Such is the case with last week's The Substitute.
Having watched Lost from the very beginning, and having seen each episode twice (at least), I say with certainty...The Substitute ranks in my top five favorite episodes of the past five years. It's generally a given that any Locke-centric hour will be exemplary. Season 1's brilliant Walkabout, in which we gather that prior to flight 815, John Locke was confined to a wheelchair. (That show closing image of his chair, illuminated by the fire on the beach? Genius.) Or how 'bout Season 3's The Man from Tallahassee, when we learned the reason for Locke's wheelchair captivity:
But as delicious as Locke-based episodes are, they're also rather difficult to digest. While watching The Substitute, three points plagued me:
1. The "reveal" of the numbers.
More specifically, that "Shephard" (Jack? Christian? Claire?) was written next to "23."
Psalm 23? "The Lord is my shepherd."
It's honestly the very first thought I had upon seeing that name & number together.
(I'm a Bible college graduate--work with me here!)
2. "Jacob's" ladder.
Both the Biblical reference (Genesis 28)
and the song by Huey Lewis,
which I sang all night long after seeing this scene.
(Also...I was relieved Sawyer didn't plummet to his death. Whew!)
In the Bible, Jacob's ladder represents the ladder between Heaven and earth,
It has also been interpreted by scholars to be
the manner in which angels descended Heaven for earth.
Angels. Heaven. Earth. Good. Evil. White. Black.
See how my mind works?
3. In Locke's alterna-timeline, he is actually with his lady love.
Helen (yay, it's Helen!) was wearing a t-shirt which read "Peace & Karma."
Peace and karma, people.
I immediately texted Cara with, "Her shirt reads 'karma!'"
Cara's reply? "Awesome."
With these three bullet points--the number 23, the ladder, and karma--I attempted to suss out their underlying meanings. The spiritual aspect? Mythological? Relevance to our story?
This is Lost, y'all. Nothing is coincidence, and everything is steeped in myth, literature, psychology, religion, and pathos.
This morning the great Doc Jensen, of Entertainment Weekly, and the world's greatest Lost susser (in my estimation, at least) posted part two of his thoughts on The Substitute. He mentioned Huey Lewis, and I started singing again..."Step by step, rung by rung..." He also mentioned Severus Snape, my most favorite character from the Harry Potter series. And I had a "VOILA!" moment.
I highly recommend you taking a few minutes--ok, 20--to read Jensen's post. It's available here.
Honestly, I found myself nodding along, muttering, "whoa!' and "dude--he's a genius," while reading.
Also, let's discuss a few particulars of The Substitute:
Why is James "Sawyer" Ford
so smokin' hot in plain ol', Dharma-issued boxers & a wife beater?
Buzzed on Dharma whiskey, no less.
Why is Ilana scrounging around Jacob's ashes?
The following day (February 17) was Ash Wednesday, in our 2010 timeline.
I'm certain that was a rare coincidence, but still.
What is the significance of the ashes?
Creepy Child Alert, Creepy Child Alert!
(The Shining has ruined me forever. Creepy kids. Yeesh.)
Back to our show...
who was the creepy, blood-covered child? I've read many theories, including Jacob (reborn?), Aaron (aged), and Sawyer (???). Creepy child warns Flocke (Fake Locke, that is), "You know the rules, you can't kill him..."
Say whaaaaat? Can't kill whom? Jacob? Richard? Sawyer? Vincent?
Where is that dog? And Rose and Bernard, for that matter? '
Let's discuss. What jumped out at you while watching this episode? Did you love it as much as me? Are you satisfied with Flocke's "explanation" of the numbers? (I'm not.) Why was Kate's name not visible on Jacob's cave wall? Do you want to see Sawyer in his skivvies again? (Please. Of course you do.)
Homework before tonight's episode: seriously, go read Doc Jensen's brilliance.
That is all.
that is not all.
I forgot to mention my most favorite moment of this episode: