May 12, 2010

Across the Sea

Sometimes knowing the answer isn't as exciting as speculating the hundreds of possibilities. That's the lesson from "Across the Sea." Sure some answers were satisfying and island history always rocks, but Damon Lindelof has repeatedly used the Star Wars midiclorian example as caution for fans wanting too much information and getting it. Well, Mr. Lindelof, I think Lost just had its midiclorian moment with the cave light/the heart of the island.

On the surface this episode provided a lot of information, but after thinking about it more, it also brings up a ton more questions. When it ended, I was ready for "Across the Sea Part 2 - Electric Boogaloo," but with only two episodes left, we know we aren't getting that. "Across the Sea" may be looked at differently once it can be viewed in the context of the finished series, but it left me asking for and wanting more.

Mother mother
The episode opened with a pregnant woman being washed ashore after a shipwreck. Another woman soon finds her and takes care of her. We learn that the pregnant woman is named Claudia and turns out she's Jacob's mom ... and Man in Black's too. It's twins, but she only picked out one name. How convenient. The other woman, who we only know as Mother for the rest of the episode, is pleased to see the baby boys but soon disposes of their real mother. Wow!

So we get confirmation that Jacob and Man in Black are brothers, but there's more to the Man in Black's tale to come. Mother is looking for her replacement and needs someone pure and uncorrupted to take over for her, which is why she goes for the babies. By killing their real mother right after their birth, Mother is the only influence they'll ever have, and she can mold them to be her replacement. My thinking is that Mother caused the shipwreck and brought the people to the island (this probably isn't the first time she's done so), specifically because Claudia was on board.

Young Jacob and Young Man in Black
The next part of the episode showed the boys at around 13 years old. Man in Black found a game on the beach, and it turns out Mother left it for him. She thinks he's special, and it becomes clear that he's her choice to eventually take over her role. She tells him he's different than Jacob and that Jacob could never tell a lie. Another interesting point is that Mother has planted in the twins' heads that the island is all that exists. She tells them that there's nothing else out there, nothing "across the sea."

Man in Black is oblivious to a lot of things, including death. When she brings up that her mother is dead, he asks what's that? Later, we learn that he doesn't know what a ship is either. It seems that like the show Lost itself, Mother is only telling them the things she wants them to know about. I wonder how long she's been on the island and what her origins really are. She said that she came from her mother. Was she born on the island as well or brought there for the purpose of protecting it?

Here for a Reason
After the boys encounter other survivors of the shipwreck (The Others?), Mother confesses that she knew about the other people, but that they are different than them. She tells the twins that they are there for a reason and proceeds to show them that reason.

On the way, she explains why other people are dangerous, and it sounds familiar: they come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt and it always ends the same. This is the same thing Man in Black told Jacob in the beginning of "The Incident." Mother also starts to lay out the rules that we've come to know. She made it so that Jacob and Man in Black can't hurt each other. No further explanation is given as to how she granted this or what this means exactly. As we see later, Jacob is able to hurt Man in Black, so is it more of a subconscious thing? If they think they can't kill each other, than they can't?

She then brings them to see the briefcase from Pulp Fiction, I mean, she brings them to a cave with a bright, golden light coming from it. Clearly, Man in Black is mesmerized by the light. She says that this is the reason they are on the island, to protect this light, which she later calls the heart of the island (I got a Dr. Who TARDIS vibe when she said that).

A little bit of the light is inside every man, but they always want more. The light is ... cheesy. I didn't love this scene, and it was so vague yet told way too much at the same time. So is this the one thing that will explain everything about the island (electromagnetic properties? island moving through time and space? healing properties? etc.)? How did mother learn about the source and why is it so hard to find? Like I said earlier, way more questions.

I See Dead People
While Man in Black and Jacob are playing the game, their real mother Claudia appears to them. Only Man in Black can see her, and she's says that's because she's dead. So Jacob can't see dead people, only Man in Black can? What does that say for Hurley who can also see dead people?

Claudia brings him to the campsite that the other people on the island have set up, and she explains to him what Mother did. Man in Black wakes up Jacob and plans to leave. He tells Jacob everything but Jacob gets mad and starts to beat him up. Mother show up and stops them. With Jacob being the supposed good one, how/why can he beat up his brother, especially since Mother said they couldn't hurt each other?

Man in Black is leaving, but Jacob won't go. Man in Black wants to leave the island and go home, but Mother says that he'll never be able to leave. He vows to find a way. Why can't he leave? Is Mother preventing him from being able to leave or is it just the simple issue of only being able to leave if you take the correct bearing?

Jacob and Mother talk on the beach, and she confesses to what she did to their real mother. Jacob realizes that she loves Man in Black more, but he stays with her anyway. This episode went a long way in painting Man in Black in a more sympathetic light, but it diminished Jacob quit a bit. Jacob was the #1 powerful being on the island for all these years. There was so much mystery behind him and even after we learned more about him, he was still this mysterious island ruler. But now, he's second choice, clueless to what's going on, clueless to everything about the island and instead of rocking the apple cart, he stays by his fake Mother. It also blurred the line of good and evil even more with Man in Black and Jacob.

