Analysis: 5.17 The Incident - Part 2

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” – The Usual Suspects

Dead is dead. There was an episode named after this idea. Ben stated it. Alpert said as much. People that are dead do not come back to life on the Island. And then there was Locke. . .

The living dead. A walking miracle even more miraculous than his being able to walk after his back had been broken. If anyone could come back from the dead, courtesy of the Island and destiny, we’d all believe Locke was that man. And that was the great trick that got pulled, foreshadowed in Sayid’s remark to Jack about how they could escape The Barracks – by HIDING in PLAIN SIGHT. Once Locke’s dead body was revealed, having been found by the ‘Ajira Acolytes’ (as I am now terming Ilana and her group, given their devotion to Jacob), the ruse Nameless had been employing, the loophole he had sworn to find, was already in motion.

Let’s see if we can’t look behind the curtain and try and work out how this trick got pulled. And, perhaps just as importantly, why.

Nameless was frank and upfront about his intentions. He plainly told Jacob that he badly wanted to kill him, but this wasn’t exactly news to Jacob. If we take the view that Jacob is the supporter of the good in humanity, a champion who has faith in man, it’s actually curious that Nameless would oppose the arrival of people to the Island. Nameless bemoaned the approaching Black Rock as yet another instance of people turning up with their corruptive, disruptive ways – same as it ever was. Yet it strikes me that if he was a reveller in human badness then he ought to relish new arrivals and all their destructive corruption.

In Part 1 of this analysis my idea was that Nameless resisted new people coming to the Island, this personal playground, purely because each new person represented someone that might just be the one to tip the balance in Jacob’s favour and win this personal battle of theirs. I’m sticking with that idea. Black opposed to white. Good versus evil. Same as it ever was.

It seems certain that the game, and their existences, are bound by certain rules. Nameless cannot just throttle Jacob on the beach, no matter how much he wants him dead. It harkens to Widmore’s remark to Ben, back in The Shape Of Things To Come:

Widmore: “Have you come here to kill me, Benjamin?”

Ben: “We both know I can’t do that.”

This creates a link between Island Chiefs, and Jacob and Nameless; potentially a pertinent one. Put simply: Ben couldn’t kill Widmore because, somehow, the ‘rules’ dictate that one Island Chief cannot kill the other, the same way these ‘Island Gods’ Jacob and Nameless cannot kill one another. There’s a sensible streak of logic there, intangibly hard to articulate with a practical explanation, but it promotes the role of Island Chief as one with genuine, high Island level importance. I think that’s crucial. Because it was only an Island Chief, ex or current, that has the power to kill Jacob. The loophole Nameless exploited.

The logic, I suppose, would be that an Island Chief would be a complete advocate of Jacob and therefore ‘falling’ from that place to become a murderer of their own idol would represent a grand failing in Jacob’s faith in humanity. Thus that would be a major victory for Nameless. Hence: Ben and his knife.

Ah, some of you may be thinking, if one Island Chief cannot kill another then how does such a ‘rule’ account for this:

Well, I have an explanation, and if I am close to right then it’s a pretty comprehensive explanation about much of what we have been seeing on Lost right from the start, and gives a breakdown of how this ‘trick’ from the arch-trickster Nameless played out. It all comes down to John Locke.

When Locke first landed on the Island he immediately got up on his feet, no longer paralysed. Now we know that Jacob had touched him – he was one of the chosen few on that flight. I can’t say the healing was exclusive to this, though (we have to remember Rose and her cancer cure, for example) but it seems like a key element.

And not long after, Locke was confronted by the Black Smoke – and walked away from the experience not shaken or scared, instead imbued with a sense of importance and wonder about his destiny on the Island. He would later claim that he looked into the Black Smoke and saw a beautiful white light. Now, here’s the big question: Is Nameless the Black Smoke?

The mechanical sounds Smokey make dissuade me from thinking so, and if it really was Nameless that had been trapped in Jacob’s Cabin by the circle of ash (shown to be broken, but that’s a discussion for the comments or another day, I’m afraid) then how did he roam the jungle as a Black Smoke? That doesn’t feel right, and yet. . . Jacob offered Nameless some fish and his reply was a sly, “I just ate.”

Hm. And Nameless’ inhabiting of dead bodies is certainly linked in with Smokey, being the Black Smoke has invariably been around, or heard, when dead people have appeared to the living on the Island (I am thinking specifically of Mr. Eko’s encounter with Yemi and Ben and Alex). But this is not a universal truth; Christian Shephard, for example, has appeared off-Island – something Jacob can do so no doubt Nameless can also, but I doubt Smokey can manage overseas trips. So whilst I am retaining an open mind to the idea of Nameless being Smokey I am also willing to accept that he merely has a very good understanding of what the Black Smoke learns of people when it scans them, and knows how to use this to his shape-shifting advantage.

