Analysis 5.16 The Incident - Part 1

The Season 5 finale, The Incident, almost immediately broadened the scope of Lost and what our understanding of the show is to be. We saw the man we would come to know was Jacob weaving, a process he later remarked takes a long time (but he stated that was the point). Can’t help but figure that’s symbolic, really! Jacob is a God of some kind, on the side of free will and goodness, weaving the strands of the tapestry of life with eternal patience until the “one end” that he completely believes in.

The discussion on the beach with the unnamed man – that I shall herein refer to as Nameless – pretty much struck up the two sides each represented: Jacob’s optimism for mankind, and Nameless’ fundamental pessimism about man’s corruptive and destructive qualities. I can’t help but recall Locke’s talk with Walt, right back in the very first Pilot episode (an episode that gets references elsewhere, too). . .

Locke: “Two players. Two sides. One is light, one is dark.”

It’s no accident that Jacob and Nameless are both dressed light and dark. (Staunch believers in the ‘clue in the Pilot episode myth’, you have found your answer!)

Now this is seriously high-concept, grand scale stuff to grapple with. The eternal struggle between good and evil at the heart of man’s soul, with Jacob and Nameless lending themselves all too conveniently to no less than God and Devil respectively. Jacob being a fisherman emphasises the Christianity angle. Are we to take it that they are the God and the Devil? Personally, I hope not and I don’t think so anyway. They’re evidently powerful and timeless enough to be decent approximations to those archetypal religious notions – but their world appears to be entirely based on the Island. If the Island is a microcosm of the world, then Jacob and Nameless are its microcosmic God and Devil. It is on that basis I settle upon.

Consider them as two Gods of the Island, both vying to prove their own beliefs. On seeing the Black Rock the two are no doubt forced to wonder if this new group of Island arrivals (after who knows how many ages and how many visitors), these pieces on the board, will this time be the ones to end their deadlocked game.

Nameless, it can be surmised, doesn’t welcome strangers to the Island as each new person presents one that could prove Jacob right. What he wants is Jacob dead – then there will be no one to challenge him. On the Island, it seems, there are rules about how they can conduct themselves, how much influence they can exert over people and, as such, Nameless has to bring out their dark sides – but this only continues the ‘loop’ of corruption and destruction. Jacob simply awaits the time when this cycle ends, the “one end”; everything that happens is just progress leading up to such a moment. Jacob has all the time in the world to be proven right, in effect, unless Nameless can intervene. . .

The actions of Nameless I shall focus more on in Part 2 of this analysis, but it’s Jacob’s actions and his visits upon the main characters that I shall concentrate on here. Consider it the ‘light’ side of the analyses!

It’s worth mentioning that the existence of a complete four-toed statue as the Black Rock approached means the thing was destroyed at some point between the 1800s and the 1950s. Perhaps whatever cataclysmic event that brought the statue down was also responsible for landing the Black Rock in the middle of the jungle? A whopper of a tidal wave? Speculate away. It was amusing that Nameless pondered aloud, and probably rhetorically, about how the Black Rock found the Island. I think we learned enough to reach a decent conclusion: Jacob brought them there. That’s what he does. Brings particular individuals to the Island, this staging ground between good and evil, to see how much ‘progress’ can be made towards this “one end”. Weaving the threads of this epic tapestry. . .

Let’s look at the flashbacks. First up was Kate, with her childhood friend Tom (the guy from What Kate Did, of the model airplane, who was shot in the car with Kate when she was escaping from the cops), stealing a lunchbox (was New Kids On The Block merely a reference to the time period, or an inference that our Losties are the new kids on the island block being given a shot at proving Jacob’s belief in human goodness?).

After being caught shoplifting Jacob absolves Kate of her crime by paying for the lunchbox, tells her she ought not to steal again, and then touches her on the nose. I won’t insult your intelligence in pointing out how pertinent it was that Jacob touched each of the people he visited, but there’s speculation to be made about the reason for it (I’ll get to that). In this instance, Jacob was symbolically warning Kate against a life of crime, to be good. Not exactly advice she heeded, but a crucial part of Jacob’s approach is in the provision of free will. This adherence to free will probably cost him his life, but I’ll get to that, too. . .

