When I was in college – way back in the flannel-decked intro to the Nineties – I found that one semester, I glommed onto The Doors’ “The End” something fierce. As a raging Pearl Jam fan, I think I spied a kissing cousin in Morrison’s moody evocative lyricism and that song bridged worlds to PJ’s heralded disc Ten – which felt more like an anthem of my soul than Nevermind ever did. Maybe it’s because I was a year or two off from really giving off that Teen Spirit scent. Who knows?
Anyway, back then, as I chased down my Journalism degree at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, I found myself ‘hired on’ as a scribe for the University’s daily newspaper, The Collegian, where I quickly made the jump from hard news stories to the Arts & Living desk. There I could point my pen towards the world of entertainment, which really lit my fire. As a raging film buff, it was one step removed from my dream job destination – screenwriting.
Of course, being a dumb college student, I decided way too late (like the night before graduation) that I never really wanted to be a journalist but had my heart rooted in more creative endeavors. In another life, I should have followed my own road less traveled and beat my feet West for those Hollywood Hills the second I grabbed that diploma. There I may have found my true calling or at the very least, penned Saw VII. Ahh, perchance to dream.
The point is – “The End” stuck in my craw just as I was nearing my own finale. Every time I took a crack at a screenplay, I always found my scripted scenarios leading down some dark paths and “The End” played over and over in my head as soundtrack to those thoughts. It’s that concept – the unavoidable finality of everything – that has always intrigued me – and the notion that when we know the end is coming, how do we all individually prepare, that really stokes my creative spark. The End justifies the means.
So, last night, as Lost teased next week’s second-to-last episode, by drawing upon The Doors, I felt that same charge. Over the past few weeks, theories that we’ve discussed on these pages and the commentary that all of you have cobbled together in our fine community, have suddenly come to bear. The surprises seem fewer as for the most part, we’ve correctly puzzled this out. And yet, I can’t help but wonder what The End holds and choke back a little bit of melancholia knowing that in less than two weeks, This is The End.
All right. Let’s get Lost.
1. For the second time this season, Lost dispensed with the regulars to give us an eye-opening peek into the island’s warped history. The first came when we got Richard Alpert’s episode-long flashback in Ab Aeterno – which despite featuring a pivotal turn for Hurley, largely focused on Richard and his strange connection to Fantasy Island.
2. With only 3 episodes left, Lost wisely gave us some back-story on our two mysterious benefactors – Jacob and the still-unnamed Man in Black. It was a good tale that teased a few more questions while conclusively answering a bunch more. And while we got some concrete answers, as Jacob’s mysterious “mother” said early on, “Any questions you have will just lead to more questions.” Take this to mean that some of these things revealed in this episode will largely be left to interpretation.
3. The episode began, much like Ab Aeterno, without benefit of the “Previously on Lost” – meaning once again, we were off to the races. That’s happened a few times this season, and it always indicates that the writers have a lot of ground to cover and precious little time in which to do it.
4. Once again, we meet a stranger whose ship has been dashed off shore of our familiar island. The island seems to have a way of drawing people to it – but in the most violent manner. Planes fall from the sky. Ships wreck miles ashore. And in this instance, they shatter before reaching land.
5. Alone and adrift, a very pregnant woman (shades of Claire) crawls ashore and goes in search of water. She’s greeted quickly by a mysterious woman – a harbinger of Rousseau – who offers aid. As this stranger (the great Alison Janney who is credited only as “Woman”) tends to the survivor, labor comes on quickly and she is forced to play midwife. One baby is born and is quickly named Luke… errr, Jacob. Then a twin arrives and is unfortunately not named. Now – I’m going to be a little critical here. I FREAKIN’ LOVE LOST but I found the writers were being a little too coy in not naming the thus far unnamed Man in Black. My hope is that Janney’s Woman character did indeed name him, and we’ll find this out soon enough – as we got ample evidence throughout the episode that her character took a special shine to the surprise arrival. So, I guess the true Mother would want to officially adopt her beloved.
6. If anything, she did seem to very quickly intuit that there is something very special about these two children. Again, shades of Claire and Aaron. So, my assumption is that this pregnant woman was drawn by the island specifically because of the children she carried and that Janney is in tune with the island’s bidding, a gift that she would later pass on to her son Jacob. Jacob and MiB were destined to live their lives in stewardship of the island. Of course, one completely accepts his responsibility while the other wants to see what else is out there.
7. Which is a theme that the episode continues to chase down. We’ve always looked at Jacob and MiB as the manifestation of Good and Evil. Symbolically, one wears white while the other goes all Goth. But this episode muddied those waters. I found both brothers shaded in gray as MiB is never truly evil in his human beginnings – in fact, if anything, he best represents the true nature of man while Jacob is representative of the idealized portrait of Mankind’s true potential. After all, Jacob is deified by a crazy lady who bashes the head of a new Mom out of blind fear that Man can only corrupt. As MiB says at one point, “You stand above, looking down, always watching us” – and he says this with such contempt at what he believes is Jacob’s judging ways.
