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There Is a Light That Never Goes Out: Across the Sea on Lost

"Everything dies."

It's a fact of life that all things must come to an end, even Lost itself. We've entered the final act of one of television's most ambitious and serpentine series and anticipation is running high for just how showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse will wrap up six seasons of storylines and a plethora of mythology-based mysteries while also remaining true to the characters we started this journey with back in 2004.

We certainly got some answers this week. However, I don't know that they were quite the answers that we wanted or needed... or that they were offered in the timeframe they needed to be in.

After a staggering episode that ramped up the tension last week and set the stage for a climactic final few episodes, this week's episode of Lost ("Across the Sea"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and directed by Tucker Gates, felt like it squandered the taut momentum of the last few episodes, pushing aside the central characters for the backstory of the island's dueling deities, Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) and his Nemesis, the Nameless One (Titus Welliver), and their mother (Allison Janney).

So what did I think of this week's episode of Lost? Grab your Senet board, finish your tapestry, gaze into the light, and let's discuss "Across the Sea."

While Jacob and his Nemesis have provided much theorizing among Lost's devoted audience, I don't think that they are the driving force behind the overarching narrative, at least not in an emotional context. We've come back week after week to follow the adventures of our beloved band of castaways, caught in a timeless battle between good and evil, but it's been those characters--Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Sayid, Hurley, Sun, and Jin (and the rest)--who have provided the emotional spine of the series.

Casting them aside this late in the game to focus on the mysterious past of two characters we know precious little about seemed doomed to failure, with so few episodes remaining in the series. For an episode that was intended to provide answers--and perhaps closure to some mysteries--it ultimately felt increasingly frustrating and obtuse. Were these stories that needed to be told? Or at least told in this fashion? With so few hours remaining in this grand tapestry, wasn't it a bit of a waste of yarn at this point?

Part of that frustration could stem from the fact that none of our main characters featured at all in this week's installment (other than a frustrating "flashback" to Season One, where Jack and Kate found the skeletons in the cave and Locke dubbed them "Adam and Eve," which we all remember already) and the three characters that this episode revolved around--Jacob, his brother, and their murderous mother, the island's previous guardian--aren't fully formed characters in any sense of the word: they're archetypes meant to represent various images that have repeated themselves endlessly through stories: the child, the hero, the mother, the trickster, the devil.

Here, we're meant to see the beginnings of the grand rivalry, the endless push and pull between good and evil that exemplifies the balance of the island, but instead we got a domestic drama about a woman who steals children, lies to them about the nature of the world, and then sets them against one another after showing them the truth behind their island home: a glowy, watery cave that is the source of the light within every man.

Wait, say what? After six seasons and countless theories about the nature of the island and its energy source--which had been explored already through the Dharma Stations, the Orientation films, and the groovy 1970s sojourn--the war comes down to who controls this badly rendered special effect?

Back in Season One, John Locke claimed to have seen the heart of the island (or specifically the "eye of the island") and that it was a beautiful and transcendent experience, made all the more so because we didn't see it. Instead, we saw a bright shining light that was reflected in his face and an expression that was akin to divine communion. Here, that energy source--that ephemeral spirit that exists within all of us--is transformed into something tangible and therefore loses something in the translation. What's unseen is typically more psychologically powerful to the viewer than what is seen and, by giving the Source a form, the writers have essentially removed its aura of mystery and therefore its narrative strength.

Yes, as Allison Janney's unnamed mother (henceforth called just "Mother") tells us, "everything dies." But so too does a little bit of my faith in Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse here. From start to finish, this episode was a huge misstep at the end of a marathon, sending the narrative tumbling to the ground amid a hazy fog. I've been anxiously awaiting the series finale but the way with which Team Darlton provided answers here might not bode well for an emotionally satisfying conclusion.

Personally, I don't need every answer served up on a silver tray (or even an ancient Senet board); I'll be content to continue theorizing and turning these mysteries over in my head for some time to come after the final credits have rolled if the writers opt to offer an ambiguous ending. But what happened with "Across the Sea" is that the episode functioned more or less as an information dump, a way for Team Darlton to say, "Here you go: You wanted answers, here are answers."

We learned just what the relationship was between Jacob and his Nemesis (they're twin brothers!); we learned where they came from (their pregnant, Latin-speaking mother was shipwrecked on the island); we learned who raised them (a solemn woman prone to keeping secrets and weaving things into her hair); we learned who originally constructed the frozen donkey wheel (the Man in Black!); we learned who the skeletons in the cave belonged to (Mother and Man in Black!); and we learned how the Nameless One became the smoke monster (his unconscious body went into the Source and his soul was stripped from his body).

So, yes, we got answers. A whole heap of them. So why did I find "Across the Sea" to be so disappointing? Because it was a narrative mess that failed to extract any emotional core to what was going on, rendering this familial struggle to nothing more than millennial-old sibling rivalry, glowy caves, and questions within questions.

Mother says that questions just lead to more questions and that's true. The fact that this woman appeared to be living on her own made me wonder: where did she come from? Had she been brought to the island? Did she grow up there and replace the former guardian? How did she learn about the island's nature? Why did she have such a cut-and-dry view of human morality? How did she have the power to implement rules, such as the fact that Jacob and his brother couldn't ever die and couldn't hurt one another? Why were she and Claudia speaking Latin? How did she kill an entire village and fill in a huge well by herself? If the statue of Taweret wasn't there then, when was it built? When was all of this taking place?