At the funeral of his parents, we saw Young James Ford writing his letter to ‘the real Sawyer’, the one that would be a focal point of the episode Confidence Man in Season One. Here Jacob gave Young James a pen that would allow him to finish the letter. Again, free will over whether he chose to, emphasised by the conversation with his uncle afterwards where he was encouraged to take up the “what’s done is done” philosophy. It’s interesting that Sawyer does eventually abide by this principle – using it as a basis to persuade Jack to stop his ‘Bomb The Swan’ plans – but that’s only since he fulfilled his vengeance and killed ‘the real Sawyer’.

Whaddaya think? Did Jacob step in here, pretending to be lost, so as to prevent Sayid from wandering into the road with Nadia and also being hit by the car? If Ben’s claims to Sayid, about how Nadia had been murdered, were true (though it seems they probably weren’t given he’s now totally ‘fessed up about being a big old liar) then Jacob may have been saving him. There’s hope for Sayid’s survival, despite his desperate bleeding out by the end of this episode.

Jacob’s encounter with Jack came just after the moment in surgery that he told Kate about way back in the first Pilot episode (as I said earlier, there were a couple of references to the beginning tucked away), where he learned to count to five and focus on himself to do what needed to be done. Jacob handed him an Apollo bar, lightly touching his finger as he passed it over, pointedly remarking about how it just needed a little push. A nod to Jack’s push away from a man of science into a man of faith?

Speaking of men of faith, here Jacob apparently touched Locke and ‘healed’ him. Perhaps this paved the way for Locke’s eventual recovery from paralysis once he landed on the Island? It certainly appeared like some of the Island’s healing potential crossed over when Locke was touched. And I am reminded of Ben once promising to Juliet that Jacob could cure her sister’s cancer (so long as she remained on the Island with him). Juliet’s sister was later shown to be cured. A touch from Jacob? Or just manipulation from Ben, using a basis of truth to make his lie work? Jacob can heal – it’s just unknown whether he healed Rachel.

When Jacob met Jin and Sun on their wedding day he reinforced the idea that they ought to stay together, no matter what. It’s reasonably self-explanatory, serving as an underlying driver of their urge to bridge the decades between them to be reunited, and also a bit of evidence to Jacob’s linguistic skills (not only very good Korean, but he also speaks Russian in this episode!). Much like Jin and Sun’s entire plot arc this season, Jacob’s appearance keeps them in the midst of things without provoking any great sense of importance.

Jacob’s meeting with Hurley was the least enigmatic of them all, with Jacob blatantly coming out of leftfield to reveal he is part of the Island world who intended this meeting to happen and is not some random passerby or well-wisher. His soothing of Hurley’s worries – that seeing dead people is a gift and that he is not crazy – were precisely the kind of things he needed to hear, and so we were given an explanation as to how and why it was Hurley turned up to board Ajira 316 with a guitar tucked under his arm.

No guarantees there’s a guitar in the case, mind. The way Lost has panned out lately, whenever there’s a large box we don’t know the contents of the smart money will wager there’s a Dead Locke inside of it!

It may or may not be pertinent that only Sayid and Hurley were the ones visited by Jacob after they had already been on the Island. It could be argued that Hurley was never meant to be on the Island – since he only just about made flight Oceanic 815. . .

. . . but Sayid seems like a harder person to justify in this respect. Personally I feel like Sayid and Hurley were the only two of the Oceanic 6 that were unlikely to return to the Island without “a little push”, and so Jacob leaned on their free will a little (perhaps by saving Sayid’s life and convincing Hurley his ‘curse’ was a gift).

Of course, there were two other flashbacks in this episode that were notable in their differences to the above. Juliet’s didn’t feature Jacob, instead focusing on the moment her parents broke the news of their divorce (with sister Rachel – her of the eventual cancer cure – also present, which neatly indicated the presence of Jacob without him actually being there).