Prime example: When Locke (but really Nameless) led Ben to The Temple to face the Black Smoke it was suspicious at the time that ‘Locke’ wasn’t around when Ben had his encounter.

In this scene there was both Black Smoke and an apparition of the dead. It could be figured that the Black Smoke did the scanning work on Ben, Nameless learned what he needed from it, and then shape-shifted to appear as Alex and win Ben as his faithful servant by having Alex demand he follows John Locke no matter what. Nameless and Black Smoke working well together, don’t you think?

If Nameless is a Devil-like figure, then calling Black Smoke ‘Cerberus’ – guardian of the underworld – very much paints the picture of Smokey being his pet dog. And hey, what’s that in Jacob’s Cabin?

Well, you can go too far with these connective ideas! But you get the point. And Locke, when he looked into the Black Smoke, first saw a white light (is this because the Black Smoke shows you what it sees within, and the ‘touch’ of Jacob reflected back this beautiful grace Locke had been imbued with?) whereas Mr. Eko didn’t see any such thing. If Nameless can know what the Black Smoke learns, that would have been him realising that Locke was one of Jacob’s ‘chosen’ people. (It may also explain why Smokey, the next time he encountered Locke, tried to drag him down a hole – Nameless commanding that one of Jacob’s disciples be snatched away?)

Locke has had a whole life of being a sucker, used, “amenable for coercion” – from his dad conning him out of a kidney back to growing up and convincing himself he was a hunter sportsperson rather than the farmer he really was. On the Island he was lured in to the belief in ‘pressing the button’, and then ultimately not pressing it and eventually became a willing tool in whatever Ben/Alpert/Christian told him to do next. This continued right up to his death – and the Locke that appeared post-Ajira crash, knowledgeable and confident, it turned out wasn’t the same man. It was Nameless, equipped with memories and manner of the man, but altogether a different animal – a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Alpert claimed to have visited Locke three times, off-Island, before the crash of Oceanic 815 and never saw anything special about him. (We’ve seen two of these instances – Alpert at Locke’s birth, and when he played the object test on him as a child.) It seems he should have listened to his instincts, because Locke – convinced by the machinations of Nameless and his own desire to be something important – managed to work his way into the role of Island Chief. And then Christian (probably, again, Nameless in disguise) got him off the Island (after Nameless, in disguise of Locke, had told Alpert to relay the fact that he had to die!) and delivered him to Ben where he was, indeed, definitely killed. (Doesn’t that moment hold more power now? It was the genuine death of John Locke.)

Locke, as Alpert wondered, was never supposed to be an Island Chief. He got tricked into the role. And this explains why Ben was able to kill him.

Without spending ages trawling through all the details and plot turns and characters interactions (probably a subject for a long post in the season hiatus!) that’s the overview, as I see it, of Nameless’ ‘trick’. That it seems Jacob allowed this trick to play out – to almost encourage Ben to stab him – certainly has a quality that suggests this ploy from Nameless wasn’t the success he thought and there is something he has overlooked.

What lies in the shadow of the statue? Turns out it was Jacob. “He who will save us all,” is the translated answer to the Ajira Acolyte’s riddle. We have to have faith Jacob knows what he is doing. “They are coming,” after all!

Ah yes, amidst all this high-concept trickery of good and evil it’s easy to forget there was a season finale going on featuring our main characters, and ‘the incident’ was in full flow with some devastating consequences – and we’ve been left ultimately none-the-wiser about the result. But that won’t stop me making some stretching speculation!

Jack made the unexpected announcement of his feelings for Kate, claiming that he was trying to change the past and wipe out the horrible things of the Island in the hope, or belief, that destiny would see to it that he and Kate would still, somehow, get together in the unknown course of a future where Oceanic 815 lands in L.A.

Meanwhile, Kate also had a hold of Sawyer’s heart. Even if Sawyer wasn’t willing to admit it aloud Juliet could see it plain enough. It was Juliet that led the submarine escape and set her on a fateful course to be at the very epicentre of ‘the incident’ – but before that there’s some old school, old-fashioned character business to attend to. Like Jack and Sawyer, finally, laying some smackdown on each other, and both of them came out bloody.