For all of the answers that Cuse and Lindelof provided, it kicked up a whole slew of others, over-shrouding the episode's story, adding to the frustration that we're being fed these singular answers this late in the narrative because the writers felt that these were the answers that needed to be given.

I would have been happy not to have seen Young Jacob and Young Nemesis (though both actors--Kenton Duty and Ryan Bradford--have to be commended for their powerful and nuanced performances) because I had already formed a more compelling vision in my mind. And we've already known for some time that the teenage boy that the Man in Black was seeing was a Young Jacob. Additionally, I didn't feel as though Allison Janey really provided the sort of presence required to pull off that role and it was distracting, in fact, to have her there as her Allison Janney-ness kept pulling me away from the character she was meant to be portraying.

Also distracting: the blatantly awful and cheap set when Claudia gave birth to the twins, which is still making me laugh a day later. It seemed to set the tone for an episode that was unnecessarily cheesy on a series that had previously excelled at dealing with the profound and powerful. Makes me sad, really.

Twins. We learned this week that, while Jacob and his unnamed brother, were born on the island, they came from across the sea and were brought to the island, unborn, by their Latin-speaking mother, Claudia. She is found wandering the island by Mother, who helps her give birth. Both Claudia and Mother are overjoyed to see that she has given birth to a beautiful baby boy, who is quickly named Jacob and swaddled in light colored cloths. But Mother seems visibly shaken when she realizes that Claudia is going to give birth to another baby, a dark-haired son, who is not given a name as Claudia had only picked one and who is swaddled in dark cloths. (One side is light and one side is dark, of course.)

The appearance of the twin is significant. I believe that Mother had already chosen Claudia's offspring as her successor as guardian of the Source and was chagrined to learn that there would be a second child. The existence of two children (and later two men) will inevitably lead to conflict. Only one can follow in her footsteps, only one can be the candidate to replace her, and everything else that follows points towards an inexorable conflict between the two.

Light and Dark. Being twins, they seem to embody the literal duality of light and dark. Besides for their obvious looks, the twins seem to be polar opposites: Jacob is quiet, loyal to a fault, and cannot tell a lie; the Other is shifty, crafty, and manipulative. Jacob would never dream of leaving his mother or the island; his brother wants nothing to do with her after learning the truth and wants to use the Source to leave.

Their cross-purposes put them on a collision course thirty years later as the Nameless One, now a grown man, prepares to use the untapped energy of the Source to leave the island. It is exactly what Mother feared: that the greediness of mankind would corrupt the source, a magical energy whose sparks lie within all of us, a Well of Souls.

The Nameless One. Did Mother always know that the Nameless One would eventually betray her and the island? Is that why she showed the children the Source, knowing full well that the Nameless One's need to explore the boundaries of his universe would lead him to that moment? Did she hope that he would be the one eventually to kill her and release her from her duty to the island? Everything must die, after all. Even Mother. Her words of thanks as the Nameless One pulls out the knife which he used to stab her seem to indicate that she is pleased that he fulfilled his purpose and the cycle can start anew. (She also says that she wouldn't let him leave because she loved him.)

Mother, after all, did tell the Nameless One that he was "special," beginning a pattern of kidnapping and island brainwashing that continued with Rousseau/Alex and Claire/Aaron. Not so special that he warranted a name even as an adult, but that was another effort of Mother to distinguish between the two men. Jacob was the selfless one, caring for his mother and the island, while the other brother wanted escape, to see life across the sea. Is he corrupted by his three decades among men? Or was his fate decided the moment he sprang from his mother's womb, a shadow following the brightness of his brother?

After all, he knows that the Senet board came from "across the sea," just as he inherently knows the rules of the game. He seems to have knowledge that Mother's stories are nothing more than falsehoods intended to ensnare them, to continue her purpose of protecting the island, to eventually force Jacob into his role as the island's guardian. She loved them in different ways and each served their purpose. From the moment that the ghost of Claudia appeared to the Nameless One, his fate seemed all but sealed as he became attuned to the island's dark side, to the death that surrounds it, the souls contained within its grasp.

The Source. Then there's the matter of the Source itself. The villagers whom the Nameless One makes his people have begun to conduct crude experiments into the island's natural energy, discovering the existence of the electromagnetic properties that intrigued the Dharma Initiative so much thousands of years later.

It's significant that Mother tells the boys that they cannot ever enter the cave or they will face a threat worse than death. A fragment of the light that exists within the cave is inside all of us but that man inherently wants more... and that if they try to take the light, it might go out... and if it goes out at the Source, then it will go out everywhere. (Which made me wonder about the island being at the bottom of the ocean in the Lost-X timeline. Has the light gone out? Or is it still flickering away from beneath the water?)

So what is the source? Is it the Well of Souls? A place where all souls are born or return to after death? Is it the mystical energy that animates the world? A nexus of power and possibility? Is it the source of all stories, all lives? The ever-turning wheel of life, death, and rebirth?

The Wheel. I'm not sure how the behavior of metal at certain electromagnetically-charged sites across the island lead to the Nameless One's theories about a means of departure, nor how tapping into the Source can result in an exit route or how he knows this. (Though the Nameless One does know many other inexplicable things as well.)

