Sunday, May 10, 2009

"Follow the Leader" Analysis!

(Before we get started this week, I need to apologize. I think the Blog has been fairly sucky the past few weeks despite my best efforts. I hate to say this - but those crafty Lost writers may have finally stumped me. For the first time ever with this series, I'm having a hard time coming up with plausible all-encompassing theories to tie together the various storyline strands they've started. This means one of three things - either they really are way smarter than me, I'm getting dumber as I get older, or the storylines aren't going to tie together in a nice, neat, and logical way. Personally, I'm hoping for the first scenario which allows me to stay smart and Lost to remain smarter. Time will tell...)

Looking back on “Follow the Leader”, it was what I would term a pretty typical “setup” episode. I’ve probably used the same phrases for the penultimate (big word alert!) episodes of Lost for its first four seasons, but once again they apply… so I’m going to use them again.


Although one could argue that not a lot truly “happened” this week, the episode’s main purpose was to set the stage for the finale... and it did just that. All the characters are where they are supposed to be (with a whopping six major “groups” to track this year – the Jugheaders, the 2008 Others, the Ajira 316ers, the Submariners, and the Dharmites), the drama has been sufficiently ratcheted up a notch (Kate vs. Jack, Ben/Alpert vs. Locke, the Shadow of the Statue vs. All), there’s impending doom (we’re mere hours away from “The Incident” and have people messing with atomic bombs), and much like last season, John Locke ended the episode with a line of dialogue that shocks everyone. Last year, it was “he wants us to move the Island”. This year, it’s “so I can kill him”.


I guess that’s as good a place as any to start this week’s analysis!


Jacob. An in-depth analysis of Jacob is long overdue on this Blog, but he’s been sitting on the back burner for good reason – his character has been entirely absent from this season. Even if you argue (and we will) that Christian Shephard is some manifestation of Jacob, he hasn’t even been around since Locke turned the FDW. But out of nowhere, with a single line of dialogue, Jacob becomes one of the predominant storylines for the Season Five Finale of Lost.


There has been a lot of discussion over the last few days about the true nature of Jacob. Theories are ranging from the twisty (“Jacob is going to be a character we already know! Jacob is going to be Faraday / Jack / Sawyer!”) to the absurd (“Jacob doesn’t really exist – Locke is just going to kill the idea of Jacob”). But what do we really know about this supposed all-knowing, all-powerful, all-creepy character?


Surprisingly, not a whole lot. We’ve only seen fleeting glimpses of Jacob – once sitting in a chair, and twice extreme close-ups on his eyes. But this at least proves that Jacob exists. He might be a spirit of a ghost, or an undead Black Rock Pirate, but based on this, he’s not some imaginary boogieman invented by Alpert / Ben in an attempt to scare Other children and keep people in line.


Likewise, since we’ve seen him (and his Cabin) magically appear and disappear – and be visible to some characters but not others, Jacob also isn’t a “normal” person. He’s even weirder than Alpert – who may not age, but at least he’s flesh and bones, needs to walk to get from one place to another, and is visible to everyone on the Island.


So what is Jacob? And how in the world are the Lost writers going to explain him using pseudo-science (or did that promise to the viewers go out the window once we entered this time traveling season?) Let’s dive a little deeper…


We also know that at least two characters have seen Jacob – Locke and Hurley. Given Locke’s apparent “chosen one-ness”, his ability to see Jacob makes sense – maybe Jacob only is visible and audible to certain “chosen people” on the Island. But what about Hurley? The only thing I can think of is that Hurley being semi-crazy makes him sometimes see dead people – and if Jacob is “dead”, maybe he was able to find a loophole to see Jacob.


The irony here is that although Alpert and Ben have referenced Jacob the most over the past five seasons, we have no evidence that either one of them can actually see or communicate with Jacob. However, if you remember back to earlier this season, the reason that Locke was able to gain an audience with Alpert in 1954 was because he referenced Jacob’s name – which means that Alpert did know about Jacob pre-1954 (thus  eliminating the possibility that it was Locke referencing “Jacob” in 1954 that created the start of the Jacob myth in the first place – which would have been a cool closed loop theory – but unfortunately doesn’t work out).


