Friday, May 9, 2008


John Locke always knew he was special. It's just that it didn't seem like being special was such a good thing to be. He was specially misunderstood.

Specially unpopular.

And specially unwanted.


He just wasn't a regular sort of guy. He wanted to be the kind of guy who liked boxing and fishing and cars and sports, but try as he might to deny it, he was always the kind of guy who liked....


Our culture can be hard on boys. There's not a lot of slack for those who fall short in the manly rituals of initiation. So it was easy to sympathize with young John's stubborn refusal to embrace his preordained destiny as a nerd.

He didn't want to go to Mittelos Science Camp because he did not plan on becoming a Man of Science when he grew up. His mind was still stuck in the rut of traditional boyhood dreams, however illfitting they were in his case.

John resisted the destiny he was born to fulfill . But maybe that was because the advertising was so uninspired.

Someone should have sat him down and told him a story to get him fired up. They should have told him the oldest story in the mythos of mankind...The Birth of the Hero.

In Western mythology, it always comes back to the same thing. The hero. First he must be born.

Preferably to a young, sweet maiden.

In many myths, the hero has no earthly father. Jesus was one such. And not to be sacriligious in our cultural associations, but Anakin Skywalker was another. That prick Anthony Cooper was a genetic match for purposes of organ donation, but are we absolutely certain that he was the older man who fathered Emily Locke's child?

It's possible the daddy may have been even older than Grandma Locke could possibly have imagined. In any case, we saw that this birth was not an accident.

Divine intervention played a hand. From the start the very special baby thrived despite impossible odds. The man who found resurrection by crashing in an airplane started life as the youngest preemie his 1950s hospital had ever seen survive. Which is not to say he lived any kind of charmed life.

Like so many heros, the earthly father Locke eventually came to know was a dirty rotten bastard. Who tried to kill him. And who he arranged, with mythic deviousness, to have murdered by another fatherless son.

Ever since Zeus stopped his father Chronus from cannibalizing his own children, the age old competition of father and son has shaped the story of men.

Like Moses or Oedipus or Luke Skywalker, the mythic baby is often sent away immediately after birth to protect him from the wrath of the evil father figure. Even if the father himself is not a villain, the hero may still need to be sent away in order to survive.

Like Kal El being sent off into space in his intergalactic incubator, little John Locke was set adrift at birth to fend for himself and find his destiny.

Once set adrift, orphaned, the hero child is raised by surrogates. It seems to be a critical ingredient for heroic stature that one not be raised by one's own ma and pa.

You can run down the list from Oedipus to Moses to Clark Kent all the way through Peter Parker and Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter, and the one thing many of the great superheroes have in common is that, like little Johnny Locke...

...they were all raised by another.

You know, when you look at it this way, it starts to seem like maybe crazy old Locke knew what he was talking about when he said that he was special.

Who looks outside, dreams
Who looks inside, awakens.
- Carl Jung

Locke, as we know, is prone to interesting dreams.

Jung thought that, in dreams, each person creates their own personal mythology. Using the archetypes of our own unconscious, dreams tell us the stories of ourselves. But where do the characters come from? How does Locke, for instance, dream of Horace Goodspeed - a man he had never met?

Horace returned through time to guide Locke to his destination - to Jacob, who has been waiting such a long time for the Chosen One to arrive. In the illogic of dreams, Horace seemed trapped in a broken loop of time. He cut down a tree, only to find the tree still standing. His nose bleed reminded us of the way he and Ben's other victims died in his genocidal coup

but also reminds us of the sickness that infests the freighter

and of the way Desmond's nose reacted to his recent tangle with the wrinkle in time.

The nosebleed in the dream was an example of the way our own unique dream motifs are larger than our own unique consciousness. The archetypes of dreams share a commonality that spills across our individual experience and break through the limits of our individual knowledge. They are evidence of the collective unconscious we share with all humanity, where the shadow world beyond this waking dream has messages to tell us, if only we can be made to listen.

"So, sailor, don't spite me, don't be sparing with the shifiting sands,
grant instead a little to my unburied bones and skull"
- Horace

Horace the Ghost came to push Locke with goodspeed on his way to Jacob.

In the collective unconscious, as described by Jung, dreams have been known to predict future events. How can that be possible? How can the sleeping mind know of things that haven't happened yet?

How did little Locke know about the smoke monster on the Island he wouldn't visit for another forty years? This is the kind of myth where Time is a magical power. With the illogic of a dream, a man can be killed

long after he has already washed up dead on shore.

