Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Review: Lost 6.4: The Substitute

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Locke and Helen are together in the Sideways timeline.
Lost - Season Six, Episode Four - The Substitute
Written between 12th and 13th of January 2013

The problem with the two-season long "let's kill Locke" arc was that the show essentially lost one of its most well-written characters. Terry O'Quinn is, alongside Michael Emerson, the show's best actor and consistently brings in the best performances of day. Now he's been relegated to the new role of The Man In Black, and luckily the Flash-Sideways allows us to compare both of O'Quinn's characters while doling out some of the season's most important and impressive exposition. Its main problem came in that outside of that exposition, it relied a little too much on O'Quinn to do all the heavy lifting for it.
     In the flash-sideways, Locke is still in a wheelchair, and unlike in reality is planning to marry his long-time sweetheart Helen. His boss Randy fires him from work when he finds out that Locke's trip to Sidney wasn't for the reason he said it was. On the way out, he runs into Hugo who now owns Locke's company, and Hugo hooks him up with a temp agency. At the agency, Rose tells him that the only position she has open is as a substitute teacher; at the school, he meets Dr. Benjamin Linus, who is currently a History teacher. At home, Locke reveals to Helen that he doesn't want to speak to Jack about getting surgery, and that he went on a walkabout, because he's tired of trying to be someone he's not.
     On the main island, The Man In Black went off on his merry way, off to recruit people towards his cause. He released Richard, who seemed to be well-aquainted with him and ran off. Ben told Ilana of Jacob's demise, and she took his ashes before revealing that the Man In Black can now only shape-shift into The Monster and into the form of Locke. They hold a funeral for Locke (after 34 episodes) and The Man In Black visits the Barracks where Sawyer has been drinking his sorrows away. Sawyer agrees to follow the Man In Black, trusting him to help him get off the island, and they go to a cliff-side cave wherin the names of 360 people are written in chalk. All are crossed out except for six - Locke, Reyes, Ford, Jarrah, Shephard and Kwon - aka Locke, Hugo, Sawyer, Sayid, Jack and either Jin or Sun. The MIB explains that these are the last of Jacob's Candidates to replace him.
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The Man In Black sets his plan into motion.
     The idea that Jacob has subtly been manipulating the lives of up to 360 people for over what can be assumed to be a few hundred years may seem to stretch credulity, but that's what we're working with here. After a season of showing us that fate can take the form of extended, Whatever-Happens-Happens-style time loops, we get the new idea that our characters have basically been pushed by God to their current positions. This gets a bit ickier in the finale, so I'll wait until then to talk about it in its entirety,but at the moment it does seem rather odd that it's implied that Jacob giving Sawyer a pen when he's nine years old is enough to steer his life towards Oceanic 815.
     So far, the flash-sideways seem like something of an entertaining side-project. After the initial awe of wondering about possible timelines and alternate worlds, it's becoming clear by this point that so much is different that this all being caused by the prevention of the Incident is rather impossible. It's still rather interesting though, and it tugged on my heartstrings to see Locke finally getting to plan his wedding with Helen when that relationship in the original timeline went rather more tragically. It was just nice to have Locke back in general, really, but I do think that O'Quinn very much enjoyed the chance to chew into an entirely different character. I certainly enjoyed seeing him bounce the two different characters back and forth, and The Substitute became so much the better for it.


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