Saturday, May 15, 2010

Season 6, Episode 14: "Across the Sea"

Ok. So this one was probably the most polarizing episode of the season, some loved it and some hated it, and I can definitely see both sides of the argument. On the one hand, plenty of people were not too psyched to get an hour of Lost that contained basically no face time for the characters that we've come to know and love. Instead, we get introduced to yet another "new" character in Mother, the unnamed Island caretaker and foster mother to Jacob and Man (Boy?) in Black. Furthermore, in showing a some of the mythological history of the Island, we are inevitably left with a bevy of new questions - (where did Mother come from? Who is the father of the children? How does the dagger kill Jacob if they can't die?) - questions that certainly won't be answered before the show's conclusion. As frustrating as this may be, you had to love Mother's line "Every question I answer will just lead to another question" at the beginning of the episode - a direct line to us from the producers telling us to just deal with what we get.

On the other hand, I thought what we got was satisfying and necessary. For years now we've been asking questions regarding the origin of Smokey and Jacob. And based on how much of this season is focused on their relationship to the Island and to each other, I don't think we could have moved to a conclusion without knowing where they came from. Also, as a bonus we got an answer for a question that has plagued us from Season 1; the explanation of the Adam and Eve skeletons. Finally, we were given this download at an appropriate time - people that are upset about the late season placement of this episode should remember that we have 3.5 hours of Lost to go, all of which will no doubt be focused back on our current storyline. So maybe I'm a half glass full type of guy, but I liked "Across the Sea." And as always, there are conclusions that can be drawn from this episode that weren't overtly explained to us....and that more than anything is what got me excited about this week's recap.

To start, it is my belief that Mother was Smokey. Actually, I think that Mother was both Smokey (protector of the Island) AND the protector and purveyor of the Light. Meaning, that she was both the Black and White that we see exemplified today as MIB and Jacob. For who knows how long she was performing both duties, and quite frankly, it was wearing her out ("I'm tired" she says wearily to Jacob halfway through the show). So when a pregnant Claudia washed ashore and gave birth to boy twins, Mother quickly sprung into action and devised a plan. She would groom these two boys in specific, yet separate ways so that they would grow up to inherent the heavy responsibilities that she currently shoulders alone. One - the more curious and cunning of the two - would be the protector of the Island itself, ridding it of all unworthy "people" that arrived there. In order to do so, that person will need to understand the capabilities of man, the greediness they posses and the evil they inflict. The other - the purer of the two - would be responsible for guarding and choosing those that were to possibly succeed him in protecting the Island's (and maybe World's?) most valuable resource, the "Light." He would need to shielded from those negative aspects in order to recognize the goodness in man, so that only the most qualified individuals were chosen for consideration. Most important, having two entities perform these tasks instead of one creates a necessary Balance to the entire landscape...a theme that we've been hit over the head with this season.

Skeptical? Let's review some of Mother's manipulative actions. First, she plants the game for Boy in Black to find. This seeds his curiosity of worlds that might exist outside of the Island ("Where else would it come from?" she asks. BIB responds "From somewhere else....across the sea.") Next, Mother manipulates Boy in Black further by taking the form of his real mother, Claudia. In this encounter, Smoke Monster Claudia shows Boy in Black where he truly came from. In doing so, BIB is motivated to leave Jacob and Mother to live with the his people from the shipwreck. Again, this development was orchestrated by Mother so that BIB could learn understand the seedier characteristics of Man. Later, we learn that the tactic worked; 30 years after his defection, MIB explains to Jacob that the people he lives amongst are "greedy, manipulative, untrustworthy, and selfish." But as long as they help him get off the Island, he doesn't care.

Mother's next move is probably the biggest clue to her being Smokey. After learning that MIB has worked with the people to create a system that will harness the Light (the donkey wheel, by the way), she knocks him out, carry's him out of the cave, destroys the entrance to the well, and promptly obliterates all who lived in the village. Now, if you think that an old woman was able to not only destroy a well made with heavy stones but also kill a village full of people then I'm not sure what to say. But do you know what could inflict that type of damage? Right, good ole Smokey.

