Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lost: Episode 6.15: "Across the Sea"

"Every question I answer will simply lead to another question."
– Jacob's mother (by murder)

"Am I good?"
– Jacob

I imagine somewhere in the world, somebody decided they were going to check out this show "Lost" that they've been hearing about, and they started with this episode. What on earth would they be thinking? Don't get me wrong here, I thought this was a great episode. But if the show had kicked off Season One with this episode millions of people would have never tuned back in again. This is a lesson on how to successfully pace a sci-fi story with mystical elements. You start with a first season featuring mostly hot bods on the beach and love triangles. Then you slip in a Dharma initiative here or there, then go safely back to the love triangles and the family relationship dramas. Pause for a bit, toss in a little time travel, then when no one's looking you go completely Land of the Lost on everyone right in the last three episodes. I like it, Lost. Bold move.

Another observation: Is there an hour of television LESS suited to be the follow-up to Dancing With The Stars? I don't think so. Dedicated 'Stars' viewers who left the TV on while mourning the loss of the latest contestant were abruptly greeted with the image of a pregnant woman getting her head bashed in with a rock.

I'm afraid, yet again, I don't have time to do my traditional step by step run through (big day at work tomorrow, must sleep) but I will try to cover my main interpretations of some of the major points, then revisit the details later this week.

So here's what I think about "Across the Sea" in random order. In a few places, I think I'm on to something:

DANG! WHAT THE HECK? That was my first thought. Then I watched it a second time and I can now elaborate further.

WHO IS 'WOMAN'? WHAT ARE HER POWERS? Once again, one of my subheads would make a pretty good title for a book. So, In the script, character actor Allison Janey is known only by the name 'Woman'. And right off the bat, she's a conflicted character. By that, I mean she will sincerely apologize in a empathetic voice before killing you via repeated blows to the head. My wife and I debated somewhat if she was sincerely crazy or if she really was protecting something hugely important. I lean towards the latter, but definitely question her methods and her violent streak. So we have no idea who she is, how long she's been there, where she came from, or what she knows and doesn't know. Also, what powers does she have? Here's two powers we know right off the bat: She said she made it impossible for the brothers to kill one another (how?), and she seemed pretty omniscient at times (like when she knew the boys had found the gameboard.) Here's what I think: I think she's fulfilling the role of both Jacob and MiB. By that I mean, she's both light and dark, and she's also a freakin' smoke monster. See next paragraph.

IS THE FAKE MOM A REAL SMOKEY? I think so. She told Jacob that if he went into the cave of light that he would suffer a fate worse than dying. So, I think she knew this because she went in there herself, some time before. That's the only way I can explain how she was able to kill an entire village of people and fill up a well with rocks in a short amount of time. And I think it's why she liked MiB better, because she knew he had a dark, rebellious side. But at the same time, she also was fulfilling the 'guardian of the Island' role that Jacob later took. My wife Erin suggested that she saw her opportunity to be released from that role when she saw the pregnant woman, and took the babies to pass on her mantle. She didn't know she was going to get twins, though, and the roll was split into two. I think that's a good guess on her motivations. Is this how the legacy of stealing babies got started?

NOBODY'S PERFECT IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN: So, the main take away of this episode is that we got a little more understanding and empathy for the MiB, and we learned that Jacob was no saint when he threw his brother into the cave of light to face a fate worse than death. I don't think this is the same as saying there is NO good and NO evil, though. I think we're just seeing that Jacob and MiB are also human. But there is obviously good and evil on this show. I think the light in the cave is a lot like the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden. And I think its existence points to a source of all Goodness–that is, God. But just like the Garden of Eden, God instructed people NOT to eat from that tree, or in this case fall down the log flume of light at the end of the Fraggle Rock tunnel, and if someone does it, they will become aware of the existence of evil. And then that evil will try to get into the world, just as all evil entered the world through Adam's sin.

