Friday, May 15, 2009

Season 5 Finale Theory: Examining the LOST "Loophole"

I have to say that I am overwhelmed (in the best way possible) by the record number of comments left on my initial season finale post, and am very grateful for all of your feedback. In part, this increase in traffic is due to recent mentions in both EW and the Chicago Tribune, so I would really like to thank Jeff Jensen and Mo Ryan for reading and then linking to this small potatoes passion project of mine. I am also quite appreciative for those of you who have spread the word through Twitter, Facebook, message boards/forums, etc.

After posting those first thoughts about "The Incident" very early yesterday morning, I tried to sleep for a few hours (still haunted by the image of a certain blond on the precipice of her demise) and then watched the finale again. That resulted in a theory that I will explore in detail below.


"Everyone answers to someone, and the leader answers to Jacob."
- Ben Linus, The Incident

Mystery Man (MM) knew that the only way to finally confront and gain real access to Jacob was to become a recruited island leader; that was the loophole.

Up until Ajira 316 landed on Hydra island with John Locke in a coffin, MM's spirit was being held captive in Jacob's cabin. The line of ash surrounding the cabin is from the fire continuously burning in Jacob's lair in the foot of the statue; it was mixed with salt from the sea to form the line that provided protection from evil spirits (a common practice of ghost hunters).

MM knew of Jacob's future plan to bring a select group of people to the island on flight 815. From that group, MM chose Locke for his future shell for his spirit, because he knew that Locke was and always has been 'amenable for coercion' (Further Instructions, episode 3.03).

MM observed carefully over the years as Jacob sent Alpert to be present at Locke's birth and then attempt to recruit him as a child while at a foster home. Though Alpert questioned Locke's abilities and Jacob's choice for their future island leader, MM never gave up hope in the man he would one day become. When Jacob literally brought Locke to life immediately following his fall out of the window, that sealed the deal for MM. He knew that Locke would be arriving on the island a broken man and spirit, but one who would be rejuvenated/healed by the island, making him the perfect....candidate.

Jacob finally managed to get Locke to the island via Oceanic flight 815. Through Alpert, Jacob assigned Ben the task of manipulating and guiding Locke toward eventual island leadership. Consider one of the first conversations between the two (Two for the Road, episode 2.20):
LOCKE: "I was trapped under that hatch door, helpless. You could have crushed my skull, but you didn't do a thing. Why didn't you?"
BEN: "Because you're one of the good ones, John."
LOCKE: "What? Good what?"
BEN: "None of this matters. I'm dead anyway. The doctor is going to make a trade and we both know he'll come back empty handed and then I've lost my value. So either Jack comes back here and and kills me or my people find out where I'm being held and they do it."
LOCKE: "Why would your own people want to kill you?"
BEN: "Because the man in charge, he's a great man, John. A brilliant man. But he's not a forgiving man. He'll kill me because I failed, John. I failed my mission."
LOCKE: "What mission?"
BEN: "When that woman caught me in her trap, I was on my way here, John. I was coming for you."
For years, Ben had inadvertently assisted MM's long journey toward the acquisition of a new body for his soul.

First, Locke demanded to meet Jacob (in Season 3). Ben took him to what he thought was Jacob's cabin. In reality, Jacob had never lived there...MM did. His spirit was trapped inside, and MM took advantage of this rare opportunity to make contact with Locke, by saying "help me."

Second, Ben killed Locke off-island. MM knew that Jacob's rules dictated that flight 316 passengers recreate the circumstances of flight 815 in order to return to the island; that the recently deceased Locke would be placed in a coffin on the plane, as a proxy for the deceased Christian Shephard.

As soon as flight 316 and Locke's body arrived on the island, MM was able to finally leave the cabin; thus, the break in the line of ash. He made his way to the plane over on Hydra Island, and to Locke's coffin (don't ask me how; logistics are a bit blurry at this point but keep in mind that this theory is based upon a spirit rather than an actual person, and that we accept at face value that an island can move after the turn of a frozen wheel).

That being said, this portion of the theory may require an Eloise Hawking-inspired "leap of faith," so bear with me...

We know that the Orchid station was built over an energy source that was used to manipulate time and space. The Vault beneath the Orchid was used for such experiments, including Dr. Chang's rabbit displacement attempts. But the results were unpredictable, which is exactly the word that Hawking used to describe what would happen if the passengers of flight 316 were unable to duplicate the circumstances of flight 815 when returning to the island.

While preparing to descend down to turn the Frozen Donkey Wheel, Ben put in the Orchid Orientation film for Locke to watch:

Chang attempts to 'shift' a bunny forward in time, but Locke is unable to find out what happens because the tape rewinds at a key moment.

