Locked In

In “The Shape of Things to Come” two weeks ago, Ben’s confrontation with Charles Widmore hinted at the concept of a temporal chess game in which the two of them have specific parts to play while adhering to a certain set of rules or standards. Widmore “changed the rules” of the game by killing Ben’s adopted daughter, as if to say Charles didn’t follow the script laid out for the players. Knowing what we know from the many flashbacks, flash forwards and sheer coincidence that brought all the castaways together, can we infer everything that’s played out in four seasons of Lost was all preordained, to a certain degree? Are all of the characters locked into a destiny decided for them long before they ever took their first breath out of the womb? Tonight’s episode certainly wouldn’t dissuade one from thinking just that.

A jump in the way-back machine takes us to John Locke’s premature birth to an underage mother who miraculously survives getting hit by a car. Little John is stricken with all manner of ailment right off the bat, pneumonia and infections, etc. But he somehow survives; the doctor calls him a “fighter,” the youngest preemie who’s ever survived there. We’ve seen that stubborn, fighter mentality throughout Locke’s story; always retorting to his doubters with “don’t tell me what I can’t do.”

Is it that mentality that’s led him to the Island? Or are greater forces augmenting the fight in him–the forces that decide the destiny of the players in this particular game? Dr. Alpert’s appearance shortly after John’s birth would cause me to lean toward the latter. We all know the doc’s been around for a while; he looks the same now as he did at John’s birth and when he met a young Ben Linus in the jungle, so we won’t dwell on that for now. But, did he know when and where John would be born, and seek him out? Was John on one of Jacob’s many lists already (we know from Ben that he was on Jacob’s List after the 815 crash)? Or was Alpert’s appearance more a product of a broad search for “special” kids born in somewhat extraordinary circumstances? Can I compose a paragraph made up of nothing but rhetorical questions?

alpert at hospital

Alpert shows up again when Locke is about eight years old, offering the chance at a special summer camp for–here’s that word again–“special” kids, put on by Mittelos Labs (clearly another division of the corporation that houses Mittelos Bioscience, the group that hired Juliet in the flashbacks in episode 3×07). [MITTELOS = LOST TIME] He appears to test Locke by laying out a number of items and asking John which of them already “belong” to him. I’m guessing Alpert didn’t sneak into the house and nab some of Johnny’s possessions, so this was more of a personality/potential test to see where the kid’s interests lay.

alpert's test

John examines the vial of sand-like material (which looks very much like the material that made up the border/boundary around Jacob’s cabin on the island), the compass and then, much to Alpert’s dismay, chooses the knife. Young John opts for the one item that could be used for less-than-enlightened purposes. Killing, hunting, etc. A tendency toward violence. At that point, Alpert decides he’s targeted the wrong kid and leaves. Does he leave to pursue the alternate for Locke’s spot at the “summer camp,” one Benjamin Linus?

Continuing the theme of destiny, Locke meets up with Matthew Abaddon while in rehab, the man who later claimed to be an Oceanic Airways lawyer to Hurley, and the man who contracted Naomi and the rest of the mercenaries on the freighter expedition. The purpose of the mysterious man’s visit seems to be forcing Locke to recognize he has a greater purpose to fulfill. More specifically, he recommends Locke go on a walkabout in the Australian outback. Was it to get John to discover something about himself? Or merely a way to get Locke onboard Flight 815 and to the island? Either way, Abaddon is playing a part in shaping Locke’s future.

abaddon & locke

Where does this leave us going into the season finale, and for the next two seasons? Are the characters still locked into a path already set for them? Or is it really possible for them to force that train off the tracks and “change the rules,” as Widmore has done? Yeah, I’d say so.

Quick Hits

  • Not much cabin in an episode called “Cabin Fever,” but there’s plenty to chew on. Christian Shepherd, who tells Locke he speaks on behalf of Jacob, tells John to forget about the many questions he probably has about the cabin and Claire and the smoke monster et al, and ask “the one question that matters,” which turns out to be, “how do I save the island?” Come on, Christian, I think you had at least a few minutes to lay out the inner workings of Smokey the Wonderdog.

    christian in the cabin

    Claire also happens to be there, and is pretty content for someone who left her baby at the base of a tree last week. I suppose if you’re dead, trivial matters like who’s taking care of your only child don’t matter too much. She’s gotta be dead, right? Blown to kingdom come in the explosion that destroyed the house in Otherville. Christian sure was, and whether he’s a re-animated corpse or made up of black smoke, Claire’s in the same boat.

    claire in the cabin

    My lingering question, then, if she’s dead and Kate is raising Aaron, won’t that lead to the certain disaster the psychic foretold of when Claire paid him a visit? Claire doesn’t seem all that concerned.

