Are the Windows 7 ads depicting different people in the flashback or just made up/altered versions of the person who is thinking that Windows 7 is their idea? This mystery is actually more important than any of those on Lost.
Pretty rich episode--heaps of stuff.
We learned that evil hates a good metaphor as the still nameless Man in Black broke the wine bottle.
We learned most importantly Jacob's limits: he cannot directly intervene if he wants free will to win the day. He also cannot resurrect the dead (what does that mean for the pool in the temple, Mrs. Spew wants to know), and he cannot absolve the dead of their sins.
Since Jacob cannot intervene, he needs to hire an agent to do so--hence the principal-agent reference. For those lucky non-political scientists who are not familiar with P-A theory, the basic idea is that whenever anyone is hired to do something (or enslaved, actually), the principal gives her or him a bit of authority/decision-making/activity over a certain domain. That agent then develops some advantages--he or she will know more about what he or she is doing than the principal because the principal is delegated precisely because the big P is busy and needs to get others to do the task in question. The principal can try to oversee the agent, but this is not perfect. So, the agent can shirk--to do less than what is required or to act differently from what the principal wants.
And this points to one of the biggest mysteries: who was responsible for the mass murder of the Dharma folks--the gassing that Ben initiated with Richard's guidance? Some have speculated that the Man in Black manipulated Ben so that Ben was not really acting under Jacob's instructions. Given that Jacob never met Ben before Ben killed him, Jacob really created a poor system of delegation and oversight, one that bred the ultimate in shirking--killing the principal.
Anyhow, Richard became Jacob's agent because he offered him the only way to avoid hell--immortality. So, now he can tamper with others' free will when he pleases by getting Richard to advise people. Or advise people directly through Hurley now that he is dead. It seems to me that Jacob has set up a game that is doomed to fail--that the rules are stacked in favor of Evil, and that starting each round seems to require an intervention of circumstances that does not violate free will but certainly circumscribes it--boat crash, plane crash, etc.
So, now we come to a key question: is this a religious lesson or social science? If it is the latter, then Jacob would never have gotten approval from a research ethics board (but he might have gotten a reality TV contract). After all, he has competing theories of human nature and keeps constructing experiments to test his hypotheses. And he has a pretty strict philosophy of science--he only has to have it work once to prove MIB/Flock wrong.
But, of course, as Sara M reminded me quickly on facebook tonight, this is old school religion, with heaps of religious images throughout--crosses, baptism, etc. So, MIB/Smokey believes that all humans are born flawed and those flaws will win out when given temptation/opportunity. Jacob believes that the past does not matter, that people are unconstrained.
And I just realized that this might, just might, be the purpose of the flash-sideways. To show that the past does not determine one's destiny. Jack finally overcomes his daddy issues with his son, Locke learns to accept his condition, Ford/Sawyer learns to trust, Ben chooses not to pursue power. Even Kate stopped running to help Claire in both timelines, come to think of it.. Ah, but Sayid remains a killer. But one could easily argue that his situation in LA constrained choice so much that he do nothing else. We have seven or eight flash-sideways left (depending on how they count episodes--7 left--if the finale counts as one or two and whether each ep has a flash-sideways).
I really liked the ending with Hurley, Isabella and Richard. We now know the stakes--Smokey cannot leave. Even if that means that everyone has to die or remain on the Island or both.
So, did we get any answers? Yes:
- We learned Richard's complete and total origin.
- We learned how the Black Rock got to the Island and all the way inland--the mighty wind of Jacob.
- We learned what happened to the Statue. But that raises a new mystery--how much control does Jacob have? Why did he choose to or accidentally destroy his home. Or at least his home's exterior decoration.
- We learned once again that the Lost people (Cuse and Lindelof) like to mess with us--that this is hell and they are all dead. That was obviously wrong because we learn nothing that consequentional before the opening credits. And it was too straightforwardly said. They don't do that with us--they play with our heads.
- We learned that show is once again a typical TV show--so easy to kill people accidentally. The doctor getting killed was so easy. If people were that breakable, well, I would not be writing this blog. I would have died a long time ago, probably in the Oberlin North Quad, hitting my head on a tree while chasing a frisbee. Pretty careless use of an overused plot device. Oy! Biggest weakness on tonight's show.
- Apparently, being touched by the Man in Black is not the same gift-giving experience that is Jacob's touch, but oh did Jacob touch the hell out of Richard--with his fists, via the dunking, etc.
- We have renewed evidence that many but not all dead folks on the island who speak and are tempting are manifestations of Smokey, including Isabella except when she is talking through Hurley.
- We know now why Smokey hates Jacob--because Smokey wants to leave and Jacob will only let him over his dead body. Which is what Smokey arranged.
Answers or new mysteries?
- Was white slavery actually practiced much in 1867? In the Canary Islands?
- Which raises an additional question: portraying a Catholic priest as a slave profiteer suggests that Cuse/Lindelof might be very skeptical about organized religion.
- The boat was owned and run by Magnus Hanso. The Hanso Foundation, run by Hanso's grandson, was featured on the Lost Experience, an online supplementary game which I did not follow. But I do know that the Hanso Foundation funded the Dharma Initiative.
- Still don't know when Jacob/MIB showed up--long before you arrived.
- We still don't know who the winning Candidate will be, but that obviously has to wait until the end of the series or close to it.
- Who are these guys really? Jacob, as my wife just reminded me, killed a bunch of sailors to start the next round of experimentation. That would certainly not pass a research ethnics review board. So, even if he was not directly responsible for the Purge, he does do stuff that deliberately causes much death. Experimentation seems to be a poor justification. If doing so was part of an effort to contain or kill Smokey, then one could justify it by focusing on the greater good.
- The instructions that Smokey gave on how to kill Jacob--identical to those that Sayid received to kill Smokey. So, they are of the same kind. But kind is that?
- How did some of the Oceanic 5 get beamed down and since Sun was not, can we rule her out as a Candidate?
- Oh, and they got around the "no flashbacks" promise by having Ben tell the tale uninterrupted with no swoosh sounds.
- Love Hurley's use of Spanish which should not be surprising, but seemed more so than his ability to talk to dead folks. Which has become super-handy.
- Ok, I am not a bible reader--what is the significance of the passage Richard was reading in prison before the priest/slaver stole his bible? New Testament, with Luke. Other than that, I don't know.
They are on a roll--Ben, Sawyer, then Richard-centric episodes. Much rocking!
Remember to answer the key question--the Windows 7 mystery.