Lost Season 6 Episode 4 – The Substitute Reviewed

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Premiering on the 16th of February, episode 4 of the final season of Lost had a big cloud of expectation hanging over it. Following the Kate/Sawyer centred story from last week, The Substitute had to begin answering some of the questions that devotees are waiting for. Does it do that? Of course not, that would be far too easy.

The episode focuses on John Locke, both in his possessed reincarnation on the island and his flash-sideways self of it.

In the flash sideways, Locke has lost his purpose in life and also his faith and belief in miracles. Returning from his walkabout in Australia, Locke is sacked from his job and has doubts over his upcoming wedding due to his disability. He is the broken man he always was before the island. That said, this episode did see him come into contact with more of his fellow island survivors. A chance meeting with Hugo, who it seems bought the company Locke worked for, leads him to a job interview with another islander, Brenda, and the result of the interview finds him in the same workplace as one Ben Linus. Along with the telephone number Jack gave him in the previous episode, Locke’s connection with these “strangers” is growing along with the promise that we will soon lose the flash-sideways completely as the storylines merge.

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The Fake John Locke recruits Sawyer, but for what?

In the island storyline, our first sight of the episode comes in the form of a rushing, frantic blast through the jungle by the Smoke Monster in a moment that seems to pay homage to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies, with the camera swooping and driving erratically towards its target, in this case a drunk and dishevelled Sawyer. Before Sawyer takes centre stage, the Monster retakes the form of Locke to speak to his captive, Richard. During this altercation, Locke sees a young, blond haired boy who swiftly vanishes again. Clearly disturbed by the appearance, Locke leaves, setting Richard free.

Soon after Locke comes to the old Dharma village where Sawyer is alone, drunk and desolate. Where is Kate? We don’t know, but what we do know is that Sawyer isn’t fooled by the fake Locke. He questions who Locke really is, and is given the answer every watcher hopes is true…”I’m the man who can answer the question of why you are on this island.” If only it were that simple.

After leading Sawyer through the jungle, and receiving another vision of the young boy (which this time leads to Locke being told to remember the rules and that he can’t kill Sawyer), they arrive in a cave burrowed in the side of the island’s cliff face. Inside, Locke shows Sawyer a collection of wall writings that appear to be the entire list of passengers on Oceanic 815. Many are crossed out, but those left, including Sawyer, Jack and Hugo, are numbered in a way that immediately strikes one of the power chords long time fans are constantly looking for – they are the series of numbers that has bugged the life out of us since season one. According to Locke, those left are all “candidates” to take over the care of the island. He asks Sawyer if that is what he wants to do, or if he would rather go home. Sawyer plumps for the latter as that familiar whump sound signals the arrival of the show’s logo and the beginning of another week of waiting.

Once again, very little is answered and yet somehow it does feel like the final act is well under way. Some other points from the episode are the fact that Jacobs’s burnt remains are collected into a small bag by one of the newcomers to the island and bear a striking resemblance to the powder used by the temple folk to ward off the Smoke Monster. Sun and Lapedos are still on the beach but now heading towards the temple.

As we go into Episode 5, the story is now more split than ever. Sawyer and the fake Locke are in one part of the island, Kate is once again missing, Jin is somewhere in the jungle with Clare, Sun and Lapedos are journeying to the Temple, while Richard is also somewhere in the jungle trying to keep away from the fake Locke and warn others to do the same. And of course the rest of our band is at the temple itself with last week’s warning about Sayid’s state hanging over them. What can we expect next week? A return to the Temple as Jack and Hugo must undertake a mission, and answers about what happened to Claire when she vanished back in Season 4. Not too many answers though…it wouldn’t be Lost if they told you everything.