Every month EW will turn to our shadowy operative inside the world of Lost for insight. Burn this when you're done. The truth is out there.
We have looked into the face of The Monster and have seen The Abyss — cinematically speaking. Lost's Jan. 11 episode finally gave us a body shot of the show's man-chomping, peek-a-boo boogey-beast. Meet Smokey: a billowing coil of seemingly sentient black haze, a shadowy cousin to the morphing, mind-reading ETs of James Cameron's sci-fi opus. The Abyss allusion could be instructive, though I doubt it's pointing us toward an extraterrestrial explanation of the island.
Think thematically. In the movie, the aliens were so alarmed by mankind's potential for self-destruction, they resorted to drastic measures — the threat of annihilation by tidal wave — to save us. On Lost, we've learned that the island has been/is host to gonzo experiments funded by Alvar Hanso, a munitions mogul/philanthropist dedicated to ''a brighter future for all humanity.'' My theory? Twilight Zone Isle is being used by Hanso's Dharma Initiative as a sort of human recycling plant, designed to to either rehabilitate damaged, fallen people — or junk them.
Smokey is a sophisticated piece of machinery in this soul-crunching refinery. Its function: quality control. Kinda like another cult-pop alien, the Marvel Comics scourge Galactus. Apparently, the planet-chomping leviathan (also telepathic) serves an elusive celestial purpose. He might be the embodiment of random catastrophe — an essential Lost theme. Yet he might also exist to test the mettle of living beings. Fend him off; you deserve to live. If you can't, you don't. Chomp!
But back to Lost: During Smokey's stare-down with Mr. Eko, the monster appeared to scan the former Nigerian warlord's personal history, then retreated instead of eviscerating him. Why? Because the Born Again Eko was deemed worthy. (For now, at least.) But I could be wrong. After all, we're talking about a creature made of smog and reflective properties — in other words, smoke and mirrors.