So in this, the last edition of Island Times (sniff sniff), I promised you a look into the smoke monster, often known simply as Smokey, and known in my household as "Gerald." The monster was one of the first mysteries unleashed in Lost, and might be one of the last ones to be answered. But that won’t stop me from looking at a few possible origin scenarios for this mysterious entity.
Let’s use something I said yesterday as a jumping off point for today’s analysis:
"Point of the matter is this: the ‘incident,’ so near as I can tell, did not create Jacob. But it did create Smokey."
The incident in question is that referred to by Marvin Candle in the Swan Orientation video, an event so cataclysmic that it rendered those inside the Swan to literal button pushers for the rest of their days (or until an unlucky Scot wanders their way). While many of you disagree, I believe that Jacob pre-existed both the incident and the Dharma Initiative itself. Those in opposition to this notion have plenty of evidence on their side, as do I. I’m not trying to look at this from a "right" or "wrong" perspective, but I at least want to acknowledge all sides while making sure you know which one I’m personally on.
Now, what do I mean by the incident creating Smokey? Good question, campers, thanks for asking. First, let me state a few things I consider fact before answering in full:
- I tend to create overly complicated theories, and have striven these past few months to simplify them without dumbing the show down in the process.
- I believe Jacob to have at least once been a human being, and not merely an anthropomorphic representation of the Island.
- Most things on the show can be explained 80% scientifically, 20% fictionally.
Having said all that, I think it’s ultimately a fool’s errand to try and describe the singular incident in question. There are fifty or so scenarios that could ultimately play out on the show that would meet with my satisfaction. To try and pry into Darlton’s head in this case is simply ludicrous. What I’m more interested in than the specifics of the incident is the outcome of the incident.
I’ve long held in my gut a firm belief that Jacob and Smokey are somehow intertwined. Heck, I wrote an entire post about this, in addition to continually harping upon this point at various stages of the last few months. It’s a theory with little in-show evidence backing it up but an air that simply feels right when I try and link the two in my Lost-addled brain. So, let’s take those three tenets above, apply it to the origins of a potential connection between the two, and see what happens.
I tend to create overly complicated theories, and have striven these past few months to simplify them without dumbing the show down in the process. No crazy, twenty-thousand word explanations that require more contorting than your average Olypmic gymnast. This has to be something that could be ultimately distilled into one monologue/dialogue/scene at some point in the future.
I believe Jacob to have at least once been a human being, and not merely an anthropomorphic representation of the Island. Given the war between The Dharma Initiative and the Hostiles, it’s very likely that at some point or another the Initiative learned about a figure named Jacob and used elements of its own parapsychology wing to locate and/or bind this figure.
Most things on the show can be explained 80% scientifically, 20% fictionally. Let’s bust out a little basic science here: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If you try and dismantle a powerful psychic force, you might just create an equal, opposite psychic force less benevolent and more malevolent. And since we’re on the science tip now, let’s take another well-known scientific axiom: matter can neither be created nor destroyed (conservation of energy). Which leads us inexorably towards a scenario in which Jacob and Smokey are two inferior halves to a formerly cohesive whole.
Are there other ways to explain both Jacob and Smokey? Oh heck yes. But this is the one that tickles my fancy the most, puts a spring in my step, and adds extra zing to my Dharma boxed wine. Looking at Dr. Jacob and Smokey Hyde in this way ties together the mysterious energy of the Island, the smoke monster’s seemingly psychic abilities, explains the odd circle of ash around Jacob’s cabin, and gives a possible insight into the physical limitations of both creatures.
In fact, it’s equally as likely that the creation of Smokey was in fact an INTENTIONAL byproduct of the Dharma Initiative’s psychic attack on Jacob. Under this scenario, unable to truly "kill" Jacob, the Initiative’s only recourse was to diffuse the power into several vessels. I like this less than the unintentional consequences variation, but I at least wanted to throw that out there. After all, what better sums up the Dharma Initiative better than the phrase "unintentional consequences," correct?
As such, one can look at the seeming inconsistencies of Smokey’s interactions as a byproduct of the residue of human emotions buried deep within its smokey self. Its various manifestations can be seen as a form of communication, a bridge towards understanding, rather than a simple act of mind trickery. It’s either doing what Jacob’s always done: identify the proper people for Island inhabitance, or removing those who are deemed unworthy. And just like all humans, it’s got one heckuva temper as well. So every once in a while, it goes and kills itself an Eko or two. After all, Eko was once on Jacob’s list long before Smokey played "Pin the Eko on the Tree."
And remember the words used by Danielle to describe the smoke monster: "a security system" designed to protect the Island. If Jacob is a sort of Walt 1.0, as I argued yesterday, given the taste to be a mouthpiece for the Island, it makes sense that his Hulk-esque alter ago would take that spokesman status to vigilante levels of execution (pun intended). It’s not without morals; rather, these morals are as twisted as those of The Others themselves: recognizable to a degree, but so far removed from our own as to seem almost foreign to our sensibilities.
It’s of course possible that the smoke monster is simply The Worst Idea Dharma Ever Had. Sure, a smoke monster sounds awesome on paper, but pretty much is a terrible reality. It’s like the New Coke of the Dharma Initiative, in this scenario. In this line of thinking, Dharma is Cyberdyne Systems, Smokey is Skynet, and well, you know the rest. The "incident" in this case would be Smokey going self-aware. Probability scale on this one? Actually, decently high. Just because it doesn’t excite me in the same way as the Jacob/Smokey Tag Team Connection doesn’t mean it’s not imminently plausible.
The question then remains: what happens should these two ever re-fuse? What would a fully whole Jacob look, feel, and act like? Currently Jacob sits, ostensibly trapped, inside his log cabin. Oh sure, he’s got his various liquids to keep him company, and every once in a while Christian Shephard comes a callin’ (after leaving one shoe on the porch), but other than that, we’ve got a man who needs help. Big time. And Smokey: Smokey just needs some understanding. (And a way around that sonic fence. Way annoying, that fence.) In any case, whatever psychological profiles you assess to them, I think we’ve learned that this pair are intimately intertwined, and that the show will gradually link the two as the episodes and the seasons march on.
Do you think there’s a connection between Jacob and Smokey? If not, how do you view the smoke monster’s origin and purpose on the Island? Is Smokey, like the Island, sentient? Is it alive in any meaningful sense? Or it is in fact merely a Dharma experiment gone horribly wrong? You decide!
Ryan also posts every 108 minutes over at Boob Tube Dude.