LOST‘s ‘Man In Black’ is one of the most enigmatic serialized TV entities of recent times. The cynical Island resident used an array of stunning abilities in a bid to obtain his goals, but many of them went relatively unexplained. Here are 8 Unexplained Abilities Of The Man In Black, along with possible answers.
Note: This article contains spoilers from LOST Seasons 1-6.
1. Transform Into Smoke
The Man In Black’s most mercurial and iconic feature is the ability to transform into a cloud of smoke. We know that this was inflicted on him when his brother Jacob threw him down the log flume to the ‘Source’, but it’s a mystery as to how he is able to toggle between his original human form and smoke cloud — or why he emerged as a smoke monster in the first place!
Possible Explanation: If there is an answer to be had (albeit it retroactive one) it could be that MIB’s changeable smoke-form represents his ‘complex, cloudy nature’ as fused with the ‘Source of life, death and rebirth’. The fact that he was unconscious as he went into the Source probably had something to do with his specific transformation.
2. Morph Into Dead People
MIB has scant regard for the dead. Throughout his time on the island he’s taken on the form of many dead individuals, mimicking their appearance in order to manipulate Jacob’s
test subjects recruits. Perhaps the most memorable examples of this ability came when impersonating Jack’s father Christian Shephard, Walt Lloyd (particularly when telling Locke he had “work to do”), and the Island Believer himself, John Locke. As mentioned above, MIB also seemed attached to his pre-smoke monster form, and mimicked himself!
Possible Explanation: I doubt there’s a scientific explanation (although ask me again in 10 years) but once MIB has a lock on how someone looks and acts, based on the data scanned from the minds of their loved ones, it can’t be all that hard for him to rearrange his molecules into their image.
3. Dream Manipulation
MIB is like Big Brother on steroids, not only does he know what goes on inside the minds of individuals, he’s able to shape their dreams and appear within them. He uses this unexplained skill to guide Locke and Mr. Eko to the Pearl Station where faith would be tested and much button-pushing would ensue. It’s also possible that Locke’s wacky-paste-fueled Boone dream, where he was told to “clean up his mess” and save Eko from the polar bear of contrivance, was also of MIB’s making. And let’s not forget the Horace dream which set Locke on the feverish path to Jacob’s (or rather, MIB’s) cabin.
Possible Explanation: The root answer is pretty intangible, but given the Smoke Monster’s ability to scan people’s minds, it’s not a far leap to think he could somehow trespass their dreams. I mean, if Locke’s Island cultivated ‘wacky-paste’ could make Boone hallucinate an entire narrative of Shannon dying..at the fangs of MIB himself..
4. Off-Island Visitations
Despite being ‘trapped’ on the Island, MIB somehow managed to manifest as Jack’s dad on the freighter near to the island, to tell Michael “you can go now” (i.e. die). He also appeared to Jack as Christian after the Oceanic Six had left ‘Craphole’.
Possible Explanation: The freighter was most likely within MIB’s sphere of influence since it was near to or within the island ‘barrier’. Jack was working a late shift at the hospital and going through some ‘issues’, so he may have been ‘hallucinating’.
Perhaps the most nonchalant illustration of Man In Black’s abilities came when he released Benjamin Linus from his shackles without so much as touching him. A very handy ability that he also used to scare the bejesus out of Ben and Locke when Locke and Ben came to visit him at the cabin.
Possible Explanation: Aside from the stock answer “he’s a supernatural entity, for Jacob’s sake!” this ability is probably be the result of being thrown into the Source and his soul bonding with the unique electromagnetic properties of the Island.
6. Mr. Impervious
Probably the most curious MIB quality is his ability to make himself impervious to bullets and other penetrable objects. Bram and his Widmore-employed team reigned bullets at MIB only to see them bounce right off, while Sayid stabbed him in the chest — but MIB didn’t so much as suffer anything more than mild surprise at the cheek of it all.
Possible Explanations: It’s important to remember that he is, essentially, made of smoke; reborn from the Source of life and death. That said, he has been hurt/repelled before, as illustrated when Freckles threw dynamite in the hole he was trying to drag Locke down. While the sonic fence and magic ash seemed to, at the very least, repel the misunderstood smoke monster.
One of MIB’s most ‘human’ attributes is the ability to persuade people to join his cause, usually by simply talking to them and pouting. While it may not have worked on old Richardus Alpert (above), MIB has convinced many individuals to follow his cause. Getting Ben to murder Master Jacob and threatening the remaining “Others” to follow him after the temple attack, are just some of his most audacious manipulation exploits.
Possible Explanation: He’s studied human nature for centuries; living amongst his own people who shipwrecked on the Island and the countless souls that Jacob brought to the island, gave him ample chance to scan and predict what makes people tick.
8. Precognition Abilities..
Nostradamus doesn’t have a thing on MIB. The bad twin’s powers of precognition represent a curious part of his arsenal. While enacting his loophole, he was somehow able to predict the exact moment and place that a time-flashing John Locke would appear. In a similar(ish) move, he also seemed to sense that that not all of the Candidates had perished from his crafty submarine of death plot.
Possible Explanation: Locke showing up at the Beechcraft crash-site was something that had already happened from an Island perspective. Plus, MIB’s fusion with the Island Source presumably gives him an extra level of intuition regarding Island events and the people on (or near) it.
And now a classic *cough* *cough* MIB scene from LOST:
Do you have any favorite MIB abilities, explained or otherwise?