The Incident, Parts I & II (S5, eps. 15 & 16)
The Man in Black: “Do you have any idea how badly I wanna kill you?”
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, folks. Savor this. It’s the last moment of not-knowing that we’ll have. The experience of watching Lost live, one excruciating week at a time, is one of the major reasons why I’m such a fan. Maybe Tom Petty’s right, and the waiting is the hardest part. But you and I both know that the waiting is also kind of the best part. There’s something delicious about anticipation. At the risk of sounding like an old man, nothing about our internet-augmented culture encourages patience. But there’s reward to that patience with a show like Lost. It gives us time to talk to one another, to theorize, to argue, to “geek out.”
I invite you to do all of the above with me. Every Wednesday afternoon (except for the week of February 22, where the column will run at week’s end) I’ll be recapping each Season 6 episode here on Chud in a column that I’m calling “Back to the Island.” I invite you to join me, to leave your thoughts in the comments section, and to hop over to the Back to the Island site with any additional thoughts. It’ll be fun. Tell your friends.
And on that note: I don’t have the ability to do screencaps, so I typically pinch them from Lost-media.com. I’ve got no idea whether they’ll have captures up immediately following an episode, so if you’ve got ideas on where to get a few screengrabs for the columns, let me know in the comments below.
• At long last, Jacob.
We open on Lost’s resident “God” figure as he weaves a large tapestry on and ancient-looking loom. Notice that Jacob uses a long-bladed knife to carefully nudge the various threads together as he works, and remember Richard’s ship-in-a-bottle project from “Follow the Leader.” Both men are engaged in the careful, time consuming process of creating something intricate through the use of long-handled tools. A possible metaphor for the way that Jacob has interacted with the lives of the castaways? For the larger “purpose” of the Island, and the role of people like Jacob and Richard? More likely I’m just reaching. But the analogy’s certainly there to draw.
• The motto across the top of the tapestry reads: “Î˜ÎžÎŸÎ™ Î¤ÎŸÎ£Î‘ Î”ÎŸÎ™ÎžÎ ÎŸÎ£Î‘Î¦Î¡ÎžÎ£Î™ Î£Î—Î£Î™ ÎœÎžÎÎŸÎ™ÎÎ‘Î–,” which is all Greek to me. It apparently translates as “May the gods grant thee all that thy heart desires,” a line taken from Homer’s The Odyssey. I’ve talked about some of the significance of The Odyssey to Lost’s story – how Desmond and Penny’s saga mirrors the saga of Ulysses and Penelope, and we just saw the name Ulysses pop up again as the title of the book Ben was reading on the 316 flight.
• The second line on the tapestry translates as “hail to thee, and all welcome, and may the gods grant you happiness.”
• The tapestry itself seems to depict human beings at different levels, arising toward an all-seeing eye of Horus which radiates 17 ‘rays.’
• Later in these episodes, Jacob will be seen reading “Everything that Rises Must Converge,” by Flannery O’Connor. Is his tapestry a kind of depiction of that idea?
• Notice the painting of Isis hanging in on the wall of Jacob’s chamber. Isis was regarded by her worshippers as the goddess of Rebirth, medicine, wisdom. Among other things, Isis was supposed to have taught human beings how to weave. She was the mother of Horus – whose eye sits atop Jacob’s tapestry, and which resembles Locke’s eye – segmented down the middle from above and below (and evoking the phrase “as above, so below”).
• Why does Jacob live inside the foot of an enormous statute? It’s an odd choice. And it’s odder, based on what we’ll learn throughout this episode about visiting Jacob. We’ll talk more about this a little further down.
• Jacob catches his own lunch – a fish. The Ichthys symbol has been popping up on this show in various altered forms for awhile now. In at least one sense, as we seem to see confirmed, Jacob is a “fisher of men,” further solidifying the Christ/Sacrificial god metaphor that the show is working with here. He appears to have somehow brought a sailing vessel (one that looks suspiciously like the Black Rock) to the Island for his still-mysterious purposes.
Man in Black: “Morning.”
• Enter the Man in Black.
