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.
If 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