Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Magnificent Man

Ah, Jacob. You'd been alluded to for like ever before we caught a glimpse of you. For a while, I was convinced you were a piece of subterfuge constructed by Ben. Then I thought you were really Charles Widmore, pulling the strings of everyone on the Island through some unknown means. Later, I thought you were a never-seen, or mentioned, former head of the Dharma Initiative. I imagined there had been a split in the DI, and one side went native with you as their Kurtzian leader, joining forces with, and later, assuming the leadership of the Others.

Then after you (I thought, at the time) moaned 'Help Me' to John Locke, I sort of gave up speculating about you, assuming you were just the disembodied G-d force animating the Island. What you needed help for, I couldn't imagine. When John received his island-moving instructions from Cabin Christian, I took CC's assurance that he could 'speak' for Jacob to sort of confirm that Jacob was the Moses-like island G-d, communicating thru ghosts he was able to invoke.

Then, watching the first 10 minutes of 'The Incident' Ming and I turned to each other and stared, our third eyes wide open and locked.

During the Great Lost Hiatus of 2009 (GLH9) I became a more than a little nervous. Did Lost just reveal the Big Bad...and the Big Good? Was a show that thrived on unreliable narrators, instantaneous reversals of fortune, men of faith who cautioned against coincidence, and men of reason who were slaves to their impulses going to rewrite itself as the millionth unnecessary chapter in ye olde booke of the battle between untarnished GOOD and pure EVIL? This show has been about many things for five seasons, but never about a noble group coming nobly together to the noble thing on behalf of their vanquished general's fallen nobleness. That kind of transition in storytelling would absolutely suck the life out of any post-finale rewatch of earlier seasons--every great character developing moment, would be seen instead as the invisible hand of Jacob. Or that other dude.

Despite Dogen's (RIP) insistence of 'evil incarnate', I've dialed down my nervousness quite a bit at this point (after 'Sundown'). Where Jacob and his beach-bud come from remains a (delicious) mystery, but they've both passed with distinction from the (apparently ancient) Other school of communication--dangle grandiose fantasies of wish fulfillment among subtle and reasonable requests to perform a task that, though simple, must remain vague, thus keeping their mark distracted as they're maneuvered into positions where the only choice remaining is a bad one. If the reveal of Jacob's and UnLocke's styles continues along these lines, I'll consider it a suitably strange spin on the old, generic tale to keep me happy for future Lost-watches.

Even now, a third of the way through Season 6, Jacob's origins and motives remain--I think--mostly a mystery. Nearly all the evidence we have of Jacob's character has been dispensed by UnLocke--hearsay from a hostile witness. I'm not saying I'm hanging life and death on every one of the questions below being wrapped up, but they're what I think about when I think about Jacob. So, let's begin.


1. Why isn’t Jacob more clear and direct with his wishes? Why does he hide his motives and goals from his allies? What code of conduct does he impose on himself? Why?

2. Who is Jacob? Was he, like his adversary, once a man?

3. Is beach-Jacob the original face of that 'which lies in the shadow of the statue'? Or is he only the latest successful ‘candidate’ in an eternal cycle of supernatural essences assuming some kind of manly guise?

4. What is Jacob’s endgame? Is it simply as MiB tells Sawyer: That his endgame is finding the ‘new’ Jacob? Would such a passing of the torch constitute what beach-Jacob was referring to with ‘It only ends once.’? If the events of Lost represent his endgame, what was his pregame, middlegame, etc? What was he up to, and why, in the period in between the construction of the Temple, the tunnels, the statues, etc and when the eldest of our Lostaways (say, Christian Shephard) were born?

5. Has any leader of the Others ever met Jacob face to face?

6. What is the disagreement that Jacob and MiB have? ’Still trying to prove me wrong, huh? ‘You are wrong.’ How does Flocke’s wish to escape his ‘trap’ relate to beach-MiB’s disgust with those who come to the Island and ‘corrupt’ it?

7. Can people find the Island without Jacob's 'bringing' them? Did Jacob 'bring' the Dharma Initiative?

8. When Jacob said 'What about you?' to Ben, was he coldly dismissing an errant peon, or gently attempting to begin a therapy session?
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