THE LAST TEMPTATION OF LOCKE
Locke has died.
Locke has risen.
Locke will live again.
Don't ask me how, but that seems to be the size of it. When Ilana said there was a man standing in the water in a suit, the first picture that popped into my mind was Locke's casketed proxy, spooky old Christian Shephard.
Although, the first look we got of shrouded Locke on the beach,
I kind of thought he looked more like....
Unlike Christian, Locke appeared to be entirely corporeal. In fact I have to say, Baldy was looking mahvelous. Especially considering the grinder he'd just been through. One thing's for sure, no one can ever say Locke isn't special after the long strange trip he took in this episode.
Say what you will about Locke, but this man knows how to follow directions. Told by creepy Chris to move heaven and earth, with his big bloody fibula sticking out, Locke just manned up and pushed the damn wheel. He landed at "The Exit", the place where the Dharma wheel discharges its passengers through its vile vortex. He assumed the position in which all Lost time travelers fall from the sky,
and was scooped up by the Sand People in the dark of the Tatooine night.
There he was tortured...er, I mean, healed...by the doctors at the Tunisian clinic.
At least we found out where the Others sent their doctors to med school.
When he woke up, Widmore, his newest old friend, was there with marching orders.
Widmore uttered the hypnotic trigger phrase - "You are feeling very special, John" - and our intrepid Popeye was all set to go one more round in the predestination boxing ring. In an episode that sometimes felt like a seminar in Biblical Metaphor, Widmore needed Locke to return to the Island for A WAR...yup, another one....and from the sound of it, this sounds like it might be the big one. Island Armageddon. Maybe this will be the holocaust when Jughead finally blows his top. With all the apocalyptic bell ringing, it's interesting to learn that The Book of Revelation is also known as The Revelation to John, because it was the account of the visions St. John received, while stranded on an island.
To accompany him on the first part of his journey, another old friend fell out of the sky. On a show filled with loaded names, Abaddon's is one of the most inscrutable. He is named in Revelations 9:11 (yikes!) as "the angel of the bottomless pit". So it's hard to say whether he's a goodie or a baddie. Angel = good. You know, maybe. But bottomless pit...uh, sounds bad. In any case, Abaddon made his fourth, and perhaps final appearance in this episode, and the way he described himself was as more of a celestial chauffeur. He gets people where they need to go. Even if they don't like what they have to do to get there.
And so Locke was off to locate his good, dear, wonderful old friends, full of hope and optimism that surely they would all welcome him with open arms, overwhelmed by the miracle of his reappearance and the wonder of the tale he had to tell. Right?
Not bloody likely. The Four Horses of Ingratitude instead subjected John to a merciless pounding.
And Sneering Contempt.
I will not have much more to say about these people at this time. Except maybe this:
It wasn't just getting repeatedly kicked in the head by his "friends" that wore John down of course. There was the sad occasion of lying to Tall Walt, who we learned is still having those dreams.
The realization that the one true love was dead. The real kind of dead.
And the loss of his faithful driver, who no doubt needed to be freed up for more important research into paranormal phenomenon.
It was no wonder Locke was ready to end it all. He was like a battered child in a bitter divorce, trapped between My Two Daddies. One Daddy is telling him "Daddy Ben can never be trusted! He stole my home from me. I only had to kill all those people to stop him from hurting you. Come live with me John. I'm the one who sees how special you are."
But the other Daddy was telling him "Daddy Charles is extremely dangerous. He's using you. Look what he made me do, moving a whole island! Come with me John. I'm the one who really loves you."
It's hard to tell who's lying and who's telling the truth. Both Daddies say they've been watching over Locke and his not-friends.
And both Daddies say they only want to keep everybody safe.
Poor Locke. I wanted to wrap him in a blanket and take him to Child Protective Services.
Unriddling the witches brew of good and evil on Lost is never an easy task, but this episode did seem to box Our Two Dads into two fairly well delineated corners. Widmore was the benevolent father, at least this week. He even named his new son. Now back in the day, I spent a good deal of time trying to unravel the reason behind our hero being named after John Locke, 17th century proponent of "tabula rasa",
and then I spent a good deal more time reading up on the undead auto-icon, Jeremy Bentham, 18 century utiliatarian.
So it was nice to learn that, after all that research, the names, as one so often finds on Lost, were...a joke.
So funny I forgot to laugh.
Ben was more than just the Bad Dad in this divorce. Having failed to kill Locke the first time he tried, this time he got the job done. No matter how many pithy lines Michael Emerson manages to wryly deliver in episodes to come, no matter how lovable and endearing the little mouse-man continues to be, it's going to be a hard sell to ever see Ben as a white hat after this episode. Though we've seen stranger things on this show. Hell, on Lost, we forgive murderers all the time! I don't see why Ben shouldn't get at least one more chance. Even if he was the Judas who betrayed our Christ. He waited until he'd gotten the clue he wanted - the identity of the Time Witch, Eloise Hawking - and then strangled Locke with electrical cord. From Angels Hardware. Naturally. That's the only place to shop for all your Resurrection and Reincarnation needs.
