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LOST Recap, Season 6, Episode 4: “The Substitute”

What follows is a recap of LOST Season 6, Episode 4: “The Substitute.” Lots of spoilers ensue.

It is episodes like last night’s — “The Substitute” — that have secured LOST as a cult classic and kept viewers coming back season after season despite the unending stream of questions.

I began the episode hoping that it would pick up where last week’s left off, that we’d see a disheveled Claire staring Jin down the barrel of her gun, but that is nowhere near where we began this episode. By the first commercial break, I didn’t even care that this was clearly going to be a Claire-less episode.

Let’s talk about the amazing portions of John Locke’s off-island life we saw last night:

First of all, he’s engaged to Helen Norwood. This is shocking, because we learned in Season 5, Episode 7 (“The Life and Death of John Locke”) that Helen died of a brain aneurism on April 8 (yes, that’s 4 and 8), 2006. Now, we’re in the fall of 2004, so we don’t know that Helen won’t still die on April 8, 2006, but it was just great to see her and John together. It already breaks my heart to think she may leave John Locke a widow in a few short years.

Helen also alludes to John’s father, in a way that would lead us to believe that they have a relationship. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be friends with a guy who pushed me out a window leading to my paralysis. So this begs the question: is John paralyzed because of his father or is there a new reason?

The other wonderful portion of tonight’s Off-Island section was the connection we saw John Locke make with other LOSTies including Hurley, Rose, and, (most shockingly) Ben Linus! Unfortunately, John made the decision not to connect with spinal surgeon Jack Shephard who offered to help with John’s paralysis. I can only hope that these Off-Island connections between our favorite LOSTies will continue throughout the season.

Finally, we learned that John was not able to go on the walkabout in the Australian outback. I suppose I should have guessed this, but it was still a sad moment when we learned that John sat in his wheelchair and yelled his famous line, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” The original scene between the man at the walkabout office in Australia and John Locke in Season 1, Episode 4 (“Walkabout”) made me so sad, and I was disappointed to learn this portion of Locke’s backstory had not changed.

Now for the On-Island events, which were absolutely world-rocking: This episode will go down as one of the ten best LOST episodes of all time, if I may be so bold, and that’s due mainly to the On-Island revelations.

First, the opportunity to see the island from the perspective of Smokey. Awesome! Poor Richard Alpert was looking pretty rough, and his reaction to Smokey and Flocke made it evident that this guy or monster or something-I-can’t-quite-put-my-finger-on-yet is very dangerous. He can be as dangerous as he wants; at least Flocke finally gave us some answers!

If there is anyone with the guts to walk along with Flocke, it’s sharp-tongued, gun-toting Sawyer, so I wasn’t shocked to learn that the two were going to journey through the jungle together. I was shocked, however, to hear that Flocke had never read Of Mice and Men. I thought that was required reading in virtually every high school. He must be very, very old.

By far the most dynamic portion of the episode happened when Flocke took Sawyer into the cave at the bottom of the cliff. Again we see the black and white rocks, which appear frequently on the show. John Locke plays backgammon with Walt in Season 1, Episode 2 (“Pilot, Part 2”) focusing on the black and white pieces; Adam and Eve, the skeletons found in the caves in Season 1, Episode 6 (“House of the Rising Sun”) carry black and white stones; and of course, Jacob wears white and the Man-In-Black (also Flocke and Smokey) wears black in Season 5, Episode 16 (“The Incident, Part 1”). Watching Flocke throw the white stone into the ocean was a pretty amazing moment. But not nearly as amazing as seeing the names of many of our favorite Losties etched into rock in the next room.

Finally, some information on the numbers! For those of you keeping score at home: Locke was 4, Hurley was 8, Sawyer was 15, Sayid was 16, Jack was 23, and Kwon (not sure if it’s Sun or Jin) was 42. Flocke told us that their names were written by Jacob, that he had brought them to the island, and that they were candidates to protect the island. The show also focused quite a bit on the flashbacks of Jacob touching each character. My question: why wasn’t Kate Austen on the wall, and why didn’t she have a number?

I’d be remiss not to mention Illana taking handfuls of ash from the pit where Jacob died, or Illana’s assertion that Flocke is stuck with John Locke’s figure permanently, but I’m not sure what these things mean right now. That’s nothing new; I mean, this is LOST, and it wouldn’t be a great episode if I didn’t go to bed with a few questions.

But the number one question on my mind is: “who was the young boy that Flocke spoke to in the jungle?” He appeared to look like a younger, male version of Claire. Dare I say that may be Aaron? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

Katelyn is a graduate student at Michigan State University is East Lansing, MI. In her free time she loves to spend time watching and writing about LOST.  Check out her LOST-themed blog at thelostloophole.blogspot.com for daily LOST-related updates.

Other LOST Season 6 recaps:

Episodes 1 & 2: “LAX Parts 1 & 2”

Episode 3: “What Kate Does”

Episode 5: “Lighthouse”

Episode 6: “Sundown”

Episode 7: “Dr. Linus”

Episode 8: “Recon”

Episode 9: “Ab Aeterno”

Episode 10: “The Package”

Episode 11: “Happily Ever After”

Episode 12: “Everybody Loves Hugo”

Episode 13: “The Last Recruit”

Episode 14: “The Candidate”

Episode 15: “Across the Sea”

Episode 16: “What They Died For”

Episode 17: “The End” (series finale)

(title image via the AV Club)

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