What’s this? A season finale analysis less than a week after it aired? This is a new record for Lost… and Gone Forever! Be forewarned, this is a monster of a post. You probably want to get a drink, plan on taking a break midway through, and have a pen and paper ready to take notes. Get ready to discuss two hours of television in an absurd amount of detail!
Before we get to the analysis of “The Incident”, we need to come up with a better name for “Man #2”. Technically, he was called “Man #2” on the Episode Description, but it’s kinda annoying to type a # each time I talk about him (because I suck at finding the shift-characters above the numbers on the keyboard without looking). We don’t know a lot about his character, but we do seem to know one thing – he’s the opposite of Jacob. He’s the yin to Jacob’s yang, the dark to Jacob’s light, the Seinfeld finale to Jacob’s Scrubs finale.
Based on all this, rather than make assumptions about a true name (like those going with "Esau" or "Samuel" – both fine names, granted) I’m going to keep it simple and call him Anti-Jacob, or AJ for short. Two letters vs. a name with a shift-character in it? Looks like someone just cut out hundreds of seconds on the time it’s going to take him to type this analysis. Booyah. Just call me Captain Efficiency.
With that behind us, let’s get down to business.
The Beginning. In the beginning, there were Jacob and AJ. From a timeline perspective, the opening scene of “The Incident” is the earliest thing we’ve ever seen on Lost. Granted, the existence of the Four-Toed Statue (which, by the way, is confirmed to be "Tawaret" in the ABC Episode Recap) in the scene proves that the Lost storyline could go back further to include the story of the people who built it, but for all intents and purposes, I think the opening scene was meant to tell us that from the beginning, Jacob and AJ were on the Island. They're the TRUE Island Originals. But who or what are they?
Well, if you follow the "Tawaret" path, you'll learn that in Egyptian mythology, Tawaret was originally the demon-wife of Apep, the original god of evil. Apep ruled the night, Tawaret ruled the day - but both were technically "bad guys". Tawaret, who had features like pregnant woman, was also viewed as a god of protection in pregnancy and childbirth. Since she was half-hippopotamus, the multi-purpose Tawaret was associated with the
It's easy to see the parallels between Tawaret and Apep vs. Jacob and AJ - except for the whole pregnancy thing… unless Jacob has a secret he's not telling us. However, while it's easy to find a lot of tie-ins from this Egyptian mythology to Lost (like the destruction of the statue leading to the pregnancy issues), I hesitate from taking it too far. Simply put, I don't think that Lost is going to easily boil down to a modern retelling of an ancient Egyptian story. There may be some parallels - but for me, Lost is a much bigger, more complex, and original story. I doubt the writers will ever come out and fully explain WHAT Jacob and AJ are (like how they don't age, yet can be killed by a knife) - as Damon and Carlton have said they aren't interested in explaining the WHY behind some of the more mysterious parts of the show (since it can't easily be done, would probably disappoint people, and would result in boring expository television). The moral of the story? I don’t think we should get overly caught up with these questions either. There are far more important things to get to… like WHO Jacob and AJ are.
We got a surprising amount of information on Jacob and AJ in the brief opening scene of "The Incident". Jacob is someone who has faith in mankind. AJ either never had faith in them, or has long since given up on them (“They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt. It always ends the same”). Jacob continues to bring / lead people to the
Hmmmm – a rule preventing one person from killing another? Where have we heard that before? How about Season Four's "The Shape of Things To Come"?
WIDMORE: Have you come here to kill me, Benjamin?
BEN: We both know I can't do that.
Does this mean that Widmore and Ben are somehow a modern version of Jacob and AJ? Or are they all just followers of the same set of rules?
At the end of the episode we seemingly saw that it is POSSIBLE to kill Jacob – so even though Jacob and AJ haven't aged in hundreds of years, they aren't invincible. Heck, all it took was a few stabs from a knife and a little roll in the fire… what kind of god dies so easily? As much as AJ hates Jacob, you would think that if really wanted to kill him, he would he would be willing to break the rules to get it done long ago… unless there was some kind of serious negative repercussion to this act. This seems to eliminate the possibility that the "rule" is simply some moral obligation that the Others follow - because if AJ is following it as well, there's a bigger reason.