It's he who designs the frozen donkey wheel in a cave that it later the site of the Orchid Station (though why it's frozen down there years later is a mystery) and, given that we know that it is an escape route, the Nameless One was correct with his theory: it does act as a gateway to the world across the sea. Mother can't let him access the source, can't let him leave, so she wounds him and uses her considerable powers to cover up the well and kill the Nameless One's people.

Jacob and the Smoke Monster. Mother tells Jacob that the next guardian will be him. "It has to be you," she says, echoing Sayid's words to Jack in last week's installment. The virginal and pious Jacob is the only one pure enough to keep watch over the Source without being tempted by it. The Nameless One is tempted by the Source and wants to use it rather than protect it. He questions whereas Jacob accepts, providing a skeptic to Jacob's believer, a man of science to Jacob's man of faith.

Mother inducts him to the order of guardians by whispering a benediction and having him drink from a cask of wine from a silver cup. I couldn't help but wonder which part of this ceremony was the most important: the chalice, the wine, or the words? Or all three? Or was it a more a case of Mother willing it to be so as she elects Jacob to replace her? And is this the same bottle of wine that Jacob has Richard Alpert drink from as he makes him immortal?

I can't help but wonder what would have happened to Jacob if he had been he who had touched the Source rather than his nameless brother, whether he too would have had his soul stripped away from his body and been trapped in the form of a black smoke, a formless thing befitting his own lack of form, lack of name.

Striking his brother until he is unconscious, Jacob throws him into the cave containing the Source, knowing that he cannot kill his brother. When the Nameless One--already corrupted by his interaction with the men and his own greed and need to harness the Source to his own ends--comes in contact with the Source, his soul is transformed into the creature we know as the Smoke Monster. (Clearly, he later takes as his first corporeal form his human body.)

What happened, happened. Actions cannot be undone. As much as the Nameless One is chained to the island, so too is Jacob, doomed to protect the island until a successor can be found, forced to act as jailer to his brother, suffering from the knowledge that the monster unleashed that day was created by his own hand in an act of vengeance.

Adam and Eve. It's Jacob who takes his brother and mother's bodies to the cave and lays them down, their hands clasped together, in final rest. And places the white and black stones of the Senet board game in a pouch with them, where they remain undisturbed until 2004, when Jack and Kate find them in the cave.

As I mentioned earlier, seeing this scene unfold again really rubbed me the wrong way. Given that we're at the very end of Lost, I think it's safe to say that we all recall that scene--perhaps not with pitch-perfect accuracy--but with general message and import remains abundantly clear. It seemed to indicate that the audience wasn't clever enough to piece this together on their own and needed their hands held.

Additionally, I still think the season would have been better off had this episode aired earlier in the rotation as it could have provided some answers earlier on without falsely building up to this point and then pulling the rug out from beneath us. "The Incident" managed to juxtapose both the plight of the survivors with the revelations about Jacob and the Man in Black and I almost wish that they had done the same here, splitting up this episode into segments that were intertwined with the main storyline. Would that have made me feel differently about this episode? Perhaps, but left as it was, I felt like it was a disjointed and frustrating note at a time when the entire series should be singing.

Ultimately, while there were several interesting ideas cast up by this episode, I felt really frustrated by the way with which they were handled here, resulting in an episode that did not connect with me on any emotional level. Lindelof and Cuse have been vocal about the fact that mysteries are often more exciting than their solutions and they're absolutely right. I just wish that with "Under the Sea," they had followed their own advice and left some things in the darkness, rather than bringing them into the harsh light of day.

Next week on Lost ("What They Died For"), Locke devises a new strategy while Jack's group searches for Desmond.

Comments

A great read! :) My one question is---way back in season 1, when they introduced Adam and Eve, were they planning the whole Jacob/MIB storyline? We didn't even know that Jacob really existed until the very end of season 5. I'm guessing this is evidence that the writers knew what they were doing all along.
Eric said…
Nice use of a Smiths song in the title. Fitting.

Hated every second of this ridiculous ep. Glad they didn't air this early in the season or I would have jumped off the ship. Painful to watch.
Harley said…
Spot on. I was perfectly content with the way things were until the last episode last year. In other words, a magicky island, the castaways on it, and the two powerful men -- Ben & Charles -- who wished to control it. When the Lost team decided to set their sights on weightier matters, ie the whole of creation, I was willing to withhold judgement, if only because the Sideways world appeals to the SciFi geek in me. But this episode is where I part company with Cuse et al. Mushy brained New Age thinwittery, complete with a magic golden light. I appreciate their decision to take a big swing, btw. But I'm afraid that for me? It turns out to be a miss.
Unknown said…
What confused me about this episode (among other things) was the flash to Kate, Jack, and Locke finding the skeletons in the cave. This might be very trivial and I'm not positive, but I don't ever remember seeing Kate done up (with lipstick) or Locke wearing an outdoorsy vest when the episode/scene first aired in 2004. For a show that is so meticulous about consistency and has jumped around in time often, the fact that the characters looked so different here made me wonder if perhaps this wasn't actually a flash forward but a vision of Jacob's. Perhaps this vision puts these characters on Jacob's mental map, and makes them people to watch when they are eventually born (presumably, years later) and as they grow up pre-island crash, as potential candidates as his successor. Thoughts?
Kim Harrington said…
In the original Adam and Eve scene in season one, Jack said the bodies must have been dead 40-50 years based on the deterioration of their clothing. Big difference between 40 years and hundreds/thousands of years.

