The role of John Locke

I was astonished to see on various polls and discussions online that most viewers would have taken Locke’s side instead of Jack’s on Lost’s 4th season opener. I wonder if these people are actually sane or if they understand what the hell they are viewing on TV.

Locke’s role on “Lost” is to be a sidekick. He is actually the main ‘villain’ on the series, not the Others, but he is portrayed in a way that people don’t realize it. Locke simply does what he thinks it’s right, without taking other people’s wishes into account, without even having enough information himself about the things he stands for. He is insane, as Jack very well put it. Sure, he is able to walk after he crash landed, but that doesn’t mean that everyone shares his wish to stay on the island.

Locke’s is the magician of the clan. He acts purely on superstition and subjectiveness. Jack on the other side is the hero, who takes logical steps according to available information to him, to save his people. The fact that Locke sees an apparition of Walt while he’s almost dead, doesn’t mean that it’s a true vision, but it could be tricks of the mind while bleeding to death. But instead of thinking straight that he is hallucinating (no matter if WE, the viewers, know that the island has special powers or not), he embarks on his way to stop the freighter people. Just because a vision told him so. I am pretty sure that after the blown up of the submarine, communication station, implosion of the hatch and the killing of Naomi, he will make sure to sour the freighter people’s opinions for the survivors, resulting in them deciding taking them hostage or something, and only save 6 of them.

Locke is not a friendly character. He is a cool character, but he is not the hero. Jack is. Locke is here just to make things difficult for the hero from the “inside”, in a similar way to Dr. Zachary Smith in 1965’s “Lost in Space“. Dr Smith was not a bad person, just like Locke is not a bad person, but he is selfish, and most of all, misguided.

So why the hell would I ever follow Locke? I don’t follow the Pope either. Instead, I would follow a scientist-turned-leader who thinks hard before taking an ultimately, rational, decision.

As someone put it on Blogger:

“If i were a lostie who has been trapped in a creepy island for 3 months eating only mangos, fish and boar meat, running and hiding from a smoke monster, witnessed a lot of deaths, hearing some creepy voices coming from the woods, kidnapped or watched my friends kidnapped by some ppl who call themselves the others, i would try my chance to get off the island and go with team jack no matter who was coming to the island… At least they have a boat and a helicopter! and who says “not penny’s boat” means they are coldblooded murderers who are coming to the island to kill them all… Oh yeah Ben and Locke say they are coming to kill them all… At least we are sure that 6 of them are alive in the future.”

12 Comments »

memsom wrote on February 5th, 2008 at 3:16 AM PST:

The way I see it: Locke represents religion. Jack represents science. Lost is very much about religion colliding with agnosticism/atheism. It’s all about showing that religion isn’t necessarily the right path, but that blindly following false science is also a lot like hiring a witch doctor. It goes on to show how little we really know about the planet we live on, let alone the wider universe. It shows that science is entirely fallable and that Jack, even a genius doctor, can’t save everyone (e.g. Boon, etc.)

Jack is not always right. Jack does think of himself above others (submarine, for example.)

The island is very much a pastiche on life in general, and what is wrong with American culture in specific.


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Eugenia wrote on February 5th, 2008 at 3:29 AM PST:

> Jack is not always right.

Tell me one time that he wasn’t (according to information available to him at the time).

> Jack does think of himself above others (submarine, for example.)

He explained to Kate that this is the only way to get help. So even when he was to leave, he was still thinking on how to save his peers. And this feeling is even endorsed on last season’s finale for becoming an alcoholic for not being able to help them.

> Jack, even a genius doctor, can’t save everyone (e.g. Boon, etc.)

And that’s ok, science has its limits and it knows its limits. People who follow faith blindly don’t have limits. And let’s not forget, Boone died because of Locke’s stupidity, not because of Jack’s inability to save him with his primitive tools on the island. All blame is on Locke on this one, not on Jack.

While “Lost” is indeed about faith vs science (not religion), the writers are clearly choosing science. But at the same time they are blurring these lines, enough for the viewers to get confused just because Locke’s character is portrayed as “cool”, and enough to get the plot going. But I think that if you ask Damon or Carlton who’s the real hero with his head screwed on tight in the show, they will answer “Jack”.

Having said that, I hope Kate ends up with Sawyer. She deserves him.


irbis wrote on February 5th, 2008 at 4:10 AM PST:

The role of John Locke? Maybe important? But as far as empiricism in concerned I prefer Ludwig Wittgenstein or Karl Popper. Or John Rawls in the field of social contract philosophy.. 😛


Adam S wrote on February 5th, 2008 at 5:11 AM PST:

> Jack is not always right.

Tell me one time that he wasn’t (according to information available to him at the time).

When he tried to KILL Locke this week. Jack is out of control, and given his behavior this week, people ought to distance themselves from him. Jack is no longer rational, no longer scientific. And he has not truly listened to what happened and what Charlie said. Once he’s no longer observing and reacting, he’s broken from the “science” standpoint you’ve noted and joined a new sort of “fait” standpoint.


mikesum32 wrote on February 5th, 2008 at 8:42 AM PST:

It’s going to be real funny when the Others turn out to be the good guys.


Bob C wrote on February 5th, 2008 at 9:27 AM PST:

Eugenia,
I obviously missed something last season or on the opener. I thought last season, towards the end, that Ben shot Locke and he fell into the mass grave where all the Dharma people were put… Then I watched the premiere last week and Locke is fine and dandy. What did I miss?
Bob C


Thom Holwerda wrote on February 5th, 2008 at 11:10 AM PST:

Well said, Adam. Rationality left the island quite a while ago.


