Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Lost - S6E4 The Substitute - Analysis pt 1 - Theories

What an episode this turned out to be! Normally I would have wrote about half a page of notes - this week it totals 5! As such, I have decided to split this Analysis into 3 segments - Theories, Episode Review and Bulletpoints.

As a new feature, I am going to begin each analysis with my Crazy Lost Theory Of The Week. This week, however, there is a quadruple dose of crazy! First off, I am going to go completely out on a limb and predict my own theory for the finale of Lost - Lost will end with Hurley accepting his calling as Candidate to become the new Jacob and protect the Island from evil, led by the new 'Smokey' - Jack!

Well, okay, maybe not that crazy, but I certainly believe that out of all the Candidates, Hurley is the most likely to be selected as the new protector of the Island. To begin with, he has an obvious relationship to all the Numbers (and I for one am very glad to see them coming back into the plotline! They have been sorely missed).

The rest of the characters have nothing more than a fleeting relationship with the Numbers, for instance Jack being seated in row 23 of the original Oceanic flight 815 (even that is a poor connection, as in this 'new' timeline he appears to be in row 24).

More importantly, Hurley clearly cares a lot about every single person on the Island - he has gone out of his way to integrate everyone into the group, even the likes of Sawyer and Charlie.

Since the beginning of Season 4, Hurley has made it his determined mission to change his status from lovable liability (Charlie: "You're too big! You won't fit in the boat!") to caring colonel (Miles: "Hugo has assumed the leadership position, so that's pretty great."). I believe it is no mere coincidence that Jacob chose him to lead the Losties into the Temple. If anyone is going to be taking over from Jacob, it is Hurley who gets my vote.

Though I Try To Die
You Put Me Back On The Line

My second Crazy Theory is hopefully a point that will raise some discussion - what if we have it all wrong? What if Jacob is the real 'bad' guy, or my personal belief, maybe both Jacob and Smokey are aspects of the same being. Fishbiscuitland puts it very eloquently, the gist of which is thus - Jacob represents Satan in his traditional form (an angel who believes that free will, even if it represents making all the wrong choices, is far more important than fate, even if your destiny is to make all the right moves). Smokey, in this context, represents the traditional Christian God - no will other than that of his.

This throws up some really interesting juxtapositions. For starters, having the wild, punk-loving, free-living conman Sawyer teaming up with the fate-enforcing Smokey is an interesting pairing, especially considering that possible former-slave/errand boy Richard turned his back on Smokey in favour of the more choice-giving Jacob, which brings up my next point.

Jacob and Smokey are two parts of the same person. It seems to me that in "The Incident", Jacob was rooting for a definitive endpoint to the looping/game playing ("It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.") whilst Smokey was trying to convince him that nothing will ever change - the game continues on forever ("They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.")

Now though, it would seem that Smokey is trying to find that definitive ending ("I want to go home.") and if Smokey is to be believed, Jacob is trying to find a Candidate to take over from him and continue the loop. If we try to analyse these two characters in the context of Free Will vs Fate, Jacob seems to firmly be on the side of Fate, having touched these characters at pivotal points in their lives, points that would ensure their arrival upon the Island.

But, when the highest price was at stake, his own life, Jacob gave Ben the ultimate choice - to kill him, or walk away ("I want you to understand one thing. You have a choice."). Smokey as well seems to be all about the choices - giving Sawyer 3 of them in the Cave o' Names - simultaneously painting Jacob as an uncaring puppet-master, pulling at the strings of Fate and destiny. One thing that shines through both of these examples of choice - just like with many of the choices Sawyer, Locke and Ben have given each other throughout the course of the series - these are very manipulative moves dressed up as choice.

The similarities between Smokey and Jacob remind me of the rather famous anime/manga series "Dragonball". To put it shortly - the main villain in Dragonball is the evil side of the God character, who has been expunged and taken form as a separate being.

I'm The World's Forgotten Boy

If it is true that Jacob and Smokey are one in the same, then perhaps this mysterious boy represents a time when the two were consolidated into the one. In "Dragonball", an unnamed character tries to ascend to the role of guardian of Earth (commonly thought of as the God role). However, he harbours too much evil inside of him, as all beings do. To try to make himself worthy, this person splits himself into two separate beings - Kami, the good side, and Piccolo, a being of pure evil.

This allows Kami to become guardian/God, but the Demonic Piccolo wreaks havoc upon the world. Throughout the series, Piccolo stages many attacks on Earth, before being eventually defeated. As he is dying, however, he creates a spawn/child called Piccolo Jr. This new Piccolo is even stronger than the first, and causes even worse havoc on the heroes of the Dragonball world. Eventually, mostly through proximity to the 'good' guys, Piccolo reforms as an anti-hero figure, and in a moment of desperation, the two sides, Kami and Piccolo, finally merge to harness their complete power and become whole again.

This, simply, is the basis for my theory - Jacob and Smokey were once whole, and are now two separate beings constantly at war with each other. Neither represents Good nor Evil, Fate nor Free Will. They are the ultimate contradictions of each other.

(On a sidenote, if you completely disagree with me on this point - perhaps then this kid is some kind of "Referee" figure in this game, ensuring the rules are adhered to? Let's just hope he isn't another Sheriff!)

