Warning: This post contains explicit SPOILERS about the ending to the television show Lost. If you haven’t seen it and intend to watch it one day, do not read this.
Last July, I ruminated on a subject many others had touched upon many times: The cast members of Lost sure do have daddy issues! When you look at the things that made these people who they were, the sins of the father were inextricably tied into their trials and tribulations. At the end of that post, I posed the following:
“So what’s the deal with Lost’s immense stack of father-troubled characters? Is this common thread purposeful, or did it just turn out that way? Are Jacob and Esau (the name the Lost fan community has given to Jacob’s mysterious nemesis) glorified parental figures? Are the castaways not simply pawns in their game, but something more? Something akin to Jacob and Esau’s adopted children, manipulated even as their real parents manipulated them?
Or am I tilting at windmills?”
It turns out I wasn’t tilting at windmills, I just had the gender wrong. Jacob and the Man in Black (never named in the show, wrongly assumed by fans to be named Esau) were indeed manipulated by a parental figure. Now they were doing the same to the castaways. My reference to “adopted children” was pure luck, but good luck, as it turns out that Jacob and the MiB were (via murder) themselves adopted by a mysterious inhabitant of the island.
And most important of all, Jacob and the MiB had deep, deep mommy issues.
The Man in Black, aka the smoke monster, was held back by his mother, who arranged things so he could never leave the island, killed everyone he ever knew, and manipulated him into killing her. In “Across the Sea,” the season 6 episode that finally reveals his back story, we almost sympathize with him.
Jacob, aka the man in charge of the island, was shoved into a role he knew nothing about by a mother who did squat to help him or instruct him, and was left with a vague and eternal purpose by a lying, murdering woman. In the aforementioned “Across the Sea,” we learn that Jacob didn’t really know how to do his job, and was making it up as he went along.
“They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt… and it always ends the same.”
The pair’s mother said that to them, and in turn the Man in Black said it to Jacob. People exist in a cycle, forever repeating the same patterns. And they did the same thing. Their path was set by their adoptive parent. Their mistakes and struggles were influenced by hers. In turn, once brought to the island the castaways struggled against the flaws of these two individuals, even as they struggled against the obstacles set for them by their real parents.
They came. They fought. They destroyed. They corrupted.
But they were redeemed.
It does not always end the same.