Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 11, 2010: Lost Recap: Across The Sea

I’ve mentioned in the past how I try my best to go in to each episode this season with as little information as possible. Other than the previous week’s preview and the title of the episode, I try to not have any advance intel. But after seeing the preview for “Across The Sea”, it was a lot more difficult than usual, and the thought of what appeared to be a final word on the Island’s mythology had me on a whole new level of giddiness and excitement.

After last week’s emotional roller-coaster of an episode, would finding out the history of Jacob and the Man in Black satiate viewers? I thought the timing of the episode was fantastic, sticking us back in time, and away from both the Island and Flash-Sideways World. We still have to taste the bitterness of losing Sayid and Sun and Jin for another week before we can continue on in that timeline.

As the episode started and we saw pieces of debris strewn about the ocean, I instinctively said out loud, "Frank?", because I was wondering what we were about to see. Obviously someone was about to surface from the water, but as the tension built and I started to realize that I was indeed not seeing part of a submarine, I figured we were in for something unexpected. And sure enough, an unknown female arose.
As she came out of the water, it became evident that she was very pregnant, and after finding fresh water, she looked up to find C.J. Cregg staring down at her. Well, obviously it wasn't President Bartlett's Press Secretary, but an unknown woman played by Allison Janney. I was thrilled to see her, as I've always been a huge fan of hers, long before The West Wing. (Remember Big Night?)

I was confused by the language she and Claudia were speaking, specifically because Janney's character spoke with no accent whatsoever. And as the two of them were speaking, they both just switched to English, which they both spoke perfectly. As she tended to Claudia's injured ankle, I was reminded of Claire tending to Jin's leg after the bear trap incident earlier this season.

We learned that both of them arrived "by accident", and as Claudia fired questions at her, she responded with what seemed to be another knowing nod to us Losties from the writers, "Every question I answer will simply lead to another question." Well, with only 2 episodes remaining, I sure as hell hope there aren't going to be any new questions!
And as Claudia prepared to give birth to Jacob and the MIB, and declared "It's coming"...who of you were reminded of the scene at the end of last year's finale, after Jacob was stabbed, when he said "They're coming." I definitely was. After baby Jacob was born, and it became clear that there was a second baby coming, we all knew that the MIB was about to be revealed as Jacob's twin, but instead of a big plume of black smoke coming out of Claudia's 'magic baby door' (Thank you Craig Ferguson for that term), we simply got just another baby.

As I craned my ear to hear the name that was given to the second baby, I received a slap in the face in the form of this episode's "Jacob had a thing for numbers", as Claudia declared that she had only picked out one name. As punishment, Jacob's mother (who I shall refer to for the rest of this post as JM, since I have nothing better) brained her with a rock and took the babies...but not before apologizing first. Pretty vicious.

As we come back from our first commercial break and I shield my eyes from the guest stars once again (which would turn to be irrelevant), we see a young MIB walking along the beach and finding the box that would turn out to be his lifelong game with Jacob. I was shocked at how much young MIB looked like Boone, and young Jacob looked like that kid in the forest. Wait...that's because he is the kid in the forest! One of the most obvious questions answered in the first 5 minutes.

JM was weaving back home in the caves, recalling the scene last year where we were introduced to Jacob weaving in the base of the statue. When she asked Jacob where her brother was (for the love of GOD just tell us his name!), he responded by saying that he was "staring out at the ocean", a line that he would use later to describe what Jack needed to do at the Lighthouse. As he tried to cover for his brother, JM used mother's guilt to coax it out of him, asking Jacob if he loved her before he sang like a canary.
As JM then went out to the beach to talk to the young MIB, we witnessed a very interesting conversation between the two of them:

JM: "Jacob doesn't know how to lie. He's not like you."
MIB: "Why? What am I like?"
JM: "You're...special."

Why is he so special? What is so different about him than Jacob? It seemed at this point in the episode that Jacob's relationship with his mother was antagonistic and steeped in guilt and responsibility, where MIB's relationship with his mother was based on love. Was this because, as Jacob declared later, she loved him more?

