Sometimes episode as powerful as “the Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” will resonate throughout the following day. You cannot help but continue to reflect on it. It was episode packed with mythology, stunning imagery, fantastic acting and genuinely great ‘Lost’ moments. During the live chat for the episode, many comments were made about how quickly the episode moved, as if we entered a island-styled timewarp.
The Incredulity of Locke
Incredulity is the inability or unwillingness to believe. The off-island exploits of Locke were a study in the way a person’s faith is dismantled by the harshness of real life. With each visit to those that left the island, the roots of doubt further choked out the faith that began Locke’s evangelical mission.
How can you say to Sayid that it was a mistake to leave? He was able, for the briefest of moments, to experience a deep and profound love. How can you convince a Hurley that has trouble being convinced of his own reality? How can you tell Kate, who for the first time has taken on responsibility, to ditch it for the island? How can you tell Jack of a destiny when he questions his own importance in life? How can he be convinced of his own importance when he leaves a trail of unfulfilled promises and brokenness.
The faith of Locke was reduced to the size of mustard seed. And in his crisis of failure, he resorts to an act of despair. Before being (con)vinced by Ben to give it one more shot. Then, John blurts out the one piece of information that Ben did not have, a name that knows the way back to the island. Locke was no longer needed. He was no longer important to Ben.
Touching the Side
Let’s reflect on a quote from the previous episode, “316.” Ben explained the painting “The Incredulity of Thomas” by Caravaggio to Jack saying:
Thomas, the Apostle. When Jesus wanted to return to Judea, knowing that he probably would be murdered there, Thomas said to the others, “Let us all go that we might die with him.” But Thomas was not remembered for this bravery. His claim to fame came later [pauses] when he refused to acknowledge the resurrection. He just couldn’t wrap his mind around it. The story goes that he needed to touch Jesus’ wounds to be convinced.
Originally, we ascribed the significance of the painting to Jack. And to an extent, that is true. But the scene of Locke’s attempt at suicide continues to haunt. I am struck that the painting speaks more of John. Ben may have only been a narrator to us, not aware of the connection. Notice the position of the hand of both Locke and the painting. Notice how Ben is kneeling before John and “praying” before the painting.
It was Locke who pledged to defend the island to his own death. Instead he doubted everything the Island told him. Locke had to touch his destiny to know that it was real.
The question is will Locke be a different person now? Or, will he continue the cycle of doubt to faith to doubt? If his resurrection has finally taken him out of this cycle, was that signified by the change in the taste of the mango? Did his self-doubt finally die with Jeremy Bentham?