I doubt they had the Jacob/MIB storyline planned all along.
Unknown said…
Apparently in the minority, but I loved this episode. I liked getting the back story, and to me it didn't feel like an info dump, more like a way to tie things together.

And I admit I sometimes get lost in the plot, but would NEVER have recalled that scene from Season 1 if they didn't do the flashback. I wasn't even entirely sure it was a flashback at first.
Calfoodie.com said…
I liked this episode. It raised many conflicts of life in addition to good and evil. Such as the desire for a mother to keep her children with her through out their lives, and some children's longing to see the world, or to not live their mother's life.

Good versus evil is too simplistic. I want the story to move to other cosmic theories, and am frustrated that Richard Albert (like his namesake) did not explore them.

I was also happy to see the portrayal of Mother. Lost has been more about relationships with fathers, so this gave us a balance of yin with yang. Also, most creation myths are full of relatives killing relatives, and this Mother seemed more Greek than Biblical,

I seem to be out of step with most commentators on which episodes I like, but I do agree this episode lacked the emotional power of the Kwans' death, and the catharsis it gave the Lost family for the end of the series.
Perhaps this episode will work better once we see the end. Although I expect everyone will be disappointed about some things in the end.
Bella Spruce said…
I completely agree with your thoughts about the episode. I like Allison Janney but feel she was out of place in this role. (Althought, I love how you refer to her character as "Mother" in a very Norman Bates kind of way.) The two kids playing Jacob and the Man in Black offered more weighty and believable performances than she did. And even the way they styled her (weird blue and tan tunic and stuff woven into her hair) seemed inappropriate and very hippy dippy.

We've encountered the passionate, terrifying, possibly crazy island woman before in Danielle Rousseau and her storyline was much more compelling.
stimpqb1 said…
I enjoyed this episode. It showed the passing down from one protector to another. I think that we will see this scene again in the finale. I also thought it was interesting that the MIB is the unwilling protector of the island. He was chosen, but she chose the wrong one. Jacob is now saddled with keeping MIB on the island, so MIB can continue to protect the island, whether he likes it or not. Maybe why Jacob lets people figure things out for themselves because he has no more answers that anyone else. The only thing he knows is that given time people will make decisions and there might be good or bad things that come from those decisions. Jacob know four things for sure: he cannot leave the island, cannot kill his brother (MIB, he should never lose his emotions again (bad things happened), and he does not know as much as we thought. A die hard like you all, I appreciate the guts it takes to take all the main characters out of it and emotionally attach us to more characters, well done!
Unknown said…
So...it seems like now that Jack is Jacob (believing without seeing) and Sawyer is Man in Black (desperately wants off the island)?

For some reason I feel like it's going to end with the two of them as the last ones alive, and they are going to have to break the cycle of Jacob + Man in Black. Perhaps they will be fighting over kate rather than mother, and will have to work together rather than separate to fix everything? I dont know. Weird episode.

The other things that makes me think Sawyer is an option for the next Man in Black is:

1) Sawyer saw young (dead) Jacob running through the woods. Man in Black saw his dead mother, and dead yougn jacob, and was surprised Sawyer could see him.

2) Sawyer also had his own mother killed and has been vowing revenge ever since.

3) Sawyer has the kind of Machiavellian feelings about getitng off the island like Man in Black. Turns out, Man in Black wasn't even that bad really, esp. if he actually is dead and this smoke monster thing is something else.

4) Doesn't Sawyer almost always wear dark?
Cooley Horner said…
I initially thought that Nameless One's presence in the "Golden Pond" merely opened the doors for Smokey to get out; I hadn't thought that Nameless One *became* Smokey, but that makes a lot of sense. I liked last night's episode more than most, I think, and I dug Allison Janney's appearance. Rather than call her Mother, though, my friends and I just called her CJ all night.

My question now is this: I get that Smokey/No-Name still wants off the island, and I get that he's pissed at his brother for putting him into such a sticky situation. I *don't* get why Smokey/No-Name feels he needs to "judge" people--after all, he bumped off people like Eko after deeming them ill fit to live, and he gave Ben a free pass because he'd been judge as pure (or something like that). I want to know how--or if--that fits in, or if it's just something we've made up and the characters have created as a way to explain the creature in the first place
Sue said…
It was nice to have a break from the main characters running back and forth through the jungle looking for this and that. With that said, the placement of this episode seems a bit odd & probably would've been more helpful, I'm thinking, at the end of last season when Jacob/Nameless One were revealed "in the flesh".

So, yes, some questions were answered and yes, more questions were raised - what exactly is the light in the cave, how did Mother get there, what are her "powers", etc? But, hey, this is Lost and I'll never expect full revelation even in the end.

No matter what, someone is going to be disappointed with the ending. For me, I hope it is some kind of "aha" moment & not an ending that leaves me hanging on trying to figure out what the hell happened.

