Given the premiere episode of Season 4, and the official release of the final mobisode in the Missing Pieces series, it’s high time to step back for a moment amidst the whirlwind of narrative activity in the Lost universe and focus on one aspect: the curious case of Jacob and Smokey. These two figures are central to the mysteries of Lost, yet are still cloaked in mystery. What roles did these two play in the history of the island, and what roles will they play in the seasons to come?
Now, rather than come up with some concrete, "this is how is it and that’s that with that" type of theory, I’m going to offer up a host of possibilities. I’m man enough to admit when I have absolutely no idea what’s going on. But that is far from saying I have nothing to SAY about what’s potentially going on. Oh man, I have lots to SAY. And some of it may even be RIGHT. I just don’t, like, know which parts are right. That’s all.
I do need to set at least one fact down straight at the beginning, however. And by "fact," I really mean "I hope to God this is true, because if not, this will be one fantastically comical entry to anyone in the know." But I am of firm belief, as firmly as anyone can believe anything on this show, that the entity known as Jacob and Smokey the Monster are intimately entwined. I don’t mean to imply that one asked the other to go on a double date with Marty McFly to the Enchantment Under the Sea prom, but these two figures are enmeshed in some intrinsic fashion. Everything below stems from this central assertion.
With that established, let’s get to work!
Possibility #1: Jacob and Smokey are opposing, symbiotic entities created by the "incident" referenced by Marvin Candle in the Swan orientation video.
This has been my theory throughout the winter months on this blog. There once was a member of the Dharma Initiative that got caught in an experiment gone wrong, and poof, non-corporeal man in a cabin and creepy crawly smoke monster. And steps have been taken to ensure these two never meet.
Pros: Both seem interested in cataloguing people and making lists. The ash around Jacob’s cabin suggests both a binding circle, as well as harkens to the circular pattern of pylons around the Barracks. The Orchid video potentially hints at the catastrophic nature of two similar entities colliding, so the circle could be built not only to contain Jacob but keep Smokey out.
Cons: If Jacob can’t leave the cabin, then how did Christian Shephard appear inside the cabin? Appearing in front of Vincent, he sure seemed to be Smokey in disguise. Also, we learned this week that Jacob’s cabin can move around quite a bit. The only way this is potentially possible while accepting the ash as a binding circle is if that circle is HUGE. Possible, to be sure, but doesn’t explain how both could be inside the cabin.
Possibility #2: Smokey is simply Jacob’s way of leaving the cabin and having what Locke might call a "walkabout."
Smokey, in this formulation, is the eyes, ears, and smoky tentacles of Jacob. While Jacob remains locked inside the cabin, Smokey can go out and enact his whims.
Pros: This could explain three things: the painting of the dog on the wall in the cabin, mentions of Cerebus in the blast door map, and Danielle’s reference to the monster as a "security system." Smokey is potentially how Jacob has summoned Ben is the past, which is why Juliet has been kept in the dark about it. This also explains why the monster does not attack Locke in the beginning of the show, but tries to snatch him up as he attempts to open the hatch. Smokey’s "flashes" on Juliet could in essence be recon work for Jacob. Furthermore, Smokey could in essence be a security system for Jacob himself, a way to ultimately protect his existence, as well as the Island’s.
Cons: Boy, this sure makes Jacob one vindictive SOB, eh? Dealing out death and judgement left and right. I mean, what did the pilot ever do to Jacob? Plus, if Ben’s keeping Jacob locked up in the cabin, wouldn’t Jacob just send Smokey after him first chance he got? "Go on, boy, get ’em! Get that beady-eyed weirdo! Get ‘im good!"
Possibility #3: Jacob and Smokey represent the "light" and "dark" forces on the Island, twinned elements tied together, canceling each other out, needing external forces to help them tip the scales.
Irrespective of origin, these two balance each other out, like Neo and Mr. Smith in The Matrix. Jacob wants to protect the Island; Smokey wants to destroy it. Jacob selects John Locke as his leader; Smokey picks Jack Shephard who, if he were on Grey’s Anatomy, would no doubt have the nickname McSchmucky.
Pros: The dual use of "work to do" implies a connection between Jacob and Smokey-as-Christian. Since both are on such opposite paths, it stands to reason that they are chosen for their intrinsic nature to follow the path desired by their respective Island entity. Faith versus science is being tested, with the fate of the Island (and by extension, the world) lies in their hands. God help us all.
Cons: Then why are Jacob and Smokey chillin’ in the cabin together? I’m not sure they are exactly chummy in there, but if Jacob offered Smokey a Double-Stuffed Oreo, chances are Smokey would gobble that sucker straight up.
Possibility #4: Smokey is in fact a security system, but one that has turned on the Island, and by extension Jacob.
This is the I, Robot theory: the servant becomes dominant master. Only, there’s 100% less Will Smith in this version of it. If you subscribe to this theory, just call Smokey "Cujo" and be done with it.
Pros: "Help me." Jacob looking out at Hurley with that same stare little children give their mothers when their great-aunt, reeking of carrots and Aqua-Net, come barreling in for a big smooch at Thanksgiving.
Cons: Doesn’t explain why Smokey wouldn’t kill anything and everything in its path in the name of protecting Jacob. It would go all Smokey Fist of Great Vengeance and Furious Anger on everyone, just like it did on Eko.
So those are just four possibilities. I invite you to mix and match any you like, using them as a basis for your own theories on the symbiotic nature of Jacob and Smokey. Or, by all means, come up with new and better ones! I’ve hardly plumbed the depth of this topic today, but have hopefully given some insight (however accidental) into the nature of these fascinating two entities.
Tomorrow: I’ll deal specifically with "Christian Shephard." Yup, he’s in quotes. Because he’s dead. Sort of. But not in a Princess Bride, "mostly dead" way, either. It’s complicated. With Lost, it usually is. But that’s why we love it, no?
Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude.