LOST Season Six: Across the Sea

This episode was something of a mixed bag for me. There were elements that I thought were really cool; and there were probably an equal number of moments that were….well, hokey. (Light? That’s it? Seriously?) But hey, we only have 210 minutes of show left, so let’s roll with it. I just hope the final couple of episodes live up to my ridonkulous expectations. On to the breakdown…

Here’s what worked for me:

  • Risk taking. I love the fact that the producers had the guts to bench the entire cast of regulars — with only three and a half hours of show remaining!! — to give us this essential piece of mythology. Whether you loved or hated this episode, you have to give Darlton props for going for it in a big way.
  • The near-Biblical twin birth backstory. Fans have long conjectured that MIB and Jacob are two halves of a whole and this episode confirmed this notion. Now we finally understand the “Evil Twin” references from seasons gone by. I loved this motif — and it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a father of twins myself. It gave the whole backstory an epic flavor for me.
  • MIB. This guy is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters in the LOST canon. I know I’m not supposed to root for the bad guy and everything, but he’s just so much more interesting than Jacob. I wish we could’ve learned his real name, but I guess that’s nitpicking. Did you notice that he was told, at a young age, how “special” he was? This, of course, parallels the life of John Locke, who was told of his “special” qualities at an early age only to live a relatively normal existence prior to the crash of Oceanic 815. All of which makes Locke an easy target for manipulation, according to MIB.
  • Allison Janney. Perfect casting. In fact, the role was literally written for Janney. I’m glad she had time in her schedule, because she was spot on as Jacob / MIB’s wacka-doodle surrogate Mommy. After all the Daddy issues this series has explored (seriously, practically every castaway has some kind of problem with their Dad), it was nice to balance that out with some crazy Mom shenanigans. I don’t know what that crazy incantation was that she spoke just before Jacob drank his little milkshake, but I’m guessing she bestowed some kind of gift of eternal life or something to him. And did you get the impression that she had the ability to be Smokey herself, judging by the way she apparently cleaned house over at Chez MIB? I’m wondering if MIB followed in Mama’s footsteps (smokesteps?) when he became a pillar of death. By stabbing her in the chest with the blade, I suppose we’re supposed to see the correlation between her death and Dogen’s instruction to Sayid on how to kill Smokey. And her dying words — “Thank you!” — seemed to indicate that he somehow freed her from her existence. I loved her line: “Every question I answer will just lead to more questions.” That’s a clear nod to the show’s long running critique by the fan base.

Here’s what didn’t work for me:

  • Jacob. Am I the only one who thought Jacob came off as a boring little Mama’s boy in this episode? I guess he showed some backbone by whipping MIB a couple of times, but I don’t know…it just seemed like he was always trying too hard for his mother’s approval. That kind of behavior is a little unbecoming for a benevolent Island deity, don’t you think? And what’s the significance of the fact that MIB can see the dead but Jacob cannot?
  • Light. I’m still not sure that Crazy Momma Lady knew what she was talking about with all the “light” mumbo-jumbo. But I honestly could’ve done without this strained, contrived dialogue. The producers have always encouraged us to embrace the mysterious over full-bodied explanations of said mysteries. And I get how they were trying to give us an answer that somehow made sense re: the nature of the Island without crossing over into a laborious Neo & the Architect conversation. I really get that. But this effort just didn’t work for me. Normally Dalton pulls this kind of thing off quite deftly; but I think this one fell flat, especially the whole thing about “this light is inside every man” or whatever. Not a terrible explanation, just a tad hokey, that’s all. Although, I sorta liked the global impact of what happens if the light goes out: “It goes out everywhere.”
  • Adam and Eve. We were told a long time ago that the Adam & Eve corpses from Season 1 were very important. Check. But we were also told that the revelation of their identities would prove that the producers have known what they were doing all along. Huh? For the life of me, I can’t see how this is true. The fact that Adam & Eve = Smokey & Crazy Mama proves nothing. I guess from a certain point of view it proves that the producers knew that Smokey was the disembodied soul of Jacob’s brother all along. I guess. But I was expecting a lot more out of that reveal.

