Key Points from "Across the Sea"
Season 6, Episode 15
Episode Air Date: 05/11/10
I understand why this episode was produced. It's half origin story and half mythological brain dump. And there were some interesting bits, no doubt there. But let me sum my opinion up this way: If "Lost" had focused on Jacob, MIB and their wacky "Mother" from the very beginning, I never would have watched this show. I just don't care about these characters and their deep psychological scars. For six years we've watched a fantastic ensemble of great actors playing great characters battling with their own Big Problems. The Jacob-MIB-Mother trio felt like window dressing. And is it just me, or was the acting a little meh?
That said, I'll give the writers credit for revealing Jacob to be the island's Norman Bates. Discovering that for many years he was a naive and gullible pawn in his crazy adopted mother's machinations ... well, that just wasn't expected. What I would have loved to have seen is how he went from a wide-eyed and kinda dumb rube to the smirking, semi-omniscient character we've come to know. How did that happen?
I see I'm dangerously close to violating my "No Bitching in Season Six" rule (okay, so I bitched a little ... I think I've earned that much). And since I didn't love this episode as an episode, what I'll do instead is dig into the revelations and lessons learned. That's what we'll remember, after all.
Let's begin at the beginning: Jacob and MIB, the early years
-- Jacob and MIB are twins. Their mother -- the real one -- was named Claudia. She was pregnant with the twins when her ship wrecked on the island. There were other survivors in her party, but they washed ashore elsewhere on the island and eventually built a lovely little village that looked like the Epcot-approved version of pre-industrial Dharmaville.
-- Claudia gave birth to Jacob and MIB within a day of crashing. She was assisted by the island's self-assigned "protector" -- a disheveled woman who could easily best Rousseau in a worst-hygiene competition.
-- Claudia only expected one baby, and when the light-haired one popped out first she christened him "Jacob." Baby No. 2 -- the one with the dark hair and the grumpy demeanor -- didn't receive a name ... like, ever. Now, I'm sure someone along the line gave him a nickname -- maybe "Scooter" or "Cockroach" or "Stank" -- but in strict terms, MIB has no official name.
-- Crazy island lady brained Claudia exactly 60 seconds after Baby MIB appeared. And for the next 13 years, Jacob and MIB were raised by their new "Mother." Seeing this chick in action gives added weight to that "My Mom Was A Crazy Bugger" story Flocke told Kate in "Recon." He wasn't kidding. "Mother" told the boys there was nothing beyond the island -- no other people, no other places. Jacob, the dullard, swallowed this nonsense without a peep. But young MIB never bought it.
-- Interestingly, MIB was Mother's favorite ... for a while, at least. She told the young rapscallion that he was "special." (I'm not sure if this is the same flavor of "special" once assigned to Walt, but I hope that's the case because it would be an excellent connection.) One day, after Jacob and MIB stumbled across survivors from Claudia's shipwreck, Mother led the boys to a previously undocumented island locale: a hard-to-find cave that contains a warm light (it's like the pool in "Cocoon," minus Wilford Brimley). She informs the boys that one of them will someday take her place as the island's protector, and it's clear she's pulling for MIB.
-- We also learn that Mother likes her rules. She tells Jacob and MIB that neither can hurt the other (something I take issue with in Key Point 2), and we discover that neither boy can leave the island (I'm not sure how Jacob managed to make all those off-island trips; perhaps she meant they couldn't leave permanently). Alas, the rules lose their power when Ghost Claudia appears to MIB and tells him the truth about his birth, his real mother and the wider world. The wheels of dismay start to turn and MIB soon joins up with the remnants of Claudia's old crew. His mission: get off the damn island (sensing a theme here?)
And that brings us to ...
Jacob and MIB, the adult years
Thirty years pass. Jacob and Mother live on one side of the island and MIB remains with his adopted clan. But it's a period of relative peace, even to the point where Jacob occasionally drops in on MIB to catch up and play their favorite game: white rocks vs. black rocks (DING! PROP ALERT!).
Things go south quickly, however. MIB has searched fruitlessly for the Mystical Cave he saw all those decades ago. But, as is his custom, he's discovered a loophole. He and his comrades have systematically dug holes in spots where the island goes wacky for metal (Flocke tells Desmond about these holes just before tossing him into that ancient well). And lookee here! MIB and his crew found a particularly active hotspot that emits the same warm glow seen at the cave. Now, all he needs is to hook a brand new donkey wheel up to some sort of water/light contraption (I didn't understand that part) and with a couple spins of that wheel he'll soon be off to ... well, he's a little unclear about that part. But he's pretty sure he'll get off the island, so the destination isn't all that important.
Unfortunately, Mother gets wind of MIB's little plan and thwarts his effort by cracking his head against a stone wall. When MIB wakes up sometime later, the pit is filled in and his village -- and its accompany citizens -- have been given the Uncle Owen/Aunt Beru treatment. MIB retaliates by destroying Mother's beloved tapestry and sticking a dagger in her chest. And then, because this is a full-fledged soap opera now, Jacob beats the snot out of MIB and tosses him into the Mystical Cave. Gurgles and rumbles ensue. The light dims. And moments later a pillar of smoke zooms out of the cave and takes flight. Jacob has unwittingly turned MIB into a homicidal rain cloud. Fantastic.
The interesting bit is that the human version of MIB died. Jacob places the bodies of Mother and MIB next to each other in a cave. This is the same spot where hundreds of years later the pair's withering bones are dubbed "Adam and Eve" by one of the island's newest residents, John Locke.
It's nice to close the loop on Adam and Eve theories, but what I'm more interested in is Jacob's violation of the "do no harm" rule. Technically, MIB was knocked unconscious and then floated into the Mystical Cave, but c'mon now. Jacob beat the crap out of him and pushed him in there. And MIB -- the human version -- clearly died. So not only did Jacob hurt his brother, but he also killed him. Right? Or am I missing something here?
Moreover, if the "Rules" are now questionable -- and I believe they are -- we've also got to doubt the legitimacy of Mother herself. Who appointed her Island Protector? Isn't it possible that she just made all this stuff up to keep her adopted boys on the island? She alludes to that in her final moments with MIB. So, if that's the case, I'm thinking the "Lost" finale could follow in the footsteps of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": the all-important prophecy -- the very thing that guided that series -- was overcome when the characters decided to not play by the rules.
A few closing questions and observations:
- Best Line: "One day you can make up your own game and everyone else will have to follow your rules." -- Young MIB to Young Jacob.
- Second Best Line: "Every question and answer will simply lead to another question. You should rest." -- Mother to Claudia (if that's not a message for the audience then I don't know what is)
- Why was MIB able to see Ghost Claudia, but she wasn't visible to Jacob? Does this hint at some sort of connection between MIB and fellow dead-people-viewer Hurley?
- Is the Mystical Cave -- or the Island's Heartlight or whatever we're calling that thing -- only visible to candidates? Both MIB and Jacob were on Mother's short list, so I guess that qualifies. But if candidates have been zipping around the island for centuries, don't you think someone would have stumbled across that thing?
- The foreign-language-to-English transition in this episode was shaky. I know those things are tough, and going with all-subtitled dialogue is asking for trouble. But a little sprinkle of music and a pullaway just didn't cut it. The single best transition of this type I've ever seen was in the otherwise unremarkable movie "The 13th Warrior." And the one in "Hunt for Red October" wasn't too shabby either. Interestingly, both films were helmed by the same director.
That's all I've got!
"What They Died For" -- Ominous much? Airs Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 9 p.m. on ABC.
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