As well as Juliet’s flashback informing her that some people, no matter how much they love each other, are simply not meant to be together (a tough honesty that would ultimately prove fatal when she acknowledged her love for Sawyer was no match to his love for Kate) it’s also tempting to think that Jacob’s lack of appearance in her life meant that she was extraneous to events on the Island and was thus ‘doomed’. That’s not a line of logic that works particularly well either way (people survive without Jacob, and people have died that Jacob touched (e.g. Locke)) but, in the frame of this episode, it casts an extra air of fateful tragedy over Juliet that works nicely.

We saw Jacob meet with Ilana, but there was no clear ‘touch’ moment, for one thing, and for the other it appeared that Ilana and Jacob knew each other already. Quite what the hell happened to her to be bandaged the way she was is, surely, a story for Season Six. I am interpreting Jacob’s request for help, however, to be for Ilana to bring Sayid to the Island as part of whatever larger mission her and Bram and the other Ajira people are involved in. (Difficult to quantify this precisely as there is no clue about timelines but we have to bear in mind she and the rest didn’t arrive on the Island to spring the reveal about Locke – that was just something they found out after the crash.)

Ilana’s actions and interactions lead me to a simple but most likely explanation: Ilana is an Other. An off-Island Other, perhaps, but an Other all the same. If The Others are to be categorised as a group that follow the will of Jacob, Ilana is a pure Other. If anything she is an Other that has not been tricked by Nameless – let me grace you with my theory on the matter.

Back to the idea of black and white, of two sides opposed to each other, like backgammon pieces. We think of Jacob as white, Nameless as black, and the Island as the board they play their game of good versus evil on. All the people that come to the Island, they can be considered ‘pieces’ on the board. And, for my theory, I propose that the people Jacob touched beforehand were people he had marked out as his ‘key players’ in his game.

Again, think of Nameless and his remark about how the Black Rock found the Island. The inference for me was that Jacob somehow ensured the ship got there, and on board were people – key markers – he had previously interacted with for the next ‘loop’ of the game. It’s still possible that Richard Alpert came to the Island on the Black Rock.

Alpert: “I’m this way because of Jacob.”

Maybe Alpert proved himself worthy in some way, earned the right to be considered a major player on the board. Agelessness was his reward, or maybe it was his curse. Hard to say. But I am reminded of how often The Others have been referred to as good people.

Ben: “We’re the good guys, Michael.”

Bram, during this episode, told Lapidus that they were the good guys. If they’re on Jacob’s side, that stacks up. We can think of The Others as ‘white pieces’. It also makes sense why children would be so highly desirable, being uncorrupted and therefore pure and good, and hence why Zack and Emma and Walt were kidnapped by The Others. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of grey areas to this theory - like how come, say, a man like Pickett could be considered an Other when he was such a horrible piece of shit to Sawyer who, as it turned out, was on Jacob’s list and had been touched by him?.

I’m not saying it’s cut and dried, but then maybe that’s the point. If it were perfectly black and white, if The Others were entirely good, then Jacob would have won. What we can’t underestimate, and what we can only now really start speculating about, is how much of a force Nameless has been. How good a game have the black pieces been playing so far?

Ilana visited the cabin and concluded that Jacob had not been there for a long time. There was a man behind the curtain after all, it just wasn’t the man everyone thought he was. These lists, these orders, all supposedly from Jacob in his cabin, almost surely weren’t from Jacob at all – rather Nameless, the trickster, masquerading as Jacob. Maybe that explains how an Other like Pickett could be around – evidence of the disruptive, corruptive agent at work within the “good guy” Others.

I’ll discuss Nameless, and other aspects of The Incident, in Part 2 of this analysis, but I’ll end with Jacob’s apparent end – at the hands of Ben.

It was a curious exchange, when the distraught Ben (a good episode for him, actually, in peeling back the bug-eyed layer to reveal the whimpering weak liar beneath) confronted Jacob, demanding to know why he had been ignored. (Why had Jacob forsaken him!?) “What about me?” he exclaimed. “What about you?” Jacob replied.

