"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" ~ C. S. Lewis

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Free Will Vs. Destiny or Jacob Vs. MaybEsau

In some of my many musings about "The Incident", I came to the conclusion that we were looking at Jacob and MaybEsau the wrong way. I don’t think it will come down to a clear cut right vs. wrong, or an obvious hero vs. villain. The better parallel for me is the struggle between free will, or choice, and fate, or destiny.

From this view, I think it is clear that Jacob represents free will or choice, which would put his counterpart, whom I shall call MaybEsau (based on the name from Nikki Stafford’s blog), represents destiny.

Here are some of the facts that I believe support this theory:
Right at the beginning of "The Incident" Jacob and MaybEsau have a very intriguing conversation. I actually watched just this part over again to try to catch it all. Here's the transcript of their conversation. I think it's important enough to recap here:

MaybEsau: Morning.
Jacob: Morning.
M: Mind if I join you?
J: Please. Want some fish?
M: Thank you, I just ate.
J: I take it you're here because of the ship.
M: I am. How did they find the Island?
J: We'll have to ask them when they get here.
M: I don't have to ask. You brought them here. Still trying to prove me wrong aren't you.
J: You are wrong.
M: Am I? They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt. It always ends the same.
J: It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.
M: Do you have any idea how badly I want to kill you?
J: Yes.
M: One of these days, sooner or later, I'm going to find a loophole my friend.
J: Well when you do I'll be right here.
M: Always nice talking to you, Jacob
J: Nice talking to you, too.

There’s been a lot of discussion over what Jacob means when he says "It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress." I think what it means is that there is a definite end to the Island that will come at, well, the end. Each of the groups that come to the Island is in a way being tested. Are they the ones that can carry it out to the proper conclusion?
Jacob believes that each group can make their own choices. They can choose to destroy, kill and die or, eventually, a group will come that will make the right choices and bring everything to a conclusion.

MaybEsau believes that it’s always going to end the same way. None of the groups are capable of making the right choice. They are all destined to repeat the same types of mistakes as those who came before.

With each group Jacob is convinced that they can prove MaybEsau wrong, but MaybEsau doesn’t believe it will ever happen. The question is, will our Losties be the ones to get it right?
As Jacob comes into contact with the various people, he emphasizes many times that they have a choice.

Kate: Yes, Jacob pays for the lunch box, but he tells her not to steal anymore. She isn’t branded as a thief, the police aren’t involved. Kate has the opportunity to make the choice and turn her life in another direction.

Sawyer: Jacob gives him a pen. At first, I was thinking that he was helping Sawyer to write the letter that would eat him up. But on further consideration I think he was actually giving Sawyer a choice. Without the pen Sawyer would just continue to stew over the letter, writing and rewriting it in his head. With the pen he has a choice – he can finish the letter and hold onto the bitterness, or he can let it go and follow the advice of his relative (or whoever that man was at the funeral).

Jin and Sun: He tells them that their love is special and that they need to remember that. They have a choice. They can work through the difficulties that come, remembering how special their love is, or they can allow other things to come between them.

Hurley: Right before Jacob gets out of the car, he touches Hurley and says, "It’s your choice, Hurley. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to."

Ben: Jacob tells him that he has a choice. That he doesn’t have to listen to NotLocke.
Jacob even believes in giving his counterpart the freedom of choice. He doesn't deny that MaybEsau can find a loophole, doesn't protest, doesn't argue. Instead he simply says, "Well when you do I'll be right here." And that's where he is. MaybEsau made his choice, Jacob made his.

Unfortunately I can't think of many examples to prove that MaybEsau falls on the destiny side of things (mainly because we see so little of him as MaybEsau and it's hard to tell how much is Locke and how much isn't), but I think it is very important that he chooses Locke to inhabit. From season 1, Locke has been a huge supporter of the destiny idea. Whether he believes it is his destiny to crash on the Island, to push the button or to be the leader of the Others, he dives in with his whole heart. I don't think that it is any coincidence that MaybEsau chooses Locke as his host.

Add to that the fact that he disagrees with Jacob that things will ever change, and I believe it's a pretty strong case that MaybEsau represents the destiny side of the equation.

So which will win out? Destiny or free will? Or is the balance of the two what truly matters?
Unfortunately, we have to wait eight freakishly long months to even begin to discover the answer!

1 comment:

Blam said...

I really like the way you interpreted the scene with Sawyer. You're right, they were all about choice, but on the surface Jacob giving young James the pen seems like just the opposite.

When you look at the dialogue flat on the page (or computer screen) like that, it's practically Waiting for Godot, almost absurdist. I don't know what kind of direction or motivation the actors were given, but their portrayal certainly leaves less open to interpretation than do the unspoken words. Not that I discount the possibility we're being misled! For me, though, I felt optimism and serenity from Jacob; from Esau, darkness and fatalism, plus of course the not-so-veiled homicidal if not fratricidal threats.

Maybe Jacob is pure evil and the beatitude he seems to exude is just sociopathic hedonism, whereas Esau wants to be rid of him because he's such a cancer, but as I said in reply to one of your posts at Nikki's I think we'd better find out sooner rather than later or the producers risk a backlash from fans over manipulation and misplaced emotional investment.