The Enemy Within Jacob

I know the obvious interpretation of MIB and Jacob is that of evil personified and a guardian angel keeping the evil contained  on the island: a sort of villian/jailer analogy… and many people are making it very religious, going so far as saying it’s a devil and a god or an angel.

I don’t agree. That’s too obvious to me. I go instead with the interpretion supported by Dogen’s explanation of the good and evil within all men, the fact that we have not yet been told the name of the man in black, the fact Jacob and MIB cannot harm each other directly, and the man in black’s assertions that Jacob stole his humanity… Jacob and the smoke monster are two parts of a single man.

Suppose that Jacob was once whole…. a fairly ordinary man with hopes, loves, dreams, but like Captain Kirk in the TOS episode “The Enemy Within” (full episode viewable here)

If you don’t feel you can stomach Leonard Nimoy describing how he revolutionized the Spock character and invented the Vulcan Neck Pinch, you should at least  watch the first 2 minutes of Leonard Nimoy’s 7 minute commenatry on the episode in the video below:

Did you hear Nimoy say “telling us in effect, we all have a positive and a negative side, a light side and a dark side… and they can’t survive, one without the other” ?

If you have time, it’s worth watching the full episode. For all it’s glorious cheese, it’s classic Trek… and if you’re a LOST fan, it’s food for thought.

In the episode, we see the complete Kirk split into a bland, indecisive, although good at heart half, and a dark, evil, driven half.

Now, Kirk is still Kirk… and his “evil half” isn’t really evil per se, it’s more that he’s uninhibited… he’s carnal, ambitious, all the “darker” qualities of man… qualities which man needs to be, well, a man, but which without a filter … a conscience, a milder half to temper it appears evil and distasteful.

I posit that Jacob (willingly) allowed his darker qualities to be ripped from him and given a separate form (by his “crazy” mother?) as a martyr for all of humanity. Without his darker self, Jacob is mellow, kind of jerky for all his low-key ness… he lacks the everyday Joe charisma guys like Hurley and Sawyer and Frank have, because those qualities are removed from him and are now part of what makes up the Man in Black.

Is the MIB evil? No, he’s just the darker qualities which we all need to be men… and as Dogen said, it’s a matter of  balance.

Now, I don’t think it’s quite like the Kirk/Trek thing. Jacob is not incompetent without his dark side, he’s just vanilla. I’m just saying that I think that’s why MIB feels betrayed (cast out, ripped from his host… think of the original Spiderman comics version of Venom and how it learned to hate Peter Parker for rejecting their symbiotic relationship) and says he lost his humanity.

In one sense, it does make MIB “evil incarnate”… but he’s one man’s evil. And perhaps a necessary evil.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the resolution of LOST is the reuniting of these two halves and the acknowledgment on the part of Jacob and/or his “mother” that it is wrong to try to excise or separate the darker half.

I dunno, this is still a theory under construction, and I may not have articulated the thoughts very well. However, I think the parallels are clear and it’s a likely explanation of who MIB is. I’m very surprised by the lack of discussion of the “Enemy Within” parallels.  (well, up until now).

What do you think? Would you feel betrayed by this explanation and the introduction of a maternal goddess (maybe not introduction but identification of an existing character as the crazy parent) who thought this split was in the best interest of all?

-Scott Copperman-

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2 Responses to “The Enemy Within Jacob”

  1. Scott, you are definitely not the only one who ascribes to this theory; I have heard it on several podcasts by the hosts and guests, read it on message boards, etc. It’s actually quite popular and it’s a clever idea. Of course there’s still much we don’t know about Jacob and the MIB. Jacob, for example, does not seem entirely “good” and not for the reasons many have stated. It may rankle that Jacob brings people to the island against their will, but I don’t see this as inherently evil. The problem is I haven’t seen him do anything that I would see as truly good. Jacob also (as seen in Ab Aeterno) is not always calm or detached – he can clearly act as he did with Richard when Richard came at him with a knife. Similarly, the Man in Black is not always aggressive or even ambitious. He does seem fed up with his lot, though, and desperate to change it. When MIB becomes the Black Smoke he IS pretty darn scary though (and should he escape I would hate to see a world full of Sayids and Claires). It seems to me that MIB is the one with two faces. My point is that they don’t seem like complete opposites. It’s all a bit murky.

    Bottom line, this idea of MIB and Jacob being the same person has been done before. Before Star Trek there were other examples in sci-fi, and in some cultures there are gods with a dual nature. Heck there’s even a Buffy episode with Xander split into 2 aspects of his character. I guess I’m just not convinced that this is where the story is headed. There’s something to the opposite philosophies thing and there’s something about MIB’s mother that seems significant. But I see them as two separate people (originally). It appears that MIB was tricked somehow into his current form, probably by Jacob (hence the hatred) for the purpose of this “game”. I think we have to look at the stories of our characters we have been following for an answer. Why do we see so many similar themes?

    • Very true. Good point that it may be more that MIB has had the good ripped from him than Jacob has had the evil ripped out.

      Oh, and by no means do I intend to suggest this was MY idea or that I was alone in thinking it. I know it’s one that’s being considered by many, but it seems far less popular than I would expect (even tho it IS popular).

      I just think the devil/angel (or god or savior) roles are too obvious for LOST.

      I suppose we shall have to wait and see.

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