Two big Lost reveals: The nature of the numbers and the purpose of the castaways
Once again, producers give us an episode with two major revelations packed in enough distracting stuff to raise a few more questions. But there was no denying the power of what they showed us in Tuesday's episode "The Substitute" -- stuff so powerful they did Lost's equivalent of underlining with neon marker.
First, our castaways ARE the show's ubiquitous numbers, assigned them by the island mysterious protector, Jacob. Secondly, our Losties are all apparently candidates to take over Jacob's role -- pushed toward the island at various points in their lives to fit the caretaker's grand plan.
That is, if we can believe the being who is pretending to be John Locke.
(Check our tally of the 15 questions Lost MUST answer by clicking here; my tally says we've got three questions answered and three half answered, which is pretty good, four hours into an 18-hour finale season.)
This was a particularly satisfying episode to experience after last week's running-in-place story, "What Kate Does." It also reinforces a simple theory I've long held about Lost; that the seemingly supporting characters such as Locke and Hurley are way more interesting than the three figures at the series' heart.
Tuesday's episode toggled between Locke's life in the reality where the plane didn't crash -- where he was fired from his job and wound up working for a temp agency owned by Hurley -- and the still-crashed world where Locke is dead and the Smoke Monster/Man in Black is stuck in his form, "recruiting" people to help him get off the island.
It makes a particular form of sense that Smokey/MIB had the most success convincing a despairing Sawyer to join him in this quest, despite a warning from Richard Alpert that Not-Locke planned to kill him (although I'm still not sure why Sawyer was dumb enough to climb on a rickety cliffside ladder right after getting that warning).
I'm also not quite ready to accept the way the series keeps pushing us to see Smokey as the bad guy.
Turns out, Sawyer's momentary cluelessness paid off, as we saw Jacob's work associating each castaway with our hallowed numbers: Kwon at 42, Reyes is 8, Sayid at 16, Jack Shephard at 23, Locke at 4 and Sawyer himself is 15.
But, as is Lost's habit, even this revelation brings more questions. Jacob visited at least one other castaway besides those who were part of the numbers -- Kate. Why didn't we see her number, if she had one? And if she's not a candidate, why was she brought to the island? (NOTE: I changed this graph to correct a mistake I made -- assuming Juliet has been touched by Jacob)READ MORE BY CLICKING BELOW
A few interesting tidbits emerge: MIB is confronted by a small boy who seems to be a young Jacob, telling him "You know the rules. you can't kill him." This tells us a couple of things; that there may be other supernatural beings on the island, and they may have powers similar/equal to Smokey's.
In the non-crash reality, some Losties are doing better than others. Hurley seems to be a successful businessman, while Locke is alive and blessed with a smoking hot fiancee (shout out to way cool Sons of Anarchy star Katey Sagal reprising her long-ago role here), but forced to accept his state as a paraplegic.
But the real kicker was seeing the mix of fact and fiction Linus regularly employs, as he admits to seeing MIB kill a roomful of armed men in the still-crashed timeline -- and eventually admits killing the real Locke -- but tells others that Smokey killed Jacob.
We now know Smokey wants release from the island and he needs help to do it. We also know that he can't force people to provide that help, despite his great power -- which gives him a lot of incentive to use deception and half-truths to get what he wants.
Choice versus destiny remains the series' overarching theme. Can't wait to see what choices Smokey has in store for Sawyer and the rest of our happy group.