The Enigma of John Locke: Leader or Loser?

This is a question debated many times on this site, most recently in response to Shephardsflocke’s theory on Locke’s misguided leadership, which as he said, had morphed into a discussion of time travel. Back to his main point, I am in the camp of John Locke’s not being a leader. He has no real leadership qualities, and the only reason he and everyone else believes this is because of the time travel paradox discussed so much. After reading Shephardsflocke’s theory, and re-watching some of season 1, I remembered why I dislike Locke so much. It makes so much sense that he was “infected” by the smoke monster at their first meeting. Every other character on Lost has the same reaction to Smokie–it’s black smoke, scary, evil, dangerous. It kills brutally. After one of Rousseau’s team was infected and dragged into the temple, he tried to take the rest of them with him by lying and saying he needed help. This is how Smokie operates–he either kills his victim outright or “infects” his victim and tries to convert others to his side by his wily means. However, when John Locke sees it, he isn’t afraid of it, but instead says he “looked into the eye of this island,” saw a white light, and it was “beautiful.” I believe that this is how Smokie took him over and caused a lot of his really erratic, creepy behavior in season 1. The off-island Locke in his flashbacks is a meek, pathetic follower who is vulnerable to being preyed on by his father, mother, foster families, the crazy hippies growing pot, the undercover cop, his snarky boss, Randy, and just the world in general. On-island Locke is much more sure of himself, he instinctively knows the island and how to survive (tracking, boar hunting, finding the hatch). In the first few episodes, Kate, Charlie, Jack, Sawyer, and especially Michael, all make comments on how weird and creepy he is, and wonder how he knows so much. Remember when he looks at Kate and smiles with the orange in his mouth? Remember how spooked Kate was? Charlie says at one point that Locke was probably a postal worker who killed all his colleagues cause he didn’t get a cookie in his lunch tin! Also, notice how many times Locke just sits on the beach looking out at the ocean the same way he did after he was “resurrected” after the Ajira crash. Does anyone ever think it’s strange how Locke is rarely confused or uncertain? Is this his unwavering faith or could it be more sinister, in that he KNOWS what is happening, and indeed has been planning and plotting during the entire series? After last week’s episode, I think that he’s trying to do the same thing to Sawyer by lying to him about wanting to go home, and appealing to his need to get off the island–that’s the hook, Sawyer’s weak spot, that Smlocke is trying to exploit to recruit Sawyer to his side. I think that John Locke the man hasn’t been seen since the crash, and John Locke/aka Smokey will meet his end during “the war that is coming” when he is finally cut down by Jacob’s new leader, Smokey’s nemesis–JACK SHEPHERD.

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Hi everyone! We are a mother/daughter team who love LOST! Our comments are sometimes only one of us and sometimes a joint effort, so forgive us for any inconsistencies!

14 thoughts on “The Enigma of John Locke: Leader or Loser?

  1. john locke did lead a group of losties during the frieghter times. people naturally flock to him. charlie ALSO said: if there is one person id put my faith in to save us all it would be john locke.

    now he is not perfect. jack was kind of a sucky leader too, as sawyer pointed out during dharma times. i think john locke is both leader and loser. he is a torn, battered and bruised soul, but he instills faith and belief in others.

    he is no manipulator like ben, but that is not his leadership style. if i had to choose between jack and locke, i would follow locke every time.

  2. Consider John Locke 1.5 (Seasons 1-5 with post-crash improvements) at the point where he returned to the Other’s camp with the body of Anthony Cooper over his shoulder. He didn’t seem afraid. He was very much in control, cool, calm, collected. That was John Locke the leader. Sure, John Locke 1.0 was a screw up. He was afraid and helpless… he didn’t even have functioning legs!

    Now consider John Locke 2.0 (post strangulation Ajira plane crash). John Locke the Smoke Monster. John Locke the Man in Black (I don’t think we can call him that anymore since he’s stuck as John Locke in an alive green t-shirt apparently). No fear. Very much in control. Seems to have exactly what you’d expect in the island leader… but think about John Locke 2.0 when he fell while chasing the little blond kid and broke down shouting “don’t tell me what I can’t do!”… Seems more like John Locke 1.0.

    Maybe they’re coming together into one. The Super Cool Leader Type Loophole Seeker Richard Puncher Ben Tricker Smoke Monster John Locke and the Original Super Flawed Scared of his Shadow Wheelchair Bound Can’t Walkabout Colonel John Locke. Maybe Locke 3.0 will be just the leader the island is looking for.

    Or… John “Alternate Timeline” Locke is going to see his life take a really good turn now that he seems to be accepting things and he’s making peace with his life. He’s still going to end up hooking up with Jack and Jack is going to fix him. He’ll walk again and decide to go on that walkabout. He’ll crash on the island and then we’ll have a whole, at peace John Locke on the island. That’ll be like Dalai Lama John Locke.

  3. WOOHOO!

    Thank you imissCharlie for getting my point, and even if what i said wasn’t true(and i don’t fully believe it) the proof is there.
    I think the similarities between Lockes behavior and Danielles crew after first meeting the smoke are undeniable.

    Locke was definitely inspired when he encountered Smokie, and felt he had a connection with the island, but maybe that connection was with Smokie all along.

    As you say, Locke said he ‘looked into the eye of the island’, but now knowing MIBs opinion of the island, and his plans, it would seem to me that some things Locke believed he was doing in the interest of the island, were actually to the benefit of MIB.

