Return Of The King

Jack: “How are they, the others?”

Locke: “. . . they need someone to tell them what to do.”

Jack: “Me? I can’t.”

Locke: “Why can’t you?”

Jack: “Because I’m not a leader.”

Locke: “And yet they all treat you like one.”

Jack: “I don’t know how to help them. I’ll fail. I don’t have what it takes.”

This conversation took place way back in Season One, episode White Rabbit. Jack, as we know, claimed the mantle of leader and tried his best to take up the challenge and lead his people to rescue. That he was flawed, and made bad decisions, is absolutely true. By his own admission, as drummed into him by his father, he didn’t have what it took. But that was Jack back then – I think the Jack that has come back now is a different proposition. I think Jacob’s sacrifice hinges entirely upon it.

At the end of Season 5, Nameless had exploited the loophole he promised Jacob he would find. He had managed to assume the form of Locke and manipulate his way into being lead to an audience with Jacob, shown there by Richard. Not only that, but he had convinced Ben to be his weapon of choice and cajoled him into murderous intent.

Jacob’s last words to Nameless – “They are coming” – and Nameless’ angered response hinted to the notion that this was merely another step of progression towards a goal we don’t yet know. But it seemed to me that Jacob’s death served a function, one that Nameless hadn’t realised due to his vengeful intent. They are coming.

I believe “they”, surely, has to mean Jack, Kate, Sawyer and the rest. They might not necessarily be coming immediately following the blast at The Swan Station we last witnessed (that seems too straightforward to me), but they are on their way. And the situation they are coming into is one where The Others have discovered their newly-appointed chief – Locke – is actually dead. So there’s a space for a new leader. . .

Jack: “I’m not a leader.”

Locke: “And yet they all treat you like one.”

Suddenly Jack – reformed from the man of science into one that has aligned himself more as a man of faith – is a viable proposition. Previously Jack walked amongst them but was not one of them; I believe this is set to change. The last thing Jack said to Richard, when Richard remarked that he had seen nothing special in Locke, was to not give up on him. Jack has belief in Locke, in his ideology, and so finding Locke is dead may just be the prompt he needs to smoothly slide into his place and become the new leader.

Jack-haters (an inexplicable section of Lost fandom, if you ask me) may not like it, but the stage seems set. I also believe Nameless is aware of Jack’s potential. If he is the shapeshifting form on the Island, then has he not already confronted Jack – in the shape of his father, Christian Shephard? (This is a murky point, as ‘Christian Shephard’ on the Island – who he is, what his agenda is – is ill-defined at the moment. But it’s safe to say that whatever he is, Jack has been a focus for him which, in turn, marks Jack out as important.)

Like that ranger from the north, Aragorn, who took up the throne of king to rise up against Sauron after years in the wilderness, I can envisage a similar trajectory for Jack. Ilana and Bram are part of a faction operating as one side that are aware a war is coming, and The Others are leaderless on the brink of his war breaking out. Jack may very well be the returning king that can unite them and lead them to victory.

I don’t think he will be alone and unaided, though. I believe a great ally resides in an unlikely source.

Once Ben realises the scale of his actions, of how far duped he has been, he may be forced to assess himself deeply. “What about you?” Jacob asked of him. What about Ben indeed. He will have to ask himself about his worth, question his own nature, and perhaps find a renewed determination to prove himself in an alliance with Jack. Whatever you think of Ben, there’s no doubt that if he’s on your side he is a formidable ally. Jack’s rise to king is not finished yet, and I believe – like the way Sawyer and Kate and the rest came to his aid at the close of Season 5 – the very mantra he instilled in his people will become the most fundamental one of all:

Jack: “If we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone.”

It’s with leadership qualities like this where Jacob may find his faith in the people that come to the Island borne out, and his sacrifice justified.


Acharaisthekey said...

SO, when Walt said he has a dream about him and everyone is being mean to this the group beating up/being mean to NAMELESS....I'd imagine Nameless walking out Jacob's Lair is going to be pretty ugly.

I think Jacob was hoping Ilana would deliver the casket of real locke to NAMELESS so he would come up with a new plan. I don't think Nameless knows the real John Locke is right outside the door.

With all that said...I worry Jacob may have been speaking of "the group with the real john locke"...but....

I really hope how you've laid this out is how it plays out. I like the idea and think it makes for a great showdown.

Nice write up!

egg said...

i'm a jack-hater, and proud of it! take it as a compliment to the writers and matthew fox, if you will. the character is so goddamn smug all the time, it makes me want to dive into my tv so i can give him a well-deserved kick in the junk. (thank you, sawyer, for doing just that in the finale. :D)

i really hope jack just stands aside in season 6 and lets ben do his business. i see ben as the hero of this show (though it will most likely involve him sacrificing his life), because if there's one person who's going to do absolutely anything to stop this war and save the island, ben is my man. he's such a little trooper!

Anonymous said...

Another nice literary allusion (to both T.H. White and Tolkien.

Yes, Jack has always been played as a reluctant hero and leader.

Jack is flawed as a means to make him multi-dimensional. Who cares about a hero who has no lessons to learn about leadership? The way he deals with Sawyer in season 5 is to let him make his own mistakes. He takes Sawyer's criticisms of his own previous leadership in silence. He accepts and supports Sawyer in most of what he does and shares information (about Roger Linus) so that Sawyer won't get blindsided.

The fact that Mathew Fox is the only member of the cast who has been told about the series resolution indicates that Jack, bot Ben or Locke, is the fulcrum on which the series hinges.

Anonymous said...

The best summary of the ultimate fate of the Island I've read!! I've always felt that Jack was going to be the long-awaited King, and I LOVE his character! I agree with the comment that since Matt Fox is the only actor who knows the ending, his is the character who will triumph and indeed save them all. The seemingly random episode, "Stranger in a Strange Land," where the meaning of his tatoos is divulged, says it all--"He walks among us but is not one of us." You can take that to mean that is not of the "real world" but belongs to the island. He is the latest in a long line of Island leaders. Also, he is not just a follower, but an important leader of his island people. He just needed to come to terms with his destiny and evolve to the man the island needs him to be, namely to save his people and fulfill Jacob's prophecy.