And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what Willis was talkin' about!
The numbers make a shocking return! Ben's meek confession!! Sawyer's place of prominence!!! All this, plus (gasp!) a happy alterna-Locke, in the final season's best entry to date, "The Substitute."
Alternaverse - Locke2
Locke 2’s world is quite different than what we expect. When Locke2 suffers the indignities of his handicap - busted ramp, stuck in sprinklers - he laughs it off. That’s when we see he lives with Helen2…whereas Locke and Helen broke up before his injury. They discuss wedding plans, and yikes! She says they should elope with her parents and his father! Helen2 finds Jack2’s card, and suggests Locke2 should call, since meeting a spinal surgeon could be - destiny (Locke2 smiles - does he respond to destiny?)
Aside #1 – This initial look at Alterna-Locke was incredibly illuminating. We learned that while he, like his island-world counterpart, somehow ended up in a wheelchair, it most likely was not as a result of his con artist father, Anthony Cooper, having flung him out a window. Why do we know this? 1) Locke2 isn’t so bitter and angry as his pre-crash counterpart (a personality trait uniquely tied to Locke’s daddy issues); 2) Helen2 is still in Locke2’s life, whereas her island world counterpart was driven off by Locke’s obsession with Cooper, and 3) the most obvious clue – Helen2’s suggestion that Locke2’s dad should come to a small wedding. And yet, still, Locke2 is wheelchair bound. That silly universe with its course correction…
But Locke2 is also a bit of a liar. He told both Helen2 and Randy2 – his same douchy boss at that same box factory - that he was at a conference on the company dime, when he was, instead, doing something persona, i.e. his wheelchair walkabout. In a nod to pre-island life, Randy2 salutes John2 as “Colonel,” his Axis and Allies codename from way back in the seminal Season 1 episode, “Walkabout.” Randy2, however, already sniffed out the lie, and when Locke2 tries to charm his way out of discipline, he gets fired.
Aside #2 – kudos to Doc Jensen for pointing out these brilliant bits of set dressing at the box factory that I missed: The pictures in Locke's cubicle were interesting.
There was a photo of Locke (with hair) with his father, Anthony Cooper; they looked to be hunting, as we saw them back in ''Deus Ex Macina.'' There was also a photo of Locke with Helen in a tropical setting, presumably Hawaii. The curious thing about both photos: Locke appeared to be standing. When and how did Locke become dependent on a wheelchair for pedestrian perambulation? TBD. Island Locke didn't get thrown out of that eighth-floor window by Bad Dad leaving him below-the-belt paralyzed until after Helen dumped his father-fixated ass. So it appears that Locke's loss of lower legs was a trauma that he and his soul mate experienced together.
Locke2 tries to leave the factory with dignity, but his van ramp is blocked in by a big yellow Hummer - the boss’s car. Locke2 finally gets mad. Hurley2 sees the commotion, points out that Locke2 could have parked two spots over in the handicap spot, (a slightly less rebellious form of “don’t tell me what I can’t do,” eh), and introduces himself. He explains the reserved spot, and the fact that he owns the company. He introduces himself, and Locke2 says he just got fired. Hurley2 says Randy2 is a huge douche. He gives Locke2 a number for his temp agency, and tells him to call.
Aside #3 - Doc Jensen’s thoughts on this scene (and his set dressing observation) are worth noting: Locke snapped. This time, the insult to injury was too painful to not ignore. He could have avoided the sitch had he parked in the handicapped stall, but as Locke would explain, he didn't want to. Locke then had an encounter with Hurley, who in the Otherverse is large and in charge and not at all the fatalistic scaredy-cat Island dude we met in season 1. Was it just me, or did you get a Jacobesque vibe from Hurley, all empathetic benevolence as he responded to his ex-employee's prickly anger with patience and grace and supreme knowingness and the hooked him up with a new job via his temp agency, another division of Hurley's financial empire? Watching this scene, I couldn't help but think about Helen's earlier line about destiny. And I found myself flashing back to this scene later in the episode, when Helen challenged Locke's incredulity about miracles. Was the Locke-Hurley crossing total coincidence, quantum synchronicity, or divinely orchestrated appointment? An elemental faith/reason debate worthy of old school Lost. But I am reminded of the old adage that our world is chockablock with everyday miracles — they just don't look the way we expect them to. What we expect is something like, say, miraculous healing for crippled legs after falling from the sky. But a miracle could be other people, too — like meeting a guy who can give you a job after getting fired, and better than that, a guy who sets you upon your true destiny. But we'll get to the school in a minute. PS: Did you see what was in Locke's box of stuff in his lap? Was that a polar bear figurine in there?
At Hurley2’s Temp agency, the quirky woman helping him asks Locke2 what kind of animal he describes himself as. He asks to speak to her supervisor. It’s Rose2! She questions if he’s a good match for a construction site coordinator. She asks him to be realistic. She discloses her terminal cancer. She got back to living whatever life she had left. So, how about we find you a job you can do?
Aside #4: Rose lives in L.A.??? Guess terminal cancer is enough of a reason to get out of snowy Buffalo.
Locke2 wakes up, and gets dressed. He seems…mopey, almost like we remember Locke after he was first crippled, just before Matthew Abbadon convinced him to go on Walkabout, only in alternaverse, Locke2’s melancholy doesn’t quite dip into depression. What an amazing job by Terry O’Quinn to play the nuances of two versions of the same character with similar, but slightly different, emotional responses. Locke2 pulls out Jack2’s card, and calls, but when the receptionist answers, he says she can’t help him, and hangs up. Helen2 overhears, and John2 tells her how he called Jack2, but wasn’t going to see him. He tells her he got fired, when there’s a doorbell. They deliver the lost luggage. She signs for the knife case. Locke2 confesses that he didn’t go to the conference. He tells Helen2 to open the case. It’s his knives (some things don’t change – query how “back to nature” a walkabout is with so many knives). He tells her about his walkabout, and that they wouldn’t let him go. (translation – Locke2 lied to Boone2). He had the same shouting experience as we saw back in Season 1, only here, he says they were right. “I’m sick of imagining what my life would be out of this chair” he fumes, more out of frustration than his island self’s anger. Fearing he’s upsetting Helen2, he warns her not to wait for him to walk down the aisle with her. “If you need me to get out of this chair, I don’t blame you, but don’t wait for a miracle, because there’s no such thing.” And Helen2 reveals the philosophy that seems to underpin the whole island-free but remarkably similar world we’re getting acquainted with – “There are miracles, John, and the only thing I was ever waiting for was you.” She tears up Jack2’s card, and they smooch. Finally, we see that Locke2, unlike his island counterpart, really has found acceptance of his condition, as well as the love that makes lamenting it pretty pointless.
Locke2 does find himself – at a high school. First, he teaches a girls’ gym class, and then a biology class (hello, Mittleos science camp). He tells the class, “today we are going to talk about the reproductive system.” (Hello, Mittleos fertility clinic). Locke asks a boy where the teacher’s lounge is. He wheels in, and finds another faculty member blocking his access to the hot beverages- it’s Ben2! He’s annoying as ever, ranting about the coffee. Ben2 introduces himself, and says he teaches European History, and Locke2 is a substitute (hence the title).
Aside #5 – Ben2’s presence off the island confirms part of what we suspected last week when we saw Ethan2 – the island did not sink or get obliterated immediately when Jughead blew up. Rather, Ethan2 (who was a DHARMA baby) and Ben2 (who was convalescing with the Others) had time to leave the island and rejoin the “real” world. I feel like when we learn more about Ben2, and what happened when Richard took him as a child into the temple, this prickly personality will be quite revealing. For now, it’s great to see course-correction bring these two together.
Flocke flies over the island in smokey form - our first real look at his perspective since Season 1, when he looked down on Locke. He detects Sawyer in his house, does some flashing, then goes to where he left Richard, suspended in a tree.
Flocke, it seems, chose Locke’s form to get close to Jacob, because (like Frank), he was a “candidate.” Flocke mocks Richard for never getting bigger answers from Jacob, and instead offers to show him and tell him everything he ever wanted to know, if he joins him. Richard refuses, and Flocke warns that people don’t usually get a second chance. Richard asks what Flocke means by "candidate." Flocke smiles -Richard really knows so little. Flocke says he would never leave Richard in the dark like Jacob did, that he would respect him more. Richard seems pretty fearless, given how beat up his is. Flocke is suddenly distracted, when he sees a vision of a young blond boy, with bloody hands(?) But Richard turns around, and there’s nothing there. The boy clearly upset Flocke, who takes leave of Richard.