This was part of the reason I always assumed Alpert was legit. After all, he had to have found out about Jacob somehow – either through personal interaction or through pre-1954 leaders of the Island who were able to communicate with him. But then there was his comment this week. Alpert said he was “starting to wonder if John Locke was going to be a problem” to Ben, as if the two shared a mutual understanding of how this whole Jacob-thing was going to work, and Locke could potentially ruin everything they’ve built up over the past twenty years.



But what had they built up?


The only words we have ever heard from Jacob are “help me” – told to Locke, but inaudible to Ben. As I theorized earlier this season, I don’t think Benjamin Linus could ever actually communicate with Jacob – he was simply clever enough to “work the system” by referencing Jacob to move himself into the position of “Leader of the Others” (partially thanks to Alpert’s lie about it being Jacob’s will when he saved Young Ben in 1977).


Remember back when we first saw Jacob’s Cabin? There was that line of ash powder around it – which the show’s creators have said was a controlling mechanism, such as a "magic circle". Someone must have put it there, and all signs point to that someone being Ben. After all, if he couldn’t really see Jacob, he would want to “cage” him to prevent Jacob from telling anyone else that Ben was a fraud (which would inevitably lead to Ben being ousted from a leadership role in the Others). This would also easily explain the “help me” comment from Jacob to Locke. He needed to be freed from that magic circle to help get the Island back on track (see: Cowboys and Indians Theory of how the Others fell out of touch with the Island).


(The only real hole in this theory is that Hurley stumbled upon a moving around Jacob’s Cabin at the start of Season Four – which one would think would be impossible if it was locked down inside the ash circle. No idea about that one.)


But if we’re following this path, it seems like Locke would want to help Jacob – to free him, to help the Others find their way back to Island Religion, to prove that Ben was a dirty liar for all those years, and have the Others at full strength for the forthcoming “battle for the Island”, not to kill Jacob.




I’m reminded of the Kevin Smith classic movie “Dogma” (highly recommended for anyone raised in the Catholic faith). In it, God would periodically take on a human form (to play skeeball). When in human form, he lacked all the super powers… until his human form died and he would return to being all Godly. Long story short – the bad guys in the movie put a comatosed God on life support to keep him from dying, thus “trapping him” in the human body, which prevented him from regaining all his power while the bad guys tried to bring about the end of the world. In a huge ironic Catholic twist, the protagonist has to “kill God” in order to free him (her) from the human body, which allows God to kick the bad guy ass and save existence.


That’s my best guess as to why Locke – Johnny Island, himself – would say that he wants to “kill Jacob” – the potential spiritual embodiment of the Island. Just like Dogma, Locke needs to kill Jacob in order to free him – maybe to have him at full power for the upcoming “battle for the Island’. Perhaps the “ash cage” around Jacob’s Cabin isn’t only keeping him trapped in one place – but is also somehow keeping the Island Spirit from leaving Jacob’s body and regaining all his magic Island powers. See you later, pseudo-science.


What about Christian Shephard?


Well, although we have no idea who Jacob is, he kinda seemed like a pretty crusty old guy. Perhaps when Christian’s body ended up on the Island, Jacob saw this as a chance to “upgrade” to a younger model. Even if Ben’s imprisonment was keeping him from going from crusty body to supernatural being, maybe Jacob still has the ability to jump from one dead body to another.


I still don’t have a good explanation for the appearing / disappearing act that Jacob and Christian have down – because even if they were a spirit occupying a body, that body should always be visible. Still, all-in-all, the Dogma Theory would allow Locke’s comment to be one of those Losty twists that actually means the exact opposite of what we’re thinking. Killing Jacob is the only way to save him… and the Island.


But even though I like the Dogma Theory, there’s one other possible theory to explain Locke’s comment – Jacob is actually big time bad news.


