The Substitute: Another Locke-centric awesome ep

LOST does a lot of things well (and by a lot, I mean basically everything but this), but one of the things they do the very best is John Locke-centric episodes.  A lot of people claimed they got hooked on LOST because of season one’s very first Locke episode, “Walkabout,” in which we learned John Locke was once confined to a wheelchair but could miraculously walk again on the Island.

Tonight’s episode, “The Substitute,” was yet another great Locke episode and reinvigorated the action of this last season after last week’s slower moving ep “What Kate Does.”

(SPOILER ALERT!  Stop reading if you haven’t seen this week’s episode.)

The theme of “substitution” popped up A LOT in this episode:

  1. The Man-in-Black is a literal substitute for John Locke on the Island, having used his body as a means to get to Jacob to kill him.
  2. In the Sideways world, John Locke was sent to a work conference in Australia, but tried to substitute in a walkabout.  When his douche-y boss, Randy, found out, he quickly fired John.
  3. After getting fired in the Sideways world, John ran into Hurley outside his office where Hurley graciously offered to send John to a temp agency with a promise of him getting a substitute job.
  4. Then, John literally was a substitute teacher in a high school where a grouchy Ben Linus (in a hilarious bit of smart-assery involving the coffee machine in the teacher’s lounge; Michael Emerson just knows how to deliver a line SO well) introduced himself as “Benjamin Linus, European History.”
  5. Finally, back on the Island, fake John Locke brought Sawyer (still bitter and now pretty boozy) to a cave on the side of a cliff (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince reference possibly?) only reachable by a scary set of rope/bamboo ladders (like something out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) where the ceiling and walls were covered with names.  Included in those names were (coordinated with our infamous NUMBERS!) those of a few of our castaways: Rayez, Jarrah, Ford, Shephard, Kwon, Locke.  According to Fake Locke, all these names are “candidates for protector of the island” aka a substitute for Jacob.

I actually found the Flash-Sideways to finally be a worthy substitute (eh?  EH?  Like how I worked that in AGAIN?) for our flash forwards and flashbacks.  I was really drawn into (as I usually am with Locke episodes) the Sideways Locke story tonight and loved all the different shades of the character we keep being given in Terry O’Quinn’s ever-deepening performance.  More than anything, I was happy to see Katey Segal pop back in as Locke’s loving, yet feisty fiancee, Helen.  It warmed my heart to see that John had some domestic bliss.  I really loved the moment they shared after Locke decided not to call Jack for a spinal consultation.  It was touching and sweet.

And we got some more answers tonight involving an enduring mystery from the last several seasons: those damned lists of names.  We finally know that Jacob made the lists as a means of finding a replacement for himself, because apparently he was tired of being the Island’s protector.  Or is that actually Richard Alpert?  I’m a little confused on how Richard figures in.

Also, how creepy was that blond kid (like Shining creepy) and why could Sawyer also see him but Richard couldn’t?  As we were watching tonight’s episode, my friend, Hassan, thought it would have been funny if that kid had been Walt or if Walt had been in one of the classes Sideways Locke was substituting in.  Which still begs the question: why was Walt so special?  A question we might never get the answer to.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the white and black rocks on the scale in the Horcrux Cave (that’s what I’m calling it, folks).  That was a really nice visual reminder of the backgammon game from season one, which I feel is the biggest driving force behind the show (“…There are two sides: light and dark.”).  Plus, we got the inclusion of a funny Locke line, “Oh just an inside joke!” as he chucked the white rock into the sea.

While I’m on the subject of Horcruxes (to read more about them, click here), there are shades of that here.  Remember, Voldemort used Horcruxes as a substitute (AGAIN!) for dying, storing parts of his soul in objects to ensure immortality.  The Man-in-Black is using Locke’s body to do his dirty work, not to mention Alex Linus (to convince Ben), and possibly even Christian Shephard (that still remains to be hashed out).  See?  All the makings of horcrux-y kind of stuff.

All right.  I’m wrapping this up for tonight.  So what am I hoping for next week?  A Sun/Jin reunion (PLEASE), some juicy Island Claire story, and more one-liners from Miles and Ben.

Good night Losties and NAMASTE!

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