Wednesday, August 8, 2012

LOST: It Wasn't Purgatory, episode 4, Walkabout

Events: Opening with a repeat look at the crash, this time from John Locke's perspective, the episode is exciting and busy with a lot of reveals. As the survivors first struggle with what they fear is another encounter with the "jungle monster" in the plane's fuselage (it turns out to be wild boars) they realize that beyond supernatural concerns, they have two very concrete, immediate problems: there are dead bodies everywhere and food has run out. Jack suggests they burn the bodies inside the fuselage to create a rescue signal; John Locke, armed with practical knowledge and about twenty specialty knives, volunteers to hunt the boar for food. Through Locke's flashbacks we learn that he led a uneventful perhaps unsatisfying life, and that he had been planning a trip to Australia for a walkabout, or physical journey of "spiritual renewal." During a hunting expedition with Kate and Michael, a group of boar attack and leave Michael wounded and Locke disoriented on the ground; when Kate protests Locke's wish to continue on alone, he repeats what he earlier told his  boss, "Don't tell me what I can't do."
Greater Meaning: Through this episode we learn a great deal about John Locke---he was belittled by his boss, he was rejected by a woman named Helen, he was a paraplegic---but above all of this, he seemed adamant about making the Walkabout, despite his physical disability, saying several times, it was "his destiny." The episode opens with Locke's eye, just as the pilot episode opened with Jack's; as Kate's episode (Tabula Rasa) in between the two did not open with the same close up shot, we must assume that Jack and John are of greater importance or equality.
Don't tell me what I can't do!
In terms of anatomy, one cannot ignore the symbolism of Locke's connection (through his legs and feet) to the physical world, or in this case, the island, specifically. As Locke wiggled his right toe in the opening shots of the episode, his legs began to function after four years in a wheelchair; this causes not only a physical but also a spiritual renewal (later he tells Walt that a miracle happened to him). Thus, John Locke is a new man on the island. Reborn. It's interesting that despite the physical change, Locke already seems mysteriously at home; he plays backgammon, fashions a dog-whistle, and sits happily in the rain, all within the first few days of the crash. As a would-be leader, his knowledge and abilities are practical, primal. He has aim, skill, strength, and confidence, which is a bit at odds with the man we saw in the flashback; such a significant difference has a way of making the idea of destiny seem extremely relevant.
Jack, who is every bit as important, by contrast, is more at home in the scientific, cerebral world. Where Sayid earlier voiced hesitation in burning the victim's bodies for spiritual reasons, Jack focuses only on the immediate, logical needs of the survivors; "We don't have time to sort out everybody's God." When Claire suggests Jack lead the memorial service he replies bluntly, "It's not my thing." Jack comforts Rose on the beach but can't share her faith that her husband might still be alive. Man of Faith, Man of Science. Both useful, but which will lead?
Further Questions:
1. Who was Helen?
2. Why was Locke in a wheelchair?
3. Why did "the monster" let Locke live?
4. Why is Locke able to walk on the island?
5. Where exactly are they?
6. Why is Jack so anti-faith?
7. Who is the man in the dark suit?
8. How does Rose know Bernard is alive?
9. Why did Locke lie to Michael about seeing "the monster?"

Join me next week for a closer look into the enigma that is Jack Shephard in White Rabbit.