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Lost Episode "The Substitute" Recap and Review 2010-02-17 05:30:00

Let's Get Lost: "The Substitute" Recap

This week's episode of Lost is Locke-centric, though it's the parallel lives of Locke we're watching. We didn't get to see the temple or what's going on with Jack and Sayid back there, but I didn't mind — I was way into the handful of characters it did focus on.

Fake Locke, parallel Locke, and dead Locke all play a key role in the island and the story in this ep, and frankly I can't wait to start deconstructing, so to chat about it (spoilers up ahead), just


  • In the parallel reality where Flight 815 lands, we watch Locke resume his life in Torrance at the paper company — and with Helen! I was shocked to see his old girlfriend, who's now his fiancee. The last time we saw Helen, it was before the trip to Australia and plane crash; Locke had just proposed to her after she caught him meeting up with his wily father, Anthony Cooper. Though she shook her head and walked away then, Helen must have forgiven John some time after his accident. I have to say, it was pretty depressing watching John struggle with his van, falling face down in the grass, but when Helen emerges from the house, and you see them all happy and wedding planning, I felt a lot better. I hope that this new reality helps Helen's fate — remember, when the real Locke returns to the mainland to find the Oceanic six, Abbadon informs him that Helen died of a brain aneurysm. One thing that bothered me: in the first Locke episode, "Walkabout," he's calling an operator named Helen (who's ostensibly not the real Helen) and inviting her to Australia. Did he get back with the real Helen soon after that but before he leaves for Oz?
  • Meanwhile man in black/fake Locke sets out to "recruit," according to Ilana. He has a run-in with a bloodied and terrified Richard and sees a blond child with bloodied arms — whom Richard can't see. This fake Locke appeals to Richard, once again condemning Jacob's treatment of him, but Richard's unmoved. I giggled with glee when he finds his next target: a drunk and distraught Sawyer. Sawyer has no intention of following this new Locke, nor is he concerned that Locke is dead, even saying he doesn't care if he's the "Ghost of Christmas Past." All hail the return of the nicknames! But Locke finds his in when he promises to answer the all-important question of why Sawyer is on the island. The two take off, and we again encounter the blond kid, who tells Locke that he "knows the rules" and "can't kill him." Who, Sawyer? Weirdly, fake Locke invokes real Locke's famous tagline: "Don't tell me what I can't do!" Anyway, who is this blondie, and why can Sawyer see him, while Richard can't? Could it possibly be Jacob visiting from another time?
  • Back in Torrance, Locke gets fired by slimy boss Randy (all those bit actors from the first season must be on speed dial) for using the company to pay for his trip to Australia but not attending a conference. Oops. Sooo what do we think Locke actually did in Australia since he wasn't at the conference and didn't go on the walkabout? In any case, he runs into the paper company's owner after he's let go — and it's Hurley! He chats him up and tells him he can hook him up at the temp agency he also runs. I knew we'd see someone else familiar there, and we do: Rose is the office manager. Since she never gets to the island, her terminal cancer still exists. Sadface.
  • So as original Locke lies dead on the sand of the beach, Sun finally suggests that they bury him before heading to the temple. Ben speaks, calling him a "man of faith" (invoking the season two premiere's title, "Man of Science, Man of Faith") and saying he's sorry for having murdered him. And he even sounds sincere.
  • Fake Locke leads Sawyer to the scariest ladder in the world, where Sawyer nearly eats it but is saved by his tour guide. He's led to a cave, where the first thing we see is a scale with a white and black rock, illustrating ongoing themes of good and evil, justice — and games. Remember the pilot, where Locke and Walt play backgammon? Locke even raised a black and white piece to either side of his face. Fake Locke tosses the white rock in the sea, calling it an inside joke. Oh, and also, that black rock? It can't be coincidental that the shipwrecked pirate ship Rousseau and her team discovered is also called the "Black Rock."
  • Locke then shows Sawyer what he brought him to see: a mass of last names with coordinating numbers scrawled on the cave ceiling. Locke explains that Jacob did it, who "had a thing for numbers." Plenty of names are crossed out, save for a few familiar ones, all people Jacob touched. Jarrah (Sayid), Reyes (Hugo), Kwon (Jin or Sun), Shepard (Jack), and Ford (Sawyer). Their numbers, of course, are the numbers. They're candidates to protect the island, apparently, and Locke says Sawyer has three choices: do nothing, take the job, or go. Not surprisingly, Sawyer replies with a spirited "hell yeah" to that last option. Did anyone else notice that Kate's is not one of the names that Jacob points out?
  • Back in the parallel world, Locke's been placed as a substitute teacher (hello, episode title) at a high school. A voice we know all too well is chastising the other teachers for poor coffee etiquette — it's Ben! He looks eerily at home as a history instructor with a penchant for caffeine. So whatever happened with Jughead, this new reality propelled the others to the mainland, and now they work regular Joe jobs, with Ethan as a doctor and now Ben as a teacher. Did the explosion cause them to leave the island and adopt normal lives, or are they still as nefarious as ever?