The introduction of this character fundamentally changes everything you and I thought we understood about this show. As the past rewatch columns have shown, his character drastically alters the apparent meaning and purpose of dozens of past events. We’d thought the “higher” conflict on this show was between Ben and Widmore, but that’s clearly not the case. Ben and Widmore are a smaller echo of a greater conflict – between Jacob and this unnamed man. Who is he? We have no idea. What is his purpose? Again, no clue. But he and Jacob are mortal enemies, and they’ve both been on the Island for a very long time.
Man in Black: “Still trying to prove me wrong, aren’t you?”
Jacob: “You are wrong.”
Man in Black: “Am I? They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.”
Jacob: “It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.”
• Maddening. And tonight, we’ll begin to learn just what it is that Jacob and the Man in Black mean by all of this. Their disagreement is a philosophical one – maybe the oldest one of all. Are men capable of “good” (see the TMI column on “good being”)/progress? Are men irredeemably corrupt/prone to entropy?
• If there’s an obvious literary parallel to the finale’s conversation between Jacob and the Man in Black, it’s the Bible’s Book of Job – a book concerned, among other things, with the meaning of suffering, the problem of evil, and God’s role in it all. If Jacob can be seen as the Island’s metaphorical “God” figure, then the Man in Black is its metaphorical “ha-satan,” or satan, God’s adversary.
In Job, the character of satan isn’t the one you and I are most familiar with. In Job, satan acts as a kind of celestial inquisitor – a judge, if you will. He’s one of several ‘spirits’ that God is able to consult, and he comes off as a total cynic, just like our Man in Black. When Job passes the first round of ‘tests’ that God sends him, satan remains unsatisfied by the genuineness of Job’s faith. He pushes God to make things harder, to raze Job’s life of everything he owns and loves, to strip Job down to his very essence and see what remains.
The Book of Job is fascinating – it’s arguably the most morally and philosophically ambiguous book of the Bible – and it offers no easy answers to humanity. When Job is finally given the chance to confront God, to hold him to task for the misery Job’s experienced, God’s response to Job is one of the most confounding, infuriating, and beautiful passages in the English language:
“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding.”
God’s answer to Job will come up again before this episode ends. We’ll talk more about this then.
• The Book of Job also makes reference to the Jewish concept of sheol – an underworld for the just and the unjust dead alike. The word sheol has been translated both as “grave” and “hell,” and closely resembles the Greek conception of hades. That term has come up before during the rewatch, given the Island’s references to the concept of Underworld.
Why do I mention this? In part because the Island shares qualities with the mythical/religious concept of sheol, underworld, purgatory, and in part because the first person to use the word “sheol” in the Bible is a fella by the name of Jacob.
Interestingly, Jacob uses the word again when he fears for his son’s life. That son’s name? Benjamin.
• Is Jacob’s goal “local” or “global”? Is he using a small sample of humanity to prove a larger point, like a scientist? Or are these people instrumental in something larger than themselves? Something with great consequence?
Man in Black: “One of these days, sooner or later… I’m going to find a loophole, my friend.”
• Without that loophole, the Man in Black apparently can’t kill Jacob. We can hear an echo here of the conversation between Ben and Widmore, and their own apparent inability to kill one another.
Jacob: “You’re not going to steal anymore, are you? Be good, Katie.”
• Jacob shows up in Kate’s childhood, looking positively Richard-esque in his youth. He gets Kate out of trouble for stealing a lunchbox with her friend Tom – the old friend that she got killed back in Season 2. The NKOTB lunchbox that Jacob buys Kate is the same one that she and Tom use to make a time capsule, and that they uncover together not long before Tom’s ventilated. It’s therefore a “key” object for her in her life’s journey. Notice that Jacob touches Kate’s nose just before he leaves. Jacob makes a habit of pointedly touching and not touching various people he meets during this episode. Is it possible that Jacob’s touch helps to determine who can return to the Island, and who will go back in time when they return? I think it is, and I think this episode gives us some clues to make that (admittedly basis-free) guess.
Sayid: “He left detailed instructions on how to remove the plutonium core…and how to detonate it.”
• Did Daniel write these detailed instructions for himself, so that he could refer to them as he disabled the bomb? Or did he write such hyper-detailed directions because he knew/suspected he was slated to die?
Richard: “You’re pregnant.”
Eloise: “Which is exactly why we have to help them see this through.”
• Who is Eloise’s baby? If it’s Daniel it explains her words here. Who is Penny’s mother?
