I've seen a lot of the knee jerk reactions to this week's episode, and while I feel that the overall negative reaction to a lot of what we saw is excessive, I will admit that the episode didn't quite sit right with me. I've been trying to figure out what it was, exactly, that didn't do it for me, and I guess it comes down to a few things. First, doing an episode like this is a pretty big challenge. LOST is a show that is all about the characters. It's about the characters that we have seen since the first episode, and it's all about their story, and their ultimate fate. Everything else is secondary. There are important themes, and important stories that are told that involve these characters, but ultimately the show is nothing without them. So to go away from that completely is a huge change from what we're used to seeing, and was definitely a big gamble by the writers. I'm not sure they accomplished what they wanted from this episode, and I think a large reason for that is again, because of the characters. This was a very isolated episode, with two characters we are somewhat familiar with, but I wouldn't say we are emotionally invested in either one at all. There is Jacob, a man we've known of since Season 3 but know very little about, and is not a character that was introduced with the intention of us growing attached to like we did with, say, Ben, or maybe even Richard. He's a key person in the grand LOST story, but not someone we feel like we can get behind, or root against. The same goes for the Nemesis. He and Jacob have been influences in our characters lives, and their story is certainly important so that we can know what's going on, but I couldn't help but feel detached
watching their story play out.
And I think that was the biggest problem with this episode. You can argue about questions and answers all you want, and I'll discuss some of that later, but I don't think that's what made this episode good or bad. The problem is that we just don't care enough about these characters, so when you dedicate an entire episode to them, and only them, and don't give us anything that we're familiar with, it's tough to really enjoy what we're seeing. Now, "Ab Aeterno" was presented to us under a somewhat similar circumstance, only there were a couple significant differences. First, Richard's flashback was just that, a flashback. We were able to see his backstory, and still bring it all back and tie it into our characters' story, particularly when Richard was able to reunite with his dead wife through Hurley. That's a connection we can all relate to and get behind. The second point is that Richard is someone we cared about, and wanted to know more about. He was largely a mysterious character, sure, but we had seen enough of him to get emotionally invested, to the point where we could handle an episode that was mostly just about him. Not to mention Nestor Carbonell was fantastic and really brought a new life to his character that we had never seen before.
I felt like that's what they were trying to give us in "Across the Sea", play up the emotional history between these two characters and bring them new life. Only we, the viewers, aren't invested in the characters to begin with. And I'm not sure that we need to be, honestly. The think the story points that were hit, Jacob and his brother, the Light of the island, his brother trying to leave, Jacob's "betrayal", the smoke monster, all of these things were relevant, and I'm glad that they were told, and I think they had to be told. But I don't know that they needed to be told in this way. If they had been shown to us as regular flashbacks, that went alongside present-day scenes that focus on the Nemesis, or Jacob, I can't help but feel that we would have bought into what we were seeing a little bit more. Instead, we got some good information in this episode, but I feel like it was overshadowed by a story that we just didn't care too much about, and was also burdened with a lack of quality dialogue and what I felt to be a real lack of emotion throughout.
I try not to spend a lot of time talking about how "good" or "bad" and episode is, because I think things like that are largely subjective to your personal taste and what you enjoy or don't enjoy about the show, and because I would rather spend my time discussing the story, the characters, the theories, where things are headed, and why Kate sucks. But given how tense things are with the show weeks away from completion leading to high expectations every week, and based on both my initial reaction and what I've read online since then, I felt like I should at least address the quality of this week's episode, just to get another perspective out there. And now that that's out of the way, let's actually talk about the episode, shall we?
What we know
Adam & Eve.
Let's just get that one out of the way first. We knew it was only a matter of time before we found out who they were, and this was as good a time to tell us as any. I thought they did a really nice job tying that all together, with it being Jacob's mother and brother, the black and white stones from the game they used to play. I thought the flash back to discovering the bodies in Season 1 was unnecessary, you could give your viewers a little more credit in remembering Adam & Eve, especially when you just referenced them earlier in the season, but I digress. If you had Rose & Bernard in your "Who were Adam & Eve?" pool, I'm sorry, you lose.
The Protector of the Island.
I don't think we've been given all the information we're going to get on this subject. We know that Jacob is charged with protecting the island. We learned that he inherited that responsibility from the one that was the protector before him, and if we're to believe her (debatable), she inherited it from someone else after she arrived on the island. I found the parallels between this job and the button pushing in the hatch to be strong. Jacob didn't really understand the purpose behind protecting the island, but it's something he has to do, because if something should happen to the Light on the island, life everywhere will cease to exist (at least that's what I took from her saying that this Light was found in every person, and if the Light on the island goes out, it will go out everywhere). When Locke & Jack started pushing the button, they did so not really knowing why, but just knowing that the person who did it before them, Desmond, was told he was saving the world by doing it.