TO THAT POINT, SAY HELLO TO 'ADAM AND EVE': So, we learned who Adam and Eve are this episode. And, is it possible they're ACTUALLY ADAM AND EVE? As in THE Adam and Eve? Neither MiB or his mom have ever been named, except in this one instance, by our Losties, when their bodies are discovered. I think this is intentional, because they represent the biblical Adam and Eve. And I don't think we'll ever get any other names for them. Think about it. The Woman showed MiB the source of light and knowledge from which they were not supposed to partake. (Just like Eve showed Adam the apple.) Then MiB became obsessed with it, and wanted to find the light to experience it and harness it. He found it, became 'sin', and now he wants to get out into the world. It's also interesting that tonight's story echos Cain and Abel's story (a brother killing a brother) and Jacob and Esau's story as well, in ways. As my wife put it, the backstory of the island is kind of an Old Testament hodgepodge. I think this early Island mythology (and maybe the show at large) is a sci-fi attempt at retelling the mythology of the Bible as a whole in a different setting. Maybe in the Lost universe, we're even witnessing the actual stories and myths that would become the stories in the Bible as we know it. Interesting. In a clever twist, for the first time a show's 'mythology' attempts to tackle a retelling of the entire mythology of the Western Civilization. Not bad for a show on the same network as "Cougar Town."

DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE SERPENT: So, if the Island is a Garden of Eden type scenario, then I think that explains why MiB is seeing dead people. When Claudia first appeared in ghostly form to young MiB, I was all, 'huh?' But I think I get it. The island is the home to the cave of knowledge that the boys are forbidden to enter, but it's also the home of a familiar serpent–the source of all evil. MiB as a child is not the embodiment of evil, not at this point. But he starts to listen to the serpent when he chooses to follow the visage of his dead mother and takes her advice. Just like later, when people warn others not to listen to the Man in Black, he listens to the ghostly form of his mother. I think the ghostly mom is not a good person, and is basically the devil appearing in deceitful ways. After all, she takes MiB to the village where he will begin his dangerous quest to find the light in the cave, despite having been told that it would release evil into the world. Also another interesting point:When MiB tells his fake mom he's going to build a wheel to escape from the island, she asks him how he knows how to do that. And he says it's because he's "special." But it's not. I think "special" people are just the ones that the serpent has appeared to as dead people. It's because the serpent in Claudia's form has TOLD HIM HOW TO BUILD THE WHEEL. The serpent is the one that wants to get off the island. To bring evil into the world. The same plan the serpent had in the Garden of Eden. And that's why MiB's mom knows she has to stop him.

DRINK FROM THE CUP: After knocking MiB unconscious, the Woman kills everyone, fills up the well, and then knows it's time for her to appoint a successor. She makes Jacob drink from the wine which makes him immortal, freezing him at his current age forever. (Later, Jacob will use the same wine to do the same thing to Richard. But why would he then give what's left of the magic wine to the MiB to smash over a log? I have no idea.) One important question: Why did Jacob's fake mom need a successor? There's only one reason I can think of. I think she knew after killing the villagers and closing up the well that MiB wasn't dead. And that he would come for her. In fact, I think she let him live on purpose, because she loved him and couldn't bear to kill him. Then, when MiB killed her later, she said "thank you" because she was immortal and only a candidate could kill her. She was tired of her post. And MiB had been a candidate, one of the only people who could kill her.

BTW, THAT MATT DAMON BOY IS JACOB: Now we know without a doubt that the boy that MiB has been seeing around the island this season is actually young Jacob. That was everyone's best guess, and it turned out to be true. (I think I had guessed Aaron, but I also thought MiB was Aaron, so what do I know.) What does it mean that he's been walking around the island all season smiling at Flocke? I have no idea, but I would assume it means he's got the upper hand, and he's found his own loophole and created his own game with its own rules.

