|Locke's paralysis is cleverly hidden.|
This is where it gets good. The first three episodes are all nice and cinematic n' all, but it takes this first contribution from Terry O'Quinn to really show us just how heartbreaking and well-written Lost can be. After three episodes of being presented as the weird old man with tons of survival skills, the focus shifts onto a more rounded Locke that presents his tragic backstory in a way which, if you haven't been spoiled (which I obviously was) is superbly managed.
The food is running short, and so Locke finally introduces himself and takes a party into the jungle to hunt a wild boar. Shannon tries to show Boone that she can fend for herself by getting Charlie to catch her a fish. As Jack prepares to burn the fuselage, ensuring that the bodies within don't become a beacon for wild animals, Claire gathers together notes and messages in commemoration of the dead. After seeing the Monster up close and living to tell the tale (although we dont get to see it), Locke returns just after the fuselage is burnt, with a boar on his back.
As Locke less than fondly remembers, before the crash he was a cubicle worker at a box company, tired of his monotonous life and constantly belittled about his hobbies by his boss Randy. He tells a woman named Helen that he has booked them two tickets to go on a Walkabout in Australia, and we discover that she is merely a phone-sex operator whom he's been paying to talk to him. In Australia, the rep denies his application just as the bus leaves - and we discover, to our shock, that Locke was in a wheelchair before the crash, and was miraculously healed.
|Locke tries to re-enact that scene from Kill Bill.|
Terry O'Quinn's first centric performance, however, struck a delicate balance between the survivalist weirdo we're presented with in the first few episodes and the deeply tragic and vulnerable core at the heart of who John Locke is. Especially telling for me was the scene with the phone-sex operator, where the desperation of his situation is rendered out in all the ways it possibly can. O'Quinn is just perfect for the role, and I love the way that the show builds mystery around this premise that this Island is more special than we may think while still connecting it to something human and empathisable. That's probably what the show does best.