I’m continuing to enjoy Lost this season, and look forward to each episode. I’m writing this on March 18, so don’t yet know what we’ll learn about the mysterious Richard Alpert in the March 23 episode. By the time this is posted, we will know, so let’s see if my guesses about Richard turn out to be right.
First, the ersatz Locke (AKA Jacob’s Enemy AKA Smokey AKA the Man in black), upon meeting Richard in an earlier episode, told Richard it was nice to see him out of those chains, an apparent reference to the 19th century sailing vessel, the Black Rock, which had been involved in the slave trade. Unless Richard used to look very different (just as Jacob’s enemy did), and was originally Black, I think we can discount that he’d been one of the slaves. My guess, he was either a crew member who participated in a failed mutiny, and was locked up; or he was the captain, locked up by successful mutineers.
March 24 update: Well, I was partially right. Richard was on board the Black Rock in 1867, but he wasn’t involved in a mutiny, and the men- including Richard- we saw chained in the hold weren’t slaves being shipped over to the New World from Africa.
And here we may have an example of what, in literature, is known as the unreliable narrator. That can be someone who lies deliberately; someone who equivocates; or someone who provides incorrect information out of ignorance. The last would apply with regard to what we’d been told about the Black Rock. When a group of Oceanic 815 survivors came to the wreck and saw some chained skeletons, they concluded that it must have been a slave ship.
I say “may and “would” because while we only saw that part of the ship where Richard and a few other Spanish speaking men were chained, it doesn’t preclude the possibility that African slaves were on board some other part of the ship.
March 18: By the way, in the March 16 episode, Richard revealed to Jack that he can’t kill himself, even if he wanted to, and that this apparent immortality came about because Jacob touched him. Well, Jacob touched Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, Locke, Sun, Jin, and Sayid, too. We already know they’re not immortal because Locke is dead, Jim. And Sayid, according to Miles, was dead for two hours before he got better.
So here’s another guess that may either be confirmed or shot to smithereens by the time this is posted: maybe one of the “candidates” could potentially become immortal. My guess? He or she would be to Jacob’s successor what Richard was to Jacob. I’d mentioned in an earlier blog how one of the candidates “becoming the new Jacob” reminded me of the “offices” held in the Incarnations of Immortality series. That raises an interesting point. Is the Jacob we know the original? Maybe he had a predecessor, who, in turn, had an immortal intermediary who came before Richard.
Maybe this person was the ersatz Locke, who should have been released from his obligation once his “Jacob” died/retired/whatever, and he’s pissed that “our” Jacob didn’t release him. That’d be a good motivation for his long-standing hatred.
March 24: Richard didn’t become immortal just because Jacob touched him. He became immortal because he said he wanted to live forever, and Jacob said okay.
How about my guess that Jacob may have had a predecessor, who, in turn, also had an immortal intermediary like Richard? Was that even in the ballpark?
Not even in the same universe. While we’ve yet to learn whether Jacob had a predecessor (I’m beginning to think he didn’t), there were no previous intermediaries. It was only when Richard pointed out that if the “I don’t get involved” Jacob doesn’t interact with those who come to the island, his enemy will; and they’ll only get one side of the story.
March 18: One final we’ll see if I’m right guess (though I suspect the answer to this won’t come until further down the road): In the march 16 episode the ersatz Locke told Sawyer all he wants is to leave the island, and that ironically, others have put up defenses to keep him from getting at them. The implication is that he has no interest in them. Or wouldn’t, if he could just leave. My guess: While this sounds like a reasonable request, this person would wreak havoc in the outside world- whether intentionally or unintentionally- if he ever left the island. In short, the island is his prison, and for good reason.
Otherwise, either he’s an idiot for not telling his adversaries that he just wants to go; they’re idiots for not listening to him; or both.
March 24: I was right about Jacob’s Enemy being kept prisoner on the island, with disaster resulting if he were to get free. And he did at least tell Jacob he just wanted to leave.
It’s interesting, though, that when Jacob’s Enemy tries to get Richard to kill Jacob (telling him Jacob’s the Devil), he gives the same warning that Dogen will give to Sayid about Jacob’s Enemy 140 years later.
I don’t believe Jacob’s Enemy will, himself, turn out to be the Devil. That seems a bit too simplistic. Though it would be ironic if he were- and Jacob were charged with keeping him imprisoned- since Mark Pellegrino, who plays Jacob, also portrays Lucifer on Supernatural.
Nor will Jacob turn out to be God. Also too simplistic. Rather, I think Jacob and his Enemy represent forces of order and chaos, respectively. But I don’t think we can yet say that one is good and the other is evil. Both use others to their own ends. Jacob orchestrated matters to bring various people to the island over the years; and his Enemy has used and manipulated people as well. I still believe every dead person we (and the characters in question) have seen on the island- including Jack’s father, Mr. Eko’s brother and Richard’s wife- were all manifestations of Jacob’s enemy (though I haven’t figured out how Jack could see his father off the island, since Jacob’s enemy can’t leave). And that he appeared in these guises to achieve his own ends.
But whatever the answers are, Lost provides plenty of food for thought.
This entry will probably run around Easter. And if you celebrate that holiday, maybe you participate in Easter egg hunts. If so, you can thank Eastre (AKA Eostre) for that tradition. According to the Dictionary of Ancient Deities, she was the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the spring, protectress of fertility, goddess of rebirth and friend to children. In that last persona, she’d change her pet bird to a rabbit who’d bring forth brightly colored eggs that she’d give as gifts to children.
No word on how the bird felt about being thus changed, and/or why she couldn’t just find and train a rabbit to hand over some already hatched, dyed and decorated eggs.
Copyright 2010 Patrick Keating