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What Nikki Noticed: 6.05 “Lighthouse”

By Nikki Stafford,

  Filed under: Lost News
  Comments: 20

“It’s all a bunch of smoke and mirrors.” It’s what we say when a magician moves mirrors forwards and backwards to deceive the audience into thinking an object just suddenly appeared or disappeared, or uses a poof of smoke to hide his gestures so we think we just saw something extraordinary, when in fact it was all sleight of hand.

And now, I think we’re starting to see that much of what we’ve been told on Lost is the same thing: Between the Man in Black and Jacob, we’ve got the smoke and the mirrors. Neither one of them is telling the truth; they’re just using sleight of hand to make the people on the island (and the audience) try to figure out exactly what they’re doing. Check out the Wikipedia entry on the phrase, and you’ll pretty much see a perfect description of the Lost writers:

Smoke and mirrors is a metaphor for a deceptive, fraudulent or insubstantial explanation or description. The source of the name is based on magicians’ illusions, where magicians make objects appear or disappear by extending or retracting mirrors amid a confusing burst of smoke. The expression may have a connotation of virtuosity or cleverness in carrying out such a deception.


Many fans expressed anger and frustration at Jack’s impetuous destruction of the mirrors. In much the same way we were angry when Locke blew up the Flame station in “Enter 77” after we’d just seen the Dharma binders that could help explain a lot of what’s going on, now Jack’s just smashed mirrors because he caught a glimpse of his childhood home in there and saw his name on the dial. I’ve read a lot of comments this morning from people asking why he’s only thinking of himself, and not noticing all of the OTHER names of people that he knows written on that dial. But I think the bigger thing here is that after everything he’s been through (in a nutshell: a difficult life under his father’s thumb; plane crash; deaths; heartbreak; return home; heartbreak; return to the island; death) he’s realized it was all orchestrated right from the beginning. He’s a puppet, and there’s a much larger puppet master that’s been pulling his strings. All of his talk of free will seems to have gone out the window when he can see his name written alongside many others, just waiting to be crossed out.

So he did the only thing he could in that moment: he smashed the mirrors. He’s removing the magician’s tools of deception and refusing to allow him to put one over on him. I don’t think he’s ruined their chances at figuring anything out; I think Jacob wanted him to do that. (It might have been nice if he’d given any notice to the fact that poor Hugo’s name was there, too.) I think Jack smashing the mirrors is actually a good thing: it’s a sign that he’s not about to put up with the island’s crap anymore. He’s not going to allow the magicians to pull their parlour tricks on him or anyone else, and instead he wants to know their secrets and what those numbers mean that are written on the rabbits they’re pulling out of the hats.

Just as Unlocke was not able to kill Jacob on his own, I wonder if Jacob is unable to just hand out the answers… like he said in the episode, he needs Jack to ask the questions. And the only way for Jack to do that is to literally destroy the implements the island is using to play with him, and to smash the hold that the past (symbolized by the image of his childhood home) has over him. He needs to move on, stop dwelling in what the past has done to him, and ask the correct questions that will lead him to salvation. And beginning to destroy the island’s smoke and mirrors is an excellent start.  

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 5 is now available at, and is currently working on the season 6 book. She posts regularly on her television blog, Nik at Nite.

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  • PLove

    Excellent post, Nikki.
    Love the idea that Jacob is also exploring a “loophole.”
    Man of science realizes he’s been played and should now his story arc should be very interesting if he is asking the “correct” questions. Will this lead him to his final place/move on the board? – Jacob replacement, constant between parallel timelines, the ultimate pawn in redemption or destruction? His remaining story arc is now set in motion…
    We’ve seen characters used by the island for specific purposes to fulfill – Charlie to open the jammed signal, Faraday to initiate Jughead detonation talk, Michael to keep the C4 frozen, Desmond to push the button (or not).
    Jack has removed the smoke and mirrors for all of us to get some series ending answers…

  • Nick Stevens

    Well said, Nikki. This is obviously a huge turning point for Jack and we should see him regain his inner strength from this point forward. He’s gone from ignoring the island’s mysteries in the pursuit of saving his fellow survivors, to going full bore into the world of the believer at the RISK of his fellow survivors. Somewhere in the middle he became completely self-centered and thoroughly broken. It’d be nice to see him finally step up to the plate with his eyes open.

    • Chad Geri

      Nice post. I think you nailed it.

      • Dharma77

        Yeah I agree entirely with this. Effectively, I think we’ll see Jack become the new Jacob.

