The Substitute (teacher?)

Tonight’s episode was as good as last week’s was disappointing.

What we learned about ALT Locke?
He and Helen are planning their wedding. Based on her comments, John has a pretty good relationship with his father. [Helen’s comments to Locke about the conversation he had with Jack closely parallels Jack and Ben’s conversation about a spinal surgeon crashing on the island a few days after he found out he had a tumor on his spine: “What are the odds?”] John lied about attending the conference for the box company, which is owned by Hugo Reyes [just like in the other timeline], and gets fired for stealing from the company. But he meets Hugo, who also owns a temp agency, in the parking lot. Hugo gives him the phone number of his agency and guarantees him a job. At the agency, he meets Rose, who is living with terminal cancer [same as in the other timeline], and she finds him a job as a substitute teacher. His first day as a substitute he is teaching science [no more a man of faith] [I also think it’s interesting that he’s teaching about human reproduction since women on the island can’t have babies.] He meets Ben Linus, European History teacher, in the lounge.  [WHOA]

I think it’s important to note that, despite what they led us to believe in LA X, Part 2, John doesn’t really accept the fact that he’s bound by a wheelchair.  He refuses to park in the handicapped space and he throws a fit [“Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”] when he is not allowed to go on the walkabout.  However, by the end of this episode, we see Locke and Helen embracing his life just the way it is, wheelchair and all, when the scene culminates in shredding Jack’s business card.

John Locke on the island is definitely dead.  Sun, Ilana, Ben, and Lapides bury him on the beach.  Ben says that John was a believer, a man of faith, and that he’s sorry he murdered the poor guy.  Aw, how sweet.  Here, Lapides utters the best line of the episode (in my opinion), “…weirdest damn funeral I’ve ever been to.”

All of that stuff about ALT Locke was really nice, but I don’t think it has any bearing on what was going on on the island. I think the writers are just showing us how all of the Losties’ lives are connected one way or another, with or without the island. Ultimately, this may play into the question of human volition. Whether the people are pawns or not, would events in their lives be any different?

Events on the island
I cannot say that any questions have been completely answered. However, I CAN say that I think I am asking the right questions.

Seeing the island from Smokey’s point of view was very cool. Several characters teach us different things about our favorite smokey mystery and his nemesis, Jacob.

From Ilana, we learn:

  • Smokey cannot change his appearance anymore; he’s stuck with John Locke’s face whether he likes it or not
  • Smokey is recruiting — a war is coming!
  • she knows about Jin.  She tells Sun that if Jin is alive, then he’ll be at the temple. I’m guessing Sun follows Ilana to the temple.
  • the ashes are VERY IMPORTANT.
  • the only safe place on the island is the temple

About the ashes:

  • Ilana gathers some from the fire pit after she learns that Jacob disappeared in said pit
  • the Others use ashes to protect themselves from Smokey, whether they are standing alone or gathered in the temple
  • ashes provided protection for Jacob’s cabin
  • Dogen blew ashes across Sayid’s abdomen during “the test”

From Richard we learn:

  • He is important to Smokey.  Smokey really wants Richard to be on his side. He uses the same rhetoric with Richard that he used with Ben, but
  • Richard does not take the bait.
  • Richard says three important things to James when he sees him in the jungle: 1) Richard begs James to come with him to the only safe place on the island — the temple; 2) Richard implores him to not believe/trust anything Smokey says, and 3) Richard tells James that Smokey is going to kill him. The only problem is that James does not care about anyone or anything anymore.

The boy:

  • Smokey sees the boy
  • seems to be surrounded by light
  • the sight of this boy really unsettles Smokey
  • the boy, who I think is Jacob, knows “the rules”
  • Sawyer can see the boy
  • Richard did not see the boy

From Smokey we learn:

  • he was once a man. I’m guessing he is/was the Man In Black we met in the final episode of Season 5. Something happened that forced him out of his body so that
  • he has to assume the appearances of other people
  • he says that he is trapped
  • he wants to get off the island (but in episode 2 he told us he wanted to go home)
  • he really hates Jacob
  • he and Jacob have an “inside joke” related to the black and white stones, which symbolize good and evil
  • if your name is on the cave’s ceiling, then that means you were touched by Jacob at some point in your life.
  • Mostly likely at a young and vulnerable point in life, Jacob came and “pushed” you to the island. [We saw how that happened at the end of Season 5]
  • Smokey said there are 3 options for James:
    1) he can do nothing and eventually his name will be crossed out;
    2) he can stay, become the next Jacob, and protect the island; or
    3) “we” can leave the island together.  [He did not mention James’ fourth option: run as fast as you can to the temple!]

The cave: I want to spend more time in that cave. I hope the next episode shows us more. I immediately noticed the white and black stones on the scales. The cup. The musical instrument. The crucible. Y’all. The biblical imagery is becoming more and more overt.

The interior of the cave revealed a list of names, most of which had been crossed out. Smokey showed James six names that had not been crossed out and THE NUMBERS beside each name.
Locke – 4
Reyes – 8
Ford – 15
Jarrah – 16
Shepherd – 23
Kwon – 42

FINALLY, a bit of an answer about the numbers.  I’ve thought all along that the numbers corresponded to certain people; I just didn’t know which people.  I think they are actually the variables in Faraday’s equation.  I wonder if their fates match up with certain passages or verses from the Bible?  Shepherd and 23 is SO obvious.

I’m sure you noticed that there are several names we did not see: Kate, Claire, Aaron, Desmond, Rose, Bernard, Juliet, to name a few. Smokey didn’t seem to understand the significance of the numbers. But he did cross out Locke before they left the cave.  If a name is crossed out, then I guess that means that person is dead.

Several Many A few of my questions were partially answered in this episode.  A few new questions I have are:

  • How will Smokey and James get off the island?
  • Will they use the frozen donkey wheel?
  • Is the boy Jacob?
  • Can all the people whose names are written on the cave’s ceiling see Jacob?
  • What will James decide?
  • If James does nothing, will he become like Claire and Rousseau?

Sadly, I do not recall hearing Hugo say, “Dude,” at all.  Lucky Hugo is not as fun as Cursed Hurley.

What stood out to you in this episode?  Were any of your questions answered?  What do you think is going to happen next?

11 Comments on “The Substitute (teacher?)

  1. I don’t know about you, but there are a few things I find very frustrating about this story. First of all, we are conditioned to think Jacob is the good entity and Smokey/MIB?/dead Locke is the bad entity because of the white and black imagery. What if they are going to pull some kind of switch on us and Jacob isn’t so ‘good’ after all? I hope not, but, well, I could kind of see it maybe that if James goes w/Locke and he can get all the ‘numbered’ ones to go, maybe that is what will bring about the alternate reality we’re seeing? Just thinking it out.

    Second, there is a lot made of the idea of ‘trust’. I find that I want to trust the Others at the temple, but they have never, not once in the entire series, given us any real reason to do so. I like Richard, would like to trust him, but, again, he has never given our Losties any real reason to do so. Any time the Others and Richard have had an opportunity to answer even a smidgen of a part of a question, they have not done so. They just act mysterious and ask us to trust them. Why should we? This has frustrated me for a long time. Is it part of the rules of the grand game I am becoming convinced is going on that they cannot tell the pawns anything? Now that the Losties are in need of protection, couldn’t they start being a little more forthcoming about why and who/what they are protecting them from?

    I am also starting to wonder if Ben has always been a pawn of MIB, thinking he was doing Jacob’s bidding, but really he’s been MIB’s pawn all along. Again, Ben is a prime reason our Lost friends have such a hard time trusting anything the temple Others say or do – everything Ben said was a lie or a twisting of the truth and did not seem to be good for the Lost people.

    So, I think we are seeing things come together, but it’s really hard to know who is really ‘good’ and ‘bad’, just as that has been hard all along the series. I have a feeling Locke/MIB is probably the bad one and is very good at deception. I hope for Sawyer’s sake, if that’s the case, that Sawyer will figure that out soon enough and run like crazy back to safety. Otherwise, how ironic that the con artist is being masterfully conned by someone even more devious.

