Jacob’s Candidates

17 02 2010

Maybe I’m overreacting, but I think I liked “The Substitute” even more than the season premiere.

But then again, maybe that’s because I’m always extra interested whenever episodes reveal secrets of the island—or give us big doses of Richard Alpert, Jacob, Locke Monster, island history/mythology. And last night was like an overdose. I drove my wife nuts rewinding so I could transcribe all the dialogue I was missing (Darn you, Richard Alpert! I know you’re in a hurry, but must you talk so fast!).

Getting right to it, Locke’s off-island life was…fun. Yeah, fun.

He’s still in a wheelchair, and he’s still coming to terms with his limits. But hey, he and Helen are about to get married. And we saw Rose, Hurley, Benjamin Linus (“Ben Linus, European History…”), and Jack (‘s receptionist) making cameos in Locke’s life.

So much is still the same there. Locke tried to go on his walkabout, and he yelled “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” when they wouldn’t let him go. He still works at a box factory, and his boss, Randy, is still, in the words of Hurley, “a douche.”

Only now the douche fires Locke, which is why Locke (with a little help from Hurley and then Rose) ends up being a substitute teacher at the school where Ben Linus teaches.

And that’s what makes the sideways reality fun. We see the characters we know so well interacting with one another, even though they apparently remember nothing about each other. And it’s just sort of pleasant.

When Locke tells Helen about Jack, he says, “He seemed like a nice fella.” Benjamin Linus comments on Locke’s choice of Earl Gray: “Ah, now there’s a gentleman’s drink.”

I’m beginning to think that nothing in this sideways reality matters very much. Not to our characters on the island. The writers might just be having fun weaving these characters together in ways that are completely irrelevant. Whether it’s irrelevant or not, I’m having fun watching it. So yeah, I’m beginning to think that the sideways reality isn’t all that significant after all…

And I’m also beginning to think that this is exactly what the writers want me to think…so they can drop the bomb (not literally—unless Jughead has a brother) on us later this season.

But for now, I’m just going to enjoy the off-island events.

Back on the island, however, the writers set my head spinning. The whole episode, I was trying to get my bearings, trying to comprehend. And I’m still trying.

The writers revealed some things…and they didn’t. Because our primary voice in the episode was none other than the Locke Monster, the only character who might lie more often than Ben Linus. So how much of what Locke Monster told Sawyer is actually true?

Did Locke Monster really carry Richard into the jungle because he’s recruiting? He certainly asked Richard to come with him…and Richard, thank goodness, refused. But if he’s “recruiting,” what is his goal? Originally, I assumed he was recruiting people to help him defeat the Temple people… but then he told Sawyer that he wants Sawyer to help him leave the island. And then it clicked for me: He needs to defeat the Temple people in order to leave the island. (“I want to go home.”) My guess is that he needs help from an insider. Someone who can break the ring of ash for him, perhaps? And that someone appears to be James “Sawyer” Ford.

I wish I knew whether or not we could believe the things Locke Monster told Sawyer about the names on the cave wall representing Jacob’s “candidates.” But for all we know, that might have been Locke Monster’s cave. Those words on the wall might have been written by him, not Jacob. Right now, I think Jacob was the one writing those names on the walls (“Jacob had a thing for numbers…”), but all I’m saying is, just because Locke Monster says it, that don’t mean jack.

It was intriguing that each of the 6 “candidates” had one of the numbers next to their name:

4-Locke (“I think we both know him”)
8-Reyes
15-Ford (“Last but not least, Ford. That would be you.”)
16-Jarrah
23-Shephard
42-Kwon (Locke: I don’t know if it’s Sun or if it’s Jin)

It’s very interesting that Kate’s name isn’t listed there. Because we know Jacob appeared to her when she was a child. He encouraged her to “be good.” I don’t think she’s been “good” exactly, but if goodness were a prerequisite for inclusion on the cave wall, then James “I con and kill people” Ford would never qualify.

