Okay. Here are my filtered thoughts on this episode. Obviously they need a lot more refining, but it doesn’t make sense to think any more about this without putting it out there.
This was, really, an amazing episode. It was full of reveals, up to its ears in Island mythology and history, and satisfying in a lot of ways. However, I think we can all agree that “The Incident” had the unfortunate (and frequent) Lost characteristic of asking as many questions as it answered. While we finally got to see Jacob (and were able to free him from the million and half theories as to his origins we’ve been cooking up for years now), we also watched him die and were left in the dark about his true purpose, despite getting to see what he’s been up to in our castaway’s past.
Most frustratingly, I seem to be on the opposite side of every question from the episode than other Lost fans. I appear to have started theorizing on wholly different plane, which may mean I’m right by thinking in a far out way, or it means I’m wrong. Very wrong. But then again, we’re always wrong. At the end of every season we cook up plots and theories, some that are right on the mark, and others that are so, so wrong that we forget we ever thought them in the first place.
Did anyone properly guess, when Lost returned from hiatus in 2009, that the Island started skipping through time when Ben turned the wheel? Was anyone right on the money about a handful of Lostie’s going back to DHARMA times? Probably not – there were likely theories about a lot of outlandish (and laughable, now) things that people surmised and hoped would happen. But honestly, I can’t remember whether anyone was right or wrong, not least of all because I tend to turn off my Lost-theory hat for a good portion of the break between seasons. By the time Lost starts up again next January I’m sure I’ll have forgotten 90 percent of the things we were talking about right now.
Nonetheless, I’ve tried to come up with a cogent theory of my own to posit before the hiatus begins – before I return to a life without this weekly “can’t fall asleep on Wednesday nights” event and that is, perhaps most importantly, probably wrong.
Wow. So the Locke we’ve been watching since Ajira 316 crashed on the Island in 2008 is not the same Locke whose coffin was put on the flight. What a wonderful con – they didn’t even have to convince us of what we believed, because we convinced ourselves. We were so sure that whatever was going to happen to Locke would mimic what we believe happened to Christian that we didn’t think to question Locke’s “resurrection.” We bought it lock, stock, and barrel – eager to see our maybe-hero live, eager to believe in the Island’s life-making (and breaking) abilities.
Much of the theory-making now has focused on how Jacob’s enemy (from the first scene, in the black shirt, who expressed his desire to kill Jacob) has “taken over” Locke’s dead body. People believe Locke being dead allowed this to happen, because we have seen some entity (the Smoke Monster?) reanimate dead bodies for nefarious purposes and we have seen how the Others burn their dead and told the DHARMA Initiative to make sure bodies were buried very deep within the ground.
Now it’s obvious that the Locke who entered Jacob’s temple (and who we’ve been following all season) is imbued with a greater purpose, the same purpose as Jacob’s enemy. But I’m not convinced that this is because we now have a “fake Locke” that has been “taken over” ala bodily alien invasion. That just seems a little “Star Trek” to me.
I feel like “fake Locke” is in many ways “real Locke” or should at the least be construed as the protagonist. We’ve assumed for so long that the Island and Jacob are one and the same, but it became clear in the past few episodes that Jacob is doing a particular kind of bidding on the Island – we don’t know if that’s good or bad. By working on the side of Jacob’s enemy, Locke may very well be on the side of good. It’s too early to know. And to think that the Locke we see now is somehow not “our” Locke is short-sighted. I think there’s more to be seen there, and certainly more to trust Locke on than not.
Here’s the thing: viewers believe Locke has been “taken over” by Jacob’s enemy in the same way that Christian was taken over. As evidence for Jacob’s enemy’s ability to do this, they point to Richard Alpert’s insistence on taking the bodies back from DHARMA in 1977 (Amy’s first husband Paul and the two Others killed in the shootout). We saw in Season Three that the Others burn their bodies (e.g. Colleen after Sun shot her). We’ve also seen the Smoke Monster take the guise of dead bodies (Yemi to Eko, Alex to Ben).
I don’t disagree that there may be a common thread to be found here. But I also think we can’t discount all of the time-travel business and what role the ability to have two of the same person in one time zone plays. We saw Locke look at himself by the Beechcraft – we saw Miles watch his father read to his infant self. Remember the DHARMA video from way back when with the two bunnies? I can’t help but think that however Jacob’s enemy manages to “take over” bodies of the dead, it has something to do with the Island’s time-travel capabilities. Don’t ask me how! And, Richard claims to Locke that he’s never seen a resurrection — this may be false, but assuming it is true, Richard is unaware that Jacob’s nemesis is capable of taking over dead bodies.
Also, not to read too much into things, but it’s curious to me that we know Ajira flight 316 took off from LAX in January of 2008, but the flashes kept telling us that what was going on with Locke/Ilana/Bram/Sun/Lapidus was taking place thirty years after 1977. Sawyer said to Jack in “The Incident” that it was July 1977 – that would place the Locke events in approximately July of 2007. What happened to the six months? Is it even significant? Did those on 316 not flashed on 1977 end up in July of 2007?
