On ''Lost,'' Locke, who has survived the Hatch implosion, seeks a vision from the island to help him find Mr. Eko; plus, Desmond is naked and clairvoyant

By Christine Fenno
Updated October 19, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

”Lost”: Locke hunts for Mr. Eko

They tease us a lot ’cause they got us on the spot!

Welcome back, Locke and Hurley and Eko. Also, of course, Desmond (nekkid!). And, for that matter, most of the Lost characters who didn’t end season 2 on a pier or a boat. In episode 3 of season 3, we got the barest beginnings of an explanation of what happened to Station 3, a.k.a. the Swan, after the turn of the fail-safe key. Now I’m anxious (as anxious as a mute being wheeled through an airport by a ghost!) to learn how Locke, Eko, and Desmond survived the detonation that turned the Hatch into a crater. Who can say if we’ll ever see the bottom of said crater, but I look forward to a flashback that shows the electromagnetic implosion itself. I just really need (a) closure on the question of how our boys physically got out and (b) more naked Desmond.

The episode, titled ”Further Instructions” (which refers to Eko’s suggestion that Locke attempt the rescue of Kate, Sawyer, and Jack), had false starts, but I enjoyed the trippy places the writers took us. Which is not to say I didn’t pull my hair out. Even with no sign of wily Benjamin Linus (if that is indeed his name!) — but perhaps befitting an episode with a marijuana-based backstory — I am getting more paranoid: Did the Jesus Stick fall on Locke, or was it thrown? Did the rain just suddenly end while Locke was driving, or can the mysterious hitchhiker change the weather? Did we simply never notice those two hotties among the Oceanic 815 extras before, or does the island make people sexier? Good thing I like having my mind messed with.

Locke definitely set out to mess with his mind. The episode opened on him in a jungle clearing, flat on his back, in a shot reminiscent of the opening of the pilot episode, when Jack first came to, moments after the plane crash. Right away we learned that Locke had inexplicably lost his voice but, happily, not his ability to walk. When Eko’s scripture stick dropped from the sky (with an Old Testament verse stating, ”Lift up your eyes and look north”), Locke marched off to build…a sweat lodge?

In one of the false starts mentioned earlier, Locke roped Charlie into guarding his sweat lodge, which he built on Eko’s church site. While Terry O’Quinn played charades with gusto, the miming nevertheless came off as pretty silly, and Charlie’s bitchy act fell flat. (A timid truce between the two took hold by episode’s end, though the motivation for Charlie’s reversion to tagalong mode was hazy.)

The episode found its groove not long after Locke ate his poi and gazed into his campfire, sweating himself into a trance. Soon…Boone! Seeing Ian Somerhalder made me downright nostalgic for the simpler days of season 1. Boone’s steering Locke’s groovy-queasy vision, while asking him to guess which castaway needed his help, was the most Twilight Zone moment I can recall in the series to date. And I mean that in a good way — I love me some Rod Serling! That said, dreamland (or in this case, sweaty-trance-land) is not frequently visited on Lost, accustomed as we are to the flashback device. Frankly, I hope we don’t find ourselves there too often. As it is, we’ve got so many cryptic incidents to clear up in the ”real world,” on and off the island.

For example, the polar-bears-in-the-tropics mystery is now officially revived, although we sure didn’t get very far with it (at least not much past Tom’s previous reference to ”the bears”). But encountering the polar bear deep inside a cave full of human skeletons, one wearing a Dharma-logo T-shirt, gave me the creepy-crawlies. At some point after the Hatch meltdown, poor Eko apparently got dragged there by the bear.

Meanwhile, Locke’s outdoorsy flashbacks were tricky for me to place, chronology-wise. Was there a clear indication that this farm phase in his life occurred post-Helen? Saying grace, he did refer to his anger problem as if it were fairly recent, and to ”family” with fresh bitterness. I thought featuring Twin Peaks alum Chris Mulkey as a wacky-tobacky farmer was brilliant. He and Virginia Morris, who played Jan, pulled the rug out from under Locke, causing him to panic at the prospect of losing his precarious, hard-won sense of belonging. While I’m not convinced that what we needed most was to see another occasion where someone Locke trusted turned out to be using him, the standoff in the woods with Eddie (who targeted Locke for being ”amenable for coercion”) was the episode’s strongest moment. For numbers watchers who might have missed it: Eddie’s sheriff ID was 84023.

By the way, anyone who’s worried about the attractiveness of the remaining beach-bound Losties — what with Jack, Sawyer, and Kate doing time in Others State Prison — rest easy. New cast members Kiele Sanchez and Rodrigo Santoro (as Nikki and Paulo) abruptly showed up, evidently to bring sexy back. Based on the matter-of-fact way Locke addressed them, I presume they’re legit and not Ethan-like spies. Theorize away about whether they’re a couple, or a couple-to-be!

I will credit this episode with shoring up one of my most deeply held Lost theories: Hurley can do no wrong. I just don’t see it happening. He can lend me his tie-dye shirt and ask why I didn’t implode (”You’re not going to, like, turn into the Hulk, or something??”) anytime. He makes me smile. Desmond skipping stones in the sunset made me smile too — I hoped he might sing a tune from Godspell, looking all Jesus-as-happy-hippie in that moment. Also, it’s fun that he might be clairvoyant now. And that he runs around naked.

What did you think? Did Eko wake up and speak to Locke, or was it a hallucination? Did Locke shoot Eddie in the back after all? Is it any clearer what a polar bear is doing on the island? And who will lend Desmond some pants?