As for what the names mean, Locke Monster says they’re candidates to replace Jacob as the protector of the island. I don’t believe this at all. I just don’t. I think Locke is trying to trivialize Jacob’s role. (Sawyer: Protect it from what? Locke Monster: Nothing! It’s a damn island….) If he makes it all sound outlandish or trivial, then of course Sawyer, if he believes him, will want to get off the island…which is exactly what Locke Monster wants.

As interesting as the cliffside cave (adorned with its names and numbers) was, personally, I thought this episode contained a revelation that was far more interesting (Judging by the poll I posted earlier today, I’m not the only one). The most interesting revelation was this:

Sawyer: Who’s that?
Locke: You can see him?
Sawyer: The kid? Hell yeah I can see him…

This kid intrigues me. He comes and goes. When he comes, Locke Monster loses his normal composure and goes crashing off through the jungle after him. Just as interesting, Locke Monster is surprised Sawyer can see him. (Which means that Locke Monster doesn’t know everything about how the island works.)

And when he talks to the kid, we get this:

Kid: You know the rules; you can’t kill him.
Locke: Don’t tell me what I can’t do…
Kid shakes his head and then walks away…

(By the way, I checked lostpedia to see if there’s a name for this kid. In the transcript he’s called “Boy.” So that’s not very helpful, is it?)

But who is the “him” to which “Boy” refers? Sawyer? Richard?

(My off-the-wall-nonsense theory: That kid is Sawyer from a different timeline/reality. But don’t think about that too much, and don’t bother to tell me it doesn’t make sense. I realize it’s ridiculous, and that’s why it’s called my “off-the-wall-nonsense theory.”)

“This is the weirdest damn funeral I’ve ever been to.”

On the other side of the island, Locke’s real body is being buried on the beach (next to Boone and Shannon and whoever else received a proper island burial). And after Ben provides the eulogy (“John Locke was a believer; he was a man of faith; he was a much better man than I will ever be, and I’m very sorry I murdered him.”), Frank chimes in with the funniest line of the episode.

But before they leave the statue, Ilana and Ben spend a little time confiding in one another (kind of). Ben tells her about Locke Monster turning into a pillar of smoke and killing Bram and the other guys. He also lies and says that Locke Monster also kicked Jacob. When he reveals that Jacob burned up in the fire, Ilana starts scooping up his ashes and putting them in a bag. (I’ll bet you a dozen Apollo bars that comes into play later…)

And we also got this revealing bit of dialogue out of Ben and Ilana:

Ben: Why did you bring Locke’s body to the statue, anyway?
Ilana: To show the people what they’re up against.
Ben: And what’s to stop what they’re up against from changing his face again?
Ilana: He can’t. Not anymore. He’s stuck this way.

Really? But why? (And note that she said this before Locke’s real body was buried, which might dispel the theory that Locke Monster can only use the unburied bodies on the island.)

Ilana Knows A Lot
Not only does Ilana know that Locke Monster is trapped in Locke’s body, but she also gave us this:

ILANA: Where is everybody?
SUN: They left. They said they were going to the temple.
ILANA: Right now, that’s the safest place on the island. We should go there too.
SUN: Are you alright?
ILANA: I’m fine. Come on, let’s get out of here!
SUN: What makes you think that I’m going with you?
ILANA: Because… you want to find Jin.
SUN: What do you know about my husband?
ILANA: I know that if he’s on the island… and if he’s alive… then he’ll be at the temple. Let’s get moving!

We know Jacob appeared to Ilana and asked for her help (during the season 5 finale), and we know that she brought Sayid aboard Ajira 316 in cuffs. But this is the first time we learn that she knows some things about the Oceanic 6 (or, perhaps, “the candidates”). How else would she know Jin’s name?