My theory is that whatever entity/being that their mother is...she was already aware of the characteristics of each, and she already knew that Jacob would be trustworthy and would follow her instructions due to a sense of family obligation, whereas MIB would not. Therefore she had to do a little extra with him, small things like leaving a box for him on the beach...

We also learned that MIB wanted to know what is "across the sea", to which his mother responded "There is nowhere else. There is only the Island." And as the young MIB continued to prod his mother the way that inquisitive youngsters do, he asked about death, and was told "that is something you will never have to worry about." I love that we're getting the backstory...that we're getting the proof of what we all suspected or assumed...but I want to know why. I don't think I'm going to get my answers.

Watching young Jacob chase a boar through the jungle is what I'm going to label this episode's Mirror Image #1: remembering back to that first time that John Locke chased a boar through the jungle in Season 1. I was confused at the sight of other people on the Island ("The Others"?), but not as confused as the boys were, who went back to their mother and started asking questions again.
"They're not like us. They don't belong here. We are here for a reason." they were told. And when the boys invariably asked what the reason was, after a long pause, she responded "It's not time yet."

What followed was a mild rant that echoed exactly what MIB said to Jacob on the beach last season, "They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt, and it always ends the same." Interesting to see that scene, and hear the words coming from their mother's mouth, knowing that it gets ingrained in their brains to be having the same conversation some 30+ years later.

I have to point out that while I get the good vs. evil/black vs. white thematic methods that have been used lately have been about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the head. Yes, I get that Jacob is good, and MIB is bad. I see that they use the relevant black and white stones in their game, and I have seen that as adults, they are dressed in light and dark clothing. But the hair colour, the clothing as children, and even the damn cloths that the babies were wrapped in...it was always Jacob = light and MIB = dark. We get it!
Mom decided to take a walk in the woods with the boys after the revelation of the other people on the Island...and by 'walk in the woods', I mean 'blindfold your kids and take them to a hole of light at the end of a stream.' As we saw our first shot of that opening, I let out a legitimate "What the F*ck!?" I mean, seriously...what the hell was that? Was the briefcase from Pulp Fiction in there? All that we got before the commercial was "this is the reason we're here."
I'm not going to go into the explanation of what JM said that the light was, because it was all seemingly filled with rainbows and unicorns. But we did learn that "if the light goes out here, it goes out everywhere", which seemed pretty important. Look, I know that with the music and the explanation of everything, it all seemed very Ferngully or Narnia or some sort of sugary children's tale, but I bought it. I know some people were turned off by it and thought it was relatively cheesy (and perhaps it was), but I went with it.

I think the most relevant thing that came out of this scene was when the young MIB declared 'It's beautiful", which I'm going to call Mirror Image #2: mirroring John Locke's statement upon looking into what we only knew then as "the Smoke Monster". Now that we know what the Smoke Monster was borne out of, it makes complete sense. Plus, it laid the groundwork for the concept that MIB would seek out the light for the next 30 years.

I was confused as to why young MIB saw the vision of Claudia, but Jacob did not. The only answer that Claudia gave was that it was because she was dead. I didn't understand what that meant...was MIB the Hurley of the time...the only one who could see and communicate with the dead? Or was Claudia some sort of entity (like Yemi and Isabella) that was created by a creature that pre-dated the Smoke Monster we know, in an effort to mislead and manipulate? Whatever it was, I'm going to call it Mirror Image #3: recalling when Ben saw the apparition of his dead mother Emily on the Island. The camera work in that scene was very similar to when Emily appeared to Ben in "The Man Behind The Curtain."
And then when Claudia revealed to MIB that she was his mother...come on, how Star Wars was that? The revelation that who you thought was your parent is not your parent...I almost expected Claudia to cut off MIB's hand and for him to end up jumping down a well. (that almost happens later!)

