A look back at my “Oedipus Lost” theory

Jacob talking to the Man in Black in the Season 5 Finale

Before Season 6 started, I came up with a theory (because every LOST fan has to have a theory, right?) which I called “Oedipus Lost.”

Tonight’s episode (6×15 Across the Sea), which starts in half an hour, will probably give us the backstory for Jacob and the Man in Black. So I wanted to take a quick glance at my earlier theory to see how much of it still might hold true — before we start getting some of the actual answers.

(What I wrote back in January, during the hiatus, is in blockquotes. My current comments, based on what we’ve learned so far in Season 6, are interspersed:)

We know that Jacob brought the LOSTies to the Island, and before that, he brought the Black Rock ship, and before that, he brought other people — the ones who came, fought, destroyed, and corrupted, in the words of the Man in Black.

The big question, of course, is why is Jacob bringing all these people to the Island?

We now know that the reason he brought the LOST-ies had to do with their being candidates, but that doesn’t explain everything about why and how he brought them, much less why/how he brought the Black Rock, and all the other fighter-destroyer-corrupters.

One thing we know about the LOSTies is that, as a group, they have an extraordinary number of Daddy issues.

Well, that’s certainly still true!

What if that were actually the reason that Jacob chose them?

This was the crux of my theory back in January, and I still think it might be true.

And if that were the case, then why?

Still don’t know.

Suppose that Jacob himself has Daddy issues. Suppose, also, that Jacob is on the Island not because he wants to be, but because he has to be. There’s a hint of that, I think, in Jacob’s oddly impassive reaction to the Man in Black when the MiB said he wanted to kill him.

This has gotten complicated by what we’ve seen in Season 6. It is the MiB who complains about being trapped on the Island, not Jacob. But has Jacob really been forthcoming?

Combine the two ideas: Jacob having his own Daddy issues, and Jacob being stuck on the Island for centuries against his will. That suggests some sort of crime and punishment, with the Island being a place of exile, a prison.

We now know that the MiB sees it that way. But Jacob seems to be more of the jailer — the one keeping the cork lodged in the bottle — than the prisoner. Again, that’s assuming that there won’t be a reversal ahead.

Because of the Island’s strange time-warping properties, Jacob’s sentence spans far more than a normal single lifetime.

Someone’s sentence is spanning many lifetimes.

Such a long sentence implies there must have been a horrible crime. And the worst crime that exists that involves Daddy issues would be patricide. Maybe, like Oedipus Rex, Jacob — way back in his original life, eons ago — had killed his father.

The problem is, if that boy who spooked NotLocke — the boy who looked like Robin Hood — was a young Jacob, and if Jacob actually grew up on the Island, then that would be the end of he idea that he had been sent there as an exile for a horrible crime. The same is true for the MiB if he also grew up there (and judging from the sneak peeks for tonight’s episode, I’m guessing that he did).

Maybe it was their parents who were the criminals, and Jacob and the MiB just came along because they were kids and they had to — similar to the way that Ben came to the Island because his father did.

And now he is stuck, seemingly forever, on an Island prison. Maybe there is only one way for him to end his sentence — by restoring some balance to the world by doing something that would counteract his terrible crime. Only in that way could he atone and be forgiven.

It seems the MiB is the one trying to get unstuck — and that he needs to kill all the candidates to do so. Hmmm …

Maybe Jacob’s task is to heal people who have been harmed by terrible rifts with their fathers. More precisely, maybe he is trying to show them how to heal themselves. Success in this task would be the only thing that could release him from his centuries-long sentence.

Jacob seems less benign now than he did before Season 6 started, less of a beneficent healer.

Perhaps he has tried, and failed, with all the previous groups he brought to the Island — which is what was frustrating the Man in Black. But the current LOSTies do seem to be responding to Jacob’s guidance, and many of then have, while on the Island, come to terms with their Daddy issues and grown beyond them.

I’d still like to see that story, but it probably isn’t the one that the show will be telling. 😉

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