I wonder what else Jacob told Ilana…

The Mysterious Richard Alpert…Acts Mysteriously
I’m wondering why Richard, after Locke Monster left him, didn’t go to the temple. But before we get to that, let’s revisit the exchange between Richard and Locke Monster:

LOCKE: Richard, I’m sorry I hit you in the throat and dragged you off the beach but I had to do something. (WHY DID HE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING?)
RICHARD: What do you want?
LOCKE: What I’ve always wanted. For you to come with me.
RICHARD: Why do you look like John Locke? (AT THIS POINT, I WAS SUSPECTING A CONSPIRACY BETWEEN RICHARD AND THE LOCKE MONSTER…BUT NO)
LOCKE: I knew he’d get me access to Jacob. Because John’s a candidate. Or at least he was a candidate…
RICHARD: What do you mean? What do you mean a candidate?
LOCKE: Didn’t Jacob tell you any of this?
RICHARD: Any of what?
LOCKE: Oh, Richard… I’m sorry. You mean, you’ve been doing everything he told you all this time and he never said why? (MANIPULATIVE TACTIC)
LOCKE: I would never have done that to you. I would never have kept you in the dark.
RICHARD: And what would you have done?
LOCKE: I would have treated you with respect. Come with me… and I promise I will tell you everything.
RICHARD: No.
LOCKE: Are you sure about that, Richard? Because people seldom get a second chance…
RICHARD: I’m not going anywhere with you.
LOCKE: Alright.
[Locke sees a blond boy with bloodied arms standing in the jungle]
RICHARD: What?
LOCKE: I’ll be seeing you, Richard. Sooner than you think. (WHAT THE HECK DOES THAT MEAN?)

But then Locke Monster goes to talk to Sawyer, and yet Richard lingers in the jungle. He doesn’t run off to the temple or back to the beach. (Why?) So when Locke Monster runs after the little kid and Sawyer starts yelling for Locke, Richard appears, talking very quickly. In summation, Richard says:

Richard: Don’t be naïve! He’s not going to give you any answers, he’s going to kill you.

and:

Richard: You don’t know what you’re dealing with. He doesn’t just want you dead, he wants everyone dead. Everyone you care about, all of them…and he won’t stop…

But when Locke comes back, Richard darts off into the woods again. If he doesn’t go to the temple now, then I will have some serious misgivings about our Mr. Alpert. If all the others from the beach went to the temple (Sun said they did), then why wouldn’t Richard? I suppose he might just be keeping tabs on Locke Monster. I don’t know…


Okay, I’ll play George, and you be Lenny…

I loved that we got yet another reference to Of Mice and Men.

Sawyer: Do you read?
Locke: Excuse me?
Sawyer: Books. Do you read books?
Locke: Sure. Who doesn’t?
Sawyer: My favorite is Steinbeck. Mice and Men. You read that one?
Locke: Nope, it’s a little after my time.

[Sawyer tells him about George shooting Lenny in the back of his head.]

Locke: What’s on your mind, James?
Sawyer: I’m wondering what would happen to you if I put a bullet in your head.
Locke: Let’s find out.
Sawyer: What are you?
Locke: What I am is trapped...

Locke Monster goes on to say that he was a man (Sawyer: I’m having a hard time believing that…). He assures Sawyer that he knows what human emotions feel like. Heck, he says he even knows what it feels like to lose someone you love… (Hmmm, I wonder about that…)

And by the time the episode ended, it looked like Locke Monster’s manipulative tactics paid off: Sawyer’s on board.

I said last week I was worried about Sawyer staying all alone in Dharmatown. Well, he’s not alone anymore. But I fear he’s in even more serious trouble.

Snippets:

—I loved when the camera switched to Smoke Monster view as it crept and clunked its way across the island

—During the first commercial break, did anyone else enjoy the spot for the Jimmy Kimmel show when Michael Emerson said, “The numbers in Oceanic Flight 815…(dramatic pause)…add up to 14.”