When MIB tells Jacob about Claudia, and his plan to leave their mother, a fight ensues and we see Mirror Image #4: as Jacob attacks his brother and pounds him mercilessly, the same way that Jack did with Ben in the Season 3 Finale, "Through The Looking Glass". Again, the same interspersed shots of one person relentlessly beating on the other and a bloodied face. And in both situations, it was due to an angry individual who didn't believe what he was told by the other...which in both cases...was the truth.
So we see the family split that caused MIB to be separated from his family, and we learn that Jacob has agreed to stay, because he trusts his mother, and as a result, he will never be able to leave the Island. JM explains to Jacob that she "needed him to stay good", making me wonder again if all of her efforts to show as much love to the MIB were, as I suggested earlier, an attempt to sway him away from 'the dark side'.

Flash forward 30 years to see a grown Jacob watching a grown MIB, and joining up again for one of their black stone/white stone games in the woods. I found it interesting to see that they still kept contact with each other, and to see how bitter and disillusioned MIB had become after living with 'People' for that long, and that they were now just "a means to an end", which to him, meant going home to that unknown place 'Across The Sea.' Looks like Mom was right about them after all.
He showed Jacob--with one curving chuck of the magic dagger--there were strange things that they had discovered on the Island. He pleaded with Jacob to come with him, and you could see the true emotion in his eyes. As much as I believe that Flocke/MIB is pure evil, at this point...he still wanted his brother to join him.

Down in the well (dug by hand as we had already been told by Flocke), MIB reveals to his mother that after 30 years, he has finally found the source of the light that she showed them as children. And now he plans to create what we all have come to know as The Frozen Donkey Wheel.
He quotes back what she told him before...that he's 'special', and as she tries to say goodbye to him, we see the emotion he feels...entirely unlike the emotionless monster we've come to see him as in the current Island timeline. Then, she again apologizes (as she did to Claudia) before smashing his head against the wall. (I won't make the Desmond/Kelvin Inman comparison as a Mirror Image since one was inadvertent, and one was clearly intended, although definite similarities exist.)
I'm not sure what to make of the scene at the Light Tunnel with Jacob and his mother when she handed over the reigns of protection to him. What was the significance of the wine, other than the obvious biblical comparisons...right down to the wording of "take the cup and drink"? What did we learn in this scene, though: a) that the light is the source/heart of the Island, b) that going down there is a fate "much worse than dying", and c) that it was always supposed to be Jacob that was going to be the next protector.

However, the most important thing I think we get coming out of this scene is when Jacob was told by his mother "You don't really have a choice." I think that is the key moment that led to Jacob's methods...that there is always a choice.

I loved the scene after MIB woke up from the attack by his mother. After returning to camp, finding his game box, and then seeing the dead bodies slaughtered and strewn about (Mirror Image #5: Dharma barracks after the gas attack), we saw him go from sadness to anger to despair...all in one spinning cyclical camera shot with smoke rising behind him at all angles. Nice touch.

As JM sent Jacob away to get firewood, it was evident to me by her resigned sigh as she walked away, that she knew MIB would be back at the caves. And as we saw how he destroyed the weaving (as he did in the foot of the statue earlier this season), we also saw him murder his mother. As she died, she said something which, no matter how many times I watched it over again, I couldn't figure out. I was hoping it was his name, but alas, it was indiscernible.

She did, however, say that she wouldn't let MIB leave because she loved him...and then said 'Thank You' before she died. Does this mean that she didn't want MIB to be saddled with the burden she had? Again, as with last week, it's getting late and I'm starting to ramble and not make sense...even to myself.
I was impressed with the scene where MIB was sucked into the light, and we saw the birth of the Smoke Monster, but I know some people aren't going to like it. I did enjoy the imagery of the discarded body laying by the river...which Jacob picked up and carried back to the cave to rest with their mother in what would become known as the Adam and Eve skeletons.

What I didn't like was how we were pounded over the head with the Adam and Eve revelation, flashing back to the original scene with Jack and Kate and Locke. That was kind of insulting, to be honest, and I was pretty disappointed.

A couple great lines in the episode that don't deserve a breakdown, but I still want to mention:

- "I've made it so that you can never hurt each other."
- "One day you can make up your own game and everyone else will have to follow your rules."