After obliterating the village, she takes Jacob to the cave and explains that he will be the one to protect the Light, adding that he must find a replacement when his time is over. Also, she makes him understand that he can never go down the tunnel. After Jacob asks if he'd die if he did so, Mother responds, "it'd be worse than dying Jacob, much worse." Of course, only one who had gone down there herself would know the consequences, right? The look she gave when uttering these words was of knowing regret, as she's been roaming the Island as Smokey - inheriting bodies of the dead for centuries - and her only way out is to pass on that sentence to another. But first Mother anoints Jacob as the one who will protect the Light ("it was always you"), and then moves on to the final part of her plan. One down and one to go.

After telling Jacob to go gather firewood during the walk back to camp, she pauses, giving him a longing look as if to say goodbye, and then walks back to the campsite alone knowing that an enraged MIB will be waiting for her. Abiding by the long crafted rules, she says nothing to her killer, and is stabbed in the heart . Before dying, she utters "thank you" as her never ending life and duties have finally come to an end. On cue, Jacob arrives to find the bloody knife in the hand of his brother, drags him to the cave, and gives him a punishment worse than death. And with that, Mother's promises come to fruition. As Smokey, MIB truly is trapped on the Island, and will never be permitted to fulfill his desire to leave and return home. Instead, he will roam the Island for eternity and devour the men that are not worth to inhabit it. He provides the Balance to Jacob's responsibility to protect the source and bring those candidates that are good enough to the Island for possible replacement. The rules of the Game have been switched, now Jacob is making them, and for years and years the battle persists in a never ending stalemate.

But what Mother didn't account for was MIB's loophole. By figuring out how to free himself without breaking the rules, MIB is dangerously close to being able to actually leave the Island. And if this happens, we've been told that all sorts of shit will go down. Why so? Is it because without the Black, the Balance is jolted, allowing the Light on the Island to go out? If so, it means bad news for everyone, because as Mother said, "if the light goes out here, it goes out everywhere."

So that's my take on "Across the Sea." I know it's a bit long and clunky, but thanks for sticking with it if your still reading here. After watching it again, there's definitely other analysis that could be argued: one being that MIB was simply the victim of bad parenting (which is certainly not a new theme on Lost), and that the hate and resentment he held for his Mother was so intense that those emotions helped literally generate Smokey - or "evil incarnate" - from the Light itself....but that's a whole other post!

Tid Bits

The board game Boy in Black and Jacob were playing was called "Senet." From Lostpedia;

"Senet (or senat[1]), a board game from predynastic and ancient Egypt. The oldest hieroglyph representing a Senet game dates to circa 3100 BC.[2] The full name of the game in Egyptian was zn.t n.t ḥˁb meaning the "game of passing."

I haven't been able to find a translation for what Mother said while "blessing" the wine for Jacob...anyone got something?

Another take on how the dagger killed Mother, and how the dagger is special. I've read a theory that because MIB's dagger was so close to the "Source," it was able to destroy something that also came from the Source, namely the Mother. If true, this means that the same dagger could theoretically kill Flocke, seeing that he also came from the Source. Interesting to ponder about....but none of this explains how Jacob was able to be killed. I think that particular mystery will remain unsolved.

Oh, and for those that still doubt the Mother/Smokey theory...who are the only two characters on this show that aren't given names? You guessed it, MIB and Mother.

(Also, I think this is obvious, but after MIB becomes Smokey, he obviously inherits his old dead body, and it is that form that we see in most other flashbacks that include him. He had this form until he took the form of Locke.)

And one parting thought: if Jacob needs a replacement, and Mother as Smokey was replaced, will Flocke need a replacement as well? If so, who might that be?

That's it for this week. Get ready for a big week of Lost: tomorrow night is the penultimate edition, and then this Sunday is the finale extravaganza. I promise to get my recap for tomorrow's ep before Sunday. Enjoy!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

sticking with my prediction from a few notes ago: Sawyer (who wants off the island) will be smokey. Perhaps as punishment for not giving up the revenge angle or almost killing the candidates or never being completely good...jack will become Jacob...
I am also very OK with being wrong about this. I don't have your Lost fortitude. They lost me at the beginning of the season. I've been a cynic since X-files let me down. The fun of these shows are in the journey. The end can never live up. Regardless, thanks Chuck for making the show more enjoyable with lost notes.


