Lost recaps: Season 6, Episode 3
‘The Substitue,’ Or: The One On Mardi Gras

Published February 17, 2010 on

Okay, whose bright idea was it to move Lost to Tuesdays, and not wait till after Mardi Gras to do it? This recap is being brought to you by hurricanes, The Damn Well Please Organ Trio and copious amounts of caffeine. You have been warned.

Fortunately for all, there's not a whole heck of a lot to recap. This week's episode was more about character development than plot advancement, though what plot advancement there was was a collective doozy.

Island Timeline

We get a Smokey-eye view of the island. It's fast and zoomy and twisty, and I'm getting a little motion-sick. (This has nothing to do with Mardi Gras. I don't get motion-sick from actual motion, but put me in front of a screen with a representation thereof, and I go green.) It ends with a machete, a hack of a rope, a Richard thumping to the ground and a NotLocke invitation to talk. Richard, sensibly, asks why NotLocke looks like, well, Locke. To gain access to Jacob, is the reply. Locke was a candidate. Oh, wait, NotLocke continues, didn't Jacob tell you any of this? NotLocke would never have kept Richard in the dark. And then he utters the line that launched a thousand promos: "Come with me and I promise I'll tell you everything". Richard's all like, "Uh, yeah, NO." NotLocke sees a blonde kid standing among the trees; Richard doesn't. NotLocke's next stop is the former Dharma condo complex. In the bungalow from which Iggy Pop's "Search and Destroy" is emanating, Sawyer is sulking in the bedroom, drinking in his underwear. NotLocke pokes his head in. With the clarity of the drunk, Sawyer slurs, "I thought you were dead." "I am," NotLocke replies. This does not faze the man who's been tossed through time; he simply breaks out the whiskey and asks who NotLocke is, since he certainly isn't scary enough to be Locke. NotLocke self-importantly says he's the one who can answer the most important question in the world: Why are you on the island? (Insert your own six times nine joke here.) Sawyer's all, uh, 'cause my plain crashed, my raft went kablooey and I jumped out of a helicopter? NotLocke offers to provide proof that it's something else. Sawyer puts some pants on and follows him out.

In the forest, NotLocke sees the boy again. Sawyer sees him, too, which surprises NotLocke. NotLocke runs after the boy. He trips, and when he looks up, there's the kid, who looks like he might grow up to be Jacob someday. "You know the rules. You can't kill him," the kid sniffs, and walks away. NotLocke calls after him: "Don't tell me what I can't do!"

Meanwhile, Sawyer gets a visit from a battered and scared Richard, who tries to get Sawyer to come to the temple, with predictable results. Richard warns Sawyer that NotLocke wants everybody dead, including Sawyer, then darts off as Locke returns. Locke asks who Sawyer was talking to; Sawyer brushes him off. As they tramp through the trees, Sawyer gives the Cliffs Notes recap of "Of Mice and Men," pulls a gun on NotLocke and demands to know what NotLocke is. "What I am is trapped," NotLocke philosophizes, and promises Sawyer that he's close to answers.

The answers lie at the edge of a cliff. No, really. There's a little plateu that NotLocke wants them to climb down to, and, after some harrowing ladder-breaking antics, they both make it down in one piece apiece. In a crevice, there's a balance scale, with a light rock on one side and a dark one on the other. NotLocke tosses the light one into the ocean ("Inside joke"), lights a torch and leads Sawyer into a cavern.

On the roof of the cavern, many names are written, and almost as many are crossed off. NotLocke explains that they were written by Jacob, who died yesterday. He leads Sawyer through a tour of the names that haven't been crossed out. They all have numbers next to them, and as NotLocke reads them off, we see little flashbacks to the scenes where Jacob interacted with the people before they came to the island: There's "23 - "Shephard," "8 - Reyes" ("What's the '8' about?" Sawyer asks NotLocke, who replies, "Jacob had a thing for numbers"), "16 - Jerrah," "42 - Kwon" ("I don't know if that's Sun or Jin," NotLocke confesses), "4 - Locke" ("I think we both know him") and "15 - Ford". "That would be you," NotLocke explains, needlessly. Sawyer's all, "What? Never met the guy." NotLocke insists that at some point in his life, when he was feeling miserable and vulnerable, Jacob came into his life and, somehow, made it so that all the choices he made would lead Sawyer to the island. Sawyer passes up "WTF?" for "Why?" See, Jacob thought Sawyer was a "candidate"; Jacob fancied himself a protector of the island, and Sawyer's a nominee to take over. What this means is that Sawyer has three choices: Do nothing, see what happens, possibly get his name crossed off (at which point, NotLocke crosses off "4 - Locke"); accept the job and protect the island. From what? Nothing, NotLocke insists; there's nothing to protect it from. It's just an island, and it'll be fine without Jacob or anyone whose lives he wasted. Third choice: Sawyer leaves the island with NotLocke and they go home. Sawyer picks door number three. (What does the cave graffiti really mean? I don't know, but if this isn't the last season's A plot, they'd better have something really freakin' super-spectacular to justify pushing it to B.)

Elsewhere on the island: In the room under the statue, Ben fills in Ilana on why her friends are all dead: Locke turned into a pillar of black smoke and killed them. And then he kicked Jacob into the fire, and Jacob burned away. Ilana pulls out a bag and starts collecting the ashes, while Ben tells her hat NotLocke took Richard into the jungle because "He's recruiting". Ben trails Ilana out onto the beach, where Sun and Lapides are contemplating Original Recipe Locke's body. Ilana thinks the safest place on the island is the temple. Sun wonders why she should go with Ilana. Ilana's all, "Uh, safest place on the island? If Jin's alive, wouldn't he be there, and not out in the jungle staring down the scope of Claire's rifle?" (Only she doesn't say that last part.) Sun decides she'll tag along -- after they bury ORLocke. So they schlep his body to the makeshift graveyard, giving Ilana the chance to exposit that NotLocke is stuck with Locke's face now, but not to exposit why that is.

Grave dug and ORLocke's body deposited, Ilana asks if anyone wants to say anything. No one does. Ilana's incredulous. Finally, Ben steps forward: "John Locke was a... a believer, a man of faith. A much better man than I will ever be. And I'm very sorry I murdered him." Weirdest. Eulogy. Ever.

Other Timeline

So there's this mild-mannered, wheelchair-bound guy named John Locke. He's not thrilled with his lot in life, especially when the ramp on his van doesn't quite lower down to the ground and he ends up pitching forward onto the lawn just as the sprinklers come on, but what can you do? Fortunately, he's living with Peg Bundy (who here has smaller hair and calls herself Helen), who's putting their wedding together. At this point, she's ready to have them go to Vegas with her parents and Locke's father, which I guess means that in this timeline, Locke's father isn't responsible for him being in the wheelchair. Or else it does, and AltLocke has issues that I don't have the energy to delve into right now. Helen thinks Locke was at a conference, and he does nothing to discourage this assumption. She finds Jack's card and encourages Locke to call for that free consult.

Also having been told that Locke was going to a conference: Locke's supervisor at work, Randy. Randy knows that Locke was not at the conference to which the company sent Locke. Randy fires Locke. Which I guess is justified, but Randy enjoys it quite a lot more than is strictly necessary.

Out in the parking lot, Locke is not happy with the parking job of the person next to him, which has made it so that he can't put down the ramp to get him into his van. The offending vehicle turns out to be driven by Hurley, who owns the company in this reality, too. Hurley offers to talk to "huge douche" Randy, but Locke's kind of over it. Fortunately, Hurley also owns a temp agency.

At his interview there, the recruiter keeps asking him what kind of animal he'd be, and if he'd describe himself as a people person. He asks to see her supervisor, who turns out to be Rose. (The Rose from the plane, not the Rose who's writing this. But you probably figured that out already. At least one is a fictional character, after all.) Locke agitates for a job supervising construction, but Rose encourages him to be a little more realistic. Locke is off on one of his "Don't tell me what I can't do!" rants. "What do you know about being realistic?" he growls. Well, see, in this reality, Rose also has that dang terminal cancer. That shuts Locke right up. She says she got past the denial part and is now living whatever life she's got left, and how 'bout they find him a job he can do?

The (presumably) next morning, Locke calls Jack's office, but hangs up. Helen's a little mystified. Locke tells her he got fired. Her "WTF?" is interrupted by the delivery of his no-longer-lost luggage. That signed for, Locke he explains that he lied about going to the conference, and has her open the case. Inside: A bunch of knives. She does not run screaming, but calmly asks what they're for. Well, see, he was going to go on this walkabout, but they wouldn't let him go. And he was sitting there, screaming at them not to tell him what he can't do, but now he realizes they were right, and he's sick of imagining life out of the chair. If she wants him to go to the consult, fine, but she shouldn't spend her life waiting for miracles. Helen sappily says, "There are miracles, John. And the only thing I was ever waiting for was you." She tears up the card and they make out.

That job Locke can do? Turns out to be something called "middle school substitute teacher," which ranks as slightly less hellish than being trapped on an island with a tempermental smoke monster becuase when you're a middle school sub, at least you get to go home at the end of the day. In the teachers' lounge, a man with his back turned is kvetching about the importance of making a new pot of coffee when the old one is done. Locke shrugs that he just wants a nice cup of Earl Grey. Mr. Kvetchy perks up and happily turns to introduce himself: "Ben Linus, European History". And they're totally going to be BFFs.

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