In this scenario, Jacob is somewhat similar to Smokey – a mysterious all-powerful being that kicks ass first and takes names later, working based on his own set of “rules” that may or may not be clear to those on the Island. In this scenario, the Others are simply peons living beneath a vengeful Jacob that doesn’t really care about them – Jacob is a vengeful God, and the Others better do exactly what he says or else they’ll feel his wrath. This would make Alpert and Ben the “good guys” who worked together to “cage” Jacob in order to free their fellow Others to live their own lives on the Island.


The thing that give this theory some legs is that it means the “Island Spirit” is a totally separate entity from Jacob… which would make sense given Locke’s conversation with Ben this week:


BEN: Your timing was impeccable, John. How did you know when to be here?

LOCKE: The Island told me. Didn't it ever tell you things?

BEN: No, John. And clearly it hasn't told you where Jacob is, or you wouldn't need Richard to show you.

LOCKE: You've never seen him.

BEN: What?

LOCKE: Jacob. You've never seen him, have you?


One would think that if the Island Spirit (that is telling Locke when and what to do) and Jacob were one and the same, Locke wouldn’t need Alpert to take him to Jacob – the Island Spirit could just tell him where to go. Rather, they seem to be separate entities (dare I say even “opposing forces” on the Island?). Locke has the connection to the Island, but not Jacob. The Island is asking him to kill Jacob to take 100% control of the Island and everyone on it.


(The big hole in this theory, of course, is that Christian Shephard, speaking on Jacob’s behalf, helped Locke turn the FDW which set everything in motion. If Jacob was anti-Island, this doesn’t make a lot of sense… unless both Jacob and the Island are “fighting for Locke” similar to how Ben and Widmore both have referenced needing Locke on their side in the upcoming “battle for the Island”.)


I don’t know. Chances are the explanation of Jacob is going to be something totally different from either of these theories. Just like Locke’s comment about moving the Island last season, I can’t come up with a 100% logical theory about how this is all going to work out. But let’s be honest, how many of us saw Lost morphing into a time-traveling show at the end of last season? I can’t help but wonder if we’re about to see a similar “game changing event” this season, one that no analysis would be able to predict, no matter how in-depth.


Let’s move on.


Richard Alpert. Aside from Locke’s comment about Jacob, the next most shocking line of the episode belonged to Richard Alpert, during his brief conversation with Sun in 2008:


SUN: These people... Jack Shephard, Kate Austen, Hugo Reyes. They were here with my husband--Jin Kwon. Were you here? Do you remember them? A--any of them?

RICHARD: Yes, I was here 30 years ago. And I do. I remember these people. I remember meeting them very clearly, because... I watched them all die.


If you buy into the “whatever happened, happened” theory, it means that all of our Survivors really did die in 1977… or at least that’s how it appeared to Alpert at the time. It seems that this could be easily explained by having them “vanish” (which will bring them back to the present, hopefully) – something that Alpert could easily have interpreted as them dying… especially if this “skip” coincided with some big explosion or “Incident” on the Island.


The only problem is – after seeing our Survivors appear and disappear in 1954, if it happened again in 1977 wouldn’t Alpert be catching on at this point? Shouldn’t his comment to Sun have been “they either died… or jumped to some other point in time”? Not only that, but it seems likely that Alpert had some knowledge of our Survivors in 2004 – after all, Jack, Kate, and Sawyer lived with the Others for a few weeks in Season Three – plus, he gave Locke a full file on Sawyer to manipulate Sawyer into killing Locke’s Father. At the very least, this means that once 2004 rolled around and Alpert saw these characters, he would have realized that these were the same people he interacted with in 1977 -  so in 2008, unless Alpert is a complete idiot, he should have been able to put together the pieces and understand that time traveling is going on.


What does all of this mean?


When Sun asks him the question in 2008, if there was any chance that our Survivors simply “skipped”, I have to think he would have referenced it (unless trying to be intentionally deceiving to Sun). So whatever happens to our Survivors, it’s gotta be something big – something more complicated than them simply disappearing – something that really made it appear to Alpert that they all died.


