Most of what we knew about Jacob before the season 5 finale we learned when Ben started to leak some of the island secrets to Locke in episode 3x20, The Man Behind the Curtain.
References to JacobWhile Ben was being held in the armory of the Swan Hatch, he referred to "him" as a great man. Though he didn't use the name, he was probably referring to Jacob.
Later, on Hydra Island, Jack does spinal surgery on Ben. Pickett is upset by this and says to another Other, "Ben just put his life in the hands of one of them!" He draws his gun. "Shephard wasn't even on Jacob's list." (Ep: 3x6, I Do)
Mikhail tells Kate of the list and when she asks what list, he says, "The man who brought me here, who brought all of my people here, he's a magnificent man." Kate assumes he is talking about Ben, but Mikhail says that he is not talking about Ben (Ep: 3x12, Par Avion).
In a Juliet flashback, we see Ben promise Juliet that Jacob will cure Juliet's sister's cancer (Ep: 3x16, One of Us). In addition, he talks about Jacob as if he is some kind of God.
The Wizard of OzTo understand Jacob, let's take a look at the evolution of Ben. We first saw Ben when he was trapped in one of Rousseau's nets. He claimed he was Henry Gale from Minnesota and that he and his wife had crashed on the island in their hot air balloon (Ep: 2x14, One of Them).
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (a children's book by L. Frank Baum from the early 1900s that was later made into a film) also has a character named Henry Gale. He was Dorothy's uncle. In Lost, the real Henry Gale was later found in a grave, proving that Ben was a fraud.
Parallels between The Wizard of Oz and Lost:
- The name Henry Gale
- The hot air balloon
- Sawyer's nickname for Tom, Zeke, which in the book is one of Henry Gale's ranch hands
- In Desmond's flashback, he remembers a man in red shoes crushed by scaffolding (just as the Wicked Witch of the East was crushed by Dorothy's house)
- "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," the wizard says after Dorothy's dog, Toto, pulls a curtain to reveal a man working a contraption to make the wizard talk. The 5/9/07 Lost episode is titled "The Man Behind the Curtain".
The Man Behind the CurtainIn the May 9th Lost episode, The Man Behind the Curtain, we saw Ben talking to an apparently empty chair. Locke (and we) thought he was nuts, until we heard a strange voice say, "Help me," and saw things shaking. Ben was pushed against the wall, and we saw flickers of a man sitting in the chair.
We had originally thought that this flickering man was Jacob, but after the season 5 finale, I believe that the flickering man was actually Black Shirt (Jacob's apparent nemesis) posing as Jacob.
Back in season 3, as they approached the cabin, Ben told Locke that they wouldn't take the flashlights in because Jacob didn't like technology. On first viewing, it appeared that the flickering man "freaked out" when Locke shone the flashlight in his direction. Upon further viewings I've come to believe that it wasn't the flashlight that sparked the disruption, it was the fact that Locke was about to tell Ben what the flickering man had said.
It seems the flickering man did not want Ben to know that he'd asked Locke to help him, but Ben obviously needed to know. After asking several times, Ben finally shot Locke to find out what was said.
In the BeginningIn the 1800s Jacob and Black Shirt had a conversation (Ep: 5x16, The Incident). The two obviously disliked each other and disagreed on whether or not The Black Rock's arrival to the island was a good thing. Black Shirt made it clear that he knew Jacob brought the ship and that it was a bad idea because, "They come, fight, they destroy, they corrupt. It always ends the same."
Jacob says, "It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress."
Black Shirt asks if Jacob knows how much he wants to kill Jacob and Jacob says yes. Black Shirt says that one of these days he'll find a loophole.
Opposite SidesI believe that Jacob and the man he talked to in the beginning of the season 5 finale, Black Shirt, are on opposite sites. I think Jacob represents good and Black Shirt evil, though it could be the other way around. I think the people on the island have always been at odds:
Jacob vs. Black Shirt
Charles vs. Ben
Ben vs. Locke
I believe that the island won't let one of these men kill the other. When Ben went to see Charles, Charles had asked if Ben was there to kill him and Ben says, "We both know I can't do that." (Ep: 4x9, The Shape of Things to Come)
Ben tried to kill Locke, but the bullet went through where Locke's kidney would have been if his father wouldn't have stolen it. (Ep: 3x20, The Man Behind the Curtain)
Black Shirt said that he wanted to kill Jacob and he would find a loophole.
The LoopholeJacob seems to be immortal, as he has been alive for thousands of years (like Richard). I'm guessing the only way he can die is if one of the past or present leaders on the island kills him. I think Black Shirt set our Losties up, except perhaps the actual plane crash. Jacob may have caused Flight 815 to crash on the island, but whether or not he did it himself, Black Shirt knew it was going to happen.
Black Shirt put things in motion from the very beginning of Locke's life, including his birth itself. He made Locke feel unwanted by his mother, his school mates, his foster families, his father, and even the commune where he lived for awhile. Black Shirt shaped Locke into a person he could easily take advantage of.
After Locke's death, Black Shirt took over his existence. As Locke, he couldn't kill Jacob because he was still actually Black Shirt. The loophole he found was to get Ben to kill Jacob by angering Ben so much that he wanted to kill Jacob.