Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Substitute

The beauty of contributing to a Lost blog is being able to write about a show in which we're completely impassioned. The beast of contributing to a Lost blog is being so flummoxed in regard to a particular episode that, despite our best efforts and intentions, a general recap sometimes falls short.

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:
Like most, I gasped loudly upon seeing Anthony Cooper shove his son out of the window.

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."

Awesome, indeed.

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.
Have mercy!

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!

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:
Mr. Ben Linus, teacher of European history.
Best. Ever.


Ashton Dene' said...

A1. I really want to see Sawyer in the sideways universe. (not really relevant to the episode, but I know you'll understand)
B2. I want to know more about the cave. The scales of Justice with the rocks, the numbers, Kate's missing name, the ladder. I just want to know more now.
C3. I loved Locke in this episode in Sideways, and him meeting Ben. It was so odd to see him be happy but not a man of faith. I felt like part of him was missing.
D4. great recap, I'm off to read the doc's article.

x, ash

Karen said...

Okay, I seriously think I was more in shock over seeing Ben as a teacher than I was over seeing Helen and John cohabitating and talking wedding plans.

And I loved that whole 23-Shepherd thing.

And I wondered about Kate, too. I think she's up there and we just didn't see her.

Are there 108 names?

Kat said...

I love this. I love that you focused in on what we really need to suss!!

Okay...this is what I am pondering...and what I have yet to see in the ponderings of the other LOST bloggers:

I had thought that in the alternate universe Desmond probably didn't marry Penny because Widmore would have died on the island. I would have thought that Ben would have died on the island since he was recovering in Richard's tent when the Jughead went off.

But this is not what happened. Was Ben ever on the island? Did his mother die when he was born? I don't think that all that happened up to the original crash of 815 is what happened. They have been laying the ground work with Hurley now being lucky. Maybe Jin and Sun aren't married. And is Sawyer a con man? Is Anthony Cooper a con man? One would think he did not push Locke out the window since he would come to the wedding - and that Locke has a picture of him at his desk.

But...this is what really has me perplexed:
Last season, when Sun and Lapidus go to the barracks, it's as if the others had never been there. It is like the dharma group was the last one there - with the recruitment signs and the pictures still up. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

Were they the last ones there because the Jughead made it as if Jacob and the others had never existed??

Maybe this is a post unto itself?? :-)

Mama Bee said...

The thing that I noticed is that, if you take the names we DID see, it's only the DUDES! No Kate, No Sun (if you assume their last name stands for Jin), No Claire...

So why is the island sexist, huh?! ;)

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I loved it when UnLocke threw the white rock out of the cave into the ocean.

This was a great episode, and I too was mouth agape when Ben Linus showed up as the history teacher. Craziness!!!

Melissa said...

I loved that they didn't sugar coat how depressed our bereaved James was. He didn't even get up to go to the bathroom. Did you notice that his pants looked soiled? Gross, but raw, and for that, I love The Darlton Duo. Such attention to detail.

I dont' know what's wrong with me, Lula. I just don't pick up on all these biblical inferences. You are good girl. Oh yes, you are good.

Kristen said...

Totally with you on the Psalm 23- "Shepard" connection. Coincidence? I think not.

Doc Jensen is my hero. I read every. single. word. and then blast Hot Chocolate's You Sexy Thing really loud in honor of him. Because his Lost mind? A miracle. And sexy.

This was an awesome episode. As all Locke-centric 'sodes are. I don't believe unLocke about really anything he said in the cave, thought the ladder scene had some serious significance, am intrigued by just WHO that scary little boy is - so many saying Aaron - interesting...

I was all over that t-shirt too. It's the little things like that, bringing me joy.

What are your thoughts on the Cain & Abel theory going around?

michelle said...

First, Terry O'Quinn (is that his name?) is brilliant. Doesn't have to say a word and his face says depressed defeated paraplegic or "you ain't Locke cause you ain't scared". He's awesome.

My kids say the numbers in the cave are the Hurley/Hatch/save the world numbers.

I'm thinking the island is sexist, too. harumph. but I still love it

CaraBee said...

Remembering that there were ash circles that protected the cabin and Bram. Perhaps she is collecting some to use for this purpose?

Alternately, what if this is a phoenix from the ashes situation. Ilana will use them to bring Jacob back. Or allow him to come back.

Here's my thought: for MiB/Flocke to get off the island, whatever that means, he has to assign a successor. But the successor must take the position of his own free will. And those candidates that were pre-determined must be given freedom to make their decision. He can influence, cajole, threaten, whathaveyou, but he can't force. Which is why he can't kill Sawyer. I think the bloody kid is Jacob reminding him of the rules. Established by whom? Tough to say.

Kelly Deneen said...

Ooo maybe the ash is for an ash circle. I thought it was odd too.

And I agree on the creepy child thing! I was thinking it was child Locke, but now you have me thinking again.

Loved this episode too. The numbers thing really got to me. Was bummed that Kate's name was not in the cave though.