    I agree that the biblical symbolism is becoming pretty overt. Not sure how I’m going to like that – depends on how it plays out. I am NOT going to like it if what is supposed to be ‘good’ ends up being ‘bad’ and vice versa.

    Not sure I added much to the conversation, and sorry to leave such a long comment. Probably should have just blogged it myself.


    • *What if they are going to pull some kind of switch on us and Jacob isn’t so ‘good’ after all? * I’ve wondered about that, too. And, like you, I hope they don’t do that.

      *I am also starting to wonder if Ben has always been a pawn of MIB, thinking he was doing Jacob’s bidding, but really he’s been MIB’s pawn all along.* When Ilana and Bram went to Jacob’s cabin and found that the ash barrier had been breached, Ilana said that Jacob hadn’t been there for a very long time. Because of that, I do not think that Ben met with Jacob. I think that all those times we thought we were seeing Christian/Jacob in the cabin, in the jungle, or by the FDW, we were actually seeing MIB. Plus, there is no indication that MIB/Smokey isn’t the one who wrote those names on the cave ceiling. He said Jacob did it, but he could be lying.

      *Second, there is a lot made of the idea of ‘trust’.* I don’t trust the Others yet, either.

      *How ironic that the con artist is being masterfully conned by someone even more devious.* Great point!


  2. Someone else suggested that Sawyer was pulling a ‘long-con’ on MIB and he may end up helping come to a resolution in the end.

    Perhaps the numbers correspond to how many times that person has been successful in ‘defeating’ the temptation by one of the players (either light or dark)???

    “And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God” ~Revelation 15:2

    I have a theory that the line Jacob says, “it only needs to happen once – everything else leading up to that is just progress” is very important. If everything leading up to the ‘event’ has happened before in some loop of time or reincarnation, etc. then the numbers may correspond to the names in how many times that person has succeeded, or something to that effect.

    Does that make any sense?!?!


    • *Someone else suggested that Sawyer was pulling a ‘long-con’ on MIB*
      I REALLY hope so! That would be epic.

      Rev. 15:12 question: Do you think, when applied to the show, the antecedent for “his” (in the phrase “the number of his name”) is “those who had been victorious”? That the characters have to overcome their own numbers? Interesting!

      Yes, your reincarnation comment makes sense. Only seeing this thing through to the end will tell us if you’re right. 😉


  3. Loved the ep….and like you I’m seeing the imagery everywhere. I still wonder, is this a heaven/hell/purgatory thing going on. I know the writers denied it early on, but the could have been lying to us all because we figured it out so quickly. 🙂 May not be EXACTLY that…but there is some sort of parallel there I really think so.

    Can’t wait to see more of the cave!!!!


  4. I disagree with your idea that ALT Locke has no bearing – I don’t think they are showing us what would have been, I think it IS in an actual alternate reality – one that was perhaps triggered by the explosion. Remember Juliet told Miles “It worked” when she died? I think the alternate reality is going to turn out to be more significant in the outcome of the show than the continuing events on the island we are being led to invest in right now. Or maybe something will happen to merge the two universes somehow….

    Agreed about the best line in the episode. =)


    • I agree with you: what they’re showing us is what is. Maybe I should quit calling the sideways flashes an alternative reality since I think it is a reality. Let me try to explain what I mean. The sideways flashes show us what is, AND what is happening on the island is what is. I think, though, that the two timelines do not impact one another — they are parallel. That’s what I meant by “no bearing on what’s going on on the island.” For example, even though the parallel Locke is getting married, the island Locke is still very dead. My thinking is that everything will resolve (like the end of a song), but I’m not thinking that the two universes will merge. Of course, I have nothing on which to base my thinking and I really hope I’m proven wrong; I want them to merge. The end will show us that what is is what happened. There. Clear as mud. 🙂


  5. Oh, I get what you’re saying. I hope they merge too – if it’s true the the ending will be very satisfactory for viewers (which I believe I’ve heard the producers quoted as saying), something’s gotta change! =)


  6. Hurley DID say “Dude!” when he met Locke in the parking lot. 🙂



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