The Nemesis told of being betrayed by Jacob, and that was certainly a focal point of this episode. First we saw him tell his mother that the Nemesis was planning on leaving the island, leading to her stopping him from being able to leave. Then, after the Nemesis killed his mother, Jacob took him and threw him into the pool of Light, resulting in...well, something, I'm not exactly sure what, but I've got some speculation later. Whatever happened, the Nemesis is stuck on the island, and blames Jacob for betraying him and keeping him on the island.
In keeping with the recurring theme of Egyptian mythology, the boys were playing a game that appeared to resemble Senet
, which Wiki says might possibly be the oldest board game. A nice reference back to the Pilot when Locke is teaching Walt about backgammon, for sure.
Things we don't know
We're never going to learn his name, are we? Those sneaky bastards. I was waiting, hoping that in all their conversations during the episode that a name might slip out. But when I saw the smoke monster fly out and his dead body subsequently lying by the river, I knew that was it. If he's dead, then it doesn't really matter what his name was, does it? Dammit.
Lots of recurring themes surrounding our woman of mystery. The shipwrecked survivors not knowing where they are, and encountering someone else already on the island, that got there by accident, same as them. The protector of the island, able to sense that their time was near, and accepting of their death instead of fighting it. Someone apparently able to burn down and destroy an entire village of people. Knowing more about her was the one thing I wish we had gotten out of the episode. A lot of what she did made sense. She kept Jacob and his brother with the intention of making one of them her replacement. She killed their real mother to keep them away from the other people on the island. She isolated them, to keep them innocent, ignorant, and pure. I believe that she did all of this for the sake of finding her successor. She also clearly felt that whatever the Nemesis and his people were working on with regards to the Light, the wheel, and being able to leave the island, it was a threat to the Light, so she put a stop to it. She knew that the Nemesis would kill her for what she had done, so she made Jacob her replacement, and accepted her fate.
But, there were also some questions that were brought up, some I think we'll get more info on, some probably not. Why exactly didn't she want the Nemesis to leave the island? He wasn't always "evil", or at least not that we know of, so what threat did he present by leaving? I don't know if it was him that was a threat, or if him using the Light to leave was a threat, but clearly there was something there. Also, did she fill in the well and destroy the village all on her own? Seems...impressive that she was able to accomplish that all on her own, no? And I couldn't help but feel like the aftermath in the village looked a lot like the Temple after the Nemesis plowed through there. Something doesn't add up there.
The Smoke Monster.
Interesting introduction to the Smoke Monster, that's for sure. There's a lot of debate going around about what exactly happened to Jacob's brother when he was thrown into the pool of Light and sucked under. We saw his dead body that was "presumably" dropped off by the smoke monster. But is he really dead? Jacob's mother told him that going in there would be worse than dying. We've seen the Smoke Monster take the form of Jacob's brother, and he seemingly shares his brother's views of trying to get off the island. So...is the Smoke Monster his brother? Was that when it was created? Or did the Smoke Monster just gain a part of his brother when he was thrown into the pool of Light? The Nemesis spoke of his crazy mother to Kate, told Sawyer that he used to be a man just like him, and that he was betrayed by Jacob. I don't expect we've heard the last of what the Smoke Monster is, exactly, at least I certainly hope not. I don't really need to know 'what' he literally is, just some clarification on what it is with regards to Jacob's brother.
Some other things to think about:
-I feel pretty confident saying that the Light is the reason why Charles Widmore is here. I think he knows about the Light, and I think he's trying to find it. Just as Jacob's brother spent 30 years exploring the island, digging wells investigating electromagnetic anomalies, trying to find the Light that his mother showed him all those years ago, Charles Widmore is on a similar path. What he wants with this Light I don't know, since he is not a prisoner of the island. But given his need to have Desmond around, and his curiosity in the drawings Jin made while mapping out the island, I would say he definitely has an interest in finding it. However, at the same time, I think he understands enough to know that the Nemesis can't get off the island, or it would be very, very bad. So while he's there acting in his own interest, he's also fully aware that the Nemesis can't leave, so he has to be careful how he goes about his business.
-Where does this wine come from, exactly? Has anyone seen any grape vines in the six seasons of this show? Do they just import it from Napa Valley or what?
-I find myself thinking a bit about the season premiere, when we saw the island under water. Jacob's mother placed a lot of emphasis on protecting the Light, calling it the heart of the island. So in our flash sideways world, the island is under water, I would have to assume that the Light is gone, but everyone continues on with their lives. Hmm.
Okay, I think that's all I've got for this week. I know this episode most likely came off as disappointing to most of you, and I agree it probably didn't play the way the producers would have liked, but I do think we learned some important information, and I think the backstory will end up being very useful for the last two episodes; I can only assume the put this episode there for a reason. Next week's our last episode before the finale, so I expect it to basically just be an extension of the finale as is frequently the case on LOST. I expect I'll do a post as normal next Wednesday, so I'll see you all then. Thanks for reading.