LOST Review: The Substitute

M: There’s much to get to this week, but before getting into the nitty gritty and the return of the numbers, there’s a thought that’s been forming in my mind since we last discussed, and I apologize, this may take a minute to explain.  Most great works of fiction draw heavily from great works that have gone before them.  LOST is no exception to that, and has drawn from a wide variety of sources, from pop culture favorites such as Star Wars, to less well know fare like Lost Horizon, the movie version of the which was directed by one of the Siblings all time favorite directors, the legendary Frank Capra.  Watching this season I’m beginning to see a link to the most famous of Capra’s films.  Capra, who directed such classics as It Happened One Night, Mr Deeds Goes To Town, Mr Smith Goes to Washington and You Can’t Take It With You, will forever be most famous for the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life.  In that, George Bailey is given an opportunity to see what his home town of Bedford Falls, and the people in his life, would have been like had he never been born.  The vision he sees is a stark and terrible change from the world he knows, and even the name of the town has been changed to Pottersville, after the greedy banker who runs the town (played by Drew Barrymore’s great uncle Lionel Barrymore).  The vision proves to him that no matter how bleak his current circumstances look, his is a wonderful life.

As for the two worlds of this season in Lost, those of the island and the flash-sidewayses, in my bumbling mind they are beginning to resemble to two distinct worlds in It’s A Wonderful Life, Bedford Falls and Potterville.  They are the worlds where Lost’s version of George Bailey existed and influences the lives of our characters, and where he didn’t exist and could not impact them.  As in It’s A Wonderful Life, the lives we are following have been altered before the point that we first encounter them in Potterville, and each person is very similar but not exactly the same as they were when we met them in Bedford Falls.  Similarly, in the flash sidewayses we see the Losties at the same time as the pilot episode, but they’re altered, changed somehow, a bit different than when we first met them.  They still have their similarities, and the events that occur for them are only slightly changed, but they are distinctly different.

Now, in It’s A Wonderful Life, the two worlds are shown entirely in sequence, first Bedford Falls, then Potterville, then back to Bedford Falls.  Making it easier on the audience, we have the angel Clarence narrating for us, letting us know what’s going on.  Since Lost never lets us know what’s going on, we are shown the different worlds concurrently, and have no narration to explain, not even the pop-up videos.

Now, there are two things I’m struggling with in my comparison.  The first, which seems to be getting clearer, is who is Lost’s version of George Bailey.  It could be the island itself, or it could be one of our Losties, however I was already thinking that Jacob was the most likely choice, and tonight provided further evidence toward that.  The really troublesome question has been which reality is Bedford Falls and which one is Potterville.  I mean, is the plane crashing on the island a good thing for anyone?  It had been for Locke, before we saw what we saw tonight, but it looks like his life without it in our new timeline was a little better, and even turning a corner, plus, well, he’s dead and being impersonated by smokey and that’s not so good.  It turned Jack into a paranoid druggie, Sun turned cold-hearted and cut-throat, Sayid returned to being an assassin and saw his love die, and it put Hurley back into the asylum.  Maybe for Sawyer it was an overall good, but he lost the love of his life, too.  Kate got off in the murder trial, but she’s still an emotional wreck and had to give up Aaron.  Jin is probably the best off, but I still don’t think his life is that well off for it.  On the other hand, was anyone’s life that great to begin with?  Thus my struggle.

Anyway, that’s the thought, now on to this week’s episode… and oh, is there plenty to talk about!  So, we get to see Locke in the flash-sidewayses, and his life is pretty similar.  Still can’t go on a walkabout, still has to work for the “douche” Randy (Hurley’s word, not mine, though it certainly applies), and even gets fired by him.  But this Locke still has Peg Bundy….  uh, Helen, and they’re getting married.  He also still has a relationship with his father, as Helen talked about taking him with them and her parents to elope.  Plus, this Locke has people offering him things and being nice to him, from Jack with the offer of the consult, to Hurley hooking him up with his temp agency, even school teacher Ben Linus, offering him a compliment about his choice to drink tea, and finally Rose sharing her story to help revive his faith.  Ahhh, faith.  That was the one thing this Locke lacked that island Locke had in spades, and that’s a big deal.

Ok, enough with Potterville… or is it Bedford Falls?  Either way, back to the island and the real meat of the episode.  Where to start with that?  Well, for one thing we got no updates on Jin and Rambo-Claire, none on Kate and none on the folks in the temple, but that was ok.  We got a ton on smokey, a good dose of Richard and Sawyer, and a bit on Sun, Ben, Ilana and Lapidus, who delivered the line of the night with his quip “weirdest damn funeral I’ve ever been to”.  Of course, that was in response to Ben’s somewhat convincingly touching speech when burying real Locke’s body, saying that Locke was, you guessed it, a man of faith, then expanding that he was a better man than Ben will ever be, and that he was sorry he murdered him.  It seemed pretty genuine, but given that it’s Ben, he’ll probably try to kill someone else next week.

But what did we find out in our journey on the island tonight?  We saw a neat glimpse into how smokey travels, we saw that he is very manipulative, and is probably even better at that than Ben.  He tried to convince Richard to join him, and gave a look like he might kill Richard, but was distracted by seeing a bloody child that Richard couldn’t see.  Later, after he did convince a despondent Sawyer to go with him to get answers to why they’re on the island, they both saw the child, this time sans blood.  It’s definitely important that Sawyer can see him, and I expect we’ll find out more about that soon.  Anyway, smokey-Locke chased after him, but never turned into smoke, and tripped and fell.  Then the child, presumably an incarnation of Jacob (more on him later), told smokey to remember the rules, and he can’t kill “him”.  Who the “him” is is up in the air… Sawyer, who was with him at the time?  Richard?  Jacob himself?  Someone else?  Like they have been saying, the time for questions is over.  🙂  While he was away, Richard tried to convince Sawyer that smokey was manipulating him, and that he wants to kill everyone on the island, which is very likely true.  Sawyer didn’t bite.

Before we get to the big ending in the cave, one more note on Jacob.  In one scene we found Ilana inside the statue, where Ben explained, leaving out his own role in the events, that Jacob was killed and burned up in the fire pit.  That got my brain going down a path that I was already starting to think when there was no body left.  Is Jacob like a phoenix?  Ilana went to the pit and scooped some of his remains (ash!) into a bag, which made me wonder if the ash that repels smokey IS Jacob, or at least what remains of a previous iteration of Jacob.  If the adversary/Esau guy can turn into smokey, why can’t Jacob be reborn from the ashes of his firey demise.  Then when you throw in the child in the jungle, and the talk in the cave about Jacob looking for candidates for his replacement, well, it makes sense…  in a Lost kind of way.

Ahh, the cave…  clearly this is Jacob’s cave, not smokey’s, as Jacob is the one who has written and crossed off the names, and has the scale balancing the white and black rocks.  Smokey’s inside joke of throwing the white rock, clearly representing Jacob, into the ocean, was unusually straight forward for Lost, but good none the less.  Of course, the big reveal was that everyone’s name was scribbled on the walls or ceiling of the cave, with numbers before them.  The numbers made their return, as our remaining candidates names, Locke, Reyes, Ford, Jarrah, Shephard and Kwon (not sure if its Sun or Jin) had the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42, respectively, next to them.  Jacob, smokey tells us, had a thing for numbers.  What we can tell through this is that Jacob has been organizing this group being brought to the island for a long, long time.  Oh, and I don’t know what to read into it, but Kate’s and Claire’s names didn’t appear to be on the cave walls.

Smokey then proceeded to tell Sawyer that Jacob manipulated them into ending up on the island, probably at a time when they were most vulnerable.  However, as we saw in last season’s finale, and as we see in the brief clips as they show each name, Jacob did no manipulating, but provided a quick but positive influence on each of their lives (kind of like George Bailey).  This again underscores the light vs dark, good vs evil aspect of the struggle between Jacob and smokey.  Then smokey, with a good speech, convinced Sawyer that he, smokey, was trapped on the island, that the island didn’t need to be protected from anything, and got Sawyer to want to now leave the island together with him….


In case you missed any previous episode reviews, here they are:

What Kate Does

LA X Parts 1 and 2

This entry was posted in Lost, TV.

4 comments on “LOST Review: The Substitute

  1. […] as a boy.  We also find that Dogen lives in LA, just like everyone else in the Lost version of Potterville. For the record, that doesn’t mean I’ve decided which one is Bedford Falls, it’s […]

  2. […] we find that in the Jacob-less world, which I am leaning more and more toward that one being Bedford Falls, he has pushed away Nadia, and she married his brother.  Ok, kinda sucky, but still better than […]

  3. […] got his story both on the island and in the flash sidewayses (which I am now convinced is actually Bedford Falls, to the point where from now on I’ll call it that, and not Pottersville).  But it […]

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