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Lost – “The Substitute”

“The Substitute”

February 16th, 2010

In Esquire Magazine’s fantastic feature on Roger Ebert’s struggles with cancer and the surgeries which have left him unable to speak, there are a myriad of passages which are emotional and poignant. However, the one that resonated with me most is the section where Chris Jones talks about Ebert’s dreams:

“In his dreams, his voice has never left. In his dreams, he can get out everything he didn’t get out during his waking hours: the thoughts that get trapped in paperless corners, the jokes he wanted to tell, the nuanced stories he can’t quite relate. In his dreams, he yells and chatters and whispers and exclaims. In his dreams, he’s never had cancer. In his dreams, he is whole.”

Ebert’s story is hugely powerful, and while a fictional character can’t possibly compare I feel his story offers valuable perspective on the narrative arc of John Locke. For Locke, the island was like a dream (but not actually a dream, at least we presume), a place where everything he was unable to accomplish confined to a wheelchair became possible. When John Locke woke up on that beach able to move his legs, it was his miracle, and he went forward in the rest of his life as a believer, someone who felt renewed faith towards whoever was responsible for his miraculous recovery. He was “whole” in a way that he had never experienced before, as if his kidney and his legs hadn’t been taken away by his spiteful father.

But John Locke was always scared: he was scared that it would all be taken away from him, desperate to solve the puzzles of the island so that this dream wouldn’t end. Locke became a believer not because he felt safe, but rather because he felt deathly afraid of what would happen if the dream ended, and the tension that defined his life before arriving on the island never truly left him even when he was able to move his legs.

“The Substitute” is about John Locke, who he was and who he might have been, but it is also about what John Locke was searching for. At the end of the day, he wasn’t searching for faith so much as he was searching for a purpose, and we learn in this episode that Locke was no more chosen than anyone else, which in some ways would have given the man a sense of peace before his tragic end.

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Season Premiere: Lost – “Because You Left / The Lie”

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“Because You Left / The Lie”

January 21st, 2009

Going into tonight’s two-hour premiere for Lost’s second season, I was unsure. Not about the show, really, so much as unsure about my own ability to get back into a Lost frame of mind. I’m only a few days out from the mindfrak that was the BSG premiere, and to enter into a similar level of complexity so soon was something that didn’t feel normal. I love this show with all my heart, through the slow periods and the various leaps through time, but there is a point where you wonder how many more twists and turns you can take.

But from the moment that Marvin Candle puts a record on and heads to the Orchid station to investigate a new discovery, it becomes very clear that there is never a time where a Lost frame of mind feels overbearing. What makes “Because You Left” and “The Lie” so effective is that they are operating are on a whole new plane: what was once a simple construct of present and past, and then present and future, has been eternally complicated by a whirlwind tour through what we’ve experienced, what we know, and what could happen in the future. Before, we were the ones who were traveling through time, but hearkening back to Season Four’s pivotal “The Constant” the show has unstuck its characters in time and we’re just along for the ride.

The result has us perhaps the most confused we’ve ever been, but it makes sense: our characters are just as confused, just as at the whim of the island and whatever crazy sense of time, space and fate this show is holding going into its fifth and penultimate season. This two-hour season premiere, more than the flashforwards or the Oceanic Six before it, has this world in a constant state of change that has fundamentally altered our sense of the show’s direction. If Season Four was drawing the line from Point A, the island, to Point B, the rescue of the Oceanic Six, then now we’re drawing a line between points constantly moving, evolving as we watch into something we haven’t come close to understanding.

We’ve gone from knowing what happens and wondering how the show will take us there to slowly discovering what needs to happen and growing increasingly doubtful that it’s an achievable goal considering the variables involved. The sheer uncertainty of this premiere is exactly what the show needed to put me into a Lost frame of mind: I don’t understand you, Lost, but at the end of the day I will always believe you.

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