Perhaps the Island is surrounded by a kind of zone that refracts time in much the same way that our atmosphere refracts light when looking through a telescope. Doc Ray's body, once thrown into the sea, may have drifted willy nilly through the zone of time refraction, missing the one true course of 305 that would have kept his death and murder in its proper consecutive alignment. The pseudo scientific teases in this story can keep theorists busy for hours, I'm sure, but really only one thing was clear to me about the mystery ship of very manly men:

It's a waking nightmare.

I have no idea why Sayid was rushing off to bring any more poor schmucks back to be terrorized there

nor why Desmond thought he'd ever find his way to Penny by staying behind on a ship of such relentless death.

In Buddhism, death has a different meaning than it has in Western religions. Life does not end, but only changes form. There is no need to cling to any fixed point in time. Or in space.

When it's time
I move my hermitage and go,
And there's nothing
To be left behind
- Layman P'ang

Jacob is a nomad. He can pack up his little grass shack any time he wants and wander off into the mystical ether any time he gets restless. This week, however, Jacob stayed put for a little while. He had some houseguests.

Christian Shephard was looking very much at home in Jacob's shabby digs. He shed the funeral suit and was kicking back in his casual duds, looking more relaxed and at home than we'd ever seen him. It seems he speaks for Jacob these days. Apparently he's like his agent or something.

The sight of Christian looking so mischievous also served as a reminder of how often this dude has been spotted at the scene of the crime. He's had an influence on more than a few of the people who ended up on Flight 815. There's Jack, of course, who went to Australia to haul his dad's drunk ass home one last time. Christian also steered Ana Lucia to her fatal destiny by hiring her as bodyguard for his Australian drinking tour.

And Sawyer might never have found his destiny in murder if not for Christian's well lubricated encouragement.

All this time we thought Christian was a hopeless alcoholic, when maybe it was all an occupational hazard of his job as mystical recruiter. Now he's trying to make up for lost time with his neglected little girl Claire, by bringing her over to the dark side for some tea and crumpets. It's not entirely clear whether Claire's being "with him" means she died when her house exploded - though the sight of another one of her symbolic "houses" being destroyed was not a good omen

- and she did have a certain surreal serenity about her.

What a girl won't do to get a break from all those dirty diapers. Death seems to have put Claire's by-bee completely out of sight, out of mind. Perhaps she's not worried because she's seen the light of Aaron's own mythical destiny and understands that, at that moment, her son is exactly where he's supposed to be.

There must have been a reason that Locke was the one invited to this macabre Shephard family reunion. In this episode, Locke finally had all his hunches about himself confirmed. He has not been chosen. He has been found.

You refer to the prophecy of the one who will bring balance to the Force.
You believe it's this...boy?

When the Dalai Lama dies, a ritual is performed wherein one of his possessions is presented along with other objects to the child suspected of being his reincarnation. The child is found to be the reincarnation of the lama if he chooses the correct item out of the selection he's presented with.

In a clever reinterpretation of that ritual, Richard came to the home of little sad sack Johnny to measure his midi chlorian count. The boy didn't so much as look at the baseball glove that any other six year old would likely glom right on to. He picked up the vial of sand (or volcanic ash?) first

- the symbol of the island whose destiny he shared. He considered the compass

- a symbol of exploration, like the explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton

that the teenage Locke had hanging in his locker, and a reminder as well of the geomagnetic anomalies that make our beloved island what it is. He pondered the Book of Laws,

which Eko would one day use as a teaching story and which was revealed as a vessel of discovery for more of the Island's secrets,

but he did not pick it up. And we can't really say if he felt any pull to the comic book,

but it was easy to see that he was drawn inexorably to the power of the knife. The symbol of manhood

at its most brutal.

Like many fatherless boys, John confused machismo with manhood ... and, in doing so, he failed his first test.

Richard left in a huff of disappointment. Locke's career as a professional failure had begun.

Not knowing how close the truth is,
We seek it far away
-what a pity!
- Hakuin Ekaku Zenji

Locke resisted his destiny as long as he could. He spurned the advances of the Island whenever it tried to reach out to him over the course of his life. Trying to be the kind of man he was not, Locke hit rock bottom when he became no kind of man at all.

However, as we've seen before, spectral messengers have a way of catching Locke before he falls into any permanent pit of despair.

It turns out Christian wasn't the only recruiter out there cherry picking passengers for the mythical Flight 815.

Echoing the poster on the wall behind them, Matthew Abaddon appeared in Locke's life to get him back into the Game. It was Abaddon that planted the idea of a walkabout in Locke's mind, another mythic ritual of manhood, and the one that would end up sealing Locke's heroic fate.

