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'Lost': It's John Locke's turn

May 9, 2008 |  8:17 am

Lost_lockeshadows1 "He wants us to move the island."

So said John Locke after his momentous summit with Jacob (or at least Jacob's spokespeople) and with those words it appears a torch of sorts has been passed. The role of the island's chief protector -- a job Ben carried out with unsentimental efficiency for years -- seems to have been reassigned to Locke. It was Locke who was given a vision of how to find Jacob's cabin, and it was Locke who the island healed to perform his duties.

You would think, given Ben's demonstrated jealousy and ruthlessness in the past, that he would do more to dissuade Locke or manipulate him away from his ascendancy to power. But maybe he's past all that. He did shoot Locke and leave him for dead in a pit of rotted corpses. And still Locke kept going, so it looks like Ben has come to terms with the new world order. He's on the outs and Locke's the big man.

But what is Hurley's role in this balance of power? Everything happens for a reason on this island, and Jacob's cabin made itself apparent to Hurley too. Is he the third part of a complex series of island political checks and balances? And if his role on the island is so essential, it's surprising that he was able to leave the island at all. Though it looks like that was a mistake if his visions of Charlie in his post-island life are any indication.

In classic "Lost" fashion, tonight's episode, "Cabin Fever," appeared to provide us with lots of answers while in reality we're left with many more questions. I've become so attuned to this mode of storytelling, so comforted by it, that I think I fear explanations now. While some may have been throwing items at the screen, hoping Locke would beat Jack's dad until he gave a straight answer about what's really going on, I was thankful for the cutaway outside the cabin. Not just because it gave us one of the season's best character moments between Hurley and Ben (done completely without dialogue), but also because answers, explained in a rational manner by a reliable narrator, wouldn't do the last four seasons of lies and misdirection justice. Real answers are coming soon, no doubt, but I hope "Lost's" producers have thought long and hard about just how they'll reveal them to us. If the big reveal is done in one big data dump of truth, it could spoil everything. At this point, part of me hopes they don't solve everything. Leaving a bit of mystery would keep this series alive long after new episodes aren't airing anymore.

But that's something to worry about a couple of years from now. There are more pressing issues to discuss.

The episode brought back an old favorite -- the pre-island flashback -- except this time the conceit got supersized. We went way back in time to witness Locke's birth and childhood. And we learned that his destiny with the island had begun almost from the moment he was born. Richard Alpert, the ageless Other, appeared to Locke when he was just a boy and offered him a visit to the island. Locke only had to pass one test in which he had to select one item from a variety of unrelated trinkets that already belonged to him. Young Locke chose the knife, which was apparently a bad decision, because Alpert took off almost fast enough to leave an Other-sized cloud of dust in his wake.

The knife was obviously wrong, but the question is whether Lil' Locke picked the knife because he truly had a feeling about it or because he was trying to be difficult. Locke has always had a rebellious streak, continually fighting against his destiny until he was wheelchair-bound and without any other options. So maybe he chose the knife on purpose, choosing to embrace his own self-image as a warrior instead of his true nature. So which item was the correct choice? My guess is the "Book of Laws." It seemed that Locke was inclined to reach for that one before grabbing the knife instead. But that comic book certainly seemed intriguing too.

If Locke's encounter with Jack's dad is to be taken at face value, then the concept of free will is meaningless on the island. Everything that has happened there has happened for a reason, including Claire's apparent joining up with the dead. It was all to put Aaron "right where he needed to be." Which is where? In Sawyer's hands? He certainly couldn't have been intended for Jack -- Hurley told him in last week's post-island flash forward that he wasn't meant to raise the kid. So what's the island's plan? Is Aaron meant to be the island's next guardian after Locke performs his mission?

I'm not sure what to make of the island's instructions to Locke, except to speculate that moving the island probably isn't so much a matter of place, but time. And that number code that Desmond had to spend years pressing every 108 minutes may have involved moving the island through different times to keep it safe. Now that the button doesn't exist anymore, some more drastic measures may need to be undertaken in order to move the island.

Abaddon's return appearance as Locke's orderly cannot be a good thing for Locke. Even though he planted the idea of Locke's fateful walkabout in his head, it seems as if Matthew Abaddon is to Charles Widmore as Michael is to Ben Linus -- someone whose mission is to develop an inside rapport with the enemy. The next time Abaddon and Locke meet, Locke will owe Abaddon one for sending him off on his trip. That debt will surely come due at a time more convenient for Charles Widmore than for Ben Linus.

In other developments, Keamy, the crazed army dude, has strapped what looks like an iPod onto his arm and is headed to do something really nasty to the island and everyone on it. What that plan is remains to be seen, but his instructions came in a heavily secured red folder that had a Dharma logo in it. That Orchid station sign again. Looks like we're about to find out how Ben ended up in Halliwax's Orchid parka.

One complaint, and it's a minor one, is the music, which has become quite intrusive this year. Where we once had some of the best scoring on TV, we now get a tense throbbing stinger every time something happens on screen. And when that moment is of special note, I fear my poor TV speakers will pop out onto the floor. Most of the time the music works beautifully, but a couple of times in tonight's episode, I thought the horn section of the studio orchestra was going to jump out and clobber our heroes over the head to underline their point.

So, what do we leave unanswered from tonight's episode? Is Jack's dad a ghost or some kind of resurrected puppet? Is Claire dead too? What's that doodad on Keamy's arm? And what kind of power led a very young John Locke to draw pictures of the island's smoke monster?

I don't expect answers to all of these. And I'm more than happy to sit and speculate endlessly. I just hope the real answers will leave us as satisfied as all these mysteries.

-- Patrick Kevin Day

(Photo courtesy ABC)

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