“What he perceives, his understanding of the island, is special,” said O’Quinn, who has won an Emmy for the role. “But it might be the road to hell. We still don’t know what the moral entity of the island is. Is the island a good guy or a bad guy? That is the question I have.
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“Because what’s tragic about Locke is that he will follow,” he added. “He’s faithful to a fault. Once he decides, he follows to the end. You see the same sort of thing in politics. Someone who commits to a theory or a course so deeply that even when it’s proven wrong, they can’t stop doing it because they don’t want to look like a fool. I believe Locke is going to stay this course whether it proves to be the good or evil one, the dark or light one.”
Whatever the path, the drama is heightened by Locke’s memories of Ben strangling him — factors that will drive much of what happens to Locke for the remainder of the season.
“Obviously, Locke is of critical importance as to where the show is going and — having died and come back to life — that is 10 times more significant than being in a wheelchair and being able to walk, just on a spiritual level, so how is he different?” co-creator Damon Lindelof said. “What’s very interesting moving forward is how is he going to process that experience and is he going to forgive Ben.”
O’Quinn thinks his character might have more forgiveness in him. After all, he already forgave Ben for shooting him and throwing him into a mass grave.
“He seems to do it consistently, doesn’t he?” he said. “The one thing about Locke is that he’s never closed any options that I can see. He’s never burned any bridges that I can see. He forgave his dad. He will forgive anybody if it will help him move forward. It wouldn’t surprise me if somehow Ben talked his way out of this. At the moment, what we’ve shot to this point, I think Locke has a pretty strong upper hand.”
And that self-possessed Locke is the one that O’Quinn prefers, although his days of complaining about the character’s trajectory are over, he said. During the second season, O’Quinn expressed his disappointment with Locke’s diminished role as the button-pusher in the hatch that temporarily loses his faith. Then, when Locke’s strength resurfaced in the third season, he stabbed Naomi in the back and killed her, which didn’t sit well with the actor.
“I told them I thought it was gratuitous blah blah blah, and the producers basically gave me what I think is the final step in my education for actors for television, which was ‘Shut up, you have a contract,’ ” O’Quinn noted and laughed. “I can’t desire that he do one thing or another, and I finally got it through my head.”
The new O’Quinn is more like Locke, an in-the-moment, reflective man whose wish for his character is rather simple.
“In the end, I would like him to be terribly interesting,” O’Quinn said. “Locke now has this sort of confidence that he never had in his first life, although a little confidence in a guy like him is a dangerous thing. I expect him to take at least one or two more surprising turns, and whether people like him or dislike him, I don’t care, as long as they are not bored by him.”