I’m working on a new grand theory of almost everything (ha!), and when I think about that, I find myself drawn back again to the first scene of the Season 5 Finale. There’s so much packed into that scene which seems to provide critical clues to what LOST is really all about.
In particular, I wanted to look more closely at one bit of the scene, the part where Jacob and Esau (the Man in Black) talk about the approach of the sailing ship.
Jacob: I take it you’re here because of the ship.
Esau: I am. (Pause) How did they find the Island?
Jacob: You’ll have to ask them when they get here.
Esau: I don’t have to ask. (Looks at Jacob) You brought them here. (Pause) Still trying to prove me wrong, aren’t you?
Jacob: You are wrong.
Esau: Am I? (Pause) They come, fight, they destroy, they corrupt. It always ends the same.
Jacob: It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.
What conclusions can be drawn from that?
1. Jacob has the power to bring people to the Island — or at least Esau thinks that he does.
2. This is not the first group of people to come to the Island. Esau, sounding weary, says it “always ends the same,” which implies that similar scenarios have happened many times before.
3. Either Jacob and Esau are in a time loop, and the fighting, destroying, and corrupting groups that Esau refers to are groups from the future (the Others, the Dharma Initiative, the 815-ers), or else Jacob and Esau have been on the Island for a very long time, long enough to see many other groups come and go in the past. I’m betting on the second scenario.
4 There is some sort of linear progression. Jacob says “It only ends once.” Even if time loops are involved, we are still dealing with a story that has a beginning, a middle, and most importantly, an end.
5. Jacob believes that Esau is wrong about something, and though we don’t know exactly what, we know that Esau is cynical, world-weary, and resigned, and expects nothing but trouble from the many visitors to the Island. Jacob expects something more. But what is it that he expects?
I believe that LOST is a story about redemption and atonement. I think that is what Jacob is working towards, and that is why he keeps on bringing groups to the Island, over and over until some group finally gets it right. (I’ll be writing more about this later, as I work out my theory.)
Here’s a clip of the scene. Each time I’ve watched it, I’ve noticed something new: