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The Man in Black's offers and Jacob's touches are opposite sides of the same coin

Theory: Both Jacob and the Man in Black are manipulators of people but their reasons for doing it and their preferred end-results are different.

Theory 1: Jacob and MiB use similar methods to pursue similar goals

  • Both Jacob & MiB are capable of offering similar "miracles" (see Dogen & Sayid).
  • We have seen MiB killing on many occasions (therefore "intrinsically bad"), but if you examine Jacob's behaviour, not all of his actions can be interpreted as "wholly good":
  • #He subverted Kate to a life of crime, by buying her the lunch box (no lunch box=no time capsule= no aeroplane etc.)
  • He ensured that Sawyer wrote the letter, be able to remember and yearn for revenge, instead of 'letting go'.
  • He gave Locke the gift of life, but left him trapped and frustrated
  • He engineered Nadia's death
    • Or to look at it another way he saved Sayid as they both would have died otherwise.
      • OR he prevented Sayid from saving Nadia by pushing her out of the way.
  • He refused to speak to Linus, leaving him bitter and frustrated
  • Hurley wins the lottery, but then misfortune follows him everywhere.
All disputed
Theory 1a: Jacob's interventions are for the benefit of others; the Man in Black's interventions are for his benefit only

At the Jacob end of the spectrum, he is acting on characters' true desires and testing them, to see if they are real, by making them 'pay'; whereas the MiB is simply trying to exploit people's desires for his own ends. "God said to Abraham 'kill me a son'; Abe said 'man you must be puttin' me on!'", just to see if his trust in the Lord were true. If Jacob is "Good" these 'Tests' such as Dogen's main timeline scenario are to determine if they can truly replace him as the 'good' one. They must sacrifice something.

Theory 1b: Jacob offers 'choices'; the Man in Black's offers incentives
  • The debate is between free will and destiny, not good and evil. Jacob believes in free will, and therefore any consequences he would see are as a result of the individual's own actions. Some of the actions we have seen him could be called good (like saving Locke after he falls out of the window) and some could be called evil (like possibly contributing to Nadia's death by distracting Sayid). However, if Ben's claims were true (not always a valid assumption...), then someone was deliberately attempting to kill both Sayid & Nadia; in which case, Jacob saved Sayid, and offered him another opportunity to 'redeem'. In all probability, Sayid could not have saved Nadia, in which case, both would have been killed.
  • Some evidence:
Good and evil are subjective. People are not wholly good or wholly evil; they are perceived as such based on their actions. Dogen says that MIB is "evil incarnate" because the latter's actions have not helped him at all and/or he has been told so by Jacob.
Jacob and the MiB were debating this very point as the Black Rock was arriving. Whether we know what the end goal of their bet is is irrelevant. Jacob is trying to show that through free will EVENTUALLY he can find people to achieve the 'goal'. MiB disagrees and is trying to tempt them to go against said 'goal' to prove Jacob wrong.
Jacob's offer to Dogen was a fair 'choice', and would hardly seem like a cruel deal with the devil. It is a fair deal, because Dogen himself caused the accident that killed his son (with his drunk driving). Even though he couldn't see his son ever again, at least his son would not have to pay for his mistake.
Theory 1c: Jacob tries to improve people; the Man in Black tries to suborn them

Jacob's actions in themselves cannot be interpreted as necessarily bad or evil.

  • Different interpretations could be:
    1. He bought the lunchbox for Kate to show her that having faith in the kindness of others would obviate any perceived need to steal or commit other crimes.
    2. He gave Sawyer the pen so that he could get his anger off of his chest, instead of letting it bottle up inside of him.
    3. Locke being alive was better than him being dead. He was given a second chance, within reason. Locke's survival of the fall was miraculous enough; he didn't need the extra burden of being left without a scratch.
    4. Jacob did not "engineer" Nadia's death. If anything, he probably just saved Sayid's life.
    5. Ben was a usurper, and thus he did not deserve Jacob's attention.
    6. There is no evidence that Jacob had anything to do with Hurley winning the lottery or his misfortune. We still don't know what role the Numbers actually play in the grand scheme of things. They may be representative of a force independent from, and possibly greater than, Jacob himself.
  • Jacob intervened in these people's lives out of an interest to bring out the best in them, but their human failings brought them back to misery and desperate actions. (Why else would he encourage Kate never to steal again?) In essence, this reflects the nature of the bet between Jacob and the MIB: Jacob believes that people can grow out of negative situations and become stronger and better in character, while the MIB believes that suffering just leads to destruction. Perhaps the "progress" to which Jacob referred actually means growth and self-discovery.
  • Jacob's manipulations play on a person's goodness and selflessness, while the MIB's manipulations play on a person's malice and selfishness. Jacob doesn't lie to people, unless he needs to tell a "white lie" (like he did to get Jack to follow Hurley to the Lighthouse). The MIB tells malicious lies that sound reasonable, which is why they are convincing.

