Lost - Episode 604: Double-Locked

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 Take no substitutes. Lost is reminding viewers why it’s one of the most beloved shows on the air. After a pretty slow second week, Lost picks up some steam with the John Locke based episode “The Substitute”. This episode is a lesson in duality as the story follows both the Man-in-black in his anti-Locke suit, and the still-paralyzed (both by fear and spinal injury) 2004 timeline John Locke.

The flash-parallel centers on the wheelchair-bound Locke’s personal growth as he finally learns to accept his handicapped condition and be okay with himself again. Without the Island’s influence, Locke’s life has played out a little differently. He’s still the same scared person, perhaps even more so. This is quite a contrast from the mystical Locke of seasons past. But this parallel-Locke is better equipped to overcome his fears, as witnessed by the fact that his relationship with Helen is still ongoing. The random-or-not meetings between the parallel characters continues: Locke has a serendipitous encounter with the now super lucky Hurley, Rose appears for a quick scene, and Locke also meets the creepiest History teacher ever in Ben Linus.

"one is black, one is white"

In the 2007 island timeline, we witness the reign of Locke-in-black as he tries to consolidate his hold on the island. Sawyer sees through Locke-in-black instantly, but in his distraught and drunken state decides to follow him and his promises of revelations. Despite warnings from Richard, who earlier emphatically rejected Lock-in-black's team-up request, Sawyer continues to follow Locke-in-black. After a trek down the side of the coastal cliffs, Sawer and Locke-in-black find another one of Jacob’s island hideaways and the mystery of the “candidates” is revealed in a twist. In the other brief storyline, Ilana and Ben have a chat, Ilana collects some of Jacob’s ashes and then they join the beach crowd for a surreal funeral before heading to the oh-so-boring Temple.

The lines have been drawn and the two sides are beginning to form. As much as I hate to see Sawyer flirting with the dark side, the expectant viewer in me wants the Man in black to keep on talking. This episode could have easily have been titled “The Last Temptation of Sawyer” for all the unholy offers of knowledge put on the table. Lost is back to its classic confusing best with longstanding mysteries being revealed but also new quandaries arising: Can a lifelong seducer be seduced by a fake bald man? Who is the young boy and why does he resemble Jacob? To top it all off, we even have the glorious return of the numbers (just don't tell Hugo). The most revealing episode of the season, “The Substitute” is definitely worth viewing more than once.

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