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Lost: Picking Locke

"I remember it like it was yesterday ... no, three days ago."

John Locke, best (and most original) character on the show, light of our life, fire of our loins, anti-hero of our favorite episodes! In this excellent installment, our miserable savior is snubbed, bitchily psychoanalyzed, crippled (per usual), puppeteered by both sides of the Global Game of Find the Island, and, in a genuinely disturbing sequence, strings up a noose of electrical cord.

Good thing Ben knocks on the door.

Also, our friend who is always defending Ben, coming up with baroque explanations for how he's the good guy? Abandon hope.

Teaser
In a dark room, a man rifles through spooky charts, conceals a gun. A sultry woman joins him — they are Caesar and Ilana, but when she asks what's in his bag, he says "Just a flashlight." There's a be-suited man in the water, and over expositional chitchat, they walk to the beach. Caesar introduces himself, and the camera reveals a calm John Locke.

On the Mainland: Jeremy Bentham Spoke in Class Today
Sultry Ilana offers Locke a mango, then explains, "the woman and the pilot" stole a boat. We say, what? WHAT WHAT? Because we're deeply slow on the uptake, and it takes us forever to suss out that these are the Ajira passengers — with Caesar the guy who offered Jack condolences, and Ilana that chick who guarded Sayid. Locke's confused too, so he requests a passenger list, but Ilana needs to ask Caesar. There's mango enjoyment, Locke-ish opacity, and an explanation of that suit: It's what they were going to bury him in. Because Locke remembers DYING. Whoa.

Flashback to the donkey wheel! Locke lands in the Tunisian desert; vomits, is crippled; sees cameras, calls for help; is finally truck-transported to a hospital, then dosed by a manic, hairy doctor. Behind a curtain, Abaddon (a.k.a Lieutenant Daniels) lurks. Oh cripes: What in God's name are they doing to Locke's leg?  He passes out, as do we.

When he wakes, Widmore is bragging about getting him quieter medical care. Then he fills Locke in on how they know each other: They met two episodes ago, which is to say, when Widmore was a 17-year-old Other, that day Locke and Richard had their time-loop tête-à-tête. Widmore suggests Ben tricked Locke into leaving the Island, explaining he can relate: Widmore, too, was King of the Others before he was exiled.

Locke says, no, he chose to leave. Widmore infers that Locke is there to retrieve the O6 and waxes manipulative (but accurate): Yer friends? They're liars! Liars for three years! Back to normal lives! Nonetheless, he'll help John, because there's a warrrr coming, and if Locke isn't on the Island, the wrong side will win.

Widmore gets Locke the Jeremy Bentham passport, plus spy photos, and they debate who should trust whom. Widmore argues Ben is Mr. Lie. Locke objects that Widmore sent a freighter to blow them up! Widmore cuts to the center of Locke, beneath many rings of trauma: Locke's SPECIAL, so SPECIAL! He's got to have some of the Island's attention. And while Locke believes he must die, Widmore won't let that happen, and so he introduces Evil-Concierge Abaddon and his car service of hidden agenda.

And we're off to Santo Domingo! Where Sayid is sweating some Habitat for Humanity project, having shrugged off Ben's yoke of mind games. If he hadn't left the Island, he'd never have spent nine magical pre-murder months with Nadia; so no, he won't return. And while Locke insists he's no dupe, Sayid gently suggests that perhaps Locke feels he has nowhere else to go.

Locke asks for his ex Helen, but first visits Tall Walt. Walt's been dreaming about Locke, threatened on the Island; Locke gently elides Michael's death. And because "Walt's been through enough," Locke leaves. Across the street, Ben lurks with possessed schoolboy eyes.

Next up: Hurley, who assumes Locke's dead. Hilariously hard to convince, Hurley freaks when he realizes John is real — and like Sayid, just says no to the Island, especially since he ID's Abbadon as Evil Oceanic Dude.

In the car, Abbadon reminds Locke that he was the orderly who first convinced him to go on the Australian walkabout; yep, John remembers. "I help people get to where they need to go to. That's what I do for Mr. Widmore."

Next stop: Kate. Another no. Is that why Locke was so desperate to stay on the Island, because he'd never loved anyone?, non-sequiturs Kate bitchily. Wrong-o, Locke says — what about Helen? Which, okay, ended because he was "angry, obsessed." Look how far you've come!, Kate snarks, because Kate is Miss Perfect and has not, say, burned her stepfather alive.

John's exasperated that Abbadon hasn't found Helen, so we're off to a graveyard. Oh, sad.  Helen died of a brain aneurysm. "Is life inevitable or a choice?" — and then Abbadon is shot and killed, and Locke peels away in a panic, spinning into a collision.

In the hospital, Depressed John is attended by none other than Depressed Jack. And not only does Jack — like Hurley, Kate, and Sayid — nix Locke's destiny pitch, he's downright dickish. Fate! Probability! Someone trying to kill me! "They don't want me to get back because I'm important!" "Maybe you're just a lonely old man who crashed on an island. That's it." (Except for the whole "healed from paralysis" bit, spinal surgeon, but okay.)

Locke's comeback zinger: "Your father says hello." Jack goes ballistic, screams his dad is dead, Jack won't help, leave the O6 alone!

In a decrepit motel, Locke scribbles his suicide note: "I wish you had believed me." He makes a noose, then clambers on the table. It's freaky-sad: How often do we watch beloved characters commit suicide? Luckily, Ben bangs on the door, and gently talks angry Locke down, claiming he's been keeping them safe — trying to PROTECT Locke, in fact.

Ergo, Ben killed Abbadon. And Locke (and we) are totally confused as Ben spins out his side, as opposed to Widmore's side. Locke can't kill himself! He has no idea how important he is! Locke insists he's a failure, couldn't get anyone to come back, he's no leader.

Ben informs him that Jack booked a plane ticket, then kneels before him: John, you can't die, you've got too much work to do. He helps Christ from his cross — until Locke makes a tragic error, revealing his promise to Jin. As Ben gathers cord, Locke adds that they should visit Eloise Hawking. Yep, Ben knows her, he says blandly. And then he strangles Locke to death, gasping like the monstrous fetus of evil he is.

Pocketing the ring, Ben makes it look like a suicide. "I'll miss you, John. I really will."

Luckily for Locke fans, vengeance is nigh: On the Island, Locke joins Caesar as he inspects Dharma files. Locke explains, sorta, his time line. Caesar has a mystery too: He was sitting across from Hurley when he disappeared. Locke might have some answers for him, but again requests the flight list, then visits the "people who got hurt" — a ward of wounded passengers. One of them being Ben Linus: "He's the man who killed me."

What We Know Now
• Ben killed Locke.
• Helen is dead(ish).
• The non-O6 passengers survived the crash, losing their luggage but not their hidden agendas.

The Wha? Factor
• What's Widmore's game? Not to mention his backstory.
• Where did Frank take that boat, and who is the woman with him?
• Who is Caesar, why is he the boss of everyone, and can he get me a passenger list, please?

Related: Lost Babies: A Comprehensive Guide to the Cuties

Photo: Courtesy of ABC