Let’s keep in mind the lesson of Daniel Faraday – it is entirely possible that all our Survivors could die in 1977… and they would be dead. Maybe the whole final season of Lost will be about Desmond going back in time and trying to save all their lives… but that would seem kinda cheap to me. Still, it would be incredibly ballsy of the Lost writers if they would kill off nearly all the “main characters” on Lost with this season’s finale.


So what happens to them?


The Incident. The most likely explanation for Alpert’s comment is that most of our Survivors are involved in “The Incident”. Right now, there are two obvious explanations for what The Incident is:

  1. A release of big energy caused by drilling at the Swan Station (as Faraday warned).
  2. The Jughead going off in an effort to neutralize that big energy at the Swan Station.


The problem here is that although the first scenario seems like it needs to happen (because “whatever happened, happened”), the second scenario seems like the only one that could cause our Survivors to appear to die to Alpert. Plus, it assumes that Jack, Sayid, Hot Ellie, and Alpert (the Jugheaders) are somehow able to get the Jughead from underneath the Barracks to the Swan Station – which is quite some distance away. Keep in mind the Jughead weighs 40,000 pounds. Assuming they find some way to get the Jughead above ground, would a Dharma Van even be able to carry something so heavy?


Based on my brief research on the Internet, the answer to this question is “hell no”. In fact, the maximum amount of weight that even modern vehicles seem able to carry is closer to 5000 pounds – about 35,000 pounds short of being able to lug around the Jughead.


So with less than six hours until the Incident happening, this would mean that the Jugheaders would need to somehow roll it miles and miles away to get to the Swan Station. I don’t buy it. Aside from a potential intervention by Smokey (turning into a giant hand and carrying the Jughead to the Swan Station), I don’t see the Jughead storyline factoring into the Incident – the timeline and locations just don’t seem to add up. Yet, all signs are pointing to the Jughead somehow being involved. Long story short, I think “The Incident’ is going to be exactly what we always thought it would be – digging at the Swan Station which puts into motion the events that crash Oceanic 815 (as Faraday laid out for us two weeks ago).


This isn’t to say that the Jughead won’t be involved in some huge tragedy on the Island, bringing our Survivors back to 2008, or making it appear as though they all died… it’s just I can’t figure out how. Let’s move on to some easier concepts before wrapping this week up…

- It appears as though this week moved Radzinsky from the role of “crazy paranoid guy obsessed with the Swan Station” to “crazy paranoid guy obsessed with the Swan Station who has usurped control of Dharma”. It looks like he is heading down the path of becoming obsessed with the mission of Dharma – which probably explains how he himself ended up being the guy locked inside the Swan Station… which may have saved him from the Purge, but also drove him crazy as he became one of the last people on the Island, shackled to the Swan Station to save the world, unable to do anything else with his life or his hopes and dreams for the goals of Dharma.

- As much as I would love for Sawyer, Juliet, and Kate to leave the Island – thus saving them from whatever bad news is about to happen on the Island, ensuring their safety and having their stories end as the three of them becoming millionaires in the 1970’s through the stock market and sports gambling, there’s no chance that three characters are major as they are will be sitting out the two hour season finale. Had Kate not entered the picture, I would have an easier time believing it – but with her around, it’s only a matter of time before she convinces Sawyer to go back to the Island and try to stop Jack from trying to change the past. I still have no idea about how they’re going to do this – since we know the submarine does end up going to the Real World with the rest of its passengers, but it’s going to happen… and it’s probably going to happen early on in the season finale to allow time for these three to join up with one of the other groups on the Island.


- Jack is an asshole.

KATE: And what about us? We just... go on living our life because we've never met?

JACK: All the misery that we've been through... we'd just wipe it clean. Never happened.

KATE: It was not all misery.

JACK: [Sighs] Enough of it was.


With the writers giving him lines like these, I can’t help but wonder if next season is going to feature a calm and confident Locke leading our Survivors against a crazy talking Jack, who has given up on life (and by “life”, I mean “ever hooking up with Kate again” – which are kinda the same thing).


- It looks like Eloise is pregnant with Faraday in 1977 (Widmore referenced “her condition” when she talked about taking Jack and Kate to the Jughead). This means that Faraday graduated from Oxford University when he was 17 years old (max). That’s pushing the timeline, but I guess I’ll allow it. I mean, if Doogie Howser can do it, Faraday could do it.



…and with that, I think I’m done for this week. As you can see, I’m probably as clueless about where Lost is going right now as I’ve ever been – which is somewhat surprising. You would think that as Lost winds down to its inevitable conclusion, things would become more obvious and we would have a feel for where the story was heading – even if we didn’t know the details. But as I sit right now, with two hours left in this season, I really have no idea. This should make this week’s Season Finale one of the more exciting – and potentially shocking – of the entire series.


I can’t wait!


Kelly said...

Great analysis, Brian! You're too critical of yourself... I'd be completely lost without your blog to help me understand things! Keep up the good work and THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

FARADAY DID Say he was the youngest graduate of oxford

Unknown said...

Brilliant analysis!! By the way, one way the gang may get off the sub is similar to how some of them got off the plane. Maybe when the sub gets a certain distance away from the island, perhaps to the "bubble" line that prevented Desmond's boat from leaving, they are transported back to the island in a flash of light?? Just a theory.

Unknown said...

Everyone make sure to stay off the internet for the next couple of days to avoid potential spoilers =)

Unknown said...

I think the fact that Locke is the only one to be missing 3 years of time is somehow key to this puzzle.

It's wierd - Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Miles, Sawyer, Juliet, Sun, Jin, Desmond etc all lived three years of normal time after John turned the FDW. Locke, on the other hand, skipped those three years after turning the FDW.

Does that mean John isn't in the right place? There's something to it, I'm sure.

jack said...

Flowbot - hard to say if u r correct. When Locke turned the FDW, do we have any indication he skipped ahead 3 years or set the Island skipping in time?

TheycallmeVic said...

Great job Brian, like Kelly said, don't sweat it man.
Unless people are reading spoilers, there's no way anyone can know what's going to happen in this episode.

This is going to be awesome.

Dave Harty said...

The more I think about what Locke said, the more I think he is reflecting his situation onto Jacob. Locke had to die (or at least he believes he had to die) to not only come back to the island, but also to gain this new connection with the island he has been displaying.

I think he wants to do the same for Jacob, that is how he will "help" him.

Unknown said...

spoilers are for pansies.

Yes, Locke did skip three years, but Ben skipped 10 months. I don't think it's an issue.

TheycallmeVic said...

I know I'm jumping the gun here (couldn't wait) but I just read the guest list for the finale and WOW! .... all the "young ______" listed on there are absolutely amazing.

Usually I get hyped up after reading Brian's previews, but that guest list alone just dropped my jaw.

This finale is going to have some extremely interesting flashbacks.

Come on Brian! finale preview already! lol

Michael said...

We've seen that as Locke assumes control that his "people skills" more and more resemble Ben's.

Telling Ben that he was going to kill Jacob, and Ben's reaction, lead me to believe that Locke might just be keeping Ben off guard to further some other end.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does Jacob look like Locke (with some sort of wig) in the 3/4 profile picture, and Desmond in the closeup of his eyes?

Carolyn said...

Long time reader of this blog...
And first time post...
I look forward to it every week!
I can't help but love the parallel between Christian and John.
Is Jacob responsible?
Christian flys over in a coffin,
and is alive.
John flys over in a coffin,
and is alive. And wasn't there a reference to shoes with both?

BUT, Brian...I don't think you should've recommended such an anti-Catholic movie.
As a practicing Catholic, I feel the need to un-recommend a highly heretical movie to your readers!
NO WAY The Church condones this movie! The devil loves to "mock God" and does so in that film!