Some other thoughts:

  • Apparently Smokey constructed the Frozen Donkey Wheel after “Jacob’s brother” died, presumably as a means to leave the Island. But obviously, he’s unable to use it.
  • The kids we’ve seen running through the jungle. I’m still confused. We’ve seen two boys. Are they both Jacob? Or is the second one MIB? I’m inclined to think the second one was MIB, but I have no idea what that means.
  • I’m struck with how many times we saw MIB and Jacob playing their “game”. Clearly we’re meant to draw the parallel to their little Island game with human pawns to demonstrate the nature of humanity.
  • Did you catch the line of dialogue Crazy Mama spoke that becomes MIB’s mantra later on: “They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt…it all ends the same.” It seems that he adopts his mother’s worldview in light of her death.
  • I noticed this when watching, but I didn’t know what to make of it. But one blogger wrote that the light looked much dimmer at night when Mama and Jacob went to see it; the speculation is that the light might be growing dim because the mother is tired and perhaps knows her fate.
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21 Responses to LOST Season Six: Across the Sea

  1. Jenny says:

    Ok, I am about to leave work right now but one question I have is this: when MIB’s body went into the cave and Smokey came out… was the light in the cave extinguished? I am so confused about the whole Smokey thing… has Smokey always been and he was just released? What about MIB talking with Jacob much later? Was that a different form? And didn’t he say at one time that Jacob had actually stolen his body? What does it all mean? I am afraid we won’t get all the questions answered (of course it is impossible)…. Ideas, comments, ….?

    • Jason says:

      Best I can figure, MIB’s body went into the cave and his soul was severed from his body. I don’t think that extinguished the light (because it seems that Jacob still thinks of himself as Island protector, etc.). However, this helps us understand MIB’s comment this season that Jacob stole his body. From his perspective, he’s this disembodied soul and there’s only one person MIB blames for that: Jacob. So from this perspective, Jacob DID steal his body. The conversation we witnessed between Jacob and MIB in “The Incident” (the season 5 finale) was AFTER the events we saw in “Across the Sea”. Somehow MIB is able to assume his “old” bodily form, even though in reality he is some corporeal smoke monster thing.

      I know that last sentence makes no sense. But that’s the best I have. This explains why bullets seem to pass right through Smokey…although it’s interesting that Jack was able to push him in the chest and shove him into the ocean in “The Candidate”.

  2. Jenny says:

    PS. Yes, I thought Jacob was pretty wimpy… and I never thought MIB was really BAD in this episode up until he killed poor old crazy mommy… he was just trying (and still is) to leave the island and find where he belongs in this world….I must admit… I like MIB (not as Locke though… that is just creepy).

  3. Sam says:

    Jason, I love Lost and have enjoyed reading your comments this season. I think the boy running around seen by MIB is Jacob. I think the smokey we see leaving the cave is MIB’s “spirit” being torn from his body prior to its death. MIB cannot die in a normal way now because his spirit has been energized by the light and his physical body is already dead. When I saw the scene with the well covered and the village destroyed I thought the same thing about Jacob and MIB’s step-mother; that is, she is a smokey as well. How else could she destroy everything and how else would she know that going into the cave is worse than death. On the other hand, she was able to be killed with a knife to the back and so far that seems like an ineffective method to take out MIB/smokey/Locke. Jacob may be a Mama’s boy but he was able to put a whooping on MIB twice and Richard once and all without taking even one hit. Every episode leaves me with a question and one question I have from this episode is how did Jacob get off the island to visit people? I thought step mom made it so that he couldn’t leave.

    • Jason says:

      It would certainly make sense if MIB were seeing the ghost of young Jacob running around on the Island (although it’s a little weird that he sees a much younger version of his brother in ghost form when everyone else we’ve seen has been the same age / form as they were at the time of their death). But if that were the case, why not cast the same actor for both appearances? It seems the producers were intentionally throwing us off the scent by casting the second “young Jacob” appearance with a different actor. That’s what’s led to the open speculation that we were seeing another character — in this case, young MIB — with the second appearance.

