brings Sawyer into a cave that looks like both he and Jacob shared. Written on the ceiling and walls are the names of some of the 815 survivors, along with lots of other names crossed out. Beside each name is a number: 4 - Locke, 8 - Reyes, 15- Ford, 16 - Jarrah, 23- Shephard, 42 - Kwon. Man in Black notes that he doesn't know if Kwon is for Jin or Sun. But do we know if Shephard was for Jack or Christian? It can be argued that Christian was brought to the island as well (although he was in a coffin). Curious that Kate's name isn't listed, even though Jacob visited and touched her.

Man in Black doesn't explain the numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) and just says that Jacob had a thing for numbers. He also had a thing for lists and this is why Dogen and the Others thing that the survivors are so important. Why are the rest of the names crossed off and how were the numbers chosen? Some of the other names have numbers in the hundreds. What process did Jacob go through to choose these people and cross off others?

He then tells Sawyer that he has three choices: Do nothing and see how it plays out (and get your name crossed off as he does Locke's); Take Jacob's job and protect the island, even though it doesn't need protection; or just leave. Seems like both Man in Black and Sawyer are choosing the last option as Sawyer responds to are you ready to go home with a hell yes.

Sawyer's attitude
I know Sawyer is changed now that Juliette is gone, but he had no reaction to a dead John Locke bursting into his room. Then he realizes this person's not Locke, but that doesn't seem to bother him. He does play the "Of Mice and Men" card and could have shot Man in Black, but we know that wouldn't have done any good. Richard even tries to persuade Sawyer to run back to the Temple and tells him that this man wants everyone dead. Why didn't Sawyer have more of a reaction to this Locke impersonator? What are Sawyer's plans now that he knows why they were brought to the island? Does he really want to leave? Is Sawyer just back in con mode?

The Boy
Man in Black first sees a blond boy when talking to Richard. Apparently Richard can't see him. He then appears again when Man in Black is with Sawyer, but Sawyer can see him. First, why can Sawyer see him? Does this have something to do with Sawyer being a candidate?

Man in Black chases the boy and is told that he knows the rules, and he can't kill him. Man in Black replies is the very Locke-like response, "don't tell me what I can't do." Questions, questions, questions. I thought we were going to get more answers this year than questions. First, who was this boy? My first thought was that it was Jacob. Is that too easy? Who else could it be? Aaron (blond hair and all)? Someone we've never seen? The person who came before Jacob/Man in Black? A Walt-like individual who can project themselves?

Next, what are the rules? Man in Black thought he found a loophole and did kill Jacob, so who is the person he can't kill? Was he referring to Jacob? Sawyer? Richard? Someone else? I'm at a loss on this one, but it seems very important.

When Man in Black returns, Sawyer asks about the kid, and gets "what kid?" in response. Are they just going to pretend that didn't just happen?

Locke's funeral
After it was just laying on the beach for a while, Sun steps up and says that they have to bury Locke. While we've known Locke is dead for a while, these scenes had some finality to them. Fans are longing for Locke to just get up or be resurrected. He's a fan favorite, and we miss the old John Locke. The Man in Black version is holding us over, but for fans, it was tough to see Locke finally put to rest. Wasn't it fitting that Ben delivered his eulogy?

There was lots of interesting dialogue around the funeral, including Frank's joke. Ilana casually mentions that the Man in Black can't change his appearance from Locke's anymore. Of course no one bothers to find out why. How does Ilana know so much? She knew that the dark man was recruiting when he took Richard and now she knows he can't change. Also, how does she know about the Temple and it being safe? What does she know about Jin and the others? There's more to this one's story to be sure.

Other Tidbits:
Why did Ilana pick up some of Jacob's ashes? Is this the ash that repels Smokey? Will she be able to resurrect Jacob with his ashes?

How much does Richard know? Was he just playing dumb with Man in Black or did Jacob really leave him in the dark about so much, including the candidates? What did he mean when he told Richard, I'll see you sooner than you think?

I loved the Man in Black's reply to Sawyer that "Of Mice and Men" was written a little after my time. I also loved the inside joke line. Was this an inside joke between Jacob and Man in Black (black and white stones on the scale symbolizing their island battle) or an inside joke for fans who've been following the show so long (one black stone, one white from Locke's talk way back in season 1's pilot episode).

Again, should we be asking ourselves if Man in Black/Not Locke is really the good guy in all of this? How and why is he trapped? Was he telling the truth that he was once a man? Is he in ... wait, don't say it ... purgatory? There I said it.

Here are some other takes on "The Substitute"
Next on Lost: "Lighthouse"

*Photos from Lost-Media.com

1 comment:

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