What we do know of Smokey makes little sense until we begin to consider how Jacob could factor into things. We first meet "the smoke monster" as a terrifying Judge, Jury & Executioner figure, slaying the likes of Eko for refusing to repent, while saving Locke. There is also the matter of the "flashes" - he has subjected Eko, Kate and Juliet to these "flashes", yet we are still not sure what they exactly are. We originally believe them to be the 'monster' judging the persons soul, deciding if they deserved to live or die. Then, as we began to understand that Smokey can take on different forms, we considered whether it was scanning the victim, stealing their identity for later use. Now, I wonder if he was double-checking whether the person was a Candidate or not, and thus 'fair game' to be slaughtered.

The pilot, Seth Norris, certainly didn't seem to get much of a judgement. I wonder if Frank (assuming Bram is correct and he is a Candidate) would have been subject to the same mistreatment, or be given a 'free pass'? (I also like to think that if Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje had wished to stay in the show, Mr Eko would have been a Candidate and thus saved from this smoke-based demise).

Smokey is later revealed to be somewhat of a slave to his own destiny - being at the beck and call of Ben Linus, described as a 'security system' for the Island and serving to protect it. But wait, isn't that what Jacob is supposed to be doing?

Perhaps SmokeLocke is correct, perhaps there is nothing to defend. As Benny Biggs at Finally Lost puts it, what does the Island need protected from if no-one can see it or reach it without Jacob's permission?

Perhaps this has all been one huge game - a game of Chinese whispers, with each "Jacob" choosing candidates simply because the previous "Jacob", or indeed "Richard", figure told him to do so. It has long been believed that Jacob and Richard represent the Dalai and Panchen Lamas - each one seeking out the reincarnation of the other.

Imagine being a child, a young Locke or Ben or Richard, and being told that great things are expected of you, that you are the representation of an old and mysterious ruler. Imagine being a Charles Widmore, an Eloise Hawking, a Dogen - how would you react, faced with decades of apparent evidence?

I'm sure many would continue on the lineage as they have been instructed, but consider for a moment the Richard/Locke/compass paradox - Richard presented a compass to a young Locke as part of the "Lama" test, which Locke failed. Later, Richard forces the compass on Locke, at the behest of Smokey, who he is obeying as at one point in time Locke proved himself to be the Leader and Richard believes Smokey to be Locke. Following along so far?

Now, Locke travels back in time, gives Richard the compass and proclaims that he will eventually be the Leader. This sets Richard in motion to try to find Locke and discover if he will become the Leader and, although Locke fails every test put in front of him, Richard blindly believes him to be the Leader and follows his words, even when he is no longer Locke, he is Smokey. This blind following leads Richard to hand over the compass to Locke and start the loop all over again.

At no point was the compass introduced or removed from the loop, and at no point was Locke ever supposed to be the Leader. Smokey has manipulated something at some point in time to create this loophole and supposedly win the game, and all of this based on Chinese whispers and blindly following those that came before you.

This craziness in particular is tough to wrap the mind around, so we will be leaving it behind shortly. I appreciate we have drifted from the theory of Jacob and Smokey being the same person and into the land of Crazy Chinese Whispers Theory, so it is almost time to move on. First though, consider this more linear timeline - at some point, there was an Incident and a Button was created. Radzinsky pushed that Button, and told Kelvin Inman that the Button must be pushed. Kelvin doubted Radzinsky slightly, but passed on the knowledge to Desmond. Desmond doubted it even more, but passed on the knowledge to Jack and Locke, who continued to doubt. Locke in turn passed on the knowledge to Mr Eko, who believed it to be true. This created conflict, furthered along by the manipulation of Ben Linus and the revelation of the Pearl Station - one designed to make the Button seem untrustworthy.

Removed far from the original source, it was left to Locke and Eko to argue blindly about whether the Button should be pushed. Eventually, Locke won the argument and the Button was not pushed. He was wrong.

Remove yourself far enough from any source, no matter how genuine, and it is hard to believe anything. Jacob tells Richard to tell Ben to tell Locke to tell Jack that the Island needs saved - eventually someone is going to go out on a limb, test their faith, and start hijacking helicopters and blowing up atomic bombs.

Perhaps there is nothing to be saved, perhaps there is everything. Does anyone know who the original "Jacob" was and how we can contact him?

I'm Face To Face
With The Unknown

Third (or fourth? Fifth? I'm losing count!) Crazy Theory Of The Week brings us to the physical aspect of the Rules of the game. It has been a long-held belief of mine that Smokey cannot take the form of any living person, nor any corpse that has been buried. This is why we have not seen Libby or the Marshal running around the Island, yet Yemi, Christian and Locke are fair game.

Now that Locke has been buried, apparently Smokey is "stuck" in Locke form. I would like to believe that this is due to Locke being underground, but then it would make no sense for Ilana to care so little about burying Locke. It also doesn't make sense to think that this is due to Jacob dying, as Ilana was bringing Locke's corpse to the Temple to show everyone what they are facing. Like I say, the whole Ajira aspect confuses me a lot more than even the time travel does, so I am going to take a leaf from the Lost writer's "Book Of Walt & Libby" and completely ignore it for the time being.

To get back to the point, while Smokey cannot take the form of the living or the buried dead, I believe that Jacob can, to some extent. This may explain Hurley's visions of Ana-Lucia and Mr Eko, as well as Shannon's visions of Walt. There are a lot of inconsistencies in the Lost world of visions, ghosts, zombies and whispers, but I think this theory has some legs to it.

I'm The Kid That No-One Knows

This final Crazy Theory comes from Dave at the Finally Lost comments section, and it is (thankfully) a short one - literally.

Dave posits that, as Jacob touched both Sun and Jin, the "Kwon" on the list is actually neither of them - it is Ji Yeon. I personally doubt it, but I wanted to leave you on a lighter note while you await part 2 of this mammoth post.

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