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January 24, 2010

This episode pretty much sums up why, for at least the first two seasons, Locke was my favorite character. Kate has her fugitive backstory, Jack has his daddy issues (then again, doesn’t everyone on the show?), Sawyer has his conman backstory (which to me, finally comes to its resolution in the episode where both Locke’s and his stories intersect on the Black Rock), but Locke always seemed more real, more three dimensional, a bit deeper. Of course, this episode had the big reveal that Locke was in a wheelchair before the crash, which without specifically being stated, enhances the island’s mystery.

And this episode pretty much solidifies the “main” players for the rest of the series…Jack, Sawyer, Locke, Sayid and of course Kate. It’s also the first introduction of Christian Shepard. Christian’s on-island scenes are something I will be watching very closely on my rewatch. I do not spend hour after hour poring through LOST theory forums, although I occasionally dabble. Some of the theories and ideas I’ll post here might be old hat, but I’m going to post them anyway.

With Christian, especially after having seen Season 5, it seems pretty clear to me that he is a manifestation of the “man in black”/smoke monster/whatever. This is borne out by the episode where he appears in Jacob’s cabin a few seasons down the line, and near the end of Season 5 (the broken line of ash around the cabin). With his being at the bottom of the well with Locke before he turns the FDW in Season 5, it makes me want to look for any other details in Christian’s on-island scenes to see if I can pick up on any subtle clues.

As for the episode itself, this was one of my favorites from Season 1, and even though not a lot of “story” happened, it was full of character moments. Shannon’s manipulation of Charlie, and his subsequent enlisting of Hurley (the beginnings of their friendship, actually), Jack’s reluctance to partake in the memorial preparations/the memorial itself, a foreshadowing of Sun’s herb garden, Kate’s eagerness to always be at the center of things (in this case, with Sayid’s triangulation equipment), and of course the beginnings of Locke’s backstory, including the first indication of his being a hunter. This is continually referenced throughout the series, most specifically in the episode with the undercover narc at the pot-growing commune (with him telling Locke that he is a farmer, not a hunter) and most importantly when Richard Alpert visits him as a child, and Locke chooses the knife.

Island mythology: 8 out of 10 (Locke confronting the monster offscreen and being healed of paralysis…this score is of course relative to how early in the series it still is. Obviously, if I later rate the full reveal of the statue as an 8, that score is relative to its chronology within the series)

Character development: 7 out of 10. Lots of small moments with most of the characters, lots of detail about who Locke is (was?) as a person (the Tabula Rasa carries over to this episode as well…Locke went from being a meek office drone to being able to reinvent himself), and of course laying the groundwork for Locke’s continued frustrations at anything he deems worthy or important in his life.

Importance of episode to series: 7.75 out of 10. Two main pieces of island mythology are either furthered (Locke’s first encounter with the smoke monster) or introduced (the island’s healing powers). In addition, John Locke of course ends up being one of, if not THE pivotal character in the series, so his first flashback episode is vitally important.

Personal enjoyment of episode: 7.25 out of 10. On the first few viewings, this was a monumental episode. It’s lost a bit of its luster on repeated viewings. It’s still in the upper echelon, but there are later Locke episodes that I enjoy more.

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