Flash-sideways timeline (2004)
As John Locke parks in his driveway, the wheelchair platform on his van malfunctions, forcing him to roll himself off of the platform, but he falls out of his chair and lawn sprinklers pop up and soak him. He is noticably accepting of the circumstance and chuckles at his ridiculous position. Helen rushes from the front door and helps him up. Inside the house, John sits in the bath as Helen speaks on the phone, discussing a wedding. She then talks to John about having their wedding "shotgun style, in Vegas," with just her parents and his father. After finding Jack's card in Locke's pocket, Helen urges him to contact the spinal surgeon and says that Locke meeting Jack may be destiny.
After returning to his desk at the box company, Locke is confronted by his boss, Randy, who questions him about missing a conference in Sydney, which Locke lies about attending. Randy reveals he knows John did not attend the conference to which he had been sent and subsequently fires him. In the parking lot, Locke is unable to get into his van, which he had parked in a regular spot, as opposed to a handicapped spot. He pounds on the yellow Hummer blocking access to his van, causing the car's alarm to go off. Hurley steps out of the building, telling John that he is the owner of the company. After introducing themselves, John tells Hugo that he has been fired by Randy, whom Hurley calls "a huge douche." Hurley gives John the number to a temp agency (which he also owns) before telling him that "things are gonna work out."
At the temp agency, an interviewer asks John what kind of animal he would consider himself and whether he is a "people person." John asks to speak to her supervisor who is Rose. John stubbornly requests a job in construction, which Rose responds would not be a good match and that experience is not the issue. She asks him to be realistic and Locke asks what she knows about realistic. Rose replies that she has terminal cancer and tells how she had to get past her denial and continue living whatever life she had left. After this, John calms down.
Some time later, John rises in the morning and calls Dr. Shephard's office - the receptionist at Dr. Shephard's office answers, but John hangs up. He tells Helen he got fired just as a courier delivers Locke's lost luggage. He tells her he didn't go to the Sydney conference but tried to go "walkabout" with the knives that were in the case. He tells her that the organizers of the walkabout wouldn't let him go and he was angry- he says they shouldn't tell him what he can't do. He talks about his acceptance of his condition and concludes there is no such thing as a miracle.
Helen tells him there is. The two then passionately embrace.
John is now working as a substitute teacher at a junior high school. After leading a class of physical education, followed by another where he is to teach "the human reproductive system," he finds his way to the teachers' lounge. Within, one teacher rails against his colleagues who do not properly maintain the coffeemaker; Locke defuses the situation by saying he was hoping for some Earl Grey (tea). The other teacher introduces himself as "Benjamin Linus, European history." John introduces himself as "John Locke, substitute."
Original timeline (2007)
At the statue and the crash survivors' graveyard
Ben walks into the foot of the statue where Ilana is crying, staring at her fallen team. She asks Ben what happened to them and Ben says that John Locke killed them after turning into a pillar of black smoke, also (falsely) indicating that Locke killed Jacob as well. Ilana then asks where Jacob's body is, and Ben tells her that Locke kicked Jacob into the fire and he burned away.
Ilana turns and fills a bag with ash from the now extinguished fire. Ben asks why Locke took Richard and Ilana says that the Man in Black is "recruiting."
A crab is seen resting behind Locke's corpse's ear. It scurries off when Frank covers the corpse. When Sun tells Ilana that the other people have gone to the Temple, Ilana urges the rest (Sun, Frank, and Ben) that they should also go there as it is the safest place on the Island. Sun is skeptical until Ilana suggests that if Jin is alive and on the island, he is also at the Temple. Before they leave, Sun says they need to bury John.
While Ben, Ilana, Frank, and Sun bring Locke's body to be buried at the survivors' grave site, Ben asks Ilana why she brought Locke's body to the statue. Ilana responds that she needed to show the others what they were up against.
Ben then asks why the Man in Black wouldn't just change forms again, and Ilana replies that MIB is now stuck in Locke's body.
At the survivors' burial ground overlooking the sea, the group digs a grave and puts Locke's body in it. Ilana asks if anyone wants to say anything, and Ben, with some reluctance, says that he knew Locke, that Locke was a "believer, a man of faith," and that he was "a much better man than I will ever be". He adds that he is "very sorry I murdered him," which appears to take Sun and Ilana by surprise. Frank expresses his disbelief of the strangeness surrounding him: "Weirdest damn funeral I've ever been to."
The Jungle, Barracks and Jacob's Cave
We see through the growling smoke monster's eyes as it moves through the Jungle, then the Barracks as it pauses outside Sawyer's old bedroom. Back in the jungle, the monster comes across a machete. The Monster then transforms back into the form of Locke and cuts a battered Richard down from a bag in a tree, telling him it's "time to talk."