Flocke returns to Sawyer’s house, where loud music is playing, and James is getting hammered in his underwear. James sees him and asks, “I thought you were dead.” “I am.” James pours them both some scotch, then basically throws a glass at Flocke. “I don’t give a damn if you’re dead, or time travelin’, or the ghost of Christmas past.” he tries to order Flocke out, but Flocke points out it was never James's house. Sawyer sees right away - this is not Locke, because Locke was always scared, even when he tried not to seem scared. Flocke seems impressed by this level of insight, and introduces himself as the person who could answer the most important question in the world - "why are you on this island?" Sawyer tries to dismiss this, but Flocke insists he can prove the series of rotten luck - plane crash, raft destroyed, helicopter too heavy - doesn’t explain it.
Frank covers Locke’s body. Sun says everyone else was headed to the temple. Ilana says they should go, too. Sun, finally speaking up, asks, "what makes you think that I’m going with you?" Ilana's response chills her - "Because you want to find Jin. I know that if he’s on the island, and he’s alive, he’ll be at the temple." It's clear that Sun never mentioned Jin to Ilana, which is what convinces her to go along. Sun suggests they need to bury John, and Ilana sighs.
Flocke asks James why he isn’t with the others at the temple. The blond boy appears again (not bloody this time), and Sawyer sees him, too. This surprises Flocke. The boy runs, and Flocke chases. He looks up at the boy. “You know the rules," the boy scolds. "You can’t kill him." Flocke responds as would the man whose face he now wears - "Don’t tell me what I can’t do.” The boy shakes his head and walks off. “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”
Then there's this blond kid. He's dressed like a Temple Other...or like Jacob? Is this young Jacob? And what about the discussion of rules? Is this similar to why Ben can't kill Widmore? Whey Flocke needed Ben to kill Jacob? And why was Flocke bothered by Sawyer's ability to see?
Sawyer calls to Flocke. “Look, whoever you are, you got about 20 seconds.” But it's Richard who staggers out, and tries to convince Sawyer to take him to the temple. Richard says Flocke will kill him. "He wants everyone dead, everyone you care about," warns Richard. Flocke returns and Richard runs. "You ever catch up with the kid," asks Sawyer," "What kid?" responds Flocke.
Sawyer asks Flocke if he reads, and brings up Of Mice and Men. "Nope," responds Flocke, "that's a little after my time." (No big surprise, after that whole Black Rock arriving scene). As Flocke walks on, Sawyer tells him about Lenny getting executed. "Doesn’t sound like a happy ending," says Flocke. "It ain’t," responds Sawyer, pointing a gun at Flocke's head. Flocke turns and dares him to pull the trigger, and Sawyer realizes it would be pointless. "What are you," asks Sawyer. "What I am is trapped. And I’ve been trapped for so long, I forgot what it was like to be free." Before that, Flocke explains he was a man. He knows joy, anger, pain, fear, and betrayal. He knows what it’s like to lose someone he loves. "You’re so close," he urges, "it would be a shame to turn back now."
Ben asks why Ilana why bring Locke's body to the statue? She says the Others had to see what they’re up against. For some reason, according to Ilana, Flocke is now stuck looking like Locke.
Flocke leads Sawyer to a cliff, with ladders leading down. Flocke is more than happy to go first. Sawyer watches, then gingerly starts to follow. Flocke switches to a rope ladder next to the bamboo one, which breaks under Sawyer’s feet. Sawyer grabs another rope ladder, but it comes loose and drops him against the cliff face. Flocke catches him and pulls him over to another ladder.
Aside #11 - this little sequence made me want to rewatch season 1. There were so many references to black and white rocks. I couldn't help but wonder if the characters that had those dream sequences - Charlie and Claire come to mind - were somehow just on the edge of being aware of this strange seaside cave? And other than "Jacob and Smokey," what do these rocks stand for?
Flocke tells him Jacob died, and Jacob had a thing for numbers. Flocke says Jacob came to Sawyer at some point in the past and manipulated him - "choices you thought you made were never really your choices. He was pushing you to the island." James is a candidate - nominated to take over for Jacob as the protector for the island. (Aha!)
The White and Black Rocks
What Smokey Said: Upon arriving in Jacob's cave, Un-Locke spotted two large stones, one white and one black, sitting on a scale. He grabbed the white rock and threw it out into the sea. Sawyer asked: Huh? Un-Locke replied, ''Inside joke.''
