In the first scene of the finale, we heard Esau (the man in the black shirt) say that he wanted to kill Jacob, but he couldn’t. That scene reminded me of an earlier one, from Season 4, where we heard Ben say that he wanted to kill Widmore — but couldn’t:
Widmore: Have you come here to kill me, Benjamin?
Ben: We both know I can’t do that.
Ben told Widmore that he was going to kill Penelope, and that after she was dead
You’ll wish you hadn’t changed the rules
Here, again, is the opening scene from the Season 5 finale:
Esau: Do you have any idea how badly I want to kill you?
Esau: One of these days, sooner or later, I’m going to find a loophole, my friend.
Ben couldn’t kill Widmore, but he could (in theory) kill Penny. Widmore was able to kill Alex, but apparently only by breaking the rules. Esau needed a loophole to kill Jacob. A loophole suggests there is a law — a set of rules — that has to be circumvented.
A law or a rule may be natural: What goes up must come down. It may be written and enforced by an individual or institution that possesses power: a monarch, a warlord, a constitution, a legislature. It may be supernatural: a God or a strange electromagnetic force.
When we saw Ben and Widmore last season, they were the most powerful forces we had seen up to that point, appearing to control, between the two of them, almost everything that happened on the Island.
This season, it was as if a camera had pulled back and given us a wider shot, showing us the forces behind Ben and Widmore, forces even more powerful than they are. Jacob and Esau are now the most powerful people we have ever seen on the show.
But even Jacob and Esau cannot do everything they want. So there is someone or something powerful enough to make and enforce the rules that limit what Jacob and Esau can do. It may be a law of nature, it may be a person or group of people, it may be a supernatural force or being.
Perhaps next season, after we find out who or what it is, we will discover that it’s just another intermediate layer, and the camera will pull back yet again, to reveal the power behind the power behind the power.