  • Oh yeah, one minor detail, Locke can save the island by MOVING IT. Is there a giant lever he can pull to fire up the place’s engines and get underway? Does he use the power of his mind to put up yet another shield around the place? What this does mean is that the island has been in a stationary position in the Pacific (since the 815 crash?) and not moving around, as some have surmised in previous years.
  • What the heck is on Keamy’s arm? It appears to be linked to a heart monitor of some kind and looks like a radio transmitter of some kind. Maybe it’s an iPod loaded up with Mama Cass’ greatest hits.

    keamy's arm radio

    More than likely it’s a transmitter designed to set off a metric crap-ton of explosives if Keamy’s heart stops. Is it a load of dynamite that’ll go off or something bigger? A nuke?

  • While we’re talking about Keamy, he unlocks the safe that contains the “secondary protocols” for the expedition, using the second key he takes from the once-feared Captain Gault to open the safe in the latter’s stateroom.

    secondary protocols

    Keamy tells Gault the protocols tell him exactly where Ben is going, as if to say the protocol booklet is a script that defines what will take place in the near-future on the island. If Widmore and Ben are players in repeating sequence of events they’ve lived through many times over, Widmore would have the knowledge of exactly what Ben would do on the island. Nice of him to put it in book form for Keamy and his mercenaries, but if Widmore changed the rules by killing Alex, that may render those secondary protocols useless. Watch your back, Keamy.

  • The cover to that book, by the way, has The Orchid station logo on it. Hmm. Maybe that’s the target of Keamy’s explosives. Is The Orchid the engine that can “move” the island?
  • Presumably, the “Emily” who gave birth to John is the same woman, played by Swoosie Kurtz, he later meets in the Wal-Mart Locke was working at (before his job at the box company).


    That started off the tragic turn of events in which he meets the father who steals his kidney and later pushes him out the window of his high-rise apartment building. Oh, and by the way, Ben’s mother’s name? Emily. Yet another similarity between the two men–they’re two sides of the same coin. Both ultimately want to protect the island, but by different means.

  • The “passing of the torch” that started when Locke began being viewed as a messiah by the Others last season now appears to be complete, as Ben tells Locke his “time is over” as the leading force of protection for the island. The island made its’ will clear when it healed Locke and gave Ben a spinal tumor. “Destiny is a fickle bitch,” as Ben puts it. Ben chooses not to enter Jacob’s cabin, and sits on the sidelines while Locke has his encountered inside with Christian and Claire.

    ben and hurley
    note the Apollo candy bar, of which there must be a never-ending supply

    Knowing Ben as we do, can we really believe he’d so easily give up the mantle of control he’s wielded so ruthlessly? Maybe, maybe not. With John in charge of the island, perhaps Ben can protect it in his own way back on the mainland, starting with a guerrilla war against Widmore and his organization.

  • Locke “dreams” of meeting Horace Goodspeed, the Dharma mathematician who stumbled upon Ben’s parents on a roadside while his mother was in labor, and eventually brought Ben and his father to the island. The bizarre nature of the encounter, in which Horace keeps introducing himself and chops down the same tree twice, felt like a recording-of-sorts. A message left playing in a loop for Locke to find. The Island apparently didn’t have the time for a live show.


    After Locke wakes, Ben tells him he used to have dreams as well; another signal that Ben’s time has come and gone on the island.

  • There’s some evidence that Horace actually designed the mysterious cabin Jacob calls home. Locke finds the blueprints for the place on Goodspeed’s corpse in the death pit, and uses them to find its’ location.

    cabin blueprints

    cabin blueprints

    I’ve never really thought of mathematicians as having an aptitude for architecture, even if it’s just a small cabin. Perhaps, more than designing joist placements and roof framing, Horace was adding something a bit more advanced to the place, something that allows it to bend space-time and move about the island.

  • I’m not sure I caught this before, but the Dharma logo on Goodspeeds’ coveralls is that of The Arrow, the station the Tail Section survivors first discovered.


    We don’t know The Arrow’s original purpose yet; it looked like an abandoned stable or just a storage area in the looks we’ve had at it.

  • Did another of Locke’s dreams as a boy involve the smoke monster? Alpert seems as surprised as we are by the picture John scribbled.

    smokey drawing

  • Why doesn’t Locke recognize Alpert when he met him on the island in season three? He was young when he first met him, sure, but the odd circumstances in which Alpert introduced himself would seem to be the kind of thing that would stick in a kid’s memory. This may be a case of the writer’s coming up with new ideas and fudging what’s come before. Nestor Carbonell’s (Alpert) involvement in Lost was up in the air for this season, until his “hit” CBS show Cane was canceled, so it wouldn’t be much of a reach to think a bit of leeway was taken by the writers.
  • Walt would have been a perfect candidate for the Dharma “summer camp” Alpert was recruiting for.
  • Young Locke is playing backgammon before Alpert shows up, the same game he taught Walt on the island after the crash.


