Disclaimer: Written for The Lost Book Club.
So, John Locke.
Even ignoring the show’s obvious efforts to keep Locke ambiguous—scar, spooky music, etc.—you have to admit that the guy is sort of…dichotomous.
The man wakes up in a worst case scenario and experiences a miracle. What does that do to him? What would it be like to be handed redemption and damnation in one package?
Forgive the cliché, but this is all very Pandora’s Box. A plane falls out of the sky. People are dead and dying. They’re out of food. They’re burning bodies in a fuselage. There is a bona fide MONSTER uprooting trees and killing people in the jungle. And no one is coming to get them.
All aboard the handbasket.
But in the midst of this, one man wakes up and wiggles his toes…
A man who has suffered humiliation, manipulation, and loss.
A victim who wishes to be different so badly that he pretends it until he seems to actually confuse his fantasy for truth. (“Helen,” for one; Walkabout, for another.)
A man who has been denied what he considers his destiny.
What would redemption mean to a man like John Locke?
Because the island has given John more than just the ability to stand; it’s given him the thing he craves most: capability.
“Don’t tell me what I can’t do…” He says it more than once in this episode, and he will continue to say it throughout the series. (In fact, it will come back to haunt him in the mouths of others before the end.)
And now, he’s got this miracle—a miracle that allows him to be the Great White Hunter who throws knives, whittles dog whistles for desperate fathers, and tracks boar.
The island allows Locke to be CAPABLE. Makes him an asset to others. Gives him credibility.
What does a miracle do to a man like John Locke?
It makes him a convert. A believer. Even a zealot.
He said it himself in the next episode. “I'm an ordinary man, Jack, meat and potatoes, I live in the real world. I'm not a big believer in magic. But this place is different. It's special. The others don't want to talk about it because it scares them. But we all know it. We all feel it. Is your white rabbit a hallucination? Probably. But what if everything that happened here, happened for a reason?”
(If this show is really all a big audition process for Jacob’s island-tending replacement, I would be willing to suggest that John’s candidacy ought to have been a lock (ha, a pun) from the get-go. Thoughts?)
The island made Locke capable. And in the name of defending his connection to the island, Locke will prove capable of a great many things….
Yeah. Interesting guy.