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To Hell and Back: The Latest Internet Lost Theories

Richard doing his best "Blue Steel."

Just as Richard né Ricardo found his faith in Jacob challenged in "Ab Aeterno", so too was the audience's faith challenged when we were forced to ponder whether the island is actually hell, causing a feeling of dread for viewers who had long ago dismissed notions of death and afterlife. But there was more to consider: the battle over human nature, Jacob's "baptism" of Richard, the statue's destruction, and even a random CGI butterfly. What could all of these things mean? As always, we tapped into the Internet pipeline to check out the latest theories from our favorite Lost fanatics and our very own commenters for answers.

• The dueling Washington Post bloggers point out that while the speech MIB gave Ricardo about killing Jacob was the same one Dogan gave Sayid about killing MIB, no such speech occurred when Flocke got Ben to kill Jacob. In fact, Jacob did quite a bit of talking at that time. Is that speech just a defense mechanism, since the two adversaries understand how persuasive the other is? They also got a look at the page Richard's Bible was turned to and noted that it included the line (conveniently, at 23) "Physician, heal thyself," leading them to believe that it will be Jack who takes over for Jacob. Bonus: Remember Hurley's supposedly imaginary friend Dave? What if he was a real psychiatric patient who had died, and he was trying to get Hurley to join him on the other side? It would explain why only Hurley could see him. [Celebritology/WP]

• Videogum would like to know what kind of slave ships (a) existed in 1867, (b) were full of white Spanish slaves, and (c) where such a ship was going in the mid-nineteenth century. The blogger also has a hard time believing that someone who can summon ships across seas, visit people around the world, and know what will happen after he dies "can't also know whether people are going to 'choose' to be jerks or not." [Videogum]

• Could MIB be related to the island's electromagnetism? The flashes of light he gave off certainly seem to be charged in some way. This theorist wonders if, as long as Jacob and his candidates can prove that man is worthy and good, that MIB must remain trapped on the island. But if they can't (or if the candidates run out), then MIB, and thus the electromagnetism, will be released, thus destroying the world, and sending everyone to "hell." [Theories on Lost/Dark UFO]

• Jace also thinks MIB has something to do with the electromagnetism, and thinks that's why the Others decided to purge the Dharma Initiative: Their experiments on the island's properties were leading to a situation (or incident) that would allow MIB to escape. He draws attention to just how important the episode's final scene was: Yes, if the cork is in place, the wine can't come out of the bottle's mouth. But there's a way to get the wine out of the bottle, circumventing the cork/island (a loophole, so to speak): smash the bottle. [Televisionary]

• This blogger translates what Hurley was saying to seemingly thin air when interrupted by Jack: "Yes, I can help you, but I don't know how to find them and I don't know which way they went." Yes, he said them, not him. Who else was Hurley talking about? Plus: It looks like MIB doesn't so much judge whether people are good or bad, but rather see how useful the person will be to his goal of escaping the island. [TV Guide]

• Doc Jensen is curious as to how the black rock could have managed to stay so intact after such an impact with the statue, but does point out that the event reflects a classic Lost literary reference, The Wizard of Oz. Also, he wonders if the island is some sort of redemption world, where you can prove yourself to the gods and "score a seat on a flight or sub" to heaven. As a side note, he thinks that the ship we saw heading towards the Island in the season five finale wasn't the black rock, so the sunny day versus stormy night was not a continuity error. [Totally Lost/EW]

• If all the people who came to the island before Richard are now dead, does that mean that Richard's arrival marks the official beginning of the Others as we know them? Possibly, though that doesn't explain who built that statue. Minor point of contention: Why is it so easy to kill people by accidentally snapping their neck? We're looking at you, Desmond and Kelvin from the hatch. [It Happened Last Night/Zap to It]

• What was the deal with the moth/butterfly flying around at the black rock? And how did that boar get in? Our characters seem to have a lot of meaningful encounters with animals: A moth guided Charlie and Jack out of the cave-in when he was experiencing heroin withdrawal, a boar was "out to get" Sawyer when he felt guilt about committing murder, Kate saw her black horse when she was dealing with killing her stepdad, Locke's face-off with a polar bear … Is it possible that Jacob can take the form of "animal spirit guides"? P.S. Are they ever going to tell us MIB's name? [Tom and Lorenzo]

