Everything else is just progress…

So I have been thinking long and hard on the season 15 Finale and all we gleamed from it, there were a lot of answers but even more questions put before us. One thing that stuck out in my mind was the conversation on the beach, between Jacob and the man in black. I am sure for many of this this was a a moment where our hearts raced a bit and our minds spun trying to drink the exchange in.

I will not quote word for word I think we have all watched it enough to do that, what I will do is sum it up a bit before proceeding. Basically the message I got out of it was simple MIB was opposed to people coming to the island, he stated plainly man was what he was or that people were what they were and would come and fight and destroy.

Jacob points out that it only ends one time and everything before that was progress.


This is the part that stuck with me because if the “you can’t change the past” thing holds true there is no progress, you would continue to be on this never ending time loop where things constantly remain the same with no chance to progress further. It makes me think strongly you can in fact change the past.

Beyond that I wanted to point something out and solicit some feedback. From those of you familiar with the Dharma initiative and what they are. They are at their core Heuristic, which is to say they believe in trial and error. Doing something OVER and OVER again until you get it right. We know this of course because Dharma stands for “Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications”.

Would that not tie in perfectly with what Jacob and the MIB were discussing? While Jacob clearly sets into action a chain of events that lead to a possible outcome by doing them again and again progress is made and hopefully a proper conclusion is eventually made. (In our case there may even be something major at stake like the end of the world… possibly tying into the numbers)

So my theory. Jacob brings the Black Rock to the Island by contacting or influencing the captain or his benefactor, or the conditions pertaining to it’s route. He does this, and further guides people along throughout time ensuring that the “right players” arrive at the island when they are supposed to. His hope is that they will learn from their mistakes in life, or from past life cycles in this loop to drive them forward to make the right decision which in turn saves the world… proves MIB wrong or in some other way leads to a positive outcome.

EVEN the Dharma Initiative is brought to the island through his manipulations. They do not just “happen” upon the island and then are granted the right to live there, construct there, and endanger the island and it’s inhabitants which the others have shown clearly they will not tolerate. They have all been brought there, manipulated, and coerced each player with a part. Each part with a purpose.

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44 thoughts on “Everything else is just progress…

  1. Thorn – What a great read! I really like your connection to the conversation about progress to the issues at hand with a possible loop, purpose for being in the past, the changing the past ‘debate’, etc. Regardless of whether any part of the theory itself stands, these tie-ins seem dead on. (Well reasoned theory, too, I will definitely add.)

    It makes so much sense that there are opposing views to what progress would even mean. This statement from you can be pretty a significant platform to dive in to the conversation about what progress means for the Losties:

    “This is the part that stuck with me because if the

  2. Another idea is that Jacob is a man of science. It’s irrelevant how it will play out, but you understand more by watching it. The progress isn’t man’s, but of your own. Everyone ignores the ‘it only ends once’ statement. MIB must agree here, too. They know it’s not all eternal … there is an ‘end’.

  3. Thorn, you know when you mention the word ‘change’ you have my immediate attention!

    This is precisely what Jacob and his Nemesis were at odds with.

    Jacob’s own words, verifies that he believes that he can bring about change in the loop. And, by bringing about the appropriate change, it only ends once!

    Your entire theory, is not only valid, it will play out on the show in Season 6. No doubt in my mind about that!

    Top Notch Theory!

  4. Thank you so much for the awesome feedback and kind words, I love the thoughts you all have on the subject and the show in general so yeah means a lot!

  5. I really like this theory! Awsome thoughts! I really enjoy too that it is simple and follows a line of logic, which I believe is essential to Lost.

  6. I think when Jacob says, What about You? Its as if he doesn’t know Ben. I think Ben has been taking orders from MIB all these years, believing he was Jacob. Remember he takes Locke to the cabin to Jacob. He seems genuinely surprised when Richard brings Locke to the statue. I think it means Ben was taking orders from MIB who was trapped in the cabin all those years. I think Jacob genuinely does not have any idea who Ben is.

  7. I was thinking the same thing. Jacob is trying to change something for sure. I think Jacob knew that MIB will find the loophole so he planed everything out. Remember Mib (John) told Richard to deal with the rest of the passengers. But Jacob already told Ilana to bring the Jhon’s body to Richard.