      The more I think about it, I’m convinced Mother was the Island’s previous incarnation of Smokey. There seems to be speculation that the “Others” in this episode (Claudia, the boar killers, etc.) were Romans. If that’s true, then we have to wonder if the Egyptian influences on the Island were either before or after these Island residents. I’m inclined to say the Egyptians were on Island even earlier: they would’ve built the Tawaret statue and they would’ve also been “worshipping” at the Temple (remember all those ancient hieroglyphs on the Temple wall?). During Ben’s Temple judgment last season, we were presented an ancient hieroglyph / carving that showed an individual being “judged” by Smokey. If I’m correct that the Egyptian markings preceded the Romans, then clearly the Island had a previous incarnation of Smokey prior to our MIB being cast in the role. That’s a long way to go to prove a point, but I’m offering more evidence that Mother was the Island’s Smoke Monster before MIB.

      However, there were also hieroglyphics on the walls leading to the Frozen Donkey Wheel, so that may debunk my theory that the Egyptians were present on Island prior to the Claudia story we saw this week. Clearly the Frozen Donkey Wheel was incomplete at the time of MIB’s death; it was assembled later by someone (or something. MIB?) and the hieroglyphs were added at that point. So maybe I’m wrong!

  4. Dylan says:

    I agree with you for the most part. This wasn’t my favorite episode, but it didn’t bother me either. And it definitely didn’t bother me as much as it did to many people on the internet. I’ll bet that this will go down as the most polarizing episode of Lost ever. Some loved it and some absolutely HATED it. For my part, I’ll give it a solid B on the report card. I loved that they were able to make legitimate characters out of these two deities and brought some much needed humanity to their roles. This was something that had to be done or else on May 24th we’d look back at this central conflict to the show as something that we could never identify with. I loved seeing love, heartbreak, betrayal, loyalty, revenge, faith, and other complex human emotions being played out in these guys. I would sort of disagree with your assessment of Jacob. He was a bit boring, and MIB was definitely more interesting, but I also loved how this semi-messianic figure was also longing for the love and favoritism from his mother that he felt he never got. I kind of liked his simplicity, because it made sense in his sheltered life.

    My biggest complaint with this episode was the timing. I feel if they had done this episode a few weeks earlier (maybe between “The Package” and “Happily Ever After”?) the fan reaction would have been much more accepting. But it’s frustrating to interrupt our main narrative at this point in the game. And I think it would have been easier on us if they didn’t introduce so many new questions at this late stage when it’s clear that they’ll never be answered (Where did Mother come from? What is “the light”?). But on the other hand, it’s good in our postmodern world for us to learn to live in the mystery and the ambiguity of things. Like you said, “Every question I answer will just lead to more questions.” You can’t continue on for infinity asking who brought who to the island. It’s like a kid asking where this came from and where this came from until they eventually get to God and they ask where God came from. At which point you have to tell them to shut up and eat their french fries.

    I understand your frustration with the Adam and Eve revelation and “the light” revelation. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any better storytelling explanations for who the skeletons were and what the importance of the island is. That’s the unsolvable problem for the writers. The questions have been built up so much, and fans have obsessed over them and theorized on them and built them up in their heads so much, that no answer to the questions could possibly satisfy us. I agree with you about liking the universal importance of the island. But if you’re going to give a reason for that importance, then it’s going to have to be somewhat cheesy and mystical.

    • Jason says:

      Definitely a polarizing episode. I was a little disappointed at first, but after a day of reflection, “Across the Sea” has grown on me a bit. I certainly don’t think it was a steaming pile of dreck like most fans did.