• What is it, exactly, about the island that keeps MIB on it? Is it the mere presence of Jacob and/or his candidates? Does that mean we're going to start seeing the candidates get crossed off, one by one? [Crave Online]

• Why is the Man in Black trapped? It seems like he was once a normal human who somehow became a vessel for evil, which also gave him black-smoke powers. It seems likely that MIB originally sought that kind of power without realizing it would trap him forever. So which power-hungry character could be next to spend eternity on the island? Widmore. [Magic Lamp]

• The extended Ilana-in-Russia scene's main purpose seems to be to drive home the power of Jacob's healing touch: When he first gets to Ilana, her face is covered in bandages; some time after, still in the hospital, her face is clear and scar-free. Furthermore: When did Jacob go from baptizing-and-drowning-people hothead to mellow weaver? [Lost Blog/Filmfodder]

• If Jacob brought the black rock to the island, it was probably Smokey who caused the storm in an effort to destroy the ship. Crashing it into the statue may have just been his was of giving Jacob the middle finger. [Dark UFO]

• One blogger thinks Jacob’s conversation with Richard may as well have been a direct address from Darlton to the audience. For viewers who whine about not getting the answers they want, “I want them to help themselves, to know the difference between right and wrong without me having to tell them” is a memo directed at you. [MTV Movies Blog]

• This writer thinks that even though the nature of the game between Jacob and the Man in Black have been explained, we shouldn’t necessarily believe it. And on the subject of Jacob, was his hard-assedness in 1867 supposed to suggest that he was the Old Testament’s God? Or should we view his inability to bring back Isabella or absolve Richard’s sins as the show’s way of saying, “No, Jacob is not literally God.” [Tuned In/Time]

• Though the Losties were brought to the island for the latest round of this wager over human nature, Jacob’s laissez-faire attitude “soothes any concerns over the fact that ultimately what these people have done is of no consequence since Jacob is very clear about all of them having a choice.” [Inside Pulse TV]

• Don’t be fooled by all the Christian imagery in this episode, because the hell Jacob is concerned with is the corruption of all mankind to a point where they can no longer redeem itself. So if the island is the cork keeping the evil at bay, what happens in a world where the island is underwater? It’s too early to tell, but start looking for Smokey to show up in the sideways flashes soon. [Mistaking Coincidence for Fate]

• The island may not be hell, but it might be what’s called a "hellmouth," a gateway between that dark place and the rest of the world, which certainly matches up to Jacob’s metaphor. Also, it’s possible that Jacob let himself be killed so that his candidates could exercise their free will without him in the picture. After all, Jacob could have stopped Ben easily. [Watcher/Chicago Tribune]

• Jacob originally brought people to the island to prove that people can redeem themselves, but he switched to bringing candidates to replace him. Why did his mission change? Jacob must have known he was going to die, either because he knew his foe would find a way to murder him or because he himself was ready to die. [TV Squad]

• One writer views Richard’s loss of faith as a metaphor for fans of the show who are losing faith in the writer after years of dedication to this island and its inhabitants. But just as Richard regains his faith in the end, the writers are signaling to us that we, too, shouldn’t despair. [DocArzt’s LOST Blog]

• Instead of trying to figure out who’s good or bad, maybe we should look at Jacob and MIB the same way the 1983 film Trading Places looked at powerful men (brothers, actually!) who use human guinea pigs in a wager: as evil scoundrels. If that’s the case, it would probably be best if the Losties defeat them both. [Slate]

• Commenter annetay wants to know how that journal of the black rock's journey got off the island and into that auction where Charles Widmore bought it. Who escaped with it, and how?

KTMAC asks if Titus Welliver's body MIB's original body? Or is it another body he got stuck in, à la Locke?

Like_shootin_fish_in_a_barrel wants to know why no one's asking how and why MIB can turn into black smoke. Now we are, too.

R_Claw points out that we never actually saw Captain Hanso, and that he's not the one who killed everyone. Significant?

Photo: Mario Perez/ABC