Shoot, we're even unsure about certain things to do with MIB/Smokey, because a case can be made (and is being made by some bloggers) that he's the good guy at best, misunderstood and unfairly imprisoned at worst. The sympathetic devil figure is not a new archetype in fiction. From Paradise Lost to Star Wars, we can see how some characters we would label as deeply evil were - at least in their own minds - treated unfairly, view the real cruelty as coming from their opposite side, and are very disenfranchised with rules ("Don't tell me what I can't do!" anyone?). In the end, though, love must rule the day (Voldemort's weakness in the Potter books), and motives must be questioned. We have to delve into what these beings possibly prize - selfishness, revenge, death of others, cheating death. Richard Alpert, even given a second chance to follow Smokey, refuses, and is so convinced of both his aims and his power that he tries to "evangelize" Sawywer... and also runs in a beeline the opposite direction when MIB returns.

So... who ultimately will be our Substitute? Will someone accept or "rise up" to take the role? Will there be "bounteous mercy toward those who believe in The Substitute?" Can't wait to find out!

LOS ANGELES

I knew it! Two weeks ago I wrote that this new-815 Locke had a slightly more gentle confidence about him that smacked of Helen's influence. But his lack of a wedding ring had me second guessing myself. Well duh. He's with Helen alright, and they're engaged! Not only that, but the dominoes that fall into place with every revelation are rather astonishing...

Locke and Helen are together, but... because Locke's father is someone they would invite to the wedding probably means he did not have a role in crippling his son, which means it happened some other way, which means Locke and Helen probably didn't meet at an anger management class, but they obviously still met some other way, which yet again scores a point for Destiny. Locke was always destined to end up in that wheelchair. He was always destined to meet Helen. Every detail is not the same, but the major highlights are. Micro vs. Macro. What has me worried, though, is that original-Locke loses Helen. Is that his destiny again, too? Original Locke also got out of that wheelchair (by landing on the island). So is it his destiny this time around as well to walk again? Helen tore up Jack's business card, but something tells me Locke and Jack will cross paths in LA again...

The question of destiny is even put right in our faces. Helen brings up the word about the "odds" of Locke running into a spinal surgeon, and I'm flashed back to old episodes where Locke and Eko once warned not to mistake coincidence for fate, or vice-versa.

Question: Originally, the Walkabout idea was put in Locke's head by Abaddon. Who put it there this time? Did Locke come up with the idea himself? Why? Did he want to prove something to himself so badly he would risk getting fired and burning the vacation time he had saved for his wedding to do it? Secondarily, I wonder now at the role of Abaddon, who we know worked for Widmore -- were they possibly on Jacob's side all along? If it is true that Jacob pre-ordained, pushed, and prodded to get his candidates to the island, and Abaddon had a direct influence in that happening for Locke the first time, might this be true? Further, if you believe the negative biblical implications of the name Abaddon, and this entity is connected to Jacob, is that another notch for the "Jacob ain't all that good" crowd? Also, was Locke's dad ever a con man? Perhaps he never was "Sawyer," which might explain why the new-815 James Ford is such a happy, smiling dude.

This New Locke

  • Still works at the Tustin box company, Hurley still owns it, Randy is still his boss, still a douche, still calls Locke "Colonel," suggesting Locke still enjoys his role-playing war games at lunch. But...
  • He has a sense of adventure and humor. His wheelchair lift sticks, so he goes for it. Bites it on the lawn, sprinklers come on. Was that a smile?
  • Is not afraid of telling a lie, but neither is he afraid of coming clean with the truth, to a jerk boss or to his fiance.
  • Is not afraid of confrontation when someone has parked in his spot.
  • Is not afraid to strike up conversations with creepy history teachers about their choice of hot beverage.
  • Is not afraid to make a decision, or even give up that decision once made (like with the swatches Helen has him examine)
  • (Here's the biggest one) Is not afraid of rules/constraints that are for his own good or simply true. Oh, he screamed at the Walkabout folks just like before to not tell him what he can't do. But between conversations he has with Helen and Rose, he comes to accept things, admits they were right not to let him go. Does this mean he has abandoned his man of faith stance? Is the suggestion that Locke and Rose find happiness in accepting the way things are a slap in the face of faith and belief (Rose used the words "denial"). Or is it just that faith truly is dangerous or full of denial if placed in the wrong things, and rechanneling to the right things is what brings us to contentment? Locke lets Rose help him get past this and find purpose through "finding you a job you CAN do." And the way Locke performs as a substitute teacher suggests he has found that path. "I don't want you to spend your life waiting for a miracle Helen, because there's no such thing." There are miracles John - and the only thing I was ever waiting for was you. Tears up Jack's card.

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