Lost, television, things to love about Ohio

Lost Forum, Part One: “The Incident”

Mark Pellegrino

“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!


[photo: tvguide.com]


9 thoughts on “Lost Forum, Part One: “The Incident”

  1. Found this online…

    When Ilana asks Richard what lies in the shadow of the statue, his Latin answer translates to this: “That which will save us all.”

    Best. Episode. Ever.

  2. Yes, clearly allegorical. Ben’s speech to Jacob before killing him was a clear disgruntled-believer-where-were-you-when-I-needed-you-don’t-give-me-that-you-were-carrying-me-when-there-was-only-one-set-of-footprints-crap moment, and likewise the flashbacks showed Jacob as a fairly subtle God-figure, nudging here and there (sometimes in nasty ways–I’d suggest that he didn’t save Sayid at all, that could both have crossed safely, but she stopped to turn toward the lagging Sayid and then gets run down), but as you note still emphasizing free will.

    Here’s my thing about this though: John Locke has, throughout, been THE representative of faith, seeking to know “the island’s will” and trying to get others to do likewise. His faith’s been tested and he’s continued Job-like. And now? Now he’s the representative of evil? Maybe. Maybe not.

    Does the association of Jacob with a non-Christian god suggest that perhaps he’s been a false idol? Or do we have a case of the devil being free for a time but God will come back to kick ass before the next season ends?

    I guess a lot depends on the real significance of the various dead. From way back, we’ve had Christian Shepherd re-appearing after death, we have Locke, we have Alex appearing to Ben… are these all manifestations of [we really need a name for this guy… Esau?]? Some good, some bad? Beats me.

    Turning from the big issue for lack of anything to say, I’ll give you my thoughts on some of the other questions:

    * Why Jacob not in Juliette’s flashback? I guess God doesn’t need to take a hand in giving people commitment/relationship issues. Or maybe Juliette isn’t intended by Jacob to be a nutty bitch in this episode (seriously–no wonder Sawyer spends most of the episode confused!).

    * In visiting both Sawyer and Kate, it occurred to me that in both cases he subtly encourages their darker natures: Kate doesn’t have to take responsibility for her theft (as you point out, he could have stopped her from doing it) and he helps Sawyer to write the letter that keeps this event central to his life and leads to his own life of crime (including perhaps his first lie when he promises not to finish the letter). Support for Jacob as false idol? Or simply setting each up for redemption (which also seems to be the point of both of them basically accepting all the things that have happened and *not* wanting Jack to change them–as bad as it’s been, they each feel they’ve reached a good place in their lives and wouldn’t change a thing that got them there).

    * I got an ark of the covenant vibe too.

    * I don’t think Richard knew… but I also don’t feel like I know him well enough to really understand his motives.

    * I was tempted to rewind and watch Phil’s death over and over and over.

    * Love quadrangle: sort of. I was disappointed in that I felt like Sawyer got screwed over. He can’t help his feelings for Kate, but he repeatedly works to choose Juliette over Kate. He repeatedly reaffirms his commitment to her. He makes the hard choice. And she can’t commit and gets out of the hard work of making it work by making her grand “I love you now let me go so that you don’t die too” moment, but never has to work out her real issues (unless we consider this to be a working out, in that she admits her feelings). Blah.

    Okay, I have to go to class. Maybe I’ll think of more to say, maybe not. I’m still digesting it myself… and it didn’t help that I watched this between 11 and 1.

  3. Oh, I also wanted to say that I feel somehow cheated in this episode. It’s been one thing this season to see how deep Widmore is involved in everything. I’m even alright with finding out that Jacob has been nudging things all along. Bringing in “Esau” as an over-arching antagonist seems like a cop-out. New character we’ve never seen or heard of is suddenly a major mover and shaker over the years? Shennanigans. Yeah, yeah, we can suddenly see how the island’s ghosts and the smoke monster have always *really* been him or his agents or whatever, but at some point I’d really like to see this show be a closed system, stop introducing new characters, and resolve what was already there, inherent in the story.

    Oh well. It is what it is. I’m accepting it.

  4. I don’t hate. I’m just too lazy to start from the begininng. I’ve seen a few episodes, but of course, they don’t make any sense out of context. But wait, is there even a context to make sense of?

  5. I need to watch again before I make any profound comments, but I will say this:

    -I no longer want to do it with Kate.
    -I want to do it with Juliet.
    -I would consider doing it with Desmond just to see the look of jealousy on Voreblog’s face.

  6. A friend of mine also pointed out Doc Jensen’s Sobek hypothesis for the statue, but he says that in certain creation myths Sobek is the first god to climb out of the waters of creation and create the world (so there’s a creator-god association). Also, he apparently took on many roles, one of which was a go-between between mortals and the other gods, arranging for the will of the gods to be carried out by mortals. I haven’t actually done any research myself on this.

    He also claims that the fish caught and eaten by Jacob at the beginning is, literally, a red herring. Make of it what you will.

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