Within just a couple of episodes of the series, we knew that two of the main characters were:
- A spinal surgeon, and
- A paralytic.
Well. There's an obvious connection right there. A huge Chekov's gun. One that would obviously produce a plot eventually.
And it did. But it took so long.
In the first season, we meet Jack, the surgeon, and John, the paraplegic. Throughout the season, hardly an episode goes by without someone consulting Jack about their medical problems. And some time into the season, John loses the ability to walk. But... he says, "Jack wouldn't know the first thing about what's wrong with me". And he never talks to Jack about his paralysis or his healing.
In the second season, the two characters go head to head against each other. Jack, it seems, is a man of science, but Locke is a man of faith. We see two episodes with flashbacks about Jack's work as a surgeon, and we see a flashback about Locke learning to take a leap of faith. Locke's legs get crushed, and we get another flashback about the island's healing properties. But... still no connection between Locke's paralysis and Jack's skill as a surgeon.
Then comes season three. A character is revealed to suffer from a spinal tumor, and after surgery, he is confined to a wheelchair. He talks to Jack and Locke separately about his condition - Jack operates on him, and he talks to Locke about Locke's own paralysis. But still - no direct connection between Jack and Locke's related backstories.
By the end of season four, Locke tells Jack that the Island isn't "just a damn island" - it's a "place where miracles happen". You'd think, at this point, Locke would offer an example of a miracle that happened. But no. Jack leaves the island without ever learning of Locke's healing.
John leaves the island. He winds up in Jack's OR! But this has NOTHING to do with John's paralysis. It has to do with injuries from his car crash. STILL no connection between the paraplegic and the spinal surgeon.
Then Locke dies. Jack never finds out about the miracle. But he becomes a believer and goes to the Island, becomes Protector, and dies himself.
THEN, at last, in the afterlife they create, wheelchair-bound Locke meets Dr. Jack. And Jack asks, "What caused your condition? I'm only asking because, as luck would have it, I'm a... spinal surgeon."
And it feels like the most natural thing in the world.
You can image the conversation Jack and Locke had after they moved on.
Jack: "Wow, those were some wacky flash sideways we had. I imagined a son! And you pictured yourself in a wheelchair! We cowboys sure had some serious daddy issues!"
Locke: "Actually, I was in a wheelchair while alive too. Four years."
Jack: "What? When?"
Locke: "Oh, starting around 2000 or so. Right up to the day of the crash. Then I was able to walk."
Locke: "What, don't believe me?"
Jack: "Oh, I believe you. Some crazy things happened after you left. But... you never told me? You didn't think, me, a spinal surgeon, might have some interest in what happened?"
Locke: "Well, it would have been meaningless if I had to tell you."
Locke: "What exactly did happen on the Island after I died?"
Jack: "Oh, I was appointed Protector. By Jacob."
Locke: "What, you?!"
Locke: "But... but... 'My name is John Locke. I'm responsible for the welfare of this island'."
Jack: "Huh. Funny how things work out."
Locke: "What did you do as Protector?"
Jack: "Well, you know that thing that, I guess, healed you?"
Locke: "A beautiful bright light?"
Jack: "Yes! Well, I had Desmond put it out. The Island started crumbling into the sea. And you know that thing you wanted to drag you into a hole? Hurley said something about summoning it from the Barracks?"
Locke: "The Eye of the Island!"
Jack: "Uh... sure, that. I killed it. It had taken your form at the time."
Locke: "And then?"
Jack: "Well, Jacob told me to hold on to the job as long as I could. And it had been almost a day by then. So I decided to die."
Jack: "Yeah. Didn't try healing myself... wasn't too sure how to manage that. But I did make sure to pick Hugo as the next Protector."
Jack: "It was either him or Ben."
(Locke glares. Locke v. Jack begins to play.)
(Till - )
Satan: "Enough talk! Back to work, boys!"
Jack: (*Picks up shovel and shoves more coal into the flames.*)