John Locke went tilting at windmills last night, and paid the price. The maybe delusional/maybe not/probably both knight errant of Lost screwed on his Don Quixote and went on his most important quest yet: Trying to convince a collection of world-weary, spiritually-defeated friends that they were special; that they were all meant for greater adventures and grander purposes; that they all belonged back on The Island. Alas, just as “the knight of the sad countenance” of Cervantes’ mock-heroic epic was met wherever he went with derision and much physical punishment, Locke, too, was greeted with heaps of scorn and physical battery. Still, it was Locke who got the last laugh. In the wake of a journey that tested his faith and left him for dead, the Holy Fool of Redemption Island found him born again on the sandy shores of his heavenly home—or at least, just across the water from it, over on Hydra Island, the Maui-esque Purgatory which orbits the Paradise-or-Inferno? riddle that is The (Big) Island. Continuing the season’s theme of figurative and literal time loop, John Locke celebrated by doing what he did when he crashed on The Island the first time around—by biting into a juicy piece of fruit and telling a complete stranger his big secret: I used to be dead. Now I am alive. Fancy that.
We had been prepped for an episode about what happened to John Lockeduring his apocryphal Jeremy Bentham digression—about what happenedafter he left The Island, about his ill-fated mission to evangelize tothe fallen souls of the Oceanic 6, how he wound up cast in the role ofsacrificial lamb. We got all that–plus a surprising amount of more,beginning with the resolution of last week’s Ajira Airlinescliffhanger. Good ol’ Frank Lapidus managed to pull a US Airways andland Flight 316 pretty much intact on Hydra Island. (Didn’t see thatrunway, though. So much for that prediction.) And with that, anew group of castaways have washed up on Lost, and with a fewexceptions, like conspicuous newcomers Caesar and Ilana (admit it: youwere reaching for the Nikki/Paulo panic button, weren’t you?), they canall look forward to glorious futures as background dressing, canonfodder, and Smokey food. There were casualties, injuries (!Que lastima Ben!),and one glorious resurrection. I was surprised. Whenever I envisionedLocke’s reanimation, I always saw it coming at the end of an episode—abig reveal, a swell of Michael Giacchino score, and then—BONG!—titlecard. Instead, we got the Risen Locke right away, in a moment thatbelongs on a clip reel of Quasi-Mystical Pop Culture Characters WhoIntroduce Themselves With A Dramatic Removal Of An Oversized Hoody.(See: Obi Won Kenobi; Gandalf; Spock in the original Star Trek movies.)
“The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” was largely a flashback saga,bracketed by the Hydra Island stuff. Locke’s globetrotting,let’s-put-the-band-back-together journey began with a scene of massivemythological importance, and ended with a scene that ranks among thevery best Lost has ever given us. The whole episode evoked andsynthesized a number of literary, religious and pop culture references,and if you will allow me to just let me list some of the titles here(because honestly, I do love this stuff, even if you don’t), I promisenot to bore you with the details as we move along. Okay? Okay, then:Homer’s The Odyssey, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Esau and Jacob, the passion of Christ, Acts of Thomas (specifically, “The Hymn of the Pearl”), and… Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13, plus the platforming narrative structure of Rock Band: World Tour! (Just kidding.) And now let’s get on with it, by following “the wandering rock” (see: Odyssey/Ulysses) that was John Locke through his not-so heroic journey… (For the full recap, check back at ew.com later this morning!)