[Even though Comic-Con videos are not considered "canon"] I truly believe that this Orchid video is relevant:

My theory is that MM brought deceased Locke to the Orchid station in order to create a clone, because as we witnessed above, a white rabbit duplicated itself there. MM knew that he would be able to do just that at the Orchid.

The most fascinating aspect of this, if it is indeed true, is that Chang is quite frightened by the possibility that the duplicate rabbits go near one another. Because at the end of Season 5, MM/Not-Locke is in the foot of the statue, not far at all from deceased Locke's body on the beach.

Reflecting back to some of the dialogue in The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham (episode 5.07), there are a few clues that Real Locke is no longer himself, such as this conversation:
ILANA: "The pilot and some woman took one (referring to the outrigger)."
MM/NOT-LOCKE: "The pilot that brought YOU here?"
ILANA: "Yes, that's right."
MM/NOT-LOCKE: "Do you have a passenger list?"
ILANA: "Nobody remembers you being on the plane."
MM/NOT-LOCKE: "Well, I don't remember being on it either."
ILANA: "What do you remember?"
MM/NOT-LOCKE: "I remember a lot."
MM inherited Locke's memories (or at least those that he overheard and witnessed over the years as both Alpert and Ben interacted with him), as well as his body for a shell.

In addition, it was MM/Not-Locke who brought Alpert and Ben to Yemi's burned out Beechcraft so that Alpert could give Real Locke the compass. And it was MM/Not-Locke who told Ben and Alpert that he intended to kill Jacob, and led the Others to find him.

So I would love to know if YOU think this is plausible. Feel free to agree or disagree with any or all points in the Comments section, but please be constructive and/or kind (I'm still mourning the loss of Juliet, after all).

Have a great weekend!



Terry said...

I think MM is smokey. In the past they went seperate ways. MM embraced the power of the island and evolved/became corrupt, Jacob kept to the simple path. MM can take forms of people who are dead. Alex, Christian and Locke are all forms of Smokey, manipulating people so he can finally get that loophole to kill Jacob. Jacob's biggest mistake is underestimating (and ignoring) Ben.

thisgirltv said...

MM being the new Locke certainly makes sense. It explains the badassery that I like about return to the island Locke. Also explains why the "ghost" in the cabin didn't look like Jacob actual. Also, it seemed like Jacob was trying to prevent people from going to the island. If Sawyer had written that note, if Sun and Jin had treasured their love, if Kate "never stole" or did anything bad, would they have ended up where they did in their lives? However, He didn't really do anything with Jack although he did kinda bring Locke back to life. Makes me wonder if Jacob was ready to die...

Man, can't wait until next season.

briguyx said...

I was with you until you brought up cloning. There's no way clones are involved in the creation of New Locke or time travel either. I think it all comes down to Egyptian mythology. Ancient Egyptians believed we all had a double (which includes animals and objects too, which explains why Kate's horse could appear on the island) and that there are different parts to the soul, which can actually go out and live separately from the body. One part called Ka was often controlled by a snake god called Nehebkau, whose name means "Yoke together" or "Unite." This god was a guardian of the underworld and would judge those who go to their final reward. All this info made Nehebkau my nominee for Smokey, at least until another blogger pointed out there is another snake god called Apep who was a nemesis of Ra.

I'm pretty sure one of these gods is the Smoke Monster and maybe MM at the same time (although I thought Fake Locke was surprised when Ben told him the Smoke Monster told him to follow Locke, so I'm not yet sure they're one and the same). Of course, just because our characters are named Jacob and (likely at least) Esau doesn't mean they didn't have other names throughout history, such as Cain and Abel, as their game was played over and over again.

sofuturegeneration said...

Hello Jo :)
I must say I find it a little too easy that MM just knew of Jacob's plan, chose Locke and observed carefully over the years, it's like Jacob is building a big plan, but for what? and this plan is so complicated that MM can swoop in and mess with it. Why Jacob can't be killed and why would Ben, accompanied by Fake Locke/MM, could do it, what's the difference? MM knows where Jacob is... This still doesn't make any sense. We obviously miss something ^^
I just wanna point that Ben too went through the Frozen Wheel et that Ben was "changed" in the temple as a kid.
It is still hard to know who runs for who and for what. But Maybe MM has been Ben and that's why Ben is so different. But Ben wasn't the right guy to get to Jacob so MM had to change to Locke lol
I know, this is crazy but I think we need to know why Jacob can't be killed unless a former leader with a fake one on his side try too...

I think we/you should spend these 8 months updating a list of questions for season 6 ;)


Todd W in NC said...

I haven't been able to totally wrap my head around the Jacob/MM/Locke/Ben/Richard storyline yet. It's all pretty cryptic, and I'm more into the Oceanic6/Dharma/1977 storyline anyway.

