Thursday, June 03, 2010

LOST: The Monster Manual

This is a go at collecting in one place most of the smoke monstery goodness I've collected, compiled, and sussed out as a fool for LOST. Up front I'll tell you two of my conclusions that will no doubt polarize fan-theorists...
  1. Crazy Mother was a Momster.
  2. Smoke Monsters can psychically project "ghosts" over long distances and even off-Island.
An earlier post explains the reasons behind conclusion one. The second is a kind of catch-all theory explaining the appearances of people in places they can't be. And to my mind (granted, with its fuzzy memory =), it fits the data. I'm still a little shakey on the long-distance projection part of it, but wanting to roll with it, allowing for the possibility that a smoke monster doesn't need to leave the Island to target the mind of someone whom it's had the opportunity to scan up close and personal.

Do feel free to let me know of a show detail, or some Darlton revelation (I make a point of dodging all broadcasts of info from the showrunners), that might help knock down or shore up any of the points that follow.

Allright. Here we go...


A living human being is transformed into a smoke monster when exposed directly to the source of the Island's exotic energies, located in the subterranean pool of the Heart of the Island. When the Heart's energies interact with a living human, the products are:
  1. The inanimate / lifeless human body.
  2. The soul-consciousness of the human being, forced from that body.
  3. A black smoke-like creature.
(Note that by soul-consciousness, I mean an individual's non-corporeal being and identity, all the aspects of his or her spirit, will, thoughts, experiences, morality, and memories. Basically, just what it sounds like, allowing for both a spiritual and psychological POV.)

The Heart's energies blast the human's soul-consciousness from its body and burn it into the smokey vessel. The individual has not died, but lives on as what we've come to call a smoke monster. The trauma of the transformation process has the potential to shake the sanity of anyone who undergoes it. A prolonged existence in the form of a smoke monster would certainly take its toll on one's sanity as well.


Hieroglyphics in the Temple's subbasement depict a smoke monster facing Anubis. This implies that a monster was active on the Island when Egyptians lived on the Island, although castaway settlers of later cultures and eras may have adopted and assimilated their written language and building techniques for themselves.

(Note that I call Jacob's brother Esau. When he's "stuck" in Locke's form, I also call him Locke-ness.)

Jacob and Esau's Crazy Mother was both Protector and smoke monster. Given some of the artifacts we see in her home with the boys, as well as her gift of the Senet game to Esau, it's *possible* that she is the monster depicted in the Temple hieroglyphics, meaning that she was long-lived enough to have been Protector-monster when Egyptians settled on the Island (or a later derivative or fusion culture). Although her boys never see her in smokey form, her words and the evidence of its power hint at it. She carries Esau out of the well, fills it in, and dispatches the village of shipwreck survivors. She also warns the boys against entering the Heart of the Island, describing the experience as "worse than death."

Esau is the most recent Island monster, transformed when, out of anger and despair over the death of the Momster, Jacob sends his unconscious brother into the Heart of the Island.


Scanning the living. A smoke monster can scan any living person and read his or her thoughts and experiences up to that point in life.

Scanning the dead. A smoke monster can scan the remains of any human being on the Island and read his or her entire life's thoughts and experiences.

Corporeal doppelganging. A smoke monster can duplicate and take on the physical form of any dead human being on the Island. Together, with its scanning ability, this allows a monster to convincingly pose as any individual whose remains are on the Island and unmolested by fire.

  • Crazy Mother every time Claudia or her sons sees her.
  • Christian appearing to Jack on the Island.
  • Yemi appearing to Eko.
  • Christian leading Claire away from Sawyer and friends and guiding her after the Oceanic Six leave.
  • Christian appearing to Sun and Lapidus.
  • Locke appearing to anyone on the Island after Ben kills him.
  • Alex appearing to Ben when he seeks judgement by the Island.
Phantom projection. This is a psychic, extrasensory ability and not a physical one. A smoke monster can construct an apparition or ghost of a person based on the information and memories about that person gathered from scanning other individuals. The monster's apparition is projected into the psyche of a single desired target or recipient, and is experienced as a dream or hallucination. Only that person can see or hear this phantom. The phantom cannot interact physically with the world or the target, although a target may believe he or she experienced the smell or touch of the person, just as they would if it was a hallucination or dream.