  8. I have an additional comment to add to the way you are defining “change” here. There seems to be a lot of debate about whether this looping through time can actually change the events of the past, but then Jacob says it only ends once.

    Well, what if both concepts are correct? What if the whole point of looping back through time over and over does not effect the past (because the future will always course-correct), but it DOES effect the human condition, e.g. the karmic path of the individual.

    So, this would mean that Jacob is continually looping these people back through time over and over again in the hopes that they will learn from the process and redeem themselves karmically. But Mib is convinced that, no matter how many times Jacob brings them to the island, these people will always “fight, destroy, corrupt”.

  9. I have an additional comment to add to the way you are defining “change” here. There seems to be a lot of debate about whether this looping through time can actually change the events of the past, but then Jacob says it only ends once.

    Well, what if both concepts are correct? What if the whole point of looping back through time over and over does not effect the past (because the future will always course-correct), but it DOES effect the human condition, e.g. the karmic path of the individual.

    So, this would mean that Jacob is continually looping these people back through time over and over again in the hopes that they will learn from the process and redeem themselves karmically. But Mib is convinced that, no matter how many times Jacob brings them to the island, these people will always “fight, destroy, corrupt”.

    This would explain the exchange between Jacob and Mib, when Jacob says, “It only ends once. Everything else up till then is just progress.”

    It might also explain why babies can’t be conceived on the island…

  10. I think lostonlost makes an interesting point about who has been ‘giving the orders’ as we all have been led to believe. This is where the apparent debate between Jacob and MIB is so interesting – because if they truly disagree and have their points to prove – it would appear that they both have gone to great lengths to achieve whatever outcome they believe is the “right” one. (Even that word is limiting though.)

    If it was MIB giving the orders, it makes the ‘interference’ on both of their parts incredibly complicated, interesting and much more like a game where all our Losties, DHARMA, the Others, etc. are their pawns.

    I think the idea of “it only ends once” as Karma brought up, gives some sort of idea that there is an “end” result that is being worked towards…which goes back to the “progress” word.

    Good discussion!

  11. There is only one problem with Jacob’s Nemesis being the one who was giving the orders, and that is, we found out in the finale, from Ben’s own words, that Ben received all of his orders from Jacob, via Richard Alpert!

    Ben stated to Jacob, ‘all of those notes, and lists, and I did everything you asked’.

    While it would make for an interesting plot line, it doesn’t seem to ‘ring true’.

  12. I agree Dabs on that what we have seen with Jacob directing Ben via Richard seems like there’s not much to debate at this point.

    What I do think is possible are the other directions given that we (or at least the characters) believed to be Jacob. So, whether it was Jacob who told John “Help Me” or to move the island – can we say for certain it was Jacob? Or the appearances, such as dead Horace directing Locke to find the cabin – that one really could go either way.

    I imagine Ben’s surprise at the statue because at some point, he believed Jacob was in the cabin. And who directed him to that? Locke being led by…???

  13. kimberly, I don’t see any mysteries here. Richard Alpert certainly knows who Jacob is, and Ben admittedly states he had never seen Jacob, nor talked to him.

    When Ben does meet Jacob, there is no past recognition.

  14. I know. I’m not referencing Ben and the things he has done for Jacob that came from Richard. I am talking about things like the direction to move the island, who Locke believed to be Jacob. Because technically at this point, it’s fair enough to assume that Locke didn’t see the real Jacob either. I think the evidence that the cabin had been in use by someone else, as stated by Ilana, gives enough opportunity for it to have been MIB giving “orders” at that point. And especially since we know that Ben had never seen Jacob, we know that anything that Locke said that Jacob had said, Ben would not know the difference.

    So back in “Cabin Fever” – when dead Horace appeared to Locke and said, “Find me and you” find him.” Who do you think that was? And who do you think gave the initial order to move the island? Is it not open for discussion?

  15. Well, kimberly if you are suggesting that it was Jacob’s Nemesis, than I disagree!

    I am not interested in discussing it, as I see no merit in it. Sorry!