—SAWYER [lifts his bottle]: Here’s to being dead.
LOCKE: You’re taking this extremely well.
SAWYER: Taking what extremely well?
LOCKE: That I’m here.
SAWYER: I don’t give a damn if you’re dead. Or time travellin’ or… the ghost of Christmas past. All I care about is this whiskey. So bottoms up! Get the hell out of my house.
LOCKE: This isn’t your house, James.
SAWYER: The hell it ain’t…
LOCKE: No. You just lived here for awhile. This was never your house.
SAWYER: Who are you? ‘Cause you sure as hell ain’t John Locke.
LOCKE: What makes you say that?
SAWYER: ‘Cause Locke was scared. Even when he was pretendin’ he wasn’t. But you? You ain’t scared.

—Why does Sawyer strip down to his boxers when he’s drinking whiskey? And was it just me, or were those some dirty drawers?

—It’s amazing that Hurley is always likable, even when he’s a corporate mogul who buys every company in sight…

—Wow, I’d written this whole post and was reviewing it before I caught the joke in the title: “The Substitute.” I was thinking it must refer to the candidates, and how Jacob is allegedly searching for someone (a substitute?) to replace him, or Locke Monster’s use of John’s body, or Locke Monster’s attempt to get Sawyer on board (to serve as a substitute?)…and then I remembered that John Locke, in sideways reality, became a substitute teacher. It means nothing, I suppose…but I wondered if everyone else made that connection already.

—I was poring over an enlarged image of the crossed-out names on Jacob’s Wall and I found a “Mattingley” and an “O’Toole.” These names also have different numbers by them. Then I went to lostpedia and saw that others have found a lot more already: Jacob’s Candidates (It wasn’t enlightening for me, but if nothing else it’s a remarkable testament to the devotion—and promptness—of Lost fans…)

Questions:
1) Now that they’ve officially said that Jacob burned up in the fire, are we to believe that fire was supernaturally hot? Or that Jacob’s body was exceptionally flammable? (Are his bones made of cardboard?) Because he apparently burned up in a hurry. (Is Jacob supposed to be like the Phoenix? If so, then I suppose that mysterious kid could be the risen Phoenix-Jacob…but I don’t like that idea much.)

2) Was there any significance to the stones on the scale in the cliffside cave? Obviously, we can draw some light vs. dark/good vs. evil conclusions since Locke Monster skipped the white stone across the water and called it an “inside joke” when Sawyer questioned him, but does it have any real purpose?

3) Locke Monster says he knows what it feels like to lose someone he loves. Is there a hidden meaning to this claim? Something that will be revealed later? Or is it just a lie he’s using to manipulate a grieving Sawyer?

4) When the mysterious boy first appeared, why were his arms bloody?

5) Any theories on that mysterious kid? Why does Locke Monster seem so unsettled to see him?

6) Could Locke Monster be stuck in Locke’s body because Ilana and friends burned the cabin? I don’t know how this makes sense, but Ilana was the one who gave the order to burn it because “someone else has been using it”…and then she knew that Locke Monster was stuck in Locke’s body. So maybe there’s a connection?

7) Did we ever actually see Kate leave New Otherton and head back to the temple, or did we just see her packing her bag and preparing to leave? Any chance she hung around…and then tailed Sawyer and Locke Monster through the jungle?

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9 responses

17 02 2010
Jachel Ray

1. Thank you for using the word “douche”

2. I LOVE BEN AS A CRANKY TEACHER!

3. Please stop noticing Sawyer’s undies. Thank you.

18 02 2010
tylercharles

Jachel,

1) Don’t thank me. Thank Hurley.

2) WHY ALL CAPS? WHY?

3) Don’t tell me you didn’t notice his dirty drawers. For the others on the island, I realize their means are limited. But Sawyer is sitting in his own house. He should have a drawer full of clean drawers in there…

18 02 2010
Todd Hertz

If you like the word Douche, you need to go find Jorge Garcia’s audio blog, Geronimo Jack’s Beard. This week, they talk about how Hurley introduced Jorge to that word.

And besides, the podcast is pretty fun: Jorge and his GF go through the script before shooting starts and evaluate it.

18 02 2010
mamaK

A great episode and we almost missed it! Problem with satellite, had to watch on small tv in kitchen and couldn’t record or pause–and picture kept breaking up, so lucky to see it at all!