With Locke out of the way Jack no longer has to be the man of science, so instead he has become the man of fate and he’s got a practical “what’s done is done” Sawyer kicking him in the nuts. It’s an antagonism set to run right into Season Six. With Juliet gone, pretty much a martyr to Sawyer’s true feelings for Kate, I expect Sawyer will feel the need to earn Kate’s love to justify Juliet’s sacrifice. But Jack evidently wants Kate too. The love triangle is back in the frame! Place your bets! (I always thought Jack and Kate would couple up (Jater alert!) – and still do.)

So. Was Jack successful and manage to change the past? Or did he merely, as Miles amusingly proposed, just fulfil his part in history? Was setting the bomb off what created ‘the incident’, rather than preventing it from occurring? Or, to put it another way, did Jack always deliver Jughead to The Swan the same way Pierre always lost his arm and Radzinsky was always the biggest asshole in Dharma that deserved the penance of pressing that button underground for years until he finally did what he should have done a lot sooner and turned the gun on himself.

There was an episode called Dead Is Dead, and that proved to be true. And there was an episode called Whatever Happened, Happened and my gut tells me that will also prove to be true. Pierre lost his arm. There was an electromagnetic ‘incident’ at The Swan where they’ve drilled too deeply and will need to keep the discharge in check. It all seems historically intact. Jughead detonated as the white light electromagnetism was kicking off, and I think that implosion effect may have directly quashed the mass gravitational pull.

Put another way. There was a major imploding event happening, and the exploding nuclear device might have served as a counterbalance to that.

The side-effect of this may have been the catapulting of Jack, Sawyer and the rest to 2007, where Jacob has just died (maybe his death served as a means of drawing those he had touched to him – who knows?). That seems like the simplest and most effective way for Lost to progress (even though it does mean Dharma is left behind to nothing more than potential flashbacks to explain all the stuff we still don’t know about them – like why use a computer code to reset a timer!?). Except. . . oh. . . there was this. . .

Right at the moment you wanted to throw your shoe through the TV screen when Lost and the fifth season ended about one minute or so earlier than you needed it to, you ought to have noticed the final title card was, for the first time, inverted from white on black to black on white. Now how much do you want to read into this? Just a nice transitional ending flourish to compliment the whiteout of the ‘the incident’ filling the screen? Or a symbolic representation that something fundamentally permanent in the Lost world has been flipped over and changed?

If that’s the case, if Jack did somehow succeed and change history, then all bets are off and all the wildest speculation in the world just won’t be wild enough. I still don’t see how it could be, though. 2007 is happening. Jacob. Locke. Ajira Acolytes. . .

. . . they’re all standing in the shadow of the broken statue at a killer dramatic moment, and Jack changing a fundamental part of the past, like Oceanic 815 never crashing, means none of this can come to be. So, as alluring as the idea is, I don’t think Jack was successful. Nothing’s changed for me. Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Hurley, Sayid (dying, but won’t die), Jin and, somehow, Miles – perhaps only because he was born on the Island – are heading for a rendezvous with Alpert and the Ajira Acolytes.

“They are coming.”

And, hopefully, there’s a happy ending already tucked away, with Rose, Bernard and Vincent living out their days untroubled by all this talk of war and time travelling.

They’ve got a good 27 years before the fuselage wreckage of Oceanic 815 will turn up on their idyllic, peaceful retreat. Unless, of course, Jack really did change things. We can only wait the long, long time until Season 6 to learn about. Never has a cliffhanger been more annoying since that time we were left with Jack and Locke staring down an open hatch – but it kept us coming back for more ever since. . .


Corellian said...

The thought that Smokie is neutral and Nameless knows how to use it seems to be the most fitting one.

About Jack changing the future, man, that can't happen. They've got 17 episodes to solve a fraking lot of things. If they change the show's dynamics like this, then they'll have to be quite inspired to make it work...

Acharaisthekey said...

I think Miles put it best when he explained how Jack is actually CUASING the INCIDENT...I think the season proved ultimately YOU CAN'T CHANGE THE PAST!!! Which I think was the main point of this season as was introducing the final story line of destiny for our Favorite Losties.

I also beleive that the landing of the Black Rock is the beginning of the timeline that ends with the Losties SUCCESS or FAILURE in the end game. The constant there being Richard Alpert.

I like the thought that touching all of the losties in 1977 is what will bring them back...and will in fact mark the end of Juliet.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Just want to share something that stroke me while rewatching The Incident. Most of the characters lie, at one point or another.

Kate tells Jacob she won't still again,

Sawyer tells Jacob he won't finish the letter,

Jack didn't tell Kate that it was his father who told him to count,

Lock tells Ben that Jacob wanted Ben to move the island (christian told Lock he should have turned it the first time),

Richard lies to Lock about the rules,

and Ben, aparently (as always...) lies to Sun about not knowing what happened to the statue

Can you tell any more lies?