  16. Not interested in discussing it because you don’t see merit in it? Isn’t that the point of trying to get people to understand where you are coming from? So then I am assuming that it means that you don’t think that any ‘directions’ that in the past (not to Ben, not the lists and such, I hope I made that clear) to anyone else that we might have presumed to be Jacob – in the form of Horace, or Christian, or Walt, or anyone else – it just flat out wasn’t the MIB.

    It’s not open for discussion as to who it was?

  17. Hey Kimberly, I’m of the opinion that when “Christian” told Locke to move the island, that it was the MIB.

    We’ve seen the MIB fool Ben by using Lockes form, so it seems he fooled Locke by using Christians form.

    If Ilana went to the cabin to find Jacob, she pretty much confirms that he hasn’t been there for a while, and that someone else has been using the cabin.

    I think that someone else is the MIB, and was probably the one who asked Locke for help in The Man Behind the Curtain.

    Jacob tells Ben he has a choice when “Locke” takes him there. Whereas, the MIB tells people what to do. He told Locke to move the island, and he told Ben to kill Jacob.

    I certainly think the MIB has manipulated things in the whole of the show, it can’t just be Jacobs “game”.

  18. In my pesonal belief, I agree with kimberly and emzi. I think by now we should have a pretty good idea of when we are seeing the work of Jacob and when we are seeing the work of MIB (telling vs. choice). I also believe that it really is some sort of “game”, and of course like most games, has two sides.

  19. emzi, I do agree that Jacob’s Nemesis has been ‘running’ his own game, and has likely orchestrated many of the events we have seen.

    I also think it is possible that he used Christian’s form to advance his plans. That makes perfect sense.

    I do not subscribe to the notion, however, that he gave Ben his orders, though.

  20. Thanks Emzi. I think it is an interesting thing to discuss given that we have now seen Jacob off-island maneuvering, appearing as ‘himself’ for lack of a better definition, etc. And up until that point, it was much more mysterious to think that maybe he was using the ability to appear as someone else to direct people to him or to do things for him.

    So then we see MIB once, and then appearing again in the form of Locke. (Which I know, it’s debatable, and there are ideas that maybe it’s not him. But it’s something to presume given the whole interaction.) So to me it definitely leaves it open for ideas and thoughts to explore all the visions of people in the past and “who” was behind it?! And I think connecting who was orchestrating such things to the bigger picture question of “for what end?” becomes really interesting.

    And as Thorn points out, all the contacting, influencing, strategically bringing people to the island seems like it’s all part of whatever “end” we could be coming to!

  21. Dabs, I hope you were able to see that I made reference to it not being MIB “pulling the strings” that were the orders from Jacob via Richard, either. It seems as if you misunderstood my conversation point somewhere.

  22. kimberly, it started out that Ben was receiving messages from Jacob’s Nemesis, which is what I disagreed with. Did I misunderstand the original statement? I thought you were agreeing with the comment, as stated.

    I’m afraid something was lost in the translation, though.

    Perhaps, my ‘receiver’ isn’t up to snuff!

  23. I agreed (at various points) that I believe that Jacob was responsible for the directions that Ben attributed to him. (There is actually some merit to talking about what exactly the orders are though! Were they explicit??? Like, kill off the DI? That is interesting stuff to consider, but not the point right now.)

    Anyway, what Lostonlost’s comment reminded me to think about was the various times that ANY “directions” were given – as I stated as an example with Horace guiding Locke to the cabin – it is possible that at first it appeared like it was Jacob doing the initiating of the directions, but I think it’s safe to say that MIB had a hand in many of those instances that we otherwise assumed to be Jacob.

    I disagree with Lostonlost’s original comment that Jacob doesn’t know Ben. But I do think that the idea that it was MIB in the cabin is quite accurate.

    Hope that helps to clarify!

  24. kimberly, thanks for the clarification. I was only addressing that one issue.

    I have full appreciation for your desire to discuss, and would normally be open to further conversation, as they are all very valid points to consider, and ones that I have good thoughts on.

    However, I am very ill at present, and am not capable of participating in any lengthy discussion, and why my appearances on site have been relegated to short, and infrequent comments.

    I hope you understand.

