When thinking about my favorite moments on LOST my mind searches for those occurrences that LOST became so known for: the mind f*cks. As LOST grew older, it’s bag of tricks became shallower and just about any fan will tell you that the majority of the “Oh WOW!” moments belong to season one. I think the reason for this is the fact that season one has the most ‘revelations’ about characters that we don’t yet know.
In the case of John Locke, learning that he was paralyzed below the waist before ending up on The Island was just such a moment. Even in the most simple matter of fact sense learning that The Island had ‘healed’ Locke was mind blowing, but the occurrence set off an avalanche of questions and possibilities about The Island and Locke himself that would lead to many more such surprises as the series went on.
For starters, was Locke special? His healing certainly awakened Locke’s spiritual self and propelled him on a journey filled with purpose: to understand The Island that had given him this gift. It seemed for some time that Locke was destined to be some sort of Island Protector, a theme explored with a sort of Dalai Llama style test administered by Richard Alpert in the Season 4 episode “Cabin Fever.”
While time would seem to reveal that Locke’s healing was merely a random consequence of becoming stranded on the island, the healing also reinforced his sense of faith, making him a stubborn advocate for The Island’s spiritual nature, no matter what it threw at the castaways, so bringing a critical viewpoint into the discussion of The Island’s true nature.
All told, finding out that Locke was paralyzed before the crash was a validating moment for me that I was watching the kind of show I’d hoped I was. One with moments like this, single points of power, that would spawn sprawling mysteries loaded with possibilities that bordered on the spiritual and the far reaches of reason. And whether or not Locke was destined for anything, this LOST moment definitely opened the door for one of the most significant characters in TV history. It’s hard to discuss LOST without diving into philosophy and existential conundrums, and the man Locke became as a result of his healing is a strong, if not the strongest, proof of LOST’s success at creating a story worthy of such weighty discussion.