The promise of answers to "the most important question in the world" was dangled in front of Sawyer — and us viewers — in this episode like an aged bottle of Jack Daniels. We wound getting a sip or two, but hardly the snoot-full we were hoping for.
"The Substitute," the third hour on our march to the series finale, spent a good deal of time pointing out the parallels in the lives of Original Locke (O'Locke) and Sawyer, and showing that O'Locke is a key (perhaps the key) pinball that bounces off the other characters in the no-crash 2004 scenario: Jack, Boone, Rose, Hurley and Ben "European history" Linus, for starters.
In the episode penned by Elizabeth Sarnoff and Melinda Hsu Taylor and nicely helmed by Tucker Gates, Fake Locke (F'Locke) is described by Ilana as being on a "recruiting" mission in the wake of Jacob's death. Richard flatly turns him down, but F'Locke finds a slightly reluctant recruit in a whiskey-addled Sawyer, who's drowning his sorrows at his old house in New Otherton, listening to '70s hard rock. (I recognized the sound but can't quite place the band. Aerosmith? Thin Lizzy? Thanks commentors, tune is "Search and Destroy" by Iggy and the Stooges from "Raw Power.")
After a classic-"Lost" tromp through the verdant jungle, in which we encounter a frantic Richard Alpert and a stern young boy (Jacob reincarnate?), F'Locke and Sawyer get to cave area in the cliffs where we get some tantalizing clues (our Oceanic 815 heroes all have assigned numbers from The Numbers! The Scales of Good and Evil!) but no real clarity to speak of. Other than that Jacob was a numbers nut, per F'Locke.
The flash-sideways segments were all O'Locke, all the time. Nice to see Katey Sagal again in her role as girlfriend Helen. It was all the talk of O'Locke and Helen prepping for their wedding that made me think of the parallels to Sawyer-Juliet. Two men, both of whom have known betrayal, fear, anger, disappointment, etc., as F'Locke puts it to Sawyer at one point in their journey to the cliffs. Obviously, things are going to go awry for O'Locke and Helen.