  25. Thanks Emzi I really appreciate that 😉

    Also like Karma’s thoughts a lot on the subject above very interesting.

    I further think you all might be onto something in the method by which these two players control the pawns in this game and being able to tell the difference between them.

    I was thinking to the scene where Christian or his form is standing above Locke after he has fallen down the well, maybe by reaching out to him and helping him physically would be breaking the rules of the game where as by giving him knowledge about the wheel and how to use it still gives him choice. Of course Locke being a man of blind faith he just does it, Christian or MIB knows this and uses it to his advantage?

    Just a thought.

  26. Ah ha! You’ve brought up another whole can of worms with your semantic “blind faith”, Thorn! This goes back to earlier comments and theories about what’s happening here. I keep reflecting on the way that, because Jacob appears to be God-like (vs. Devil-like as is Mib) and has expressed his “belief” in humanity (by telling Mib that he’s wrong), we have been theorizing based on the assumption that he possesses all these benevolent and compassionate qualities toward humanity. However, he very quickly dismisses Ben at their encounter with a cruel comment, “What ABOUT you?”. Jacob seemed disappointed/offended by Ben’s blind faith in him. Why would that be?

  27. We wouldnt have seen the loop yet, only the people who have been on the island living free from time, such as Jacob or the nemesis would have seen it…

    so, I guess that would be season 6….

    Thorn, excellent job on this theory, busy at the moment, but will come back to it later this evening for more commenting.

  28. Well, yeah… I guess we wouldn’t have seen it if it was just Jacob and the other guy living in the loop… but given what we know about those two saying that they are in a time loop is a stretch of pure speculation.

  29. I think that Karma’s point about the process of “looping” is the one one I have previously thought about the most. There have been far too many clues or scenarios hinting at the idea of something looping to completely discount the notion that a loop of sorts is at play. (There are other things that have been and could be proposed as ideas that are much easier to say, “no way” to.)

    The loop is not out of the picture and I think the reference to “it only ends once” leaves that door wide open for conversation. My perspective has always been thinking on how it relates to characters experiences more than grasping a full understanding on how it could work as an official or “pure” timeloop as has often been discussed here. (Not to say that the conversations haven’t been enlightening and presented very possible scenarios.)

    It’s just obvious that the statement and the allusion to “progress” (and what that means to Jacob and MIB) brings it back to the forefront after all this conversation about changing the past.

    AES – I look forward to hearing you describe how it would work that Jacob and MIB (or those “free” from the island) have seen it. In a way, this ties into other thoughts I have been pondering still on Hawking and Widmore and how they have known what is coming, the sides of the “war” and such. It somehow fits together in my little mind. Maybe I’m putting things together that don’t work – but I have been mulling over Widmore’s role (with Abaddon) in directing Locke to the island at various points. SOMETHING has to account for the various points of foreknowledge that we have seen.

  30. That’s the thing about loops though… they don’t end once. They don’t end at all. I can’t think of any indications we have that there is a loop going on.

  31. Why would a loop even be talked about on here for months if there weren’t possible indicators? There have been things said about aliens and such being at play. That (to me) has warrants the “there’s no indications” statement.

    Strange repetitions (whether it is a music box getting stuck, the record skipping, the vision of Horace “repeating itself” to Locke) or the ‘same’ ultimate scenario of Charlie dying but it happening differently. Or even the image of a snake eating it’s own tail…which is kind of like how we can trace how Locke became the leader of the Others.

    Those are the few things that quickly pop into my mind that indicate that there’s something to consider. I’m not a real timeloop expert, so have very low expectations from me in joining in this conversation knowledgeably. I just don’t think it’s worth writing off.

    I get what you’re saying in a way about a loop not technically ending. Isn’t that where the conversation about “it only ending once” becomes that much more intriguing to how it could work then?

    Because what that said to me is that Jacob and MIB have different ideas on what the ‘ending’ is. So it is as if Jacob is presenting the idea that there are certain ‘same’ scenarios that keep happening, but they haven’t ended. MIB thinks that these certain scenarios all end up the same – or play out to the same ending.

    That’s just my take on part of it though.