  • Claudia appearing to Esau and leading him to the Roman castaways.
  • Isabella appearing to Ricardo on the Black Rock.
  • Ben's mother appearing to Ben on the Island.
  • Eko's Nigerian victims appearing to Eko.
  • Christian appearing to Jack in L.A.
  • Libby appearing to Michael on the freighter.
  • Christian appearing to Michael on the freighter.
  • Claire appearing to Kate in L.A.

Most of these Rules have been derived from the behavior, actions, and words of beings associated with Jacob's era as Protector. As a result, some Rules may be Island Rules while others may be Rules and situations specific to Jacob's era. Where possible, examples or anecdotal evidence of the rule in action follow each rule description.

A monster is invulnerable to conventional physical attacks. (Ultimate fighting, knives, bullets, rockets, hot pockets.)

A monster is vulnerable to sonic attacks. (The DI and Widmore sonic fences. What? No sonic rifles?! I SO wanted a FORBIDDEN PLANET encounter from season 6, w sonics replacing energy zaps! =)

A monster is vulnerable to EM energies, especially those similar to the energies that created it in the Heart of the Island. (Esau never turns the wheel himself once its been built, and he never returns to the Heart himself to destroy the Island.)

It has been implied that a monster's voice can give him power over the average individual and/or render any and all attacks by that person harmless. Those who have been touched by or follow the Protector may have a resistance or immunity, but it's not a certainty. (Directions given to Sayid by Dogen. Claimed Claire's remark that Jack joined Locke-ness as soon as he let him speak to him.)

The world at large knows nothing of smoke monsters, so it seems that as a species, they are unable to leave the snowglobe dimension of the Island.

A monster cannot travel in its smoke form over a significant body of water. It can only take smoke form over terra firma.

A monster's ability to change from smoke to human or human to smoke is impeded by contact with or a coating of water. (Have we ever seen the monster and a monster doppelganger in the same rainstorm? Jack shoves Locke-ness into the water at Sawyer's direction and Locke-ness does not turn into smoke.)

A monster cannot directly kill a Protector. (Esau's first proxy assassination attempt via Ricardo. Later, Esau's loophole.)

A monster cannot directly kill a human who has been touched by a Protector. (Esau vs. Jacob's Candidates.)

A monster cannot directly kill a human who is a follower of a Protector while that Protector lives. One becomes a follower (aka Hostile, aka Other) by participating in a ritual similar to baptism, but in waters charged with the Protector's energy / life force. During Jacob's time, this was the pool in the Temple. (Esau can't harm the Others until after Jacob dies.)

A monster cannot cross an unbroken closed curve of a very particular and/or specially treated ash. The exact nature of this ash has not been revealed, but it seems to be governed and powered by the Protector's gift to one of his lieutenants, the Temple Shaman, Dogen. Once the Shaman is killed, the power of the ash as a barrier to a monster vanishes. (Esau can't get past the ash and enter the Temple until Sayid kills Dogen.)


A monster is immortal but can be killed under certain conditions. There are two known deaths of monsters.

Esau killed the Momster. Some conditions that are unique to this event:
  1. The killer was born on the Island.
  2. The killer is Infected. (* See ESAU IS NOT EVIL, NOT EXACTLY.)
  3. The murder weapon is steel and iron.
    • The killer loves the monster.
    • The monster loves the killer.
  4. The monster is ready to die.
    • The killer surprises the monster.
    • The monster doesn't speak until after the killing stroke.
Since this is the only known successful mortal attack on a smoke monster, it cannot be determined which one or combination of these conditions are responsible for its success.

The efforts of Desmond, Jack, and Kate killed Locke-ness. The steps leading to his death:
  1. The Heart of the Island was unplugged by Desmond.
  2. This de-powers Island-governed abilities and gifts, including Esau's smoke monster abilities.
  3. Esau is trapped in his copy of Locke's form, as vulnerable as the real, human, Locke would be.
  4. Jack and Kate succeed in killing him in this human form.
Regarding step 2, Esau couldn't go smokey in the rain, but what would have happened to him if he'd already been smokey when Desmond pulled the plug? Alas, never to be known.