Man in Black's Plan to Leave
Jacob kept in touch with his brother after he left. Jacob would often go to watch Man in Black work with the other villagers. Turns out they were digging wells (Just as Fake Locke told Desmond in "Everybody Loves Hugo") and had found something. There are places on the island where metal acts funny. He thinks this will be a way off the island. Once again, Jacob doesn't want to leave with him.

After Jacob the snitch told Mother that Man in Black found a way to leave, Mother pays a visit to him in the well. Man in Black had been searching the the light cave (remember how mesmerized he was by it?), but hasn't been able to find it. So he came up with another plan and figured he can find the source another way, so they dug all the wells. His plan includes the donkey wheel (not sure how the execution will work in getting him off the island ... something about the wheel and water and harnessing the light. I thought building a boat might work better). Mother puts a stop to his plan by smashing his head into the wall.

So what does Man in Black know about the light? Have other dead people from the island's past talked to him and explained it better than Mother had? What were the other villages planning to do with the light?

The Replacement
Mother brings Jacob back to the cave and tells him that he's going to be the one to protect it. She tells him that inside is life, death, rebirth. It's the source, the heart of the island. She tells him going down there would lead to something worse than death. Does she know about the Smoke Monster (more on this in a minute) and it being unleashed if someone goes down there? Was that really what she was protecting (keeping the monster trapped)?

Jacob knows that Man in Black was her first choice for the job of protector, but Mother tries to convince him that he's always been the right choice. Jacob is reluctant and doesn't care to be the protector. This is way different that I envisioned. I always thought Jacob was chosen for a reason, but he's second choice and got the gig by default. He didn't even want the job, but he would do whatever his "mother" told him to do.

She has a bottle of wine (the same bottle Jacob shows Richard when explaining the island to him) and for Jacob to accept the position, he must drink from the cup. When he drinks he becomes just like Mother. I took this to mean that before he drank, he was mortal ... just a regular guy. Once he drank, he became ageless and gained powers.

Lots of questions remain from this scene. Jacob got no explanation about what he needed to do to protect the island or to find a successor. How does he find out about his powers and what gave him those powers? How does he find out about everything on the island like the lighthouse, the Temple, the healing pool, or how to bring people to the island?

I guess he has a lot of time to figure things out on his own, but that's some major stuff to figure out. Stuff like figuring out your immortal, you don't age and how to find a successor. As we know, Jacob left the island and touched the candidates, but in this episode, he says he never wants to leave, and Mother makes it sound like they can't leave anyway. When and how did Jacob learn that he can leave the island? When did he start looking for candidates?

Adam and Eve
Man in Black wakes up and sees that the well has been covered up and the village destroyed. He knows exactly who's responsible and heads for the caves. Mother arrives back at the caves first and finds things scattered about the caves, including Man in Black's game. As soon as she opened it and pulled out the black and white stones, I knew where this was headed.

Man in Black stabs her in the back without letting her speak a word (the dagger he used is the same one that he offered to Richard in "Ab Aeterno" and the same one that Dogen gave to Sayid to kill Smokey). Was not letting her speak the key? As she's dying he ask why she wouldn't let him leave and she says because I love you and thanks him for killing her. Did she know something would happen to him if he left or did she know what was going to happen to him now? Or was she just being selfish and didn't want him to leave?

We may never know because Jacob finds him with blood on his hands (remember the first appearance of the mystery boy in "The Substitute" with blood on his hands? Was that in reference to this moment?). Jacob again attacks his brother, even though they can't hurt each other according to Mother and brings him to the light cave. He can't kill him but throws him down on a rock, knocking him unconscious and sends him into the light cave.

After a brief moment, we hear the familiar clicking noises, and the Smoke Monster roars from the cave. The light appears to have gone out as well. More on Smokey in a bit, but Jacob leaves and finds his brother's body. He brings him back to the caves, and we get the scene that alienated two groups of Lost fans. Hard core Lost fans were upset to have the "House of the Rising Sun" season 1 flashback intertwined with scenes of Jacob laying his mother and brother to rest. Casual Lost fans needed the flashbacks to remind them about the Adam and Eve mystery. I didn't love having the flashback on first viewing, but after watching it again, feel that it works. At first I felt like we were being spoon fed an answer. Now, I can live with it.

The bigger challenge is forgetting that in season 1 the two skeletons weren't side by side. This is the mystery that Darlton have long said will prove that they had a plan all along and weren't making it up as they went, but to have a major plot hole and retrofit that the skeletons were side-by-side hurts their case. See the scene from season 1 below:

Jacob and the Smoke Monster
Now onto the best part of the night, the origin of Smokey. While it was cool to see more about Jacob and Man in Black, at this point in Lost's story, Smokey is the main player so seeing where he came from was cool, but left the most questions remaining.