  • Abaddon told Locke he went on a walkabout and the experience changed his life. Whether he means “walkabout” in the metaphorical sense, or if he actually went on one is anyone’s guess. Perhaps he made a visit to Ayers’ Rock, one of the places of “great energy” on the Earth (this, coming from the healer Bernard took Rose to in Australia) and had a religious awakening of sorts. Abaddon also tells Johnny that he’ll owe him one if they meet later on in life. Wonder what that favor will be.
  • We’ve got a sequence of events (as much as you can have one in this temporally-challenged show) for the death of the good doctor.

    Keamy’s mercenaries make their first landfall, kill Danielle and Karl, and kidnap Alex.
    The dead doctor washes ashore.
    Keamy confronts Ben and kills Alex.
    Smokey attacks that night.
    Keamy and wounded mercs meet up with Frank Lapidus the next day and head to helicopter.
    Travel back to the boat, where the doc is still alive.
    Omar, one of the mercs, receives Faraday’s Morse code transmission over the sat phone the next night (in freighter time).
    Mercs prepare for second assault on the island.
    Keamy slits the doctor’s throat and throws him overboard before departing for the island.

    If you can figure out how that works out, give yourself a pat on the back.

  • I’m pretty sure the music cue played when Sayid boards the Zodiac raft and leaves the freighter is the same cue used for the raft Jin, Sawyer, Michael and Walt departed on in season one. A nice little throwback.
  • You know the drill:


Other Stuff from Other Sites

  • The song playing in the first scene is “Everyday” by Buddy Holly. [Lostpedia]
  • “Horace Goodspeed, in Locke’s dream, mentions that he has been dead for 12 years. This places the date of the Purge on December 19, 1992 (December 19 being Ben’s birthday).” [Lostpedia]
  • Is Locke dead, too? Moreover, is Locke actually Jacob? A good read on EW.

Good God, if the length of this recap is any indication, the one for the show’s season finale is gonna take three days to write. I should guess at what’ll happen and start writing now. A scheduling reminder: part 1 of the 3-hour season finale airs next week, followed by a one-week break, with parts 2 and 3 airing back to back on May 29th. And then it’s an interminable seven months ’til season five.

9 thoughts on “Locked In”

  1. Thanks, as always for the great summary and write up. Some thoughts…….

    Ok…I thought it interesting that Locke chooses the knife, too. I also think that Locke has/had the “science” knowledge to do lots of things…like his high school teacher says that he can. Locke wants so desperately to “fit in”, rather than stand out, that he’d rather ignore his “scientific prowess”.

    However, if the time warp phenomenon that Desmond and Minkowski experience, are any indication, I think that Locke, in time warp, invented and mastered the smoke monster in the past, in anticipation of the future events coming to the island. i, e, Locke was to the island before, and then “back home”, creates what is needed to “save” the island in the future…when he goes back…his “touchstone” as it were…like Desmond’s Penny, and Farraday’s Desmond.

    Ben seems to be the “academic” type…and probably chose the “book” in Alpert’s “test”. Which leads me to believe that Ben and Locke are two “halves” of the same hole, and that Alpert needed them both. Where Walt fits in at this point, I am not sure. But, apparently after the plane crash, all the kids were “kidnapped” on the island, in search of the “one” (Walt), that they were after. So, maybe there is the trilogy/trinity thing going on….Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

    As to Claire’s baby, flashback to the episode where Charlie sees her with “Mother Mary” and the halo on the beach after Charlie thought she had drown, and Charlie with the baby in the water (baptism?)…the birth of the “new savior” – the “second coming”. (or maybe the third?). Claire’s child is perhaps the “new” Jesus for the next generation. The baby ends up going back with the Oceanic Six, and maybe was supposed to stay on the island. Aaron should not have gone back (ok, what’s the wikipedia for the name Aaron?).

    Maybe Jin’s baby and Claire’s baby will share the same “dual fates” as Ben and Locke….One born on the island, and one not. (Wasn’t Ben born on the island?). Boy that would be some great stuff for some future seasons! The next generation time warping and plane crashing…maybe on the moon, or mars!

