"The Substitute" is the 4th episode of Season 6 of Lost and the 107th produced hour of the series as a whole. It was originally broadcast on Feb 16, 2010. Locke goes in search of help to further his cause.


Previously on "Lost"

  • Sawyer] sobs at Juliet's death, he tells Kate it was his fault she died because he convinced her to stay.
  • The smoke Monster kills Jacob's bodyguards and the man who looks like Locke tells Ben that he sorry Ben had to see him like that.
  • On the beach false Lock is recognised by Richard who he then attacks and carries of saying that he is very disappointed in "all of you"

Flash-sideways timeline (2004)

As John Locke parks in his driveway, the wheelchair platform on his van malfunctions, forcing him to roll himself off of the platform, sending him falling out of his chair. As Locke lies in his front yard, lawn sprinklers pop up and soak him. Helen rushes from the front door and helps him up. Inside the house, John sits in the bath as Helen speaks on the phone, discussing a wedding. She then talks to John about having their wedding “shotgun style, in Vegas,” and mentions his father. After finding Jack’s card in Locke’s pocket, Helen urges him to contact the spinal surgeon.

After returning to his desk at the box company, Locke is confronted by his boss Randy who questions him about missing a meeting in Sydney, which Locke lies about. Randy reveals he knows John has not attended the conference to which he had been sent and subsequently fires him. In the parking lot, Locke is unable to get into his van, which he had parked in a regular spot, as opposed to a handicapped spot. He pounds on the yellow Hummer blocking access to his van, causing the car's alarm to go off. Hurley steps out of the building, telling John that he is the owner of the company. After introducing themselves, John tells Hugo that he has been fired by Randy, whom Hurley calls “a huge douche” and gives John the number to a temp agency (which he also owns) before telling him that “things are gonna work out.”

At the temp agency, an {{alt|Lynn Karnoff|interviewer]] asks John what kind of animal he would consider himself and whether he is a "people person." Soon, John asks to speak to her supervisor who is revealed to be {{alt|Rose Nadler|Rose]]. John stubbornly requests a job in construction, which Rose responds would not be a good match. Locke asks what she knows about realistic. Rose replies that she has terminal cancer and tells how she had to get past her denial and continue living whatever life she could. After this, John calms down.

Original timeline (2007)

We get a POV shot of the smoke monster running through the Barracks and it stops outside of Sawyer’s house. Back in the jungle, the monster changes back into Locke and cuts Richard down from a bag in a tree, telling him it’s “time to talk”. Locke asks Richard to come with him. Richard then asks why the Man in Black looks like Locke, which he answers that Locke could get close to Jacob because he was a candidate. Richard asks what he was a candidate for, prompting Locke to ruminate about why Richard would follow Jacob without knowing what he was following him for. Richard refuses to go with Locke. Soon after, Locke sees a mysterious boy in the jungle and looks frightened before walking away.

Ben is seen walking into the foot of the statue, where Ilana is crying, staring at her fallen team. Ben is asked the series of events that led to their deaths, which he tells. She then asks Ben who killed Jacob, to which he replies that Locke did. Ilana then asked where the body was. Ben then told her that Locke kicked Jacob into the fire and he burned away. This revelation seemed to prompt Ilana to fill a bag with ash from the now-extinguished fire in the center of the foot. Ilana then reveals to Ben that the Man in Black is “recruiting”.

Locke walks to Sawyer’s house, from which he hears “Search and Destroy” by The Stooges being played loudly. Upon seeing Locke, the drunken Sawyer says “I thought you were dead”. Locke replies, “I am”.

Sawyer pours a glass of whiskey for Locke and himself. Sawyer points out during their conversation that he doesn’t believe that Locke is Locke because Locke “was scared” while this version is not. Locke then tells Sawyer that he can tell him why they are all on the Island if he comes with him. Sawyer agrees to go along with Locke.

Ilana urges the people at the statue (which are now just Sun, Frank, and Ben) to go to the Temple, telling Sun that if Jin is alive, he is there. Before they leave, Sun suggests they bury John’s body.