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Eugenia wrote on February 5th, 2008 at 12:14 PM PST:

>When he tried to KILL Locke this week.

Right. And WHY is that out of control? Locke killed Naomi, and he sabotaged the escape of the group numerous times. He had it coming! I don’t see how Jack, as a leader, was out of control trying to take out one of the biggest pests in their world.

I would have done the same thing. Or if I had a brig (that Jack didn’t have available), I would have shoved him in.

As for listening to Charlie, Charlie only said that this is not the boat they thought it was. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a boat full of murderers.

So no, I don’t agree with you Adam.


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Eugenia wrote on February 5th, 2008 at 2:57 PM PST:

>What did I miss?

A missing kidney and the island’s healing properties.


Stéphane wrote on February 5th, 2008 at 6:08 PM PST:

I was browsing OSNews and was quite surprised and happy to see a link about my all-time favorite show on the right-side column. So here’s my quick answer.

John Locke is my idol on the island (Desmond and Benjamin are close, but Locke is the true force of the show). I’m not a religious person at all and usually on the scientific side (I’m a researcher), but I believe Locke can do no wrong in the grand scheme of things. I have faith (pun intended) in the writers and I feel that a dark side of certain ‘clean’ characters (i.e. Jack) will soon be shown. Locke and his actions will probably only be understood at the end of Season 6.

You’ve read it here first, Eugenia. 🙂

In the last 90 island-days, Jack has lost a lot of his sanity. Provided he was sane before the crash, which I sometiems doubt.

PS: Now let’s all hope that the rumors of the end of the writer’s strike for friday are true. I can’t imagine 2008 with only 8 Lost episodes.


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Eugenia wrote on February 5th, 2008 at 6:17 PM PST:

>I believe Locke can do no wrong in the grand scheme of things

That’s the whole problem in your comment. You take Locke’s side with the viewer’s point of view. But as a viewer you know MORE than Jack and the survivors know. You can’t judge the situation like that, because not all information is available to most characters.

Locke is the “insider” danger. You see, as a viewer you only care about the mysteries of the island, but if you were an actual survivor you would only care to get the hell out of that island. And Locke has sabotaged the survivors’ goal a number of times.

Let’s not forget that within JUST 6-7 episodes, he:
1. Blew up a com station.
2. Blew up the submarine.
3. Tried to kill the one-eye guy.
4. Defected to the Others. Or infiltrated them, depends how you see it.
5. Essentially killed his father.
6. Killed Naomi.
7. Split the survivors.

The guy works AGAINST the survivors. He THINKS he has good reasons, but he is not sane. Seeing visions of Walt while half-dead, a sane person would think that this was just a hallucination. But he didn’t, he really believes what he sees. When Jack saw his father he did think that he’s just tired and that he sees things. He tried to find a rational explanation about his visions. But Locke doesn’t. Locke has his own agenda, and the problem is that even himself doesn’t know what this agenda really is.

In an upcoming episode Locke will be asking Ben point blank what the smoke monster is. And while Locke WORKS for the island’s wishes, he doesn’t know what the island is. He is misguided, he only knows half-truths, and yet, he has FAITH to keep him going. But faith is not good enough for the rest of the survivors, because not everyone HAS to adhere in that belief system. And yet, Locke DECIDES for everyone.

This is why Locke is a villain and he doesn’t even know it.

Locke became a faithful because he experienced a miracle: his healing.

However, this is where things get ironic, as Locke tries to impose his beliefs on everyone else. Just like a fanatical religious person tries to make everyone like him and wear specific things or go to Church every Sunday. He doesn’t take other people’s wishes and beliefs into account because he thinks that he’s on the right path of wisdom because he had –according to him– a revelation. The kick is though that he only knows half-truths.

Just like fanatical religious people over the ages and even today don’t know what God really is, and what He’s made of, and yet, they would try to convert everyone else. They work for Him, but they are not sure why.

Locke has become a pest IMO. Which is why Jack calls him “insane” and tries to kill him. Jack did the right thing as a leader there. It was his responsibility to save his people from an insane, superstitious person that has sabotaged them numerous times. According to the info Jack and the survivors have, Locke is insane and should not be followed. The fact that he might be right at the end, it’s completely up to the writers, not to the actual situation so far when you put yourself into the survivor’s shoes and what they currently know.


Chris wrote on February 8th, 2008 at 7:58 AM PST:

Now let me say to I understand where you are coming from in many of your reasoned arguments against Locke, but I’d say I would still probably be going off with Locke. Miracles continually happening to one guy, must be for some reason. You forget, that not only did he see visions of Walt telling him what to do, but he was healed from the bullet wound to lead the others. And, in that same episode, in the future, Jack is saying they have to get back to the island. Which means he made a mistake in getting everyone off of it. Which would lead Locke’s decision in faith to stay on the island had credit.

Now let’s get into other periods when Jack has been wrong. Well, let’s go with hitting the button in Season 2. He refused to hit it, believing it to be nothing, when we found out it was not just a mind game. Or when Sayid was torturing Henry Gale aka Ben in the second season. They had one of the others, and they had a man who is trained to see through lies understand he is an other, and Jack stopped him from getting the information out of him.

Locke was right when he told Jack that if you’re building an army to fight the others, what Sayid was doing was something that needs to be done.


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