Previously on LOST: The Substitute


Previously on LOST is a weekly column recapping and analyzing each episode from the final season of Lost. (Warning: May contain spoilers!)

The Substitute is a great episode that revitalizes some of the defining elements of LOST that I thought had been missing from the first two episodes of the final season. More often than not, the quality of an episode boils down to which characters and actors are the focus.

The Substitute features Locke, Sawyer and Flocke (Fake Locke), and actors Terry O’Quinn and Josh Holloway both deliver exceptional performances with great chemistry together. The cliff-side scene was probably the strongest, and was constructed brilliantly. It started off stunning visually, progressed with superb dialogue, introduced a great mythology element and culminated with an awesome image of Locke’s name being crossed off.

Another spectacular component to this episode was the camera work. The cinematography was uncharacteristic for LOST, and had an almost B-movie feel to it. From the first person shots of the smoke monster, to the extreme close ups in the temp agency. It definitely created a different and refreshing tone for the episode without being indulgent or inconsistent with the series. This aspect alone kept me interested in from beginning to end.

The writing in this episode was also spot on. I thought that almost every scene had substance to it, rather than just plot progression. Most significantly, I thought The Substitute featured genuine comedic elements that you can usually count on from LOST. I can think of at least four lines out of this episode that I loved, and none of them felt forced. The only place I felt the writing was somewhat weak, was the self-referential lines. Locke saying, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do” was interesting the first couple times it re-occurred, but after the sixth time hearing it, it sounds lazy.

I’m still not sold on all of the flash-sideways connections. Hurley had been established as the owner of the box company Locke worked at very early in the series so I didn’t mind that interaction. However, Locke running into Rose and Ben still seem to be there as bait for an easy viewer hook. I sarcastically thought to myself, “I bet Artz teaches at that school and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Friendly was the principal”. If the writers can justify these circumstances, then I will be extremely impressed. Unfortunately, I think the ultimate ‘explanation’ will be “they’re all connected” or “it was destiny”. But the show has proven me wrong in the past, and I hope it does so again.

In the end, these are quibbles of what was an amazing episode. The Substitute has me entrenched in the show again. I want to look up screen caps of the rock, and read about theories and subtleties I may have missed. I want to spend as much time as possible analyzing this episode until the next one.

Discussion Topics

  • Names and numbers on the rock: coincidence or source of the numbers?
  • Who is the kid that Flocke and Sawyer saw on the island?

SCORE: 3.5 stars

  • Merriam-Webster

    I would be extremely shocked if Mr. Friendly was the “principle”. It seems a lot more likely that he would be the principal.

  • Fixed

  • Nate

    Yep. Best episode of the season thus far and it made me very excited for the future of this season.

  • Matt

    I think the kid is Aarron. Or at least that is my hope.

  • bus

    Loved the Numbers tie in but noticed no Austin (i.e. Kate). Is this the reason her episodes usually suck?

    I also wonder if the Sheppard might not have been Jack, could it be Aaron? (coming from far out in left field, I know)

    The colour of the hair on the kid made me thing that maybe it was Jacob, Haunting Flocke the way smokey haunted others previously.

    Also, off target for this episode but on the sideways plane, where was Michael? Walt? Paulo? Nikki? Eko? Libby? and Shovelface? (Sorry Shovelface=Ana Lucia, I just really hate Michelle Rodriguez)

  • Drewsifer

    I’d fuck shovel face

  • Jim the movie freak

    I have a feeling Walt won’t be coming back. Unless they figure out how to incorporate footage of him as a young boy into the current episodes. I’m eager to see the Hurley/Libby reunion that I’m sure will happen. This is definitely one of the more “unpredictable” seasons as it plays out, and this was finally the episode that I hoped the pilot would’ve been more like.

  • It would have been cool if the producers had shot scenes with Walt in advance in season one for incorporation in later season episodes and even for the series finale. I know television production schedules don’t allow for this sort of thing, but I’m just saying…

  • juan

    i think the kid is jacob, and at first when i saw all the writings in the cave i thought jacob was a story teller and everything he writes happens kind of like never ending story

  • Loved it and thought the whole thing concluded brilliantly with the cave sequince. We get a real feel of answers of the island and the numbers coming together. Also the character end of Locke is so defined by the difference in O’Quinn’s new acting standard. The scene with Richard really did bring up some thrilling questions and and really did remind me of the classic season 1 Lost. Exactly what we need for this season. A subtly perfect episode.

    Also I reckon that the boy seen in the forrest is young Jacob. Don’t ask me why, but it just is.

  • Maybe this is a stupid question but … in the sideways reality where they land in LA without incident, does the Island not exist anymore? Is that the reality where it is sunk? And is that why all the people from the island are in LA? Was anyone ever on the island in this reality?