The return of Richard Alpert is only the tip of the iceberg for a most pivotal "Cabin Fever", Locke's ultimate flashback episode, that takes us back to day John was born and survived against all odds not only a premature labor but also an accident that almost costs his mother's life. It's perhaps, this characteristic – that he also shares with Ben Linus – what attracts Richard Alpert's attention who drops by as ageless as ever to perform the most peculiar test a few years later: see John "left" an item that belongs to him among 6 objects that Richard carries with him and if he can recognize what's his then he'll join a "very special school" that by the time it could only be lead by the Dharma Initiative. However John chooses his trade mark knife Alpert is disappointed, the object does not belong to him, a fact that later on is reassured not only his high school teacher trying to pick John's interest in science but also by one Mr. Abaddon who finally introduces him to the idea of the Walkabout that finally lead John to the island.
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