Percentage Chance I Believe Smokey: 100% Or maybe 0%, because I got the sense from Smokey's angry toss that this so-called ''inside joke'' wasn't all that funny for him. My guess is — obviously — that the white rock represented Jacob, and that tossing that rock was symbolic of Fake Locke's (apparent) victory, and, perhaps, his rejection of the white/black categorization of his morality and his relationship with Jacob. My guess is also that whenever and whatever was decided between Jacob and his nemesis — the nature of their conflict/game; the roles they would play; the rules they would play by — it was all hashed out and settled in the cave, and the deal was sealed with some ceremonial putting-rocks-on-a-scale thing.
The Castaways Were Brought To The Island For A Reason
What Smokey Said: Jacob had picked six castaways — Locke, Hurley, Sawyer, Sayid, Jack, Jin or Sun — and meddled with their lives and subverted their destinies and free will in order to corral them to The Island and groom one of them as his replacement as Island protector.
PCIBS: 91% What I didn't believe, though, was this:
The Island Is Meaningless
What Smokey Said: When Sawyer asked why the Island would need protection, Locke snapped: ''From nothing, James. That's the joke. There's nothing to protect it from. It's just a damn island!''
PCIBS: 0% My rejoinders to Smokey would include the following: (1) The Temple's magic healing spring. (2) Frozen donkey wheel time travel magic. (3) That Ghost Kid. (4) Oh, and uh… freakin' YOU, Smokey! Bottom line: The Island is totally special, and my guess is that whatever makes it special will prove to be Jacob's primary defense for playing god with castaway lives.
What Smokey Said: Lost fans, prepare to rethink your Valenzetti Equations. With a dramatic reveal of the cave's ceiling, we learned that Jacob assigned each of his potential replacements a number. He wrote their digits next to their last names on the ceiling of his cave with chalk. Locke: 4; [Hurley] Reyes: 8; [James ''Sawyer''] Ford: 15; [Sayid] Jarrah: 16; [Jack] Shephard: 23; [Jin or Sun?] Kwon: 42. Why? Un-Locke shrugged. ''Jacob had a thing for numbers,'' he said.
PCIBS: 49% It's not that I think Jacob doesn't have a thing for numbers — I just think that Jacob has good reason for assigning numbers to his candidates, and more, that Un-Locke knows what that reason is and isn't telling Sawyer. DEBATE! Where's Kate?
Sawyer's Three Options
What Smokey Said: (1) Sawyer could do nothing, see how the drama plays out, and possibly get his name crossed off the list of candidates. (2) He could accept the job. (3) He could leave the Island with Smokey.
PCIBS: 100% I actually believe he's 100% truthful about the three options, although I'm also 100% sure he didn't tell Sawyer everything he needed to know about each of those options for him to make the most informed choice. Here's what I think Smokey omitted. Option 1: The reason why the names get crossed off when that candidate dies? It's probably because of Smokey's conspiratorial machinations. Option 2: If Sawyer took the job, Smokey would move heaven and hell to find some way to kill him. Option 3: Leaving the Island will obliterate the entire Island world reality, or delete from the history of the world the specific lifelines of the castaways that lave, PLUS the lifelines of anyone inextricably intertwined with those lifelines. Whatever Smokey has up its butt, I think he has a (quantum) suicide wish.
Sawyer's Response To Smokey's Offer
What Was Said: ''So what do you say, James?'' Smokey asked. ''Are you ready to go home?'' Sawyer replied, ''Hell yes.''
Possible Chance I Believe Sawyer: 0% Because I believe as heartbroken and furious as Sawyer may be… he ain't betraying the castaways to this monster. I think the minute Sawyer saw that ghost kid — that dead ringer for himself when he was a kid — and saw Un-Locke chase after him and then return without him, Sawyer made up his mind that this Fake Locke was one freakin' scary creep and needed to be brought down. Why didn't Sawyer put a bullet in him when had a chance? Because he needs to do what the Monster did to Locke: study him, observe him, figure out his weaknesses and how he can be mortally attacked, and then do so. In other words, Sawyer is doing what Sawyer does best: he's pulling a long con, the riskiest con he's ever pulled: fooling the devil into thinking he has an ally — and then stabbing him in the back with his own pitchfork. [Editor's note: my ''Totally Lost'' co-host Dan Snierson just informed me that my 0% assessment was ''crazy talk'' and demanded I increase my percentage to a more plausible... 2.7%. DONE!]