Good vs Evil: Jacob & “Locke”

It’s been a while since I did a Good vs. Evil post, and I’ve put this one off for a long time.  I mostly want to write this now because it seems like everyone is grasping at straws trying to figure out if we’ve been misled, maybe Jacob isn’t as nice as we like to believe.  I think it’s possible that people have lost some perspective about the issues.

And one disclaimer before I continue.  I feel very strongly we can discuss whether someone is good or evil.  I know many people dislike it when I debate these things, they wants more vagueness, they don’t want their favorite characters pigeon-holed.  But I like drawing lines in the sand.  I want there to be barriers between good and evil actions.  In the end of this show there will be two side, and I don’t think they will both be good and both be evil.  I’m pretty sure there will be villains and there will be heroes.

And another thing, I have to write this post about Jacob and “Locke”/Smokey because they are undoubtedly on opposite sides, if I write about one of them then it affects the other one.

Smokey/”Locke”/The Man in Black/Esau

I have to refer to each of the different forms of The Man in Black to simplify this discussion.  This character has a different personality based on his different forms.

The Man in Black/Esau

Jacob and Esau’s Conversation

Here’s a transcript of the conversation Esau had with Jacob in The Incident:

MAN IN BLACK: Morning.

JACOB: Mornin’.

MAN IN BLACK: Mind if I join you?

JACOB: [Shaking his head] Please. Want some fish?

MAN IN BLACK: Thank you. I just ate.

[The Man in Black sits down not far away.]

JACOB: I take it you’re here ’cause of the ship.

MAN IN BLACK: I am. How did they find the Island?

JACOB: You’ll have to ask ’em when they get here.

MAN IN BLACK: I don’t have to ask. You brought them here. Still trying to prove me wrong, aren’t you?

JACOB: You are wrong.

MAN IN BLACK: Am I? They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.

JACOB: It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.

[The Man in Black stares at his compatriot.]

MAN IN BLACK: Do you have any idea how badly I wanna kill you?


MAN IN BLACK: One of these days, sooner or later… I’m going to find a loophole, my friend.

JACOB: Well, when you do, I’ll be right here.

MAN IN BLACK: Always nice talking to you, Jacob.

JACOB: Nice talking to you, too.

From Lostpedia.

This conversation is very vague, very open to interpretation.  What I see is Esau getting angry at Jacob for bringing people to the Island.  He says they fight, destroy and corrupt and it always end the same.  Jacob argues that it doesn’t end every time.  What happens on the Island is progress, one day it will end and when it does actually end the people’s actions will prove him right.  Then Esau says how badly he wants to kill Jacob.  Jacob says he’s welcome to once he figures out a way.  That’s how I interpret that conversation.

That’s a nice intro to The Man in Black as a person, but let’s look back at what we know about him as a cloud of smoke.


Season 1

He spent the pilot rampaging through the jungle scaring the Oceanic survivors.  He then killed the Pilot.  Maybe it was self-defense.

Locke might have seen him in the jungle, but he describes what he saw as “beautiful” and a “bright light”.  So maybe he saw Jacob flitting around.  Who knows.  It doesn’t really matter.

Boone had a vision of Smokey killing Shannon, although that could have been a drug-induced hallucination.

Near the end of the season Rousseau refers to Smokey as the Island’s security system.  This hasn’t really been confirmed, and Rousseau was crazy, so I think we can just assume she didn’t know what she was talking about.

At the very end of the season Locke tries to get to know Smokey and Smokey tries to take him underground.  Locke still inexplicably wants to go, but Jack saves him.

Season 2

Charlie and Eko run into Smokey in this season and Smokey seems to scan Eko then it retreats.

Season 3

Smokey comes back as Yemi and tells Eko that it’s time to test him.  Then a few episodes later it does test him, it asks for a confession, Eko refuses and Smokey kills him.  As his last words Eko tells Locke ‘You’re next’, or maybe ‘You’re all next’.

Quite a while later Smokey chases Juliet and Kate around the jungle, flashing them with bright lights.  I assume that’s just another way he scans people.  He finally stops when he hits the sonic fence.  Evidently that’s the best defense against him.  I think it’s safe to assume that he was going to kill one or both of the girls.

Season 4

In Season 4 Ben manages to summon Smokey into the barracks where he destroys Keamy’s men.  Somehow Ben, Locke and everyone else escape its notice and run away.

Season 5

Ben went down into the Smoke-Pit where Smokey seems to live and is tested and scanned by Smokey.  Then Smokey appears as Alex and manipulates Ben into following “Locke”.

Back in the late 80s when Rousseau and her crew land on the Island Smokey appears and secretly kills their crew.  Then it pulls off Montand’s arm.  The rest of the crew except for Rousseau are left to be infected and get killed by Rousseau.