      I’m not sure this episode would’ve been received any better if it came earlier in the season. Most of the problems people seem to have with it have to do with a) child actors or b) the hokey “light” stuff. I agree that it’s frustrating to interrupt the narrative at this point, but this episode fits nicely as a buffer to last week’s reveal, namely that MIB is truly the bad guy in our narrative. This episode softened that position, if only slightly. “Across the Sea” adds another wrinkle to the character, a sympathetic one. MIB is presented as a driven, obsessed individual to be sure, but what is it he’s questing for? Truth — the truth about his mother, the truth about reality, the truth about what lies across the sea, the truth about humanity. And this is one of those universally praised ideals in narrative — the pursuit of truth as the highest ideal. In fact, it makes me wonder if the series will somehow end on a redemptive note for MIB. Yes, he’s the baddie, but as Hurley said, “You can always come back from the dark side.” I’m probably way off on this one, too, but how “Kingdom of God” would that be? Instead of defeating the enemy, the castaways somehow contribute to his salvation through some sort of sacrificial act of love?

      I know, I’m off the reservation. But I can dream, right?

  5. Lane says:

    What about the timeline with this – Remember when Jack found Adam and Eve, he said that judging by their clothes they were 40-50 years old?

    At the end of the episode, I was sitting with about 7 other die hard Lost fans, all of which were upset. I enjoyed the episode myself, and am drawn to one of the first lines of the episode by the “mother” to the real mother – “Stop asking questions. They will only lead to more questions.” This makes me think the producers are telling us “Hey, you’re not going to get the answers you want, fans, so stop asking questions and just embrace what we’re giving you.”

    I’m confident we’ll get enough of what we need to have the show make sense in the end.

    Just remember, the producers are suggesting that everyone watch the first episode of Season 1 before they watch the final one.

    • Jason says:

      I read somebody who was questioning this same thing. The only possible explanation is that the bones don’t age at the same rate on the Island as they would off Island. Something to do with the healing properties of the Island or “the light” or whatever.

      Either that, or Jack has no concept of normal human bone decay!

  6. Dylan says:

    Really good Darlton interview about this episode, season 6, and the finale: http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/exclusive-interview-lost-producers-damon-lindelof-and-carlton-cuse-talk-across-the-sea

    Although, I don’t like their answer on the outrigger.

  7. Jenny says:

    Dylan, that is a great article!! I am glad to see we will get an answer about whether the light went out in the cave or not… that was my question… it looked like it did!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  8. Emily says:

    All good points. My question is, why could MIB see his real mother and Jacob could not? Real Momma even said “He can’t see me because I’m dead.” Does this mean that MIB is more special than Jacob and the only reason Jacob became protector of the island was because fake Momma realized MIB was more interested in leaving the island than protecting it so the role just fell into Jacob’s lap?
    I think this episode also explained why Jacob didn’t fight Ben when he killed him. Like his mother, he was tired from protecting the island and was thankful to be relieved of his priorities.

  9. Emily says:

    *Correction* Not priorities but responsibilities

  10. tara says:

    This has nothing to do with the last episode, but I cannot for the life of me remember what happened to Russeau??

    • Jason Bybee says:

      Rouseau was shot toward the end of season four by Keamys men from the freighter. It was an episode or two before Keamy killed Alex, Bens daughter, in cold blood.

      The producers wanted to work Rousseau into the Sideways story, but the actress was unavailable; I think she was working in France or something

  11. tara says:

    I thought maybe the ghost Claudia was Smokey trying to mess with boy MIB??

    • Jason says:

      I’m pretty sure Mother was Smokey prior to MIB dying and becoming Smokey.

      • Dylan says:

        That’s an interesting theory. It does seem like it’s possible that she manipulated events so that MIB would kill her and Jacob would take her place. Thus her “thank you” comment to MIB. So she could have been posing as Claudia. That would explain how she knew what would happen to someone who went into the “light” cave. And the way MIB killed her matches the way Dogan told Sayid he had to kill MIB. Nice theory!

  12. Jason says:

    I moved our discussion to the main page in a new post called “Mother”. I think we’re on to something here.

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