Great insight, Jace, as always!
laura said…
Thank you for so thoughtfully articulating exactly what I felt about last night's episode and the many reasons it was disappointing on an emotional level, and without using all caps and stabby language I would've.
Marc said…
Jacob was first mentioned in season 2 ep 12 i believe from Tom (Mr Friendly) When jack et all went after Michael
rockauteur said…
Agreed on the frustration to the episode. While I was able to still enjoy the episode for entertainment value, it definitely left me with all the questions that you raised about Mother, the energy source, etc. With only three and half hours of Lost left, too much was raised and not enough was answered.

At what point did MIB regain his corporal form to interact with Jacob? When was the statue built? How is Jacob able to leave the island? Is this a power he acquired or found that he had? Or did he literally travel off the island on a vessel or using the donkey wheel? Was Mother able to travel off the island (I'm thinking not)?

Also - I don't think MIB built the donkey wheel in this episode since the well was caved in. He had the idea - which didn't make sense on how he would have that idea or how he would build a wheel to harness it - but I don't think he built this one yet. Maybe he built it in a different part of the island, in a place that was frozen (thus Dharma using the polar bears to turn the wheel at some point, which is why it ended up in Tunisian desert).

Too many questions! Too little time!
OldDarth said…
Major, major fumble tonight.

Very, very disappointed. For the first time ever with the show. And so late in the game too.

The bottom line is this episode failed to answer to some of the BIG questions that have been six years in the making and brought up new ones about new characters that will never been seen again for which there is no investment in at all.

Major miscalculation.
ted23 said…
@Andy Have you not been watching from the beginning? Everyone remembers the skeletons. They've been talked about ENDLESSLY everywhere.

I HATED "Across the Sea". Janney was AWFUL.
Tonya Ricucci said…
excellent summation of an awful episode. Every time MiB said "Mother" I could only think of Buster on Arrested Development. "My sister is my new mother, Mother." Maybe 10 minutes of the episode was worthwhile. Okay 5 minutes. Jacob and MiB are brothers and Jacob is responsible for his brother's death. And for this we didn't get any Desmond and Penny???
Unknown said…
@ted, yeah I've seen every episode I just really did not remember that scene.
Earnest said…
This episode did something that I have appreciated throughout the series, which is that it took something familiar and echoed it on a larger scale. In this case, we remember Desmond's pushing the button in the hatch until he could find someone to replace him. Here we learn that Mother is the cosmological equivalent of Desmond.

Another thing I liked about this episode was that the show has been hinting at Manichean roots for Jacob and Smokey since last season, and they finally went full-bore into that with this episode.

That said, this episode did feel like it interrupted the narrative pace we've been on this season.
Caitlin said…
Jace: first & foremost, I really love coming here on Wednesdays and reading your take on things. Everyone's comments are great as well, and I love hearing these other theories and perspectives.


My head was spinning after last night's episode. It felt contrived, last minute, and a paltry serving of canned answers that only served to disappoint and confuse more. (eesh, harsh words! I know! I'm sorry, LOST!)

I just realized that it feels like the series has been building up momentum, creating airs of mystery, questions, etc - and was SO so good at what it was doing - and it built up so much momentum that they had to keep it going. But because they wasted so much time with filler (this season and others) to keep this momentum going, they've suddenly only got a little time left, tons of questions to answer, and with all that momentum and so many loose ends, the wheels are starting come off and they're hucking out the answers in a wholly unsatisfying way. A way that feels like a bit of a betrayal because it doesn't evoke the same emotional attachment the series used to. I haven't totally given up, but I am disappointed in a lot of the way the answers have been given in a canned and emotionless way. (ie: Kate (?) directly asking if Locke was the smoke monster. That was the best they could do? No dramatic reveal? Come on, LOST! I don't even know you any more!)

Other thoughts:
Now that MIB has smashed the wine bottle (in a different espisode this season), what will the candidate drink from during the handing-over ritual? Or won't the candidate drink from it, because the island is at the bottom of the sea and 'it only has to end once'?

Mother says 'something worse than death' will happen if you go into the cave. Perhaps she knows this because she once did it, too, and is also a smoke monster and that's how she filled in the well and destroyed the caves.
KenB said…
Let's not forget that Jacob at least does leave the island, on several occasions, although as with many mysteries of the island, how he does it remains unexplained. If Nemesis is incorporeal but Jacob can come and go freely, then what are the rules about leaving the island and therefore what is it exactly that Jacob is protecting?

I agree with Jace's brilliant analysis that as far as uncovering mysteries goes, this episode didn't address some of the most important ones. The island people with whom Nemesis lives are completely uninteresting and no attempt is even made to fit them into the narrative. I say either go to the ancient folks who built the temple and the statue, or fast-forward to those cool, wacky Dharma folks. And please tell me about the secrets of the Others including their martial arts skills and language abilities.

Anyway - the episode may not have been one of the greatest but Jace's analysis was even more superb than usual in my opinion. Love your posts!!
DrZenith said…
Loved the episode, gave a breather after the emotionally draining last week's episode and also some much needed answers, though I felt it was rather thrust upon us(Though we can't complain, since all fans wanted was answers for a long time now). I believe Rose and her husband as the Adam & Eve would've been more effective than this explanation.

Brian makes a superb point about Jack taking Jacob's place(which we all know by now, well almost!!) and sawyer becoming new MIB..and the game continuing or ending whichever way it is..

