"The Substitute"

JANUARY 22, 2011


I can't recall how long they kept it up for, but one of the things I liked about S6 was that it was following the "order" of the first season with regards to which character it focused on. So like "Walkabout" was the 4th hour (3rd airing) of the first season, following a Kate episode, "The Substitute" is the 4th hour of Season Six, following yesterday's "What Kate Does". The episodes aren't as GOOD, sadly, but it's a nice little reference of sorts for people who can remember such things.

One thing I noticed about the "flash sideways" version of Locke this time around - he's got more of a sense of humor about his condition. When he falls out of the chair early on, and then the sprinkler system turns on, he almost laughs at the absurdity - the old Locke would have started screaming or hitting shit. Power of Katey Sagal I guess, who returns after a lengthy absence. It's also one of those things that sort of makes me wonder if they knew that these flashes were indeed part of the afterlife, because again - how complicated is this "waiting room"? And besides, wouldn't Locke consider Helen (who doesn't go to Lost Heaven, for the record) a more important part of his life than fucking around on the Island? Just doesn't add up.

The episode is also Dogen/Lennon free, making it the least annoying episode of the season thus far. I particularly love how drunken Sawyer instantly recognizes what no one else has been able to for the past week or so (how long was S5 in Lost-time? Lostpedia stopped keeping track) - that Locke isn't Locke. In fact Sawyer himself didn't pick up on it during their brief encounters last season, so maybe Dharma whiskey has some sort of vitamins in it that improves your perception? Or it's just another example of a character completely changing his demeanor once the audience knows what he technically should have known all along. I'm currently being bugged by this sort of nonsense on Supernatural too (spoilers!), where we learn that Sam no longer has a soul, and then he began acting like Chip from Not Quite Human, failing to understand basic sarcasm and such.

The highlight of the episode is of course the big reveal, that Jacob had pegged six of our heroes as possible replacements some time ago (and of course Jack would be #23, though Hurley would have made more sense - and it would have made Dave's joke about Leonard from "Dave" even funnier). I wish they had dwelled on a few of the crossed out names a bit more, however - we see a ton of names but none of them are really legible. I would have applauded seeing "Arzt" up there. They could have worked in a good Scott/Steve joke too. But as goofy as it is, I like the idea that it really was pre-determined that all of these people would end up on the Island, and perhaps it was just coincidence or an amazing stroke of luck that they ended up arriving at the same time; if Desmond or any of the Freighter Folk were candidates, the concept would be less hard to swallow I think, but we don't get to see any of the other names.

The episode also offers one of the best one-two laughs in the show's history, when Ben gives his wonderfully awful 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", followed by Frank's response ("Weirdest damn funeral I've ever been to."). Good ol' Frank. It's weird that Jeff Fahey was finally added to the main cast (the other freighter folks were added right away) for the 6th season when he barely had any screentime or anything of significance to do until the very end of it, but at least it was a sort of "guarantee" that he would be around for a while.

Where are we?

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