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Lost Recap: The Names

Ahh, now that was satisfying. I don't quite know what it meant, but I certainly enjoyed it, and not just because I will follow any episode about Locke (played by the wonderful Terry O'Quinn) down the ricketiest, most Cliffs-of-Insanity rope-ladder logic straight into any cave you name. Smokey-Cam! A great performance by Josh Holloway. No triangle talk! Plus solid wisecracks and some mystical hooey that had me going before I could second-guess myself.

Also, it had the best eulogy ever.

Though I am a creature of doubts this season, I'm suddenly (semi) (at least this week) (back-ish) onboard.

Locke parks his van, but the wheelchair glitches. And he's flat on the lawn, assaulted by sprinklers ’ yet another humiliation, until Helen shows up. She's his fiancée! Joking about eloping! Inviting his dad! A less lonely life for Locke: very touching. And okay, he's lying to her about going to a conference, but it's still nice when she encourages him to call Jack. Maybe meeting that spinal surgeon is destiny?

Then a bold directorial move: To Iggy Pop's rocking "Search and Destroy," the Smokey-Cam thrashes wildly in the wreck of New Otherton. Then he (it?) morphs into Locke; grabs knife; and peels Richard from his tree-trap. Time to talk, says SmoLocke.

Lost logo, you're looking well.

"You got a nice tan in Australia," smirks Locke's jerk-boss Randy (Hurley's jerk-boss in the original timeline), hovering at his cubicle. He knows Locke wasn't at the conference. Locke begs, says it's personal. Damn. He's fired.

Richard looks adorably tortured, slurping water. (Are there Smokey/Richard 'shippers out there? There are now.) Smokey hocks him to join Team Smokey, explaining that he took Locke's form to get to Jacob — and because Locke was a "candidate." A Whatidate? Richard has no clue. And he's unconvinced, despite Smokey's Otherish entreaties: Oh, heeeee'd never conceal information, heeeee'd treat Richard with respect, unlike some ageless entities he could name. The hard sell is broken up when Smokey spots a young boy in the distance, looking eerie and Christlike.

In the statue, Ben approaches a weeping Ilanna, who asks for answers. He explains that John Locke became a pillar of smoke and killed her men, which, yes, but adds that Smokey also killed Jacob, which, no. He tells her Locke kicked Jacob into the fire. She collects the ash with a nifty elven ash-bag. Ben asks why Smokey dragged Richard away and Ilana claims he's "recruiting." (This is some coded anti-gay thing, isn't it?)

Smokey enters a wrecked New Otherton house, where a vinyl copy of "Search and Destroy" moans "I'm the world's forgotten boy." He finds soused, pantless Sawyer, who says, "I thought you were dead." "I am," says Smokey.

A hilarious Old Spice ad plays.

Then a promo about fitness programs for babies.

"Here's to being dead," says Sawyer, who doesn't care if Smokey is a time-traveler or the ghost of Christmas Past. Sawyer is sharp enough to know Smokey isn't Locke, "because Locke was scared, even when he was pretending he wasn't." So Smokey pulls out the big guns: He can answer the most important question in the world — why is Sawyer on this island? (Yes! Yes!) Sawyer talks about crashing planes, but Smokey cuts him off. "I guess I better put some pants on," says Sawyer. No, no.

Back in the alternative timeline, Locke's van is blocked. Furious, he bangs the hood, alerting Lucky Hurley. A mensch in every timeline, Hurley reveals he's the top boss and hooks Locke up with a new job.

"He's getting pretty ripe," Frank comments about Dead Locke. Sun and Ilanna trade layers of eye contact and negotiation: compassion, then the revelation that Ilanna knows about Jin, a "get moving" bit, stopped by Sun's insistence that they bury Locke.

Smokey and Sawyer spot the young boy, who is no apparition, since Sawyer can see him. Smokey chases the kid, who tells him: "You know the rules. You can't kill him." "Don't tell me what I can't do," growls Smokey. And then he screams it, sounding even more Locke-like.

