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The way Dogen told the story, Jacob talked to Dogen off-island. So far, there hasn't been any compelling evidence that suggests that the smoke monster could appear to people off the island before Jacob died. It also seems like it could only take the form of dead people, as well. As I mentioned, Jacob appeared to Dogen off-island, presumably a long period of time before Jacob died. The smoke monster has never been satisfactorily linked to anyone, dead or alive, appearing off the island to characters in the show.

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