SPOILER WARNING! IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED LOST YET, GO THE HELL AWAY. OKAY? OKAY. When I heard that tonight’s episode was all about John Locke, I had a pretty good feeling it was going to be pretty good. I was dead wrong. I’m declaring it Pretty Damn AWESOME. Rebounding strongly from last week’s Rendezvous With Disappointment, “The Substitute” was top-notch Lost, the first great ep of Season 6, anchored by great central performances from Terry O’Quinn and Josh Holloway, stuffed with monumental mythological reveals (provided, of course, you actually BELIEVE the Locke-ness Monster’s claims about Jacob, The Numbers, and castaway destiny), and threaded with a poignant and powerful parallel world story about Uncrashed John Locke. I think Lost accomplished two important things tonight, two things this young season needed to lest it really begin to test viewer patience: 1. It framed and galvanized the Island storyline. Smokey wants to go home, wants to subvert Jacob’s legacy, wants everyone to come with him–or else. Yeah, it’s still wayyy ambiguous–but at least we kind of have some sense of what to expect in the weeks to come. People are going to take sides. What to trust? Who to trust? 2. While the Sideways world storyline didn’t give us anything to resolve the mystery of its existence, it did prove that the Sideways storytelling device is capable of producing some emotionally engaging and entertaining stuff. And please tell me you LOL’d at Ben as a history teacher! “The Substitute” was exactly what I needed the episode to be. The second it was over, I said to my “Totally Lost” partner Dan Snierson: “The season has now officially begun.” I have much more to say, and I intend to say it tomorrow AM in my recap. Until then, the floor is yours. Did you dig “The Substitute” as much as I did? Go!