Lost – ‘Across the Sea’ – 6.15

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”.

1111/20

Comments now closed (14)

  • Can’t say I loved this episode the way that I wanted to, either… I was seriously missing our castaways and the current island story! There are some things I’m just not getting about this backstory, I guess… If the two brothers could supposedly not hurt each other, why did Jacob beat the crap out him more than once, and the kill him? Or was it just that the unnamed brother couldn’t hurt Jacob?

  • Emily – I think you hit on a huge plot hole although it stands to reason that they can hurt each other, but not kill each other – and technically MiB wasn’t dead when Jacob tossed him in the cave. Therefore, whatever entity was in there, did the killing and took his body. So, maybe that’s the little loop hole. I might not have been as clear on that above.

    Still – I was really looking forward to this episode and I thought that by explaining too much they really took the mystery away – which is what I love most about this show. Sometimes we have to be careful what we wish for.

  • Hmmmm…if the real MiB is indeed dead as a doornail, then how is it he had been communing with Jacob on the beach, waaaay back when we met these two fraternal twins? Who the heck is in Evil-Locke? Was Jacob guarding an evil spirit to keep it on the island, while it is creating havoc in the skies above? Where is the DHARMA initiative in the Jacob story? I forget…

    Also, what was the prediction about who should raise Claire’s baby, back in Season 1? Does that tie in to what Mommy Dearest was doing?

    And I read that the Lost cast will be guests on Jimmy Kimmel, along with the three alternate endings…just in case we see one we don’t A) like or 2) Understand.

  • Here’s what I can tell.

    When we see Jacob and the Man in Black communing on the beach – it is the real Jacob and an evil entity now wearing his dead brother’s body (so to speak). Later on, that same evil spirit will take on other forms, including Christian, Alex, Yemi and finally Locke. But it is not Jacob’s brother.

    So I believe that evil force was contained within the island and Jacob inadverdently set it free when he tossed his brother down that cave.

    DHARMA simply came to the island to study the weird properties of the island. They were bankrolled by Alvar Hanso (who has connection to Widemore way back in history) but aside from that, they were just scientists sent to study the place. They were ultimately killed by the Others – hence, Jacob’s disciples.

    This really does shade Jacob in gray. He’s not as Good as we’re led to believe – of course, neither was his Mommy.

    My guess is that Aaron may share a similar fate as Jacob and MiB if he had been allowed to stay on the island. Maybe MiB would have taken his form which is why it’s in Claire’s best interest that he’s not on the island.

    Anyway – that’s what I’ve got.

  • I really enjoyed this episode. I thought it gave us just enough answers (Jacob & MiB’s origin, the Donkey Wheel, the couple in the cave, etc) without revealing too much.

    I think there’s something to be said about this season, after five seasons of weaving such a tapestry and only giving out information on a need to know basis, finally getting all of these answers is kind of like a shock.

    One thing I’m surprised you didn’t mention was the tapestry that Jacob’s mother was weaving. This whole series has sort of been one big tapestry. Everyone’s lives have intersected due to this island. Some of it may have been Jacob’s own doing, or perhaps it was all just the will of the island.

    BTW, Check out this video from Jimmy Kimmel… its hillarious!

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D9DcnB_WLXWo%26feature%3Dplayer_embedded&h=a2582

    -x

  • Agreed with just about everything and your responses in comments.

    I was not crazy about this episode either. More questions I thought. To me, it answered that MiB is definitely dead and allows me to question the rules I mentioned last week. If Smokey is the essence of evil out of the light, and it took MiB’s desires, sure made him a lot more evil than MiB (unnamed brother) ever was. And thus, these rules, the only rule that seems to hold is Smokey can’t go over water. I feel like Smokey completely has the ability to have killed Jacob if he wanted to. I liked MiB, as I had said this whole season, I was not convinced Jacob was good and MiB was evil. Now, to me, some things are confirmed and or answered: the unnamed brother was good, curious, eager, independent and creative. Fake Mom and Smokey are evil. Jacob is a spineless idiot mama’s boy. Who was the one that wailed on the other twice?? Jacob.

    Sure brother killed the only mom he knew, but we also don’t know how much time he spent with the spirit of real mom. Also, there were a lot of words they did not know as teenagers; therefore, I’m sure loco mommy did not explain all of the rules of life and morals. She didn’t give them much of an education. Killing is bad no matter what, but at the point he killed loco mom, I still don’t consider him the essence of evil. In fact, like you said Ed, unnamed was never truly evil as a human, and I question how much of him; his spirit, his soul, his desire, his katra, is in Smokey. But I still think Jacob an idiot.

    Questions: Does mom have powers? -to fill a well and eliminate a camp of people? Did she leave unnamed brother for dead? Did he die? How did he recover? They made it a point to show he had a lot of blood on the back of his neck.

    Now, where you mentioned “destined to live their lives in stewardship of the island” Loco mom clearly said one of you at one point. She only expected one, and planned for one, she just had to wait to pick which one. And yeah, when she was losing unnamed, she defaulted to Jacob and Jacob was like “sure, ok mom”…..

    And the garden of good and evil sure fit much better before this episode. The wine, loco mom’s ideals, it all could have been cultural mumbo jumbo. These were just two boys listening to everything mom could taint them with. I don’t know, the more I write, there more this whole episode just made some things silly.

    Oh, and if you’re wondering what’s in the glowing cave, it’s the same stuff that was in the briefcase.