  32. I guess if you consider that Jacob and the other guy are conducting experiments with people as the subjects it’s kind of like a loop… as in, they keep doing the experiment over and over. But they don’t use the subjects more than once and I have a hard time believing that anyone, including Jacob and his buddy, gets to a certain point in time then goes back to the beginning to do it all over again.

    It only ends once, I think, refers to the overall experiment. Maybe it’s the end of the island or the end of the world… or the end of Jacob? At some point the experiment will come to a conclusion and we’ll get to see the results. That’s what I think season five ended on. Jacob died, the experiment ended. Now we’ll see the results.

  33. Fair enough…on certain things. 🙂

    But wouldn’t you say that there is something that keeps happening, that in a way, starts the process again?

    I also don’t know if I would say that the experiment ended and that Jacob died. (Yes, stabbed, kicked into fire, it’s possible. Just like Juliet was hitting a hydrogen bomb, so we could assume she’s dead. Jin blew up on a freighter, he wasn’t dead. I know they’ve told us, “dead is dead” but I don’t know that dead is dead yet for these characters. Sorry for the tangent.)

    I do agree that we’ll see the results of this whole scenario where MIB believes he accomplished something that was only possible due to a loophole in the sort of rules they/it all/everything we’ve seen abides by.

  34. The look on his face after Jacob told him they were coming tells me that he’s miscalculated something. So yeah, maybe this isn’t the end. Or maybe it is the end and Jacob is telling him that the experiment has gone the way he had said it would…

  35. Good Read! The conversation between Jacob and his nemisis becomes more and more cryptic everytime I watch it. It is very contridictory. Jacob, by bringing people to the island seems to be cheating, the progress, in my opinion, seems to indicate that change can be brought about. The nemesis seems to think that no matter what Jacob does, the same result will always play out and Jacob is wrong for trying to change it.
    At the same time, I can’t help but think that the Nemesis may not be “evil” because it is Jacob who brings people to a place where there’s a 99% chance you will die.
    The nemesis doesn’t want anyone to come to the island, which would in affect save people.
    Is Jacob bad? Not necessarily. He seems to be kind to people and IMO, LostonLost, Jacob’s comment to Ben “What About You?” wasn’t meant in a cruel way, or that he didn’t know who Ben was. I think he meant that Ben should stop listening to what he’s been led to believe and follow his own course, like “what do you want to do?”. Ben, being self- absorbed and manipulated by “Locke”, acted wrongly and killed Jay.
    Also, is “Locke” really the smoke monster/ nemesis? Is the nemesis really the smoke monster? Is there Time Travel involved in John Locke’s return? We’ll see…

  36. As i have said earlier Jacob planed everything out, he brought the right people. He knew what will happen. That is why he was waiting right there as he told to MIB.

  37. Well put 0cool, the plan of Jacob bringing everyone there would only seem to work if he knew the consequences, otherwise, why else do it?
    HE is the one who brought them there, including, and most importantly John Locke.

  38. Hello all! I’m new to this community and your comments to this post have me hooked! I registered a couple days ago and posted my ideas in an article, “On LOST. Reflections, Revelations, and Speculation After 5 Seasons.” I wanted to interject in this discussion with some thoughts on loops. Let’s pretend we’re traveling in a circle. We start at one point, go all the way around, and then end at that same point. Maybe this is what Jacob means about “it” only ending once. Technically, when traveling in a circle, it can only end once. Still, that doesn’t mean you cannot then restart at the same point and travel around the circle again, and again, and again. Of course, each time you travel around the circle, you might learn something that you didn’t know before and, therefore, your behavior likely progresses. I think we’re working towards a battle fought between our free will yielding Losties and Mr. Black, and the outcome of that battle sets the pieces for the next go around, probably with a new group of Losities. I think it’s supposed to represent humanity’s cyclical progression through time, skillfully told through the traditional mythological story. We probably will not have a definitive answer concerning the fate of humankind at the end of the series, and I think the idea will be that humanity’s struggle continues on.

  39. Thats a good idea but i think there will be something bigger as the main purpose of the series. The scene that said God loved Jacob and not loves Jacob makes it seem as though Jacob has wronged in someway, and there will have to be a more conclusive explanation at the end, not just that humanity is progressing.

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