Sunday, February 21, 2010

LOST Episode 6.04: Further Thoughts About "The Substitute"

"I'm a child lost in the woods;
a black heart pollutes me."
- Incubus, Black Heart Inertia

Welcome back! Below is my follow-up analysis of The Substitute. Without further ado, let's put down the whiskey, put some pants on and check in the mirror for deja vu together...

The Absence of Austen

4: Locke. 8: Reyes. 15: Ford. 16: Jarrah. 23: Shephard. 42: Kwon.

I still haven't seen proof that Kate's name is anywhere on that cave wall, so I am operating under the assumption that she is missing from it for a reason. I started to look back at a few key Kate moments on Lost, and am pondering if any of these relate to her absence on the wall...

  • S1, Exodus Pt 3: Kate throws dynamite into the hole, saving Locke from Smokey
  • S3, Par Avion: Mikhail tells Kate that she's not on the list because she's flawed
  • S3, Left Behind: Smokey spares Kate (and Juliet) twice; first when he flashes a bright white while they hide in the trees and then when he stops at the sonic fence. In this same episode, Locke reveals to Kate that he failed to convince the Others that she is 'good.'

I still believe that Jin is the Kwon above, and wonder if perhaps Sun is listed somewhere as Paik. If not, I am curious about her absence from the numbered list because she's never had an encounter with Smokey and her crime (infidelity) was not as egregious as others who are included. 

Although I can't quite narrow down exactly why, I am also still under the impression that there is a specific reason why the only candidates with their names not crossed out are men. It has to relate to the island's infertility issue...

Can't Touch This

I am increasingly interested in the fact that Jacob wore gloves to avoid touching Ilana when he visited her in the hospital to ask a favor in the S5 finale. We are to now believe that every single person who has ever been on the island was visited and touched by Jacob at some point in their lives before arriving there; thus, their names are on the wall in the cave.  We do not know Ilana's last name, but I question the nature and history of their relationship, and whether or not she was ever listed on that stone. 

Cave Men

Given the Man in Black/notLocke's familiarity with and access to Jacob's cave, it seems as if they had a more amicable relationship at one point. It also makes me question whether or not that cave and those names were really Jacob's or not...

Father of Mine

In this episode, Locke's "lost luggage" (his suitcase of knives) was 'found' by Oceanic and delivered to his house. I am so hoping that in the next episode, Christian Shephard's coffin (Jack's "lost luggage") will also be found and delivered. The question is - will the body be inside?

Ghosts in the Machine

Just as Walt appeared "somewhere he wasn't meant to be" to Locke after he'd been shot, I believe that the mysterious young blonde boy who appeared to both notLocke and Sawyer is Aaron (who is also special). 

By the way, at first I assumed that the boy was referring to Sawyer when he reminded notLocke that he "can't kill him," but now I believe that he was talking about Alpert.

Hugo: Healer, Hero

Just as notLocke is recruiting on the island, it appears as if Hurley has been busy recruiting in the 'what if' scenario off island. He has employed the two people that the island healed in the original timeline, Rose and Locke. This may be a potential hint about Hurley's status as the Candidate on the island. I do not believe that he is the new Jacob right now (as confirmed by Darlton at Comic-Con; Jacob has not and does not take over bodies like the Man in Black), but Ghost Jacob's interest in him is rather significant in this light. 

By the way, Hugo Reyes is an anagram for Heroes Guy. Perhaps he is "the one who will protect/save us all" (the Latin translation of 'what lies in the shadow of the statue')...

Isn't it Ironic

My favorite line of this episode was delivered by notLocke to Alpert: "I would never have kept you in the dark." 

And it was a nice touch that substitute teacher Locke was addressing the human reproductive system, given that his beloved island is responsible for on-island conception issues that lead to the death of pregnant women. 

It's a Nice Day for a White Wedding

In S1 (House of the Rising Sun), Locke told Charlie that he's a fan of Drive Shaft. Given Charlie's state on Flight 815 and the band's short lived success after their one hit, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Drive Shaft hit rock bottom and take low paying a wedding in Los Angeles.  

Killing in the Name

A few things strike me about the names we've been able to glimpse so far on the cave wall. 

  • Is Richard Alpert/Ricardus up there? 
  • Is the Man in Black's real name etched in, and if so - was his the very first name?
  • Why is it that the numbers assigned to people do not seem to correspond with the year/time of their arrival? Flight 815 people, for example, have lower numbers. 
  • Were the remaining numbered names on the wall also on Jacob's list inside of the wooden ankh that Hurley delivered to Dogen? Did he warn them that they'd all be in a lot of trouble if Sayid died because he was one of the only remaining Candidates?
  • Are we sure that the Littleton represents Claire rather than Aaron? What about Linus - Roger or Ben? Are there any repeats of last names representing relatives on the island, like the Shephards? If so, I'd LOVE to discover that Grandpa Ray is also up there.

Owner of a Broken Heart

It was striking when notLocke admitted to Sawyer that "I know what it's like to lose someone you love." For a brief moment, I had to question whether or not he was speaking as Locke (about Helen) or as his evil self. So now not only do I look forward to finding out who he was in the real world, I hope we discover how he gained entrance to the very crowded broken hearts club of island souls. 

Paging Daniel Faraday

Perhaps the key to the names on the stone in the cave is none other than Faraday. After all, the phrase "the writing on the wall" is an omen that emanated from the biblical Book of Daniel... 

Party of Three

I used to be far more focused on the Shephard version of the Father (Jack), Son (Aaron) and Holy Ghost (Christian), but now I'm shifting gears to analyze an interesting island trifecta: the Candidate, The Substitute and the Variable. Can they all be one and the same?

That Douche is My Dad

I didn't catch it the first time around, but I noticed a photo in Locke's cube of him with his father Anthony Cooper. That, coupled with the fact that Helen mentioned Cooper during her wedding planning chat with Locke, seems to indicate a close relationship between father and son. [sidenote: in this photo you can seen half of that picture, as well as what appears to be a polar bear bobblehead or toy figure]

Despite the version of Locke and Cooper that we've seen, the historical version of the two was far more pleasant and perhaps indicates the direction that this "what if" scenario is going. Whig party co-founder Anthony Ashley Cooper (First Earl of Shaftesbury), collaborated with  physician/philosopher John Locke in the 1600's. When Cooper had a liver infection, Locke saved his life. Sound familiar? 

Which to Bury, Us or the Hatchet

Although it was a spoiler at the time I took these photos a few weeks ago during the private set visit on Oahu, I can now share pictures of the fresh grave we saw because now we know it was Locke's.


You're Special, So Special

Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but it looks like Desmond in the poster on the cube wall behind Locke as he meets with Rose at the temp agency.


1. We know that Locke did not go to the conference or on the Walkabout in Australia. Instead, I believe he went to see faith healer Isaac of Uluru. In the original scenario, Bernard brought Rose to Isaac, but I don't think that was the reason for their trip this time around.

Remember that the room where Rose met with Isaac was filled with crutches and wheelchairs from those he allegedly 'healed.' Much like Isaac was unable to help Rose, he was not able to heal Locke either. In Rose's case, in the original timeline, she was destined to be healed on and by the island - and was. 

In Locke's case, however, he returns home after an unsuccessful visit with Isaac in the same condition. Isaac told Rose that he couldn't heal her because "this is not the right place for you." Perhaps he says the same thing to Locke, because Jack will be the one to 'fix' him in the end.

Here is a fascinating addition to this storyline. Taking the fact that Isaac is Jacob's father in the Bible, analyze with fresh eyes what Isaac the healer said to Rose:

"There are certain places with great energy, spots on Earth like the one we're above now. Perhaps this energy is geological, magnetic. Or perhaps it's something else. When possible, I harness this energy and give it to others."

2. Daniel Faraday told Desmond that the rules do not apply to him, that he is "uniquely and miraculously special." That fact will finally come into play when Desmond kills notLocke, because he is the only one who will be able to do so. Whether or not that takes place on or off the island remains to be seen, but it makes the most sense in terms of the rules and loopholes.
Thank you for returning for round two! As always, I appreciate and encourage constructive feedback and comments.

If you have not done so already, please visit and share my Haiti relief fundraising post with fellow Lost fans. For a simple $10 donation, you will be entered to win some very cool items and rare Lost memorabilia, including a few comic books written by Damon Lindelof that he is graciously autographing for the cause! 

See you late Tuesday/early Wednesday. 



Lauren Roundy said...

As always, great insight! I never noticed some of the things you mentioned like the fact that Jacob wore gloves when he visited Illana, or Desmond in the scene where Locke was interviewing.

One thing that I've wondered about... Was the interview that Locke was receiving a sort of Dharma Initiative recruitment interview? Based on "Mysteries of the Universe" on the Lost season 5 special features DVD, the Dharma Initiative would ask interesting questions like "What kind of animal do you associate yourself with" and other strange things like that.

Maybe Hurley is in league with a newer, fresher Dharma Initiative which has the goal of finding "Candidates"?

Just a thought... Thanks for the great blog!

Frank said...

Great job, I think the boy is a young Jacob, maybe what they were like when they first came to the island. Keep up the good work!!

Paul said...

Yet another fascinating post! Two things:

1) I still maintain that Ilana is part of this long-living supergroup that Jacob and MIB are a part of. She was clearly suffering from a normally fatal disease when Jacob came to visit her and she was handling it like it was a minor inconvenience. And clearly she is ok now.

2) I like your idea that the Shepherd written on the cave walls is actually referring to Ray, and it made me think that perhaps all the names on the wall are referring to DISTANT relatives of our Losties in some repects, hence their low numbers. Perhaps its a bloodline thing, rather than a specific person.

Both of these are a stretch, but what is Lost if not aerobics for the mind??

Brian said...

To respond to a couple of your points:

1. Mikhail doesn't single out Kate for his disparaging remarks. Does he not also berate Sayid and a few others? And, to be frank, they are all clearly flawed characters, so none deserve to be candidates.

2. Jacob may have touched Ilana with gloved hands, but he never actually touches Jack or Sawyer, does he? His "touch" with Sawyer comes when both touch the pen at the same time, but their flesh doesn't seem to make contact. I'm more sure about his encounter with Jack: the touch occurs through the candy bar, but it's not flesh-on-flesh touch.

3. Perhaps the numbers on the cave are getting smaller, so that 4 is the lowest number we see. Maybe there will be a "1" in the future, the one who is the true candidate.

4. In the promos for this week's episode, a voice that sounds like Jacob's says, "Someone is coming to the island?" Any guesses? Desmond? Aaron?

Jo said...

@Brian -

I know that Mikhail called out others as well, but I am focusing on Kate because she is missing from Jacob's wall.

Jacob touched Sawyer's hand when he gave him the pen, and Jack's hand when he handed over the candy bar. The producers & writers went out of their way to show us that those people in particular made physical contact w/Jacob at some point in their lives.

Good point about the numbers.

I am entirely spoiler free (as is this site) & do not watch the promos for new episodes. Normally I would not have published your comment because of your fourth point, but I wanted to address your others.


Drew said...

I thought the same thing about Locke visiting Isaac in Austrailia during the premiere.

The Kharma Initiative said...

Hey Jo, been enjoying your well-written blog posts.

You guessed in your earlier post regarding "The Substitute" that "it" (of "it only ends once") may end when Smokie leaves the island.

I don't think the end of "it" will be anything that prosaic.

We aren't seeing two realities or two timelines playing out. We are seeing two Destinies.

There's a good reason why that word has been used in the taglines for recent seasons.

Jacob, and Smokie, are the trapped physical representations of those two warring Destinies. Both agreed long ago that only one Destiny could exist. They set up rules so that a single Destiny could eventually be chosen.

Until that Choice is made, history progressively repeats.

"It" ends when the Choice is made by a person, the Destinies converge into one, and the Universe is made whole.

Cosmically Yours

Brian said...

Well, after I wrote that, I thought, "maybe that's a spoiler." However, since ABC air's the promo for next week's episode right after the episode, it's hard to avoid and I would consider that public knowledge.

Anyway, I'm new to this blog and I won't try to offend again. Good job!

Brian said...

And, if you watch "The Incident" again, you can't say for sure that Jacob touches Sawyer or Jack. It looks more plausible that he touches Sawyer, but the camera angle for both events doesn't help. However, if you watch Jack's interaction with Jacob, you can't see any real contact.

I don't think any of this matters, by the way. I think he "touched" them all, including Ilana. After all, he touched Jin and Sun on the back, not necessarily on their skin. The real point is that Jacob somehow "pushed them" or manipulated their lives so that they would end up on the island.

richrag said...

Black and White: We still see a instances of Black and White in S6 (killer whale, the stones in S6E4, Off Island Locke's B&W cell phone used to initiate call to Jack at St. Sebastians, etc.). However, I think gray is now being teased to us starting at least with "The Substitute". It might have snuck in earlier but I haven't gone back to look. In particular, from "The Substitute":

* John in the bathtub has a mug that is black on one side and white on the other but there is gray stripe in between
* John chooses the gray color sample first and quickly switches when Helen evidences disappointment
* John (Off Island) has a gray T-shirt for a pajama top
* John (Flocke) has a gray T-shirt top in the jungle
* Friends claim that Flocke's face, when standing in front of the scale, was black and white with some gray (I can't say I see it that way after rewatching) but B&W faces have been used in the past
* The nod to Jean Luc Picard by the bald guy (Locke) wanting an Earl GREY tea. Truly a double dip by the writers if gray is significant.

The first two instances seem pretty blatant (but low key) introductions of a the idea that maybe the world is not just black and white.

Cindylu16 said...

I thought for a bit **Reyes DOES NOT fit this theory** that they were #'d (on the wall)in order that Jacob found/visited them in their real lives, before flight 815. Reyes MAY have met him as a child, and we havent seen it yet, which would work as far as that goes. I dont doubt ANY ideas until they are proven wrong!

Also, could the young blond boy be Jacob, *look @ those eyes*, who somehow managed to do a time travel thing, something he couldnt have done b4 he was killed? I agree with you on who he meant thought.
I think Ricardo was an Egyptian slave, and that Jacob recruited/saved him eons ago. Maybe his first recruit.

Mals Mals said...

GREAT post Jo. I don't think Michael is dead though...cause remember the last time that we saw him was on the freighter right before it exploded, Christian Shepard appeared to Michael and said something like "Your work is done here Michael, you're free to go..." BOOM! So I still think that we will be seeing Michael again..

Allie said...

Hi Jo! I'm a big fan and just wanted to share some episode analysis with a community who might care: Today I ended up re-watching one of Lost's so-called worst episodes, "Stranger in a Strange Land," and I found some awesome parallels to "The Substitute." First, is Jack's conversation with Juliet at the end of "Strangers." They're discussing the deals they made with Ben to get off the island via the sub:

Juliet: Why did you help me?
Jack: He told you he was gonna let you go home. He told me the same thing. We're gonna make sure he keeps his word.
Juliet: And how are we going to do that?
Jack: Together.

This was the same line that NotLocke gave Sawyer when Sawyer asked how they were going to get off the island if he chose option 3... leave and never look back. NotLocke gave the same answer as Jack gave to Juliet.

Of course this is even more interesting now, because in Season 3, Jack and Juliet's way off the island is thwarted when Locke blows up the sub. In Season 6, NotLocke plans on flying the plane off the island. Will his plan be thwarted? ***Spoiler if you're not caught up: Richard's plan is to go blow up the Ajira plane.***

The other cool parallel is the Chinese characters in both: Jack's tattoo says "He walks amongst us, but he is not one of us." (A reference to NotLocke in "The Substitue"?). In "The Substitue," Helen has Chinese characters on her t-shirt that translate to "revelation to/for spirit" and "awakening soul."

Just some cool links between the supposed "worst episode" and the mythology that's turning out to be important in the end game. And to be honest, after a re-watch, "Strangers" wasn't half-bad!!