Ever since he landed on the island, Locke has been on a journey that has been becoming increasingly solitary, and it seemed pretty clear that the survivors weren't going to see him again, especially after he blew up the sub. So when he shows up in the teaser of 'The Brig' and tells Sawyer that he has kidnapped Ben, and has brought him back, we are instantly doubtful, especially when he tells him that he wants to kill Ben. This is particularly suspicious considering that he's barely exchanged two words with him since Sawyer humiliated him by tricking him into taking guns. His behavior isn't that of a vengeful man, though; he seems more detached calmly reciting the list of all the wrongs that Sawyer had committed before he came to the island. To be perfectly honest, he now sounds a lot like one of the Others, and we can soon see why.
In the first flashback to an island event since Michael's encounter with the Others in Season 2's 'Three Minutes', we see that Locke was offered by Ben a chance to have the keys to the kingdom. However, Ben has been setting up Locke for his own special revenge, because of what we see. Everybody on the Others looks upon Locke with reverence, and it's clear they all think Locke is special. So Ben sets him up by telling him he has to make an offering--- the murder of his father. Considering all of the hell that we've seen Anthony Cooper put Locke through in his flashbacks, you would think that the man would jump at the chance to do him in. But as always, Locke has trouble following through. Cooper has a hold on him that he can't break, even when he truly does have all the power.
What Locke hasn't realized is that Ben's power is waning. Even though for the first time since his operation earlier this season, he is now able to walk, it's pretty clear that people don't trust him as much. This becomes obvious when Richard hands over Sawyer's file, all while reinforcing how special he is. Since Richard up until now has been seen as Ben's inferior, it's hard to believe he'd give in. We shall eventually learn that Richard has a longer history with Locke than he knows about--- mainly because it hasn't happened yet. (Confused? It will make sense--- sort of--- by Season 5.)
So Locke goes to see Sawyer and takes him to the Black Rock, which we haven't visited (though there've been a couple of trips there in Season 2) since 'Exodus' when they came to get the dynamite to open the hatch. Locke explains to him that this is a slaving ship, but doesn't bother to tell him how it ended up in the middle of the island, and Sawyer doesn't think to ask. (This just goes to prove how none of the survivors of this plane crash really seem to want an explanation for all the strange things that are happening on this island.) He then proceeds to lock Sawyer in the brig with Cooper, and then just sits there as Rousseau--- who we haven't seen since 'The Man From Tallahassee'--- comes to pick up dynamite. She doesn't ask about the noise; he doesn't ask what she wants the explosives for. Does anybody communicate around here?
Meanwhile, back on the beach, Hurley has persuaded his little group to bring Sayid in to their confidence about the woman who they saved. Her name is Naomi Dorrit, and she tells an interesting tale of what has happened to Oceanic 815, that she came hear to rescue Desmond because she was hired by Penelope Widmore, that there is a freighter roughly eighty nautical miles away, and that she may bring rescue if they can just fix her sat phone. They do fix it, but the signal is still being jammed. The secret doesn't stay secret for long because Kate finds out about it. No sooner does she learn about that then she runs straight to Jack and tells him everything. And Jack goes right back to the holier-than-thou man we had to endure for the last couple of seasons, especially in regard to Kate. And when she tells him that nobody trusts him any more, he doesn't seem to care much about that either. Have they gotten to Jack? They haven't, but his attitude sure seems that way.
Back in the brig, a critical confrontation is building. Cooper then proceeds to do something Locke has not seen fit to tell anyone--- something about their history together. He also tells Sawyer that he's pretty sure that he's gone to hell--- especially since he was rear ended on the I-10. (Did the Others have something to do with it? I think so, but my guess is we'll never know for sure.) Then the minute Sawyer hears how Cooper conned Locke out of a kidney, he realizes something that some other fans had theorized the minute they heard Cooper was a con man--- he's the man who conned Sawyer's parents out of $38,000 and indirectly caused both their deaths. The second he realizes he's face to face with his lifelong nemesis, he hands Cooper the letter that he's been carrying for almost thirty years. Only Cooper refuses to play along. He doesn't read the letter all the way through, he insults Sawyer's mother and Sawyer himself. It is the act of ripping the letter Sawyer has carried all this time--- that survived the island, the raft blowing up, the Others,--- that throws him into a blind rage. But the moment it's over---he realizes that his pain isn't gone. His parents are still dead, and he got no satisfaction from the kill. We see that when he reels out of the brig, vomiting and sick. His life has been for nothing. It's brilliant work, and Josh Holloway should have gotten an Emmy nomination for that scene alone.
Locke, in the meantime, is filled with peace. He has finally triumphed over Cooper, even if he didn't deal the final blow himself. And his revenge has left him satisfied. When he puts Cooper's body on his back, he doesn't seem to feel the weight of it, because the burden of his father has been lifted from his shoulder at last.
Admittedly, this episode is a bit of marking time before we go into the final stretch. But two of the major characters have fulfilled their lifelong goals. Before he leaves Sawyer, Locke hands him the tape that Juliet left for Ben in 'D.O.C.' and reveals his plans. However, he then sets off after the Others. He has no interest in schemes, and definitely doesn't want to be rescued. But he doesn't know just where this journey will take him.
My score: 9