However, I have been thinking about the loophole concept. The killing of Jacob is probably the primary meaning of the loophole. But what if "loophole" has a double meaning. If the bomb going off really does cause a timeline reset, could that be either a part of what allows MM/Locke to kill Jacob or a result not possible without the death of Jacob.

I'm not sure I'm explaining it well, but basically I'm wondering if the bomb detonation and the slaying of Jacob are somehow connected across the timeline. If events across time can be connected (which would not be out of the question for this show), could the killing of Jacob be what allowed Juliet to wake up at the bottom of the "sarlac pit" (as some people are jokingly calling it) to commit one final act? Or, did she just naturally have one last act in her and detonating the bomb was somehow a part of the loophole that allowed the killing of Jacob.

More random brainstorming... What if the screen going white was *not* the detonation of the bomb -- but another time flash. No clue how or why that could be, but with this show, who knows.

Going back to Jacob & MM... Some have theorized that the whole show could be about an epic struggle between good & evil. I have a problem believing Jacob is completely good, and we don't know enough about MM yet to know if he's completely evil. I've never liked the possibility that Ben, Locke, Jacob, or anyone else on this show could be painted as Christ-like figures. I think too many people's hands are dirty. Ben's done a ton of horrible things, Locke has committed murder (Naomi), and Jacob has manipulated people and allowed Sayid's wife to be killed to do so to him. Consequently, I much prefer the idea the show is about fate vs. free will.

sofuturegeneration said...

Maybe the loophole is the weakness in a Jacob-orchestrated time loop with the 815ers ;)

Nurby said...

The loophole makes total sense to me the way you presented it. Only the leader can see Jacob and thus MM takes the body of the leader. Love the theories of cloning and of MM taking on Dead people... all I can't wait to discover the answer next season!

My question though of recreating the original 815 crash is if Jacob orchestrated that Locke would come back dead, was it his sacrifice that he had to make to allow the 815ers to come back? He really is supposed to be permanently dead? or was Jacob going to heal him and bring him back to life? Maybe that's why Ilana had his body, so Jacob could do his healing?

I get the feeling that Jacob knew what MM was planning. He didn't seem disturbed that Ben was there and he knew that he had found the loophole, but he had also set up Ilana to be there with Locke's body, making me think, he knew exactly how this was to play out. But was Ilana late? On time?

I kept thinking too, that when Ben was going off on Jacob, that Jacob must of had something to do with healing ben. Bringing Jack to the island, then the others helping him when Sayid shot him. Doesn't it seem that Jacob had to have orchestrated these healings? I don't know.

I'm am going to start netflixing some past seasons :)

The Calandro's LiHD Blog said...

I still think that it was Jacob who was trapped in the cabin and not MM (Fate in my theory). It just makes sense. At some point, free will kicked back in (with everyone changing their minds) and the Losties started regaining control to take their lives back (from the fickle finger of fate! Interesting that Jacob (though I think he is Free Will), touched everyone...).
Beyond that, the loophole idea is still more or less the same, though I disagree with you on the cloning...I think that one part of the loophole was that he had to be mortal in order to carry out his plan- I don't think it was that Jacob was only visible to the leader as others of the Oceanic 6 were able to see him in his flashbacks. With all the time jumping and flashing, MM (Fate),seized the opportunity to be Locke when Locke was dead/not dead. Interestingly,though he was in a mortal form Locke did not do the actual stabbing, but did kick Jacob into the fire.

I love reading your stuff, keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Until reading this I was still pretty confused about the whole Finale. I Agree with the loophole and about MM Living in the Cabin. I too have had thoughts about MM being Smokey, then the point about MM ( as Locke) being shocked and excited to here from Ben that Smokey told him to fallow Locke. So my guess is that Smokey and MM are on the same side.

Anywho I really enjoyed reading this and watching Chang's Bunny Video. Thanks a bunch Jo!!

Katie Harpool

pejafor3 said...

Nice and easy understandable explanation!
I agree with everything.

Pedro said...

2 quibbles:

1) Who broke the circle of ash/sea salt? I agree this is how MM was able to leave the cabin and take over not-Locke. Maybe there's not enough info on this yet; probably a season 6 reveal (who is on the side of MM?).

2) You said Jacob never lived in the cabin, but he left a note in the form of a statue glyph, with his olde tyme machete (looked like the exact same one from the opening scene - a nice touch for a prop dep't that's had some really noticeable goofs this season). What's the significance there? Also, what happened to all the junk we saw in The Man Behind the Curtain?

Keep up the great work, Jo!

neoloki said...