As the Man in Black and Sawyer walk through the jungle, he asks why James is not at the Temple with the others. The young boy appears to the Man in Black again. After Sawyer mentions him, the Man in Black says “you can see him?” and quickly chases the boy. The boy tells Locke that he “knows the rules” and that he “can’t kill him” to which Locke says “don’t tell me what I can’t do” before the boy walks into the jungle.

Meanwhile, Sawyer sees Richard walking toward him and urges him to go to the Temple, telling Sawyer that “he wants everyone dead”. Soon, Richard hears Locke approaching and flees back into the jungle. Sawyer than asks Locke about the kid to which he simply replies “what kid?” As Sawyer and Locke continue, James asks if Locke reads, commenting that his favorite book is “Of Mice and Men”. Locke replies that the book was written a little after his time. After a brief synopsis of the book, Sawyer pulls a gun on Locke asking what would happen if he was shot in the head. Locke simply says “why don’t we find out?” After being asked what he is, Locke replies that he is “trapped” and once “was a man”.

Ben, Ilana, Frank, and Sun are bringing Locke’s body to be buried while Ben asks why she brought the body. Illana says that she needed to show the others what they were up against. Ben then asks why he wouldn’t just change again. The answer is that the Man in Black is stuck in Locke’s body. However, given that the Man in Black/The Monster appeared to Ben as Alex when Ben was "judged" beneath the Temple, Ilana's statement is questionable. ("Dead Is Dead")

After putting Locke’s body in the ground, Ben says a few words. He comments that Locke was a “believer, a man of faith,” that he was “a much better man than I will ever be” and that he is “very sorry I murdered him”.



Production notes

Bloopers and continuity errors

Recurring themes

Recurring themes
AnimalsBlack and whiteCharacter connectionsChildrenCoincidenceDeathDeceptions and consDreamsEconomicsElectromagnetismEyesFate versus free willGamesGood and bad peopleImprisonmentIsolationLeadershipLife and deathLiterary worksMirrorsMissing body partsNicknamesThe NumbersPairingsParapsychologyParent issuesPregnanciesPsychologyRainRedemptionRelationshipsReligionRevengeSalvationSecrets
  • The rocks on the balance scale are black and white. (Black and White)
  • It is revealed that several of the main survivors of Oceanic 815 correspond to one of the numbers. (The Numbers)
  • 4-Locke, 8-Reyes, 15-Ford, 16-Jarrah, 23-Shephard, 42-Kwon (The Numbers)
  • Also while in the bathtub, John Locke is drinking from a half black, half white coffee mug.(Black and White)
  • Helen is wearing a shirt that has the words "Peace" and "Karma" on it. (Redemption)
  • During Locke and Helen's embrace, Helen is shown to have black nail-polish. (Black and White)
  • Locke is engaged to Helen. (Relationships)
  • Locke's body is buried. (Life and Death)
  • Hurley owns the company Locke is fired from. (Character Connections)
  • It is revealed that Jacob is responsible for bringing the losties onto the island. (Fate versus free will)
  • Jacob's Nemesis tells Sawyer that choices he thought that he made were actually a result of Jacob's intervention. (Fate versus free will) (Deceptions and Cons)
  • Benjamin Linus is a European History teacher at the school where Locke is a substitute. (Character Connections)
  • Rose Nadler is the supervisor at the employment agency owned by Hugo Reyes. (Character Connections)
  • Randy Nations is John Locke's boss, and fires him after finding out that Locke lied about his reasons for going to Australia (Character Connections)
  • Hurley offers Locke another chance at a job after being fired. (Redemption)
  • Benjamin Linus says that John Locke was a better man than he will ever be, and that he is sorry for murdering him. (Redemption)
  • When asked who killed Jacob, Ben lies to Ilana by saying that Locke did it. (Deceptions and cons)

