LOST 603: The Substitute (SPOILERS)

If you haven’t seen the episode yet, YOU HAVE TO GO BACK! Well, you don’t have to, but I’m going to spoil the crap out of this episode, so be ye warned. Edits are denoted [like this].

This episode was a Locke episode. This (almost certainly) mirrors the 4rdth episode of Season 1, entitled “Walkabout”, which was also Locke’s story, and, in my opinion, one of the greatest episodes in the series. That said, we follow Flocke in Reality1, and we follow Locke in Reality2. I’m not going to recap the episode, but I do want to talk about a smattering of topics and details that I think are worth bringing up.

Locke’s Dad

In R2, Locke is engaged to his beloved Helen. Things between them are at a much different place than they were when he went to Australia in R1. As Locke soaks in a tub, considering fabric swatches, Helen laments the frustrations and stress of preparing for a wedding. She asks why they don’t just do a quiet ceremony, stating that the guest list can be comprised solely of her parents and his dad.


In R1, Locke’s relationship with his dad has been a complicated, nasty mess that has shaped his outlook (and his spine). Helen’s mention of inviting Locke’s dad to the wedding, in R2, suggests that they are on favorable terms with his dad. Not only that, but they seem close to him (close enough to be one of three guests at a shotgun wedding). This suggests a large number of possibilities:

  • Locke’s Dad is Anthony Cooper, but this time he is not a bastard, thereby being on good terms with his son
  • Locke’s Dad is a step-dad, married to Locke’s mom
  • Locke’s Dad is a different man altogether (a biological impossibility)
  • Locke’s Dad is an adopted dad who adopted Locke
  • Helen was being “edgy and ironic” and the joke didn’t really land

Of those possibilities, the only one that would really herald major change is the first. If Anthony Cooper isn’t a bastard, he probably isn’t hustling people for money, which means he hasn’t caused Sawyer’s dad to kill his wife and then himself. This would drastically change Sawyer’s future, and he would no longer be seeking life-long revenge on “Mr. Sawyer”. We could also speculate that Sawyer wouldn’t be conning people, but that might just be his predisposition. In any case, they would reveal the new Sawyer at his new R2 job, using the same con artist tricks of the trade. “Used car salesman” comes to mind.

That’s beside the point; what these possibilities really suggest is that Locke lost his legs by another method. In R1, Locke confronts his father about a new relationship, wondering if Anthony is conning the woman for her money. Dangerously close to being found out, Anthony Cooper pushes Locke out the window of a building, paralyzing him. In R2, none of the new dad possibilities get us to that point. Locke was interested in Anthony Cooper in the first place because Locke had never had an adequate father figure. Anthony capitalized on that to take advantage of John, thereby starting the chain of events of bastardness. Even if Locke lost his legs by the same means, it probably wasn’t the same intent.

A minor question is that of how Locke and Helen meet in Reality2. Originally, Locke attempts anger management classes after his father steals his kidney. There, he meets Helen. If my father possibilities are right, then Locke and Helen would have met through some other circumstance, as there’d be no reason for John to attend anger management classes.

Flocke’s Vision

One possibility that has arisen since we discovered that the Smoke Monster can take a human form is that the strange visions and sightings on the Island were in fact his work. Well, that theory was dealt a devastating blow when Flocke saw an unnerving vision himself, of a boy with blond hair and clothing straight out of an Abercrombie & Other catalog. Interesting to note, Richard could not see the boy, but Ford could. The first time we see the boy, his arms appear to be covered in blood. The second time, he runs, Flocke gives chase, falls, and is issued a warning. The boy says, “Remember the rules. You (we?) can’t kill him,” to which Flocke answers, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” This guy’s a broken record even after death.

The most interesting thing, to me, about the visions is the truly shaken reaction of Flocke after seeing it, particularly the first time. We, as an audience, are used to strange visions, but the characters who aren’t react the same way: disbelief. Perhaps this vision is the work of Jacob, but it certainly appears as if visions (or, at least, this particular vision) take Flocke by surprise. Perhaps, as a puppet master, he feels he is beyond these parlor tricks, but it might also be that he can’t explain the vision any better than we can. I’m sure next episode someone will say, “You don’t look so good,” and they’ll advise the smoke monster to “get some rest.” That’s how it usually goes.

The Numbers and Kate

In R1, Flocke takes Sawyer to a cave dug a cliff facing the ocean. Inside the cave is an office desk with some instruments on it (one of which is a scale with one white rock and one black rock on it). Deeper into the cave, we see ceilings and walls covered in names with numbers next to them. Most of the names are crossed out. These names, and their numbers, correspond to characters in the show. It’s a set of numbers we’ve seen time and time again. Flocke off-handedly mentions that Jacob “had a thing for numbers”, but that’s all we get in the way of an exact explanation. The list:

  • 4 – LOCKE
  • 8 – REYES
  • 15 – FORD
  • 16 – JARAH
  • 23 – SHEPHARD
  • 42 – KWON

As Flocke reads this list, we see cut scenes from the Season 5 finale, when Jacob goes to meet a number of survivors. He touches them as he meets them. This reveal and explanation is pretty tidy. The only question that the scene raises (on its own accord) is whether KWON means Sun or Jin, as Jacob touched them both. The question that the scene doesn’t raise on its own accord is “Where’s Kate?” Kate has a number of distinctions: she was an Oceanic 6, she was on The List that got her captured and brought to Hydra Island, and she was visited and touched by Jacob.

