Tonight's episode of Lost is titled, "The Substitute." The title has a couple potential meanings. First, you have the mathematical connotation, lining it up with "The Constant" (still, my favorite non-Pilot episode) and "The Variable." Will there be some time-travel plot point explained in this episode? The other meaning ties into the fact that this will be a Locke-centric episode. Taken literally, the "substitute" can be simply defined as Esau/Man in Black using Locke as a substitute form on the Island. Will we finally get an explanation of how the loophole worked? Perhaps.
A commenter to my thoughts on "What Kate Does" asked about the possible parallels between Season 1 and Season 6. It has been discussed in different places around the web, and even alluded to by Darlton in various interviews. What they have said is that Season 6 could be like a distorted fun-house mirror version of Season 1. And so it has played out so far. After a bombastic season premiere introducing us to the characters' situation and somewhat focusing on Jack, the next two episodes, like Season 1, feature Kate and Locke. Whether or not "The Substitute" has the same emotional heft and kick-ass-ness of "Walkabout" remains to be seen, but undoubtedly the thematic elements of that seminal Season 1 outing will be reflected in "The Substitute." Here's what else I am looking for:
*Before I was able to turn off the preview for "The Substitute" at the end of "What Kate Does" (I'm trying to stay that spoler-free), I did see that 2007 Locke/Smokey will approach Sawyer. I expect Locke will play on Sawyer's despair to get the forlorn con man to join his side. Will he be successful? I think he will. I predict Sawyer will, once again, fight against Jack's side, but eventually make the ultimate sacrifice for Kate, Jack and the rest of his friends.
*Since this is a Locke episode, I'd be surprised if we didn't see 2004 Locke back at the box factory. Heck, I even predict we'll see Randy again. What will Sideways Locke experience though? Did he actually go on the walkabout and become a better person because of it? Will we see flashes of the motivated Locke from the Island, or will he still be the scared, depressed, mentally-crippled man he was pre-Island?
*We better get some explanation of how Claire became Rousseau 2.0. How did she acquire the "darkness" that has claimed Sayid? Was that darkenss the result of a run-in with Smokey? Was she shot or fatally wounded in some other way, taken to the Temple and bathed in the dirty hot tub of doom? But more importantly, to me, is whether Claire can be reclaimed by the forces of good. Can Jack, Jacob (through Hurley) or someone else do something to bring the old Claire back? I hope we get more downloaded on this tonight.
*What will happen to Sayid, and what will Jack do about his sickness? Now that Jack knows what is happening to Sayid (after having bonded with Dogen over baseball and poison ingestion), what will the Great Fixer do to save his friend?
*I hope we do get a good dose of the folks over at the Temple, Kate/Sawyer, and Jin/Claire, but I'm afraid we might get a sole focus on the people at the beach. Last week we only saw action at the Temple, and personally, I missed the goings on with Locke, Richard, Sun (please do something with her! Yunjin Kim is being wasted!) and the Others. Let's see both groups, OK?
That's it. As always, we have a lot of questions that will hopefully receive answers tonight. As this will be a Locke episode, I expect a fantastic outing like the others in the series. Hopefully, I will be right. Please be sure to check the usual places for coverage of last week's episode, and hone in on Doc Jensen's preview and Totally Lost vidcast in preparation for tonight. If you're a fan of other television shows (I know you are!), please check out TVOvermind.com. It is an extensive television site, full of recaps, promos and other TV news started by Jon Lachonis -- DocArzt himself. I've been writing on there the past few months, mainly covering Chuck, Modern Family and FlashForward, but some other TV news as well. The site is still relatively new, so I'd be grateful if you'd take a gander and give me your feedback. I'll be back later this week with some thoughts on "The Substitute." Until then...