Hurley asking as Locke reveals his knife collection: “Who is this guy?”
By SHARON K. GILBERT
THE DIALECTIC of Jack vs John (Jacob versus Man in Black) is set up with the opening scene: Close-up on John’s right eye as Locke wakes to find himself lying in a field of burning plane debris; the screams of terrified fellow passengers surround him.
This is but a memory, though, for John is actually sitting by a campfire on the beach with the other castaways, surrounded not by screams but by barks: Vincent is alerting to an intruder, which turns out to be, according to Locke “Boars”.
Jack continues in his assumption of the leadership role, deciding that the boars had invaded the camp to eat the bodies of the dead. Jack orders his companions to gather firewood and burn the dead. Hurley’s announcement that the food is all used up offers Locke the chance to challenge Jack’s leadership with a knife: one of six that Locke had ‘checked’ with the airline. It is here that we glimpse John’s story…
The opening flashback shows Locke in an office cubicle, speaking to a man on the telephone. The caller refers to Locke as “Colonel”. “Line’s secure GL12,” Locke replies. The call is interrupted by Locke’s office manager, ‘Randy’, who is unhappy with John’s ‘personal calls during office hours’. Locke returns to his job: running an adding machine.
If you’ve been watching the episodes along with me, I suggest you pay close attention to this scene, particularly as Locke runs the adding machine. The sound effect here is the identical sound used when ‘the smoke monster’ is about to make an appearance. The chess match of white versus black has already begun, as indicated by the ‘eye opening’ scene (knowledge gained?) that mirrored the same scene with Jack. Jack versus John. Jacob versus MIB. Good versus Evil.
The wounds above and below John’s right eye remain throughout the series; we watch them change from red stripes into permanent scars, as if he’d been branded from the very beginning. Curiously, the wounds appear to bisect John’s eye, as if a line were drawn through the orb, forming a familiar looking symbol: Phi.
In sacred geometry, Phi is the symbol for ‘the golden mean’. One website dedicated to ‘sacred geomancy’ puts it this way: “In the Beginning was the One. In order to observe itself, it cut part of itself away to make ‘Other’.” Strangely enough, this statement sums up the twin brothers who battle for control of the island and its inhabitants.
Another website refers to the golden mean as “a doorway” and “the fingerprint of creation”. The creation ‘myths’ of many cultures (eg. African, Native American, Mayan, Egyptian, Greek) teach that creation began with ‘twins’, one good and one evil. Jack and John. Since Jack is actually a nickname for ‘John’, it could be said that the pairing is “John and John”. Twins.
Jack: uses ‘knives’ to heal.
John: uses knives to hunt.
Back to the action, John organizes a hunting party, distributing knives to his fellow passengers. Going on the hunt are Michael and Kate. John displays an incredible knowledge about boar habits, wearing the mantle of mighty hunter with ease. This is very interesting, considering John has wakened to find his paralyzed legs miraculously healed. Is he already under the influence of the MIB at this point? Has he been marked for possession? Is he actually part MIB already?
When Michael is injured, Kate helps him back to the camp while Locke searches for the boar alone. As he ‘walks’, the flashback continues, and we learn that John had traveled to Australia to take a spiritual journey. One very odd scene is his phone call to ‘Helen’ (later played by actress Katy Sagal). The ‘Helen’ on the other end of the conversation is charging $89.95 per hour. Are there two Helens? Or has he chosen a phone ‘friend’ with the name Helen as a substitute for the real Helen whom he’d lost because of his obsession with his father? Locke is presented as a pitiful man with no hopes; the complete opposite of the confident hunter now walking the island.
Back on the beach, Jack continues to ‘heal’, spending time with Rose in quiet contemplation, waiting for her to realize that Bernard isn’t coming back. Rose refuses to accept this ‘truth’, and Jack watches her walk away. It is at this moment that Jack first sees his dead father, Christian Shepard, standing underneath a tree.
Kate has returned and tells Jack that John is dead, killed by the mysterious monster. “I saw it moving his way. There’s no way he could have gotten out in time.” But John is very much alive. And he returns with his prize: a dead boar. Did John achieve this kill alone, or has the MIB/Smoke Monster begun secretly aiding his protege?
Michael stands next to Locke as Claire leads a memorial service for the dead passengers. Referring to the ‘hunt’, Michael asks Locke how he’d avoided being killed by the ‘monster’.
MICHAEL: “Kate said it was headed your way. So, did you get a look at it?”
LOCKE (looking very mysterious before answering) “No.”
In the final scene, as his wheelchair burns, John recalls the heartbreaking embarrassment of being refused a spot on the ‘walkabout’ tour bus because of his handicap. He’s told no one on the beach that the burning chair is his. His new life has begun. He is reborn.