Once dead, both Momster and Esau leave behind genuine human corpses.


When the Momster confronts Esau in the well, he is adamant about using the Heart's energy to leave the Island. To this she says, "Then I suppose this is goodbye," and then, "I'm so sorry," at which point she smashes Esau's head into the rock wall, apparently knocking him out.

I took that head crack to be a mortal blow. Basically, Momster Kelvined him. (OK, I guess that should be "Humed" him, but "Kelvined" sounds more like the act to me. =) The body that she puffs out of the well is dead. I think it's worth noting that before she cracks his skull, she gives him a heartfelt farewell hug, and then tells him "sorry," which we've only heard her say once before—when she kills Claudia.

When we see Esau wake up later, on the ground outside the un-well, it's after Infection has set in and resuscitated him. Dogen would say that the scale inside of him has begun tipping toward Evil. How Infection manifests itself in each person is unique to the individual. In Esau, it lowers his inhibitions against violence and killing (of the two brothers, Jacob is the first to throw fists) and intensifies his obsessive nature. This is the state of his mind and soul when Jacob sends him into the Heart of the Island. Once transformed into Smokey, Esau ultimately becomes a shameless schemer and killer, justifying and/or rationalizing his destructve acts as the means to an end—freeing himself from his unjust prison sentence on the Island.

With this perspective on the Island and the people who inhabit it, as far as any of those people are concerned, he IS evil. But, I do not believe that he is capital-E evil, the embodiment of or vessel for some pure and ancient cosmic force for corruption, death, and destruction. Esau as a smoke monster is an obsessed, frustrated, and pissed-off man who happens to have superhuman powers.

I've got a pretty thin theory about capital-E evil, but I'll save it for later. Hopefully I'll hunker down and put it together some other night, but right now it's time to crash. Bleah.

Thanks for reading any and hopefully all of this madness. Stupid frickin show!

I miss it already.


Keep on keepin on~


Larry Kyrala said...

I'm not necessarily against the idea of the "momster" -- but it has a big hole to it: Jacob describes the role of the protector like a cork in the bottle preventing evil that would otherwise leave and destroy everything on earth.

If the mom is really a smoke-monster, then why not just leave the island before jacob and esau? If she's a protector then what's she protecting? The light? From whom? Dirty humans?

Is it possible that the smoke monster wasn't born from Esau's plunge, but merely chose to appear at that moment and take his form? In this view, the mom is the protector and always knew about the smoke monster -- she knew it destroyed the village, perhaps it destroyed the village to ensure that Esau would be angry enough at the Mom to leave the island, or angry enough to kill her, which would allow the monster to leave the island.

That kind of plan would have worked, except she passed the protectorship on to jacob.

There may in fact be two rules preventing harm: rule 1) between jacob and esau while they are alive, neither can hurt the other. 2) between the protector and the smoke monster. it's possible these rules could be completely independent and we just assumed they were the same.

Argh, my head hurts now. :)

cabinboy said...

Crazy Mother, aka Momster, is BOTH smoke monster AND Protector. I had a theory that this may be how the old school Protectors were intended to operate, granted magic-science abilities via water-sharing, and given the psychic, metaphysical, and physical talents of a smoke monster by visiting the Heart. I don't think it's got strong legs, tho, especially given the Hurley-Linus administration hinted at in the finale.

And yeah, that's basically how the Momster described her job as Protector—protecting the light / Source / Heart from dirty humans.

I think I'm paraphrasing the Momster: If people mess with it, they might put it out, and if they put it out, it goes out everywhere.

I do not believe that there has been one and only one smoke monster on the Island for eons, and Esau visiting the Heart unannounced suddenly ticked it off so bad that it decided to enslave itself to Esau's obsessions.

Hrmm... Maybe I've got your assertion wrong there, eh? You'll have to fill in the blanks of the scenario where an independent smoke monster decides to fill in Esau's well and wiped out the settlers in a scheme to drive Esau to kill his mother, which in turn drives Jacob to chuck Esau into the Heart, which I assume is the only place that the smoke monster can steal a person's soul...

As far as the two independent rules in play, for Jacob and Esau in particular and for Protector and monster in general, I don't have any problem with that.