To address some comments above:

First, I do not think that Jacob left that not/glyph on the wall of the cabin. It was MM. There was a giant knife holding the picture up which gives it an ominous intention. This was basically MM saying I am going to kill Jacob. Illiana says after leaving the cabin that Jacob isn't using the cabin anymore and hasn't been there for a long time.

I absolutely do not think that MM is Smokey. There have been two common theories since the finale: One being MM is Smokey and the other is Smokey was created by The Incident. Neither make any sense whatsoever. MM had no idea that Alex told Ben to obey Locke. That is all I need on the MM is Smokey idea to prove it wrong and Smokey being a very complex and intelligent creature being randomly created by an accident is ridiculous.

Jo, your Theory is very plausible and has an inherent logic and simplicity that follows along the lines of the way Lost does things. I particularly liked your solution for two Locke bodies. It's very creative and you didn't use the cop-out that MM is Smokey, however I don't think it is likely that a being that may be a demi-god needed an object to transform.

As far as who Jacob and MM are, I very much like the idea that they are Avatars for the consciousness of the Island.

neoloki said...

One other thing: while reading your article I noticed you separated the word candidate from the sentence it was in which made me think that when Illiana suggests that Frank could be a "candidate" I have a feeling that Jacob told Iliana that He would end up being killed by MM and would need a body to inhabit in order to counter MM's loophole plan. Illiana and Bram are looking for "candidates" that would be appropriate for Jacob to use. This could be why Beings like Jacob and MM look so Western European and talk with an English dialect. Over the generations they find humans that they can take the image of. This might be some what faulty logic seeing as there are two Locke bodies, but I am going with it for now.

Chip said...

Don't worry; I don't think Juliet is dead. She'll be back. The creative team left themselves an out for her death since Mitchell is doing V, but I think that Mitchell will find a way to work in both roles, as she's been telling talk show hosts -- even if Juliet's role becomes smaller than it would have been. (And despite conventional wisdom, we don't know for sure that V will get picked up.)

I don't believe that Locke has been totally under the control of MM (or "Esau," as I tend to call him). There was too much of what we saw over the season that jived with the Locke we know. My suspicion is that MM, in a perhaps Twin Peaks-ish fashion, inhabits souls but only truly takes control at critical points when he wants to do so. I believe that most of the time we saw Locke, our Locke, who was unaware of MM's presence inside him. Each of the multiple times we heard Locke tell Ben "I don't know" to the answer of how he knew what to do, we were really hearing Locke. What he didn't know was that MM, not the Island, was giving him directions. (If there really is even an Island influencing people; do we instead have two demigods, Jacob and MM, giving our characters direction over the course of the series?)

What this means is that other characters, including Ben and Widmore, might have been controlled by MM at different times over the years. (I suspect that Jacob is opposed to the idea of controlling individuals -- it would go against free will.) Is Ben, in killing Jacob, really just controlled by MM? I think not, at least in that case; ironically, Ben's own free will in killing Jacob disproves MM.

The real character to be concerned about is not Juliet, but Ben. He has again denied his chance at redemption by killing Jacob. He's still not beyond redemption; I tend to think he will be redeemed by the end of the series. But he has just made his worst possible choice.

Roland said...

As much as the thought of MM being The Prisoner makes sense, we then have to ask why Ilana went to The Shack bringing The Corpse and The Candidate.

Jacob had asked Ilana to help him, anticipating that he was going to need help at a future point.

So ... if Ilana's first destination upon arrival at The Island was The Shack, it seems to me that Jacob was anticipating being held prisoner there and that the help he was going to need was a body to jump into and a candidate to take his place as prisoner.

Jaime said...

Just adding, someone said something like why jacob couldn't be killed yet ben did it. Adding to the theory, when we first see Jacob he is with MM and MM mentions wanting to kill him, yet doesn't. My theory is that he can't, thus why when he is Locke he gets Ben to do it. After all he is standing right there, yet still gets Ben to do it. Why? He can't, thus he needs the loophole. As Locke he also says to Jacob he has been waiting a long time for this, or something similar. So yes thats my addition to the theory.

Hillary said...

I agree with Jaime, getting Ben to do it is the Loophole. Ben couldn't kill Widmore, per 'the rules'. (And that also seems to mean he couldn't have arranged to have him killed, either.)

Have you listened to the last Darlton Podcast? They address the Faraday/Chang video from ComiCon and lots of other good stuff.

Nurby said...

Just started to rewatch Season 1. Only four episodes in. But rewatching I am really leaning towards MM being able to take over dead peoples bodies, but the only thing he could do is influence people initially. So then he got the opportunity to get inside of a leaders dead body, Locke. This made him able to get access to Jacob to try to kill him.

So currently I am leaning towards MM is in Christian at the beginning.