Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thoughts and Theories on "The Incident"

(For Part I of my review,
click here. I've edited a few things since Thursday night, nothing content-wise, just some exhaustion fueled typos and grammar. :P)

The Incident gave us a lot to think about when dwelling on how the show is ultimately going to end. By showing us Jacob actively manipulating the lives of the Flight 815 survivors, we now know:

1) Jacob and/or his Rival have a vested interest in the fates of these characters.
2) Everyone really was on Flight 815 for a reason, though it may not be time loop purposes.
3) Daniel was right in that it does seem that our Losties have a choice in what they do.

Where does this lead us in terms of an overall plot to Lost? Well, how about an eternal conflict between two deities, one good, one evil. The good one thinks the best of mankind, that when they're given a choice they're going to do the right thing because they're ultimately "good people." The evil deity takes the opposing view - when given a choice humanity ultimately resorts to violence and corruption (like Ben did).

The good deity formulates a plan to test humanity to see if he's right. The evil deity, partly afraid of being wrong, partly simply hating the good deity and being... well, evil, decides to foil his plan by not only corrupting several of the characters, but also by exploiting one of them into killing Jacob. And with Jacob out of the way, he's now free to take over/destroy the world. Thus, the catastrophe Eloise Hawking predicted. The survivors of Flight 815 were all merely pawns in a giant game of chess - their "destinies, " so to speak, were all part of this grand experiment.

But Jacob knew his Nemesis would cheat and built in a loophole of his own. I'm guessing all the time travelers he visited in the past will be transported back to 2007, if they chose to detonate the bomb and they're the only ones who can defeat the evil one. Enter Season 6.

It's not perfect, but I think it captures the overall feel of the show and, if this sort of scenario is really what's going to happen in Season 6, I'd be pretty happy with that. I think the primary themes of the show are going to boil down to good vs. evil and free will vs. fate; can't get much better than that.

Ten Questions:

1) Can you change history?

In my pre-finale predictions, I said "they can't make this the cliffhanger, can they?" D'oh!

All signs, however, point to yes. Jacob repeatedly says throughout the episode that they have a choice - it's free will vs. fate and he seems to come down decidedly on the side of free will. Ben chose to stab Jacob, Juliet chose to detonate the bomb. Plus we got a flash at the end of the episode, likely not a natural flash.

Jacob’s view of humanity in the opening scene also seems to suggest they will eventually alter the time loop. This calls to attention the Dark Tower ending. Eventually Roland does remember to take his horn, offering hope that the loop could eventually be broken. Perhaps this series of events we’ve seen the past five seasons, ending with Jacob’s death, can be slightly altered to change the outcome. And perhaps Jacob planted the seeds of that when he visited them all in the past.

2) Did they just change history or merely keep it on its course?

Miles hit this one on the head.

Since we don’t know the original sequence of events of the Incident (we’ve never seen a film or written history of what happened) we really don’t know if the Incident was caused by the hydrogen bomb or whether what they did actually changed things.

When Jack went to throw the bomb down the well, the drill was already pulling itself into the pocket of electromagnetic energy – Pierre said there was no way he could stop it. Did the bomb actually change things or did it keep them on its course. Pierre still lost his arm, something that happened in the original Incident, suggesting everything up until that point was on the same path.

I’m thinking Miles was right, the bomb exploding was part of the original Incident. Now it may have actually had good consequences, preventing something even worse from happening (in fact, according to this article, it does seem like Daniel's plan to detonate the bomb on a pocket of electromagnetism wasn't as crazy as we originally thought), but it was something that was supposed to happen. If this is true, if they really want to change the future, they may have to go back in time again and stop themselves.

3) Who's coming?

Well, when Jacob said "they're coming" it could have meant one of two things: Ilana and the Others are coming or all the Losties are coming from 1977. I'm definitely thinking the latter. Also remember Christian (or whatever he was) promised Sun that if she went with Locke, she'd meet up with Jin again. Of course, if Christian was the Nemesis, he could have been lying, but still.