  • TM Lawrence

    Nikki, I was likewise at least empathetic with Jack’s destruction of the mirror. I think the significance is manifold:
    1) The mirror in any story referencing Alice is suspect for corruption of reality and Jack is well-versed in the story in both timelines;
    2) The lighthouse represents honesty (a beacon of truth) which was the prevailing theme of the episode, with the exception of Jin’s “white lie” to protect Kate. The mirrors were casting false reflections and Jack’s current mission is procuring honest answers;
    3) Jack does not have the benefit of Juliet’s posthumous assurance that “it worked” and is thus disillusioned with all of his actions since coming back to the island–his breaking of the mirrors is insurance against further manipulation of himself AND others;
    4) Virginia Woolf’s “To The Lighthouse” is the must-read subtext for the father-son alienation and reconciliation covered in this episode, with several other tie-ins (a boar’s skull, impermanence of beauty, freewill, staring into the sea, and stream-of-consciousness story-telling) that relate to the broader texture of Lost.

  • Cutter XXIII

    Just like when Tommy (in The Who’s Tommy) smashes the mirror, breaking through being trappped inside himself and emerging into a larger world.


    • Shaun

      Eh, he’s a “Substitute” for another guy…

  • What I noticed in the sideways flashes© is Jack seems to be a CHANGED man from what he was (and that we haven’t seen since almost everything may be different from 1977 on) before the plane landed. It appears that Jack’s Island experience and his transformation (again, something we have yet to see) is being utilized to save his life and his Lostie friends (well, actually, almost all of them are trying to save Locke, to make up for his suffering in the Lost-timeline – Kate, as usual, is on her own little trip).

  • 108

    After watching jack smash the mirrors i had a thought that i should re-watch the “through the looking glass” episode again…

  • Benmanben

    The Mirror Reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the West, and how she sees everyone from her tower inside of her globe.

  • Nikki I don’t think that what Jacob is exploring is a “loophole” persay. He just has a lot of contingency plans. He’s had this entire endgame planned out, and MiB is the one who has to work for it. He had to kill jacob and he has to recruit…
    I posted in comments something about the 3rd party before the season began and it’s not surprising that they’re bringing it in now…

    • bps

      I think Jacob is running a “long con” on MIB and he is falling for it. MIB actually thinks it was his own idea to kill Jacob.

  • arrow

    Sociologist Cooley had a theory on the Looking Glass Self- thet we are who we are because of what others think of us.

  • longlivekingnick

    I personally think that most of this is being phoned in… I think random side-stories, and filler are taking up space that better writers would use to tell a more compelling story. There are going to be about 9 billion questions that are left over… and I am hope that next weeks episode isn’t as big of a let down as this weeks. “The time for questions is over!” Really… they forgot to add “But it isn’t the time for answers either…. thats in 14 more episodes.”

    Yeah I am venting, but I have been a die hard fan for years, and I have never felt let down by LOST. These first few episodes have been the first time I have watched the show and thought, “I don’t really care what is happening anymore.”

    • Kiekow

      I too am a die hard lost fan and like you i have been feeling a little let down. But for me it is the sideways story line that bothers me. I feel like i am geting emotionally invested in story lines taht may not even be real. I like Jack with a son, i felt his pain and was happy for him when he patche things up with his son. I love that lock is alive and getting maried to Helen. But will all this go away? or will their island selves go away? if that happens i will be somewhat let down by the show because i am invested in both now but how can both be true in the end. I guess i just have to have a little faith that the writers/producers know what they are doing and will bring everything together in a way that is satisfying. I just hope they don’t frak it up!

  • mcc300

    Liked the post.

    108 is a red herring. Just as MIB cannot directly affect/influence the outcome of events, Jacob cannot either. The purpose of going to the lighthouse and moving the mirror was only to have Jack hit a moment of rock-bottom. His sister is “sick”, he was responsible for Juliet’s and other losties demises, he may have to end Sayid, Kate doesn’t want him, he cannot get closure with his father’s death and now he realizes that he doesn’t have the control of he life he once thought he had. He is truly broken and now is the moment he starts to pull himself back together again.

    I am now a bit convinced that the cave that MIB took Sawyer to belonged to MIB and not Jacob. MIB is tracking the candidates and attempting to recruit them (or end them). The scale was his reminder that all things are even and that he needs to sway the path to his side.

    Last item up for bids, albeit an episode late, did anyone notice that Jacob’s ash was white? All other ash we’ve seen has been grey or indicated as black. Am I slightly colorblind?

  • greg dharma

    very insightful, nikki. but a question:

    has jacob actually lied?

    he hasnt told the whole truth, that’s for sure, but when has he lied?

    • When, he told Sayid, “Excuse me, I’m lost.” And, then Nadja got killed.
      Was Jacob actually lost???

  • shea

    what i thought was interesting was jacob being manipulative setting up a scence for jack to act in a certin way. that reminded me straight away of swayer.