For me, one of the best bits in "Further Instructions" was the sweat lodge vision or dream sequence that at once was surreal, funny, and poignant. More than other dreams or visions shown in the previous two seasons, Locke’s detailed look at an alternate universe gave us a peek into his mind. Locke’s visions might truly be called “flights of fancy” because they often centered around either the Beechcraft that crashed in the jungle (Seasons One and Two) or an airport (Season Three).
During Season One, his first “message” came when Locke looked for direction from the Island to fulfill whatever mission it had in mind for him; the reply included a vision of his mother pointing the direction to hike, Boone chanting something about his dead nanny, and a small plane flying overhead.
Another dream/vision occurred late in Season Two when Locke seemed to be channeling Mr. Eko—the dream involved Yemi, Eko’s brother, and Locke apparently looked through Eko’s eyes to see what to do next.
Now, early in Season Three, Locke had the strangest dream/vision yet. In it, dead Boone returned to life in order to push Locke through the Sydney Airport, where Locke saw many of his castaway friends, sometimes in unusual or amusing roles.
Locke’s dream or vision sequences, taking place either while awake in a trancelike state or while asleep, provided him with important information that might seem rather cryptic at first. Locke heard Boone talking about his dead nanny. If Locke hadn’t asked Boone about this part of his vision, Locke might not have been able to convince the young man that the vision was accurate. Without seeing the Beechcraft flying and knowing which direction it traveled, Locke might not have been able to find the crash site. Without “talking” with Yemi and verifying his identity with Eko, Locke might not have known how to locate a second hatch, the Pearl station. Without Boone’s intervention that forced Locke to look at life from his wheelchair, he might not have had the courage to become “Jungle Locke” again and head out to save Eko. Without a pep talk from the apparently unconscious Eko, Locke might not have decided to bring back Kate, Sawyer, and Jack. Locke relied on information from the Island in order to restore his faith that what he does is right and to decide what his next course of action should be.
Were Locke’s visions or dreams real? They certainly seemed to be more than the average too-much-pizza-before-bed variety. Not only did they provide vivid details, but they included bits of information that Locke could verify with others (but supposedly not already know). Dreams often are symbolic, yet Locke’s subconscious provided specific details about people, places, or objects that needed to be identified realistically before he could act. Locke identified the Beechcraft from his dream; he helped Eko climb the cliff after receiving instructions from Yemi.
How did Locke come up with these dreams? There’s where the supernatural versus science explanations can widely differ. Lots of possibilities exist here:
1. Locke’s ritual use of drugs, at least in the sweat lodge, created hallucinations and flashbacks until the drugs completely got out of his system.
2. Locke received divinely inspired information, which accounts for the accuracy of the information and Locke’s sense of spiritual motivation to perform dream-directed tasks.
3. At a subconscious level, Locke already knew the pieces of information that he needed to verify the dream’s content (i.e., Boone once told him enough about his nanny that Locke could piece together the details; Boone didn’t remember telling Locke exactly about Theresa’s death and thus thought he’d never mentioned the nanny to Locke). Locke’s brain used existing information to solve a problem about which Locke was worried, and the answer arrived in dream or vision form while Locke was exhausted and emotionally wrought.
4. Locke shared a “group consciousness” moment with the person to whom he was closest at the time, such as Boone or Eko. They shared memories, which provided Locke with all the details needed for the dream.
5. Someone (the Others? the DHARMA Initiative? the Widmore Corporation? another outside agency running its own experiments on the island? an evil consortium trying to rule people’s thoughts and actions?) planted thoughts into Locke’s brain so that he only thought he dreamed or had visions. Someone read Eko’s, Boone’s, and Locke’s minds and then implanted the appropriate details so that Locke, a believer at heart, would think he gained visions.
6. Locke, like Walt, became “special” when he developed psychic powers that allowed him to read others’ minds and transform thoughts into actions. (Desmond may be developing these powers after he survived the Hatch’s implosion.)
7. The Island was always magical, and unexplained events like prophetic dreams could be explained simply because of this magic.
Maybe you have your own theory about how the dreams took place, but the why seems more easily explained. Locke looked to spiritual/mystical sources for “real” information, and so he received, from what he considered a reliable source, what he needed to take the next step. As long as Locke believes in spiritual guidance from the Island, he’ll seek further instructions from his dreams and visions. (As Eddie noted, Locke seems susceptible to coercion. What better form of coercion than a magical Island wanting him to do as it asks?) With “Jungle Locke” back in control, we’ll likely more of these sequences in the future.