The island of Lost is a very special place. What makes it so special? The electromagnetic light at its heart. The island is not the only special place; there are other electromagnetic pockets all over the world (as evidenced by the man Bernard took Rose to, Isaac of Uluru). Now, whether or not these other special places can be moved or spawn smoke monsters, I don’t know.
We focus on the island, however, because that is where our story takes place. Thousands of years ago, an ancient person or persons discovered some of the special qualities of the island. They determined that the island was special and also that the light could go out. Other people came (or may have already been there) and became greedy, wanting the light and electromagnetism for themselves. The person or persons became the protector of the island, specifically the electromagnetism and the light. Because of the special properties of the island and/or the light, these people did not age and protected the light for many years. But one cannot protect it forever because after many years, they get tired and bored and wish to move on (through death).
The protector of the island is the one who makes the rules for the rest of the island. They are a kind of God over the island. Other people come to the island through various methods. They might accidentally stumble upon the island, or the God might have brought them there. My sense is that the protector/God (who doesn’t age) cannot have children.
The woman we know as “Mother” could have been a replacement, or may even have been the original protector. It’s most likely that she took over for her mother, who may not have been her biological, but adopted mother.
Mother either brought or took advantage of the fact the Claudia’s ship sank near the island and pregnant Claudia washed ashore. Mother took this as an opportunity to train/mold a replacement. What Mother didn’t know was that Claudia was carrying twins.
Mother raised the twins as her own. Jacob was inherently “good.” He couldn’t tell a lie and was basically kind. Man in Black was not “bad,” but had more human characteristics, which lent him more easily to lie, manipulate, and be more selfish than Jacob. Circumstances enhanced these innate aspects of Man in Black’s nature.
There was some intervention by a higher power, perhaps the island itself, that succeeded in highlighting the goodness of Jacob and turned Man in Black evil. When Man in Black saw his real mother (whom was dead and whom Jacob couldn’t see), he learned the truth about Mother and his own people who’d been living on the other side of the island, unbeknown to Jacob and Man in Black, for the entire thirteen years of their lives. Man in Black turned his back on Mother and went to live with his people. Jacob, still seeing the good in everyone, often visited his brother.
Jacob’s big weakness was that he saw that Mother loved Man in Black more and favored him, and was deeply saddened when he left. When Man in Black’s hate became so strong that Mother knew he would kill her, she passed on the role of protector to Jacob. Jacob didn’t want the role, because he knew he was the second choice, but Mother forced him against his will.
Man in Black was able to kill the protector of the island (Mother) because he had a special dagger (not sure if this was the first time it was used or if it had come from somewhere else) and stabbed Mother before she talked. If she would have talked, she could have persuaded him not to kill her. Mother knew he was coming and chose not to talk. She was ready to move on.
When Man in Black found out that Mother had taken Jacob to the special light (which Man in Black had been looking for ever since Mother had first showed them when they were teenagers and which he’d coveted), Man in Black fell into a jealous rage, which ultimately led to him becoming so evil that he became a pillar of black smoke. He could, however, take on the form of a human body provided that body was on the island (and not buried).
As the protector, Jacob changed the rules. One of the rules he couldn’t change from before was that he and his brother could not kill each other. But he did change other rules. He knew how badly Man in Black wanted to kill him and knew that he would eventually find a way (a loophole), so Jacob began looking for a replacement.
Jacob’s main rule was that taking over as his replacement would be the person’s choice. He would not force the position on someone the way Mother had forced it onto him. He also wanted to prove to Man in Black that people could be good. Man in Black believed, like mother, that people were bad. “They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt.”
For thousands of years, Jacob brought people to the island. He would not tell them what to do, but would wait for them to prove to Man in Black that people were good. Ships, planes, and air balloons were drawn to the island via Jacob, to bring people for Jacob and Man in Black to watch, both wanting to prove the other wrong.
One of these boats was the Black Rock, which brought Richard Alpert. Man in Black knew he could not kill Jacob, but thought that maybe Richard, a slave on the Black Rock, could do it for him. He convinced Richard that he could be with his wife if Richard killed Jacob, and he gave Richard the dagger he’d used to kill Mother.
Jacob overpowered Richard and took the dagger. He explained to Richard a little about the island and what he was trying to do. Richard pointed out that Jacob needed to help guide the people and that he couldn’t just expect them to do the things he was hoping they would. Jacob made Richard his adviser and granted him the “gift” of never aging.
Many people came to the island, including a group of hippies that started The Dharma Initiative to study the unique qualities of the electromagnetism of the island. Sometime after the mid ’70s, Jacob, for reasons I can’t imagine, made a rule that babies conceived on the island would die, along with their mothers, right around the second trimester.
He or Man in Black made it so that people who died on the island, and were not good people, were trapped, hence the whispers.
Finally, on September 22, 2004, 815 crashed and the story of our Losties began. Their time on the island was the most profound part of each of their lives. This included great danger, time travel, and death of people around them.
Eventually, Jack, and then Hurley and Ben, took over as the island’s protectors. Ben pointed out to Hurley that Hurley was the protector and he did not have to follow Jacob’s rules. He could make his own rules.
One of the rules Hurley made was that after death, the Losties would all find each other and meet in a church, where they would then move on together.
Flashbacks and Flash Forwards – Why the Heck Were These Included?
The flashbacks and flash forwards were added to give more depth to the Losties’ stories. They were meant to show us, the viewer, what happened to our characters before and after the present day to give us a better understanding of who they were and the struggles they dealt with.
The Flash-Sideways – What the Heck Were These?
The flash-sideways should be looked at as a separate story. The island story and flashbacks and flash forwards are what happened to our Losties while they were alive. Because while they were on the island was the most significant time in their lives, and because Hurley was the leader of the island and could make his own rules, Hurley made it so that they would all find each other in the sideways after they each died. They would connect to each other, which would awaken their memories, which would lead them to each other, ultimately meeting at the church to move on to whatever is next.
There was some bleed-through between when they were living and the flash-sideways, including the cut on Jack’s neck, and Juliet telling Sawyer they could “go Dutch.”
People died at different times. Boone, Charlie, Sun, and Jin, for instance, died during island times. Kate, Sawyer, Miles, and Frank died sometime after leaving the island. Jack died on the island when his eye closed after saving the light. Because he was the character we began following first, he was the character we ended with. We saw the flash-sideways from his time perspective.
Whether they died at age 20 or age 102, they were able to find each other in the sideways. In the sideways, no matter how they looked when they died, they all remembered each other as they’d looked (age-wise) on the island.
Hurley was a great leader of the island and his decision to get them all back together in the end made everyone so happy. They were each at peace and ready to move on together to whatever was next.
Not all were, there, though. Some, like Ben, still had things to work out. Ben needed time to be with Danielle and Alex, who were not ready to move on yet. Daniel was either not dead or not ready to move on. Same with Michael and Walt. Hurley blessed them each with the choice of whether or not to move on with him and the others. Once Hurley was enlightened in the sideways, he helped Desmond to nudge people into remembering, and then let them decide what they wanted to do.
In the end, those that were ready moved on together, completely content, completely happy, and completely fulfilled. I’m sure Hurley made sure that the ones who did not come with them at that time, could join them later in blissful happiness.
Source: Bonnie Covel