8:44 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

Haha, thanks Andy. And being wrong is half the fun with Lost...then you're still surprised when what you thought was going to happen doesn't.

I've thought about the Sawyer/Smokey angle, but I'm holding out for he and Juliet reuniting over coffee in the Sideways. Unless Juliet ends up having a coffee date with a plume of smoke, but that just wouldn't be as romantic ;)

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mother said she made it so Jacob and MIB couldn't hurt each other. I don't think they can die of natural causes or kill each other but that leaves the door open for someone else to kill them. (Richard seems to fall under this rule too). Just like MIB was able to kill Mother. Jacob was killed by Ben but I can't explain how the dagger worked because Jacob spoke before Ben killed him. When Sayid stabbed MIB it didn't work because he let him speak first. Guess we may never know.
-Mary (Andy's wife)

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hadn't really thought about it before until your post this week- that all images of dead people on the island are smokey. I think I had always thought that "Hurley seeing dead people" really were the dead people's spirits. But maybe they were smokey just messing with people? It will be interesting to re-watch all the seasons once we know how it all works (assuming the writers tell us how it all works before the end of the show!).

As I'm typing this I just came up with my own theory. Maybe Hurley really does see the true spirits of the dead people. Except that time early on when he was seeing the imaginary friend from the mental hospital that was trying to get Hurley to jump off the ledge. I bet that was MIB/Smokey. He was trying to trick hurley into killing himself (since smokey cannot kill candidates) and Hurley had this power that could help them fight against the MIB's evil plans. He even left a slipper behind to further mess with Hurley.

When MIB is pretending to be someone, that person is "real"/"has matter" and can impact the environment. The visions Hurley sees are only seen by him ("uh, dude, do you see that guy standing over there?") and they don't touch/interact with the environment. They just deliver their message and go.

Thanks for writing this blog over the years. I'm sure it takes a lot of your time and brain power to put it together. It really has enhanced my LOST viewing experience, as well as the many others that I've passed it along to who also read it regularly.


12:33 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

All good points Mary...especially the one about how we'll probably never know.

The one comment I'd make is that Mother told only Boy in Black that he'd "never have to worry about death." If my theory in the post is correct (the fact that she was grooming him to be the smoke), then I guess she was essentially right about that...cause the Smoke don't die...or at least it doesn't die for a good while. I don't think Jacob got the same line, so maybe that's why he was able to get properly killed....

1:01 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

G. Brown, your correct in your theory, possibly with the exception of Hurley's friend Dave. MIB can only take over dead bodies that physically reside on the Island. So every time we've seen Christian, Yemi, Horace, Flocke, original MIB, etc...that has really been Smokey taking those bodies over to manipulate our Losties to act a certain way, so that they would play out his long con just as he planned.

But aside from that I agree with your take on Hurley. He sees dead spirits regardless of the Island's influence. He saw Charlie at the mental hospital, Anna Lucia as the cop in LA and more off-Island, while also being able to see spirits on Island (Michael, Jacob, Richard's wife, etc). And yes, they appear to him to give him essential information to move in the right direction. This is what makes him so special.

Thank YOU for reading and passing it along! It's been fun, and your comments every week make it even better.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Thanks for guiding us along the path Chuck...I know that it's only gotten harder as we've gone along because there is more and more mythology to keep track of. You've done a great job; I'll miss LN as much as the actual show.

I agree with your take on the show. Mother had to be Smokie given the destruction of the village, etc.

As Mary said, Jacob, even though he could not die of natural causes and he could not be killed by MIB, he could still be killed. And I don't think the "don't let him talk to you" rule applies to Jacob, only Smokie. I would like to know why the knife is special, but I don't think we're going to learn that. I also would like to know where the statue came from...I think there's a chance of us learning that.

Chuck, what do you make of MIB "just knowing" how to play the game, and apparently, "just knowing" that light + donkey wheel = teleport off island? I'm guessing that that was just a stretch that the writers had to make in the interest of time.