A couple of questions for you:

- Do you think the MIB being 'special' is related to Desmond being 'special'?
- Did you feel sympathy for MIB? For Jacob? For JM?
- Why the hell isn't Titus Welliver on TV every week?

I loved how this episode followed the model of Ab Aeterno, and not the traditional Lost storytelling structure, in the sense that it followed one story sequentially instead of bouncing around between the present and the Flash Back/Forward/Sideways elements.

We’ve wanted answers for 6 years. We got a LOT of them tonight.

Were you satisfied?

I was. But I still felt like I needed more...

One final note before I wrap this up. The response I’ve been receiving since my recaps have been appearing on DarkUFO has been overwhelming, to say the least. I wanted to take a moment to thank those of you who stop to read, who comment, and who click on through to visit and explore my blog (http://sfurfaro.blogspot.com) as well.

I’m not used to getting this much feedback and commentary, but it’s been a real treat, so thank you once again. Some of you have also found me on Facebook, so feel free to add me on there as well. New blog posts get posted there as soon as they go up. I look forward to your comments this week.


The Z said...

The switch to English was so we didn't have to read subtitles for an hour. It was done in "The Hunt for Red October." It just makes it easier for the viewers.

Sean said...

Not sure I agree with that, considering it hasn't been a trend on Lost in the past. We watched lots in Korean and Spanish and other languages. Could be...but I'm not sold.

TresBelleKnits said...

I just wanted to let you know how much I look forward to your recaps each week!
Yours is always the first blog I check after each episode. :)

I know I'm always in for a grin or an outright laugh...and you always seem to pick up on things I tend to miss.


Questions said...

The dead mother that appeared to Jacob's brother was evil and only appeared to Jacob's brother in order to manipulate him. The two brothers were manipulated from the start by their fake mother. I believe she was evil incarnate and needed them to get off the island. Everything that happened to the two brothers on this episode was masterminded by her, even her eventual death. There was a purpose to it all, and I assume it has to do with evil getting off of the island.

When Jacob ended up throwing his brother into the light cave, did the light go out? I realize smokey emerged from the light cave when this happened, but I forgot to check if the light was extinguished.

Questions said...

The brother's fake mother and the dead mother that appeared to Jacob's brother were the same evil entity. It was a long and masterful manipulation of these two brothers by this evil entity that ended with Jacob killing his own brother by throwing him into the light. Why did she (it( want this to happen? Was the light cave a force keeping her, it, on the island? It reemerged from the light well as smokey, an now its only obstacle preventing it from leaving is the good that is left in Jacob. Now evil must find a way for Jacob to die. That eventually comes with the manipulation of Ben Linus...

mk biesiada said...

Sean, this episode was very hard to put into words and again i think you did a great job. I believe very strongly. that while john Locke and the fake smoke monster Locke are different entities, that Jacob's brother and the man in black are different entities, and that smokey was using Jacobs brothers body. if you get a chance check out my blog "the orchid"


wish we met before the tail end (or tail section if you will) of the final season

Sean said...

TresBelleKnits, thanks for the kind words. Glad you're enjoying it. :)

Questions, I don't think I agree with you, but you make a pretty good argument, and I can't rule it out. I don't think there's enough time left to resolve/explain it if what you say is true. My feeling is that tonight's episode wrapped up the Island Mythology portion of Lost.

Matt, interesting theory. We'll have to see what happens, but I like it.

Jacob said...

This was almost a perfect episode except, as Sean pointed out, the part where us loyal viewers were kicked in the teeth with a Season 1 flashback to the caves. Thank god for that flashback 'cause I had no recollection of those skeletons. It's not like we haven't re-watched Seasons 1-5 multiple times.

Anyway, we now know why MiB can't leave the Island. After being tossed into the light he became the Island. And of course if he leaves this will create a paradox because how can the Island leave itself.
And we can also assume that he plans to leave the Island by turning the frozen donkey wheel.