8. That’s where our interpretation of MiB is altered. He’s not this age-old evil that we should fear – or at least, he didn’t start out that way. He was just a Man – one who wanted something more. One who wanted to explore. And also, one who wanted to go home and rightfully so. Due to the strange actions of a nut job, he was essentially imprisoned on the island from birth. And while there may be a vital world-saving reason for all of that (especially now that he has become Evil Incarnate), he didn’t start out that way. He was robbed of his true potential right from the beginning. And that’s an interesting dynamic that should bring us straight to the end.
9. Jacob on the other hand is the blind faith follower. He’s also just as human – making one major emotional mistake that unleashes this great Evil upon Paradise. In that one motion, he seals his own fate – becoming Custodian to the Genie let loose from the bottle. I’ll get back to that in a second.
10. First, Alison Janney’s Woman. Who is she? My guess is that this job of island caretaker is cyclical? Someone will always be there to guide that glowing island secret and as she says at one point – she once had a mother, as did Jacob and MiB. I believe her when she says she was also brought to the island under similar circumstances and the more this show continues, the more I believe this is The Garden of Good and Evil – at least that’s what I believe is contained in that glowing cave. It is the source and inspiration for all world religions – the heart of it all – the birth place of good and evil. I don’t think the show will ever put a stamp on which religion got it right but this cave is meant to serve as the impetus for what those religions covet most dearly. That there is a life force and influence that emanate in the world and this is the heart of it all. That’s the show’s conceit, at least. In order to maintain the correct ph balance for lifetime longevity, someone must guard this secret and keep it from falling into the wrong hands. “The Woman” comes right out and says that deep in the cave are light and darkness; death and life. It is the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end. Heaven and Hell and Valhalla and Gehenna and any other final destination a world religion has imagined.
11. And most likely, whatever resides down that hole will glom on to your true spirit. Or take advantage of a weakened spirit. So when MiB is tossed down the cave, he does not become Evil because he is Evil. Just the opposite. He is weak and wanting and looking for an escape and thus, an easy mark for whatever nefarious force cohabitates in that cave. And thus, a pretty normal guy who just wants something more is killed by his brother Jacob, and an evil force is allowed to step forth in the world (one step forward) after being released. Jacob let the genie out of the bottle (which brings that symbolic wine jug into play once again). And as much as MiB’s former physical self has been co-opted for devious designs, Jacob is now cursed by his own actions to keep that entity contained. It’s already broken one seal – the island is the final cork.
12. So, the man that was MiB is truly dead. Laid alongside his mother in a cave – with a black and white stone left as memorial marker by a very guilt-ridden Jacob who knows he has just carved a mammoth task for himself. And while the writers may not have known way back in Season 1 that this is how it would all play out, I think they did have a broad blueprint which allowed for a nice callback to that initial discovery of Adam & Eve. Jack and Locke and Kate in that cave bring everything full circle.
13. Some other mysteries that were answered – We now know the little blonde boy that had been dogging MiB all season is the apparition of Jacob – haunting this evil entity as it strives to break free of its prison. The catch here is the once human MiB really just wanted to see where he came from while this evil entity has a different plan entirely. As I’ve discussed on these pages before, I believe it really is about getting loose in the world and offsetting the precarious balance of good and evil. It took the human MiB’s longing and made it it’s own.
14. The frozen donkey wheel still remains a mystery in that we don’t exactly know how MiB’s human cohorts knew that by manipulating the electromagnetic forces, they could somehow escape the island. We just know that they discovered that. Now – I don’t know that we’ll ever know but I’m fine with that. I take it that somewhere in all of their digging they came across ancient knowledge that led them to that discovery. And then MiB built the donkey wheel. And one day Ben turned it and really screwed things up.
15. So, by episode’s end we understand Jacob’s mission more clearly. He has spent centuries mourning his dead brother and striving to correct a catastrophic event that he precipitated. And despite the best efforts of the ABC Marketing Department, I’m not sure we’re headed for “The End“. I think what goes around, comes around. Meaning Jack and the MiB successor have a backgammon date on the beach in their future.
16. With all of that being said, I think this episode left me cold. I was really jonesing for a good back story but I felt this was laid out a bit clunky. I hold to my theory that sometimes you don’t need to know everything. Oh well, I’m hopeful that we’ll still get a decent conclusion. Just don’t dot all the “i’s” Lindelof and Cuse!!!
That’s all for this week. See you next week for Episode 6.16 – ‘What They Died For”.