Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Lost: Recruiting Class
Last night's episode of Lost, "The Substitute," was a definite improvement over the previous week, but I'm still concerned about the glacial pace that continues in the plot unfolding within the Island timeline. On that front, the entire episode can basically be reduced to "Fake Locke/MIB/Smokey recruits Sawyer." That's really the only thing that happened. Oh sure, there were some interesting scenes with Richard Alpert, and that weird little boy that FLocke kept seeing (Jacob's ghost?), and they teased a few of the big Island mysteries (Jacob's Lists! The numbers!) without really providing any real answers, and more people are headed to the Temple (that place is going to get old real quick), but it was really all about FLocke seducing Sawyer. Which was pretty easy for him to do. I'm actually pretty surprised that Sawyer, the consumate con man, was so easily won over. I did, however, dig Sawyer's complete nonchalance with the idea that some thing was inhabitating Locke's form. Didn't phase him a bit. I guess the Dharma whiskey helped (and his excellent observation that the real Locke was always afraid, even when he pretended not to be).
So what do you think is the ultimate endgame for FLocke? When he tells Sawyer that they have to leave the Island together, does he mean all the 815ers have to leave together, much like the criteria for the Oceanic Six to return to the Island, or does he just need one recruit to assist him? And why were only the men's names written in Jacob's cave? We know that Kate and Ilyana were also touched by Jacob in the season 5 finale, so where were their names (I'm therefore also concluding that "Kwon" referred only to Jin and not to Sun)? And is there a greater significance to FLocke acting as a substitute for Locke beyond getting access to Jacob?
Speaking of substitutes, for the first time this season I can say that I was genuinely more engaged by the storyline in the alternate timeline, because we finally got spend some time with the REAL John Locke again. Honestly, I didn't realize how much I missed him, but his absence is definitely felt. In the new off-Island timeline, John is actually very much the same man we've always known. Although some of the details of his life are better -- he and Helen are engaged, and apparently his relationship with his father is different this time around -- he is still secretly raging against his limitations. "Don't tell me what I can't do!" is still his refrain, and he once again unsuccessfully tried to embark on his Walkabout in Austrailia. But then, something changed. An encounter with the ever-pragmatic Rose convinced him to accept his reality and move on with his life. He seemingly affects his fate and is content to become a substitute teacher (I guess it beats working for Randy at Hurley's box company).
And so Lost's resident Believer, its Man of Faith, was actually buried twice last night. Will he ever return? I continue to believe that the real Locke has some important role to play in the resolution of the show. Ultimately, I think there is no adequate substitute for this essential character. But I also continue to be distracted by the winks at the audience that laden the new timeline. Ben Linus the European history teacher was hilarious, raging about the coffee maker in the teacher's lounge, but isn't a little much to think that Locke would encounter Hurley, Rose, and Ben all in rapid succession like that? All in all, it was a much more satisfying episode, but I'm still looking forward to a little more plot progression.