Huh… I really don’t know where to begin. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, I just don’t know what to make of it. Frustration is an essential part of the whole Lost package, but I didn’t find this frustrating in the need for answers sense. Rather, this episode frustrated my efforts to understand John Locke. His LA X narrative was at odds with his story over the first five seasons (or at least the way I’ve understood that story). So, does an alternate universe John Locke need to inform our understanding of the “real” Locke? What about vice-versa? For that matter, should either Locke inform our understanding of the fake-Locke? These are all intriguing questions and how we understand this episode is really dependant on the answers.
The flash sideways gives us a John Locke with a significantly better life. He’s engaged to Helen and (apparently) has a good relationship with his father. The one real problem in his life is his paralysis and his failure to deal with it. Looked at in itself, this story is about coming to terms with a disability. Locke’s efforts to take a walkabout, jump off his wheelchair ramp and work construction are the products of denial, and only serve to make his life worse. His decision to stop chasing miracles is the smart one and opens the door to his finding happiness and dignity in his life as it is. And yet, this story cannot be looked at in itself. Comparing this John Locke to the other reveals a man that never had to cope with his father’s betrayals or with Helen’s departure, who’s covert rather than defiant with Randy. His life may be better, but his character is not. The action on the island, both in this episode and earlier, also complicates matters. The fact is that miracles CAN happen. Locke does have the potential to walk again, whether through the island’s magic or through Jack’s surgery (or the island’s magic working through Jack surgery). He also really is special, being a “candidate” to replace Jacob as the protector of the island, the one thing he most desperately wants. On the other hand, it is in the larger Lost narrative that Locke ultimately hung himself after a lifetime of struggling to realize his “destiny.” This contrast just seems to further drive home the point that learning to live with your limitations is the worthier goal. So, does the potential for Locke to achieve his dreams in one reality repudiate abandoning them in the other? Or does his tragic failure to realize that potential justify giving up?
Reading Locke #1 & Locke #2 gets more complicated as it seems we must also throw Fake-Locke into the mix. He’s confronted by some sort of apparition on the island and told that he can’t kill “him” (presumably Sawyer). Smokie doesn’t seem to be aware of the irony of his “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” response. Does assuming Locke’s form mean assuming some of his other qualities? We’re also told that Smokie can no longer assume any form but this one (though it’s still not clear why). So, does some part of Locke live on? If that’s the case, does he still have an opportunity to protect the island? And if that’s the case, is his end no longer tragic. And if that’s the case, does this make LA X Locke the real failure? What we have here is three different stories that may be about the same individual, in which case they may actually be one story. I can’t wait to see how (if) this narrative tangle get unraveled.
Yes, I spent this post ignoring the “big” events of this episode. The identity issues that are now surrounding Locke’s character trumped them for me. This is the kind of heady stuff that makes this show more than a bunch of weird mysteries.
So, how much of what Smokie told Sawyer was BS? If Locke wasn’t a candidate, how does that impact things? Perhaps he was a candidate and Smokie poached him from Jacob?
Further supporting my “things aren’t as good as they seem in LA X” theory, Rose doesn’t have cancer on the island. Her “accept what you can’t change” advice sounds good, but the fact is that she and Bernard get many more years on the island. Perhaps the non-Losties are all getting set up to have the rug pulled out from under them.
The scenes between Sawyer and Smokie were awesome, and deserve more reflection, but there’s just too much going on in this episode.
So, there are “rules” that apply to Smokie, and apparently they go beyond some agreement between he and Jacob. It would seem that the Island may actually have some power of its own (there goes my theory). So, is the Jacob Vs. Smokie struggle for control of the island, or does Smokie really just want to leave?
Richard’s terror was great.
It’s episodes like this that make me regret my rule against re-watching.
“And I’m very sorry I murdered him.” Outstanding!
So, how did Ben get off the island and why? Or Ethan, for that matter (can’t believe I didn’t ask that last week)?