@Jace: Wonder how/why you forgot/slipped to correlate the scenes of sawyer and MIB seeing the flashes of the boy with this episode...Gives a strong hint about sawyer's possible future.
Amy Witcher said…
Jace,
I really like reading your overviews but feel like you're being a bit too harsh on this one. Especially the flashback. I have watched every episode of Lost, but only once. I don't watch the catch-up shows and don't really pay much attention to any Lost stuff besides just watching the show. I think the majority of the Lost audience is the same way and doesn't have a 6 season list of every question unanswered. Those skeletons were mentioned 6 years ago - I think it's perfectly acceptable in a show that has 1000 loose ends to flash back to that.

I have been reading more Lost commentary this last season and I think people need to chill out and just enjoy the show. Some questions will be answered, some not. I'm enjoying the insights revealed in this season and am not expecting every question to be answered - and I think I'm enjoying this season more than a lot of people.

Just my 2 cents. I really liked the episode but my husband was frustrated along with many of you.
Rich said…
My initial reaction was just like yours. Mostly negative. That's changed now as I've been able to reflect and see it in the entire context of the Lost story.

There were some great parallels to things we've seen before. Like "Mother's" massacre of the "Other's" camp, similarly staged to the Ben-led purge. Yes, in some ways it was even like the way smokey massacred the Other Others at the Temple. Was she also a Smoke Monster? White smoke, perhaps?

There was, of course, MiB's stabbing of his Mother. In that scene, did she speak to him first? I don't think so. MiB just stabbed her, straight on through. This is why he was able to kill her.

She was trapped, much like MiB/Smokey is now. In years gone past, I'll bet she was anointed as the protector. She may have even wandered into the Cave of Light, thus dooming her to a "fate worse than death" -- which, in the context of the show, seems to be the inability to die. MiB freed her from the bounds of the island... the same ties that now bind him to that magical rock.

Like many pre-penultimate LOST episodes, this was not a scene-stealer but a scene-setter.
laura said…
Liza: I, like you, upon seeing the scene of Jack and Kate finding the bodies, immediately thought "Kate is wearing...lipstick?" I found the episode on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/watch/86559/lost-house-of-the-rising-sun, and the scene featured in the archive footage last night is at the top of the third act (13:15). The archival footage is identical but was definitely BRIGHTENED.

If you compare the original with last night's, the original scene is in deep shadow, whereas the archival footage is quite bright. Anyway, perhaps in the brightening process (used, I'm sure, to make it easier to everyone to pick up on what was happening since the scene was fractured; even more unnecessary hand holding), Kate's lips just appeared red-der.

Judge for yourself at 41:43: http://www.hulu.com/watch/86559/lost-house-of-the-rising-sun
kenshane said…
Here's what confused me. Mother tells them that they can't each other, and then we see two events in which they beat the hell out of each other. That's gotta hurt, right?

No less an authority than TV Guide is calling the nameless one Esau, and to be there are similarities to the biblical story of Jacob and Esau. Right off the bat, they are twins, and the grow up to form separate nations. I'm sure there are more things in common if you get deeper into the story.

The mystery of how Mother killed all of those people by herself is perplexing, unless she was the Smoke Monster.
Jace Lacob said…
Ken,

I, along with many, dubbed the Man in Black Esau after seeing last season's finale ("The Incident.") Stopped calling him that this season as his name was withheld. After last night, I do believe that he was never given a name.
kenshane said…
I want to go on record with my prediction that the final shot of the series will mirror the first shot of the series. We will see Jack closing the eye that he opened in the pilot. A perfect circle.
manna07 said…
I loved this episode but it raised as many questions as it gave answers.
I have to say I saw "the man in black" in a whole new light.He doesn`t seem that bad to me after this episode. So he wants to get off the island (witch one of us wouldn`t want to know what is across the sea) ecpecially after learning that his mother is not his birth mother and doubting the other stories she`s been feeding him.
And why is Jacob good he is the one who kills his own brother( i know he killed their beloved "mother").But he was still his brother.
And "the mother" kind of seemed genuine to me when she referred to "the man in black" as the special one.Jacob just seems naive to me (almost untrue).
Another thing that I don`t understand is why is it that in the episode about Richard "the man in black" inhabits his own body ans now he`s using Locke`s when everybody on the island already knows he`s not Locke.
But the question that`s been bugging me since the beginning of this season is WHY IS KATE NOT A CANDIDATE?
I have a feeling like this is an important question for some reason.
I had this idea since Kate has been going back and forth between Jack and Sawyer through the whole series could it be that the candidate might be the one she chooses in the end.It especially made me wonder after the Adam Eve referral at the end of this episode.(maybe I`m just crazy)

god I`m gonna miss this show
Sorry for my english
rockauteur said…
One more thing: no one really ever discusses the parallels to Jacob hunting for his replacement with the candidates and the Dharma Initiative with the person that has to press the 108 button. Desmond was "a candidate" for that job by washing up onshore and replacing Kelvin... Interesting parallel...

Give me more Dharma!
marksme said…
First of all I want to thank you for a wonderful and insightful writing of the Lost episode "Across the Sea." Your writing is amazingand you should be proud. I agree with you 100%. It was a total waste of time and added nothing but more questions and did not add to an excellent 6 years of Lost. Thank you for breaking it down and making it clear. I hope next week goes back to the task at hand. Sadly I fear the writers of Lost are not doing their best to end such great work of acting and story. Like they said and you reminded us, some things are best left to imagination.
HipHopAnonymous said…
While I really liked the idea of doing a stand-alone event prior to the final chapters, it still felt like a big letdown because it failed to deliver any thoroughly significant piece to the puzzle that is LOST. As with "Ab Aeterno" the writers were content to merely confirm some existing theories and fill in some details around the edges, but failed to offer up anything truly 'event worthy' that would send viewers scrambling for their Lostpedias.

