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Lost – Doc Arzt Investigates – WTF is Jacob?

By docarzt,

  Filed under: Lost Theories
  Comments: 25

One of the most pressing questions on Lost ha been, and remains, who was the leader of the Others? Of course, there are a lot of indications that – towards the end at least – Ben was in fact putting words in ‘his’ mouth, referring to the presence known as “Jacob.” Everybody seems to have an idea on who Jacob may be, and the theories run from the ludicrous to the likely. Here’s my take on Lost’s mystery man, and some ideas that may tie into the larger island mysteries as well.


Whether by Ben’s deception, or the island’s, one thing that seems pretty clear to me is that ‘Jacob’ is not Jacob.  We should be well aware that the island uses psychologically volatile imagery when communicating with its residents.  This has been the case since season one.  With few exceptions (Walt), there is no concrete evidence that Christian, Dave, Yemi, or even Ben’s mother were ghosts or just very effective personages culled from the character’s memories.   Yemi’s appearance, at least, seemed to directly correlate with the appearance of a judgmental Smoke Monster.  All of this leads to my ‘Jacob’ scenario.

Know Thy Master

First question is: who are the hostiles and where did they get their crazy threads?  Odds are very good that the ‘Hostiles’ were slaves from the Black Rock.  My theory is that ‘Jacob’ was their slave-master.  They do seem to come from the same era given their choose of clothes.  Now, how does Jacob go from slave-master to the most trusted entity on the island?  Simple.  The sickness.

If you’ve read me since the Tailsection, you know that I believe the sickness (as described by Rousseau) is really just the onset of a side effect connected to the strange energies of the island.   This side effect could be interpreted as the development of psychic abilities, or it could be a sensitivity to the non-locality of space/time that exists beneath the fabric of the island.

250px-Lost_3x20_Jacob_portrait.jpgIf my predictions are correct, the “sickness” is a temporary phase, particularly when it comes to the ability to see the apparitions of the island as the people they are intended to be seen as.

Think of the slaves, uneducated and knowing nothing but a life of labor, bondage, and punishment, suddenly being visited by the one being the island sees as an effective mind-fake, Jacob, in advance of Eko style ‘Justice Dealing.’   Say there were 60 slaves, and 40 were judged bad in the same manner as Mr. Eko.  You have a population of people who come to learn their slave master was a supernatural enforcer of morality.

Over time, the Hostiles’ sickness fades.  The sickness is critical to being susceptible to the island’s projections, so the Hostiles can no longer ‘see’ visions.  They may, however, see the smoke monster and be aware of other forces, but from their perspective their ‘god’ has moved on.  When Ben, still at the fledgling state of his own ‘sickness,’ demonstrates his ability to see the visions, the Hostiles rejoice that their deity may attempt to contact them through this ‘special’ boy.

Ben, on the other hand, grows into the realization that whatever it is that appears on the island preys on people’s psychology, kind of inspirational to a guy like him, but chooses to allow the remnants of the Black Rock to continue thinking the force is actually the super charged ghost of their whips and chains guy.  Since the ‘sickness’ has passed for them, Ben doesn’t need to worry about them getting on to him.  Hence, as well, his fear of Locke.  Locke being at the threshold of receiving his ‘boon,’ Ben’s status as a charlatan was bound to be revealed sooner than later.

So there is my call.  Jacob is a slave master who died, and Ben has been using his followers fear of his other-worldly island-generated persona to gain and keep control.  Jacob is an illusion.  It’s all Ben.

Next:  The Monster

  • KeepingAwake

    Isn’t TLE supposed be canon? If it is, then there were not any slaves on the Black Rock (save those necessary to sail the ship) as they had not yet reached Africa.

    There is also a very suspicious lack of people of color amongst the Hostiles/Others.

    But if we go against all odds and say the Hostiles are the Slave prisoners from the Black Rock, it’s likely that many of them would have been very new to being slaves, as they were on their way TO America and Europe. So if their being ‘downtrodden’ is important to your theory, I think this poses a problem as well.

  • Marc

    Doc so good to have your theories again. Though this is the first one i disagree with really. I think jacob some how exists. He really strikes a general fear in to Juliet when mentioned to her. And besides how was her sisters cancer cured if there is no jacob. I feel there is some type of concrete evidence in the world of the others that Jacob exists. To suggest otherwise would paint the others as a group of mindless drones who just do as they are told and not question anything rather then paint the image of the others we know today.(michael tom juliet richard have all openly questioned ben to eachother and to his face. Plus this kind of throw richard stuff out the window. (why has he never aged) Anyway either way im happy you have a website again. Lets get more time loop theories as those are sick. Thanks gain.

  • DocArzt

    KeepingAwake: your only comment that is not valid argument is the lack of ‘people of color.’ You do not need to be ‘of color’ to be a slave. Just ask the Jews, for one.

  • roomforhuman

    I agree with Marc that Jacob exists on some level. Either in an alternate time or an alternate place. I think there are some who have met or seen him, and some that have not. I believe Richard, Ben and Mikhail have met Jacob. I believe Walt and Locke have seen him. I don’t know about anyone else, but I want to believe that he is a “magnificant man,” and not just a mental projection of someone who is no longer living.

  • DocArzt

    Well, something is trapped within the ash that surrounded the cabin. It’s not that Jacob does not exist, but that Jacob the leader does not exist, he is the creation of Ben. Says me.

    Clearly the hostiles were interested in Ben’s ability to see, and eventually Ben figured out how to turn that interest into a control mechanism.

  • Michelle Craig

    Hi! Long time lurker and fan….I keep generally to TLE/Oceanic-Conspiracies.
    I have to agree with KeepingAwake, Doc. Although you don’t HAVE to be “of color” to be a slave, the slave traders and the place they were collecting the slaves(Africa), one would presume they were most if not all “of color”.

  • DocArzt

    Ya got me there Michelle, as a consideration at least. This is not to say that there may be crew mixed in with the slaves. Then again, the history of the vessel suggests it was on its way to get slaves from Africa. So again, the race of the slaves is not necessarily a done deal. Not to mention the fact that there was slavery in Africa, as well. There is even a history of whites being held as slaves in Africa. Just saying. 😉

  • roomforhuman

    Good point, Doc. There is definitely something to Ben’s ability to “see” things. The thing that I can’t shake is Mikhail’s conviction to how great Jacob is. I know that he was a hardcore Ben loyalist, but he even said “Ben is nothing,” (at least when compared to Jacob). For Mikhail to say that, it means that he has to know Jacob somehow. Let me put it this way. If you are an employee who loves your boss, and your boss tells you how great his boss is (and you’ve never seen or met your bosses boss), you will know that your boss isn’t the man in charge. But, when asked by someone if your boss is the man in charge, you would not say…”no my boss is nothing, his boss is a magnificant man.” In other words, if Mikhail was taking Ben’s word on the fact that Jacob was a magnificant man, he would not have the conviction nessessary to say “Ben is nothing.” He would have simply said, “No, Ben is not in charge, there is someone higher up than him.” See what I mean. I’m not saying that Jacob is not a projection of some sort. But, I think there are others that have seen Jacob. In fact, and I know I’ve heard this theory before, I think Ben has found a way to trap Jacob. Remember “Help me.” Perhaps Jacob used to be free to see who he wanted, but Ben used his “power” to trap him…leaving Ben the big man on campus.

    Sorry for the long post.

  • Anyone read this article? It’s pretty good…

    Also, Doc, interesting theory. But, I’m going to have to agree with roomforhuman on this one. His whole boss scenario sounds pretty good.

  • bmorelost

    I also like the boss example. That was well thought out.

    I have one question, and I’m afraid to even ask b/c I just commented somewhere else kind of laughing about people not knowing what has and hasn’t been proven/disproven by Darlton, but there is so much that I can’t keep it all straight so I’m asking for a refresher on this one even though it might make me a big fat hypocrite and/or an idiot for not having my facts straight. Anyway, here it is. Did Darlton confirm that the Black Rock was definitely a slave ship and not a prisoner ship? I can’t recall exactly, but I seem to remember back between S1 and S2 the idea that it was transporting convicts to Australia, a penal colony, and that the ship was from an era more in line with that and possibly later than a slave ship would be operating. Does this ring a bell for anyone? Or is the slave ship idea from TLE and not Darlton? I can’t remember. Anyway, if that is a possibility, it makes sense to me and would explain how, amongst the survivors of a slave ship, there are so few blacks. Unless they are only the descendants of the crew and not the slaves, after all, there were skeletons still chained up in the wreckage, maybe they left the slaves to die.

    Anyway, I apologize if I have resurected and beaten a long-dead horse.

  • roomforhuman

    NightmareMommie, thanks for the link to the article, it was very good.

    bmorelost, Darlton may have said something along those lines, I can’t remember either. Hopefully, with this new ARG being about lost ships and such, this season will focus a bit on the Black Rock. Remember, Darlton also said Rousseau would most likely get a flashback this season, which would bring to light yet another ship that ended up at the island. If all of this comes together, the theme to this season could be centered around “getting to the island.”