All in all, it was a pretty exciting episode and had a bit more juiciness than last week's. I just felt like it was laying a clear path to more answers and a satisfying wrapup of the series. I'm also really getting into the parallel stories and want to see more of what happens between Locke and Jack (you know he's getting that consultation some way). What did you think? Did I miss anything you caught?

Photo copyright 2010 ABC, Inc.

Join The Conversation
buckeye98 buckeye98 7 years
I'm loving the season so far and this episode was awesome. I think I've loved all Locke-centric epis. You can just tell Terry O'Quinn is having a blast playing all these different angles, characters, etc. He's THE MAN. I'll be so sad when it's all over though.
Daniela-Ramirez Daniela-Ramirez 7 years
i'm so excited about this season!
nkw128 nkw128 7 years
Me and my friends have a theory that MIB's is Esau, who was Jacob's brother in the bible
Jelly888 Jelly888 7 years
I also think that as soon as they mention MIB's name it will be something biblical to go along with Jacob.
Jelly888 Jelly888 7 years
I was just thinking I wonder if the boy was referring to Richard when he told fake Locke he couldn't kill him. I don't really think he was referring to Sawyer for some reason. I think he was referring to Jacob or Richard. But who knows with this show!
kaks11 kaks11 7 years
oh and I also didn't like that they left off the previous episode with jungle Claire & skipped that whole story this week. Other than that, I didn't miss any of the other characters & found it a very fullfilling ep. But I don't understand how the blonde boy in the trees could be Aaron?
kaks11 kaks11 7 years
First of all, I loved the fact that the episode was all about Locke! I found it really hard to watch him in his wheelchair, especially when he fell out of the lift. I adore Locke+Helen. And also love love loved the part where Hurley was so nice to him. He looked so happy & confident! Yay for Hurley :) It's so crazy seeing the rest of the gang in the real world, epecially Ben. I did get a little nervous when I saw the title of the episode and fake Locke was taking Sawyer around, seeming like he was going to let him plunge to his death. I was thinking that he was looking for a substitute for himself? I was happy once I saw Locke as a high school teacher. After watching the episode, I found myself fixated on the numbers and what number was assigned to which person. Very intersting. Another good point made above was the fact that Sawyer is the only one that was "touched" in both timelines. Hmmmm...
mstrauss mstrauss 7 years
Nick Wegela- Interesting idea to think that maybe MIB is actually looking for a candidate for himself and is using Jacob's name to manipulate Sawyer. Not sure it will actually play out that way, but it would really switch things up a bit.
bingbingboom bingbingboom 7 years
Did anyone notice that the fake Locke and the parallel universe Locke both said "Don't tell me what I can't do"? Is that why the smoke monster/evil/black rock guy pick Locke? Because Locke doesn't give up? Also, it's interesting to see how Ben's character evolved through the last few seasons. He was portrayed as a powerful leader on the island. When he was burying Locke's body in this episode, I couldn't help to notice how vulnerable he was. I also thought the bloody kid looked a lot like a younger version of Jacob.
mstrauss mstrauss 7 years
Oh, I love the idea that Aaron is the bloody child that MIB sees. If he is really the monster-child that the psychic said he would be, that would make alot of sense, even if Kate had left him in LA with his grandmother. I also think that Richard could not see the child because he is not a candidate.
Jelly888 Jelly888 7 years
I also thought it was funny that Sawyer was on that wobbly ladder on the cliff completely drunk. Probably not the best idea.
myfairlady93 myfairlady93 7 years
I thought of something regarding who's good and who's bad. Even though Richard apparently knows nothing about what's going on between Jacob/Smokey, he still knows who the Man in Black is, and whatever contact he had with him prior to this point (which I'm guessing is when the Black Rock came to the island) made it clear to him that MiB is quite the scary and frightening guy.
Entertainment Entertainment 7 years
My question on Helen #2 is whether that happened or not, since he was with the real Helen before the Australia trip. But as EAP pointed out, everything is different in this parallel world even prior to the flight, so they could have been together all along and never broken up.
Jelly888 Jelly888 7 years
Maybe to resurrect him? Like a phoenix?
Deidre Deidre 7 years
Btw, Anon, you have a fabulous memory. Good call on the Helen #2!
Deidre Deidre 7 years
There was a throw-away line in there that really intrigued me. When Helen and John and talking about their wedding, she suggests that they grab her parents and his dad to celebrate and elopement instead. REALLY??? John's FATHER was included in this invite? So, in the parallel world, Cooper possibly didn't con him for his kidney and then throw him out a window? I wonder how parallel-John got into his wheelchair then...
myfairlady93 myfairlady93 7 years
She was touched by Jacob on the nose when he paid for the lunchbox she was trying to steal.
Jelly888 Jelly888 7 years
An interesting thought is, is the parallel life off the island a life without the touch of Jacob?
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