I’m not going to talk about the fact there’s only one more episode beyond this one for the season. I’m just not. It’s too depressing to think about, so I’m going to pretend we have 10 more… SOB…
OK, get it together, Niks. I loved last night’s episode, but it was definitely meant as a bridge between what’s been happening since the return of the Oceanics and the finale, and summed up a few things for us.
The episode was called “Follow the Leader,” and as I pointed out on my blog, there were several leaders (current, past, future) in this episode. But the main one, for me, was Locke.
So let’s focus on the Locke storyline for this week. I loved having him back, and seeing Richard Alpert in both timelines — looking exactly the same — was awesome. We’ve been discussing on my blog what Alpert’s position on everything is, and it seems unanimous that everyone wants Alpert to be the good guy, but last night he appeared to be a little darker than we were used to. My theory is that Alpert is someone who’s always believed that one day a messiah of sorts will come. He’s a supernatural creature who never ages and seems immortal and his position on the island, according to Ben (so, you know, take THAT with a grain of salt) is as the advisor. ‘Advisor to the Chosen One’ is what’s implied by that statement. It’s not clear if Widmore was once the island’s Chosen One. He seems to have more of a territorial desire for the island, not an inherent one. Alpert was his advisor, but Alpert probably realized early on that Widmore was not the guy.
So then Ben usurped him, and Alpert followed him. Here was a guy who could talk to Jacob, who cared about the island, and who had no desire to leave it. But Richard realized that Ben, too, was a charlatan who was never meant to be the island’s leader. He gave Sawyer’s file to Locke, testing him to see how he would deal with the incident in the brig, and thinking it might help draw Locke out, in case HE was the Chosen One.
We have no idea how long Richard has been picking leaders and being let down by them. Centuries? Longer? But I really don’t think he’s a bad guy. I think he’s given up hope. As I said on my blog, it’s like a Christian who has lived their life believing in God and Jesus Christ, but if their life started to fall apart, maybe they’d lose faith. And then to one day be faced with a miracle, that would make anyone stand up and blink as if they didn’t believe what was in front of them.
And I think that’s what happens when Locke strolls into the camp. Richard can’t believe it. This guy disappeared from the log, left the island, died, came back, and was resurrected. Richard has lived a life believing this could be possible, but has given up hope of ever seeing it through. And now, he’s finally face-to-face with his messiah. So why does he say to Ben that he’s starting to have doubts about John? I think it’s a ploy. He sees Ben as a conniving interloper, and he’s just feeding information to him so he’ll scuttle off and try to play them off against one another, when all along Richard is in awe of Locke and knows Locke is right. His hesitation in going to Jacob’s cabin is fear of the unknown; after all, he’s waited so long for this day to come, so… what happens now that it has?
And that brings us to Locke’s final line in the episode. He says he’s going to kill Jacob. Has Locke come back and is no better than Ben? I’d argue no. Sure, there’s a chance he wants to get rid of the only guy standing between him and supreme power over the island, but I don’t think it’s that simple. I believe that the only true contact he’s had with Jacob was seeing him sitting in a chair in “The Man Behind the Curtain,” and hearing him say, “Help me.” Locke has realized that he sees with a new clarity (or, as one of my readers put it, his bullsh*t detector has gone into overdrive), and that death and rebirth have been salvation to him. Maybe he wants to bring that to Jacob. Another of my my readers suggested that Locke has discovered that Jacob is evil, and he needs to rid the island of him (why else is there a line of ash around the cabin, as if to keep him in. Did Richard put that there?) But I’d like to think he’s trying to save Jacob.
And what of Jacob? We’ve heard him ask for help, we’ve seen his eye when Locke saw it, and we’ve seen him rocking in a chair. After that we saw his eye flash in the window of the cabin when Hurley saw it in “The Beginning of the End,” and Christian was rocking in the chair behind him. And in “Cabin Fever,” Christian sat in the cabin as Jacob’s mouthpiece, and Jacob wasn’t there (or, at least, he wasn’t visible). Until now, we thought that Jacob was issuing orders — creating lists of people who needed to be captured, instructing Ben on what to do next. But if Locke is correct, and Ben never actually heard Jacob, then it means all along those were Ben’s lists. He was never actually doing the bidding of Jacob, but was doing things on his own (dammit!! There goes my theory of Ben being the good guy… wah).
Who is Jacob? Is it possible, as we’ve been discussing on my blog today, that Jack is Jacob? I’ve been thinking this is a distinct possibility ever since the time travel started to come fast and furious last season, and as of this season, it seems like an even more real possibility. Jack could do something cataclysmic in next week’s episode, and he’s locked in the cabin with a line of ash around him as penance for what he did. He looks like he’s about 60 in the quick shot we got of him in “Man Behind the Curtain,” and that would be consistent with Jack being in the cabin since 1977. Locke mentions Jacob to Alpert in 1954, and he knows who he is, so that detail could undermine the theory, but as one of my readers pointed out, if Jacob is like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five, then he could be unstuck in time, zipping around to different points. It would explain why the cabin is never in the same place.
So far we’ve seen Christian and Claire in that cabin — both Shephards. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Jack was one of them? And wouldn’t it be the ultimate showdown to have Locke confront Jacob/Jack, and discover that Jack finally believes in destiny and the island, just like Locke did the entire time? And that Locke would now be faced with killing this person?
Hm. You know, I’m terrible at speculation. I’m proven wrong almost every time, so maybe I just need to stop. I’m much better at analyzing what has already happened. But I’m hoping this idea, whether it’s right or wrong (knowing me, probably the latter), can open us up to a discussion of other possibilities. We haven’t really talked about Jacob much this season, but season 6 will clearly rest on his importance.
One more week. I said I wouldn’t mention it, but… :::sob:::
**UPDATE: It’s come to my attention that people are posting spoilers in the comments section below. I haven’t checked them, and now I’m worried about it (yes, I’m a spoilerphobe). Please don’t spoil us for next week’s episode. There are sections on the site where you can do that. This isn’t one of them. If you want to comment on this article but don’t want to risk looking below, you can comment at my own blog post here. I’m really sorry if anyone has been inadvertently spoiled. 🙁
Nikki Stafford is the author of the Finding Lost series of books, which offer episode-by-episode guides to each season. The guide to season 4 is now available at Amazon.com, and the upcoming season 5 book is now available for pre-order. She posts regularly on her television blog, Nik at Nite.