LOST in Translation:Train Kept A-Rollin’

Lost Season 6 Episode 4
The Substitute
written by Elizabeth Samoff & Melinda Hsu Taylor
directed by Tucker Gates

As the old folks used to say, now we’re cooking with gas. The Substitute, while offering few out and out answers certainly raised all the right questions and set-up revelations to come. There were kernels strewn about here and there spawning implications and igniting a firestorm of speculation… This is what LOST does best. There’s just something about the story of John Locke, be he live or be he dead, that captures the essence of what the narrative of this drama is at the core and delivers truth, even if that truth is wrapped in a lie and entombed in a riddle.

Over Under Sideways Down

“But I don’t want you to spend your life waiting for a miracle, Helen, because there’s no such thing.” ~ John Locke

The John Locke we discover in the flash-sideways is a far cry from the man we spent the previous five seasons with. Happily engaged to Helen, and with a good relationship with his father, John Locke is resigned to his place in life. No “Man of Faith” to be found here. A lift chair malfunction sends him sprawling face-first into the yard, coupled with the indignity of the sprinkler system going off on cue, and John Locke laughs. Nope, that’s not our John Locke at all.

For every setback there’s a silver lining for John. Fired from his job at the Box Company, it’s Hugo to the rescue, setting Locke on a course toward a temp agency where he meets Rose who in turn places him as a substitute… at a school where a flash-sideways Benjamin Linus is entrenched as a European History teacher.

I can almost see the writers’ smiling faces as they write these sideways glimpses into the Losties’ Elseworld, tongues firmly in cheek. They’re having fun with this, and damn it, so am I.

Herein lies the rub however, if there is one thing that is screaming at me from these flash-sideways it is that Jacob is not the good guy that we were led to believe he was. And no, this is not the first time that I’ve said so. Go back to when Jacob “touched” our protagonists in real time — marking them — claiming them — and we’re left wondering… if Kate had been busted for shoplifting would she have grown up as she did or would she have been scared straight? If James Ford hadn’t finished his letter to Sawyer would he have grown up to be so vengeful? And Sayid… if he hadn’t been stopped by Jacob on the street, would Nadia have lived?

In the flash-sideways, Locke is happy and comfortable in his skin… Kate is still a fugitive, but seemingly innocent of murder… Hurley is living a charmed life, free from the numbers curse and incessant bad luck… Are the “castaways”  better people because their lives were not subverted toward Jacob’s objectives?

It will be interesting to see how these flash-sideways continue to play out.

Little Games

“John Locke was a… believer. He was a man of faith. He was a much better man than I will ever be, and I’m very sorry I murdered him.” ~Benjamin Linus

What to think of the revelations and implications of our story back on the Island? My head is spinning. Where do you even start with any of this? Let’s try and bullet point some of this and see if we can wrap our heads around what has been revealed:

— The Locke-ness Monster is “recruiting”.

— For some reason, MIB can no longer shape shift into anyone other than Locke.

— Jacob’s been doing some recruiting of his own, via “candidates” who, according to MIB, are possible replacements for assuming Jacob’s position as “Island Protector”.

— Sawyer sums up the Locke he knew as someone who was always scared, even when he pretended he wasn’t. The Locke-ness Monster wasn’t fooling Jim Ford for one minute.

— A mysterious boy, arms covered in blood, appears twice. The first time only MIB can see him… Richard cannot. The second instance, the boy is visible to both Flocke and Sawyer, much to Flocke’s surprise.

— This mysterious boy (Jacob? Aaron? An interested third party?) reprimands Flocke and reminds him that there are rules. That he cannot kill Sawyer? Or Richard? Or is it the candidates in general that he’s barred from actively harming? Flocke’s reply, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” No wonder he dressed himself in Locke’s skin.

— The Locke-ness Monster admits that he was once a man, but that he is now trapped, and all he wants to do, all he wants for everyone involved, is for them to all “go home”.

— Flocke also admits to being a reader (“Isn’t everybody?”) but says that Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men (published in 1937) was after his time.

— MIB reveals Jacob’s Cave and a wall covered in names… names of his “candidates”. On it we see 4: Locke, 8: Reyes, 15: Ford, 16: Jarrah, 23: Sheppard, 42: Kwon. There are many more names, all crossed out… including individuals from the US Army that came to the Island in the 50’s and members of Rousseau’s doomed Science team.

— Regarding Jacob, Flocke explains to Sawyer that “at some point in your life he came to you when you were vulnerable or miserable, he came to you, manipulated you, pulled your strings like you were a puppet and as a result the choices you thought you made were never really choices, he was pushing you, pushing you to the Island”.

— MIB says that the Island is just an Island and does not need protecting.

— Sawyer is given three options: 1.) He can do nothing and see how things play out and possibly get his named crossed off. 2.) He can give himself up to Jacob’s plan and protect the Island “from nothing”. 3.) “We just go. We get the hell off this Island and we never look back. We do that together.”

Shapes of Things

“I don’t give a damn if you’re dead, or time traveling, or the Ghost of Christmas Past. All I care about is this whiskey. So bottoms up. Get the hell out of my house.” ~Sawyer

What now? A line is being drawn in the sand and teams are slowly being formed. On one side we have the Island Protecting Jacob. On the other we have a Homesick Locke-ness Monster. It’s too early to choose sides… far too many variables in play, but for now I’m with Sawyer and Flocke. I just don’t trust that Jacob cat.

This episode was full of special moments: Richard’s utter fear of Flocke, Ilana’s tearful collecting of Jacob’s ashes, Ben’s eulogy, and well, every moment Sawyer was on screen. Exceptionally cool that he was listening to the Stooges during his melancholy self-destruction. And extra special kudos to Terry O’Quinn who week after week delivers an epic performance.

I leave you now with next week’s trailer for episode 5 “Lighthouse” and a not too revealing sneak peek featuring Claire, Jin, and a not dead yet Justin.

Is it next Tuesday yet?


Bob Freeman’s Occult Detective collection, That Olde Black Magick, is now available direct from Bandersnatch Books for a mere $13.00… FREE Shipping and Handling. Includes a signed bookplate with each purchase.



7 Responses to “LOST in Translation:Train Kept A-Rollin’”

  1. Like I’ve said before, “It’ll grab your brain and just give it a little twist” and the beat goes on! ! ! !

  2. I’ll be watching as soon as I get home today.
    I was overruled last night and suffered through 2 hours of American Idol

  3. […] Season 1 “Smiles and Beatitude” Locke but instead The Lockeness Monster (thanks Bob Freeman for my new favorite name, way better than Flocke or […]

  4. I missed something major that will play a big part tomorrow.

    Remember how the numbers were radio’d out because of that equation? How they had to change just one of those numbers to save mankind?

    Last year when the Ajira plane was landing on Hydra Island, numbers were heard over the radio.

    I bring that up because it plays a big part tomorrow.

  5. me and my wife have been researching 2012 for about 2 years now and have allready started planning they say by 2010 you will see it in the sky and i think thats about the time we will have everything ready we are looking to start a survival group or if anyone else has one that we can join let me know ill check back later thanks
    new world 2012
    – some truth about 2012

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