My brother happens to watch Lost, too, and he also happens to think about it a lot. Here are some of his thoughts now! (with my thoughts to follow) :
"Finally reading Doc Jensen's thoughts on The Substitute (doot doot doo-doo). I have to agree with him that I don't know to what extent we can trust Flocke's assertions, specifically about the cave and numbers and what happens here.
"Feels like Flocke in some physical form could have made the marks and numbers and the "candidates" in this case--Hugo, Jack, "Kwon," Locke, Sawyer and Sayid--are/were potential replacements for the Smokey role on the Island. These are all people who have had serious shit in their lives, and maybe Flocke's ability to focus that and make it worse and worse is what leads a candidate at a certain point to just be like "my life literally cannot get worse. I'm willing to take the place of a terrifying smoke monster on a magic island just so I don't have to be sad-sack me anymore."
"That way, Hugo's probably out because he's come to terms with his "curse" and Jack's probably out (he's being more chill than before and admits he doesn't even trust himself, rather than being like "I gotta make up for the people who died!! Sayid, take this pill. Just BECAUSE!"). Sun/Jin aren't out of the sadness contest until they actually find each other alive and all that, and even then, something could happen to kill one or the other. Sayid's f'd, but dead, but now claimed...maybe that's also technically taken him out of the running and put him more in an Alpert-type role to the new Flocke regime or something. Obviously, Sawyer is really sad too, but as a conman, I think he can see he's being played.
"So maybe this is kind of like a race: Jacob has his "candidates" (maybe that's what's up in the "Lighthouse" that we've seen in previews where Jack was smashing something and Hugo was like "what are you doing!") and he has to select someone to protect the Island and keep Smokey in place before Smokey finds a way to kill him/tip the balance/escape, and Smokey has his candidates to take his place.
"I don't know why neither of them have succeeded except that a guy on DocArzt wrote a thing about how Lost is kind of like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory--you don't find someone to take over the chocolate factory until you find that person and that person does the right thing(s). Anything before that is just progress (toward finding that person).
"What do you guys think?"
I'LL TELL YOU WHAT I THINK. I like the Willy Wonka analogy a lot. I think it's right-on. I think "Kwon" could easily be Ji-Yeon, since Jacob touched them both while saying how important it was that they stay together or something. I hope Sawyer can see the full deal, and he usually does come through, but sometimes Sad Sawyer is freaking dumb. Also, as far as being "claimed" goes, I'm pretty sure Aaron's heart stopping and starting again in Sideways 2004 was probably him getting claimed by somebody. But where is that claimer operating from?
I'm feeling particularly confused about this whole black/white, Flocke/Jacob, Others/Ilana Others situation. I think it's pretty clear that Flocke is a liar, or else they wouldn't have him say such explicit Other-statements as "I wouldn't have lied to you! I would've told you everything!" When a person starts talking that way, it's pretty clear he/she is ALWAYS lying from that point on, and if you ever think they're not, you're asking for it. Because they're DEFINITELY lying, and you're just plain wrong.
About the alliances: We used to know for sure that Smokey = black stone = protector (or "security system") of the island (= Christian Shephard, maybe). We also knew that Jacob = white stone = trying to bring people to the island to make it to some end point. Now everything's topsy-turvy. Is Jacob the protector of the island? Why then does he always bring people to it? Is he trying to make the island eventually disappear? Is that protecting its integrity or something? Is he "protecting" the island by bringing these people, one of which will be the next protector?
And just whose cave writing is it, exactly? Maybe it was Jacob's - I don't see a problem with that. Except, of course, that Flocke was the one to explain it, and he's a big fat liar. Ergo, it's not Jacob's writing. I agree that it could easily be Smokey's calculations, for all the "I'm so miserable" reasons, but here's the problem there: when Flocke describes how "protecting" the island means nothing, what's his big plan there? Is he lying, and he truly thinks that the island does need protecting (say, by hiding it from the rest of the world, and by keeping people from it)? Why is he trying to convince Sawyer it doesn't need protecting? Maybe he's trying to kill off Jacob's candidates one by one, and he'll take Sawyer "off the island" but leave him to die at sea or something.
And where does Desmond fit into all of this? Surely Jacob knew about Desmond. It's impossible that Jacob just didn't know about him. I THINK! I think Jacob's plan goes as far into the future as Sideways 2004, and that he's going to start using Desmond in that reality. And I think the whole Libby/Desmond/coffeeshop/boat exchange could be revisited in Sideways 2004, and I think it could finally make sense somehow. I think.
PS "The Lighthouse" Title-Based Guestimations On Tonight's Episode:
The castaways are a lot like a family now, and I guess that's all I remember from Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse. What else, what else...light (wavy equal sign) white, I guess. I hope that darn kid shows up again. Maybe he changes the huge lightbulbs in the lighthouse. Where is this lighthouse again? At least the symbol itself seems to hint at people being drawn together to a safe haven, such that the real planning may begin. Episode 4 of 17...that's very close to the quarter-mark. Looks like our heroes are about to accept The Call (perhaps after a heartening discussion with a mentor)!