Was Jacob intending to be cruel? To make Ben feel worthless at this desperate moment? I return back to this idea of free will. Jacob adheres to the ‘rules’ of this game that dictate people must make their own choices – to “want to want” to do the things they do, if you like. Nameless knew the rules, knew what Jacob’s response had to be, and Ben had been delivered into the position of killer – a state he displayed in the Season 4 finale when the red mist descended as he killed Keamy. In short, Ben the master manipulator got manipulated by a trickster more skilled – and it prompted the result Nameless had wanted for so long. Jacob’s not quite done yet, though.

Jacob: “They are coming.”

If my theory is even close to right, then Jacob is talking about his key pieces. Jack, Sawyer, Kate and the rest of those he had ‘touched’. (Perhaps Faraday would consider them ‘Variables’!) Nameless may have managed to corrupt one of them – Locke – but the rest are apparently on their way. ‘The incident’ and the nuclear blast may be the catalyst that reintroduces these key pieces back on to the board immediately, or there may be more twists to come along the way, but I believe Jacob: They are coming.

Widmore: “There’s a war coming, John. And if you’re not back on the Island when that happens, the wrong side is going to win.”

Part 2 – the dark side – of this analysis will follow. . .


Acharaisthekey said...

This is an EXCELLENT write up....great angles and theories thrown out here and very nicely done in interpreting Jacob. I imagine the part 2 will be a little grim....I really don't think I disagree with you on much here...again, very well written.

Do you think there is something to be said about Jacob 'letting' Ben kill him. Is he ready to hand off to an apprentice?? or someone to take his spot, is he confident that will happen?? Let's face it, Jacob could have said "That's not even John Locke you moron..." to ben, instead, we get to see the SELFISH BEN come alive...and it was classic when Jacob said "WHAT ABOUT YOU?"

I really think Jacob was proving a point (to the actually it was the writers)...Ben.."WHAT ABOUT YOU?". Ben a loyal servant, however, was nothing special...and ended up wasting time on "silly" games.

So, I have to assume Alpert is a follower of Jacob...and that side 1 is waiting on the beach and will already be at odds with Side 2 (the fake john locke) and the testimony of faith and free will take place up to the end.

I also think the THEY'RE coming is in fact the TOUCHED that are stuck in 1977.

Question, did Sun get touched by Jacob? Is this possibly why she didn't FLASH Back to 1977?

BennyTN said...

Watch the Sayid/Nadia scene again. At first, I thought the same thing as you, that he saved Sayid. Then someone pointed out that the reason she was standing there was that she had turned back around to talk to Sayid. Do you think that Jacob maybe indirectly caused Nadia's death? Maybe it was because Jacob knew that was the only possibility of getting him back to the island. He would have never left Nadia to come back, and he wouldn't have hooked up with Illana had he still been with Nadie as well.

Garett said...

Great job (as usual)! There was so much in this one to absorb. Since you're saving "the dark side analysis" for part 2, I'll save my comments about Nameless for that one as well.

Wow, Jacob is so much more than i thought he was. I can't help but see the parallels with Christ. (As a Christian, I guess that's to be expected. Perhaps other religions see similarities from their own faiths?) Not only is he a fisherman, but a fisher of men, seeking out and both literally and figuratively 'touching' his Chosen.

I have to wonder how far this similarity will extend. In many ways, I found it odd that Jacob didn't lift a finger to defend himself. In many ways, he pushed Ben into action by asking, "What about you?" I don't think he meant it maliciously, but he had to know it would send Ben over the edge. You could argue that he willingly sacrificed himself. If this is the case, will we also see a resurrection? I toyed with the idea of Jacob inhabiting Locke's true body and thus Locke would become the next Jacob, but I think that may be too outlandish. Instead, I think at the series finale, we'll see Jacob smiling and we'll know everything that occurred as he planned it, even Ben stabbing him. Think of it as the Star Wars ending, minus the Force ghosts.