In retrospect it seems like the real point of the whole ep was to warn viewers that the island is simply never going to be explained to anyone's satisfaction because it's all an endless succession of pass-the-baton backwards through time, i.e. before 815 there was the Frenchies, and before them Dharma, before them the Others, before them Richard, before him there was Jacob and MiB, and before them, the 'Mother'. If we were to get her backstory, it would no doubt simply lead to another predecessor who indoctrinated her into the mysteries of the island, preceded by yet another predecessor, ad infinitum. Thus we can only learn the stories of the people who came to the island, never the story of the island itself or how it came to be. Because the island simply is. And apparently always has been. No origin needed or applicable.

As others have mentioned, interesting parallels between this and the hatch, which required a steward as well, and could only be escaped when Desmond 'sacrificed' himself by turning the key to destroy it, only to then find himself reborn after a jaunt through an 'alternate reality' wherein he was never imprisoned on the island.

Also, if there was one additional point of emphasis worth mentioning, I thought it might be MiB's line to Jacob, "One day you can make up your own game and everyone else will have to follow your rules."

I took this to be something of a panacea for all of the various 'rules' connected with the Others. That is to say, they're largely arbitrary as concocted by Jacob, since this is his 'morality play' being enacted on the chessboard, er Senet board, of the island.
The CineManiac said…
Personally I really enjoyed this episode. And after reading Alan's interview about the episode, I like it even more, and understand why this episode came so late in the game.
It wasnt revealed until last episode that MIB was absolutely the bad guy, we thought he was, but his attempts to kill the 815ers made it clear, and so this episode really couldn't have come until after that episode.
Also they make it clear they included the scene from "House of the Rising Sun", at least partially because the regular characters wouldn't have been in the episode at all otherwise.
I can see where some wouldn't enjoy it, but I for one did.
Also Jace, I find it ironic that most people I've talked to who liked the episode, couldn't stand the child actors, but you didn't like the episode and give the child actors high praise. Just ironic.
Greg said…
Ok...I've been watching the entire season and reading many of the theories posted here. This is my first time posting here and I really have to compliment Jace and all the others that have posted here for their very in depth observations.

Lately, I have been thinking more and more about the show...especially about how it's going to end and the Lost X universe.
Jace - you have come up with your own theories about the lost x passengers having to raise the Island. Others have come up with alternate theories.
I'm going to bring up my own theory (at least I think it's my own, since I don't recall reading anything like it).
Is it possible that the Lost X universe isn't really an alternate reality, but the new reality? Since the beginning of this season, it's been pretty much assumed that it was the bomb at the end of last season that spawned this new reality and sunk the island.
But, what if it wasn't that event that sunk the island? What if it's the event at the end of the series that sunk the island and the life of the Lost X is truly the new reality?

Just one theory to put out their with all the rest, but I figured with the end of the series on the horizon that I would put my two cents out there for comments and criticism.

Thanks again for all the great recaps from Jace and all the opinions from all the other posters.

-Greg_
Anonymous said…
I really can't wait to go back and watch this show in its entirety from the beginning.

I think so many expectations, the finale can only serve to disappoint and there will be loose ends and questions unanswered. We will just have to take the finale for whit it is worth and enjoy it.

That being said, a few questions/comments:

-how does Jacob leave the island and why does he do this when Mother told him not to?
-I like the idea that Mother too was a smoke monster and that explains how she killed off everyone.
-where did those "people" come from? Where they the early Others? I'm having a hard-time understanding who exactly the others are ... and how exactly they came to be. I think the others were supporters of Jacob, but I'm not always sure.
-I don't understand the deliberately not naming Jacob's brother. What purpose does it serve to not give him a name? Last night was the perfect opportunity to name him.
-Did mother steal the babies expressly so they could take over her responsibilities?
-maybe it's all just Jacob's game so he gets to make up the rules
Anonymous said…
I had missed last week's recap and had to go back and read it.

What I know now about MiB makes me ask this question .... just how did MiB know how to create a bomb using a wrist watch as detonator? He was born and raised on the island and was not the possessor of any great knowledge (evidenced by the basic child-like question she asked Mother). He now possesses Locke's body ... Locke was a box salesman, right? So just, where did he learn how to create a bomb?

Prior to this week, I think we were led to think of MiB as evil incarnate. We see now, that desparation has made him this way and after hundreds of years on the island, he will do anything, kill anyone .... to get off the island. Curious though, just where exactly does he want to go : )
franklapidus4ever said…
I think people are being way too harsh on this episode. Personally I loved this episode probably for all the reasons most people said they hated it.

LOST fans are impossible to please, I guess. They crave answers and when they finally get them, they complain about the way they were given them. Grow up, people!
yammer2002 said…
Hi Jace! Great work on your blog insights! (I very much agree on your thoughts for "Across The Sea".)

