“Despite starring in The Number 23, I am still God.”
We’re going to need a little time to process tonight’s “The Incident,” but we’ll say a few things now, toss out a bunch of questions, then weigh in with final thoughts tomorrow. In the meantime we hope you’ll tidy everything up for us by commenting below. This also means, for those of you who hate “Lost” (we’re talking to you, Matthew Leathers) and have not visited us on a Thursday for the past three months, that you can come back next week.
With “The Incident,” we think “Lost” has officially entered Religious Allegory territory. The difference between a show that treats religious traditions like a smorgasbord, sampling a little of this and a little of that, and a show that is a quote-unquote “Religious Allegory,” is that “Lost” has finally settled on one entree, so to speak: the Judeo-Christian one, with a God (Jacob) and the Devil (the man sitting on the beach next to Jacob and, by episode’s end, the man embodied by John Locke). Yes, Jacob lives in the foot of a giant statue of Anubis and likes to draw hieroglyphics, so he may not specifically be a “Christian” God (although maybe the producers cut out the scenes of him strumming a harp on a cloud). The point is, the template for the episode was decidedly Biblical, and since the season finales have always reset the bearings on the show’s compass, we expect that the sixth and final season (an agonizing eight months away) will point us toward a cosmic Good vs. Evil clash that’ll be part Paradise Lost, part The Stand and part Book of Revelation. In other words, to paraphrase Tad Smith, “Lost” is going straight to the top.
If you doubt us, consider the arc of tonight’s episode. Jacob catches himself a fish because, as M. Ward would say, “He’s a fisher of men.” Then he and his nemesis share a “Waiting For Godot” moment as they watch The Black Rock sail toward the island. Jacob’s nemesis tells him he’s going to kill him. Jacob refers to a loophole. It’s all very cryptic, but it’s clear these two men are talking on more than one level, and maybe as many as twelve.
Then we see a series of flashbacks, nine total, of Jacob appearing at crucial moments in the castaway’s lives. (Many of our questions below circle around the significance of these, so we’re counting on you to shed some light here.) What’s consistent in all of them (but one*) is that Jacob is passive but not disengaged. He’s not heavy-handed; he’s a nudger. He could have stopped Kate from stealing a New Kids on the Block lunchbox; instead, he rescues her from the shop owner by paying for it. He sits there lost in Flannery O’Connor’s Everything That Rises Must Converge while John Locke plummets to the ground behind him. Once John lands, Jacob carefully marks his place in the book before walking over to give John a squeeze on the shoulder. In the last flashback with Hurley, Jacob stresses that Hurley must choose for himself whether or not to return to the island. Jacob tells Ben the same thing about free will moments before Ben stabs him in the chest. But is he really dead? The story’s certainly not finished. “They’re coming,” Jacob says before Bad John kicks him into the fire.
We’ll tease out a few more of these thoughts tomorrow. We haven’t even said a word about the other plot line tonight, which was something not terribly consequential involving a hydrogen bomb. Plus Rose and Bernard showed up! (Was it just us or did Bernard look 132 years old?)
Until we report back, here are but a few of the questions we’ll be taking to sleep with us tonight.
- Why didn’t Jacob show up in Juliet’s flashback?
- Is there any significance to Jacob visiting Kate and Sawyer as kids and everyone else as an adult?
- Is it fair to say that Jacob was passive in Sayid’s flashback? He did save Sayid’s life, after all.
- And this bring us to the * from above: Why did Jacob appear to Ilana? What’s so special about her? That was his least passive flashback, as it’s clear he was searching Ilana out and needed her to do something for him.
- Also, out of curiosity, what happened to Ilana’s face before Jacob visited her in the hospital?
- What did Richard say in response to the question, “What lies in the shadow of the statue?” And what language was that anyway? Surely someone can find a link that explains this.
- Did anyone else think it might’ve been Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in the box?
- And did that box remind anyone of the Ark of the Covenant?
- Where was Desmond tonight?
- Did Alpert know he was taking an impostor John Locke to Jacob? And if so, why did he do it?
- Did anyone not cheer when Phil suffered a death blow from a pole to the chest?
- Did Sawyer really kick Jack in the nuts during their fight? I mean, that’s dirty.
- Did the love quadrangle work? While we’ve never been huge fans of the Jack-Kate-Sawyer-Juliet soap opera, it did pack a punch tonight. Lots of teary, meaningful gazes as metal objects hurtled through the air.
- Is it good to see Jack get his mojo back or what? Even if you hate his character, at least he’s no longer an emasculated janitor putzing around in a Dharma jumpsuit.
- Can I get a “Lost”-related Thing To Love About Ohio?
- Why didn’t the Dharma swing set make an appearance?
- Did Jin really need a piece of paper to remember his wedding vow if it was only one sentence long?
- How does this finale rank to seasons past?
- If you don’t think it was the best finale ever, are you ready to fight Mike Allen?
- Is it a good thing that the show is making the big time allegorical jump?
- Can we still fit the Knights Templar into a unifying theory of the show?
- Oh yeah, what do you think happens next now that Juliet DETONATED A HYDROGEN BOMB???
More tomorrow! Plus links!