Given the apparent yin-yang nature of Jacob and AJ, it's entirely possible that if one were to kill the other, both would die. Without the bad, there's no good. Without the darkness, there's no light. This theory seems like a nice and easy fit for Jacob and AJ at first… but then I would think that it doesn't really matter WHO killed one of them, as long as one died, both would die - right? The loophole wouldn't help. Also, while this explanation seems logical for the mystical, all-knowing, never-aging, shape-shifting Jacob and AJ, it seems pretty absurd that the same magical rules would apply to Ben and Widmore, two seemingly normal people. Even if Widmore was a "true leader" of the Others, and received some special power from Jacob (the power of being a successful businessman?) - which resulted in having this magic "No Kill Rule" placed upon him, we confirmed this week that Ben was not. As previously theorized, he's never even seen Jacob. So I have a hard time believing that the same rule would apply to him.
The other explanation for the No Kill Rule is that it isn't a rule that is specific to Jacob and AJ or Widmore and Ben - but it applies to ALL the Others. Sure, they have no problem in killing "outsiders" (the 1954 Army, Dharma, our Survivors) - but have we actually ever seen them kill a fellow Other? The only ones I can think of are Patchy killing Ms. Klugh (but only after she told him to do so, so that might not count), and Widmore killing Jones (when he was about to reveal the location of the Others - so again, it might not count). Perhaps the No Kill Rule was simply something that was passed down by Jacob to the Others over the years as
Think back to earlier this season - when Ben returned to the
I know a lot of people have been theorizing that Smokey and AJ are one and the same, which makes sense. Both seemingly possess shape-shift-ability and we've seen Smokey "scan people", which would be a handy tool for AJ to impersonate someone (he did a pretty convincing job as John Locke, even pointing out the Swan Hatch and reminding Ben that was where they first met). On the other hand, almost every time we've seen Smokey, he's been accompanied by the clicking sounds, exploding trees, and general destruction. Sure, sometimes this is followed by a character impersonation (Yemi, Alex), but we've never actually seen Smokey morph into a person - only a giant hand. Maybe AJ just hangs around Smokey and shows up to pass along Smokey's message? I don't know. But assuming that AJ has been John Locke (and Christian Shephard) for the better part of the past two seasons, we haven't seen any of the normal Smokey signs… which makes me think that Smokey is actually a third entity - separate from Jacob and AJ. He's the
That is, until AJ finally found the loophole he was looking for.
The Loophole. It turns out, I was a week too early on my Dogma reference. It turns out that Jacob wasn't some "imprisoned God" like in Dogma… however, AJ was looking for a loophole to kill Jacob… just like Bartleby and Loki finding a loophole to get back into heaven! In Dogma, exploiting this loophole would bring about the end of the existence. Here's hoping on Lost, it isn't quite so dramatic (although how many times this season did I talk about our Survivors' time traveling escapades bringing about the end of existence?!). AJ mentioned how difficult it was to find and exploit this loophole, but until this analysis, I didn't quite put together all that was potentially involved in getting Ben and Locke to the ending scene of the season.
This is going to get complex.
Let's start with the assumption that Christian Shephard is AJ (which seems like a safe bet). When we first saw him on the
A concept that jumped out at me during the clip show that aired before the season finale was that there was a reason for each of the time skips. Damon and
Flash One: Ethan Rom shoots Locke in the leg. Before Ethan can kill him, a flash occurs.
Without Locke being shot, we wouldn't have had the necessity of...
Flash Two: Richard Alpert finds Locke and tends to Locke's bullet wound. He gives Locke a compass that he says Locke must return to him in another time. Richard tells Locke that the people on the helicopter are already back home. Richard also tells Locke that the only way to save the
While we later learn that it's really AJ who told Alpert to tell Locke to kill himself, without this scene, Locke probably would have never had thoughts of suicide off-Island. Without Alpert giving Locke the compass, Locke would have never been able to convince Alpert that he was from the future and destined to be the leader of the Others…
Flash Three: Daniel tells Desmond that he's special and the rules don't apply to him. He then tells Desmond that if he ever gets off the
This one stands out as seeming pretty important… but didn't actually lead to anything in AJ's master plan… which makes me wonder if perhaps Jacob was responsible for this flash, and it's actually important to his master plan (which we'll get to later).
Flash Four: Locke returns the compass to Richard and asks how he can get off of the
Again, important to establish Locke becoming the leader of the Others - proving to Alpert that there was something special about him, which we will see Alpert continue to struggle with and eventually confirm in 1977 with Jack.
Flash Five: Locke convinces the group to head to the Orchid using the Zodiac raft to try to end the
Locke continues on his mission to the FDW, convincing the other Survivors to go with him.
Flash Six: Juliet shoots someone in the Backriggers before another flash.
Something tells me this will prove important - either to Jacob or AJ's master plan - but for now, no idea how or why.
Flash Seven Through Thirteen: The CFL / Jin Flashes, and the ones that lead to
Unlike the Juliet kills a Backrigger flash, it's harder to see why these would be important - unless AJ just really hated
Flash Fourteen: Locke begins to climb down the well that leads to the FDW.
Think about how convenient it was that once Locke was far enough down the rope, a flash happened - this ensured that ONLY Locke would get to the FDW, and he alone would turn it. Good work, AJ.
Flash Fifteen: Locke turns the wheel and everyone ends up in 1974.
Why did the skipping stop? Sure, Locke got the FDW back on axis… but AJ also completed his mission. He used the time skips to convince Alpert that John Locke may be the future leader of the Others, got Locke off-Island with the thought in his head that he needed to kill himself, and left the rest of our Survivors back in 1974.
It already seems complicated enough - but it just gets complicateder (or some other word that is really a word). What about the Oceanic Six (Four) ending up in 1977, whereas everyone else on Ajira 316 stayed in 2007? Could this also be the work of AJ?
Enter the second part of AJ's master plan - setting up Benjamin Linus. Let's walk through the events that led to Bejamin Linus going through Nerdy Dharmite to Nerdy Leader of the Others:
- Young Ben is shot by Sayid (couldn't have happened without Sayid being sent back to 1977).
- Young Ben is taken to the Others to be saved (couldn't have happened without Sawyer already being in 1977, or Kate being sent back to 1977).
- Alpert takes Young Ben, but warns "his innocence will be gone. He will always be one of us."
Let's stop there for a moment. Who or what saved Young Ben's life?
If it was Jacob, it doesn't seem to explain why "his innocence would be gone", assuming Jacob is the "good guy" in the equation. However, if it was AJ, it would make a little more sense. AJ brings Young Ben back to life, knowing that he would eventually need him to become the "loophole" in his master plan. It seems a little odd that Alpert, a seeming follower of Jacob, would have enough of a connection to AJ to know he could bring people back from the brink of death. It's also odd that AJ could do this, but Jacob couldn't - perhaps this is some power that AJ has, but Jacob lacks? And maybe Jacob has some opposite power that AJ lacks? Maybe.
I guess the important thing here is that this seems to officially make Ben an Other. Suddenly the No Kill Rule would apply to him. Maybe the loss of innocence is tied to being "marked" by AJ as a result of being saved by him. Maybe this is why Jacob refused to see Ben all those years. Although Ben lived his whole life in "service" to the
This brings us to the 2007 events on-Island. Locke is dead, stowed away in Ajira 316. Once the plane lands, AJ immediately begins impersonating him (note: apparently, AJ can only impersonate dead people - and only one person at a time). He is quick to forgive Ben for killing him (since it's all part of the plan!) and joins Ben on his mission to stand judgment before Smokey. Along the way, they run into Sun (who, ran into AJ as Christian Shephard, that told her to wait and meet up with Locke). As Ben falls into the
It was almost too easy…
Jacob. One of the first questions that came to mind after "The Incident" ended was - why did Jacob stand there and take it? Why did he seemingly egg Ben on to kill him? All Jacob needed to do was to tell Ben "you know what, you're right - I'm sorry. I should have talked to you earlier. Are you free for lunch tomorrow?" and all of AJ's master plan would have fallen to pieces. But instead, Jacob stood there and coldly replied "what about you?" which set Ben off and pushed him over the edge. Why?
Because Jacob had an even bigger plan in motion.
Somehow, Jacob saw all of this coming, and much like AJ, he’s been working on his own master plan counteract the whole thing. Like AJ, it seems like Jacob’s been putting the pieces in motion for many years. Clearly I’m talking about the flashbacks from this week, which featured Jacob touching (literally) Kate, Sawyer, Jack, Sun, Jin, Locke, and Hurley at some point in their lives. The interesting thing was that it didn’t seem like Jacob spent a lot of time observing or learning about any of our Survivors. In fact, most of his encounters with them lasted less than a minute. Instead, it seemed like his purpose was simply to touch them. But why?
Initially, there doesn’t seem a common thread between all the encounters. Some of those he touched went back to the past – but not all of them (Sun). You could argue that he “saved” some of them (most notably Locke and Sayid), but didn’t seem to have much effect on others (Jack). It makes me think there is something more mystical at play here. Did Jacob “download” everything he needed to know about each of the Survivors through that brief touch? Was it his way of judging them to see who would be worthy? Did this create some sort of “bond” between Jacob and the Survivors?
I haven’t settled on a definitive explanation for this one yet. My gut tells me that each person Jacob touched was deemed “worthy” of becoming one of his followers – maybe even going so far as becoming some sort of “candidate” to eventually become the Leader of the Others… or the “new Jacob” on the
What if Jacob’s death is necessary to somehow bring all these candidates together – regardless of when or where they are? With only 17 hours of Lost left, it would be a pretty convenient plot device to serve to bring all of our Survivors back together, suddenly standing on the Beach in 2007 (and maybe finding out that Jacob also touched some people like Desmond and Walt back in the day, magically bringing him back to the Island too… please?).
If you buy into my earlier argument that some combination of Jacob and AJ were responsible for our Survivors’ skipping through time, it would make sense that with his final breath Jacob would use his power for one final, big skip – calling them to him for assistance in the “battle for the Island”, knowing that they would be battling without him.
Yeah, it’s a stretch. It still seems like an alive Jacob would be more important to have in the “battle for the
What are the sides?
There have been a few clues as to how certain characters shake down in this battle:
- We know that The Shadow of the Statue are on the opposite side of Charles Widmore (since Bram tried to talk Miles out of working for Widmore, then told him he was on “the side that’s going to win”.)
- We know that The Shadow of the Statue and Alpert are on the same team, since Richardus knew the proper answer to the question “what lies in the shadow of the statue”.
- Given that the answer to “what lies in the shadow of the statue” is “Ille qui nos omnes servabit" ("He who will protect/save us all") – and Jacob lives in the shadow of the statue, it seems that The Shadow of the Statue are on Jacob’s team.
- Charles Widmore told John Locke that a war would take place on the island, and that if John didn't return, the wrong side was going to win.
So on the one side, we have Locke / AJ and Widmore. On the other side, we have the Shadow of the Statue, Alpert, and presumably the rest of the Others. With Ben recently killing Jacob, I can’t see him ending up on Team Jacob, which will ironically put him on the same team as Charles Widmore (although, this makes sense since Ben was the one who actually killed Locke – a critical piece of AJ’s master plan).
How did Widmore, former leader of the Others, end up on Team AJ? Was he recruited by AJ after being exiled from the
Lots to think about – but the big question is – which side do our Survivors end up on in this battle? Logic tells me that they’re going to become members of Team Jacob, especially with Jack’s newfound “faith” in the
Ever since Lost started, I thought the best possible series ending would be to find out that our Survivors, thinking they were doing the “right thing”, would actually end up doing the wrong thing and turn out to be the bad guys. Given that everything seems to be hinting that Team Jacob is good and Team AJ is bad, this sets the stage perfectly for precisely that to happen. My fingers are crossed.
The Incident. Wow – I’ve already typed nearly 5000 words and haven’t even gotten to the title event from the episode. Let’s rectify that.
The fundamental question of Lost’s fifth season centered around the ability to change the past. Lost spent the better part of 14 episodes telling us that “whatever happened, happened” only to then start teasing us with the possibility of blowing it all to hell with the help of a nuclear bomb. But what exactly happened in Lost’s final moments? Did our Survivors succeed in changing the past? Or did they merely succeed in causing “The Incident”, right according to plan?
Let me start out by saying I am 100% opposed to being able to change the past. In fact, last weekend I was a good Lost fan and supported JJ and Damon by going to see “Star Trek”. It absolutely killed me when they introduced the concept in the movie of changing the past. I spent the last half of the movie hoping and praying it wasn’t foreshadowing for Lost. In my mind, this totally cheapens (and ruins) the first five seasons of Lost. It’s changing the rules, bringing people back from the dead, undoing years worth of earned emotion and character relationships all for the sake of telling a story two different ways. It’s cheap – you should tell the story the way it’s meant to be told, rather than letting the audience see multiple iterations and letting them pick which one they like the best. If Season Six opens with Oceanic 815 landing in LAX and all our Survivors walking off as total strangers, I will be furious.
The good news is, I can’t possibly imagine that’s going to happen for one simple reason: we already had our “getting back to the
Note: this is why Jacob dying instantly bringing everyone to him is such a good plot device – it allows you to jump right into the meat of the story without wasting hours getting the characters in place!
So what happened when Juliet bashed the nuke to explosion with a rock? I’m guessing a big explosion – probably a Hatch Implosion style bright white light as the power of the bomb hit the funky electromagnetic pocket beneath the Hatch… but something big enough that a distant watching Alpert would look to the sky, send someone to investigate, and determine “they’re all dead” just like he told Sun. The explosion would bring down enough debris to plug the hole and allow the Others to cement the area in to prevent anyone from accidentally ever digging that deep again, and history continues as originally told.
What about our Survivors? Those that Jacob touched get pulled back to 2007, coinciding with Jacob’s death. That just leaves Miles and Juliet as the only non-touched Survivors in 1977.
Juliet worries me a bit. It seemed to me that the purpose of her flashback this episode was to show the audience that she didn’t get visited by Jacob, whereas all the other Survivors did (or to provide some background explanation for her “sometimes people love each other but aren’t meant to be together”). She also has a new series in the fall, which is usually the kiss of death for a character… and although the episode gave no evidence to prove this, I think she always knew she was going to die in the Incident.
Here’s a classic example of me thinking that the theory in my head is way better than what actually unfolded – what if Juliet, over the course of her time as an Other on the
This gives all of her actions in the episode mountains of more importance, explains why she’s always seemed to know a little more than everyone else, and gives her character a proper, noble, heroic death – one that she deserves.
As much as it saddens me to say, goodbye Juliet. You have given all of us an unrealistic expectation for how hot a 39 year old can be. Well done.
Miles is a trickier situation. He’s had some purpose on the Island, but it seems like he could be quite the valuable asset in explaining some of the AJ / Locke stuff in 2007 – and there must have been a reason why Bram was recruiting him in the first place, right? The easy out would be to discover that Jacob touched him at some point – we just haven’t seen it yet. Or maybe Bram was able to give him a pseudo-Jacob-touch when they grabbed him and threw him in a van.
I’d like to see Miles back. I just don’t have an explanation for how quite yet.
If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you. What a long and winding post this has been. Just a few final notes:
Jacob’s Cabin. Since the Shadow of the Statue initially went there looking for Jacob, he obviously used to reside there… but it seems as though it was turned into a prison for AJ at some point in time. I wonder who was responsible for this – and who broke the circle to set him free. Since the circle was intact on Locke and Ben’s first visit, but Christian Shephard was walking around the Island and the cabin was “moving” after Hurley stumbled upon it, it seems like Hurley accidentally breaking the circle of ash is the most likely option… unless AJ had someone else working for him on the Island during the events of Season Three…
Rose and Bernard. Equal parts sweet and cheesy. Remember during the episode preview when I wondered how they would be explained and said “unless Bernard is way better than surviving in the wilderness, they should be dead”? Well, I was totally kidding about that because it would be absurd… but it turned out to be true.
On the other hand, there’s something very real about Rose and Bernard deciding to stop worrying about all the drama and just enjoying their time in paradise together on the
Many are calling for Rose and Bernard to become the Adam and Eve skeletons from Season One – but those were allegedly 40-50 years old, according to Jack. 1977 is only 30 years ago. Maybe nitpicking – but we also haven’t gotten our explanation for the black and white stones. The Lost writers said when we learned the truth about Adam and Eve, it would prove they weren’t making this story up as they went along – which makes me think we won’t find out until closer to the very end, complete with an explanation of the stones.
I think this might be the last we see of Rose and Bernard on the show, leaving us to assume that they lived out their days on the
However – we were promised that Vincent would live until the end of the show… so here’s hoping that Jacob pet him somewhere along the way, and he’ll end up back in 2007.
I would be perfectly happy with the final shot of Lost being of Vincent standing on the beach, looking out at the ocean, tongue and tail wagging as the sun goes down… and then maybe morphing into God and saying “I told you I was the most important character all along!” in a voice like Scooby Doo.
…and I’m spent. Here’s where I traditionally make some promise to keep the Blog active over the long summer / fall drought, only to have me totally fail on those promises within a month or two. Basically, when there are things I feel like writing about, I’ll write about them. I can’t predict how often that will be, but hope you’ll check back from time to time just in case.
Before we pack up Season Five and put it away for the season, let’s do one last post – covering everything I missed in this analysis, over the course of the season, or my thoughts for the future. You ask me questions in the Comments Section or on the Message Board, I’ll respond in my Season Five Wrap-Up Post.
Sound like a plan?
As always, thanks for reading, commenting, and giving me a forum to over-obsess about Lost. Somehow writing volumes about a TV show is totally socially acceptable when there are thousands of people reading it… but if I was writing all of this for myself, I would probably be Hurley’d by now.