    How did the non Dharma Other’s get there?
    What are the true circumstances behind Rousseau getting there?
    How did these people from the freighter find it?
    How will Jack get back?

    Just a thought.

  • Marc

    Yeah i mean as far as the slaves being the hostile.. i will say that i feel some slaves or people from those ships may be hostiles, but is unreasonable to believe that the hostiles are made up of all people who have ever crashed on the island and deemed worthy. (jacob’s list). doc when you put it this way “Clearly the hostiles were interested in Ben’s ability to see, and eventually Ben figured out how to turn that interest into a control mechanism.

    that sounds much more reasonable to me. But it seems a guy of Richards standing at the least would need more then that to blindly follow ben. The whispers during that first ben alpert meeting also seem to point towards something. What is… i dont know.. lol

  • roomforhuman

    BTW, Doc, I love the picture choice for the “Doc Arzt Investigates” segments.

  • KeepingAwake

    I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that only people of color have been enslaved. It’s happened to and within many cultures over the centuries. But if the boat was supposed to be engaged in going to and from Africa in order to barter slaves, it seems to be implied that the majority of slaves on this particular ship would be indigenous to Africa. 😉

    It seems that the Hostiles would have to be a group comprised of people who ended up on the island over time, in many different ways, and perhaps some of them are defectors from groups that intentionally found the island, like Dharma. What they seem to hold in common is a belief that the island is special and wanting to protect whatever it is that makes the island special.

    Jacob doesn’t appear to be ‘human’. Darlton have been specific in their interviews to say they know how Jacob will be ‘depicted’, rather than naming an actor, etc. Jacob could be so many things. Including an original inhabitant who is caught somewhere in the space/time and can’t manifest directly.

    I do agree that Ben discovered early that he could manipulate people and uses it to his advantage.

    bmorelost–I can’t recall Darlton saying that, but that doesn’t mean that they did not! You may be thinking of general history though–Australia and the US are populated with UK ‘criminals’. The characters who have entered the Black Rock have speculated that it is a slave ship. Losthatch has a good, searchable transcript library that might help you there.

  • numbersarebad

    I like the theory, but here is mine: Jacob is a remnant of an ancient race that existed on the island. Just count his toes! I’m sort of joking, but maybe the 4-toed statue is a tribute to Jacob. I also think the Hostiles/Others might have originated from an ancient civilization or tribe on the island. Throughout time the natives have integrated with some worthy outsiders like Ben and a few Dharma people, maybe some of the slaves and/or slave masters on the Black Rock, and most recently Locke. I think this would validate the Others trying to protect the Island from the outside world if they were mostly native to it.
    For Jacob to be so highly regarded by the Others maybe they have all witnessed some miracles or island magic to make them believe in him, like Juliet’s sister being cured.

  • bmorelost

    Roomforhuman, that’s right, the new ARG, thanks for reminding me. Hopefully it will shed some light on the origins of the Black Rock. DarkUFO also had a mild spoiler recently that may indicate that more info is soon to be revealed about the Black Rock. I won’t say any more for the spoiler-free folks.

    Marc, I agree that the hostiles probably aren’t all from the Black Rock. Clearly there were people on the island long ago, and clearly people from the outside world, like Juliet, join them. Maybe the four-toe statue people have survived and are part of the hostiles, or maybe they are long gone and different groups have come and gone independently of each other. Looking forward to finding out!

  • bmorelost

    KeepingAwake, thanks for the tip, maybe I’ll see what has been said by the characters in dialog.

    What I am remembering, though, is I think fan research producing some evidence that the Black Rock is of the type and from the time consistent with the colonization of Australia and not the slave trade, which I thought was pretty convincing at the time but of course wasn’t for certain. It wasn’t official, but I can’t remember if there was something that WAS official saying otherwise.

  • roomforhuman

    numbersarebad, you make a good point with seeing the miraculous. It made me think of Locke. You know him and his faith. Now faith is believing in something without seeing it yet. And as far as we KNOW only Locke and Ben have seen Jacob. I made an analogy about bosses earlier, allow me to make another (one that unfortunately contradicts my previous boss analogy). Let’s say Jacob is like God and Ben is like a prophet. A prophet is somebody who speaks for God. People believe in God because they feel his presence, see his creation and witness miracles done in his name. Let me use myself as an example: if someone were to ask me if my pastor was who I follow in life, I would perhaps respond with “no, he is nothing…I follow God.” I see the pastor, but I know that he is only the mouthpeice for God, not God himself. Hmmm. I just blew my own previous theory out of the water…sort of.

