Richard Alpert's items. ("Cabin Fever")

In 1961 or 1962, Richard Alpert presented a five-year-old John Locke with a test involving six items. Alpert placed a compass on a table with five other items, asking Locke to identify which "already belong to him". A time-traveling Locke had previously given Richard a compass, a compass that Richard would return to Locke years later, in 2007.

Young John selected a container of granules and the compass before settling upon a knife. Disappointed, Richard collected the items and left, leaving a dejected Locke with his angry foster mother.


The comic book and knife. ("Cabin Fever")

Cultural references

Richard Alpert's compass.

  • The test given to young Locke by Richard Alpert resembled the Tibetan Buddhist ritual used to confirm a reincarnated tulku (the Dalai Lama being the most widely known). (Religion and ideologies)
    • In the Season 3 DVD commentary for "The Man Behind the Curtain", Richard Alpert was described as someone who was not interested in leading the Others but was very influential in finding and selecting a leader. In the commentary for "The Man Behind the Curtain", he was described as being similar to a Panchen Lama choosing the next Dalai Lama. He and Ben kept each other in "check" by having the power to pick/veto each other's replacement on the Island. Ben's role would be to pick the next Panchen, should the need arise. This kept the two in a sort of balanced power relationship. They were allies, yet they had some measure of control over the other should one get out of hand.