Monday, February 22, 2010

Lost Thoughts and Predictions

So I watched that awesome fourth episode of Lost this season again this past weekend, and I think I have a clearer understanding of some of the issues presented by this show than much of what I am reading in the vast amounts of speculation and explanation available on the intertubes.

For starters, we have seen many times over that what qualifies as a fatal injury or lethal situation off the island out in the real world often does not really qualify as such when on the island. Such is I believe the case even with Jacob, whoever (or whatever) he may be. Because when Ben stabbed Jacob's ass repeatedly in the abdomen inside the statute in the finale of Season 5, at this point I don't think that Jacob actually died from those injuries. Sure, Jacob was incapacitated and on the ground, but again on this island, that is a farrrr cry from death.

Jacob might have died -- in the sense that he (or "it") can die on the island -- there in the statue, but I don't think it was Ben and his little stabby stabby that did it. I think what "killed" Jacob was when Flocke kicked his incapacitated body into the roaring fire in the middle of that room inside the statue. I have several reasons for this belief, not the least of which is that when Ben recounts to Ileana in this past week's episode what happened, when Ileana asks who killed Jacob, Ben responds that Flocke did by kicking his body into the fire. They even show us Flocke rolling Jacob's bloodied body into the fire as Ben describes what killed Jacob. Now, to be sure Ben is a lying liar who tells lies and may even believe that it was he (Ben) who did the actual killing of Jacob. But I think the producers are trying to give us a clue here with that recollection scene of Ben's, that it was in fact technically Flocke's burning of Jacob's body that "killed" him, not Ben's stabbings. I also think the very existence of that big fire in the middle of the room inside the statue -- when otherwise there would be no particular reason or need for such a fire, here on a tropical island in a room where some sort of deity is living -- suggests that there is some meaning to the fire being there, some purpose other than just looking hot and yellow. My guess is that the fire was put there specifically for Flocke to make use of to officially "kill" Jacob. So I don't think Ben is guilty of killing Jacob, I think it was Flocke who officially did the deed.

Why is this an important distinction? I think it may prove to be very important, possibly even the fatal flaw in Flocke's whole plan to eradicate Jacob on his way to getting himself out of his island prison that he's been stuck in for time immemorial. Which leads me to my second "prediction" as to the explanation of what we saw on last week's episode: the young boy who appeared to Flocke in the forest was probably a young version of the next protector of the island after Jacob(presumably one of our Losties "candidates"). Here's my thinking: in five seasons of Lost we've never seen this kid before, nor have we even been hinted at his existence, and yet he shows up for the first time within minutes / days of Jacob being killed. And as I mention above, I believe Jacob was killed officially by Flocke, not by Ben. So when the kid shows up for the first time and says to Flocke reproachingly "You can't kill him", I think he is making a direct reference to Flocke having killed Jacob by burning him in the fire inside the statue, perhaps the only true way to kill someone given the magic of the island. It is amusing as heck for me to read all the conjecture and hypothesizing in the intertubes about everything with this show, and in particular on this point it's people saying he is referring to Sawyer, or to Locke, or someone else on the show. While obviously anything is possible (with this show in particular), it just seems more likely than anything else to me that the kid is referring to the guy we just saw Flocke kill. I think this would be completely obvious if in fact it was made obvious that it was Flocke -- and not Ben -- who "killed" Jacob inside the statue, but since that was presented to us in a way that made us think Jacob wasn't killed by Flocke, the conjecturing is going full-on across the internets that the kid is referring to someone else. Also, people seem to have glommed on to the tense of the kid's admonition -- "You can't kill him" -- as if the kid must be referring to someone who hasn't been killed yet by Flocke. But think about it -- if the kid were referring to Flocke just having killed Jacob by burning his body in the fire, wouldn't he use that exact same phraseology, that exact same verb tense? Of course he would. He shakes his head reproachingly at Flocke and says "You can't kill him." As if Flocke just broke the rules by killing Jacob, which Flocke himself admitted in the Season Five finale he is not permitted to do but rather needs to find a loophole which obviously requires getting someone else on the island to use his or her own free will to kill Jacob, as Flocke attempted to do via manipulation of Ben Linus.