    I guess you just have to ask yourself who you are, which I think is the ultimate question:

    Are you Jack (man of science) – then you believe the boss theory.
    Are you Locke (man of faith) – then you believe the God theory.

    Either way, they both have validity.

  • roomforhuman: You’re right, they both do have validity. I like this second theory of yours as well. I guess we’re just going to have to watch season 4 and see if we get any answers…

  • numbersarebad

    I think the brainwashing video may hold clues to who or what Jacob is. Did the others make that video? What was the video intended to do to its viewers? Has this video been super-analyzed somewhere already???

  • chris jeske

    not sure how to register in this forum so i will just post anonymously

    i have many ideas about many topics discussed in this thread.

    if i have time, i will look into the theory of the others or hostiles as being former slaves, but i am not convinced of this argument, but there is historical accuracy behind the relevance of gold in the transval region.

    as far as the theories on jacob go, (and i cannot remember everything from the episodes, so forgive me if there are more links to prove of disprove what i write here; i also do not follow the discussion boards religiously, so if this has been posted elsewhere forgive me) without further ado, here is my theory about jacob…and his relationship to benjamin.

    I think that jacob is very much real (not made up by ben). I also think that the name jacob was chosen because of it’s biblical significance. Abraham gave birth to Issac gave birth to Jacob. These three men are recognized as the biblical patriarchs, or founding fathers. Issac’s wife Rebbecca gave birth to two sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau and Jacob were twins and Esau was born first, with Jacob grasping his ankle, trying to hold him back, so as Jacob could be the first born (made me think of when the monster grabs Locke by his ankle…meaning that locke is Esau and that Jacob at least has control of the monster……..i agree, its a bit of a stretch here). Furthermore to solidify Jacob as a reference to the Jacob in the old testament more so than to argue locke as a reference to esau, Jacob was a gentle man who dwelled in tents…this can be considered literally, and also interpreted to mean that he has a reserved personality; Esau was a ruddy hunter.

    Jacob had 12 children, the last two with his wife rachel (cannot remember if they told us the name of ben’s mom). Rachel gave birth to two of Jacob’s sons: joseph and benjamin. In some accounts, rachel died just after she gave birth to benjamin. another detail that i will point out is that benjamin was born after rachel arrived in cannan (possibly meaning that benjamin was not born where he was conceived). If this is, in fact, a biblical reference, then we have to assume that ben was conceived on the island (he did say that he was the last person born on the island, and i cannot remember if both the mother and the child, or just the mother dies when women give birth on the island) and his father is jacob…meaning that for some reason, “rachel” was allowed to leave the island and give birth in “cannan” (although i do not think that the united states represents a holy land in “lost mythology”).

    In another theory relating to Jacob, the meaning of the name should be considered, Jacob can mean trickery. In the bible, Jacob tricked Esau to giving him his birthright, and his father into giving him the greater blessing…while everyone is arguing that Ben is making up Jacob to trick the others, should we not consider that Jacob is tricking Ben, and thus controls the others?

    If the original theory posted in this thread is correct, then if the rumors that season 4 will focus some more on shipwrecks and rescue expeditions in the area, look for any portrayal of ben as a mr. kurtz figure from heart of darkness, as well as the introduction of a charlie marlow type figure on the rescue boat.—this parallel also holds true with jack’s struggles back in l.a. in the flash forward, if say, jack develops into the charlie marlow type character.

  • Joey D.

    Interesting theory, Doc. I have to disagree with you. The person that was in that cabin is obviously (in my eyes) a very important person. Ben wants him to “stay put”. I believe that Ben’s position of leadership would be no more if that person or whatever it is were allowed out of that area. I don’t think that it is something that Ben just made up for one simple reason. Whatever Jacob is, he talked to John Locke. He said, “Help Me”. Ben didn’t hear it. Ben shot John and left him for dead because John heard Jacob. Jacob wants John’s help to free him of the prison that Ben has put him in.

  • We_are_the_end152

    This “sickness” has nothing to do with the phone conversation from the guy from Hanso at the end of TLE? Or is that related to the theory that all women die if they concieve children upon the island?

    Now correct me if I’m wrong because I didn’t completely follow TLE, but wasn’t the last post a .wav file from someone from Hanso claiming he “had the virus” and was “prepared to release it.”

    Or was this resolved before?

  • Jon

    I’m convinced that Jacob is the consciousness of the island… the electromagnetic density has shaped into a form of consciousness, and this is what Jacob is.

  • bnmvcxzs

    For the first time I did experience the heart palpitations, which scared me a little bit. ,