And who of our time travelers did Jacob see in the past? Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Jin and Sayid; that's the majority of them. I'm thinking whomever Jacob visited might have been spared the explosion and time traveled.

Juliet might be dead (Sayid too), but interestingly (and ominously) Jacob didn't visit her. Miles either, if he survived, he might be stuck there with his dad. Jacob seemed to have visited Locke for the express purpose of making sure he survived the fall.

This also makes one wonder why Jacob was even helping them in the first place if they're all part of a plan that would lead to his death? I think it's because he actually cares about them as people. When he said to John "I'm sorry this happened to you," I don't think he was talking about the fall itself, I think he was talking about John being the biggest pawn of them all.

4) Is Jacob’s Nemesis really the Smoke Monster?

Here’s the $100,000 question, folks. I’m of two minds here:

Evidence for:

A) Both Smokey and the Nemesis are able to impersonate dead people on the Island

B) Both Smokey and the Nemesis can read minds (Zombie Locke certainly had access to all of Locke’s memories)

C) Christian certainly seemed to be manipulating Locke in order to create the loophole

D) Christian was the one inhabiting Jacob’s old cabin

E) The dead people Hurley saw also tried to convince him to come back to the Island in accordance with the Nemesis’ plan

F) Smokey, as Alex, certainly told Ben to obey the Nemesis

G) To everyone but Locke, Smokey appeared as a big, evil-looking black cloud. Locke saw something white. If Smokey was really the Nemesis, you would think he’d want to get on the good side of his ultimate pawn.

Evidence against:

A) Every time a body comes back to life on the Island, the body disappears. Locke’s body did not, suggesting it might have been a different form of impersonation.

B) Smokey could be summoned by Ben and seemed to serve a protective function for the Island. The Nemesis doesn’t strike me as that type.

C) Smokey seems obsessed with confession, redemption and “judging.” The Nemesis doesn’t strike me as having that sort of motive in mind.

D) Smokey specifically told Eko to make sure Locke keeps pressing the button and was so enraged when he failed, he killed him.

E) Zombie Locke seemed genuinely surprised to me when Ben told him what Alex told him to do.

F) The fact that Locke saw something totally different than everyone else when he saw the Monster does suggest that there might be two “Monsters” on the Island: Smokey, and the Nemesis, who appeared to Locke as something totally different.

G) Christian seemed to want to help Sun, who really had no big part to play in the Season 5 endgame.

Weighing the two bodies of evidence, I think the writers certainly want to suggest that they’re one and the same, but that seems like too much of a cop-out to me. I’d like to think Smokey is actually not the Nemesis, but rather an independent third party who could possibly be aligned with him instead. I think the Nemesis was certainly impersonating Christian, who seemed to be just a wee bit too critical in spurring Locke forward on the Nemesis’ chessboard. Likewise I think the Nemesis impersonated all the dead people everyone saw off-Island (including Christian there). Smokey Alex was also very, very invested in having Ben obey Zombie Locke. Granted she could have been doing that in concert with the Nemesis, but Smokey Alex certainly suggests they’re one and the same.

But it’s just weird to me that an evil god who could rival Jacob could 1) be summoned 2) cares about whether people actually redeem themselves or not 3) cares about the button being pushed, a rather crucial part of the Nemesis’ plan. Without The Discharge, Charles Widmore never finds the Island, Jack never makes the phone call, the Island never disappears. It’s at complete odds with his plan.

I actually think Smokey and the Nemesis must have some similar abilities and perhaps Smokey is even a minion of the Nemesis (he certainly helped him when he impersonated Alex). But I think I’d be a bit disappointed if Smokey and the Nemesis turned out to be one and the same.

5) So who are Jacob, the Nemesis and Smokey really?

