LOST Recap: Season 6, Episode 14: “Across The Sea”

13 05 2010

Usually when I start off one of these posts, I like to come in with some kind of witty or attention-grabbing sentence or paragraph.  But for some reason, it seems strange to do that for this episode.  “Across The Sea” seemed to really polarize the LOST audience, and strangely, that reaction seemed to annoy the show’s writers.  With only 2 episodes and 3 1/2 hours of new material left to air, things seem to have shifted from last week’s giddy anticipation for the finale, to an atmosphere of guarded apprehension about what we may or may not get in the finale.  I’ll touch on that a bit more at the end of the post, and also clue all of you in on what’s in store for Finale Week on interLOST.  But first, let’s take a closer look at some of the on-screen happenings of the episode that is clearly first chronologically in the history of the show.

“Across The Sea”

Typically, the writers are extremely clever, and have double-meanings in their episode titles.  Obviously, “Across The Sea” refers to where Jacob and MIB’s mother comes from, but I failed to come up with a secondary explanation, even after giving it some thought.  With all of the subtle clues dropped in this episode, I was sure that there had to be something, but I just couldn’t find it.  If anyone else came up with something, please help me out by mentioning it in the comments!

“Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.”

Claudia, trying to determine who she's with

Right off the bat, the writers are letting us know that this episode was created just for the mythology folks.  It’s quite clear that crazy mom’s words to Claudia are not intended just for her, but more importantly, everyone one of us that are looking for LOST to explain itself and it’s mysteries.

Now, I hate to go into a deep dive on dialog when it’s one of the first lines in the episode, and I haven’t had a chance to build a rhythm yet, but this line is here, and you almost have to talk about it.  I imagine that the writers threw this line in as sort of an in-joke…something that they thought would give the audience something to chuckle about.  But I have to tell you, everyone that I’ve had a chance to talk to about it took more as an insult than an in-joke.  True, to some extent you can’t answer every question that has spawned from another question.  But this line seems to indicate that they won’t even give it the good-old college try.  The fact is, the writers know that they have an audience that painstakingly reviews each and every detail in each and every episode.  And we know that they know because they consistently drop in easter eggs, both visually, and with nuggets of dialog.  They’ve used this passion to create the “cool” factor of the show…to help geek it out for the absolute fanatics.  But now, using the same device that they once used to reel everyone in, they’re now using to tell everyone to back off.  The fact is, the writers created the mysteries that we all want answers to.  They made it important to us, the audience.  And since they had to know we’d clamor for answers, it seems to speak to a lack of planning to open all of these doors without having visualized a narrative focus that would take us through them all being closed.

I could write pages and pages on this topic, so maybe I’ll turn that into a discussion topic in the final few days we have before the finale.  And then again, maybe I won’t.  Either way, suffice it to say that I think that the writers went a little too far and actually belittled their audience with this one.

“I only picked one name.”

The newly born Jacob and his brother

The rest of the scene gives us a minor answer, and then denies us of another.  First off, Jacob and MIB are brothers…something that adds an interesting twist to their conflict.  At the same time, it appears as though the writers simply do not want to provide us with MIB’s actual name (wouldn’t crazy Mom have given him some type of nickname?), and so that’s that.  That’s also that for Claudia, who meets with her demise at the hands of the same woman who delivered her children.

“Jacob doesn’t know how to lie…he’s not like you.”

Right from the start, it’s clear to everyone involved that BIB (the boy in black) is crazy mom’s first choice to be her successor.  Crazy mom knows it, BIB knows it, and Jacob even realizes it.  I mention this because it’s critical to understanding the motivation of each of the characters as they progress through the episode, and perhaps into the final 3 1/2 hours reamining this season.

“Of course it did!  Where else would it come from?”

Jacob and his brother playing a game

One of the bigger revelations of the episode is the “protector’s” ability to harness the power of the island.  This idea is addressed more directly later in the episode, but it’s important to take notice of it here as well, since it’s not as straightforward.  BIB finds a game, and crazy Mom claims to have placed it there.  But how?  She wasn’t concealing the game just to take it out at just the right moment.  No, what I think we’re seeing is the manifestation of the “magic box” that Ben referred to back in Season 3’s “The Man From Tallahassee”.  While we were told that the box was just a metaphor for the island, I think that there have been numerous occasions in which the best explanation for some activity or event would be that enough people believed that it would happen.  I think the infamous Dharma food drop is a perfect example, and this season’s lighthouse is more recent potential proof.  While it’s a far-fecthed theory, don’t be too surprised if we come to learn that the ability to simply believe that something exists on the island is all that’s required to make it be the case.

