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John Locke Grapples With Destiny in LOST's Walkabout

By Edited Nov 12, 2016 0 0

LOST is a show that makes numerous allusions to literature. One connection that many viewers drew right off the bat was to Lord of the Flies, the disturbing novel by William Golding about a group of boys who land on an isolated island and begin to fight amongst themselves while building up a mythology around the boars that roam freely through the jungle. In Walkabout, that connection grows stronger as wild boars begin to raid the beach and Jock Locke proposes a hunt that brings him into close contact with the Island's monster.

John comes into sharp focus in this episode that delves into his history, which seems surprisingly mundane for a man who crashes on an Island with a box containing dozens of hunting knives. How exactly did a man who worked in a box factory come to learn so much about wilderness survival? It's startling to contrast the scenes from John's humiliating past as a low-level employee with an obnoxious boss with the his on-Island moments. There's both wisdom and ferocity in his manner as he sets out to bring home dinner for the castaways, who are quickly running out of food. Terry O'Quinn's portrayals of the two versions of John are so distinct from each other that he quickly becomes the standout actor in the first season. By the end of the episode, we understand all too well why it seems that John is in no rush to be rescued, and deeper layers of pain in his past are yet to come.

While this episode displays John in all his primal glory, other characters receive significant attention as well. Chief among them is Claire, who finds a way to contribute by going through the luggage of the victims in order to pull together a few biographical details so that they can have a proper memorial service. The emergence of the boars has made it clear that something will need to be done about the wreckage, and although several survivors, especially devout Muslim Sayid, object to the idea of burning the bodies, Jack sees no other option. Claire's initiative in honoring her fallen fellow passengers, even though she didn't know them, shows her kindness and empathy. She has help from Hurley, the one character who most often conducts funerals later in the show, delivering eulogies that are sweet and heartfelt, albeit often unintentionally humorous.

Walt and Michael continue to find it difficult to relate to each other, and though Michael trusts John's expertise enough to follow him into the jungle on a boar hunt, he still doesn't like the idea of Walt spending much time with him. Meanwhile, Walt, the only kid in the group, feels out of place and discarded, and John seems to be the only one among the castaways who treats him with respect. Sun becomes more involved with the castaways as she takes on the role of babysitter to Walt, despite the language barrier, but he resents the idea that he needs to be looked after.

Kate once again shows her affinity for tromping around on dangerous adventures, while Sayid pours his concentration into a plan to discover the source of the French transmission in hopes of shutting it off. In these early episodes, Kate and Sayid seem especially comfortable together, and it's interesting to ponder what that romantic pairing might look like, though any hints of that happening dissipate within a few episodes.

Boone and Shannon bicker as the latter acts like a spoiled brat and uses flirtation to convince Charlie to catch her a fish, which results in a nice bonding experience for Charlie and Hurley, who soon become fast friends. While Charlie is all too happy to impress Shannon with his skills, his realization that he is being used marks the end of his romantic interest in Shannon. Meanwhile, Boone continues to establish himself as eager to help but fairly ineffective. He's the one who draws Jack's attention to the near-catatonic condition of Rose, the woman he rescued in the first episode. Though Boone often protests that Jack won't let him help, he still seems to think Jack is more suited to the task of snapping her out of her stupor than he is, while Jack himself is just exhausted and tired of everyone turning to him for advice.

The conversation between Rose and Jack is an oasis of calm in the midst of one of the most adrenaline-filled episodes of the series. We get a profound sense of Rose's serenity and realize that while she is traumatized by the events of the last couple of days, she will survive, and her calm demeanor will be immeasurably helpful to those castaways willing to confide in her. Jack approaches her for her benefit, but in the end, she provides the greater aid as they quietly gaze out at the ocean together, embracing a rare moment of peace. We also find hints here of the Man of Science / Man of Faith debate that will frame so many future episodes.

In Walkabout, we find a community of castaways coming to terms with the fact that a rescue is not as imminent as they had hoped. In fact, they may be in this place for a very long time, in which case they will need to call upon their strengths in order to help each other to survive. That realization doesn't set in fully until the next episode, but the fact that they need to start foraging for food gets the gears turning, and a subtle change in how they relate to each other begins to develop. As iconic episodes go, this is one that would make most fans' top ten lists. It introduces the assertion "Don't tell me what I can't do!" into the LOST lexicon and establishes a profound and puzzling connection between John Locke and the Smoke Monster, and its final few moments contain one of the best twists in the entire series. If this episode doesn't hook you, then I suspect none will.

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