Thanks to reader and contributor DocH (minor editing from myself):
I told myself I wasn’t going to take a side on the Jacob question, but, after watching The Brig, I think I’ll jump into the fray here. I think Jacob is a real, tangible, touchable human-being of normal (vice supernatural) abilities. He’s not deceased or “of legend”. Jacob doesn’t have 4 toes, isn’t a true prophet, and doesn’t have any unique ‘healing’ abilities.
Ben is not Jacob. Ben knows Jacob. Jacob is real and Ben is part of his stable of confidants. Ben is not the General, Jacob is. Ben is a Colonel in Jacobs’ army, and takes his orders accordingly.
Jacob is a modern day cult leader like Jim Jones in Guayana, Rev Moon of Korea, Bagwan Rajneesh in Oregon or the plural marriage guy they just busted from Utah. Jacob knows the power and unique qualities the island possesses, how to use what the island offers, but mostly how to manipulate his followers and elevate him to the demagogue status he desires. Ben and a few Others know about the island’s magic too. Jacob commands Jacob-oriented religion and devout followers ensue – folks are compelled to “prove themselves” by committing heinous acts they would not otherwise perform. After looking at all of those doe-eyed cultists ogling Locke in camp – I’d say most of them have spent more than a few days in the “brainwash” room on Hydra Island.
Ben is the public face for Jacob. Look at the way Ben publicly humiliated Locke when Locke wouldn’t prove himself in front of Jacob’s cult. The cult abandoned Locke – remember how eager they were when they thought Locke was “special” – “the one”. It was all a Jacob manipulation to ensure Locke was cast out. Why? Locke is wise to the unique qualities of the island – his paralysis, his bitten hand, dragged by smokie to the vent, his face-to-face with good smokie where he “saw into the heart of the island”. All this threatens Jacobs’ rule. Ben is the man in front of the curtain – Jacob is “The Man Behind The Curtain”, pulling all of the strings, rarely if ever seen by his cult, seen as need be by his Colonels, Captains and Lieutenants.
I don’t think Juliet has ever knowingly seen Jacob, but I do think she knows that Jacob is a flesh and blood person, not a deity. She was guest help for the cult fertility issue, but you know how it is with cults, the door only goes one-way. Once you are in the compound, they will never willing open the door to let you out. That is why Juliet has been in the extreme measure mode lately; the Ben operation, the Danny shooting, her cult trial, deceiving Sun about her D.O.C., and the secret alliance with Jack in beach camp.
The island does not cure – the doctors cure. The island heals – rapidly and freely. The island may also alter the normal aging process. Jacob, Locke and Ben all know this about the island. All of our doctors (Juliet, Ethan, etc…) know this too (Jack is just learning it though).
Since Jacob is not the ‘face’ of the cult, Jacob does not have to spend all of his time on the island. He gets away frequently to manage the business of the island. The business – exploit the capabilities of the island (a place for all to go and heal – for a significant fee of course) – and ultimately for the “Religion of Jacob” to go worldwide as the one true faith. With so much at stake why not just kill the Losties? Reason – Jacob is years away from taking the island public because of little things like; infertility, these nagging little smoke creatures that like to hurt folks (not good for business) – so they need test subjects. Losties, Tailies, special kids, pregnant-types, whatever they can get will fit the bill. Why not just kill Locke? Locke is gullible, he’d be more of an asset than a threat, if they can “bring him into the fold” and he’d make one heck of a poster-child for what the island is capable of.
So if Ben isn’t Jacob, who is? I don’t think it is one of the many rich corporate types that hover just out of sight, like one might suspect. The guys hiding in the corporate shadows are after the island themselves, either for profit and/or are in fear of what Jacobs little project may do to their long term bottom line and the global culture. It isn’t likely that any of our distinguished scientists from decades past are Jacob either, though they may have given rise to the Jacob phenomena.
Not from the past, not just off camera. How about a Jacob that has been hiding in plain sight the entire time? There is an old-world trick, where a royal would travel or visit foreign courts as a royal underling and the royal underling would pose as the royal. The hidden royal could observe, decide and eventually act without ever having revealed him or herself or putting themselves in harms’ way. Ben is the Colonel, but who wears Jacobs’ shoes? One of Bens’ Captains or Lieutenants? I cast my vote for Richard Alpert – he is Jacob, he is the puppet master behind the curtain and he perfectly fits the criteria outlined above.
Look at how Alpert comes and goes from the island (recruiting Juliet, kidnapping Cooper). Look at how Alpert is always around when important things are ‘apparently’ being decided by Ben (get me TMFT). And recently, with “The Brig”, Ben threw Locke his best “bad cop” impersonation – kill your father or you are an outcast, while Alpert simply manipulated Locke with his best “good cop” act, getting Sawyer to kill Cooper with – “John – we’ve never formally met – I don’t like Ben either – here is Sawyers’ file – read on…”. Locke AGAIN has fallen for the long con. Locke said I can’t kill, but in effect he did when he conspired for, solicited, and abetted the murder of Cooper, via Sawyer. Jacob (Alpert) and Ben now officially own Locke’s soul.
Now read the first 5 paragraphs again, only insert the word Alpert where the word Jacob is…