Which brings me to the most important point I’d like to make: it is clear in the 2007 scenes that something has changed in the past, even before the incident occurred. Sun and Lapidus meet Christian in a dilapidated DHARMA building, which looks not only abandoned but DHARMA-abandoned, as in, the Others never moved in and cleared the barracks up of all of the DHARMA paraphernalia. If whatever happened, happened, how could this be?
The variable! There has to be a reason Daniel told us about variables. By the time that episode aired, we already knew that despite their best efforts, the Losties were helping to make the future, not destroy it. Sayid shooting Little Ben, and Jack refusing to operate on him, set Ben on the very path they were hoping to disrupt. Jack and Sayid may not have believed in whatever happened, happened, despite the evidence, and were moved by Daniel’s variable speech, but we were pretty sure they would, like Miles said, make the very thing happen they were trying to prevent. That makes sense from a plot perspective, but not from an audience/reveal perspective. There has to be a variable of some sort – and I think it’s Juliet (my thanks to Sarah for this great idea).
Juliet is the only person who had a flashback in “The Incident” who was not visited by Jacob. Sure, they wanted us to see how Juliet came to her Sawyer/love/fate conclusion, but if that was all, it was a pretty crappy way to tell us (after all, we already know that Juliet’s been unlucky in love before – see Edmund Burke, Goodwin…). What if Jack always threw Jughead into the Swan pit, but it always never went off – DHARMA sealed up the Swan, with nuke inside, started pressing the button, etc. Eventually Desmond turned the fail safe key and released the electromagnetism AND Jughead at the same time – we know the rest of the story.
But this time around, Juliet, discounted by Jacob because she was brought to the Island by Ben (whose fixation on saving the women from pregnancy actively grated on Richard Alpert by the end) rather than brought to the Island by Jacob, fell into the Swan pit and detonated Jughead herself. Something changes.
It pains me to theorize like this, because I don’t see how it can happen without the Swan station never being built – changing, well, everything. And I’ve been a very strong proponent of whatever happened, happened.
But it seems so logical that Juliet is the variable, given the evidence in “The Incident” and perhaps even likely that Juliet should not have gone back to 1977. Of course, there’s some evidence to the contrary that’s worth going over: first of all, Juliet delivers Ethan. On the other hand, that Ethan may not be Ethan Rom. It may have been a red herring. Or, Ethan was somehow delivered another way, sans Juliet. Then there’s the bit about Ben being attracted to Juliet because she looked like someone. We could write this off and say that Juliet looks like Ben’s dead mom – especially since we know that Ben claims not to have known Jack, etc. were in 1977 – but it may also be indicative of something to come.
So what happens now? Does the Swan cease to exist? Is the Swan really the reason 815 crashed on the Island? Or did it crash because Jacob wanted it to? Does the Swan station exist anyway? Do the Others never move into the barracks? What of Desmond? We could go crazy with the possibilities.
And for that matter, where’s Widmore? He’s clearly not on Jacob’s side. When Bram kidnapped Miles (albeit briefly), he warned Miles not to go to the Island with the wrong team, with Widmore’s team (although I don’t believe he said Widmore’s name). I think it’s fairly obvious that Widmore and Ellie were working in cahoots, both policing the Island/world temporally and furthering their own goals (Widmore’s: to retake the Island from Ben).
If we could draw up a team list, I’m pretty sure it would look like this:
- Jacob’s Nemesis
- Abbadon (deceased)
- Christian Shepard (reanimated on Island?)
- John Locke
- Ben (now, after stabbing Jacob)
Note: Widmore, Hawking, and Ben are all former leaders of the Others; Locke is/was also their leader (ironically self-proclaimed).
We know there can only be one leader at a time and that only the leader can request an audience with Jacob.
Abbadon planted the Walkabout idea in Locke’s head, Widmore helped Locke speak to the Oceanic 6.
- Richard (Ricardus)
Ilana was in Russia (we think) and called on by Jacob to help (presumably with the Locke/O6 issue)
Bram is insistent that they are the good guys
Appear to emphasize free will (Jacob’s insistence on people having a choice).
- Kate – pre 815
- Sawyer – pre 815
- Jack – pre 815
- Locke – pre 815
- Sayid – pre 316
- Hurley – pre 316
Obviously this could be totally wrong. How could Widmore and Jacob be on opposite teams if they both appeared to be working to get the Oceanic 6 back to the Island? But what about Bram’s attempts to dissuade Miles from getting on Widmore’s Kahana? It’s frustrating, but I’m sticking to my guns. Former leaders come to oppose Jacob — they end up being usurped by folks that Jacob brings to the Island, so former leaders are proponents of leaving the Island as it is. Perhaps. Something like that. But if that’s the case, why can’t Jacob just be the leader himself? And what does all of it have to do with the loophole? Jacob’s nemesis can’t kill Jacob himself, he has to have a (former) leader do it? But only the leader can request an audience with Jacob, so Locke had to ask to meet Jacob and bring Ben with him…except there are some holes in that argument.
So, as always, frustrating. I look forward to reading more theories, and also to taking a break! This hurts my brain.