However, there are questions that I NEED answered which will probably never be resolved.
Like, how did their adopted mother come to the Island, who built the statue and the temple, who was grooming Jacob's hair for all those centuries.

Holyrood Patter said...

didnt mib cease to exist though after he was thrown in? we saw his discarded body, maybe the smoke monster just needed fed and it was the smoke monster who predates everyone who uses dead bodies. it didnt answer as much as i was expecting. and yes titus should be in it every week!

jim said...

question - did we ever find a time frame when this all happened? hundreds? thousands? of years ago?

Daisy said...

i think that those people on the island with MIB, Jacob and his mother were the ones who built the Tawaret. i believe they were worshipping false idols, hence the idea that they destroy, corrupt etc. they are misguided in their faith. yes jacob's mother was manipulative and the one thing i found strange about her was when she said thank you after being stabbed by MIB. Is it possible she was also a smoke monster, is that why she knows what is beyond the golden cave? because she's been down there? if that's the case, then maybe she didn't want her sons or those "others" to meet the same fate because she lost her body and is now a wandering soul on the island, not able to move on because she was evil. this also gives her the ability to pose as the real mother to MIB. i think that was all a set up so that she could be killed by him. that was why he was special... because he would be the one she would groom to kill her, freeing her from the island...

Questions said...

Yes, the mother was Smokey. I picked up on that when she knocked MIB out and destroyed the camp, so MIB could not leave the island. I believe she was trying to find away around the mechanism put in place to keep the evil inside of her trapped on the island. That goes back to my earlier post of why she manipulated Jacob into throwing his brother into the light cave. That somehow was a mechanism keeping evil at bay on the island. The act of Jacob, (pure good) committing and act of evil (the murder of his own brother) somehow voided that mechanism, i.e. the light cave. Now, I believe the light (good) left in Jacob is the only obstacle keeping evil on the island. When Jacob killed his brother in the light cave, evil moved from taking the form of their fake mother to now take the form of Jacob's deceased brother. He will now start to work on his plan to eliminate Jacob in hopes of leaving the island prison. Yada, Yada, Yada.... :)

Questions said...

One other point in how she beautifully manipulated Jacob. She always favored Jacobs brother, that was intentional. By her withholding her love from Jacob in favor of his brother, this act furthered Jacob's resentment of his brother. This was all a build up to get someone even as pure as Jacob to snap and commit a violent act against his brother. The fact that Jacob killed his brother seemed out of character for someone allegedly as good as Jacob, but when I thought about the years of resentment Jacob had been harboring against his brother because of their fake mother's conscious act of withholding love from Jacob, it made the pill easier to swallow. I need to get back to work. Damn you Lost!

Anonymous said...

Nice recap. I wonder why people rated it so low. I mean it had everything you would want from a Lost episode but who knows.

I think that the whole "Protector of the Island" thing really mirrors the "Push the button to save the world because I said so" thing. Mother was "protecting" the island because someone else told her to do so and when she was killed she thanked MIB because she knew that that was the only way to trully leave the island and she didn't want to fill this roll anymore.
Exactly the same thing happened in the hatch where people pushing the button did not want to do this job anymore so they tried to find a replacement just in case it was true.
So I'm seeing Mother as a really bad person that manipulated her "sons" just so she could be free.

Danny West said...

Wow. This episode, was well amazing and horrible at the same time. As far as Theories go, I don't have any. All i have to say this episode just felt very out of place. I feel like it should have been placed after Ben killed Jacob, but I understand why it is so late in the season to answer so many questions at the last minute. Which I love this episode for.
What I hate about this episode was just more obvious to me and stood out more than the answers to the questions I had. It felt rushed in the storytelling of the episode, too much happening too fast, Crammed in a sense. Because of this while the camera work was amazing and MIB had some stand-out moments. The overall Acting felt lacking and sub-par, especially from Jacob. Which I find ironic, because for someone who is supposed to represent White/Good the only emotion from him that felt real throughout the episode was Hatred and Anger.

tl:dr- C, Answered many questions of the episode, but felt rushed, out of place and, poor acting(my opinion)