We all love LOST for the mysteries. We try to find evidence and add up the clues to create a theory about the storyline, hoping to be the one who can say “See, I was right!” I’m no different. Currently, the biggest mystery seems to be “Who/what is the Man in Black?” and the popular answer is that he and the Smoke Monster are the same entity. However, when all the clues are considered, and all the evidence put together, it’s hard to say for sure whether they are the same thing/person or not. The fact that LOST always has something to throw you off from the writer’s trail is another reason we love it so much, but rarely has it happened that they completely deviate from the evidence they’ve given us in the past.
With all that said, it’s my theory that the Man in Black (MIB, or ‘UnLocke’ as I like to call him), the Smoke Monster (or Cerebus), and the apparitions seen by our characters on the Island are not all one in the same. I think UnLocke is an evil shape-shifting entity, while the Monster is a judge that serves and protects the Others. It’s clear from The Incident that MIB can shape-shift, but besides the fact the Monster is made up of smoke, and thus by implication, can shape-shift, and just because we’ve seen the Monster show up when MIB is around, doesn’t mean they are one in the same. By looking at the clues about the Monster separately from the clues about the Man in Black, I think it’s very possible that they are indeed two separate entities.
Here’s a breakdown:
1) Dead is Dead is definitely the number one source of info on both these entities. In this episode, Ben tells Locke that the Monster is a “judge.” While we know from the Incident that the Others have been being mislead for quite some time, we also know that their general knowledge of the Island’s nature is accurate. And if the Monster is a judge, then in the truest sense of judging it must be a neutral entity, neither good nor bad: neither light nor dark. It’s clear that whoever UnLocke really is, he is anything but neutral.
2) Similarly, if the Monster is a judge, and Jacob is “good,” then it stands to reason that there must be a third-party that is “evil.” Again, a true judge can’t be both. In the Monster’s chamber below the temple wall, we see a glyph of what appears to be the Monster, posing with Anubis, the god of death. This glyph implies that Anubis and the Monster are two different creatures, not the same one. I think UnLocke is the figure represented by Anubis in the glyph. The glyph could also mean that the Monster works for the Man in Black, but either way, they aren’t the same thing.
3) Before The Incident, the popular theory was that The Monster was a security system for the Island, and more specifically, The Temple. I think this theory is still the most accurate, as it’s consistent with the Monster being a kind of neutral judge. Here’s some more evidence that the Monster is a security system:
- The Monster’s living space, or at least the main Cerebus Vent, is located under the outer wall of the Temple. Why would the ancient Others build a vent, or space, for their immortal enemy – the shape-shifting incarnation of evil – right underneath their Temple? It’s possible they had been tricked too by the MIB, but unlikely since we know Richardus had been in relationship with Jacob face-to-face for quite some time.
- Darlton confirmed for us in 2007 that Kelvin & Radzinsky referred to the Monster as Cerebus - a name that reinforces it’s nature as a security system. After everyone started saying UnLocke & the Monster were the same thing, I threw all this evidence out of my mind, thinking that non-Others like the DHARMA folk just misunderstood the nature of the monster. But with the other evidence, I think it’s still plausible that they were right.
- In This Place Is Death, Robert also tells Danielle that the Monster is a security system for The Temple. I think many people have discarded this evidence, because Robert later on tried to kill Danielle. But let me point out that Robert isn’t the only one who wanted Danielle dead – so did Charles Widmore. He told Benjamin in Dead Is Dead, that one day Ben would have to choose between Alex and the Island – that it was Jacob’s will for her to die. While we don’t know whether it was Jacob’s will or not, he was right about Ben’s choice and Danielle & Alex’s death. Who really wanted them dead is sort of irrelevant to this argument – what’s clear is that her death was necessary for the Island’s destiny, and so Robert’s trying to kill her doesn’t necessarily make him evil.
4) Assume for a second the Monster is a security system. If that’s true, why would it want to kill the person who supposedly is the Temple’s leader, i.e. Jacob? There’s no evidence that the Monster is mad at Jacob, or is evil. In the meantime, we know MIB is pure evil. All we really know about the Monster is that it kills those it deems “unworthy” (which I’ll say more about below), and it lets those who are worthy live.
5) The Monster seems to be stopped, or repelled by a person’s confidence and courage – two traits that can be hard to maintain if you have a lot of sins or wrongdoing on your conscience. On the contrary, if you have a lot of fear and doubt, the Monster will attack or kill you. Mr. Eko is the best example. In The 23rd Psalm the Monster rushes him and Charlie. Charlie hides in the tree, afraid but Eko does not. In fact he has no fear at all, partially because of his faith. However, in The Cost of Living, he is extremely afraid as his faith has been tested. The Swan has been destroyed, he was attacked by a polar bear, and then he starts having visions of his dead brother haunting him. He had lost confidence. My theory is that the MIB tricks/tempts people in to losing their faith just enough for the Monster to judge them as unworthy. This is exactly what happened to Mr. Eko. For what purpose, we still don’t know, but my guess is Eko and others who have suffered this fate could’ve served as some kind of replacement for Jacob and he wanted all “potentials” out of the way before killing Jacob.
6) Part of the argument about UnLocke and the Monster being the same is that they can only become apparitions of people whose bodies are not properly buried, and that they can only turn in to one person at a time. It’s clear that the body of the person is important (i.e. Christian Shepherd and Yemi’s bodies both disappearing), and it’s true the majority of dead characters we’ve seen “resurrected” have not been properly buried, but there have been visions of other people who are very much alive, and visions of animals as well.
- In The Cost of Living, Eko sees visions of a number of people all at once – some he killed, and some he did not, such as Amina's son, Daniel.
- In What Kate Did, Kate & Sawyer see Kate’s horse appear in the jungle. The only other sighting of an animal with such significance is the Hurley bird, which could or could not also, be an apparition.
- In Dave, Hurley sees an apparition of someone whom doesn’t exist at all. This apparition tries to tempt Hurley in to killing himself.
- In Through the Looking Glass, Locke sees a vision of Walt who instructs him to kill Naomi. When Locke visits the real Walt in The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham, Walt tells him he’s had dreams of Locke being on the Island wearing a suit, and surrounded by people who want to hurt him, which it turned out was also happening in the same episode.
Whatever or whoever UnLocke is, he can (and has!) clearly appeared in more ways than just unburied dead people. This doesn’t mean he still couldn’t be the Smoke Monster, but in all the examples I’ve listed above Cerebus is not seen or heard.
My overall theory is that there are three main entities on the Island: Jacob, who is good; the Man in Black, who is evil; and the Monster, who is the judge. The MIB tries to trick you in to doing things that will make you get judged as evil so you get killed. Considering the fact the MIB has been trying to kill Jacob for at least a century, I think his tricking/tempting of people like Eko, Locke and others is connected to his ultimate goal somehow. As I mentioned before, I personally think (no real evidence to back it up) that he wanted to get people out of the way who could’ve helped or replaced Jacob as the source of good on the Island. Who really knows what’s going on, my main point is that it might be too early to assume the MIB and the Monster are the same thing. For me, it makes more sense that they’re separate beings.
I hope this has challenged your notions, and given you some more to think about as we pine away the remaining 20+ weeks before Season 6. Thanks for reading…