The Man in Black, as Locke, gives Richard a drink of water and tells him that he wants what he has always wanted: for Richard to come with him. Richard asks why the Man in Black looks like Locke, and he answers that Locke could get close to Jacob because he was a "candidate." When Richard prods further, MIB responds with restrained sarcasm, asking why Richard would follow Jacob without knowing what he was following him for and that he (The Man in Black) would never have kept Richard in the dark. Again MIB asks Richard to come with him and promises to tell him everything, but Richard refuses to go with him. At that moment the Man in Black sees a mysterious blonde boy in the jungle exposing two bloodied arms. Richard doesn't appear to see the boy. A slightly shaken MIB walks away saying he will see Richard "sooner than he thinks."
The Man in Black walks to Sawyer's house, from which he hears the song "Search and Destroy" by The Stooges being played loudly. Upon seeing Locke's form, the drunken Sawyer says "I thought you were dead." MIB replies, "I am."
Sawyer pours a glass of whiskey for the Man in Black and himself. MIB tastes but does not drink his. Sawyer says he "doesn't give a damn" if the man before him is dead and tells him to "get the hell out of my house." The Man in Black tells Sawyer that this was never his house, that he just lived there for a short time. Sawyer says that he doesn't believe that he is Locke because Locke "was always scared" while this version of Locke is not. MIB says that, if Sawyer comes with him, he can provide the answer to the most important question there is: Why are you on this Island? Sawyer agrees to go along.
As the Man in Black and Sawyer walk through the jungle, MIB asks why Sawyer is not at the Temple with the others. The young boy appears in the jungle again, but this time his arms are not bloody. When Sawyer mentions him, the Man in Black seems shocked that Sawyer can see the boy. MIB chases the boy into the jungle, eventually falling and looking up to see the boy standing above him. The boy tells MIB that he "knows the rules" and that he "can't kill him," to which MIB says "don't tell me what I can't do" with a mixture of fear and anger. As the boy walks into the jungle shaking his head, MIB yells his statement at the boy again.
Meanwhile, a frantic Richard approaches Sawyer and urges him to go to the Temple, telling Sawyer that Locke "wants everyone dead." Richard hears The Man in Black approaching and flees back into the jungle. Sawyer asks The Man in Black about the boy, to which MIB simply replies, "What kid?".
As Sawyer and The Man in Black continue, Sawyer asks if MIB reads, and tells him that his favorite is Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men." MIB replies that the book was written "a little after my time." After a brief synopsis of the book, Sawyer pulls a gun on The Man in Black asking what would happen if he put a bullet in Locke's head. MIB says, "Why don't we find out?" Sawyer asks him what he is, and The Man in Black replies that he is trapped, and has been trapped for so long that he doesn't remember what it feels like to be free but that he "once was a man." He convinces Sawyer to go on because he is "so close now."
The Man in Black and Sawyer arrive at a cliff and MIB says that they will now go "down there." The Man in Black offers to go first and climbs down an old ladder and then switches to a rope ladder. Sawyer follows, but the ladder breaks and he is helped by The Man in Black, who saves his life. They come to a shelf in the cliff face and enter a cave.
Inside the cave is a scale, balanced on either side by a white stone and a black rock. The Man in Black removes the white rock and casts it into the sea, referring to it as an "inside joke." MIB then lights a torch and leads Sawyer into a deeper cavern, where, looking up, he tells Sawyer, "That's why you're here. That, James, is why you are all here."
On the ceiling and walls of the chamber are names scratched into the rock. Most are crossed through and are preceded by a number. When asked, the Man in Black dismissively says Jacob had a thing for numbers. He tells Sawyer that the man who wrote them "was Jacob." Sawyer asks "Was Jacob?" The Man in Black says "He died yesterday," and adds that he's not too upset about the death. He points out that not all of the names are crossed out, at which point and Sawyer sees "23-SHEPHARD" on the wall. MIB goes on to show Sawyer the names of other survivors - 8-REYES, 16-JARRAH, 42-KWON (MIB states that he "doesn't know if it's for Sun or Jin"), and 4-LOCKE - all of whom had been touched by Jacob at some point in their off-Island history.
Upon seeing 15-FORD on the wall, Sawyer states that he had never met Jacob. The Man in Black explains that, "At some point in your life he came to you when you were vulnerable or miserable, he came to you, manipulated you, pulled your strings like you were a puppet and as a result the choices you thought you made were never really choices, he was pushing you, pushing you to the Island".
The Man in Black says that all the people were candidates for Jacob's job. Jacob thought it was his job to protect the island. Sawyer asks what the island needs to be protected from and MIB states "from nothing." He then gives Sawyer three options:
1. "Do nothing. See how all this plays out. And possibly your name will get crossed out" (The Man in Black crosses out Locke's name)
2. Perform Jacob's job. Protect the Island "from nothing, there's nothing to protect it from, it's just a damn island."
3. "We just go. We get the hell off this Island and we never look back. We do that together."
The Man in Black asks Sawyer if he is ready to go home. Sawyer says "Hell yes."