Season 6

After Bram and Jacob’s other bodyguards stumble late into the Four Toed Foot Smokey kills them.

When Smokey finally gets into the Temple he kills almost everyone inside.


So let’s count the victims of Smokey:

  • Seth, the Pilot
  • Eko
  • Keamy’s men
  • Bram and his bodyguard friends
  • Montand and other French people
  • The Others in the Temple

Not a very long list, is it?


“Locke” is the friendly face of The Man in Black.  This is the body that he uses to recruit and to con people.  Here’s what we’ve seen him do so far:


He conned Ben into following him and doing anything he said.  He used Ben’s guilt over killing Locke, his guilt about Alex’s death and his inferiority complex to manipulate him.  After Ben did what he needed him to do he just left him to wallow in his new guilt over killing Jacob.


He told Sun that he was going to do all he could to reunite her with Jin.  He then abandoned her.

The Others

He took over leadership of The Others simply to tell them that they were wrong to follow Jacob.

More recently he told The Others he would kill them unless they joined with him and tried to leave the Island.


He tricked Claire into thinking that The Others had Aaron so that he could use that as leverage to get her to fight against them.


He told Sawyer that he could get him off the Island.  And he implied that Jacob was using Sawyer in a game, keeping him on the Island only to die.


He told Sayid that he could resurrect Nadia.


The Man in Black is using Locke’s body to trick people into following him.  If he appeared as Smokey or Esau he wouldn’t be so successful.  After he’s done with people he just casts them off.  Can we trust that he will do what he told Sawyer and Sayid when he’s already lied to Ben, Sun and Claire?

“Locke”‘s Motivation

We know “Locke”‘s goal.  He wants to get off the Island.  Jacob was keeping him off the Island and now that Jacob’s dead there’s nothing preventing him from leaving.  But before he goes he seems to want to get some followers.  I think this is related to what Mr. Widmore said, “There’s a war coming”.  He also talked about sides in this war.  Who knows what side Widmore’s on, but that hardly matters.  The point is that when there’s a war even “Locke” won’t want to be alone.

I also think that “Locke” might have a bit of envy towards Jacob.  Jacob ruled the Island for so long he had so many followers, possibly “Locke” wants to turn that around.  He’s doing his best to recruit Jacob’s Candidates and his Others.

I look at all that I’ve written and I see a crazy man who is willing to kill and take advantage of anyone.  He doesn’t like humans and certainly doesn’t care about them.  HE IS EVIL.  There’s no other word to describe his actions.


Here’s a list of all the people Jacob has effected:


One of his Candidates.  Jacob is trying to subtly guide Jack into his destiny.  He won’t tell him what to do, but he’s motivating him.   It’s possible that Jacob was spying on Jack as he grew up (or maybe he was watching Christian).  He also touched Jack off the Island, this will mean something in the coming episodes, or maybe he just did that to all of his Candidates or everyone who he brought to the Island.


One of the Candidates.  Jacob appeared to Sawyer at his most desperate time, after his parents funeral when he was writing the letter to Anthony Cooper.


Apparently Kate isn’t one of the Candidates.  But Jacob did appear in Kate’s childhood at a potentially pivotal moment.  He helps Kate to get out of trouble and he tries to get her to promise to not steal anymore.  He ends by saying, “be good Katie”.  Possibly Jacob doesn’t consider her a Candidate because she wasn’t “good”, or maybe she still is important but not a Candidate.  I’m very confused about what Jacob’s feelings towards Kate are.

More and more Kate is seeming like Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica.  Emotionally unstable and unpredictable, alternatively loved and hated by the fans, and completely inexplicable from a mythological point of view.  Watch, she’ll be standing beside Jack in the finale and she’ll just disappear (of course I’m kidding).


One of the Candidates.  It seems as though Hurley is almost Jacob’s favorite.  He appeared to him right before the Ajira flight and he still appears to him even though he’s dead.  He tells  Hurley more than he’s possibly told anyone.  I personally think that Hurley is the prime Candidate.

He also used Hurley to deliver a message to The Others telling them to save and protect all the remaining Candidates.


One of the Candidates.  This is definitely the best example of how evil Jacob is.  When Jacob appears to Sayid he either saves Sayid’s life or else he gets Nadia killed.  Maybe both.  This is really the only death that can be attributed to Jacob.

Sun & Jin

One or both of these characters are Candidates, probably just one.  Jacob tells them that their relationship is special and he blesses them.


Jacob resurrected Locke after his Dad killed him.  It’s possible that he knew in the future Locke would be used to kill him, but Jacob still wanted to save him.

The Others

I could go one forever about The Others and what their actions say about Jacob.  Here’s how I like to think about it.  Jacob gave them lists and they did what they wanted with those lists.  They kidnapped killed and conned all on their own.  None of their craziness reflects on him, he just likes to write lists.


Jacob gave Richard everlasting life.  That’s something.  Possibly it’s a curse, but Richard seems quite happy with it.

I’m pretty sure that Jacob probably saved Richard’s life.  He was dying and Jacob saved his life in exchange for Richard’s eternal servitude.


This is a very grey area.  It’s possible that Jacob wanted to have Walt as a possible candidate, he was after all Special.  But we don’t really know what happened there.  All we know is that The Others took him and when it was clear that Walt was too powerful, or maybe when they saw the extent of his powers, they let him leave the Island.


Juliet’s sister was dying of cancer.  Jacob cured that.  Jacob did not force Juliet to stay on the Island, that was Ben.


Jacob and Ben haven’t exactly had a good relationship.  Ben is a very persuasive man, and he gets what he wants, usually through immoral means.  So he became the leader of the Others.  Apparently he wasn’t approved by Jacob.  Jacob refused to use Ben as his leader and in the end he told Ben what he thought of him.  He let Ben kill him.  He didn’t defend himself at all.


Here is another time when Jacob did something that was possibly less than honorable.  He told Dogen that he would resurrect his son if Dogen would come and serve him on the Island.  We don’t know if he really did resurrect the kid or what, but still that was definitely a “hard bargain”.


All we know about Jacob and Ilana is that Jacob asked for her help and she is extremely devoted to him.


Out of the fourteen people I’ve listed above, only three of them (Sayid, Walt and Dogen) have had slightly bad experiences with Jacob.  Most of the time Jacob is just healing people and saying sorry.  These aren’t the actions of an evil person.

Jacob’s Motivation

Here’s how I see Jacob.  He’s an observer of human nature.  He’s as much a fan of this show as we are.  He watches what these characters do and he chooses favorites based on what they do.  He could probably have his own blog, maybe even a podcast about the show.  He likes some characters: Jack, Hurley, Sayid; and he’s indifferent towards others: Ben and, evidently, Kate.

Another thing I want to mention, Jacob’s dead.  As far as villains go, he’s pretty useless as a pile of ashes.  That alone should convince the doubters that Jacob isn’t evil.  There’s no point in having a dead villain.  And there’s no reason why the writers would kill their main villain the season before the final season.  I’m not saying that we should give Jacob a carte blanche simply because he’s dead, but I am saying that we have no proof that he is actually evil.

I’m willing to concede that possibly Jacob is completely indifferent to human morality, possibly he just wants to watch things happen.  But until there is a big reveal that shows that Jacob is totally evil, I’m still on the ‘Jacob is good’ side.  You could say I’m on “Team Jacob”.  Someone really needs to make that into a shirt.


I purposefully haven’t mentioned Christian in this post.  He’s a little confusing.  He might just be another body that The Man in Black uses, or maybe he’s actually Jacob’s servant, or he’s a free agent.  I can’t be sure who he’s in league with, so I won’t use him as an example either way.

– izi

9 Responses to “Good vs Evil: Jacob & “Locke””

  1. 1 missscarlett
    March 7, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Maybe it was self-defense.
    tell me that’s a joke – I hate that the internet doesn’t allow for sarcasm!!

    Maybe he saw Jacob flitting around!! like tinkerbell? LOL

    It seems kinda like if you’re not in Smokey’s direct path you can stay safe — hiding in trees, going down holes (not if he pulls you down!)
    Didn’t Ben say Smokey was hard to direct or something to that effect when he summoned it?

    He told Sun that he was going to do all he could to reunite her with Jin. He then abandoned her
    Maybe that was all he could do? or all he could stand!

    I wonder if his scanning people is measuring whether or not/how much he can use them to his own end? Once Eko was firmly on one side he killed him. Flip flopping Locke has always been his preferred Lostie!

    None of their craziness reflects on him, he just likes to write lists.
    Or that’s part of his definition for ‘progress’.
    Perhaps if he gave a little direction with those lists…

    Jacob cured her cancer?? Did he have a special injection he sent along with Ethan?

    Jacob refused to use Ben as his leader and in the end he told Ben what he thought of him. He let Ben kill him. He didn’t defend himself at all.
    Very interesting viewpoint.
    I hadn’t considered that Jacob refused to use Ben — he did have lists from him – lists he added to (Jack)but as Widmore does insist, Ben was a usurper of sorts. But Widmore broke ‘the Rules’ so why would Jacob stay loyal to him?

    I thought he just gave in to his death because he knew it was the only way to meet his end goal == I hadn’t considered it as a reflection of Ben’s worth. Interesting.

    He could probably have his own blog, maybe even a podcast about the show.
    I would so read/listen to that!

    Izi — they have those shirts!

    Alright so: I agree that there will be 2 sides — without that, where’s the war?

