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Recap: LOST 'The Substitute' (S6, E4)

Tuesday February 16th 2010

by Paul Armstrong

Bizzaro John Locke


Not John Locke is here to give us some answers. But then again, he's really not. We do learn a bit more about the real John Locke's life in the multiverse. We were promised "answers", right? Just making sure, because I could swear this is the series finale and a "conclusion" usually coincides with something like that.


Watch the episode again:


TAGENT WARNING: So I'm going to go on a tangent here before I get into what happened in "The Substitute". It will be impossible for LOST to ever meet our expectations in terms of addressing and satisfactorily answering the questions raised by the series; this much I'm sure of and pretty OK with. What I do expect, of most any television show (and I realize in the large scheme of life and the world and everything that a TV show is meaningless and pointless and brain-dissolving fluff, yet entertainment and enjoyment are also parts of life, and help inform our lives if we allow our brains to seek for more layers to what we watch, so there is some significance) is for the characters to change and evolve. And so far, I'm not sure LOST has done that. If anything the characters have gotten more one-dimensional (but thank God not Heroes level one-dimensional) and predictable — to the point of caricature. I think beyond the fact that we're no closer to figuring out say why and what Dharma is, the island, the multi-verse, Christian Shepherd, the whispers, who Not John Locke and Jacob and the temple people and the statue and the island being able to move and ... all of it ... we're getting regressive characters who haven't changed or learned or grown. And that annoys me. Ok ... all done now.


What We Learned

  • More of the alternate world showing us how everyone is still somehow connected.
  • Bizarro John Locke is with Helen still. That's pretty cool.
  • Bizzaro John's boss Randy is still a douche and fires BJ (which, is understanable) for lying about his purpose in going to Austarllia and using company funds to go.
  • Not-John Locke is "recruiting" (or so says Richard, who kindly declines the offer to join the team) and he convinces Sawyer with the temptation of "knowledge" to join him. Again the serpent, Eden metaphors are easy, and hopefully just being used as dressing to a fuller mythology.
  • A little boy appears (perhaps it's Jacob?) tells Not-John-Locke that "there are rules" and that he can't kill "him". Him who? James? Richard? He's already killed Jacob, unless it's more a statment about the fact that killing Jacob doesn't kill Jacob.
  • James learns that Not-John-Locke is "trapped" on the island (Why? By whom? James for some reason doesn't ask him this). Jacob kept him on the island, but for what purpose? Punishment? Who's punishing him and why?
  • Hurley owns the box company where Bizzaro John works (which we knew), they meet in the parking lot as John is attempting to get into his van — Hugo tells him to go to the temp agency he owns and he'll hook him up with a job.
  • Rose works at the tempt agency. And she has cancer.
  • Bizzaro John takes a job as a substitute teacher, where low-and-behold we see Ben Linus — history teacher ( I honestly thought he'd be the principal, that seems more fitting for a man of Ben's ambitions).
  • Lady-Who-Looks-Sorta-Like-Ana-Lucia tells Hurley and the others gathered at the grave for Dead John that Not-John-Locke is stuck in that body — but of course there is no elaboration. Why is he stuck? How can he use someone else's body? Where is his body?
  • Not-John-Locke takes Sawyer/James to a cave where he shows him names on a ceiling — the names of most of the Oceanic 815 survivors — apparently put there by Jacob. He tells James that Jacob has manipulated his entire life to get him, and everyone, to the island to protect the island. From what? Nothing (well, except the great deceiver known as Not-John-Locke)
  • Apparently Not John Locke can get them off the island with the hel of James, but of course doesn't elaborate in how — because you know it'll involve some "choice" and "consequence".


This is more and more becoming mythology and allegory, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but a huge genre leap from being mysterious and puzzling. I'm beginning to think we'll never learn about Libby or Desmond or Dharma or how Walt showed up to Shannon or the "dial" that moves the island. We'll get more of Jack being angry and crying and sticking it someone because he's Jack; and Kate running away and being a loner and crying; and Sawyer being mad and spiteful and doing something to make people push him away; and Ben being self-righteous and pathetic and unpredictably calm; and Hugo providing comic relief ... but answers, will we get answers? I'm starting to think we'll be left more confused and frustrated than satisfied (and that is terribly disappointing)




Comments for "Recap: LOST 'The Substitute' (S6, E4)"

I thought a couple of character arcs were advanced. Bizarro John's acceptance of his deadlegs was a huge step forward from the old John, a sea change. And Ben Linus actually confessed, and expressed real regret, at Dead John's grave.

Admittedly, Sawyer has regressed. But I'm seeing hope for the future here.

And hey, I *like* mythology. I feel like I'm playing Myst again, for the first time, whenever I watch lost. And that's a good thing.

MYST is exactly what I think about every time I watch the show. Someone needs to turn that series (Myst, Riven) into a series ... it'd be amazing.

I love the _idea_ of their mythology, I'm just getting antsy and pessimistic that they'll be able to pull it off — after being disappointed by the likes of Matrix, Dune, et al (where a solid mythology comes unhinged). They're using Christianity, Egyptian gods, Greek gods, science, numerology, psychology ... I'm just worried it's going to be a St. Elsewhere ending and all be the imagination of Aaron as he stares at a snow globe.

I think John is one of the few characters that has changed; but I'm not sure I trust that bizarro universe is even real, so any changes there to me seem false — true in one sense, but misleading in that we're not sure that is the real world or a tangent universe that will eventually collapse.

Also interesting that Kate wasn't on the list of names in the cave.

With the numbers, they can only use 6 characters (since they're using 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 as the basis - though there has to be at least 42 names up there). I think Kate is going to end up with Not John Locke; especially if someone pleads with her to not do it ...

The little boy telling Not Locke you can't kill him.... ever heard of Job from the Bible? God told Satan you can do all of this stuff to him but you can't kill him.

Now, Sawyer is by no means a Job but his world has been turned upside down with the loss of Juliet, he's alone, isolated, on an island, he's confused, etc. He's bound to listen to anyone who promises a light at the end of the tunnel.

Stop worrying about what we don't know the answers to. The writers will let us know everything they want us to know. The guy who plays Christian is signed on to do more episodes, so I'm sure we'll see him again. I'm REALLY hoping that the Not-Locke guy is actually the good gut and Jacob turns out to be the bad guy. I mean look at all the evidence against Jacob being the good guy. He set the 6 not crossed off on their path to come to the island. He caused the planes to crash on the island, killing a fair amount of "expendable" characters. His protectors had a list of people who were flawed (Kate was on this list and was even told that she was flawed), and have killed those people, or at least don't seem phased or worried about killing people (for example, upon meeting the survivors, one of the first things Dogan does is order his men to shoot them all).

Is the Man in Black/Not-Locke the bad guy? "But he threw the white rock into the ocean..." well, he also said it was a joke.

I like to think at the moment Not-Locke and Jacob are in a stalemate situation where Not-Locke is waiting for Jacob to make his next move.

But all in all, my favorite theory that I've read is "What if all of this is just a elaborate application process for a big brother big sister program for Aaron?"
"Imagine the series ending with Jin taking Aaron to a Dodgers game."

Also, look for the final episode when the last of the not-crossed-out names is crossed out, and the man in black is all like "hah, I won" and a rock falls revealing "108 - Austen". Then it turns out Kate was the key to everything, she throws the ring into mount doom and everything resets, Jacob and MIB are erased from existence and we are left scratching our heads

I'm not buying the numbers thing. But I loved how many questions it raised! And I love how LOST is remaining mysterious, albeit mythological, up until the very end.

Wouldn't these numbers mean Jacob knew who the final 6 would be? Why did Not Locke cross out "4:Locke"? Doesn't that mean there's only 5 now? How were those numbers on the Hatch? How did Leonard (crazy guy who told Hurley the numbers) hear the numbers in the first place? And why was Hurley the only one of the 6 to have recollection of the numbers?

Could the "Numbers 6" be related to the "Oceanic 6"? Obviously cursed? Why them?

Could the name Shephard be Jack's dad? Could Kwon be their baby? What's Aaron's last name?

What role will jungle woman Claire play; was her name crossed off already? Does that mean she's dead? Were other people's names who are still alive crossed off?

et al.

Please refer to the "dial" as the "frozen donkey wheel" from here on out.

So, here is my big question from last night. If we assume the real John Locke is in a timeline created by the bomb (plane does not crash, we see island at bottom of the sea) How does Ben Linus show up at that school. Wasn't he on the island, in his own time, when the bomb exploded. He should be gone.

Ethan also appeared in bizarro world, and he was on the island before the plane crashed as well. So, obviously much more had changed, aside from the plane not crashing.

I'm with you, Chris ... I've hoped/expected for a while now that Jacob's essentially the bad guy who's deceiving an awful lot of people (including us) just for the sake of "the island" ... we seem to be getting closer to that realization, though I doubt that the writers would make it so linear and causal as that in the end.

Here are some other interesting Jacob-related things I'd like to see:

- We find out that there's a direct correlation between the whole pregnancy/babies thing on the island and the fountain-of-youth/Richard phenomena and the Jacob/MIB being "reborn" as other people (or in their "shells").

- Not-Locke/MIB/smokey and his antithesis, Jacob Jr. (whomever that ends up being ... believe me, more names will get crossed off after Locke's), finally get off the island, causing it to somehow sink to the bottom of the ocean forever ... and this incident somehow then CAUSES the multiverse/flash-sideways we've been seeing (where all the characters' situations sort themselves out by the end of this season).

- A white smoke monster (Jacob).

- We see the Black Rock landing on the shore in front of Jacob and MIB, and off it walks the original survivors, looking all old skool pirate-y. We then find out that the same people have been coming to the island, repeatedly, (in a creepy-Ben-voice) "for a ve-ry long time" ... drawn there again and again throughout history by Jacob (and MIB?).

- We find out that the ash that keeps Smokey out is actually the ash of Jacob's burned body ... and it has to do with Smokey & Co. being able to cross over between death and life.

- The "sickness" that's been referred to (Rousseau, Sayid, Claire, etc) has something to do with actually knowing the truth, with getting outside of the control and mythology of Jacob and his antithesis. Those in the temple (including Richard) don't yet have this "knowledge of good and evil".

- Charles Widmore is somehow very closely connected to Jacob ... remember, he made (and changed "the rules". One of those two, probably Widmore (hmm, sounds like "white"), is the teenager that not-Locke sees in the woods ... and Sawyer can see him because he ... oh crap, my brain just imploded.

Remember, we still have fourteen more episodes ... that's at least 40 more plot twists. Here we go! :)


Ethan was on the island before the plane crashed, but was he on it when the bomb exploded? I don't think he was on the island yet, so the fact that it is gone before he makes it to the island makes sense. Uh, as much as Lost makes sense anyhow. :-)

-Bryan: Oh right, duh; the bomb exploded in the 70s. Ugh, I can't get the timeline right at all. I try to think, but I quickly get confused. It's all a psychotropic hallucination of a insane hedgehog.

What if the multiverse story is their stories if Jacob never touched them.

Also the producers promised that the story would not be a dream or just someone's consciousness or the Garden of Eden.

I did think briefly of the possibility that Jacob is the "bad" guy. Jacob did wrestle the angel. However, it seems odd that the MiB is so pessimistic about the ship finding the island saying they always corrupt, kill. Jacob says that it only ends once and everything else is progress.

I hope the show doesn't answer ALL the questions. I hope it just gives us the motives of the characters. There's a lot of time left to get a lot of those answers.

Oh and I do want to hear one last good "Waaaaaaaalt!" scream.

In honor of the Throwdown (which I can't attend and don't wish to believe it's actually happening or I'll become so depressed that I might kill a baby narwhal) ... CLAME

Don't worry, it's not happening. But while we're at it, CLAME. :)

I am very frustrated with the sideways universe. To me, it feels like the producers/writers are trying to further develop the characters who have already been developed. We already know and love these people! Who cares about what's going on in the sidewaysverse?! I don't care about these new similar characters. I care about the ones who crashed on the island, those who have been developed for 5 seasons.

Here is how I feel about this season and how I think it differs from others...Though I have been frustrated during the beginning of other seasons (like the beginning of season 4; introducing time traveling tidbits and new characters), I still enjoyed each episode thoroughly. The time traveling was brought to us in a very calculated manner. Farraday was cryptic, but we assumed time travel was involved when he launched the "payload." I remember thinking, "Oh no, corny time traveling. This is going to screw up everything." Yet somehow, it ended up being a perfect dynamic to the show that I really enjoy. Almost every minute of every episode of season 4 I loved. Season 6, however, has been presented to me as a chore. Perhaps the sidewaysverse will intertwine with the survivors time line; in fact, I'd bet the farm it will. But, I am not enjoying the time spent on this "new" take on our old friends. I could care less that Jack sat in a different seat on the plane or that the plane in the sidewaysverse left a month later than flight 815. The acting and dialogue are superb by Fox, O'Quinn and Emerson; but why should we care? This season is giving us a very unbearable struggle. It is like having a choice to get into shape. You can either run on a boring treadmill or you can play racquetball (replace racquetball with your favorite aerobic activity...if you have one). You reach the same end, but the degree of fun and enjoyment is extremely different.

What saves me in all of this is the trust I have in Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, and the rest of the Lost writing and production team, the fantastic acting and dialogue (I can watch those scenes w/ Dogen and Jack over and over!), the minuscule answers we are getting, and the hope of these nearly unbearable "flash-sideways" become enjoyable or just ending altogether mid-season. I hope the producers will put me in my place by the time the show is over.

by Jake from Memphis
Friday, February 19th, 2010

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