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Lost Episode "The Substitute" Recap and Review

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 keep reading.

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  • 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 the 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 I saw 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 on 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, and all are 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 wrap-up 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?

Image Source: ABC
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