Radzinsky: “I came to this Island to change the world, Pierre; that’s exactly what I intend to do.”
• Anti-Locke tells Richard that once they’ve visited Jacob, they’re going to “need to deal with the rest of the passengers from the Ajira flight that brought me here,” but that might be difficult, now that Richard and the Others are aware that Anti-Locke is an imposter. It’s an incredibly sinister line. It suggests that the Man in Black is far more openly ruthless than Jacob and his Others have been, although on this show who knows? Maybe Anti-Locke will “deal” with them by having Richard serve them all cupcakes.
Bram: “What, you think he’s a candidate?”
• So, what exactly are Ilana and her band of merry other Others doing on the Island? If I had to guess, I’d guess that they’re there in part to help choose a new Jacob. Just as the leader of the Others must be chosen, so I’m thinking that the position which Jacob holds is viewed as a “necessary” position by people other than Jacob himself.
• Who will take Jacob’s place? I’d hazard that either a somehow-revived “real” John Locke or Jack Shephard will end up inheriting the mantle. Given the “life togther, die alone” mantra of the show, however, I wonder if it’s possible that we’ll see two groups of castaways fulfilling the “roles” of Jacob and the MiB.
Jacob: “I’m very sorry about your mother and father, James.”
• Jacob visits a young Sawyer just after his parents’ funeral, and we watch the origins of Sawyer’s famous letter. Jacob’s presence in scenes like these makes me want to overanalyze them. Jacob seems to be helping Kate and Sawyer at key moments, giving them items they “need” to help make them who they are. But both these items directly result in serious pain and misery for both characters. Is Jacob really helping them at all? If “The Incident” is really intended to reflect the Book of Job, the answer is no, or at most, maybe, but in the sort of ineffable ways that frustrate philosophers, theologians, and a good portion of humanity in general.
• Jacob touches Sawyer. As we saw in Season 4, Sawyer almost makes it off the Island, but turns back at the last minute so that he can play time/space hopscotch with Juliet. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that this was an instance where Sawyer acted as “a variable,” and altered the tapestry of time just slightly by choosing to stay. Had he left and then returned, I believe Jacob’s touch would have carried him back to the 70’s.
Richard: “You know him? Locke?”
Jack: “Yeah. Yeah, I know him. And if I were you, I wouldn’t give up on him.”
• Jack’s words directly contribute to Locke’s rise, death, and “resurrection” as the Man in Black, giving Richard reason to keep faith in the “real” Locke when he was in doubt. Is this ultimately a good thing, in the sense that sacrifices need to be made for some greater cause? Or does Jack fatally mislead Richard in his converted zeal?
Locke: “I’m not going to kill Jacob, Ben. You are.”
• The “Death of Christ/God” parallels continue to grow. Locke is asking Ben to betray the man he’s faithfully served all his life, giving Ben the quasi-Judas role in the allegory.
Nadia (subtitled): “Take me home, take me home.”
• We see how Sayid lost Nadia – she was hit by an unknown driver – a man Ben will later claim was working for Charles Widmore. Is this the truth? Once again, Jacob touches a castaway, and that castaway ends up traveling back in time when he returns to the Island. What does this scene say about Jacob? Did he save Sayid from death in that moment, the way that Desmond saved Charlie? Is he delaying Sayid’s time of death so that Sayid can go back and shoot Ben Linus? And why doesn’t Jacob stop Nadia? Job could probably answer that one for us: “Because God does what God wants to do for God’s own reasons. Does someone have ointment? My lesions are killing me.”
• Sayid is one of two castaways who are approached by Jacob after they have already been to the Island. I assume this is significant, but I’ve got no clue why.
• Richard breaks open a tunnel wall and lets Jack and Sayid into what looks like Horace’s house. Is this also Ben’s future house? Is that opening still there? It’s presumably not the opening that will lead to Ben’s Smokey-summoning-drainpipe, since that passage looks entirely different from this one.
Bernard: “Son of a bitch.”
• Rose, Bernard and Vincent make a memorable reappearance that serves to comment pretty hilariously on their fellow castaways, and also more-or-less resolves their place in Lost’s storyline. If we don’t see Rose and Bernard again this is a fitting coda.
Lapidus: “What exactly are they up against?”