Anonymous said...

LOSTonerFan here - perhaps it makes it easier to refer to me as Stoner, for the purpose of responding.

OK, well, in response to the comment posted immediately previous to this one, you've got some things wrong...

Sawyer doesn't lie to Jacob about the letter - it's one of his relatives he lies to. Jacob provides Sawyer with the pen so that he CAN finish the letter.

Locke never tells Ben that Jacob wanted Ben to move the Island. He tells Ben that Christian told HIM to move the island, and Ben takes it upon himself to assume that resposibility.

In that light, Christian telling Locke that Locke was the one meant to turn the wheel in the first place (and NOT Ben), Ben was not intended by Jacob to leave the island at all, and thus never would have been in a position to murder Locke.

And I'm not quite sure what you mean by Richard lies to Locke about the rules. I actually can't think of any instance that Richard has lied to anyone, about anything.

Anonymous said...

Great blog and analysis.

Yeah, just when I was thinking that I had 100% got everything and would not need to be rewatching any episodes of season five, Johns body rolled out of that box. Now every conversation and particularly appearances of dead people will need to be looked at again.............congratulations Darlton you've just sold me another DVD box set!!!

kit said...

Great Analysis AC! Perhaps It is not Jacob that lies in the shadow of the statue, but John, who is (quite literaly) lying in the shadow of the statue (or at least he would be if it was daytime). Perhaps Jacob will use johns body as a vessel as well and we'll get John Vs John. That would be cool!

Anonymous said...

If what Miles speculated about is true then;

If the Oceanic 6 hadn't left the island and went back to 77 while trying to come back, then they wouldn't have fallen on the island with the rest of the crew in the first place.

But no matter how things worked out, what matters is that they will all be there to help Jacob in his battle with Nameless to one more time prove Nameless wrong.

Anonymous said...

Hey Stoner, you are right, Sawyer lies to his uncle.

About Lock, you're right... but, also... Lock does tell Ben (right after Ben say that he lied) that his reward by serving Jacob was to be banished. I assume being banished was to move the island, you're supose to never come back. And, as I stated before, Christian does tell Lock that he was the one suposed move the island.

Oh, and Hurley also tries to lie to the policeman.

universe said...

Alpert said he went off the island three times, two of which were to see Locke. The third must be when he recruited Juliette.
This is no way detracts from the point you were making though. A jolly good read.

Corellian said...

I believe he said he went 3 times TO SEE Locke...wasnt it?

Acharaisthekey said...

Could the 3rd time just be the time he sent the science teacher the brochure to try to convince Locke to join? (the high school scene where he says he can be anything)

I'm guessing that's what he's referencing...incorrectly or not

AngeloComet said...

Achara, I did wonder if the writers hadn't remembered that Locke had three flashback 'incidents' in that episode (Cabin Fever) and had Richard's dialogue reflect that.

Richard's involvement in passing a leaflet to a teacher of Locke's, however, does seem a tad tenuous to me for Richard to claim he journeyed off the Island to witness a lack of anything special in Locke, so I am holding out for one more visit to be seen.

The Rush Blog said...

["Meanwhile, Kate also had a hold of Sawyer’s heart. Even if Sawyer wasn’t willing to admit it aloud Juliet could see it plain enough. It was Juliet that led the submarine escape and set her on a fateful course to be at the very epicentre of ‘the incident’ – but before that there’s some old school, old-fashioned character business to attend to. Like Jack and Sawyer, finally, laying some smackdown on each other, and both of them came out bloody."]

I've been reading some of your articles for Seasons 4-6. It must have been a major disappointment to you that Sawyer and Kate didn't end up as a couple. Every time I read a review that featured them, you tried to sell them as a couple. You claimed that during Season 5, Sawyer's heart really belonged to Kate, when it didn't anymore. For the Season 6 finale, you practically ignored Sawyer's afterlife reunion with Juliet.


AngeloComet said...

Rush Blog - Curious you had me pegged as a 'Skater' (that is, a Sawyer and Kate fan). I always considered myself very much a Jater. Kate and Jack were always supposed to get together in my head, right from that first meet on the beach.

I didn't really buy Sawyer and Juliet as a couple (to be fair, neither did she, fully). I never doubted Sawyer truly cared for Kate, and she held a special space in her heart for him - but when it came down to it Jack and Kate were the true king and queen of the show and deserved to finally hook up.