LOST – Walkabout

Written by David Fury
Directed by Jack Bender

Which One Is It? The one where we find out Locke’s big secret. It is also the first episode to signal to the audience that Locke episodes will be tear-jerkers. Finally, it is the episode that made me realize that I would be following this show until the end, no matter where it went.

What Does The Title Mean? The obvious answer is that this refers to the walkabout Locke was prepared to go on. Another answer is that this is Locke’s character arc, a man searching for his destiny. A man who wants to be special. Over the course of the show Locke will be portrayed alternatively as the rugged individual and the spiritual seeker. In fact, season two will deal with the spiritual side in a big way, ending with a crisis of faith. The problem with seeking spiritual enlightenment is the assumption that such enlightenment exists. A certain worldview must be adopted that informs the search. This is why you don’t see many atheists going on walkabouts. At least, I assume they wouldn’t. If you don’t believe in the spiritual, why would you attempt to commune with it? Locke has some sort of faith-based belief, and I don’t mean this in a Judeo-Christian way. We’ll look at this conflict in the second season as well. No, Locke has no fixed point. He wishes to go on walkabout for spiritual meaning, enlightenment. He wants to feel his life has a purpose. Where this enlightenment comes from is somewhat irrelevant, but having no core foundational beliefs makes Locke quite “amenable to coercion” if he is just made to feel important. In addition, Locke is the typical American seeker who is willing to treat spirituality as an a la cart bar. His view of “walkabout” is based on a romanticized ideal that may not be entirely accurate. There is some debate as to whether a walkabout has real spiritual significance or if it was an act of protest by aboriginals during colonial days. Aboriginal workers would often disappear for days at a time, reappearing just as suddenly with no explanation. Eventually, employers were informed of the “walkabout” as a means of explaining, but it is debatable if this was real or just a con to make sure the employers knew they didn’t control the lives of the aborigines. Locke even gets his information on Norman Croucher wrong. Croucher didn’t climb Everest. However, the point is still taken as Croucher has climbed many other mountains. The basic gist, “shut up, Randy.”

Flashbacks. Locke-Centric, obviously. We learn that he was bound to a wheelchair before the crash. On Island, he seems healed. We also have our first view of Randy, who will reappear as Hurley’s boss in a later episode. Randy is the example of crappy bosses that many of us have had. Additionally, we have the seeds planted for Helen, a character we will meet later. It is worth noting that the Helen in this episode is not the one we meet later. “Helen” here is a woman on a sex-chat line that Locke calls. He doesn’t employ her for phone sex, but instead wants someone to talk with. He pretends that she is the Helen he knew (and was engaged to) once before. There is no indication that the woman on the phone is really named Helen. He may have just requested she adopt the name for their calls. At $89 an hour, I’m sure she was fine being called Helen.

Characters.
Jack. Decides the fuselage must be burned to keep the wild boars away. This would be the quickest and easiest way of dealing with the bodies. He also finds people coming to him with problems, Claire suggesting a memorial service and Boone asking him to check on Rose. Jack may not see himself as a leader, but others obviously do. We’ll deal with this more next episode. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we see Christian Shephard.

Michael. Goes on the boar hunt with Locke and Kate. This is primarily so he can spend some time with Locke and learn about the man who fascinates his son so much. He is gored by a boar.

Sayid. Makes antennae with the hope of triangulating the source of the transmission. He has made the same realization as us: a transmission means a power source. We also learn that he has been carrying pictures of who we will eventually learn is Nadia.

Kate. Agrees to go on the hunt to attach an antenna to a tree. This is the first of many times Kate will climb a tree, due primarily to Evangeline Lily’s love of climbing, the writers took as many opportunities as possible to indulge her. Kate drops and breaks the antenna.

Boone and Shannon. Argue over the food situation (it is running out). Boone accuses her of not knowing how to get food. Shannon uses her feminine wiles to con Charlie into catching her a fish, something he does with Hurley.