One of the big reasons I believe this interpretation of what happened with the appearance of the kid is the look on Locke's face when he sees the kid for the very first time. Flocke is surprised to see him, sure, but he's more than just surprised. He's concerned. He's borderline angry, from the look on Flocke's face. It's almost like he knows in some small way what the sudden appearance of the kid means -- and in my view, it means that Flocke broke the rules in killing Jacob. Flocke thought he had his loophole by getting Ben to use his own free will to kill Jacob -- that much I think is obvious at this point after the last four of five Lost episodes -- but seeing that kid seems almost to immediately have alerted Flocke to the fact that there might be some problem with his whole little loophole plan.

Incidentally, I would be convinced that the kid is a young Jacob -- and he still obviously could be, Jacob come back to life to start anew as the island's protector since Flocke could not succeed in killing him himself by kicking Jacob's body into the fire -- if not for the fact that the kid said "You can't kill him." Not "You can't kill me", but you can't kill him. That suggests to me, absent any further information to the contrary, that the child is not Jacob, but someone else. I still think the kid is probably someone playing the same role that Jacob serves on the island -- to protect it, most likely to protect it from Flocke escaping the island and wreaking the havoc he wants to wreak on the world and the people living in it -- but if I had to venture a guess I would say it is likely not Jacob himself as a boy due to the words they deliberately had him use when Flocke had the chance to speak with him during last week's episode. He could easily be the young version of whoever the next candidate for island protector is, but my guess is that it's not Jacob himself based solely on how they presented his appearance and his limited direct interaction with Flocke. That kid's face said it all though I think in episode 4, the way he shook his head and frowned disapprovingly at Flocke. I just can't shake the fact that Flocke went and broke the rules after all in killing Jacob by burning his body in the fire, I'm sure done out of greed and out of Flocke's insatiable desire to be freed of his island prison, and this kid knows it. And Flocke, by virtue of having seen the kid in the first place and now speaking with him as well, is starting to know it too. Flocke fucked up, he didn't get his loophole after all, but at this point it seems he has had enough and is going to go forward with his plan to get off the island anyways while he thinks he might have a window due to the death of Jacob in the statue and the next candidate is still being determined.

I also thought it was very curious the way that Flocke so readily walked right up and crossed off Locke's name from the Cave of Names near the end of the episode with Sawyer. If that cave was really Jacob's and Jacob's alone, the way that Flocke portrayed it to be in his conversation there with Sawyer, then I would not expect Flocke to just walk right up and cross any names off. In fact, although I do not yet understand how Locke could be reborn after having clearly been killed by Ben two seasons ago back off-island, my guess is either that (i) the cave is Jacob's alone, in which case Flocke's crossing off of Locke's name from the cave ceiling would not be effective, and Locke is therefore still a potential "candidate" to replace Jacob, or (ii) the cave is not Jacob's, or at least not only Jacob's, and that Flocke himself also has some role in the writing of the names, as well as their removal from the ceiling. Obviously everything that Flocke says to Sawyer about the cave (and everything else, for that matter) is suspect at best, but his claim that those names were written just by Jacob without any influence from or contribution by Flocke seems totally not believable to me. I mean, if this is really just Jacob's cave where he writes the names of potential candidates on the ceiling, why would Flocke walk right up and cross off Locke's name? He made that cross-out as if he were entitled to do it, and as if he had done plenty of other cross-outs of those names before. Why would Flocke even care about crossing out one of Jacob's names from the ceiling, if Flocke himself did not have something to do with the names being there (or being crossed out) in the first place? Obviously, everyone knows there is more to the story about that whole cave, but my feeling is that we have not been told at all the truth about the nature or genesis of those names in the first place. And here's hoping the numbers have some cool significance after all in the overall scheme of things -- I'm quite sure it is a lot more than the silly "Jacob had a thing for numbers" excuse that Flocke offered Sawyer when he asked.

The last thing I wanted to mention was an overarching prediction regarding the true identity of Flocke. Obviously there are any number of possibilities, and given the way this show has gone and how ludicrously off even the best-known pundits' (Doc Jensen, Darkufo and the other main Lost bloggers chief among them) predictions have been all the way through the entire arc, anybody who claims to know these answers is more or less completely full of crap, and no one prediction out there about Flocke's story has more than maybe a 1% chance of actually being correct, but I cannot escape the conclusion right now that the most likely scenario -- not more than or even close to 50% likely, mind you, but still the best fitting what I've seen so far -- is that Jacob's nemesis is actually Esau. As in, Jacob's evil twin brother Esau. Yes, from the Bible. First and foremost, look at the way the Lost writers have gone absolutely out of their way to conceal Flocke's true name. And of course, when I write about Flocke in this post, I am generally referring to the Man in Black from the Season 5 finale -- the Black Smoke -- who this season has clearly taken the shape of Locke's body after manipulating Ben into killing Locke and bringing the dead body to the island in Season 5 so that the Man in Black could assume the shape of Locke's body.

Anyways, we've been hearing about this mysterious man named Jacob since what, Season 3? Season 2 even maybe? Jacob has been referred to by name ever since the first time he was mentioned, and we've seen Jacob appear and refer to himself as Jacob on several occasions over the past couple of seasons as well. But the Man in Black ("MIB", for lack of a better term) never said his name when we saw him in the finale last season, and the writers went out of their way not to have Jacob refer to him by his name either during that crucial scene at the beginning of Season 5's last episode. This year as well, with MIB taking center stage in the form of Locke's body, still no reference whatsoever to an actual name, although he does claim to have once been a man, someone who loved and lost just like Sawyer and other regular people. Even when Sawyer asked him last week who he was, Flocke just smiled and did not reveal his name. Why would the writers do this? Getting into their heads a little bit, I think the most rational assumption is that revealing his actual name would tell us more about his character and his nature than they want to reveal at this point in time. I mean, think about this for a minute -- if Flocke were to have responded last week to Sawyer's question with something like "My name is Brian" or whatever, would that have mattered at all to anyone? Of course not. So then why wouldn't they have just told us his name, like they've told us with every other character on the show bar none over five-plus seasons? There is a logical leap involved here to be sure, but again living in the realm of the most rational explanations, I think it is more likely than anything else that revealing MIB's actual name would give away too much for right now. And if we accept that hypothesis as true, there's only a few people I can think of right now who would fit that bill and everything else we've seen so far about MIB in the show. The serpent from the garden of Eden? That could be. But Esau keeps coming to mind as well.

More than just the insistence on not revealing MIB's name lead me to this conclusion. For starters, for those familiar with the bible story of Jacob, Jacob was always someone who attempted to intervene and even deceive others in order to get what he wanted. In fact, his very name "Yaakov" is translated to mean "leg-puller" as his entire early life Jacob was out to manipulate others for his own purposes. You may be familiar with the story of his struggles with his twin brother Esau, which essentially amounted to using Esau's hunger and desire for bodily pleasures to trick Esau into giving Jacob the birthright that Esau was entitled to as the older of the two twins. Then Jacob and his mother Rebekah again conspired to trick Jacob's father Isaac into giving his blessing to Jacob instead of to Esau, with the latter having always been Isaac's favorite. Until later in his life when he was finally tamed and taught correct by God himself, Jacob's entire life was one subterfuge and ploy after another to get what he wanted. I just can't get away from how similar this is to the way our Lost character Jacob has acted, apparently appearing at various points in the Losties' lives -- when they were young, upset, and at their most vulnerable, according to Flocke last week, and influencing them at those points in time to do his bidding. Think of Sawyer, who Jacob appeared to in his moment of deepest grief, at his parents' funeral. Or Locke himself, to whom Jacob appeared only moments after Locke's own father had deliberately pushed him out of an 8th-floor window and possibly even killed until Jacob came along to seemingly resurrect him. To Kate, Jacob appeared when she was about to get prosecuted for shoplifting. To Jack, when he was in desperate need of sustenance -- both physical and emotional -- during his ordeal to save his future wife from lifetime paralysis. To Sayid, Jacob appeared just moments before the love of his life was killed by a car hurtling down the street. Clearly, our Jacob is someone who uses the vulnerabilities in others' lives to his own advantage, and that is pretty much the definition of the Jacob we read about in the Bible.

There is less in the Bible about Esau, but we do know that the biblical story has the two as fraternal twins. And as I think back to the repartee between the two in the Season 5 finale, don't they just seem like brothers? I may be reading into this a little bit, but that really seems to fit the bill to me. Esau is depicted in the Bible as fighting with Jacob for his entire life, even from when the two were in Rebeka's womb, where it was said that Jacob tried to come out every time Rebekah passed a house of worship, while Esau tried to get out every time she passed a house of idolatry. Esau is also depicted as a "man of the field", preferring the outdoor life, and a great hunter, as opposed to the quiet, introverted Jacob. This seems to fit all too well with Esau's presence on the island as the black smoke, the ultimate hunter and predator among all others on the island, and as someone who lives and travels regularly across all the land of the island, unlike Jacob who clearly plays the role of the kinder, gentler of the two characters. And lastly, the book of Genesis is full of accounts of Esau's promises to kill Jacob, in particular after Jacob's deception at Esau's expense, but even before the two were born to Rebekah she received a prophecy that the two would be fighting all their lives just as they were in the womb.

Obviously, all this sounds more than a little like interpretations of the two characters we have been presented with in the last couple seasons of Lost. As I said above, I'm not in any way trying to say that I actually know this to be correct, or even that it is more likely than not to be correct. But as I read all the crazy theories out there on the intertubes about who Jacob and MIB really are, I simply cannot escape the conclusion that the real Jacob and the real Esau is the most likely of all the various possibilities out there.

Lastly, I think there are two other interesting things to note about the Jacob - Esau connection. First, it should be noted that the story of Jacob and Esau in the Bible eventually ends with a reconciliation. Esau, who had been planning to attack and kill Jacob with an army of 400 men, is eventually appeased by the many lavish gifts that Jacob sends to Esau in advance of their meeting, and upon Jacob's arrival, Esau shows forgiveness and reconciliation. The two are said to have had an emotional reconciliation, and they lived on as friends afterwards according to the biblical story, burying their father together upon his death.

Which leads to my last point -- upon Jacob's death (at the age of 147, not all that old according to biblical standards), his son Joseph had Jacob's remains transported back to Canaan, with Jacob's twelve total sons carrying their father's coffin and many Egyptian officials accompanying them, and Jacob was buried in the cave of Machpelah, which Jacob's grandfather Abraham had bought, and in which Jacob's grandparents, parents, and Jacob's first wife Leah were buried. I don't see the parallels here to any of these other characters from the Bible story, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to immediately perking up at the mention of taking Jacob's remains to a cave to be buried. Ileana surprised I think many of us by immediately scooping up Jacob's white ashes from the fire pit inside the statue the moment that Ben told her that's where he had been burned by Flocke, and putting them into a bag to take with her somewhere. Having not only seen that but also being introduced to the Cave of Names last week, I just couldn't not see the connection. For all we know, those two "Adam and Eve" skeletons in the original cave the survivors found in Season 1 could include Jacob, or technically could even be Jacob and Esau.

Who know where all this will lead. But right now I will stand by my position that the above theory represents the most likely of all the many possible explanations for what we have seen over the past several episodes of Lost. For those of you who are rankled at the very thought of a biblical type of outcome for what has gone down on this show, you might want to start accepting the real possibility as I now am.

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