WHAT JACOB BELIEVES: It was interesting in this episode to see how the MiB and his Mother by Murder both agreed that people were bad and deserved to die. People were never, ever good in their mind. Jacob's Mother by Murder also kept saying that Jacob didn't have a choice, and that she didn't have a choice. But we know Jacob believes the opposite. He believes people can learn to be good, and that people always have a choice. How did he start to develop these beliefs while living alone on the island for so long? Also interesting was MiB's line "Why are you watching us, Jacob?" Jacob responded, "I watch because I want to know if mother's right" – he wants to know if people really are bad. I guess he wants to know so bad that he eventually builds a magical lighthouse viewing machine.

OH, ALSO, DID SHE SAY "JOSE"?!? Ok, I know I've already stated that I don't think they'll ever give Adam and Eve any other names than Adam and Eve, but when MiB's mother by murder got stabbed, did she roll over, see him and say, "José?!" Erin and I watched it three times and couldn't figure it out. It really sounded like "José." I looked online but so far no one else has mentioned it, but several people have mentioned that we still haven't gotten MiB's name. So I think maybe we misheard. Maybe she said "Hey." But that seems even more doubtful given the circumstances. I don't know why, exactly, but I would be pretty darn disappointed if the final showdown was between Jacob and... José. I'd almost prefer "Gary."

That's all I've got for now. All in all, it was a pretty dark episode. The darkest moment (besides the two brutal head bashings by the Fake Mom) was probably Jacob's brutal head bashing and worse-than-death-ifying of MiB. His regret was palpable as soon as the deed was done. Who knew that MiB was telling the truth all along, that Jacob made him into the smoke monster? Though I do think that MiB was already on his way to becoming the smoke monster. If he had tried to find a way into the light to install the wheel, it probably would have happened anyway. And I think the evil presence on the island wanted him to do that, wanted MiB to become his vessel. I also think that the real MiB died after Jacob found his body. His body was empty. His soul had become one with the darkness that wanted to escape the island all along. Just like how Locke is literally dead, but his soul and memories are now a part of Smokey. Same deal with MiB, in my opinion.

Deep stuff. What's scary is that for a second during writing this it all started to make sense. Looking back over it all now, though, I'm not so sure. Your thoughts?

I would mention the preview for next week, but it showed absolutely nothing at all, and featured a Doors song.


JennM said...

That is EXACTLY what I thought I heard. Found this blog while searching for MIB name Jose. Like you, I would be very bummed if that was his name but maybe she named him that to honor his mother and isn't Jose for Joseph?

Davis said...

I was thoroughly confused as to how the Man in Black could be "Adam", when we've seen him in later times. But as I thought about it, it occurred to me that since his body had died, and since he'd lived on as the smoke monster, he could just take the form of his dead body whenever he wanted to. And what other form would he take, anyway? One of the men his mother had killed? That wouldn't mean anything to Jacob. Taking his own form reminds Jacob of what he did, which is a motive that I think would appeal to Smokey. And, yes, I also thought I heard Allison Janney say "Jose."

As for the rules, I thought she said she'd made it so they couldn't hurt each other, but clearly Jacob beat the snot out of Jose more than once in this episode. Maybe she just said that so they wouldn't try to hurt each other, since they'd always believed everything she told them with no reason to question it. Maybe they really can and always could hurt each other, but they trusted their fake mother, so they never really tried. Also, when Jacob sent Jose down into the Pulp-Fiction-briefcase cave, did that not count as killing him? And, if his real body is already dead, is there actually any way for our Losties to defeat him?

Finally, is the temple built over the site of the light cave? Is lighted water what Lennon and crew expected to see in the pool where they drowned Sayid, with lack of light meaning lack of life? How can there be this many questions with only 2 episodes left?

Andrea said...

I left this episode unsure. I am STILL unsure, but it stays true to my theory that they are going to f with us until the finale. That said, I do think we learned some things. BUT, what I don't understand is if MIB is truly dead, why Jacob would be talking to him later (ie when the black rock lands, gave him the wine etc)I think maybe he isn't dead, though his body is, sort of a transference of life? Still working through that one. Also, if what you theorize is true, then it would mean Ben was a candidate. Is he? I guess I always sort of thought that he thought he was, but not really.