There was much deliberate religious imagery in Locke's sui-homi-cide.
Where Satan had tempted Jesus to kill himself, Ben was tempting Locke with the same tricks of self doubt and flattery to not do that desperate deed. And he succeeded.
But then he killed him anyway. Judas's story doesn't end with the betrayal, however. There's a second act to come for Ben Iscariot, and if the metaphor doesn't get mixed again, then he's the one who will end up suffering a lot more than did his victim. Not only by his own eventual suicide (ironically by hanging himself), but by the fires of eternal damnation. Oh, Ben, what have you done?
"In a many dark hour, I've been thinkin' about this. That Jesus Christ was betrayed by a kiss. But I can't think for you. You'll have to decide, whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side." - Bob Dylan
Now, Jesus, unlike Locke, knew who would betray him. He knew that Judas's betrayal was essential to the whole predestined plot of his own death and resurrection. Without Judas to deliver Christ to his executioners, the whole miraculous fable on which Christianity rests could never have taken place. Without Christ's resurrection, mankind would have been condemned to eternal damnation. So, in effect, Judas was as indispensible as Christ was for saving all mankind! So why should Judas burn in hell for all eternity, when without him, there could have been no salvation for anyone?
The story of Judas is not a trivial one. Predestination robbed him of his free will, so the question of his moral culpability is as much a riddle as this one:
“Which creature in the morning goes on four legs, at mid-day on two, and in the evening upon three, and the more legs it has, the weaker it be?”
Locke has certainly tried out all those variations of legged-ness. But perhaps the mystery of the Sphinx has another riddle hidden inside it, one that may be useful in our clue collection. I can't claim credit for finding this connection, having read it in Patrick Kevin Day's column in the LA Times, but I think it works even better in pictures. A nice set of picture clues, he noted, revolved around fields and woods. We were cued into this by the name of Walt's school, Fieldcroft.
The art auction house where Widmore bought The Black Rock painting, Southfield's.
The name of Locke's long lost love, Helen Norwood.
And the place where Locke would (temporarily) meet his maker, Westerfield Hotel.
Only one direction is missing. East. The direction precisely pointed to by the Sphinx of Giza, who loyally guards the Sunrise through the timeless centuries.
And you know, as many times in my life as I've looked at pictures of that thing, I never realized before that its feet have only FOUR freaking toes! Just like someone else we (don't) know.
I have to admit, I have no idea what it means that the four toed Sphinx faces East and that East was the only direction not referenced in the clue collage. But hey, isn't it kind of cool? So I'm adding it to my cheat sheet and getting ready to move on. This episode brought us Pikki V2.0...
...in the persons of the Napoleonic Cesar and his tall lady friend, Ilana, who obviously wasn't really any kind of Marshall escorting Sayid. I am far too exhausted to care about any new characters at this point, but, I'll soldier on anyway and tick off their distinguishing traits. They started off, in typical Lost style, by hiding stuff from each other. Cesar knew to look for a gun under the desk, which means he knew where he would be landing, and he knew not to tell Ilana what he was doing. Is Cesar Widmore's new mole?
We found out that Frank Lapidus, ace pilot, managed to crash land his bird on Alcatraz Island, where a Life magazine subscription apparently had been included in the air drops. What bowl of the time soup are we swimming in this time?
The magazine was from Jughead-era 1954, reminding us about the lurking radioactive time bombs, but I wouldn't say that means we're back in the Fifties. The outrigger canoes on the beach were likely from a more modern era, especially since we already saw them, complete with telltale Ajira water bottle, at the scene of the Losties beach camp. Which means it had to be sometime later than 2004. We know that some of the passengers langoliered out of the plane prior to the crash, most certainly Kate, Hurley, Jack and maybe Sayid as well. And we know that Pilot Frank and "some woman" , no doubt Sun, fled the scene the minute they hit the ground. So we're getting closer to finding out who Juliet shot during the chase scene a few weeks back. I'm guessing Cesar or Ilana turn up with a flesh wound next time we see them.
But let's put the tote boards and the clue decoders away. They were all window dressing to The Passion of the Locke. Humiliated, broken, rejected and abandoned, Locke thought he had suffered a complete and total defeat. But all was not lost. This was how it was all meant to be, how it all must be. In death, Locke has transcended this petty existence. He's here to offer salvation to his people.
"He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." - Matthew 10:39
Now, all we have to do is wait and see how he manages to ascend into heaven.