I voted for the rocks/names & numbers as most intriguing because they have always seemed to be working off a list as people were drawn to the island and I am anxious to learn the truth of that — but like you, I don’t think we’re getting that from Locke/Monster.

My thoughts on the boy (besides that he is also intriguing!) are that it is Jacob appearing as someone Locke/Monster “loved but lost” and so was startled to see him. Since the boy was spouting rules of the game (that seems to be eternal no matter who dies) it seemed like a conversation common to Jacob and whoever-he-really-is-Locke. Since Richard is the only other “eternal” character we know of now, it seemed odd that he did not see the boy and then odd that no-nonsense Sawyer did see him. Perhaps this makes Sawyer a leading candidate…!

I agree that there will be more about Jacob’s ashes. The obvious thought that I had was the tie in to the ash circle that had protected his cabin and now the temple and now Jacob has become the ash. (Christ figure? We are saved by His blood; Jacob’s death/ashes have power to protect? Am I stretching?)

As for Sawyer I will just say it is hard to con a Con. I am not persuaded yet that he has chosen sides or is buying what Locke/Monster is selling. L/M is so obviously manipulative! I loved him telling Richard “I would have treated you with respect” when a few minutes earlier he had punched him in the throat! (Liars always expect that their words can override their actions!)

Another great line from Locke/Monster was real-Locke’s old line “don’t tell me what I can’t do”! (O’Quinn got to say it as both characters in this episode–what a work-out he had!) As far as L/M just wanting to go home…has he ever said off the island? Was the temple/rule of the island his in the past?

We seem to get answers, but they always bring new questions! Locke/Monster is trapped. Richard was in chains. Jacob is dead. Remember when we thought the main game players were Ben and Penny’s dad? (name escapes me–it’s late!)
I can’t wait for the ending and yet will hate to see it end!

Thank you for the episode title explanation–I hadn’t even thought about the title once the show got going! I agree with you that the sideways stories are fun, just because we love seeing our characters in somewhat happier circumstances–and it doesn’t seem to be interfering with life on the island!

18 02 2010
mamaK

Widmore!! I hate it when I can’t remember something until I don’t need it!

18 02 2010
Todd Hertz

You are not crazy (well, not about this): The Substitute was the first great episode of this season.

But I do disagree on this: “I’m beginning to think that nothing in this sideways reality matters very much…that the sideways reality isn’t all that significant after all…” These stories are not just fun glimpses of what could have been or showing us old friends. There’s a purpose. I can’t say I know it 🙂 But there is something going on here. For one, we see a new John Locke here. Yes, a lot is the same. But so much is different. This is a Locke who hates his limitations but for the first time embraces them and says, “This is who I am. No more wishing for who I am not.” Also, he has a different view of destiny and miracles. Why is this important? I don’t yet. But I trust.

Maybe it has to do with the exploration the writers are doing on two fronts: 1) We see that whatever caused this reality had far reaching effects. Is it to show consequences of action? Maybe. Is it to show how Jacob has (adversely or positively) changed their lives? Maybe. 2) We are seeing the capacity of every individual for good or evil. Take Ben for instance. And I theorize Sawyer will be VERY different as well. I think we are seeing a undercurrent theme about how every individual can take the same basic ingredients of their lives and choose good or evil. Choose different paths.

I am calling it now: The boy is Jacob. But not a risen pheonix Jacob. It’s the dead Jacob haunting the Locke-ness Monster for what he did and keeping tabs. I believe they knew each other as boys (maybe brothers?) and so this is how he’s appearing. I am making this conjecture based on: 1) The bloody vision of him and 2) the kid looked so stinking like Jacob. 🙂 But yes, Jacob did voluntarily die and will rise…(Yes, MamaK, the Christ allusion is not lost on me either.)

