Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lost - Across the Sea

It's been a long, long time since I did a weekly post about Lost. Frankly, I often have to DVR the show and watch it later, which ruins the relevancy of the writing. And now, with only 3.5 hours left in the series, what's the point of posting at all? All the mysteries will be answered, right?

Maybe. But even if the answers are around the bend, the fact is I sit here feeling very confused after watching "Across the Sea". That's unusual. After an episode what I 'know' may turn out to be wrong, but I always walk away with a grasp of the plot and a plausible theory in my head. Not this week.

I'm not going to waste time typing out a synopsis. If you saw the episode, you'll know what I'm talking about, and if you didn't, well, you should have 'x'd out this post by now.

Here are my three primary concerns about this episode:

1. Does this episode reinforce or refute or notion of Jacob as 'good' and Esau/Locke/Man In Black as 'bad'?

2. Regardless of who is good or bad, is there validity to the current status-quo of the island? If Locke leaves will disaster befall humanity? Is it necessary for someone (Jacob/candidate) to assume the role of 'protector' of the island and foe of Locke?

3. To what degree are the events of 2000 years ago (this episode) a manipulation to acheive a desired effect? Do they mirror events of 2004-2007?


Well, damn, this episode screwed with the show as a whole, didn't it? Nowhere in the course of the hour was anything presented that labeled Jacob as 'bad', but it knocked away the idea that he was a benign, all-wise entity.

He is human, not a god [although many religions feature a god born of a woman]. Throughout his childhood he is clearly a follower, not quite content living in the shadow of his brother but unwilling to alter the situation. He is clearly devoted to his 'Mother', and believes her words with the conviction of a priest. Yet he is all too aware that his brother is the 'favorite', the leader, the boy who possesses both the spark of curiosity and the favor of his Mother's heart. This blossoms in violence and anger twice on screen.

On the other hand we are presented a portrait of MIB as a gifted, curious child with an adventurous heart, one who is clearly the favorite of his 'mother'. There is no clear, discernible 'evil' act to hold against him save matricide, and one could argue that the mass murder in the village momentarily pushed his sanity aside.

But . . .

If the words of warning about the Source were true, and MIB willingly and with full knowledge sought to breach that line in the sand - and remember, he somehow came to possess specific knowledge about it - then he is acting immorally. Immorally, and to such a scale he could be called 'evil'.

In the end of course, their childhood is nothing but irrelevant baggage. Who you are at 12 is not who you are guaranteed to be at 30, 40, 60 - or 2000. In his 30 years with the colony MIB had already grown bitter and distrustful of man, while Jacob seems to have picked up a fascination and affection for the same. Extrapolate that down 20 centuries, and 2004 MIB may be 100% evil, and Jacob may have evolved into the benefactor he appears to be.


Well shoot, how do I know? I'd say yes, and not just because it's necessary for the show to function. The show could amount to nothing more than leftovers from the imagination of a single crazy woman, but that's ignoring some facts. If she's such a complete loon, what about the source and the disappearing cave? The presence of a freakin' Smoke Monster, folks that live for millenia, and the simple fact that MIB physically can't seem to maneuver a way off into the wild blue yonder.

Something is keeping MIB in place, and whether you label MIB good or evil may be irrelevant. Perhaps, like a communicable disease, it must be contained before it spreads to the general population. It doesn't mean the infected person is any less good or moral than the next; there is not value judgment, simply a necessary precaution.

So yes, there's some point to this whole mess.


We open with a mother giving birth to a child (in this case, two boys) who are taken from her by force or circumstance, ala Danielle and Claire.

Years pass. The smoke monster can take the shape of any person who is both dead AND whose body is somewhere on the island. Was it the smoke monster who appeared as MIB's true mother and introduced him to the colony? Was it his intention to set forth the chain of events we see?

Follow my train of thought. The role of Jacob/mother/candidate seems less a matter of defending the island/source than of protecting it by acting as the jailer of the smoke monster. Therefore, the smoke monster is stuck on the island 2000 years ago, presumably prisoned by the Source or the mother. Seeing an opportunity, it exploits the young MIB by posing as his birth mother, separating him from the Protector (the 'mother').

30 years pass, and the monster continues to whisper in MIB's ear, giving him information about the light and how to escape. Yet 'mother' intervenes. What's next is up for debate, but I doubt a lone woman could orchestrate the murder of a village and the destruction of a well. I suppose she could have summoned Smokey to do the deed, but I think it more likely that the monster exploited yet another opening. It wiped out the village and destroyed the well, not to hinder MIB but to push him into killing the island's protector, believing she was to blame for the village. Presumably, Smokey could then escape the island.

Farfetched? Why? It's been done before. Think about how complex Smokey's machinations were in maneuvering Locke and Ben into killing Jacob. That was a decades long process, no less or more an effort than what I've spelled out.

Except that the mother had thought ahead, and designated Jacob as her heir. When she was killed Smokey had no 'release'; it was just as much a prisoner as ever. Oopsie.

We're told Jacob can't kill MIB and vice versa. Yet MIB's physical body obviously perishes in the Source, and we see the Smoke Monster flee the cave. What happened?

Two choices. A, MIB died, period, and Smokey later took his shape. Or B, his physical form died but his soul was transformed into the Smoke Monster, which could later imitate his old form as the body was still on the island. Which doesn't explain who/what destroyed the village the day before, but there ya go.

Yes, I know neither boy was 'allowed' to kill the other. But I think that rule expires once a new protector is chosen. Only a candidate is unable to be killed by the other's hand. Once someone is chosen the other is left as 'normal' as you and me.

I think B is the more likely plot point, but I kind of lean towards A.

Jacob and MIB never refer to themselves as brothers in the future (granted, proof of nothing). Morevoer, the death of MIB not only sets up all the points I've listed it makes this truly an eternal battle between good (the protector's) and evil (the smoke monster), not just the remnants of a petty family feud.

So. One more episdode, and then the 2.5 hour finale. God I'll miss this show.


Slapinions said...

Great post. I liked the episode a lot. I hadn't considered the idea of the boys' mother being the Smoke Monster, but you make a good case for that. Matt threw out that possibility as well when I talked to him about the episode. I think they arguably could have/should have revealed more nature of the Smoke Monster in this episode, unless they are deliberately holding back that information for dramatic purposes, which is entirely possible. I'm dubious, though, about how much more information we're going to get about Jacob's and Smokey's pasts after this episode devoted entirely to that subject, with only two episodes to go, you know?

- Patrick

Anonymous said...

I think your second point about the importance of containing the monster is going to be key to the final episode. I think the choice of what to DO with the knowledge of this source, this power, is going to be key. Jacob and his mother wanted to protect the island. Whidmore wants to exploit it for his own purposes. I see Jack stepping in and making a third choice, and breaking this cycle of a single protector for the island. Simply having him assume Jacob's role doesn't seem like enough, somehow. I also really liked how Jacob and his brother were just people....neither wholly good or wholly evil. For me, that makes things a lot more interesting.

- patrick