I am also having a problem with this whole "replacement" thing. Like, why would you need a replacement if you can't kill each other and you drank the secret live forever wine?

I also want to bring up Eloise. She is the one who has always been known for the line "it isn't time yet" and we found mother saying it several times throughout the episode. I think there is definitely a connection somehow. And we all know Eloise is important. Maybe mother is a smoke monster and somehow lives on in Eloise? or something??

I am definitely to that point where I am so ready for it to be over. I can still enjoy it but it needs to end. I said it.

Jaytaco said...

I liked the show last night, and then woke up kinda hating it. That episode feels like something they could have included on the LOST Deluxe Hologram Edition in 5 years. It seemed like convenient writing, I don't believe they knew who Adam and Eve were from the beginning, and thanks for visually showing all the symbolism. If you're gonna go that far, then just wrap it up like Shawshank Redemtion and tell us everything, but don't give us some lame visual effects and show us what our imagination is supossed to be doing. They left it in the middle- and that's indecisive and weak. Pick a side- vague and interpretive or give us a ribbon.
I reserve the right to change my opinion next week when they magically buy it all back and BLOW MY MIND! Fingers crossed.

bonzy said...

My question is when Jacob and MiB are talking to each other with the wine and "You have no idea how much I want to kill you", is that pre or post MiB becoming smokey and being laid to rest?

Steph said...

I found your blog searching for MIB and Jose. Yes, I heard it too! Just posted about the same question on the ABC message board. Maybe, like another person said, it's Jose for Joseph, or another language version of Joseph that sounds like Jose?

I heard it too. :)

Wes W. said...

Seems weird if it's short for Joseph that they would introduce it into the show by saying "José". I don't think we're gonna get a name. I think when Locke said "they're our very own Adam and Eve" that he was speaking for the writers. They're the writers' version of the famous biblical duo.

I think the MiB in the beach scene with Jacob and in the wine scene are just like Flocke. Smokey in MiB's body, with his consciousness. So, he still has the same opinions and thoughts as MiB, but he's tipped the scale and is pure smoke at heart.

Jaytaco, this episode will only become more genius with time.

maki said...

just catching up on the blog.
great, great writing and thoughts, wes.
you clarified a lot for me.

for the record, I heard Jose.

Rewound, and heard 'hey.'

and while i need to re-read all of this again tomorrow, i know one thing: this is prob. the funniest paragraph i've read in months:

Another observation: Is there an hour of television LESS suited to be the follow-up to Dancing With The Stars? I don't think so. Dedicated 'Stars' viewers who left the TV on while mourning the loss of the latest contestant were abruptly greeted with the image of a pregnant woman getting her head bashed in with a rock.

maki said...

just catching up on the blog.
great, great writing and thoughts, wes.
you clarified a lot for me.

for the record, I heard Jose.

Rewound, and heard 'hey.'

and while i need to re-read all of this again tomorrow, i know one thing: this is prob. the funniest paragraph i've read in months:

Another observation: Is there an hour of television LESS suited to be the follow-up to Dancing With The Stars? I don't think so. Dedicated 'Stars' viewers who left the TV on while mourning the loss of the latest contestant were abruptly greeted with the image of a pregnant woman getting her head bashed in with a rock.

Mitch said...

I have a theory. You know what's going on on that island? Some crazy shit, that's for sure.


Davis said...

Prediction: The final shot of the series finale will be Ghost Jacob, Ghost Jacob's Mom-By-Murder, and Ghost Locke waving goodbye to Jack, who will have his arm around Kate and turn away to go back to the foot statue. At least, that's what I'm hoping for.

Carrie Lilly said...

"Not bad for a show on the same network as "Cougar Town." "

Wes, you are hilarious. Thanks for the awesome blog post! I love your and Erin's theories on Adam and Eve.