    As for Abaddon’s “favor”, I think it will take place in the future somehow back “home” with one of the Oceanic Six. He is trying to find out from Hurley in the visit to the sanitarium, who is alive, etc. He no doubt wants to know if Locke is one of the survivors. And, he probably would like to “get back” to the island, as do most of those that ended up choosing to leave for whatever reason.

    We know that Desmond doesn’t want to go back, but isn’t one of the six. Jack wants to go back and isn’t “worthy”. Kate is happy where she is at, and Sun would probably like to go back to be with Jin (who is probably alive, but on the island, so that Sun and the baby can remain alive). ie one has to stay, one has to go?

    Who knows, but it sure is fun guessing!

    Like the whole show, it is all about choices……we all make them…..for good or for bad….timing is everything….there’s that word again. time.

    Goes to show you, we are all where we are supposed to be at any given time. We don’t know what’s around the next corner, or what the “master plan” is, so we just have to live it, and hope we make the “right” choices along the way…………

  2. If Horace has been dead for 12 years, then the purge took place 12 years ago…then how does that work for Alex? Was she kidnapped before the purge from Rousseau? By whom? the Hostiles or Ben himself…I don’t think that Dharma would have looked to highly on kidnapping…or did the writers just screw up?

    Also, Where did Karl come from…how did he get on the Island…

    Lastly, how did Rousseau survive the purge. She wouldn’t have had a gas mask. I had thought initially that they only gassed the compound, which would have been why Ben killed his father himself with the gas in the car. BUT Faraday had to shut down that gas thing with Charlotte which would have gassed the whole island right? Which means Rousseau has been dead for years and she’s just another ghostie like Christian Shepard…

  3. Danielle’s shown herself to be pretty resourceful, so I imagine she could’ve found a gas mask or two to survive the Purge.

    I think we’ll all have to wait for the inevitable Danielle flashback episode to find out for sure.

  4. One thing I forgot to include in my recap: another anagram to solve?

    elude-er? (Locke eluding his destiny)

    Rude Lee? (that rehab therapist is a real jerk)

    rude eel? (damn those discourteous eels!)

    lee-dure? (leader)

    I like the first and last interpretations myself.

    How about Georges Delerue, “the renowned French film composer who composed over 350 scores for cinema and television?”

    According to many testimonies he would do and redo some cues to fit the new editing of a sequence without any protestation. He insisted to be allowed to orchestrate and conduct himself in order to polish every detail. Georges Delerue was extraordinarily gifted for melody and at creating surrounding overtones which encapsulated the spirit of the movies for which he collaborated, enhancing them often beyond the expectations of their directors. He’s a true giant among giants. [Wikipedia]

  5. And yet another thing I neglected to include.

    The guys from the freighter mention the 305° heading they must follow in order to get back to the island. The problem with that is, Faraday gave Lapidus a bearing of 305° to follow when leaving the island.

    So, conventionally speaking, if the helicopter took a heading of 305° while leaving the freighter, they’d be going away from the island.

    So it’s either a continuity error, or there’s some sort of space-time loop at work, which certainly makes sense.

  6. I think i have lost my mind but,
    One of the items shown to lock when he was a kid was a book titled BOOK OF LAWS. This seems to a book on witch craft, maybe? It’s very religous but if you look at the subjects,,,
    #4 web of light linked to gods
    #8 observe and listen, reserve your judgment
    #15 swear on a oath, dont keep your word and you lose your sole.
    #16 gods will not have your children suffer.
    #23 Tools are channels
    #42 The mighty will not keep you in thier house if you do not learn. Laggard 1/2 ben 1/2 lock.

    Also if you follow this path, this book has a link to famous mathematicians, one whose name is Dr. Euler, from your anagram. Whose big moment was “arranging the whole as a constant”

    Dr. Euler also had alot to do withe the number pi, 3.14159…….

    15th his b

  7. I think i have lost my mind but,
    One of the items shown to lock when he was a kid was a book titled BOOK OF LAWS. This seems to a book on witch craft, maybe? It’s very religous but if you look at the subjects,,,
    #4 web of light linked to gods
    #8 observe and listen, reserve your judgment
    #15 swear on a oath, dont keep your word and you lose your sole.
    #16 gods will not have your children suffer.
    #23 Tools are channels
    #42 The mighty will not keep you in thier house if you do not learn. Laggard 1/2 ben 1/2 lock.

    Also if you follow this path, this book has a link to famous mathematicians, one whose name is Dr. Euler, from your anagram. Whose big moment was “arranging the whole as a constant”

    Dr. Euler also had alot to do with the number pi, 3.14159…….

    15th his b-day

    He also had alot to do with another number which is reffered to as m, 2.71828….
    I havent found a connection.
    Do you think this is a connection? I have to much time on my hands!

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