    BUT like Dogen said every man (which EL used to be and Jacob was??)has a measure of both good and evil, it is which tips the scale that matters.

    SO: I agree that Jacob is the Better Man — the good one if I must. But his indifference to human suffering is disturbing and I understand how years of that indifference could build up in a guy and lead to vengeful action.

    {I was rooting for MIB to find his loophole but still felt it would be rendered useless in the end. And by the time he could find that loophole he’s lost whatever grip he had on morality and was full on vengeance}

    Also I cannot recover from how dull this Jacob is so I can’t bring myself to call him a hero. Maybe one day…

    While I say I understand MIB’s frustration with Jacob – ummmm he’s kind of become the same (as far as indifference to human suffering goes)
    He’s killing and using people to get what he wants.
    He’s killing a lot of extraneous people too.
    So yeah. He’s evil.
    But he has my sympathy.

    Something’s wrong with me!

  2. 2 mins
    March 8, 2010 at 9:48 am

    i wonder if these men are brothers, and MIB is like a “Cain”, having killed his brother.
    i still think jacob is the good guy. He doesn’t talk much but that’s a good thing so that his grand plan doesn’t get thrown out there for Flocke to know. I’m still confused about sayid. I thought jacob was sending him to the temple to be cured.
    I don’t agree with Flocke that Jacob “manipulated” all the candidates. I don’t recall jacob telling sawyer outright to be a conman and selfish and keep the grudge for life. that was sawyer’s choice. their destiny is to come to the island, but what they do with their lives is the free will part.
    wish we know MIB’s name, and that statue’s face!

    • March 9, 2010 at 12:44 pm

      Mr. “Locke” is very Cain-like. Now we just need God to come exact some divine judgment.
      I don’t think Jacob was expecting his pool to get so dirty so fast. When he’s down by the pool in Lighthouse he seems sad about it. So perhaps he was trying to save Sayid, but something unexpected happened. Or maybe Hurley took too long to get to the Temple. They did spend half an episode trying to save Juliet instead of Sayid (I would have made the same choice).

  3. March 9, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I hate to say it dude, but your post has actually convinced me more that they are both neutral, neither is good nor evil.

    As you pointed out – Smokey’s kill list isn’t that high (except the Temple massacre), and he generally just ditches people when they are no use to him.

    Jacob is FAR from a mere observer – he definately brought Locke back to life, and has been shown to be actively manipulating everyone, and continues to do so via Hurley. How that can be seen as mere observation and ‘good’-ness, I don’t know.

    A few extra points – it was confirmed that the spiders that attacked/”killed” Nikki were a Smokey manifestation. Also, how would Widmore know about this war? Were he and Jacob big buddies back in the day?

    • March 9, 2010 at 12:38 pm

      How does a strict do or die attitude, or the fact that he uses and abandons people, proof that Smokey is not evil?
      I feel no need to rewrite everything I wrote above about how Jacob has effected everyone’s lives. Suffice it to say he resurrected Locke, he saved Sayid’s life, he tried to save it again, and he isn’t manipulating Jack, he’s showing him the truth and letting him draw his own conclusions. What’s wrong with that?
      I discount Expose as a tangent episode. I loved it, but I would never use anything that happened in that episode to form a theory around. It was just a fun little side trip.
      And I figure when people like Widmore foreshadow things like “the war” they’re just being used by the writers. It doesn’t really reveal anything about the characters.

    • 6 missscarlett
      March 11, 2010 at 7:34 am

      When was this spider/Smokey thing confirmed??!

      Didn’t Widmore say there was a war coming? I thought he did.
      Although he might have thought it was between he and Ben. 🙂

  4. 7 mins
    March 10, 2010 at 10:39 am

    The enhanced version of Sundown explained a few things.
    . why wouldn’t dogen kill sayid? b/c if he did HIS balance would tip toward evil. So when dogen told sayid, his balance tipped the wrong way, it meant, i believe, the evil side.
    . Flocke is lying and manipulating claire and others to get his way
    . Jacob considered himself the protector of the island which is now in danger since he’s dead.
    .Jacob is trying to find new protector of the island
    . ilana’s purpose is to protect the candidates
    . Kate’s stunned face when she came out of the temple is more b/c it’s the first time she is seeing the new “Locke” and she knows he is on the wrong side.
    To me, this seems to show the writers are saying jacob is good and Flocke, evil.

  5. 8 Spirit
    April 30, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    All what man in black want is to leave island, to be among people since his childhood. Is that a crime? It’s not like he would limit or kill anyone till he wasn’t limited, attacked, etc..
    From other side what gives to Jacob right to interfere with other peoples life. Yes, man in black killed people. So did Jacob. Just think about it… how many people of dharma dies in the name of “the others” under Jacobs leadership.

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March 2010

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