“I’ve made it so you can never hurt each other.”

In and of itself, this piece of info is nothing dramatically new.  We already knew that Jacob and the Man in Black couldn’t kill each other.  But what this statement really implies is that the protector of the island has the ability to make the rules.  MIB even foresahdows this later in the episode, when discussing the rules of the game he and Jacob play.  But these rules haven’t been around forever…they seem to be modifiable, or at least appendable…if you have the job of taking care of the island.

“This is the reason we’re here.”

Jacob and his brother are shown the cave of light

Crazy Mom takes the boys to the cave of light and explains her reason for being: protecting the light that no one can steal, but that everyone will want.  It’s this light that apparently powers all of the mystical properties of the island.  But it’s not only that; tampering with the light on the island can have a ripple effect everywhere, and cause unspecified harm to humanity even off the island.  I think that the episode is very straightforward in this area, but I specifically call it out because while we’re currently worried about Smokey and what he did to Sayid, Frank, Sun and Jin…Widmore might be the one that is actually about to violate crazy Mom’s initial concerns.  Food for thought as we head into the finale.

“I’m going for a walk on the beach.  I’ll meet you later.”

Claudia's apparition appears to her unnamed son

One of the mysteries of the episode that I’m still trying to figure out is why Claudia (the boys’ mother) would appear to BIB, but not to Jacob.  BIB even asks this very same question, and is told it’s because Claudia is dead.  Unfortunately for the audience, that still doesn’t explain the situation.  Is it one of the rules that Jacob can’t see dead people?  Is it because Claudia doesn’t want to appear to him?  This may be one of those questions that never gets answered.  Regardless, Claudia shows BIB just enough to convince him that he doesn’t belong with crazy Mom, and instead, should go live with his people.

“Follow you where?”

An unhappy young Jacob

The writers have used this line just enough this season for me to think that it’s got to be some type of in-joke with the writing team.  Perhaps it’s part of a drinking game that they play.  In any event, Claudia’s revelation to BIB has caused him to want to leave crazy Mom’s camp, and to take Jacob with him.  While the resulting beatdown that BIB takes from Jacob is intriguing, what’s even more intriguing is the fact that crazy Mom seems completely powerless to stop him.  It appears as though free will, at least in some form, trumps the “rules” of the game.  It’ll be interesting to see if this is explored in further detail in the last 2 episodes.

What is certain to be explored in further detail is the warning crazy Mom gives to BIB: that he’ll never be able to leave the island.  He clearly believes otherwise, and I’m sure we’ll find out the ultimate truth before the last frame of the finale is shown.

“I’m leaving, Jacob.”

Thirty years pass, and BIB becomes the MIB that we’ve all come to know.  And now, even this far back in the storyline, MIB’s desire is the same as it is many, many years later: to get off the darn island.   But here’s the thing: at first it made sense for crazy Mom to try to stop MIB from leaving the island: she didn’t want him to be corrupted and/or killed.  But now, after he’s spent 30 years with a group of humans outside her sphere of influence, it doesn’t seem to make sense that she would still want to stop him.  It makes even less sense that Jacob would want to keep him on the island.  But that’s exactly what transpires.

Jacob relays MIB’s plan to crazy Mom, who subsequently pays her first visit to MIB after 30 years of staying away.  And after failing to convince him to give up his plans to create the frozen donkey wheel, she physically stops him by surprising him and knocking him out.

“I don’t have a choice; it’s what he wants.”

Crazy Mom transfers the power of the island to Jacob

After stopping MIB’s plans, it’s clear that crazy Mom knows that she’s going to be hunted down and killed.  She quickly takes Jacob back to the cave of light, and runs through the ceremony of transferring her abilities to him.  The interesting thing to note is that the whole thing was a very clear set up from the beginning.  She made Jacob jealous of his brother right from the start, and manipulated him both into taking her place, and trapping MIB on the island.  Not only did she know that her death was coming, but she did it in such a way that she could set up MIB to fall out of favor with Jacob, and set up the dynamic that they’re still battling under in the current timeline.

“No it doesn’t; you wanted it to be him!”

One of the things I found interesting about this episode was the way the actors delivered their lines.  I’m not sure if it was intentional, but even as adults, Jacob and MIB used verbage and intonation that suggested the maturity of a little boy.  It’s fascinating to me, because here are two immensely powerful beings, but neither of them have any real-life experiences.  Perhaps MIB has more than Jacob because of his 30 years with the human inhabitants.  But for all intents and purposes, these two are kids in adults’ bodies, playing high-stakes games with people’s lives and not really understanding the consequences.

“What did you do?!”

Even as crazy Mom thanks MIB for ending her run as protector of the island, Jacob cannot see the manipulation that he’s been a part of.  He again provides a beatdown for MIB, and then attempts to give him the only punishment he can think of, considering that the rules state that he can’t kill him outright.

“You wanna leave this place brother?”

The Smoke Monster is born

As we all saw, Jacob chucked his brother into the cave of light, causing him to turn into the Smoke Monster.  2 things to note here.  First, it appears as though the light in the cave goes out as a result of MIB being tossed in.  I’m not sure if this is a temporary condition that happens as a result of someone going into the cave (and we don’t get to see it again after the transformation), but it certainly fades out.  Again, just something to keep in mind for the finale.  Additionally, although not explicitly stated, it certainly appears as though the crazy Mom speech regarding everyone having a little light inside of them is referring to individual’s souls.  It seems to me that the effect of being tossed into the cave is one that tears your soul from your physical body, and renders it as the black smoke that we’ve seen.  It also may give a level of explanation as to how MIB can use the bodies of the dead on the island.  Once the soul leaves the body, MIB can push his soul into the body, and take control of it.  There seems to be some strange measure of logic around it all if looked at in that fashion.

I should also note that it’s very clear that the writers are once again trying to blur the line between good and evil.  After the events of last episode’s “The Candidate”, you could easily argue that MIB is the main protagonist.  After all, he just helped to kill 3 main characters on the show.  But after this episode, you can’t help but to sympathize with his situation.  He’s been pulled from the life he meant to lead by no fault of his own.  And the only thing he’s wanted to do his whole life…leave the island…has been denied him at every turn.  Not only that, but his brother and adopted mother betray him; the former cruelly subjecting him to an horrible existence in a fit of childish rage.  It’s hard to feel fully sympathetic to Smokey based upon everything we’ve seen him do over the years, but it’s certainly not hard at all to at least rationalize his actions.

“Our very own Adam and Eve…”

A nice touch at the end of the episode, not only tying back this story to that of our LOSTies, but helping to clarify the “Adam & Eve” comment from Locke.  Clearly, these two are truly the start of the story of our gang of LOSTies.  And while the initial timeframe that Jack, Kate, and Locke thought they were from is way off, I’m still very satisfied with the answer given to us regarding who these two really are.

Post-episode questions:

1. What are the rules of the game?  Are all of the rules that crazy Mom put in place still in effect, and which new ones has Jacob introduced?

2. With the wine bottle smashed, what ritual does Jacob have to put his successor through in order for him/her to take over?

3. With Jacob being killed before his successor was named, how can he transfer his power to the new person?

4. Even if MIB kills all of the candidates, will he really be able to leave the island?

5. If that was all of the mythology you’re going to get surrounding the conflict between Jacob and MIB, would you be satisfied?

I ask the last question because of an interesting article I stumbled across today.  It’s an interview with the show’s writers, and how they defend some choices that they’ve made regarding the show.  It was the first time that I came across an interview in which they seemed both guarded and jaded, and I was actually surprised as I read through it.  Check it out here and see what you think: http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/exclusive-interview-lost-producers-damon-lindelof-and-carlton-cuse-talk-across-the-sea

To me, there are some discouraging things mentioned in the article, most of which harken back to my thoughts around the “we can’t answer all of your questions” line by crazy Mom in this episode.  That being said, I’m still hopeful that the finale will be knock-your-socks-off good, and that we’ll have much to discuss after it airs.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but I plan to be pretty active on the blog as we head into Finale Week next week!  I plan to post the challenge of the week on Monday, which will be highly open-ended.  I’m hoping to talk about whatever things you hope to get answers to in the final 2 episodes.  I’ll also post on interLOST itself: how it came to be, its progression over the past few years and what I had hoped for, as well as what will happen to it after LOST leaves the airwaves.  Obviously, I’ll recap Tuesday’s episode, “What They Died For”, but then I’ll also be back to share with you what was said in the Times Talks Live session.  And once the finale airs, I’ll have an open thread for comments and initial thoughts prior to my recaps the following week.  I’m looking forward to a fun week of LOST, and I hope to share it with all of you!  For those of you lurkers (and I know there are a bunch of you), now’s the time to come out of hiding!  Share a little tidbit in the comments!  This is your last chance before the show goes off the air!

As always, thanks for stopping by!  Let’s hope that next week is as special as we all hope it will be!

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