Storyline analysis

Storyline analysis
  • The Man in Black says that Locke, Sawyer, Hurley, Sayid, Jack, and Jin or Sun were candidates to become the next "Jacob". (Leadership)
  • Sawyer decides he will try to leave the island with the help of The Man in Black. (A-Missions)
  • Ben admits to murdering Locke in front of Sun, Ilana, and Frank while giving a eulogy during Locke's funeral. (Crimes)
  • Richard frantically tries to persuade James into following him back to the Temple. (O-Missions)

Cultural references

Cultural references
(direct references only)
ArtAutomobilesGamesHistoryLiterary worksMovies and TVMusicPhilosophyReligion and ideologiesScience
  • Search and Destroy: James Ford is listening to The Stooges' "Search and Destroy." Which offers in the refrain the lyrics, "I am the world's forgotten boy; the one who searches, searches to destroy," plus reference to nuclear/hydrogen bombs. (Music)
  • Of Mice and Men: James wanted to kill the Man in Black the same way in which George killed Lennie in the novella, after pointing to Steinbeck as author of the books he most liked to read. (Books)
  • Allegory of the Cave: The cave that the Man in Black takes Sawyer to can be a reference to this philosophical concept attributed to Plato. The idea that people live their lives and form ideas that are not indicative of reality is mirrored in the Man in Black's view that Jacob manipulated everyone he brought to the Island into believing certain ideas. (Philosophy)
  • Jacob's Ladder: Sawyer and the Man in Black descend "Jacob's Ladder" and arrive at a cave formerly inhabited by Jacob. A Jacob's Ladder has significance in both the Jewish and Christian religions, having many interpretations, among them that it is a bridge between heaven and earth. Saint John Climacus (also known as John of the Ladder) wrote a book called "Ladder of the Divine Ascent" which uses Jacob's Ladder as an analogy for the ascetic life. It is frequently read by Orthodox Christians during the Lent season before Easter. The episode "The Substitute" aired the night before the start of non-Orthodox Lent (Ash Wednesday) (which does not coincide with Orthodox Great Lent). (Religion and ideologies)
  • A Christmas Carol: After the Man in Black confronts James, he claims that James is not so put off by him being there, to which James no longer cares if Locke (as The Man in Black) is dead or if he were the Ghost of Christmas Past. (Books)

Tibetan Buddhism: The scale with black and white rocks is part of Buddhist mythology, in which a god called the Dharma-Raja judges the dead using such a scale.

Literary techniques

Literary techniques
ComparativeIronyJuxtapositionForeshadowing PlottingCliffhangerPlot twist Stock characters:  ArchetypeRedshirtUnseen character
Story:  FlashbacksFlash-forwardsFlash sidewaysFraming deviceRegularly spoken phrasesSymbolismUnreliable narrator 
  • Helen is wearing a "Peace & Karma" t-shirt in comparison to Locke's "destiny" philosophies. (Juxtaposition)
  • The Man in Black removes a white stone from a scale while in the caves, tipping the scale in favor of a black stone. (Symbolism)
  • The Man in Black shouts, "Don't tell me what I can't do!" at the teenage boy in the jungle. (Regularly spoken phrases) (Irony)
  • Richard tells The Man in Black, "I'm not going anywhere with you." (Regularly spoken phrases)

Episode references

Unanswered questions

Unanswered questions
  1. Do not answer the questions here.
  2. Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.
For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: The Substitute/Theories

Original Timeline

  • Why did Ilana take Jacob's ashes?

Jacob's Nemesis

The Candidates

  • Who exactly are all the candidates?
  • In what way do the Numbers correspond to Jacob's main candidates?
  • Does 'Number 42 - Kwon' refer to Jin or Sun?

The Child

  • Who was the teenage boy that the Man in Black chases through the jungle?
    • What is the meaning of his warning to the Man in Black?
      • Who is the child referring to when he says "You can't kill him"?

Flash-Sideways Timeline

  • How did Locke become paralyzed?
  • What is the relationship between Locke and his father?
  • Why is Helen still in a relationship with Locke?
  • How did Ben leave the Island, and when did he become a teacher?

External links

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