Theory 2: Jacob is All good, the Man in Black is All bad

After this episode all doubts came to an end. The Man in Black side is clearly the dark side and "bad". Sayid now has turned to the "dark side" as we see him brutally drown Dogen after Dogen pours his heart out to Sayid. Only an evil man could do such an action. Dogen's description of Locke/MiB as evil incarnate was literal. In contrast, Jacob is all good, but it's not white-cowboy-hat, saving-kittens-from-trees good. It's more about fairness and justice, more about "right" than good.

Theory 3: Jacob is NOT all good; the Man in Black is NOT all bad

  • Sayid's actions in killing Dogen may not be evil: he killed Dogen after Dogen tried to have him kill twice. One does not need to be evil to kill out of self defense. However, when Sayid killed Dogen, no attack was imminent; he was having a calm conversation with him, and so Sayid did not kill Dogen in self defense. If Sayid is not now evil, and the act is taken at face value, the only other explanation would be revenge. However, this would seem totally out of character for Sayid.
Candidates what for?
  • (a) Jacob searches a candidate for killing the Man in Black.
    1. As we saw not everyone can kill Jacob and the Man in Black. (Sayid could not kill the Man in Black) Ben could kill Jacob because once Ben was in Jacob's team and then changed the side. So Jacob had to find a person, which first joins the Man in Black’s team, but then changes sides. We don’t know yet, who this will be.
    2. Jacob tried and tried to find this special person by bringing different people to the Island (Black Rock, 815 etc.). After a while he accepted, that the price he has to pay to cause actions which will create such a special person is to be killed himself.


1. Both Jacob and the Man in Black are bored while talking.

2. the Man in Black says, he’s now free.

3. Ben was able to kill Jacob, Sayid was not able to kill the MiB.

4. Jacob never said that he wants to protect the Island or that he searches a follower.

5. Who can kill who becomes a more and more important motive.

6. Jacob could leave the Island for a short time. the Man in Black as far as we know could not.

7. Dogen - team Jacob - tried to make Sayid kill the Man in Black.

8. It is useful to hide a prison like the Island.

Emerging Theories
  • The price Dogen pays is being unable to live to see his son grow up (parallel theme to Michael and Walt). He keeps trying to get rid of Sayid because he knows the fee will ultimately be collected.
  • And he never talked to anyone on the Island, possibly because Jacob is not allowed to physically interact with people on the Island, but off Island he can. He can only appear to them in dreams when they are on the Island, but off the Island MIB can only appear in dreams.


Dogen and Sayid

  • Dogen was reminded that he couldn't kill Sayid when his son's baseball fell on the floor. Killing Sayid would break the rules and cause his own son's death. Dogen also knew that MiB could not kill Sayid, and sent him on another test. One that would prove Dogen right, because if Sayid was able to kill someone, without ever even allowing that person to speak to him, would only prove he was already 'evil'. Sayid failed the test again, as he apparently thought he was doing the right thing by 'killing' someone for Dogen. Would he not been able to kill MiB he would pass the test, and prove himself balanced ("I am not that man anymore"), like Jack and Hugo now apparently are. He failed the test, and succumbed to his own selfishness by joining with MiB.
  • Dogen cannot kill Sayid. He must have somebody else do it for him. When he tried, he was reminded of "the rules", which somehow govern his behavior as well as the behavior of MIB and possibly Jacob. Likewise, Dogen cannot kill Claire because she is also a candidate like Sayid, so he has her put in solitary confinement rather than put to death.
  • Dogen always knew that the price for his son living was his own death, which is why Sayid's presence at the temple causes him to 'encourage' Sayid's death. Dogen cannot kill him himself, he knows the temple waters are not functioning properly and may not revive him, he could not get Jack to kill him, and sent Sayid to kill the MiB knowing that he would not be able to.

Dogen's Relationship to the Ash Circles

  • The ash around the Temple does absolutely nothing without the life of Dogen.
    • MiB is shown standing outside the Temple, waiting by the ash circle, knowing he couldn't cross it. He sends Claire in, knowing Dogen wouldn't come out himself and would therefore send someone the MiB could manipulate. This person happened to be Sayid and he was manipulated into killing Dogen and drowning him in the pool. Considering how Sayid dropped the dagger and specifically drowned Dogen in the pool, it seems this specific death is what MiB wanted. As soon as Lennon sees Dogen dead, he says "he was the only thing keeping HIM out," indicating that the ash around the Temple does absolutely nothing without the life of Dogen.
      • Sayid dropped the dagger to throw Dogen off-guard, after that Dogen wasn't expecting to be attacked making Sayid's job easier.
  • The same ash Dogen made in the pill and put on Sayid during the balance of evil and good is the same ash of Jacob. Dogen is the only one who knows how to make the ash, so when he died the ash lost its purpose and further creation.
  • Like in vampire films, where a cross is only useful with faith behind it, so are the ash circles. Bram's circle was small enough that a single man's faith could repel fLocke, whereas Dogen was either the guardian of the Temple, the head priest or similar and his faith prevented fLocke entering.