I have a major QUESTION/ISSUE/CONFLICT that maybe you can address with your next posting:

I remember from Season 2 that a big deal was made regarding the original crash: Desmond was chasing Kelvin Inman out of the hatch, did not enter the "Numbers" in time, resulting in the meltdown and eventually causing the crash of Oceanic 815. This makes it seem that the passengers of Oceanic 815 were there "accidentally," as as result of Desmond not entering the Numbers in time.

However, this season, with the Numbers in the cave, with Jacob's "touch",and with the Lighthouse numbers, we are led to believe that each of the Oceanic 6 characters were "chosen" by Jacob to be on the island. This conflicts with the "accidental" nature of the initial crash.

So....what happened? Did the writers change their minds/stories?
Gregory said…
There was one thing I took away from this episode and I was hoping discussion here might acknowledge this also and that is that Jacob's brother is dead. His skeleton is lying in a cave. And although spirits may reappear here and there I shall quote Ben who I think said, "Dead is dead." This led me to think that Smokey is as much Locke right now, as I projected him to be the MiB before. And/Or although Smokey may have the same ambitions as Jacob's brother, it is not in essence Jacob's brother as portrayed in the episode.
Joey said…
I gotta agree with Jace here. The child actors definitely out-acted Allison Janney. That probably has a lot to do with our familiarity with her face and our previous experiences with her on screen. Lost has mostly made use of unfamiliar actors and actresses (Hurley, Sawyer, Kate, Desmond, etc...) helping the mysterious aspect as well as a way to make these people like strangers to eachother but especially the audience.

I feel like this episode had (2) major purposes

1. As pretty much everyone agreed as an info dump to answer questions

2. To make the conflict of MIB vrs. Jacob more "rounded". Lost as well as many other tv shows try to show events in the perspectives of more than one character so that an audience can sort of choose who to root for. In this case, it seems silly to root for anyone but Jacob. I think this is why we feel like this episode lacked emotional strength.

Also, I really like the theory being thrown around of Sawyer being the future MIB.
rustle said…
For a while it was amusing to finally see some characters on this show who had not daddy issues but mommy issues; then it practially turned into a Smothers Brothers "Mom always liked you best" routine. Seriously, though: why didn't the twins ever wonder who their father was? And if the golden light at the heart of the island is the core of goodness in every human being, why does protecting it always involve lying, cheating, stealing, and mass murder? Whatever the Island is, it seems to be a very Old Testament kind of place.
Workman said…
Yikes.
Jace I agree with your review, this episode frustrated me too. Although I must say that the new set of questions are getting me psyched up for what's next.

@Brian - I agree and got a similar feeling watching this episode and I thought back to Sawyer jumping out of the helicopter. He has NEVER left the island. And MIB seems to have a fix on him. And he just blew up the sub...

@Caitlin - Good point about the wine bottle, and I had the same thought about the "mother smokey".

I cant wait for Tuesday.
S Broggie said…
Without going in to detail I'm just going to say that I enjoyed this episode although it was slow. I'm in agreement with a few people here that the Adam and Eve thing may not have been a flashback/reminder for us, but a vision of Jacob's, perhaps his first making it very significant.
I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion over the HUGE significance of the wine bottle and the fact that we now know it's been broken by the man in black. In fact that was one of the final scene's in this episode was the MIB sitting holding the wine bottle after Jacob had given the bottle to him. We know from a previous episode that shortly thereafter he smashes it against a log. What significance does that hold for any future guardian? Is it even possible to have a guardian now that Jacob and the bottle are both gone? I hope we'll see.
cory said…
I have to agree and disagree. Because of my broken computer I was two episodes behind on Lost...The Candidate and Across the Sea. I watched them both yesterday back to back and I loved them both in their own way.

"The Candidate" really kicked the main action this season into gear and it was mostly compelling, awesome, and heartbreaking. Then it ends and I immediately am treated to "Across the Sea".

Now, had I been watching the show as normal my feelings might have been different but before watching this episode I read Damon and Carlton's interview and their reasoning for putting the episode here, and I actually kind of agree with their reasoning. Throughout "Lost" some of my favorite episodes are ones that suddenly take a break from the ongoing story and tell a self-contained story or have a complete change of tone. (I love "Expose" and "Tricia Trinaka Is Dead", personally.) And after such an emotional episode, why NOT take a break and get some backstory on the mythology?

My biggest complaint is that there's like two episodes left and the episode was a lot more vague and not as revealing as it should have been. I don't need EVERY mystery resolved and the way they wrap up the journey of the characters is the most important, but we SHOULD get most of what we need to know about the mythology, because it's a large part of the appeal of the show for me and most fans still watching.

I can't wait until the show is over and can be seen as a whole.
Anonymous said…
i TOTALLY agree that this episode seemed to bust the flow up from this season....tho I thought that of the Richard episode as well... If it were my money I would have combined the two eps and released as a companion DVD between seasons 5 and 6..../would have been a gaurenteed $$maker.
Anonymous said…
Easily one of the top 10 Lost episodes ever. This could not have fit anywhere else in the season or the series. This show was always about the island--the characters were secondary. What did you come away from the pilot episode asking? What is with this polar bear? What killed the pilot? And "What They Died For" confirms how excellent this episode was. That episode could not happen without this one. And frankly, following the melodramatic deaths of Jin and Sun was the perfect time to place this episode which really ratcheted up the expectations.

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