M: For most of this season, the tag line for Lost has been “The time for questions is over”. Well, the time for questions isn’t remotely over, and I’m pretty willing to bet it wont be over at 11:30 on May 23rd either, but the time for answers has certainly arrived…. whether we like or understand them all is a different story. Across The Sea gave us the story, from birth through, well, rebirth, of Jacob and the Man In Black. I know it wasn’t at all the story that I was expecting, I’m willing to bet it wasn’t the story you were expecting, either.
Now, before we get into the nitty gritty, allow me to a moment to question the writers. Really? There are two episodes of the entire show left, and you still can’t give us what MIB/Smokey’s name is? Was that really necessary? It was frustrating, to hear Jacob only ever call him “him” or “brother”, and to hear CJ Cregg call him nothing but “son” or “him”. In the end all I could think of, well, other than “spit it out already”, was the end of the VeggieTales Silly Song “Larry’s High Silk Hat”, when Larry the Cucumber talks to “Scallion #1” and asks his name, to which the talking onion replies “They’ve never given me a name. I’ve been around since show one and I still don’t have a name!” When you’re making your more rabid audience make references to Christian kids videos about talking vegetables… let’s just say I don’t think that’s what they were hoping for when they wrote it up.
Ok, back to Lost. Since the time for questions isn’t over, let’s ask… what did we learn, and what do we still not know. With two episodes left, that’s really the heart of the matter, isn’t it? We all want to know how it’s going to end. The end is so close we can figuratively taste it, and we are all wondering what’s going to happen. Or, if you’re like a few people I know and you’ve given up on the show because it has frustrated you too many times, you just want it to end so you can stop watching, but let’s not focus on those folks. Let’s focus on what they are doing. I realized something while watching the ending scene, where they seemingly unnecessarily mixed in clips from early in the first season. They aren’t going to answer all our questions, we know that. First, there’s just not enough time, second, they’ve raised too many questions, and third, we wouldn’t want them to, some things are better left mysterious, and other things are far too obscure and have been gone from the plot for too long (like the Dharma food drop). So instead of trying to answer all the questions, what the writers of Lost are doing is going back to answer the original questions.
Think back to the pilot episode, what questions did we have? Where are they, what’s the monster and will they get rescued. We’ve gotten answers to all of those now. We got visual evidence of how Scallion #1 became Smokey tonight, which we’ll get to in more detail later, but suffice to say we know who and what the monster is. We know that they have been rescued once already, and that some of them may get off the island again. In Across the Sea we learned even more about where they were, about the island itself. Not necessarily enough for my liking, but we did learn about it. Most importantly, we found out that the light that we have seen at the bottom of the well under the Orchid station is the light of creation, the light of life, where all life comes from. So, in a sense, it is the Garden of Eden.
What were other questions that came up early in the show? First, there was Jack’s dad roaming around the island. We learned that that was Smokey. Then there were Adam and Eve… well, we just learned who they were, how they died, and even where their smooth black and white rocks came from. The other big mysteries of the first season? The polar bears (brought there by the Dharma Initiative), the Hatch (again, Dharma) and the numbers (a combo of Dharma, and Jacob’s candidates). We’ve gotten answers to all the big questions of the start of the show, but because they’ve raised so many more, and important, questions along the way, most of us didn’t realize how much has been answered.
Anyway, on to the episode details. Many episodes of Lost have started similarly to the pilot, with one person’s eye in the close up. Across The Sea started out more similarly to a scene in the premiere of season two, when three of our castaways were struggling to survive in the wreckage of the raft. Instead of Sawyer or Michael, though, this episode opens with a pregnant woman struggling in the debris of a shipwreck, eventually washing ashore on the island. Injured, she stumbles to a stream, where she is met unexpectedly by a woman whose name we never learn, played by The West Wing‘s Allison Janney, who helps her back to the caves that our Losties stayed in for a time in the first season. The woman soon gives birth to a remarkably clean baby boy, who she names Jacob, and who the native woman swaddles in a white blanket. Very unsurprisingly to us the audience, what happens next is that they discover there is another baby coming, another boy, this time wrapped in a black blanket, and not given a name, because the mother didn’t expect twins, and apparently has no ability to think on the spot. So, right from birth the competition begins, and the symbolism is heavy, white and black, good and evil, etc and etc. The mother is quickly off’d by the native, who replaces her, as we later find out under the auspices of protecting the boys. She wants to prevent the other survivors of the shipwreck from finding them and corrupting them. That ends up not working out so well.
From there we see the boys grow up, Jacob always wearing light clothes and Scallion #1 always wearing dark. More than just that, Jacob is transparent, and trusting and trustworthy, while Scallion #1 is gifted at lying and manipulating. At one point he finds a game on the beach, a game of black vs white stones similar to backgammon, but that appears to be the ancient Egyptian (of course!) game Senet. Scallion invites Jacob to play, and lets him know that he just sort of knows what the rules are supposed to be. In this way they are definitely showing us parallels between him and Walt, and the parallels are later strengthened by the Replacement Mom telling him he’s special.