The one thing that we can take away from this episode is that the Man in Black, aka Smoke Monster/Fake Locke, is not Jacob's brother. Jacob's brother was put to rest in the caves, much like real Locke was buried. The Smoke Monster only used Man in Black's form from this point onward. But as we have seen with Fake Locke, Smokey retained Man in Black's memories and goals. Man in Black wanted off the island and to go home, so that's Smokey's goal. But I wonder, does Smokey really want off the island to go home or does he want to be reunited with the light source?

Even though there's only two episodes left, I think we'll get a lot more to Jacob and Smokey's story. There's a big gap of information from when Jacob takes the role as protector and unleashes Smokey to when we next see them on the beach talking in "The Incident" or when Richard makes it onto the island in "Ab Aeterno."

I wonder how their "game" evolved and the rules set in place. Remember young Man in Black told young Jacob that one day he could make up a game and set the rules. Looks like Smokey is a part of that now. Jacob is trying to prove to Smokey that man is good, they can't kill each other (same rule that Mother set) without a loophole, Smokey can't leave the island as long as t here is a protector and they have a black and white inside joke. I wonder how all that was established.

I also think we'll see Smokey confront Jacob as his brother. How will Jacob react? He knows that his brother is dead, but he has to live with seeing this thing take his brother's form. Does Smokey flat out explain what he is to Jacob? I also find it odd that Jacob is the one who brings people to the island and Smokey kills them. With the way Mother operated, seems like it might be the opposite. Man in Black lived amongst the people even though they were corrupt. Mother had more of a Smoke Monster way of doing things than what we've seen from Jacob. I also think we need to learn more about the circle of ash and the cabin as they pertain to Smokey.

Lastly, I think we may also have gotten an answer to why the Others weren't able to have babies on the island. I believe its Smokey's way of limiting Jac ob's chances of finding a replacement. Mother found her replacement by taking the twins and raising them on her own so they wouldn't be corrupted. If Jacob can't find someone pure (i.e. a baby) on the island, then Smokey believes that he won't be able to find a successor. Lucky for Jacob, he was able to find flawed individuals and bring them to the island to be redeemed as his candidates.

Other Tidbits:
Why did Mother start talking to Claudia in another language (Latin?) and then all of a sudden switch to English? The transition was weird and they never addressed it or asked if Claudia spoke English. She just started speaking in English.

Man in Black told Jacob that Mother was right about the other people on the island being bad. Is this the beginnings of their contest over man being good or not?

I'm guessing that the burning of Man in Black's village wasn't the first purge on the island. We know it wasn't the last.

Who finished the donkey wheel? Did Smokey go back and finish the job that original Man in Black started? Or did some future island inhabitants go down that same road, perhaps with Smokey's guidance?

It's a minor detail, but I did wonder when Jacob moved into the base of the statue. I wonder if the statue was even built at the time of this episode.

It's crazy that Mother and the twins lived in the caves and that's where Smokey, posed as Christian, led the Losties in season 1. I guess Jacob didn't stay there since that's where he lay his Mother and brother to rest.

Fake Locke told Kate that he had a crazy mother, but he meant Mother.

Now that we've seen Jacob as a kid, we can conclude that the mystery boy who's been taunting Fake Locke in a couple of earlier episodes is young Jacob, but as far as how and why, I'm not sure. I'm also not sure why he had brown hair the last time we saw him.

Other recaps and analysis of "Across the Sea":
Next on Lost: "What They Died For"

*Photos from


Matt Brumfield said...

Regarding the switch to English, I think you're supposed to assume that the entire conversation was in Latin. When it switches, there's a little musical tone - I think that was just one of those TV things to say "hey, we're switching to English now so you don't have to keep reading subtitles".

James Stephenson said...

See my thought is, she raised the boy in black to kill her. Think about all the things she did to atanganize him. Going out of her way and points to make him resent her just a little bit. For all we know, she was playing the ghost mom. I don't think he was ever the intended protector.

Think about it, no way Jacob kills her, and she thanks him for finally giving her rest. And she knew it was coming, she sent Jacob away before the fateful incident.

Secondly, I think Jacob knew everything Mother knew at the time of the ritual. Kind of like the Bene Gesserits and the water of life in Dune. All memories pass on to the next generation. It makes sense, I mean you can not leave someone that kind of power without an instruction manual, otherwise you get Greatest American Hero.

Just my 2 cents, which in the lost world is about all an opinion is worth.

Anonymous said...

They switch for ease of audience. According to Lostpedia they did this before. Its to be considered that the entire episode is in Latin; but for brevity's sake and so there's no caption at the bottom the entire episode - they switch to English after a while.