It’s the same typical thing with LOST fans: they spend years asking for answers, and when they finally get them, they throw a temper tantrum because, hey, their theories were wrong. And what plotline is more likely to be overtheorized? That’s right: Jacob and his nemesis, our very own Man in Black. This my review for “Across the Sea”, what may go down into history as the most controversial LOST episode ever.

The Episode…

So, apart from one throwback montage, there were no cast members to be seen in this episode. Obvious: it enrolls sometime around the birth of Christ. Interesting time to begin this, right? LOST finally opens the cupboard entirely, and shows us what started it all: an ancient myth, not quite unlike Cain and Abel (what we were already guessing). The myth shown in this episode is one of the oldes myths around – a myth about rivaling brothers – and, for me, it suits its purpose: it shows us that this story is as old as time itself. There’s no point in asking where the mother came from – because she also had a mother. That’s just the way the universe works.

What I am finding a bit hard to swallow is the following: in the last episode, we witnessed how the Man in Black killed three – or four – of our beloved friends. In this episode, however, we see that this evil wasn’t always evil, that it’s actually pitiable. I’m not sure whether I want to feel pity for this guy or not. I know this fits perfectly into the LOST idea of thousand shades of grey, but I’m not sure. The easy way out of this show would have been if there was ultimate evil. It might still happen, though. I’ll see where they take it.

On the other hand, Jacob was shown in a very bad light. He’s a crybaby, a mother’s boy, and obediently does what he’s told. Just like his brother, he’s not polarized anymore. Do I want this? How will I understand this when the show is over?

The Questions…

In general, the viewers seem to be in two groups about this episode. There’s the people like me, who think this episode did provide us with answers, and there’s the ones who feel cheated: that LOST created a mystery to solve another one. I think the problem with choosing a mythical path for your end-game is that you’re bound to reach the end of your logic, of your why-questions, and end up asking whether there is a God or not. Because LOST doesn’t want to ask this question (as it is a spiritual show and not a religious one), people are annoyed. Don’t understand me wrong though – they would have been more annoyed if a God actually came into play.

That being said, on to why I think this episode delivered. Obviously, the most visible explanation (who Adam and Eve are) isn’t the most important one. It was – in my opinion – executed with the sole purpose to give the viewership an immediate reward. But the best LOST rewards are usually so deep under the surface that you just have to dig a bit more to understand it.

What this episode delivered, in my opinion, was a sense of how this island works. The key lies in the Mother’s line, later uttered by the Man in Black: “It always ends the same”. There’s a mythical island, with powers you’ve never seen before (powers we have witnessed: the Swan, the Incident, Desmond’s flashes…), powers that seem semi-scientific but really go way beyond what science can understand. People want to find this island (the people who built the statue, the temple, the Dharma Initiative…), but they always wipe themselves out in the end. Someone else over at the SomethingAwful forums said it a lot better than me:

Jacob needs to find a replacement, he simply can’t guard the island forever because eventually he’ll grow so tired of it he’ll let the smoke monster leave just so it’ll end. If Jacob admits that the smoke monster is right, that humans are all evil, then he’ll have lost the right to keep the smoke monster from getting loose and destroying them. He’s been bringing candidates to the island since the early days of man, sometimes they study the island and build temples and monuments to their homeland’s gods and sometimes they try and learn the secrets of the island for themselves. Eventually they’ve all killed each other. They have never known more about the island than the characters we know so they aren’t really important. The smoke monster is not able to kill any person that Jacob has touched, marking them as a possible replacement. The people are able to kill each other though, which is the point of the game. If the smoke monster can get a candidate to kill Jacob and then get the replacement to decide the world isn’t worth protecting then the smoke monster wins.

Those are the rules to the game. Everything else can be brought back to that. Obviously it reeks of Deus ex Machina, but it’s a damn nice Deus ex Machina if you ask me – because it’s a literal one. How else can you explain the mysteries on this show? Did you really want to see Jack, Kate, Sawyer and everyone else going “Yes, I too have diabetes! That’s why crashed on this island! And that’s why Walt killed those birds!”?

Next Week…

Next week marks the return of our Losties, who apparently will be starting their quest to find Desmond. Is Frank truly dead? I hope not, but hey, what better ending would there be for this guy?

In All…

I liked this episode. It’s very hard to the take the LOST way of writing seriously if none of the characters we know and love are in it, though. We’ve come to expect a certain way of acting, of delivering strange lines, and it’s just weird to focus and entire episode on actors who aren’t used to this. We’ve never had anything like this before, and it was kind of alienating.

I think that in retrospect, we’ll look at this episode as a quick briefing to get into the season finale. All this stuff about LOST jumping the shark – three episodes from the ending! – will be forgotten once Hurley returns to the screen. It’s kind of the commercial break before the third act.

A long review – for a very, very intellectually tiring episode. See you next week!

Blogbert

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