This question seems to be cause for a lot of debate lately, particularly since Terry O’Quinn himself weighed in with his take on the situation. Terry believes that Locke is gone forever, dead is dead. My good friend Erased Slate gave us an artful tour of the writing on the wall with his piece right here and made as solid a case as anyone that Locke was gonzo. Well, color me incredulous – I’m just not ready to let go of John Locke; not only do I think that Locke will return, I think his return has already been portented much in the same way that hints of anti-Locke were dropped throughout the season.
Before I get into any of the evidence, let’s just look at this logically. Leaving popular characters’ lives in precarious situations is part and parcel of the LOST finale experience. In season one it was Jin, Sawyer, Michael, and Walt. In season two it was Desmond, Mr. Eko, and Locke. You get the picture. This season we have a lot of lives at risk: in addition to being parked a few yards away from a nuke, Sayid is bleeding to death. Juliet was at ground zero for said bomb; heck everybody in that general vicinity is more or less screwed without the deft writing chops of Darlton to rescue them in some fascinating way.
The main reason people should be faithful is that Daniel’s plan will likely work, altering the future for all characters – including Locke. For it to fail would mean that the story is over for Jack, Hurley, Jin, Juliet, Kate, Sawyer, and Sayid; very unlikely. Now as for the aim of Daniel’s plan, we all know that had nothing to do with Oceanic 815 landing in Los Angeles. The changes to history would begin the same day the bomb went off, in 1977, and would fan out from there. Dharma could potentially continue their research, minus a station, and the butterfly effect would likely disrupt timelines so sginificantly that Oceanic 815 may never even take place as we know it. As for Daniel’s true purpose in changing history – saving Charlotte – that plan may succeed.
If the finale taught us one thing, though, it is that the particulars of the castaways lives are not important in Jacob’s game. They were selected to play on his chessboard of an island for a reason and altering their histories won’t change that. All of them were chosen long before they got on Oceanic 815. A big temporal reset at this point doesn’t free them from the game, only the circumstances that have shaped their journey up until this point – including death.
One piece of evidence, albeit very tenuous, is Walt’s prophecy – we’ve yet to see this come true. Could Walt have been seeing events from a separate time-line? From a story perspective, it could be very interesting to have Locke somehow ressurrected after anti-Locke has done so much damage to his reputation. As for Terry O’Quinn continuing in the role of Jacob’s nemesis: why? Now that man number 2 has presumably succeeded in his mission to kill Jacob, does he even have the need to maintain Locke’s visage?
For me, Locke’s death-death is par for the course in LOST-ville, and something we are expected to debate until season six premieres next season, but my gut tells me the bald guru will yet have a role in the island’s final saga.