Jacob was another mythical figure who dreamed of climbing things.

Much is made of the fact that the names John, Jack and James are all derivatives of the name Jacob. Very fittingly, Jacob is also the name of one of literature's most famous ghosts, Jacob Marley, who sent poor Scrooge's head spinning all those Christmases ago. But Jacob was also the Biblical twin who usurped his brother's birthright.

Ben and Locke may not be brothers, but both are sons of blond Emilys and both were left motherless at birth. Like Jacob's brother Esau, Ben saw his status as Chosen One disappearing before his eyes.

He gave way gracefully to Locke - who, for the moment at least, is Destiny's favorite child. Ben was very gracious about this whole business, but since this is Ben we're talking about, that's a huge tip off that he's got something up his sleeve.

We know that in the near future, Ben will still be vying with Widmore for control of the magical Island.

We know that Widmore is Dharma, or whatever Dharma has become, and that this Ship of Death that is drifting in the Sea of Time belongs to him. We know that the bad guys are coming back.

We know that Frank Lapidus, one of the good guys, has dropped a phone letting the beach gang know where the plane is headed - probably to make sure they stay as far away from it as possible.

And it looks like Dr. Dumbo is still just as stupid after his appendectomy as he was before it, and is going to gallop with his gullible flock of sheep right into their trap.

But it won't matter what Jack and his magical disappearing appendix end up doing. He isn't in charge of anything any more, if in fact he ever was. The only Force that matters any longer is The Island. The Island has chosen who it wants. Who it needs to protect it. The Island decides who can die

and who can't.

Ben came to the calm realization that the Island was never going to let him kill Locke.

It didn't let Jack murder him in a pique of temper either.

The Island will protect the hero it needs. Now it's up to The Chosen One to face his first Challenge. There is a disturbance in the Force. The hero's task is simple: Move the Island. Maybe the Island wants to jump Galactica-style through Space. Or maybe it's looking to hop into a wormhole and travel through Time instead. Either way, it's time for The Chosen One to start earning his keep.

There's no time to lose, Hero. Godspeed.


lyly ford said...

awesome review !!!!!!!!!!
i loved that :)
thank you so much for that fish *hug*

Anonymous said...

Great. I love all the little parallels you find and I always miss, Fish. Like, Jack's gunshot not going off on Locke.
Loved the names analysis and how Pivotal Christian is in so many people's lives. Awesome read and a great episode.


Anonymous said...

I.AM.SPEECHLESS.And really moved. Incredible review Fish, thank you.


Anonymous said...

Each week I think to myself "best review so far" and then another week comes by and you manage to top the last one.

Needless to say, great review!

- Caprica

Anonymous said...

There's no time to lose, Hero. Godspeed.

I loved that last line, and I can't begin to tell you how psyched I am that my beloved Locke is starting to show signs of life again. It certainly hasn't been because he had his brushes with death, but I believe you're right, the island has chosen Locke, for whatever reason, and he has a journey he must fulfill. Yippee!

Nice catch on Claire's symbolic home being destroyed. Also, her choice of words when Locke encountered her, "I'm with him." Not sure if that spells out that she's literally dead, or just able to hang amongst her. Either way, Missy Claire is in the loop. Kate would be so jealous. LOL.

Speaking of Christian, your review gave me a thought. The other day, I commented on your site that perhaps Richard and Abaddon were course correctors like Mrs. Hawkings...but I don't believe that's true. They are of some sort, but not course correctors...recruitors of some such, perhaps. Anyways, I think the reason Christian has been shown to be so prominent in this story is based on him actually being a course corrector, but one who for a very long time did not do what he was meant to do...and ensuring that his children, as well as at least two people, James and Ana Lucia were both in Austrailia so they'd be on that flight 815. I don't know...this all pretty much crazy talk. All the same, great review as always, Fish.


Anonymous said...

I always learn something when I read your reviews. I love it! Wonderful as always!

SockeRock said...

I'm probably the only one who doesn't believe Locke is the Chosen One, or should I say the reincarnation of Jacob, which is what I think Richard is looking for.

If you had been waiting for the Chosen One to show up, wouldn't you be there to greet him, instead of sending a lackey in your place? People also mentioned that Christian was wearing black shoes and last time he was in the cabin he was wearing white. I don't know, I just got a feeling he was playing with Locke.

I guess I have problems with Locke as his lack of humanity and human feelings is on an all-time high. The man is becoming more inhuman than Ben. And this is the second test Locke has failed to become an Other and the Chosen One.