I can't remember where I read it, but I read a spoiler that a major character will die by the end of this season. At first, I just knew it would be Juliette. The "quadrangle" or whatever was seeming to settle into 2 couples and I knew they needed to kill someone off to bring that tension back. Of the 4, who is most expendable to the show? Exactly. But then Faraday died. Surely they didn't mean 2 characters would die? And then, watching the Incident, Sayid gets shot and the gang swerves in with the bus to rescue them. At this point, my wife makes a comment about Hurley and "that van" and it clicks in my mind. When Hurley originally found that van in "Tricia Tanaka is Dead," the body in the van was Sayid's! Sayid is in the past, wearing Horace's jumpsuit, he's hurt badly, and he's in a van (or at least, he's near it) in the middle of the jungle. (Crap! I don't want Sayid to die, I think. But then, Angelo did say that he's a likely candidate, with valid reason. Crap!!)
But then flash forward to Juliette hanging for her life to Sawyer...(Well, crap, I don't want Juliette to die either! I was right to begin with and Sayid is gonna live) Only, we discover she isn't dead (YAY) but trying to set off the bomb (B00). SO, the only thing we know for sure is that Faraday is dead. Sayid is still a candidate, as well as Juliette. Maybe it Faraday's death was what they meant all along. I for one, think that's how it will work out next season. Sayid has been touched by Jacob, so I believe he still has work to do. He can't die yet, because he'll be needed in the coming war with the Nameless (FYI, I thought of him as Esau, Jacob's brother and rival from the Bible). Also, the bomb didn't detonate on impact and we see Juliette didn't die from her fall. I believe that the bomb was pretty much a dud. Whether too much material had leaked or what, I don't know (perhaps Jacob intervened or fate would not let it occur, just as Micheal couldn't kill good ole Tom with a gun in that alley. what happened, happened.) But Juliette just happened to hit the bomb when the Incident occurred, so it seemed like it went off. So what happens? My guess is that everyone is thrown back into the future (well, to the know what I mean). We already know that when that energy is released, people get thrown about and odd things happen (ie. Desmond, Locke, and Ecko) but the blast doesn't kill them, even if hurled across the jungle. So I think Jack will be able to save Sayid and Juliette, if the island and Jacob don't take care of it first.

I'm gonna cut myself off. I could go on and on, but I'll wait to see what you have to say in part 2.

Garett said...

BennyT- I think you're at least partially right. Maybe dead-on. Jacob definitely intervened to save Sayid, but did he cause Nadia's death? From what little we know of Jacob, I don't think he caused Nadia's death. Perhaps it was someone Ben ordered to kill Nadia driving that car. Jacob intervened to save Sayid. Or maybe that's what I want to think. We can see how much Jacob can manipulate, but we haven't seen how devious he can be. Maybe it was him...

Garett said...

One last thing I meant to include in my original post. If Juliette were to die, I think the love triangle would effectively be dead. Sawyer may have been struggling with his feelings, but he did love Juliette. And if dead, he would undoubtedly feel responsible. If he hadn't looked at Kate, she wouldn't have changed her mind about Jack, and they wouldn't have charged off to help him. So now, every time he looks at Kate, he'll think of how Juliette would still be alive if he hadn't looked. His guilt will doom any relationship he might have with Kate. Jater's everywhere will rejoice.

Anonymous said...

how simillar was young Kate to Kate? very good casting!!

BennyTN said...

When I watched the scene again, it looked like they would have been well past that point in the road when the car came through. Although, the car did take off right after it hit her, so either they were hired or they had something else to hide, hence the hit and run.

Corellian said...

Ilana says Jacob hasn't been using the Cabin for a long time. But how long would that be?

Because i mean...Richard knew where Jacob was. He knew he would be in the Statue (by the way, Ben says that Richard came with the lists. So I suppose they were really from Jacob). So, if Jacob has been on the Statue for a long time, Richard would know that. Then why on earth would Ben go to the Cabin? Did he found it on his own, and thought that this is where Jacob would live? Because he was indeed lying about seeing Jacob, but he really believed that Jacob was there. At the end of season 4, Locke says that Jacob told him to move the Island, and Ben go ahead and make it happen.

So, if Richard knew Jacob was on the statue, who sent Ben to the cabin?

I would guess that Jacob was indeed on the Cabin by the time Ben first took Locke there, and he really asked Locke for help. And that, by the time we started to see good old Cristian there, then Jacob had left and now it was Nameless...

Corellian said...

By the way, i guess you will talk more about that on your second analysis, but I think it was just brilliant that Locke was dead in fact.