The young boy version of Jacob is the same boy that Smokey has been seeing running around the jungle telling him what he can’t do. Also, Replacement Mom clearly has mystical powers, and tells them that she has made it so that they cannot hurt each other. Clearly, this is the main part of the rules that they live by, that Smokey needed to find a loophole to get around. Anyway, Replacement Mom takes them to a secret river/cave somewhere in the deep jungle of the island. The cave is glowing, and emitting a light that we later find is the light of life. Both boys are mesmerized by it, but are warned not to go into it. The cave is very important, and we’ll come back to it later.
First, we explore Scallion #1’s desire to leave the island. We find out early on that he is constantly drawn to the beach, where he stares out at the ocean. He questions Replacement Mom about what’s out there, across the sea, off the island, never believing her that there is nothing else. He is drawn by the call of the sea and the lands beyond it, much like Legolas and the rest of the Elves in the Lord of the Rings. Taking that into account, Smokey’s desire to get off island makes a lot of sense, he feels like it has never been where he was supposed to be, where his life was meant to be lived, and where he will be happy. He soon sees his dead mother (while Jacob cannot), and she tells him the truth of their birth and that they came from across the sea. She then leads him to the camp of the other shipwreck victims. He confronts Replacement Mom and decides to go to the other village to live with the people he feels he really belongs with.
It definitely seems important that he seems to have abilities that Jacob does not. He can see and communicate with the dead, like Hurley. He intuitively knows how to do things like play board games he’s never seen before, like Walt. He has powers, and wants more. Jacob does not have powers, but he has the power of the truth, and he is devoted, oddly enough, like the real John Locke was. Jacob is completely content on the island. At the point that Scallion goes to live with the others, he decides to stay with Replacement Mom. He takes care of her, learns to loom, but all the while he goes and watches or visits his brother at the other village. One fateful day, Scallion #1 tells Jacob that he’s found a way off. He and the other survivors have been digging wells where they have found pockets of electromagnetic energy. Well, this time they hit the jackpot, finding the light. We learn, through Replacement Mom’s visit, that Scallion #1 has created some sort of device that manipulates the light and water, and is going to put it in the light, and attach it to a donkey wheel.
Before he can, Replacement Mom bashes his head again the was knocking him unconscious, and allowing her the time to kill everyone in the village and fill in the well. This has led to a discussion as to whether or not she was also a smoke monster. I’m not in that camp, but am baffled by the deaths of the villagers and the filling in of the well, and how the donkey wheel ends up getting set up into the light after this happens. Apparently we have two episodes to find this out, if they ever explain, but why show us this if they aren’t going to explain, why not just leave it as a mystery? Anyway, Replacement Mom was hobbling around at that point, not really ready for action movie type violence, but there has to be some more to it, some more explanation for the carnage.
Before we connect that to the big actions sequence at/near the end of the episode, there was a majorly important revelation about the cave. Remember, I did say I’d come back to it. Well, when Replacement Mom knew that she was going to bite the dust, she brought Jacob to the cave again. When the boys were kids she blindfolded them so as not to know the true location. That turned out to be a good thing, since Scallion #1 let Jacob know that he’d been searching for it, that light that is inside everyone, for the past thirty years. Jacob, on the other hand, is being made immortal guardian of the cave, the light and the island, but doesn’t want it. All he wants is what he always wanted throughout the episode, for Replacement Mom to love him as much as she loved Scallion #1. However, she tries to persuade him that someone must protect the cave, the light, the heart of the island, and that it was always supposed to be him, but she didn’t see that until just then. In the end, he agrees, and after an incantation of some sort, she has him drink wine from the infamous wine bottle from the episode Ab Aeterno, after she speaks some for of enchantment over it.
I’m trying to piece together what I think is implied in the decisions make here, and in how they relate to our main characters. As I’ve been mentioning for a while, I think Jack is the replacement. Jack is getting to a point where he is looking at himself and seeing what Jacob sees, seeing someone who can rely on others and someone who can act solely on faith. I think he is lined up to take Jacob’s place, but there are other interesting parallels, some of which I already mentioned, like Hurley and Scallion #1 both communicating with the dead. The one I haven’t is between Sawyer and Scallion #1. They both are self-centered, not well liked, are looking to do everything they can to get of the island. Like I said, though, I’m trying to paste together what they might be doing based on this, and it’s just not working.
Anyway, after Jacob took the job, Replacement Mom went back to the cave, where Scallion #1 was waiting for her. Before she could talk, which, like many things I postulate, may or may not be important, he ran her through with the knife that we’ve seen both Richard and Sayid try to use to off one of the brothers. A furious Jacob took him back to the cave of light, which Replacement Mom had warned him that going into the cave would be catastrophic, and worse than death. In his rage, Jacob tossed Scallion into the stream headed into the tunnel, and almost immediately the current swept him down, transforming him into Smokey.
On the way back to the caves, Jacob found Scallion #1’s body, which may mean that Smokey and Scallion were two completely different entities to begin with. I’m not falling into that trap, I think they just wanted to wrap up the Adam and Eve question.
So, in the end we didn’t really find out what the island is, but we sort of did. We did find out about Jacob’s non-aging, and the rules between him and Smokey, but did not find out who originated the magic that is protecting the island. We saw a bit of the reason Smokey wants off the island, but have it left to our imagination as t the amount of stewing he did in the centuries since. Still, as I said before, we have uncovered a lot, and are down to the final two episodes (even if they’ll come out to a total of 3.5 hours! wooo!), enjoy them, and let me know your theories of what will happen in the next two weeks.