With only a couple of episodes left before the series finale, the “Lost” writers decided to do something completely different with the latest episode, “Across the Sea.” They gave us a show featuring none of the principal cast and took us back in time about two thousand years.
The episode begins abruptly, no “Previously on ‘Lost’,” no close-up of an eye-ball, just a bunch of wreckage floating in the ocean, and then a woman — a very pregnant woman — washing up on shore of a certain island. She finds drinking water… and a woman (Allison Janney) who doesn’t look too happy to see her. The pregnant woman is named Claudia, and no sooner does she introduce herself than she goes into labour.
I must admit to a certain cheekiness in the scene where the babies are delivered. “His name is Jacob,” Claudia says after the arrival of the first one. When the second one popped out, I piped up, “His name is Smoke Monster.” Okay, that part didn’t happen, but it might as well have since the kid didn’t get a name and he isn’t referred to by one for the rest of the episode. I’m guessing this will be one of those mysteries the writers never reveal, leaving us to wonder if the Man in Black is truly Esau, as many people believe.
After the babies are delivered, Allison Janney dispatches Claudia with a rock. Janney plays a character credited simply as “Mother,” although “Homicidal Island Woman Who Steals Babies and Kills Their Mothers” would have worked as well. She did a good job, I thought, although like much of this episode, opinions seem to vary. The word being thrown around a lot to describe “Across the Sea” is “polarizing.” Personally I thought the episode and Janney were great. My main exposure to Janney wasn’t from “The West Wing,” as it was for most people, but rather as Ellen Barkin’s trailer-trash neighbour in the beauty pageant mockumentary “Drop Dead Gorgeous.”
Jcob and the Man in Black grow up on the island knowing nothing about other people or what lies out there across the sea (pssst… that’s the title of the episode). They don’t even know what death is. “Something you will never have to worry about,” Mother tells the Boy in Black.
Jacob and his brother discover there are other people on the island. A whole village of people. Mother says they are bad — that all people are bad. Why? “They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt and it always ends the same.” Sound familiar? Those were the same words uttered by the Man in Black when we first met him in “The Incident.”
Mother says she has made it so Jacob and the Man in Black can’t hurt each other — a nod to the loophole the Man in Black is forced to find in order to dispatch Jacob. She says they can’t leave the island because they need to protect a glowing cave called The Source. A little bit of this light is inside every man, but they always want more. They will try to take it, and if they do, it could go out, and if it goes out at The Source, it goes out everywhere. Got that? Mother has been protecting it, but she can’t protect it forever. Eventually she’ll have to find a replacement. A Candidate, if you will.
As the kiddies ponder this responsibility over a game of Senet, the Boy in Black sees the ghost of Claudia. Jacob can’t see her, and this is probably significant since it’s mentioned several times in this episode that the Man in Black is special, and that Mother had him pegged for the job as protector of the island. I’m guessing The Source was introduced now because it’s going to play an integral part in the final episodes.
The Boy in Black leaves Jacob and Mother after finding out, from his dead real mother, that he’s been lied to. He spends the next thirty years living with the people, but not because he has any particular affection for them. “They’re greedy, manipulative, untrustworthy, and selfish,” he says.
The Man in Black visits Mother and tells her he’s spent the last thirty years looking for The Source. He feels it’s his way off the island. He never found it, but he learned that there were other places on the island — electromagnetic pockets like the one seen in “The Incident” — where he could reach it. It turns out the Man in Black and his people are the ones who constructed the frozen donkey wheel that spits people out in the Tunisian desert.
One of my favourite scenes in “Across the Sea” was the one in which the Man in Black awakens from being knocked unconscious by Mother, only to discover that she has filled in the well and killed all of the people in the village. The Man in Black sobs, and for a moment you might think it’s for all of the dead people, but then you realize who this is and what he actually thought of them. “They’re a means to an end,” he told Jacob. The Man in Black isn’t sad that they’re gone. He’s sad that his way off the island is gone.
The Man in Black voices his displeasure at this turn of events by killing Mother (these would be the mother issues he told Kate about in “Recon”). He looks regretful afterwards, but it’s at that moment Jacob returns from gathering firewood, and it’s clear that “Whoops” or “I didn’t mean to” isn’t going to cut it. Jacob smacks the Man in Black around a bit, but as they both know, they can’t kill one another. So Jacob does the next best thing. He dumps him into The Source. The fate worse than death described by Mother seems to be a euphemism for “it will turn you into a ticking pillar of black smoke.” Jacob stares agog as the Smoke Monster flies off into the jungle, leaving behind the dead body of his brother, which he then deposits in the cave, with the body of Mother, for the Losties to find two thousand years later — as known as, the first season of the show.
All in all, “Across the Sea” was a good episode. My main complaint is the same one I had about the Richard Alpert episode, “Ab Aeterno.” Namely that the show ended just as it was starting to get interesting. I wanted to see more about Jacob and the Man in Black on the island. I wanted to see Jacob encounter the Smoke Monster in his brother’s form for the first time. I want to see Jacob making his “game” and setting out his rules (and an explanation of why the Smoke Monster is forced to follow them). I just wanted more.
Now that we have the backstory on Jacob and the Man in Black, and the explanation of The Source, my feeling is that the Losties will be headed there to put an end to the Smoke Monster for good. If that’s where Smokey was born, I’m guessing that’s where he can be killed. And maybe one of the Losties will find a bottle of wine and toast his demise, at the same time taking on the job as the new Jacob. Cheers!
This Sunday night at Biff Bam Pop beginning at 9pm Ian Rogers live blogs the Series Finale of Lost. Don’t miss it!