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It's a Locke-centric episode; at this point, do you really need me to tell you it's a good one? OK, then in this episode we see Richard Alpert actually looking afraid, Ben Linus as a high school European History teacher, and an explanation of the numbers. Hot damn, Lost was in mystery-solving mode tonight, and yet, the more we learn about this SmokeLocke guy, the more mysteries manage to crop up. Funny how Lost works that way.
Will we see SmokeChristian or any other Smoke Monster ghosts? Nope. As Ilana says, "He's stuck that way," meaning that we'll be stuck with SmokeLocke until further notice. Way to answer a question in a straightforward manner, Lost!
What is Jacob's list? See below.
What do the numbers mean? Yes, we actually got an answer to this question and Jacob's list at the same time. It's a final season miracle! The numbers, as it turns out, correspond to six passengers on Oceanic 815-- Locke, Reyes, Ford, Jarrah, Shephard and Kwon (though whether that's Sun or Jin, even SmokeLocke doesn't know). The numbers are scrawled into the walls of Jacob's crazy seaside cave; apparently each of the people are "candidates" to take over Jacob's job of protecting the island, and all of them are people we saw Jacob touch in last season's flashbacks. Oddly, we see little snippets of all of these flashbacks as refreshers, a technique I don't think we've ever seen before on the show. But hey, if it makes things clear enough for them to answer all these questions, it's fine by me.
What's Sawyer going to do now? As SmokeLocke explains it, he's got three choices: watch the battle of good and evil from the sidelines, take over Jacob's job (even though SmokeLocke says it's pointless), or help SmokeLocke escape the island once and for all. Sawyer, seemingly without any care for the rest of the folks trapped on the island, seems to think he knows the answer. The rest of us can just sit back and smugly assume that the James Ford we all know will pull it together in the end.
If the island is underwater in the new timeline, where's Ben? Teaching European History at a high school in California, in one of just a series of run-ins that post-815 Locke (still paralyzed by planning to marry Helen) has back in Los Angeles. Rose helps him get a job, Hurley blocks him in his parking space, but Jack's business card goes ignored in Locke's pocket, as he and Helen decide together he doesn't need that spine fixed after all. We'll see how long that lasts.
Isn't Locke's body smelling pretty bad by now? Yes, and it even had a sand crab crawling over it. So before they take off into the jungle to find Richard and the temple, Ilana, Lapidus, Sun and Ben give Locke a little burial in the ol' island graveyard, right next to Nikki and Paulo. Ben gives one of the show's most fascinating eulogies: "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." Still not sure that beats his alternate-reality tirade about replacing the coffee filters in the teacher's lounge, though.
What's Ilana going to do with those ashes? Told that Jacob's body burned in the fire, Ilana scoops up some of the ashes before announcing that it's time to go find Jacob. Will she use them to protect herself from SmokeLocke? Does the fact that they're Jacob's remains make them somehow more powerful?
Does Locke really think he can avoid fate meeting Jack? It's clear in all of these alternate reality storylines that that 815 passengers are intended to meet each other, though none of them seem to have gotten hints of their alternate selves. Something tells me that the good doctor and the man of faith will be meeting once again-- and good Lord, please stop dragging this out and actually show us how it turns out.
What are SmokeLocke and Sawyer going to do now? The only foolproof method we know of leaving the island is the Frozen Donkey Wheel, which is presumably still intact and functional. But does SmokeLocke know how to use it? Is he even allowed to try? And how long before Sawyer realizes it's probably a bad idea to hang around with this guy?
Who is the blond kid in the jungle? Young Jacob? Or my favorite theory, grown-up Aaron? All we know is what he knows: SmokeLocke knows the rules, and he wasn't allowed to kill Jacob. Oh, and Sawyer can see the kid too, which opens up whole new levels of weird speculation.
Why is post-815 Locke still on good terms with his dad? Helen mentions that she wants to invite him to the wedding. And yet, Locke wound up in that wheelchair somehow. Think this just another hint at things in this world being slightly different, or will we follow up on this somehow?
Where we go from here.
Keep the battle on a small scale. Making Locke the physical embodiment of the Smoke Monster is a brilliant move in many ways, but the best part is that it allows us to watch a character we know and love act out the giant battle, even though the final stakes seem to be between two forces-- Jacob and the Smoke Monster-- we know nothing about. Locke and Sawyer on a mission is a story that could be straight from season one, but using it to wrap up the story makes it even better. Even once Widmore and Eloise and all the others come back in the picture, I hope the story continues on this small scale.
Redeem Locke. Yes, it really does seem like he's dead. And on some level I'm OK with this version of Locke-- the one now buried on the island-- seeing the end of his story here. But we've got a live Locke out there in Los Angeles, and he at least deserves redemption before the storylines unite. I maintain hope that the writers won't do wrong by their man of faith-- this is just a friendly reminder.
Run with this whole "scared Richard" thing. Until the end of last season we thought he was the island's oldest and most knowledgeable inhabitant, and now that things are turned on their heads, it only makes sense for Richard to be out of control as well. He was convincingly terrified when warning Sawyer away from SmokeLocke, and I'm interested to see what other kinds of wrenches he can throw in ol' Smokey's plans.