I have some number thoughts. I might do a CT blog on it. But here’s the nutshell: Seeing Shepard as 23 got me thinking. Psalm 23: “The lord is my SHEPHERD.” Ok, that is easy. DO all these refer to the respective Psalms? It’s a stretch but there are some connections. Reyes means “king.” Psalms 8 is about the majestic God making man ruler over God’s creation. Sayid’s number is 16. That Psalm is all about eternal life, something Sayid is all about right now. And it includes the verse about being no good thing. Sounds like Sayid, right? The others are a bit tougher. Still working on them.

I am so glad you are also reading the Locke-ness Monster as being so manipulative and deceiving. I keep running into people convinced he’s gonna end up being the good guy. I say, “No way.” We’ve seen too much bad out of that guy.

I like your idea that burning the cabin trapped MIB in Locke. But I think it may be simpler than that. I think that what he did–taking Locke’s body–is supremely unnatural. A one time thing. That’s the loophole. He did it and that’s it. But what about Smokey appearing as the other dead people, you ask? I think that’s different. I think every other dead person has been their own body corrupted by darkness…not Smokey taking their form.

18 02 2010
tylercharles

Todd,

Regarding the sideways reality, ultimately, I do think it’s significant. I guess I was just trying to say I feel like the writers have lulled me into a passive acceptance of it, where I sit back and say things like, “That was fun.” But I do feel like they’ll surprise us at some point by showing us the significance.

And I’m glad you agree with me about Locke Monster being bad. Although, I’ve always hated the labels “good” and “bad” in Lost, because the Losties and the Others (for example) all do bad things; it’s just a matter of perspective…and yet, if one character seemingly personifies evil, it’s Locke Monster.

I like your take on Locke Monster being trapped because his decision to take Locke’s body was a one-time-supremely-unnatural-loophole thing (Locke Monster to Jacob: “And you have no idea what I went through to do it…”).

Also, we’re in agreement about the other “possessed” (or infected or whatever) characters not being controlled by the Smoke Monster. After the last episode, I told my wife that I no longer thought Claire was being controlled by Locke Monster. Consumed by “darkness”? Maybe. But by smokey? I don’t think so.

Actually, I think the Smoke Monster did take the shape of Yemi (and probably Christian Shephard), but I don’t think he embodied them the way we’ve seen with Locke. There’s a different force involved, I think, but I’m still a little confused about how it all works.

18 02 2010
Mary Bellus

Ty-Ty, why were you spending so much time looking at Sawyer’s “drawers area”???– stop that.

Some random thoughts:

I agree that this was the best episode so far–I loved it!! Fake Locke gave me such a creepy Satan vibe that I was actually scared when I went to bed Tuesday night (yes, I CAN be scared, and I can even admit it–Stop judging).

I think Richard knows more than he lets on. I don’t know why, I just have that feeling. When I think back to his exchange with Fake Locke after he came out of that contraption in the trees–it seems to me that he asks questions to feel people out. I don’t know.

I think now that Jacob is dead Richard will start to age (maybe that’s obvious, I don’t know).

I’ve never seen Richard so afraid, freaked out, flustered. He was always the perfectly calm and put-together one (maybe that’s because he didn’t age).

And I can’t figure out why he was loitering around in those bushes instead of high-tailing it to the Temple. Weird. Maybe he has some, ahem, business there first–MIB did scare him quite a bit (sorry).

I definitely think Sawyer is conning Fake Locke, and I like what you said at the end about Kate possibly following them–that is so like her.

I don’t know why, but the boy’s bloody arms reminded me of Walt appearing to Shannon all drenched in water. What does that mean though? I don’t know.

Well, those are my thoughts for now. Great post!!

21 02 2010
Peggy

I would have never noticed Sawyers drawers if you had not said anything.

I thought it was interesting that Sawyer said Lock monster is not afraid of anything, but he was apparently afraid of the boy. Also, if someone has “blood on their hands” it can mean that he took part in some kind of murder or slaughter. I think that the boy may be the man in black as a boy. And I wonder if dead Jacob could be able to disquise himself to represent MIB’s past.

Also, You talked about good vs. evil, but there has been so much through out all the seasons about what I would call fate vs. free will. Do you think this could be part of what may be played out in the end?

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