Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lost Speculations and Observations, "Loophole" Edition

In "The Incident", we're subject to the usual gamut of Lost emotions. Awe, when we realize who we're seeing back in the 1800s. Confusion, any time Ilana and Bram's people show up. Disgust, every time Jack talks about Kate. (Or maybe that's just me.) Admiration, when Miles puts himself on the line to help out his dad. But I'm ashamed of one particular emotion I couldn't help but feel about an hour and forty-five minutes in.

Sympathy. For Ben Linus.

In the last few episodes, we've seen the entire mystical facade surrounding Ben evaporate. It's taken no longer than half a season for him to go from master manipulator who singlehandedly convinces half of the Oceanic Six to get back on the plane to empty deposed leader who has no idea what's going on. Even Sun has caught onto his game: "Do you really expect me to believe that?" when asked about the Statue is met with a dejected "No, I guess not."

Not too long after that, Ben and Jacob finally have a heart-to-heart chat, apparently for the first time in their lives. And it's clear that Ben really isn't as special, as crucial to the Island, as central a cog in the "whatever happened, happened" scheme as he thought he was. Nearly everyone important got a Jacob visit earlier in their lives... except for Ben. All of the other leaders of the Others, presumably, have met the man, except for Ben. And Ben, the Island's undisputed master of getting others to do his dirty work, is manipulated himself by (ostensible) John Locke.

And as dirty and evil and foul that many of this actions have been, I couldn't help but feel terrible for the guy. To add to his misery, I think that killing Jacob just might have been the very worst thing he could have done for the Island. Enter the Statue, whose foot we first saw exactly three seasons ago, and whose face we finally see for the first time. Whose face is that exactly? I'm putting all of my chips in the Sobek pile.

Why I think the Statue is Sobek: ankh in the left hand, check. Alligator head, check. However, that can describe any of a handful of Egyptian deities. The much better evidence comes from comparing Jacob to Sobek. I'll quote liberally from the Wikipedia page about Sobek here, emphasis mine. "Sobek's ambiguous nature led some Egyptians to believe that he was a repairer of evil that had been done, rather than a force for good in itself."

"Ambiguous" certainly does describe Jacob, but then again it describes about half of the characters on the show. The idea of Sobek as a "repairer of evil", though, is fascinating. When did Jacob show up to the 815 survivors in the past? Pivotal moments, yes, but pivotal moments that all followed some evil that had befallen them.

Jack had just been embarrassed during surgery (ironically, by the man who claims to speak on Jacob's behalf thirty years later) and to top it all off, his Apollo bar had just gotten stuck. Kate was just called out for trying to steal. Hurley was falsely imprisoned. Jin and Sun had been married--not exactly evil, but the tribulations they went through to get there could have used some "repairing". In this manner, Jacob's visits to the 815 survivors seem to be exactly in the function of "repairing evil".

"He was seen as a more primal god, eventually becoming regarded as an avatar of the primal god Amun, who at that time was considered the chief god. When his identity finally merged, Amun had become merged himself with Ra[...]" So Sobek is an avatar or Ra. Remember the tapestry that Jacob had spent hundreds of years weaving? Happy people worshiping none other than Ra.

"Going to Duat to restore damage done to the dead". Duat is the Egyptian underworld, where all sorts of fun stuff happens, like hearts getting weighed against feathers. I've been saying for a couple of years now that the Island represents the Underworld. What if Jacob urged the 815 survivors to go to the Island so that he could help them, undo the rest of the evils that they'd experienced?

The other significant thing that happens in Duat is Ra, whom Sobek is an avatar of, battles Apep, the snake demon of chaos and darkness. Light and darkness, white and black, the abstraction of all of the conflicts in Lost ever since the first season. And apparently Jacob and his "nemesis", if their old-school hand-woven garments are any indication.

If Jacob is effectively an avatar of Ra, the Egyptian sun god and the upholder of order, then who is his nemesis? It makes a lot of sense that he'd be an avatar of Apep. Then the whole perspective of conflict on the show changes. The central conflict is still "good" against "bad", white against black, but it's no longer our people against the Others or Dharma against the Hostiles. It's not even Ben versus Widmore as I claimed a few months ago. The Island then becomes the battleground of deities, which has apparently been going on for five thousand years.

This conflict does recall Ben's and Widmore's, at least in one respect. The combatants live by some code of "rules", which includes not being able to kill each other. Enter the "loophole". Apep can't kill Ra, but he can sure manipulate some mortal into doing it for him.

These revelations raise three more questions about mysticism on the Island. First, what is Christian? I'd say that he's Jacob's Locke: a dead man who acts on behalf of some greater power. Or, maybe Jacob and his nemesis actually take the forms of Christian and Locke. (Then, what implication does that have for the rest of the dead people that have shown up on the Island, like Yemi and Dave?)

The second question is what's the deal with the Monster? Jacob's people apparently have knowledge and control of it (eg, when Ben summons it), but Jacob's nemesis acting as Locke does too (eg, when "Locke" takes Ben to get his judgment). Possibly it's supposed to protect the Island, keep the battle of deities out of the sight of mortals. Or, maybe it acts as a mediator in the conflict.

Third, where does this leave Richard? Is he on Jacob's side? On neither side? Actually on the side of the nemesis, leading Ben to kill Jacob? There's no way to answer any of that for the time being.

Final observation: Ilana has emerged as a potential power player in the conflict as well. She's clearly on the Jacob side of the conflict, but how and why, we don't know. I can see her joining the main cast next year, particularly in light of what may or may not have happened to Juliet. But more on that in the "H-Bomb" installment coming up in the next day or two.

Currently listening: "The Ocean", Mae, from The Everglow

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