Bram: “Something a hell of a lot scarier than what’s in this box, Frank.”
• Now that’s the kind of ominous foreshadowing I can really get behind. Is it meaningful that Bram says “something,” and not “someone”? Is the Man in Black human?
• I’m half-hoping that we’ll get to see the Man in Black institute a reign of terror on the Island now that Jacob is gone. That sort of Lord of the Flies dynamic would be an appropriate way to mirror Season 1, and it’d be amazingly cool to watch.
Bram: “We are the good guys.”
Great Frank Line: “In my experience, the people who go out of their way to tell you that the good guys are the bad guys.”
• Frank’s a smart man. The last person to claim that he belonged among “the good guys” was Benjamin Linus.
Ilana: “We’re here.”
Bram: “Look at the ash!”
• Ilana, Bram, Frank and the other “shadow” people make the trek to Jacob’s cabin and we learn that it was actually Jacob’s at some point in the past. We also learn that “someone else” has been using it, and Bram points out that the ash around the cabin has been disturbed. In magical lore, circles made of salt or certain other substances are supposed to be able to “bind” spirits and hold them inside the circle. Does the disturbance in the ash reflect this belief, and indicate that someone has broken in, or that someone has broken out? And what does this new information indicate about the identity of “Christian,” who we’ve seen in the cabin?
I’ve spent much of the rewatch theorizing that he is working for, or possibly is, the Man in Black. It’s still just as possible that he’s associated with Christian, but this scene seems to hint that Christian plays for the dark side.
• Ilana and Co. make a bee-line for the cabin, indicating that they knew exactly where to find it. Did Jacob instruct her? Is she, like Hurley, able somehow to locate it? Is the cabin no longer moving in the same way that the Island is no longer moving? Did the breaking of the circle somehow stop the cabin in one place?
Jacob: “I’m here because I need your help. Can you do that? Will you help me, Ilana?”
• Jacob and Ilana appear to have some kind of past together, but it’s entirely unclear what that might consist of. Ilana also appears to have access to levels of information that people like Benjamin Linus would envy. Just who is this woman? Why has Jacob come to her for help? Why is her face completely bandaged? And why does Jacob wear black leather gloves for the visit, conspicuously NOT touching her? Maybe it’s because he needs her to remain in “the present day” when Ajira travels to the Island, which is what happens.
• Ilana orders that the cabin be torched after finding a scrap of the tapestry that Jacob was weaving stuck against the wall with the help of a very large knife. Knowing that Jacob once lived here helps explain why Ben brought Locke to that location. Torching the cabin seems a little extreme, as Frank helpfully points out. But it increases the sense that something is “wrong” with the cabin. Is it destroyed because it’s now “tainted” somehow? Simply because it’s no longer Jacob’s?
Jacob: “Don’t worry, everything’s gonna be alright. I’m sorry this happened to you.”
• Jacob reads serenely on a park bench just moments before John Locke’s body hurtles to the earth, pushed through a window by his sonofabitch father. The book Jacob is reading is “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” a book of stories by the writer Flannery O’Connor.
• The title of O’Connor’s novel is taken from the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit Priest/Philosopher/Paleontologist/Geologist (abstinence apparently really frees your time up) credited with coining the term “Omega Point” to describe “a maximum level and complexity and consciousness towards which the universe appears to be evolving.” Consciousness is important to Lost on both the character level, as we watch the castaways succeed or fail in “expanding their consciousness” to make peace with the past, to achieve “good being,” to go from caterpillars to moths. It’s also important on the plot level, as we watch the consciousness of certain characters quite literally expand – leaping back and forth in time in mind and sometimes in body – as well as observing how Lost’s writers drop significant references to ‘consciousness expansion’ into their work (Richard Alpert’s name, Carlos Canasteda’s “A Separate Reality,” Philip K. Dick’s “VALIS,” etc, et al). The audience itself has experienced a metaphorical expansion of consciousness with each season of the show, as the fictional world it presents us opens up wider and wider, unspooling like the symbol for the Orchid Station.
For O’Connor and Teilhard, the convergence referred to is a moral, spiritual and intellectual “rising up” toward a kind of universal consciousness. Is this part of Jacob’s end-goal? The elevation of castaway consciousness?