    I also think part of this whole this was that Jacob had nothing to do with Locke being appointed leader, but by other people supposedly speaking on Jacobs behalf.
    First Locke giving Richard the idea in 1954, which set the ball in motion. Also, Ben was supposedly recieving instructions from Jacob, but i honestly believe Ben never had contact with Jacob.

    Locke got instructions from ‘Christian’, supposely speaking on Jacobs behalf, but i don’t believe he was, so again Locke had no contact with Jacob.

    Its a shame more people didn’t read my post, i raised more points in the comments then in the actual theory (so i just repeated the here), but i think the title turned people off. I don’t necesarilly think Locke was never meant to be leader. and


    i agree with you that the great leader LOCKE that the others have been waiting for is yet to come. I was a firm believer that Lockes corpse was gong to come back alive somehow, through some timeline craziness. The answer to the question ‘what lies in the shadow of the statue’ was ‘he who will save us all’, Johns body was literally in the shadow of the statue! But he got buried in the last episode, which is a shame.

    I still have faith in good ol’ Locke though.

  4. Shephardsflocke, I’m so happy you feel vindicated, especially since your theory was so insightful, but got hijacked by the time travel police!
    And the reason I didn’t comment on your post was that there were SO MANY comments, I thought it would be lost in the shuffle or ignored. I really did like your thesis, and I wanted to give it the credit it deserved, so I figured by kind of restating it in the theories section it would be more prominent and get more exposure!
    But I’m confused, why do you not agree with your own theory?

  5. WOW!
    the latest episode was brilliant! especially that ending ‘that’s not John…thats my friend.

    I only said i don’t necesarilly believe what i’d posted because the way the show is written, there is always proof for two sides of an arguement, so myself i never put my eggs in one basket. I still think ALT Locke could be the good leader they need, or it could just be Jack and old Locke is dead and buried.

    on that note I actually think last nights episode is definitely further proof that what we think is true!

    Christian lead Claire away from Aaron, yet told her that the others took him, and we know that her ‘friend’ is MIB, that firmly places Christian on the side of MIB and opposing the others.

    Now, Christian was claiming to be speaking on Jacobs behalf when he gave Locke instructions, now it is undeniable that he was not.

    If Ben did infact ever speak to or see anyone in that cabin prior to Lockes encounter, it would make sense that it was not Jacob either.
    And the leader before Ben? and before that one? How long has this misleading been going on? We don’t know but i’d say its been going on for while.
    Richard certainly didn’t seem aware of it, otherwise why would he let it go on.
    To me me its pretty obvious that the others have been blindly following the words of Jacob, when they weren’t his words.

    I also just thought, last night Jacob gave Hurley instructions to help someone to come to the island.
    When we saw the season 5 finale MIB and Jacob beach scene, we saw a ship making its way to the island, MIB said he knew Jacob had brought them. I got the impression from that scene that Jacob guides alot of people to the island.

    Now one of Lockes tasks during the show was to stop a ‘rescue’ freighter getting to the island, because it would mean the death of everyone on the island, which it didn’t. I don’t think that was Jacobs command…

    I think whoever is now coming, is coming to defeat MIB.
    Think back to every thing Locke had done in order to protect and serve ‘the island’ as he thought he was, in fact, it was all done to protect and serve ‘the monster’.

    To me it all adds up and seems to be as clear as day, but maybe i’m nuts because apart from you it seems noone here agrees.

    On that note, i will repeat (as i keep doing, sorry about that) last nights comfirmation of the link between Christian and MIB proves this idea even more. The whole time we’ve watched the show, the word of Jacob was not coming from Jacob, which also included Locke being appointed leader.

  6. and i just want to add,

    after that whole craziness with the lighthouse mirror, i think theres a chance the people that are coming are some Losties from the other timeline.

  7. I’m really not sure what we saw last night puts Christian and New Locke on the same side… It might actually mean the opposite. Claire was infected (apparently) and Christian showed up and managed to get Aaron away from her. I’m not saying that this is in any way definitive but I think the question of Christian’s allegiance is still up in the air.

  8. Oh, I’m not sure anyone is actually coming to the island. Jacob told Hurley he needed to bring Jack to the lighthouse so that Jack could see in the mirror so that he would come around and realize how important he is. I think was he was saying was that he needed Hurley to bring Jack to the lighthouse to help Jack get there.

  9. Hi, Shepherdsflocke, I think after last night’s episode we WILL be proven correct, at least about Smlocke being on the dark side. As far as Christian goes, who knows what his story is–he could have been taken over by either Jacob or Smlocke, but I don’t think that’s important right now. What is important is what Highbrow said, Jacob telling Hurley to get to the lighthouse because “someone” is coming was partly a ruse to get Jack there to push him to realize that he IS the leader, that he DOES have “what it takes” contrary to what his father always told him. He has what it takes to meet the “someone bad” who is coming and defeat him. I think it was very interesting that Jack told Hurley that he came back to the island because he was broken and the island would fix him. It seems to me that he hasn’t been fixed yet, but before the season ends, he will be. That’s why the Jack we saw in the alt timeline is different–he’s calmer, doesn’t drink, is a source of strength for his mother, and is able to reconcile with his son, to “fix” their relationship, so it doesn’t end the way Jack’s and his father’s did.

  10. i agree with the most recent comment imiss. i think its more likely that christian is on flocke’s side, but I agree with Highbrow that it isn’t set in stone.

  11. Jack reconciling with his son in the alternate timeline might actually be another clue that Christian isn’t a bad guy on Locke’s side (or at least on the other side from Jack). Jack and his son were able to reconcile and now here’s Jack on the island… the only place in the universe where he will ever have any kind of chance to reconcile with his father who just happens to be walking around despite being a bit dead.

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