The Substitute was a great episode of Lost, reminding me why I’m going to miss this show when it finally ends in a few short months time. Below the jump I post some of my ‘bare bones’ thoughts on the episode.
I continue to appreciate what the writers are doing with the connections between our flash sideways Losties. It’s just like the crossed paths from the earlier seasons flashbacks, but less discrete, making me wonder if our season 1 starting point really was an original timeline, or part of a progressive flash sideways that would eventually lead to what we’re now seeing off island in this parallel timeline? I mean, “it only ends once”, right?
I enjoyed all of Locke’s interactions with Randy, Hurley, Hurley’s psychic lady, Rose, and, of course, Helen. Despite the subtle changes in his life, it’s still pretty much the same old Locke we’ve always know – still fighting the world and telling people what he can’t do. But ultimately, he seems more able to accept what he has, and realise that hat he has is quite a lot. Call it a lack of faith, or perhaps a sense of reality. Either way, I do wonder whether our original Locke would have come to this conclusion had flight 815 not crashed on the island? Perhaps Flocke’s right – maybe Jacob has wasted their lives?
Also, can we take it that Locke’s dad didn’t push him out of a window in this timeline, as Helen mentioned inviting him to their wedding? I guess that would make sense as I can’t see Jacob going off island to touch any of his candidates when his island is underwater and he’s, you know, dead.
A word on Ben - how hilarious that he’s teacher! (nothing wrong with being a teacher, but BEN as a teacher? The universe has a sense of humor!). I have to wonder though, is sideways Ben as innocent as he seems, or does he have some hidden knowledge on what is going on? I say this because Ben should really have sunk with the island (assuming it sunk immediately following the jughead) – unlike baby Ethan who had presumably boarded the submarine with his mom, young Ben was on the island when the Jughead went off. So like Desmond, his appearing in this universe is something of a mystery.
The kid with blood on his arms:
I’m thinking it’s either a young representation of Jacob or an older representation of Aaron. I’m going with the Jacob option because it makes more sense. He’s barefoot, dressed in traditional “Others” wear, and he’s upset that Flocke is breaking “the rules” – all of which points to Jacob, in my opinion. How he’s appearing to Flocke is another story. e see two different representations of him – first with blood on his arms, dreamlike and with only Flocke being able to see him (telling me that this was a more subconscious sighting, similar to the early Christian or Yemi on-island appearances). Later, Sawyer was also able to corroborate the kids existence. It’s almost as though young Jacob was able to fully project himself on this occasion. Since Jacob can apparently see through time, I’m also wondering if this young version of himself is running parallel to island events (especially if time happens all at the same time)? If the kid is Jacob, I find it interesting that he appears angry when we’re yet to see older Jacob carry anything other than a sympathetic stare, or vacant expression – “what about you?”.
Hearts & Minds:
Flocke’s “recruitment” process reminded me of the Boone (and Locke) centric episode from season 1, titled: “Hearts and Minds”. This is effectively what Flocke was trying to do with Richard and Sawyer, appealing to their senses, humanising himself and offering them something of value in order to win their votes. He failed (for now) with good old Alpert, but Sawyer’s “hell yes” vote of approval will have done his chances of going “home” (where, when, which or whatever that might be) the world of good.
For the record, the moment where Flocke tells Sawyer that he’s a man who knows pain, love, betrayal, etc, was a moment of pure gold – Terry’s All Gold, in fact. I found myself completely sympathising with Smokey in that moment – and yeah, I can’t believe the words I’m typing – Smokey is Locke. Lost is crazy, and I love it!
I’m surprised they brought the numbers back into focus. It’s funny, I (like many others, I’m sure) had a theory that the numbers were related to specific Losties years ago, but over the seasons I kinda let go of the idea, so fair play to them for bringing it back and making it interesting. I guess the main thing to say here is that Kate Austin is, for some reason, not a candidate. Does Jacob not like her body odour or something? It’s difficult to pin down why her name could not be there (seriously, Claire’s name is there – unless Littleton refers to Turniphead?) – it’s not like he didn’t come and see her when she was younger. If he’s disappointed that she didn’t change, well, Jin and Sun didn’t protect their love until they got to the island, and Jack didn’t let go until the Jughead slipped from his grasp at the end of season 5. Maybe it has something to do with the number she was designated and not Kate herself? Or perhaps Kate is a substitute? Which brings me to..
I like the double, potential triple, meaning of the way the word “substitute” was used in this episode. On the one hand it referred to Locke accepting a role as a substitute teacher (signs of him accepting his limitations), while it also referenced Flocke’s plan of substituting real Locke out of the game and using his body with a view to get the hell outta “craphole island” (assuming he wants to leave the island). There’s also a third possible meaning that struck me – what if sideways flash Locke will somehow be the substitute for original Locke? I get the sense that the time-lines will have to converge at some point, so perhaps Locke will rise again in the form of his alternate version? Long shot I know, but I just can’t get Jack’s words outta my head – “If I were you, I wouldn’t give up on him”. I wont, Jack. I wont.
Shout-outs to the light and dark theme: Flash sideways Locke sitting in the bath with one light cloth and one dark green cloth. He chose the dark green, but changed to the light green at Helen’s unspoken request. He also sips coffee from a half light and half dark cup. Nice. Also, I must try that one day – drinking coffee while in the bath. Lost is a constant source of inspiration for me.
Of course there was also the black and white stones – I liked the “inside joke” comment, either referring to that split second where it looked as though Flocke as actually the white stone, or the reference to the black rock..and in THE Black Rock.
I have a lot more to say on this, but it will have to wait for another time, or perhaps as part of an end of series retrospective – seeing as the next episode is almost upon us. Needless to say I thought this episode was awesome – makes “What Kate Did” look even more lukewarm. I rate it 9/10.