  • Here’s the thing about this episode that grates on my nerves. I get that we are only 3 episodes before the end and Lindelof and Cuse feel they need to give an explanation for what the island is – but I think they could have done more by just suggesting things – versus painting it in such broad Good v. Evil strokes. I don’t mean to dump on the series because I truly love it – but clothing the boys in Black and White their whole life just comes across as goofy – as if pandering to the audience. We get it. One is dark and the other is light – we don’t need to be smashed in the face by symbolism.

    Anyway – my hope is that in the next two episodes they do more for letting us know how our beloved characters end up and spend less time on the massive info dump. Like I said, I don’t need every “i” dotted especially when they can hide behind a coy “every question you ask will just lead to more questions”. If that’s the case, stop raising more questions.

    I’ve been saying all along – this show is at its best when focusing on the characters. The fantastic mythology that surrounds them is the icing but at heart, this is a love story. Lost needs to touch its heart in the last 3 hours to close things out properly.

    And, of course, it needs to put Jack and Locke on that beach plaing backgammon, just to prove me right.

    I’d hate to compare it to Fringe again – but that is a show that seems in greater command of its equally dense mythology with much less pandering. Trust the intelligence of the cult audience that has followed you long after the mainstream casual fans abandoned all hope.

  • Um…so, yeah. This wasn’t really what I was expecting for this episode. I was looking for more answers than new questions. Don’t give me a stupid line about asking questions leads to more questions. To me, at this point, is a cop out. Yeah, I realize they can never, nor should they, answer every question left lingering out there right now, but for the love of Jacob, don’t introduce new questions now! I feel like this episode introduced more questions than those that were answered. My hope is that some of these things are addressed within the last hours left, but somehow I don’t think so, so therefore, this does seem like some half-assed attempt to fill in some history. There was a lot of promise here and they fumbled.

    That said, here’s what I think and wonder:

    1. I agree about the white v. black stuff, but it is possible that they chose the colors themselves. I don’t think Mom dressed them that way on purpose.

    2. It was weird that they never say the name of MiB. I have to agree, she most certainly must have named him even though Claudia didn’t have a name for him. Why they still haven’t revealed it, I don’t know. Maybe you can’t say his name, like Betelgeuse.

    3. Jacob didn’t kill his brother and I do believe that they can’t kill each other, just as the Mother said. He was unconscious when he floated into the cave and when Smokey emerged, it had taken his soul/lifeforce/whatever and rendered his body lifeless. I believe whatever spell he was under still applies. It is still him, but in a different vessel.

    4. I think that Jacob is no different than any other human. His rage to beat on his brother shows he is just as susceptible to be human as anyone else. The difference, I think, is that he strives to rise above it. In some sense, MiB seemed to also want to rise above it, but he wasn’t afraid to be around it and observe it up close. Jacob preferred to remain distant by following the path of his Mother.

    5. I have to believe the Mother had some kind of power. No way she can fill in that cave and raze that village without some kind of Smokey like power. Question is, now that Jacob inherited her role, does he now possess the same ability?

    6. Should we assume that Smokey eventually went back to the cave, unearthed it and completed the wheel? Also, we know that’s how Ben left the island, but what about Jacob? How does he make his trips off-island?

    7. Was the wine required to pass the role of caretaker and was that the only bottle or can more be made because we know Jacob gave Smokey the bottle and he smashed it.

    8. So, I was sort of right about the bodies in the cave, although I forgot that one was female when I posted that last week. Anyway, one was the previous Jacob and one was the previous Smokey, although it was MiB! Was wrong about having to die to become the next caretaker, that only seemingly requires a shot of wine.

    9. I was confused by the Woman’s confession that Jacob was supposed to be the one and she knew that now. Only because all along they played it like she treated Jacob as the one. The way she looked upon him when he was born and treated him as he grew. Meanwhile, always seemed to have a weary eye on MiB as a baby and youngster. In fact, I thought she chose to bash Claudia’s skull in only after MiB popped out, but then, it would seem likely she was going to do that no matter what because she didn’t want one, and now either, child corrupted by The Others. Also, when Jacob and MiB were born, Jacob was much more quiet and serene while MiB cried out to the world.

    10. Lastly, to get back to the line about questions being answered by more questions thing, it has definitely become annoying at this point. Yeah, we get it that everything has to come with free will, but this episode seemed to highlight the fact that no one ever tells anyone anything on this show. It was just so aggravating. Free will decisions can be made with more information, right, doesn’t have to be with as little information as possible. I guess this episode has made me more worried that in the end, we still won’t really understand. That we’ll still be left trying to interpret things. I get that we won’t, and shouldn’t, get all the answers, but c’mon, give me the basics! I feel like if they don’t, many people, especially the general public, won’t even give their next show a shot.

    Anyway, I’m sure there is more I am missing and forgetting to say here, but this episode just had me spinning a bit too much by the end. Part of it not understanding and the other not being what I expected. But then, by now, I guess that’s what we should expect. Ugh.

  • I guess, bottom line for me, I was very content before this episode, I did not need too many things answered; now, not so much.

  • i agree this episode was frustrating…but i’m still holding onto hope that all will be well in the end!

    well, all will be well except for the fact that on finale night, my stinkin’ husband has a softball game at 7pm and won’t be home til 9:30 pm, and it’s a 4.5 hour finale event…..and he refuses to skip his softball game. stupid husband!!!

  • I also have faith that the finale will be great! I think there are a lot of people getting worked up that the ending will not be all they want it to be… but nonetheless, even if the ending is terrible, what an awesome ride LOST has been!

  • @Emily – I completely agree with you. I think last week was a minor hiccup and I’ll explain more in the intro to my piece tomorrow.

    I’ve also heard that the producers’ screened tonight’s episode to a gathering of fans last Friday and people LOVED it. So – I think we’re in for a treat.