Ditched by Smokey, Sawyer yells. A terrified Richard tries to shoo him toward the Temple and they break it down: Why is Sawyer on Team Smokey, anyway? Answers, that's why. Richard argues that Smokey wants everyone dead — but he scurries off when Smokey reappears. And we're back to the classic Island Folk Gaslighting Technique: "What kid?"

John Locke, worst job interviewee ever, refuses to describe himself as an animal. He asks his Olive Oyl-ish interviewer for her supervisor: Rose! Rose gently tries to defang Locke's prickly crazy-talk, in this case, an insistence that he manage construction workers. She reveals she has terminal cancer. She encourages him to be realistic.

More Locke and Sawyer, discussing Of Mice and Men. (Which is "after my time," comments Smokey.) As so often in book groups, things turn sour, and Sawyer pulls a gun, snarling "What are you?" Locke gives his best identify-with-me tap dance ever: He's trapped; he once was a man; he knows what it's like to experience love, joy, pain, betrayal — to lose someone you love. Smokies: They're just like us!

As Ben and Ilanna carry Locke's corpse, she exposits crucial information: Just as your mother warned might happen, Smokey's face is now stuck this way.

They dig Locke's grave. Ben delivers a hilarious-yet-poignant eulogy: "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."

"This is the weirdest damn funeral I've ever been to," says Frank.

Self-destructively self-reliant Locke dials Jack's number. "Can I help you?" the receptionist asks. "No, no, you can't," says Locke. Even his fiancée in her "Peace and Karma" T-shirt is challenged by the situation: Locke's been fired, there was no conference, he has a big box of knives. (Delivered, mid-conversation, by Oceanic, via some shifty Walt-ish figure in the distance.) He tells her about the failed Walkabout. He's sick of imagining walking down the aisle — there are no miracles. She says there are miracles; the only thing she was waiting for was him. She tears up Jack's card.

"Nice view," says Sawyer. "Now what?" The Cliffs of Insanity, that's what! There's an Olympics-level rope-ladder sequence, featuring swinging, shredding, and the big save by Smokey. They enter a cave with a scale, balancing a white rock and a black rock. Smokey throws the white rock into the ocean. "Inside joke," he deadpans. "Is that why we're here?" asks Sawyer. Nope! By torchlight, Smokey leads Sawyer into a cave, to show him ... "That's why you're here! That, James, is why you're all here!"

It's their names, scratched on a wall.

Locke is in a basketball court, coaching girls running. Then he's in a classroom, where he teaches the human reproductive system. He rolls into the teacher's lounge, where he finds a hilariously pedantic, coffee-obsessed ... Ben! Who is a European history teacher. Locke's a substitute (and he seems like a good one).

Back in the cave, Locke explains the scrawls are Jacob's. He died yesterday. And some names are not crossed out: Jack, Hurley, Sayid, either Sun or Jin (it just says Kwon), Locke. There are numbers, too: "Jacob has a thing for numbers." We get flashes of all the Losties that Jacob visited in the past — a series of encounters that were merely manipulations, argues Smokey. Jacob was just pushing them to the island, including Sawyer, who is also a Candidate. A candidate in the running for Substitute Jacob.

So, from a Smokey's-eye view, Sawyer has three options. (1) Do nothing. Possibly watch his name crossed out. (2) Become the new Jacob, protect the island! From nothing! Because it will be perfectly fine without Jacob, or him, or anyone whose lives he wasted! Or (3) Step off the island with Smokey.

"So what do you say, James. Are you ready to go home?"

"Hell, yes."

What We Know Now:
• Smokey is stuck as Locke — and likely trapped on the island.
• Six characters are "candidates."
• Their numbers correspond with the numbers from the Hatch.

The Wha? Factor:
• In the alternative timeline, Locke is close enough to his dad that he'd invite him to his wedding. How'd he break his spine in this timeline? Or is he just unbelievably forgiving?
• Is that spooky child Boy Jacob? Son of Jacob? Aaron? Bossy Baby Christ?
• What's Smokey's endgame? Is he trying to get the Losties to kill one another? To help him escape the island? Is he a fallen angel? A chess piece? Did they need a pawn to kill the king? Or is Jacob more like the queen, and they're all rooks? I need a drink.

Photo: Mario Perez/ABC