Why doesn’t Kate have a number? Or, if she does, what is that number? Is she crossed out? Flocke mentions that the wall is a list of candidates for those thought worthy of protecting the Island. In that sense, it’s not so bad that she’s not up there; it just means that she’s not a candidate. On the other hand, it could have farther reaching implications, including a special role with regards to her boyfriend-candidates and/or untimely death.

Check out a fascinating list of candidates on Lostpedia.

Benjamin Linus (Here and There)

I wanted to touch on this topic because it’s one that has worried me since the ending of Season 5. What is the role of Benjamin Linus in Season 6? Since his introduction in Season 2, Ben Linus (then Henry Gale) has been manipulative, scheming, lying, and murdering to stay in charge, on top, and alive. Ben is a survivalist of the utmost ferocity. It’s those deliciously conniving features that make Ben one of my favorite characters. Scratch that, he is my favorite character. That is why Season 6 has me worried for him.

As it stands right now, in both realities, Ben is no longer the force he once was. In R1, he’s no longer a part of the drama. Flocke left with Richard, the other Others went to the Temple, and Ben is still at the beach, presumably because he no longer fits in with his people. Having just killed a man who he has followed for much of his life, Ben is rudder-less. Richard, a normal source of direction, is gone. Locke, his recent adversary, is dead (still). As they bury Locke’s body, Ben is the only one who felt he knew Locke well enough to say something at the grave. He expresses remorse for killing John Locke, and I’m afraid that might be a sign of things to come. Ben has no reason to survive anymore. Alex, his daughter, is dead; John Locke, his Island adversary, is dead; Widmore is off-Island and out of reach, Juliet, for whom he once had romantic feelings, is dead. Ben is left with one person he’s never met before and two he doesn’t care about.

In R2, we meet Ben as a European History teacher at the high school where Locke is subbing. Ben has glasses which make him look pretty thoroughly nerdy, and we meet him as he’s chastising the faculty on disposing of coffee filters when the pot is empty. Ben is cordial, if a little gruff in his general demeanor. John’s request for Earl Grey tea impresses Ben, who eagerly introduces himself to John. In all, it’s an interesting look at Ben’s life without [spending his formative years on the] Island. [He wouldn’t have had the promises of Jacob seducing him as his father grew more and more alcoholic and abusive. He wouldn’t have had the rivalry with Widmore to further twist him into a sadistic, calculated manipulator.] All that would make Ben into a pleasant person. What need is there for his survival skills in a high school (public school jokes aside, that is)?

I believe some event is going to kick Ben back into his old tricks. In R1, it’ll probably arise from his own distrust of Ilana. He may poison Sun and Lapidus against Ilana and seize that opportunity. He may work to divide the four of them into two groups, convincing one of the other two to join him. Or, something else entirely may happen. The question is where would he go, and what would he do? Ben is going to try to get on the “winning side”, though we’re not entirely sure of what. Will Ben remember his devotion to Jacob and fight against Flocke, or will he honor a new master? In R2, Ben’s future is much cloudier. We really have no idea if he’ll even be a feature. Right now, Season 6 is heavily influenced by Season 1, and Ben doesn’t make his appearance until Season 2. Certainly, he’s important enough to warrant inclusion, but will it be anything more than the cameo we just saw?

We’ll have to wait and see.

6 Replies to “LOST 603: The Substitute (SPOILERS)”

  1. Interesting take on Sawyer’s R2 life. I had thought about “what if Anthony Cooper wasn’t a conman?” and how that would affect Locke’s life…but didn’t think about how it would have affected Sawyer’s!

    Also, one important question we need answered with regards to Ben, is: In R2, how did Ben get off the island? If we assume the island is under water because of the survivors detonating the atomic bomb, then we know Ben’s childhood in R2 – it’s the same. His mother still died before 1977, his dad still hated him, and we still don’t know where he was at the time of detonation. With the Others? We can assume Ethan was off-island as women and children were ordered to leave. But at that point, we don’t have confirmation that Ben had returned to the barracks. So how did he not die from the explosion and sinking of the island?

    1. Why are we assuming in R2 that all things on the island never happened? They did change some things, yes. So the plane didn’t crash, the people on the planes lives were forever changed. How does that mean Richard was never on the island? That he never rescued Ben? Maybe they only changed things for themselves.

      1. That’s my bad. I wrote this after very little sleep, and I got my timeline a little confused. I’m, personally, assuming that the detonation on the Island sank it, but that the Island existed before that with the events playing out the same way. I’ve editing a couple lines in the post to correct my confusion.

      2. The whole concept of R2 is interesting – if you believe the island sank and all on it died as a result of the atomic bomb detonation.

        Widmore would be dead (would Penny exist? was she already born or not yet conceived? There’d be no Widmore Industries and no sailboat race sponsored by them)
        Richard would be dead
        Roger Linus would be dead, Ben is an orphan (however he got off the island)
        Eloise would be dead, and Daniel Faraday never born

        All of this is debunked if the bomb didn’t sink the island nor kill all of the people (non Oceanic) on the island at the time.

        1. R2 seems more than just if the island sank though. Almost seems more like if the island never existed. As things that happened pre-island have now changed. So Roger Linus wouldn’t necessarily be dead, Ben may not be an orphan and he never went to the island, etc.

          1. Right, that’s why I said if we assume the bomb explosion sank the island and killed everyone on it.
            We have to assume the island existed, as we see it under water, Dharma barracks and all. But I agree that we don’t have to assume it’s underwater because of the bomb.

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