Good & Evil On 'Lost'

One of my friends posed the theory that Jacob was, in fact, the evil entity on "Lost," (ABC, 9 p.m.), not the Fake Locke/Smoke Monster. He came up with this, noting that Jacob made sure the characters were trapped on the island, not allowing them free will.

It's an interesting idea, though I don't necessarily agree. After all, the Smoke Monster has killed a lot of people on the island, so it's not as if it's the good guy. And Richard and The Others seem terrified of it.

Free will, however, has been a central thesis on "Lost" for some time now, be it the real Locke trying to keep his faith in the island and have that influence his choices, to Sayid shooting the younger version of Ben with the hope of preventing future conflict (and accidentally creating said conflict instead).

Jacob approached most of the Flight 815 survivors at vulnerable times in their lives, touching them and influencing their journey to the island. Without Jacob's influence, we see how the lives of these characters might have turned out in the flash-sideways world.

Smoky seems to allow characters to exercise free will, but he tries to influence it by tricking or lying to the characters. He twists things around to get Ben to kill Jacob (who interestingly tells Ben that he has a choice in what he does) and apparently is now trying to do the same to Sawyer.

I'm not sure if either Jacob or Smoky can be considered good or evil, just motivated by their own agendas -- the same as regular people.

Anyway, the debate is one of the reasons why I love "Lost." Few other shows force the viewers to try to figure this stuff out.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: After a new "Lost," there's a new "The Forgotten" at 10 p.m.

"American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) is two hours tonight as the Top 12 women compete.

I was mistaken last week about "White Collar" (USA, 10 p.m.) being new, but this week, it definitely is.