Sayid Stabbing the Man in Black

Sayid could not kill the Man in Black because he did not follow instructions

  • If Sayid had stabbed the Man in Black before he spoke, as Dogen instructed him to, Sayid would have killed him. The MIB/Locke says, "Hello, Sayid" before Sayid stabs him.
  • Dogen saying "if he has spoken, it is already too late" was not a literal statement, but rather a metaphor warning of the Man in Black's powerful abilities of persuasion. Indeed, we go on to see Sayid, a man of otherwise strong will, become fully subjugated by the Man in Black.
    • The presumption that the MiB's speech is so powerful is reminiscent of Satan's slick seductive tongue. This would tie in with the black/white theme in Lost.

Sayid could not kill the Man in Black because: Other Reasons

  • Dogen warned him not to let MiB speak so he can't change his mind and turn him against Dogen.
  • The Man in Black can't be killed because he is already dead and represents death itself; he can appear as anyone that has died, and can also tempt people who have lost important people in their lives, into seeing them again. Jacob is capable of doing the same thing but thinks if someone dies it was meant to be (destiny).
    • If this was the case, Dogen would have to be unaware that Sayid is unable to kill MiB. If he was only worried about Sayid being swayed by MiB's words, he would then be assuming that MiB would die in the conflict. So either MiB is protected by speaking, or Dogen didn't know Sayid couldn't kill him, or, as MiB claimed, was setting Sayid up. Nothing else is logical, as Sayid tried to kill MiB but ended up swayed anyway.
  • Sayid could not kill the Man in Black because he is a candidate. Ben was able to kill Jacob because he was no longer a candidate... his name had already been crossed off Jacob's list. It seems that the candidates are bound by the same rules that Jacob and the Man in Black are restricted to.

Sayid could not kill the Man in Black because he was 'good'.

  • Dogen sends Sayid to kill Locke, because he thinks that Sayid has been "claimed" by him. Just as Ben, who was on Jacob's "team" was able to kill him, Dogen thought that Sayid could do the same to MiB. However, Sayid was still on "good" team,and therefore couldn't kill MiB.

Sayid could not have been killed by the Man in Black in any case

  • The MiB was lying about Dogen's motives. The MiB could not have killed Sayid and Dogen knew that. Dogen never intended to send Sayid to his death, as the MiB claims. Claire tells Dogen to send someone that the MiB can't kill when Dogen refuses to meet with the MiB himself and Dogen purposefully chooses Sayid. Dogen knew MiB couldn't kill Sayid because Sayid is a Candidate.

The instruction to kill the Man in Black was to get Sayid Killed

  • The MiB was telling the truth: Dogen tried to have Sayid killed. He knew Sayid wouldn't be able to kill MiB, and thought that MiB would take revenge.
    • Dogen wasn't naive, he knew that MiB would never kill Sayid, as he was responsible for raising Sayid from the dead.

The Man in Black simply cannot be killed by "conventional" methods

  • We already saw him being shot by Bram with no results. The Man in Black body is not organic, even in his Locke form and cannot be harmed by things that would harm a normal person.
  • This is why Richard warned the Others not to shoot the MiB on the beach. It would accomplish nothing except provocation.
  • When MIB pulls the knife out of himself there is no blood on it.

The Remaining Candidates

  • If Sayid is no longer a Candidate because he has been "recruited" by the MiB then Sawyer is no longer a Candidate either.
    • Sayid has been in a way possessed by MIB. Or maybe the fact that in the alternate timeline Sayid is not willing to accept Nadia because he considers himself unworthy for her, and in the current timeline Sayid wants Nadia out of pure greed signify that this person who came back from dead is not fully Sayid. Sawyer is only following MIB for the time being, he still has his "free will" intact.
  • It is unclear if Kwon (42) refers to Jin or Sun. Sun was at the Temple at the time of the attack.
    • It's widely regarded that the Kwon referred to by the 42 designation is Jin due to the fact that when the Ajira flight crashes in 2007, only the Candidates 'time travel'. That is the one thing the group who travelled to 1977 have in common. Kate is a Candidate even though her name was crossed off in the cave as it was not crossed off in the Lighthouse - no doubt in an attempt to trick the MiB who did not know of the Lighthouse.

The Smoke Monster used a vent

  • The smoke monster used a vent to enter the Temple. It always had access to the temple via tunnels hence they needed something more than the ash to keep him out. Lost Encyclopedia confirmed that Dogen was blessed with the ability to keep MiB out, Dogen had nothing to do with the power of the ash. When Dogen died the smoke monster used a vent and entered the Temple, because there were ash lines at the doors and a pool of water in front of the Temple, which MiB was still unable to cross.

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