I mean, come on, they spent the entire season throwing it at us!! Ben and Richard keep saying everytime that they have never seen anyone come back from the dead. That, when you die, you die. And still, I haven't seen no one that guessed that Locke was really dead and that the new Locke was someone "disguised".

And it also perfectly explains the fact that he now knows everything about the Island, and he's overconfident.

And, all in all, they've managed to end two seasons in a row with a revelation that Locke was dead. Gotta praise this guys...

Anonymous said...

This is great AC!

'What about you ?' - was just epic!

Anonymous said...

AC- LOSTonerFan here...I have a question to pose to you. So do you think the incident we've been hearing about all along was the H-Bomb being detonated, or do you think that the incident was just the EM energy pulling all the metallic objects into the shaft? I'm of the opinion that every mention we've heard of the incident refers only to the EM, and that our "key pieces" as you referred to them truly did change the future we already know about by making sure the bomb reached the Swan and went off. I'd love to know what you think about that.

AngeloComet said...

Achara - the explanation for Sun's non-time travel is still in the wind, so far as I can see. I just hope they got AN explanation and don't just leave it!

Benny - Yeah, I did put a 'positive' spin on the Sayid/Nadia scene, but it did occur to me that Jacob doesn't come out of that looking particularly 'good'. . .

Garrett - Love the Star Wars comparison! I got the same take; it was a knowing sacrifice for a greater good.

It was Roger Workman in the 'Tricia Tanaka van', though. (Said his name on the jumpsuit. And we saw Roger die in the van when Ben released the poison and killed him.)

I think Juliet is dead (she had about as good a send-off as any character can ask for!). That Sayid didn't die suggests he's going to survive (why contract the actor to appear in a new season to kill him episode one?). And I think Juliet's death totally sets up the love triangle (Juliet kind of died because of Sawyer's love for Kate - that might make him need to make that become validated to honour the death).

Corellian - Jacob, his lists and now Nameless in the mix is knotty mess, for sure. But you're right about Alpert knowing where Jacob is (but don't forget there's been three years since Ben left the Island, and the cabin had been ransacked, suggesting there's a story we don't know - maybe Alpert found out about the Nameless Trickster?)

LostONEer - I've yet to psyche myself up for 'part 2', where I'll get into 'the incident', but my gut feeling is: the bomb went off as the electromagnetism kicked in and it probaby suffused the mass explosion and radiation, but left the necessity to vent this discharge (hence the timer and the button and The Swan we know about).

Thanks for the comments guys. Always an honour.

Tim said...

I have to second the Sayid/Nadia/Jacob issues: it certainly seems to me that Jacob saved Sayid - but also killed Nadia. It's quite a sinister scene and somewhat tars the rest of Jacob's 'good' actions; even if Jacob needed to sacrifice Nadia to indirectly encourage Sayid to return, it's hard to understand this utilitarian, means-justify-ends morality as good when its subjects are human lives. Whether the means justify the ends has been a running question throughout Lost, and it's nice to see the question being posed to Jacob, someone who appears to be the head of what appears to be the good side.

Great season finale, my only issue would be that this new Jacob/Nameless battle somewhat trivialises the Linus/Widmore/Hawking battling that's happened before. I'm sure it'll all tie in though.

Corellian said...

What about Richard taking Ben to be healed at the Temple?

He already seen Smokie on the Temple, and he told Ben to follow Bad Locke. So, i would say Smokie is kind of in Nameless team.

Maybe there's also a good force in the Temple? Or maybe Smokie is neutral?

Corellian said...

Well, maybe the "Alex" who told Ben to follow Locke wasn't smokie, but Nameless doing his shape shifting trick...

Burnt Sienna said...

does no one find the fact that Jacob caught a red herring type fish interesting?

Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone caught the recap 'Oceanic 6 a journey through time' It had interviews with the writers and they said that the reason for the time jump was simply that the conditions of the original flight 815 were not recreated exactly.

Pretty lame I think you'll agree.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to that quote from the writers, from about 40 seconds onwards they explain why some of the 6 went back to 1977. I would say that is the only answer to your question that you will get Achara & AC.....Sun just wasn't part of it.