Don't tell Locke what he can't do.

Analysis. This is it. This is THE episode. It will make a fan if there is any chance at all. When people have asked me about Babylon 5, I typically tell them to stick with it until season three at the very least. If they aren’t hooked by then, give up. Sure, three seasons out of five is a long time, a big commitment, but you really don’t clearly see what the show is doing until then. With Lost, I would tell them to watch until this episode. Walkabout is the episode that made me a fan. It is the first episode to completely subvert your expectations of a flashback and your expectations of what this show is. Sure, there was some idea that the show had supernatural elements, limited primarily to a creature rampaging through the forest. A creature we couldn’t see. It could be something more natural, it could be a Lost World scenario. But no, with Walkabout we see the supernatural in play. The big moment, the most obvious one, is the revelation about Locke being healed. He can walk again. At this point we haven’t met Anthony Cooper, we haven’t met the real Helen. All we know is that Mr. Locke was in a wheelchair before he arrived on The Island. He was crippled. After the crash, he was not. This is the first truly mind-blowing revelation on the show. And you feel completely uplifted and hopeful. This is the power of television done right.

It isn’t just the flashback that signals great mysteries and subverted expectations. Twice in this episode Jack sees a man standing just where the beach meets the jungle. The man is dressed in a suit. There was little context for us when we first watched the show. At the time, it reminded me of the computer game Halflife, which involved a scientific experiment gone wrong in an underground facility. The base is soon overrun by creatures from an alternate dimension. As you fight to escape you occasionally see a man in a suit behind windows in areas that are just out of reach. You don’t know who he is, and this was how I felt when Jack saw the man in the suit. This, like the pictures of Nadia, are examples of how future stories are being set up. Despite popular opinion at the time, the man in the suit was not a government agent from a secret base on The Island, but Christian Shepherd.

Or was he really? We have every indication that he was really The Smoke Monster. Speaking of which, he was quite busy this episode. Appearing to Jack, chasing Locke through the jungle. Locke sees the monster during the boar hunt and his reaction is one of joy. Herein lies a problem. In the season finale, Locke will see the monster again and react with terror. What is the difference? Skipping ahead a bit more…the first time we get a really good look at the monster is in The 23rd Psalm as Mr. Eko stares the creature down like the badass he is. However, as the camera pans through The Smoke Monster, we see images flashing in the smoke. We learn that these are images from Mr. Eko’s life. Somehow The Smoke Monster is capable of scanning people and learning what makes them react and respond. It is possible that this is what was happening to Locke, that he was seeing these images play out before him, moments of happiness with Helen, moments of happiness before his dad ruined his life. To Locke, The Smoke Monster represented every good thing he had ever known. So, what changed in the finale? I can only guess that Smokey had decided on what he wished to do with John Locke, and was now on the attack. A cute dog can become a frightening thing when it goes rabid and tries to kill you. I may think on this more and revisit it at the end of the season.

Locke also keeps this information to himself. He doesn’t tell Michael what he saw, in fact he denies he saw anything at all. If a walkabout involves journey and a spiritual vision, then I would say Locke is in a place where he feels that vision has been achieved. He feels he has been chosen for the destiny he was denied when refused the walkabout. In fact, having survived the plane crash and regained the use of his legs, Locke has every evidence that he was chosen. That he has a destiny. Heaven help anyone who gets in his way.

Dude Count. 12

Nicknames. Jackass, Pork Pie, Metro, Magic Forest, Mighty Huntress

Background.
-Damon Lindelof suggested the title “Lord of The Files” for the episode.
-All the scenes of the crash in this episode were reused from the pilot, but they were shot in a way to recreate the look. There is only one shot reused from the pilot. See if you can notice it.
-The flashlights used by Jack and Sawyer (Jack has a small light, Sawyer a big light) are meant to represent, let’s just say, male one-upsmanship.

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