Spoiler warning is in effect for season six, episode nine of Lost, ‘Ab Aeterno.’ You can skip to today’s post, ‘The Devil and Aaron Vargas,’ if you would like to not be spoiled. Or if you wanna read something else. (Or if you just feel like clicking that link, it’s not like a little box is gonna pop up to interrogate you if you do. Or…will it?)
So! The Richard-centric episode has come at last. Did you think Richard was an Ancient Egyptian? I didn’t! I mean, even before he made it clear that he arrived on The Black Rock. I’m also a little bit confused about how a ship sailing from the Canary Islands ended up somewhere in the Pacific and I am curious to know if we get more information on that or what the deal is. I think that Hanso guy was up to no good, is what I think.
The Island is a thought experiment. And the whole time I was watching this episode (except for the bit in the middle when Hulu crashed for no apparent reason and I became frantic), I kept going: ‘This is reminding me of something.’ Gentle readers, I cannot remember what it is reminding me of. It’s not an uncommon storyline, the setup on the Island, but it’s really bugging me now that I can’t think of the specific book (I’m fairly sure it’s a book, and I’m actually pretty sure that I read it during the Book Project) that this is reminding me of. If anyone else does, please tell me? Because it’s going to bug me until I can figure it out.
On the one hand, we have Jacob, believing that people are intrinsically good and that they have the capacity to do good without requiring direction. The Man In Black, however, believes that people are inherently temptable and that if you find the temptation, eventually they will give in. The two set up their little experiment to test people, heedless of the human lives it costs, and sit back to relax and enjoy it, exchanging rocks with ‘wins.’
This does a lot to explain why both characters seem rather sinister, because, well, they both are. Jacob isn’t exactly Mr. Nice Guy, here, even if he thinks that he is doing good. The Man In Black may well be demonstrating the human capacity for evil for the purpose of getting ready to go off-Island and make sure that humans get extra-evil, but Jacob is also trapping the Man In Black on the Island. Does Jacob actually believe the Man In Black, and think that the capacity for good can be corrupted, which is why the Man In Black can’t go off-Island?
Jacob has some element of power over the Man In Black. I don’t want to go as far as to say that Jacob is God, but it’s clear that he ranks higher in the pecking order than the Man In Black, who consented to an experiment that he is now tired of and wants to escape, but can’t. How long have they been doing this? The traces of prior civilizations on the Island would suggest that they’ve dancing back and forth for quite a while.
And it’s not entirely fair; if Jacob dies, the Man In Black can leave, but what if Jacob wanted to leave? Could he have just walked away from the whole experiment?
Is everyone ready for my wild and wacky theory?
I think that Jacob and the Man In Black were once the same person, in the same body, and that they split. The show has consistent and recurrent themes of duality and it seems like a logical extension of other things that have been happening, to me. The two figures complement each other, which makes me think that they are pieces of the same whole who have become separated; I’m not sure whether Jacob pushed the Man In Black out, or whether they separated voluntarily, or what.
There are a couple of reasons I think this, not least of which is the Man In Black’s reference to having his body stolen. I also believe it because of the comment Jacob made about ‘not letting anyone in unless I invite them.’ This could have been taken as a reference to his home, but I suspect that it is actually a reference to his body.
It’s clear that the Man In Black is an entity without a body. It makes sense that he could not kill Jacob directly because he cannot hurt his own body, and his quest for a new body to occupy makes sense in this context. He’s tied to the Island as long as Jacob lives because the body acts as a tie, so the way to leave is to take over a new body (which has been vacated by its soul, as with John Locke), get someone to kill Jacob, and then pull stakes and skedaddle. And then to unleash his evil on the world, presumably.
Is he gonna be able to pull it off?