The first one Richard helped him pass by manipulating Sawyer into doing it. Then Locke bagged and tagged Cooper and pretended he actually did it. He then promised the people who followed him that he'd protect them and who was out there protecting them when he was cowering in his cabin when the barracks was attacked? Sawyer, who he let Ben lock outside to be killed. Then he forced Hurley to stay with him, because Doofus couldn't find the cabin himself, and he needed Hurley. Finally, he left Claire in that cabin knowing there's something not right with her, but he doesn't care. He's gotta save the island. He'll thrown anyone on the train tracks for the island.

There's just something not right about Locke being Chosen One. For one thing he can't find the cabin on his own, while Ben knew where it was without needing Hurley or a map to point him in the right direction. Also Jacob was there to greet Ben, and he wasn't for this Chosen One he's been waiting for years for. And there was something smirking and sarcastic about Ghost Christian when he gave Locke his marching orders. Yeah, sure, your the Chosen One.

Locke's repeated history is just when he thinks his ship has come in the rug gets pulled out from under him and I'm praying it happens again. Oh, the glorious irony if the wounded child he manipulated into killing his daddy for him is the real Chosen One.

Yeah, I think it's Sawyer. I've been thinking it when the show suddenly revealed Sawyer's mother's name was Mary, same name as Jesus' mother. Lostpedia claims back in season 1 her name was Brooke, although the show denies it. Also, James comes from the Hebrew name Jacob and Jesus was to rule over the House of Jacob and John the Baptist was supposed to make ready for him.

Anyway, I want to see Locke get screwed over for the many lives he's played with and treated like nothing for the island.

In regards to killing Locke, the island allowed Ben to shoot Locke, but Locke's freaky healing ability may have been what saved him, not the island. And there was no bullets in Locke's gun when Jack tried to kill him. Not really proof the island is protecting Locke.

Now that the Widmore connection has been revealed, I think it was Widmore who made sure Locke got to the island, and Locke will ultimately team up with Widmore and help him get to the island.

I know Locke was supposed to be redeemed, but so far I haven't seen any kind of redemption for this man. His lack of loyalty to people who tried to care for him just continues to grow.

Anonymous said...

love it. made me laugh hard enough that i was glad i wasnt drinking/eating while reading it (computer might not have made through it).

however, why pick someone from the cleveland browns to put locke's head on (please forgive me, but i'm a pittsburgher). could have picked someone from a better team.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. Your reviews make watching a great show even greater! Keep up the excellent work.

ebbhead said...

Brilliant review. First of yours I've read. Glad someone sent me a link.

I've been toying with this idea of Locke and Ben and their similarities that plays off your hero idea. The Boys from Brazil movie - where evil Nazi scientists try to recreate Hitler by emplanting embryoes with his DNA and recreating the situations of his life. An abusive father who dies early on, etc. And here we have Locke and Ben - both born to Emilies, both born premie at 6 months, both encouraged/recruited by Alpert to save the island, both killed/had killed their fathers, etc.

Is there more going on behind the scenes to shape Ben and Locke to rule the island. Destiny or manipulation?

Anonymous said...

Esau was a hairy man, but Jacob was a smooth man. Locke had to lose his hair to fulfill his destiny!
I found your blog last week and have been looking forward to seeing what you'd say about this episode. Your commentary is very interesting and shows impressive general knowledge!

Anonymous said...

Wow, another great recap!! Yay!

I love how Locke is totally the hero and savior. I thought that from day one, but its great how the show is following the epic story line of the "Hero" through Locke.

And I LOVE how you can get a bit of Jack hate into whatever you do. Props. He's such an idiot. lolz.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I came to your blog last week, and this review? Totally blew me away!

Locke has always been my favourite character and I have stuck by him this season when it seems like he is loosing everything and not many fans like him. This? The explanation of the hero, it totally makes sense!

Again I say, I am blown away and can't wait to read what you have to say about this weeks!

Anonymous said...

Aww, come on. You used a movie poster for a Chinese emperor to begin a comparison to His Holiness? That's harsh, considering today's events. You do know there are several films about the Dalai Lama you could have 'shooped, right?

I think I'd like your reviews a lot more if they didn't constantly bash Jack. It's enough to disagree with a character's methods, but you guys act as if he is the devil incarnate. Everyone on the show has made bad decisions. Locke has put people in countless dangers, but ohhh he's a big hero. When Jack's in the same situation, you vilify him. I think your weekly reviews are very well-thought out and thought-provoking. I do not like the constant Jack/Jate bashing. It's just unfortunate that you hold Sawyer up to this perfect light and make Jack look like a jerk. Other than that, it would be a great site.