Dharma Mayonnaise said...

Was that a "tongue-in-cheek" comment Carolyn?

You realize that Kevin Smith (the Director) is a born and raised Catholic right?

Carolyn said...

I sure did know that! Guess what else I know?
A battle between John and Ben...
BEN will always win ;)ha ha!

Unknown said...

Everyone one seems keen on the theory Locke has to free Jacob by killing him and hence they are on the same side. I definitely think this is plausible, but it seems the more straightforward but still crazier explanation could be Locke wants to kill Jacob b/c Jacob is on the other side.

Maybe the Ajira 316ers are coming to defend Jacob? Whose side are Richard and Ben on then? What about Ms. Hawking? And the 815ers?

We've always thought the coming war was between well-defined sides, but maybe the factions are still fluid and we have no idea who will take what side-- Jacob could be how this is determined. It already seems Jack will be on different sides than Kate, likely Sawyer and Juliet too.

Anonymous said...

Locke is actually LITERALLY in Christian's shoes right now.. he's wearing them

Bob said...

I would like to point out that the precarious hanging of the jughead in '54 does not appear to be from 40,000 LBs of support and they did get it moved before somehow.

However, I believ the WHH and don't think a jughead in the Swan would leave a swan station for the past seasons to make sense.

Grimalkin said...

WX- I noticed that the close-up of Jacob's eye looks like Desmond as well. It's probably a coincidence, but who knows...

Steve said...

Let add theory #4 for Jacob.

He's miserable and needs to die.. but they're keeping him alive and 'trapped' for his power. He's basically saying "KILL ME!".

But does that mean he dies? I want to remind you all of the Dahli Lama type reincarnation test that was given to Locke by Alpert as a child. Perhaps he needs to die so he can move to his new body.. say.. Aaron?

But they've never seen Jacob, or haven't in a long time. Perhaps the island spirit is upset that they're not letting Jacob die, or what have you that they're.. well.. see Cowboys and Indians theory.

Steve said...

Brian, since the show, Carlton and Damon have all said that the 'present' is 2007... (clip show said it).. plus, 1977+30 is 2007.

Steve said...

I like the Dogma theory, that's different enough that it's a game changer.. and in my previous 4th option is pretty much the same, he must die to be reincarnated is the same thing. I'm tired...

The Ferber Family said...

one quick point... if ellie is pregnant, it COULD with penny.. we still don't know if she's her daughter or not so that's a possibility.

Unknown said...

Was Alpert building a model of the Black Rock?

Unknown said...

Looking forward to this week, nice analysis brian!

jack said...

If it wasn't the Black Rock, it was a wink and nod towards it.

Anonymous said...

Atlantis; The Abyss; The Flood
and Nephalim:

The Island has sunk, from its
original position, or the water
has risen- Noah's Flood? Plus,
no one builds a statue facing
AWAY from them. What did it
formerly look upon? Or, does
it threaten outsiders, like the
Statue of Liberty seems to?

The god depicted by the Statue
is an obvious Nephalim: Angel/
Human Hybrid. Does the Magnetic
Field hold back The Fallen?

Although Alpert speaks Latin,
the Romans were notorious for
commandeering previous (e.g.,
Greek) Cultures' attributes,
and aspects. Projecting from
the Present to the Past, the
"Romance Language" are simply
corruptions of Classic Latin.

Where did Rome get Latin? It
is mathematically precise in
its structure, and extremely
sophisticated in expression.

Rome specialized in stealing,
and killing, so it's unlikely
they developed their Language.

Where did it really come from?

Perhaps Rome's and Egypt's
antecedent was Atlantis, with
all its arrogance, power and
sophistication, "guided by
Demons"/ Fallen Angels, one
of whom holds the Ankhs?

Is Jacob recruiting to help
save The Island, or create it.

Anyway, The Devil is in the
details. Where is God, though?

The REAL One. The One Who sees
The End, from The Beginning.