You have to think they’re three gods or three god-like beings from Egyptian mythology. Let’s go over a few possibilities for each

For Jacob:

Horus, Osiris, Ra

Horus is probably the most likely here, given that the symbol at the top of his tapestry is the Eye of Horus, but these three deities are almost interchangeable in Egyptian mythology - the eye is also called the Eye of Ra.

For his Nemesis:

Anubis, Set, Apep

If Jacob is Horus, his Nemesis is probably Set, his rival. Likewise, if Jacob is Osiris/Ra, the Nemesis is probably Anubis/Apep. There are good reasons for the other two pairs - Anubis and Osiris are the two major players in the weighing of the heart ceremony, whereby a person's heart is judged and weighed to see if it's worthy to pass unto the afterlife. This ceremony has a third player who wasn't a god - Ammit, the devourer of souls. If Smokey was a third party, this is who I think he'd be (as I speculated before).

The Ra and Apep tandem basically represents day and night. Every night Apep kills Ra, who's resurrected every morning. If this is the case, it just became nighttime on the Island.

Realistically, it doesn’t matter which gods Jacob and his Nemesis really are. They represent good and evil, light and dark. They have an eternal conflict and evil just won a round. That’s really all we need to know here. And, y’know, I really love the fact that Lost has gotten back to this basic theme. Science and faith has been turned on its head this season (and faith has been proven to be a total tool). But light and dark is something we saw throughout the first season: backgammon, Locke’s eyes in Claire’s dream, the white and black stones found on Adam and Eve (wonder if we’ll ever see anyone come across those stones next season), but it’s something I felt the show had gotten away from and it’s awesome to see it finally return to it’s roots, so to speak.

6) Assuming it was really the Nemesis inside Jacob’s cabin, what did the ring of ash do? Who left the note in the cabin?

You’d have to think it was a containment circle, made to keep him prisoner. Ilana focused on the ring of ash just a little too long when she saw it was broken. Who broke the ash ring? I’m guessing Hurley, when he stumbled across the cabin back in "The Beginning of the End."

The whole cabin thing in general confuses me. Why did Ilana show up at the cabin first rather than going straight to the statue? Jacob has certainly lived in the statue for a very long time – why not go there first? Secondly, assuming Jacob actually imprisoned the Nemesis there, who left the note behind? The Nemesis, telling them what he was about to do or Jacob afterwards, letting Ilana know where to find him and that his Nemesis had escaped?

Lastly, Richard certainly knew who Jacob was and what he really looked like. He was the one responsible for bringing Ben messages and lists from Jacob and, presumably, showed Ben where he really lived at some point. So why did Ben bring Locke to the cabin? Did he not know that the Nemesis was imprisoned there? Must be – he probably just took Locke to what he thought was Horace’s old cabin (or perhaps he knew it was Jacob’s old cabin and thought it was abandoned) and put on a show. Unfortunately he brought Locke right to the Nemesis instead.

There is one other possibility as well - that the ring of ash was a protective circle made to keep something out (like Smokey), but it seems like the containment circle is a much more likely possibility at this point.

7) What did Richard say to Ilana? What was written on Jacob’s tapestry?

Richard said "Ille qui nos omnes servabit," Latin for "He who shall protect/save us all."

Across the top of the tapestry is a quote from Homer's Odyssey that says, "may the gods grant thee all that thy heart desires." A second quote farther down, also in Greek says, "may the gods grant thee happiness."

Seems everything here is saying in big, bright, white letters "JACOB IS THE GOOD GUY!" :)

8) Are the Others the descendants of the Black Rock crew?

I think Jacob brought the Black Rock to the Island to populate it, making at least some of the Others direct descendants of the Black Rock crew. This theory has been tossed around for a while and now knowing that Jacob himself is responsible for bringing the ship to the Island (as opposed to it being a complete accident) seems to give this more credence.

Of course, that still doesn’t explain how it got to the middle of the jungle. Sure, it could have been dragged, but that’s so boring.

9) So what is Ricardus’ role?

Richard is Jacob’s “advisor” who has had immortality bestowed on him by his benevolent boss. Seems to me he’s got to be the equivalent of a high priest of whatever deity Jacob really is. Ricardus is Latin for Richard.

10) What is Frank a “candidate” for?

Methinks it’s probably not an elected office one really wants to run for.

Ilana thought he might be important so he brought him along. Is he simply a "good person" or does she think he might have a larger role to play in everything? I certainly hope so, I love Frank! This past season we've lost Charlotte, Daniel and Juliet. Plus, things probably don't bode well for Miles. We'd better not lose Frank too else I'll be pissed! :)

What worries me is that candidate sounds vaguely sacrificial, although if Ilana's working for Jacob, that's probably not the case.

Over the weekend, I’m going to re-watch the finale from beginning to end and go through some past scenes that take on new significance in light of the finale. Tidbits and quotes too. :)

Edit: Part III of my review is here.


Anonymous said...

No way is Juliet dead. The nuke clearly went off, and if it didn't change history to save them... well, that means Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Miles, Jin, Hurley and Sayid are all dead too. Hydrogen bombs are a little bigger than a fart in a bathtub.

Nice catch on Richard's Latin answer to the statue question, I'd been meaning to look that up. Anyone know what language people were speaking when Jacob visited Ilana?

Missie said...

To more point sas Rival= Smokey:

When Ben went to be judged, Locke convienently fell back when Bem met Smokey, and reappeared once Smokey had left.

And Smokey was originally described to us as "the island's security system". The Rival seemed pretty clear on his view of keeping people off the Island. A security system is good for that.

Of course, it could just be that Smokey is something the Rival commands.

Theresa said...

Am I confused, or didn't the cabin move back when Hurley accidentally ran into it and found Locke inside? I could be remembering it wrong, but wasn't it there when he turned in different directions?

jimmy said...

Jacob is reminding me of the Beyonder that you posted about in March more and more, bringing people good and bad to the island to see what force will overcome the other the rival says its always the same, and in the secret wars there are also time-loops and the magic box reference to grant your every desire parallels the tapestry Jacob is making.

Benny said...

Here's more evidence to suggest the Smoke Monster and new-Locke are not the same.

The night Sun and Frank arrive at Pala, the monster is heard in the trees (taxi sound). If he is also Christian, he greets them at the barracks.
That same night, Locke was on the beach talking to Ceasar. Can ha be at two places at the same time?

Jay said...

Missie & Benny - yeah, the more I think about it, the more I think the Rival and Smokey are two different beings. Benny makes a great point in that Zombie Locke was on the Hydra Island at the same time Christian was in the Barracks with with Frank and Sun. While I'm sure gods could do whatever they want, to me that's pretty strong evidence that they're two different beings. And it makes sense too, given that Locke's body didn't disappear like Christian's and Yemi's did. That's kind of why I like the Ammit theory - Ammit devoured the souls of people who failed the heart weighing ceremony. I kind of like to think that the body disappearing = being devoured.

Theresa - You're absolutely remembering it right. The cabin seems to jump around from place to place, even though Ilana seemed to know exactly where it was. Remember also that Hurley saw a very evil looking eye in the cabin that night - the Rival, perhaps?

Jimmy - Indeed! The Island itself seems to have a very Battleworld (the planet the Beyonder made in Secret Wars) type feel to it. It's going to be very interesting at the end of the series to be able to look back and interpret where the writers got all their ideas from. :)

Jay said...

Oh, and Grub, according to Lostpedia, Ilana was hospitalized in Russia. Seems they were both speaking Russian at that point. Ilana seems to know several languages, eh?

Anonymous said...

I do believe the bomb going off changed things. The bomb went off and the screen faded to white for the first time. It has always dropped to black before. Jacob vs. the Nemesis. White vs. Black. I think the bomb going off now put "the game" in Jacobs favor. Thus we are shown white instead of black