As the final season of “Lost” continues toward its end, we’re finally starting to get answers to questions that have plagued fans since the show began.
For instance, take the infamous Numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. They’ve popped up all throughout the show, from the code punched into the Swan computer, to the winning numbers on Hurley’s lottery ticket. But what are they?
In “The Substitute” we got an explanation. Sort of. The Man in Black takes Sawyer to a cave in the side of a cliff where Jacob had written a series of names, each one with a corresponding number. Most of the names have been crossed out, except for the following:
23 — Shephard
8 — Reyes
16 — Jarrah
42 — Kwon
4 — Locke
15 — Ford
This seemed to confirm a theory of many fans, that each of the Numbers is attached to one of the Losties, for reasons that are as yet unclear, but may have to do with each of them playing a part in saving the world (if you follow the deep show mythology involving the Valenzetti Equation).
According to the Man in Black, the Numbers have no significance beyond the fact that Jacob had a thing for numbers. He may be lying, though. I know most fans were expecting more of an explanation than that. The Man in Black tells Sawyer that the names represent potential candidates for Jacob’s job as protector of the island — although he is quick to point out that it’s just an island and doesn’t need protecting (in almost the exact same words as Jack at the end of Season 4). It’s interesting to note that there was no sign of Kate’s name on the cave wall, even though she, like the rest of the remaining candidates, was visited by Jacob in her past. Something worth noting.
The Man in Black explains that Sawyer has three options:
1. Do nothing, see how everything turns out, and maybe get his name crossed out (the Man in Black then crosses out Locke’s name, in what I took to be a veiled threat).
2. Take over Jacob’s job as protector of the island.
3. Leave the island.
Sawyer ends up deciding to join the Man in Black and leave the island.
In addition to the information about the Numbers, we were also introduced to a new apparition running around the island, this one of a blonde-haired boy who looks suspiciously like a young Jacob. He appears to the Man in Black (Richard Alpert can’t see him, but Sawyer can) and tells him, “You know the rules, you can’t kill him.” Presumably he is referring to Sawyer, even though the Man in Black seems more interesting in recruiting the con man than killing him. It seems Jacob’s death has started a possible war, and people are being forced to choose sides.
In the flash-sideways timeline, we got a glimpse into Locke’s life in a world where Flight 815 didn’t crash. He returns to work at the box factory, only to get fired for using the company account to fund his walkabout — the same one he ended up getting kicked off because he’s in a wheelchair. It was funny seeing his boss Randy again, the same guy who used to give Hurley a hard time at the Mr. Cluck’s chicken restaurant. It was even better seeing Locke’s girlfriend, Helen played by Katey Sagal. She and Locke are living together and planning their wedding. After a chance encounter with Hurley, Locke ends up getting a job as a substitute teacher at the same school where Ben Linus is teaching European History.
In much the same way Ethan has become a doctor off-island, it would seem that Ben’s life has taken a much different path since he, presumably, didn’t join the Others. At the time of the Jughead explosion, he was still recovering from his gunshot wound, so it’s not clear under what circumstances he made it off the island before it sunk. But I’m sure we’ll find out.
All in all it was a good episode. The story is picking up speed, we’re finally getting some answers, and let’s face it, it was pretty damn cool seeing through the point of view of the Smoke Monster as it raced across the island. Like most fans, I just can’t get enough of ol’ Smokey.