Before we get to this week's episode, I have to point out the counter on the right hand side of the Blog. We're less than 3000 hits away from hitting ONE MILLION. That's insanity. Back when the Blog first started, I would be excited when I came home from work and saw that there were more than 10 hits to the page. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd max out the counter before the series ended. Thank you to all the viewers out there for making this happen.
The bigger question is "what in the hell is going to happen when we hit a million"? Will the counter stay stuck at 999,999? Will it reset back to zero? Will the world come to an end? I don't know, but I'm excited to find out.
It's times like these I wish the Blog was in some way profitable, so that I could have some prize for the one millionth visitor. But it's not. I'd still be curious to see who the one millionth visitor is, so if you happen to visit the Blog and see the counter at 999,999 (or 0!), please let me know!
On to the task at hand...
Episode Title: “The Substitute”
Brian’s Deeper Meaning Guess: When I first read the title of this episode, my thoughts instantly went to John Locke – seeing as there are currently two “versions” of Locke on the Island, it seems as though one would have to be a “substitute”. Once I saw the episode description and guest stars (yes, there is a guest star listing for the first time this season!), it confirmed my suspicions – this is a Locke-centric episode.
Which makes sense, I suppose.
Remember back to Season One? It started with a two hour premiere (that lacked centricity), then had a Kate-centric episode (“Tabula Rasa”), then the all-time classic Locke-centric episode “Walkabout”. Compare it to Season Six, which started with a two hour premiere (that lacked centricity), then a Kate-centric episode (“What Kate Does”), and now a Locke-centric episode. But there’s no way that this episode can be as mind-blowing as “Walkabout”, right? And to hope for that would be an exercise in setting unrealistically high expectations that will only surely lead to disappointment and anger?
I think this episode could be huge.
There are fifteen episodes of Lost left. At this point, we still don’t really understand who the “good guys” or “bad guys” are for this final season. We don’t understand what’s going on with the Off-Island action, and we don’t know what the big “mission” or “purpose” of the On-Island action is going to be for the season. Is it defeating SmokeLocke? Sinking the
It’s pretty important that the audience begins to understand the direction of the season sooner rather than later because it’s the only way to build up the suspense, tension, and drama on the
But right now, what’s the big picture goal for our Survivors? Kate, Sun, and Jin are the only characters who have a purpose on the show right now – and everyone else is trying to figure out what the destiny / purpose is on the
It’s time for the writers to lay out the mission for the season.
What better way to do it than through explaining SmokeLocke? Why does Anti-Jacob remain in the form of Locke instead of switching to someone else? Is there a reason that he needs to appear as a “substitute” Locke to everyone else on the
A few answers to questions like these would go a long way in driving the On-Island action for the rest of the season. We can then start to see the repercussions of the actions that our Survivors take, see them struggle with which side of the “battle” to come down on, and then see how it all plays out. All the characters are finally in place – back on the
So what about the episode title? I think it’s a pretty obvious reference to SmokeLocke being a “substitute” for the original Locke. Where’s the traditional Losty double meaning? Well, it’s a bit of wishful thinking on my part, but what if we discover that “the Substitute” also refers to all the characters in the Off-Island action? I don’t see how it would neatly fit into any of my prior theories, but what if the versions of the characters we see Off-Island are merely “substitutes” for the REAL versions of those characters who are On-Island? Could all the time-traveling antics of our Survivors have somehow pulled them outside the space-time continuum, leading the universe to create “substitutes” for them that safely landed in LAX in 2004, to prevent the universe from ripping apart at the seams?
Yeah, I don’t know what that really means either – but I do like the idea that the Off-Island characters are fakes and imposters, mostly because I don’t like or understand them (yet).
Guest Stars: L. Scott Caldwell as Rose, Katey Sagal as Helen, Billy Ray Gallion as Randy, Suzanne Krull as Lynn Karnoff, Kenton Duty as teenage boy, Eddie L. Cavett as courier and Joshua Smith as school kid.
Guest Star Breakdown: Rose appearing, but not Bernard? Strange, but I’m going to chalk it up to a similar scene to Jack in last week’s episode – something fleeting and not a major player in the Off-Island action, unless one would think that Bernard would be there too.
The other guest stars are old friends, deserving of a brief audience refresher:
Helen – Locke’s girlfriend and almost fiancé. She and Locke dated, and got pretty hot and heavy before Locke’s obsession with his father (Anthony Cooper) got in the way. Locke proposed to her and she turned him down. Helen died of a brain aneurysm in 2006 in the original storyline.
Randy – although Randy also worked for / was the boss of Hurley in his flashbacks, I’m guessing we should focus on his past with Locke (PS – yes, it’s pretty weird that he has appeared in both Hurley and Locke’s flashbacks in a managerial role). To Locke, Randy was a typical jerk boss (just like me!) at the ol’ Box Factory, he made fun of Locke and told him he would never be able to go on his walkabout.
Given that it’s a Locke-centric episode, Helen and Randy’s inclusion makes total sense. I’ll be curious to see if Lynn appears as a legit fortune teller this episode, telling Locke about his future – or if it’s going to be another case of a former character appearing for a “curtain call” on the show as a minor background character – similar to the nurse in “What Kate Does” being the same as Aaron’s Nanny in “Eggtown”. It’s just another way to show the inter-connectedness of all the characters even if the Oceanic 815 never crashed on the
The last three guest stars raise a red flag for me. Whenever the writers leave out character names, it means one of two things:
- The characters will be so minor they didn’t take time to give them a name.
- The characters will be so surprising they don’t want the name to give away the secret.
For “Courier” and “School Kid”, I’m leaning towards the first explanation. But what about “Teenage Boy”? Let’s take a look at him:
I’m guessing that in “The Substitute” we’re going to find out that things have gone quite differently in this version of John Locke’s life. Just like Hurley, who apparently has had nothing but good luck in the “LA X” Universe, John Locke is going to be the same way. Randy will be less of a jerk to him, maybe he really did go on his walkabout after all, and most importantly, he’s going to be married to Helen… with a son.
Again, if I cared more about the Off-Island action more, this would be pretty shocking. For now, it provides a stark contrast to the life of John Locke that we know from the first five seasons of the show, reminding us how absolutely crappy it was for him. Hopefully this is all building up to Locke finding the ultimate redemption on the
Episode Description: Locke goes in search of help to further his cause.
Episode Breakdown: Ten paltry words, but a ton of potential meaning. We have to assume that the “Locke” in question is SmokeLocke / Anti-Jacob. The last time we saw him, he told the Others that he was very disappointed in them (just like my mom right before I graduated from college!) and stormed off with Richard Alpert slung over his shoulder. Where is he heading? What is his cause? These are those big questions I was talking about earlier! Big questions that we need to have answered to understand the drive of this season’s storytelling!
The one word that jumps out at me in the episode description is “help”. We’ve seen SmokeLocke take out a handful of gun-wielding Friends of Jacob without breaking a sweat. He can turn into Smokey at will, bullets bounce off him, and he knows some semi-kung fu moves (as evidenced during his takedown of Alpert). What help does he need? Is this indicative of him building an army on the
The other strange wording in the description? The phrase “his cause”. If it was as simple as Anti-Jacob “going home”, that’s not really a “cause”, is it? A cause is more of a principle or movement to be supported (like charities) rather than a simple action like going somewhere. Perhaps this is the episode we learn what Anti-Jacob really wants. Is it to defend the
Big questions, right?
Call me a sucker, but I think this is the episode we get some of them. In a huge bounce back from last week, I’m thinking this week’s episode is going to be out of control good.