• In another instance of “mirroring,” Season 2 prominently featured Sawyer reading the book “Lancelot,” by Walker Percy, a contemporary of O’Connor’s, and a novel which seems to represent the Man in Black’s worldview. Both authors were fascinated by the topics of sin, redemption, faith, and human cruelty, and “Lancelot” serves as a kind of “dark mirror” to O’Connor’s book. The title character of “Lancelot” believes that mankind is de-evolving toward a state of primal selfishness and purports to be searching for “the unholy grail,” or true evil.
Notably, both O’Connor and Percy have been cited as “Christian Existentialists,” a confusing title that seems to boil down to “believers in God, and in the reality of suffering and man’s inhumanity to man.” Existentialism has been a big philosophical part of Lost’s stew from the word “go,” as has Christianity.
• Jacob again conspicuously touches Locke after his fall, and depending on your interpretation of the scene, either somehow “mystically” revives Locke through his touch, or simply brings Locke back to consciousness (there’s that word again) after Locke passes out from the pain. So why doesn’t Locke travel back with Jack, Kate, and Co.? Maybe it’s because Locke was dead, and as we learned courtesy of Charlotte this season, dead bodies don’t make leaps in time like living people do.
Ben: “Why do you want me to kill Jacob, John?”
Anti-Locke: “Because, despite your loyal service to this Island, you got cancer. You had to watch your own daughter gunned down right in front of you. And your reward for those sacrifices? You were banished. And you did all this in the name of a man you’d never even met. So the question is, Ben, why the hell wouldn’t you want to kill Jacob?”
• Anti-Locke’s talk with Ben here again recalls the plight of Job, and the conversations that Job has with his friends about suffering and God’s role in that suffering. Whereas Job’s friends initially object that God always has a plan, and that Job must have done something to “deserve” their deity’s wrath, Anti-Locke’s viewpoint is a kind of dark mirror to their arguments, a reversal of their opinion.
• Sun finds Charlie’s DS ring in Aaron’s overturned crib when Anti-Locke’s group stumbles onto the castaways’ campsite. That’s two ‘found objects’ in this season previously associated with Charlie Pace, the other being the guitar case we’ll be seeing shortly.
Jacob (subtitled): “I’d like to offer you my blessing. Your love is a very special thing. Never take it for granted.”
Sun (subtitled): “Who was that?”
Jin (subtitled): “I don’t know, but his Korean is excellent.”
• As if there weren’t enough mysteries surrounding the Island’s resident Christ/God figure, add the ability to speak excellent, fluent Korean to the mix. Jacob touches both Jin and Sun when he blesses them, and this seems to help negate my theory that those who he touches all travel back through time. Except that maybe it doesn’t. Jacob’s touch doesn’t affect Jin’s return to the Island, because Jin never leaves (but notice that, like Sawyer, Jin comes incredibly close to escaping the Island). By the time Sun returns to the Island, she’s given birth. Has successful birth somehow kept her ‘anchored’ to the present day?
• Richard takes Anti-Locke to the foot of the statue (in two senses of the phrase) and informs us all that this is where Jacob lives, which, as mentioned, is really quite odd. Does Anti-Locke, aka the MiB, not know that Jacob lives here? If so, it might help to explain the move from the cabin in the woods to a windowless stone room. Was Jacob in danger as long as the MiB knew where to find him? Maybe so. Maybe the MiB’s apparent ability to look like anyone makes it near-impossible to trust most people. Is it possible, then, that all of the “rules” in place about seeing Jacob are essentially security protocols? We’ll talk a little more about this further down.
• Season 5 and Season 2 continue to mirror each other – we haven’t seen the statue’s foot since it was first glimpses by Sayid in the Season 2 finale:
When we see the statue’s foot in Season 2 it’s the left foot. Here, I’m pretty sure that it’s the right foot. Is this a continuity error? Evidence of a second statue elsewhere on the Island? A hint about the possibility of multiple worlds?
Jack: “Machine got stuck.”
Jacob: “I guess it just needed a little push.”
• Jacob appears to Jack and, as long as I’m keeping score, seems to touch Jack as he passes him a candy bar. That’s either direct contact, or contact through a shared object. Jack returns to the Island and travels back in time.
Sawyer: “Right now it’s July 1977, which means that happened last year. So I could’ve hopped on the sub, gone back to the States, walked right in my house and stopped my daddy from killing anybody.”
Jack: “Why didn’t you?”
Sawyer: “Because, Jack… what’s done is done.”
• Sawyer’s words here echo the words of the man who approached him after Jacob, seen in flashback earlier in the episode. It’s a viewpoint that Locke explained to a disbelieving Sawyer earlier this season, when they re-experienced the night that the Swan hatch lit up under Locke. At that point, Sawyer was the one asking why Locke wouldn’t try to change the past. He’s now adopted that view, bringing Sawyer’s philosophical journey full circle, and emphasizing just how influential the writing of that letter was to the rest of young Sawyer’s life.
• The Jack/Sawyer beatdown is epic and disturbingly satisfying. Maybe “Lancelot” isn’t totally wrong about us.
• Juliet’s switch from no-bomb to pro-bomb makes more emotional sense to me on rewatch. Notably, she’s never visited by Jacob, despite multiple attempts to leave the Island by submarine. She never leaves, and travels back to the 70’s because of the flashes.
• Jack claims that “nothing in my life has ever felt so right.” He needs Kate to believe him – to believe in him. In a sense, it’s an echo of the Jack/Locke dynamic, with Jack in Locke’s former position and Kate in Jack’s former position. The difference here: Kate decides to believe him.
• It makes absolutely no sense that Hurley would go from fearing strange men with tranquilizer guns directly to jumping in a cab with a strange dude who’s just, like, sitting there waiting for him.
JACOB: Well, what if you weren’t cursed? What if you were blessed?
HURLEY: How do you mean “blessed?”
JACOB: Well, you get to talk to people you’ve lost… seems like a pretty wonderful thing to me.
• That’s an interesting take on things, and it fits with what seems to be Jacob’s positive outlook. Hurley’s “ghost vision” can be seen either way, really. It’s a question of perspective, which is again a very Existentialist viewpoint. What exactly is Hurley’s “power”? How can he see the cabin? How can he see ‘ghosts’?
• Jacob emphasizes to Hurley that getting on the plane is his choice. Choice, I think, being the operative word here. What’s the deal with the guitar case? Is it Charlie’s? What’s inside? Tell me, Lost!
• Jacob’s selection of people offers a fairly diverse selection of human qualities. Each of the castaways he visits could be said to embody some aspect of the human spirit in general. Jack is rational inquiry, Locke is guileless faith, Sayid is hope for redemption (at least until this episode), Sawyer is a living example of the ability to change, Kate is maternal love, Jin and Sun are romantic love, and Hurley is compassion. So to speak. If Jacob is assembling a group of people to serve as potential candidates for his position, perhaps he’s selected them for reasons reflecting those qualities. Or maybe I’m off my meds again.
• Jacob doesn’t touch Hurley, but he does leave him with a mysterious guitar case. Does this mean my time-travel-touch theory is fatally flawed? Probably! That is, unless the gifting of an object that’s been on the Island (Charlie’s case) can help to draw a person back to the Island again.
…Where are those meds?
• Sayid’s clearly dying. Unless Jack is right, he’ll be leaving the show very shortly. Which makes me hope Jack was right.
• Richard again confirms that typically the leader of the Others does meet with Jacob. More than that, he says that Jacob would come to Anti-Locke, which means he’d leave his foot-house to do so.
According to Richard, only the “leader” can request an audience with Jacob, and there can only ever be one leader at a time. This confirms that Eloise Hawking alone, and not Charles Widmore, was leader in the 70’s. I assume Widmore stepped up when Hawking left the Island? Do the Island’s past leaders have a private club together, where they meet to drink and emphasize how much they want to kill each other? I’ll bet it’s swanky.
• What’s up with Jacob’s visitor requirements? I suggested above that they may be “security measures,” designed to protect Jacob, either from physical harm or from encountering people that he doesn’t willfully want to encounter.
Physical security makes a certain amount of sense, since the MiB’s clearly gunning for him. And limiting his visitors to the leader of his group – a leader that’s apparently picked through a mysterious, intuitive, specific process – helps guarantee that he can trust his visitor. The MiB may not be able to kill Jacob directly, but he can apparently do it indirectly (though we don’t know how indiscriminately – did it need to be Ben?). If the identity of the person who kills Jacob doesn’t matter, then that’s all the more reason for Jacob to keep himself a little isolated.
Security from unwanted encounters may also be a factor, given the time travel elements of Season 5. If Jacob is playing with time, “nudging” certain things for undisclosed purposes, then he’s playing a dangerous game with consequences that are literally world-changing. Does he need to be selective about who he encounters, in order to do his work properly? Is there a need to keep his identity hidden, so that he can go about his business unrecognized by anyone who shouldn’t recognize him? So that he doesn’t create problems in the time stream by interacting when he shouldn’t?
Locke: “Will you be able to do this, Ben? I know it won’t be easy, but things will change once he’s gone. I promise.”
• I’m dying to see what this means. What purpose do the Others really serve under Jacob? How will that purpose change under the MiB? Will the Others be directed toward different work? Will they be taken to the Temple and “changed”? Will they be killed? I’m sort of hoping that the MiB turns the Others into a serious threat.
• Miles makes the point that maybe they’re going to cause The Incident by going through with Jack’s plan. Damn good point, Miles. If the castaways end up causing The Incident, they’re even more literally the causes of their own suffering. Tonight, we’ll know. Is it tonight yet?
…How about now?
Juliet: “Live together, die alone.”
• Haven’t heard that in a while. If Richard’s right about what he saw, it’s more like “Live warily together, die together.” That isn’t nearly as catchy or life-affirming.
• We watch Dr. Pierre Chang (aka Dr. Marvin Candle, aka Dr. Edgar Halliwax, aka Dr. Mark Wickmund, aka Dr. Enough W. TheNamesAlready) lose his arm as all of the metal surrounding the Swan site begins to fly toward the open mine. Dharma has hit that “sleeping” pocket of “unique electromagnetic energy,” and it’s not good with mornings.
Whatever’s down there, it’s strong – flipping a jeep, tugging drilling equipment below ground, and capturing poor Juliet in chains, dragging her along the ground and into the mouth of the mine in a way that recalls both Locke’s second encounter with the Smoke Monster, and Montand’s sudden amputation at the Temple wall. In both cases, the Monster wrapped itself around them and drug them across the ground to a hole in the earth. Locke escaped through the judicious application of dynamite. Montand wasn’t so lucky. And Juliet’s plight echoes them both – right down to the sound of running chains in the background. Am I wrong, or is that the same mechanical sound we’ve heard in the mix of sounds making up the Monster’s “vocabulary”?
Sawyer: “Don’t you leave me!”
• Aww, geez. You don’t want to hear about me maybe possibly misting up at this moment, and I don’t want to tell you about it (assuming, that is, that this misting took place and, as we both know, it didn’t).
Sun: “Do you have any alcohol?”
Richard: “No. Sure wish I did.”
Ilana: “What lies in the shadow of the statue?”
Richard: “Ille qui nos omnes servabit.”
• So, what lies in the shadow of the statue? Depending on how you choose to translate it, the answer is either “He who will save/protect us all” or “that which will protect/save us all.”
As Chud reader “Mattioli” pointed out, this riddle’s answer could refer to Jacob, who we saw laying in the shadow of the statue at the start of the episode. It could also refer to the position that Jacob occupies – a necessary job that involves saving/protecting the world. If so, it’s another echo of Season 2, wherein the act of pushing the Button is supposed to save the world. Notice that Jacob, like Desmond, spends his time at work in a secret “Station,” albeit one created by much older visitors to the Island. In Season 2, we saw Desmond use a riddle (“What did one snowman say to the other snowman?”) to identify those he could trust. Here, Ilana does the same thing with Richard, aka Ricardus. If I’m right about Bram’s mention of a “candidate,” then someone will need to fill Jacob’s position – effectively taking over in the same way that the castaways take over from Desmond.
And speaking of which – are the tunnels, the ruins, even the Temple meant to serve as evidence of an “original Dharma Initiative”? If so, that’s one hell of an echo, and an incredibly cool one at that. We have no idea what the purpose of these statues and ruins truly were. Were they built in order to disguise what went on within them, the way that Dharma’s hatches were built into the Island’s soil? Were they hiding experiments of some kind?
And to repeat Sun’s very good question: If Locke’s body is out there with them, just who is it that’s in the foot-house with Jacob? We know that it’s the Man in Black, but what does that really mean? How does this “man” appear to change shape? Do people see what “he” wants them to see? Does he physically change forms? Has he been responsible for the appearance of the ‘ghosts,’ on or off of the Island?
• The name “Ricardus” implies that Richard may be even older than we’d assumed. It’s a very Greek/Roman sounding name, which ties in nicely with the latin being spoken here.
Jacob: “You like it? I did it myself. It takes a very long time when you’re making the thread, but I suppose that’s the point, isn’t it?”
• We’ve seen Jacob weaving his own figurative tapestry throughout the episode, and we’ve seen that it’s taken decades to do so. It seems safe to assume as well that we’ve seen only a fraction of what Jacob’s been up to – it hasn’t all been fish-catching and arts and crafts.
Jacob: “Well, you found your loophole.”
Anti-Locke: “Indeed I did. And you have no idea what I’ve gone through to be here.”
• If I’ve been getting things correct as I’ve been rewatching, Anti-Locke has intervened in numerous ways in order to set up the “real” Locke’s ascension to Island leader and the events leading to the return of his body. And now I’m wondering just how long this has really taken him. Ben asks Anti-Locke how he knew to be at the beechcraft crash site just in time to catch the “real” Locke there. Two possible explanations off the top of my head:
1)Anti-Locke/the MiB possesses the ability to experience past, present and future out of order, or as he wishes. He knows because he’s foreseen it. This seems unlikely, since the arrival of the ship at the beginning of the episode wasn’t known to him.
2)This isn’t the first time that the castaways have looped, and the MiB has been observing them, taking notes if you will, figuring out key moments in time, when the “flashes” will occur, and places where a “loophole” might exist. This seems more likely.
• Jacob emphasizes that Ben has a choice, no matter what Anti-Locke has told him. Choice is something that Jacob clearly values. We’ve heard him emphasize it twice. That emphasis aligns nicely with what we heard Daniel tell us about “variables.”
Jacob: “What about you?”
Ben: “Oh. Well…”
• Electrifying is, I think, the word I’m looking for here. Ben murders his “God” for the Man in Black. Here, Job’s confrontation with God is seen through a dark mirror – where God brushed Job off with a long speech about how Job is really really small, and God is really really big and ineffable and whatnot:
“What about you?”
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”
Jacob’s answer is utterly ambiguous. It offers no comfort to Ben in his suffering, just as God’s answer provides no true comfort to Job outside of the understanding that God is inexplicable. They’re ultimately very existential answers, and Ben clearly isn’t buying into it. He murders “God” for the crime of being absent in his life, which, in my humble opinion, is both deeply profound and powerfully sad.
• Remember what the real Mikhail Bakunin (the namesake of the Island’s eye-patched Russian) argued during his lifetime: if God existed, Bakunin insisted, humanity would need to destroy him in order to rise up above the need for him.
• What are the consequences of killing Jacob? In Season 2, Desmond’s murder of Kelvin Inman delays his pushing of the Button, resulting in the surge that brings the castaways to the Island. Will Jacob’s death have similarly drastic results?
• Is this Jacob’s Aslan/Christ/Ra moment? Is he going willingly to death? Is he a “sacrifice that the Island demands”? At the very least, Jacob sounds as though he’s planned for this moment.
Jacob: “They’re coming.”
• Who is? Ilana and the “shadow” people? Jack and his band of angsty merry men? A whole new group?
This news does not appear to please Anti-Locke/MiB, who proceeds to boot Jacob’s body straight into the fire, apparently in response to the news. Of course, Anti-Locke may just really, really hate Jacob.
• In his final moments, Jacob finally touches Ben.
Juliet: “Come on, you son of a bitch!”
• In another echo of Season 2, Juliet attempts to activate Jack’s “failsafe key” by hammering on the jughead core off with a large rock, mirroring Desmond’s race to turn the key. The screen goes white, and then….
• Have the castaways reset the future? Have they ensured that they are the causes of their own suffering? Have they subverted time itself, in service of “destiny”?
The answers start coming tonight. Join me back here tomorrow afternoon and we’ll talk about what we’ve seen. Thanks for reading these, and for commenting. I hope you’ll come along for the Season 6 ride here at Chud.com.
Merry Christmas, everyone. See you on the other side.
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