The light seemed to go out when MIB floated down into the cave. Thoughts? I'd like to say that the smoke is the opposite of the is everything bad, and the light forces that out of a human body when they come in contact. But if they are opposite, you'd think that the smoke would want to destroy the light. Maybe it can't because MIB/smokie still can't find the light, even though it's been all over the island? I think that that's this episode's largest was it that MIB couldn't find the light cave?

That's enough bla bla'ing from me. Thanks for memories Chuck.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

"Chuck, what do you make of MIB "just knowing" how to play the game, and apparently, "just knowing" that light + donkey wheel = teleport off island? I'm guessing that that was just a stretch that the writers had to make in the interest of time."

I don't really know the answer, but another blogger that I read each week after I post my stuff had an interesting theory. His take focuses on the relationship between the Island and what its inhabitants "believe" to be true. Meaning, that if you truly want something, or have true faith in a belief, that belief becomes a reality on the Island. Examples: Locke being able walk; Anthony Cooper showing up in the "box;" Rose finding Bernard alive; the umpteen times Locke relied on the Island for answers, and having faith that the Island would at some point provide them (and it usually did); etc. The opposite rung true as well. Take Jack, for example. Most of his time on the Island he didn't believe in its purpose...and therefore nothing seemed to work out for him (including leaving). Now that he does, things seem to be taking a different turn.

So in the case of MIB "knowing" the rules, it could be argued that he believed so strongly in winning the game - being able to leave the Island - that it in turn gave him the understanding to do so.

It's a stretch, but the writer does a better job of explaining it. In the end, it certainly ties into one of Lost's ultimate themes: Faith. Check his stuff out, it's very good.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"your correct in your theory, possibly with the exception of Hurley's friend Dave. MIB can only take over dead bodies that physically reside on the Island."

Keep in mind we don't know anything about Dave's past. Hurley was the only person who could see him at the mental hospital. So he was either A.) in Hurley's imagination or B.) another ghost visiting Hurley. I'm betting on B. When Hurly was on the island, Smokey did the "brain-scan thing" on him (like he has done on many others to see their past, hopes, fears, etc. so that he can manipulate them and as shown in the episode where he scans Richard). Also remember that Richard's wife died off-island (and as far as we know, he wasn't trasnporting her body with him to the US as we was a slave and likely didn;t have that kind of pull). Yet she appeared on the island as Smokey in the Blackrock. So either the real Dave died on-island so Smokey could imitate him. Or maybe it doesn't matter if your body is on the island, smokey can look like you anyway (Richard's wife).

I also think that the dead people Hurley saw off-island were guiding him there. Dave a part in getting him to the island (in a round about way). Anna Lucia and Charlie a part of getting him back to the island.

Similar topic, different idea. Jack saw his dad in the lobby of the hospital after the Oceanic 6 escaped the island. Smokey cannot go off-island. So who did Jack see manifested as his father? We know that Jacob can go off-island. Maybe Jacob could take other people's forms as well?

Sorry if this is a double post. The post I did a little while ago never appeared, so I retyped it to the best of my recollection!

G. Brown

4:44 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

G. Brown...good points again. I forgot about Richard's wife...her body was most certainly not on the Island...and I do think it was Smokey as her in the hull of the BlackRock. In that case let's go with the brain scanning theory, because we know for sure that Smokey has used that tool to his benefit many times before.

Per your question about Christian/Smokey at the hospital: this has been a pretty heated issue with fans. Like you said, all signals point to that being Smokey (the smoke alarm even went off in the hospital for chrissakes), but then the writers dropped the whole "he can't fly over water" this season. So it's a point of confusion for sure. I tend to think right now that it's a continuity error, but I've thought about the Jacob angle as well and that could be it. Who knows, there is a whole camp that thinks that Christian is his own separate beast and has no relation to Smokey or Jacob....only time will tell!

5:06 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Maybe someone mentioned it, couldnt read through all of the comments, but wasn't Mothers statement to Jacob "it has always been you" or "it has to be you" the exact thing that Sayid said to Jack as he took off with MIB's bomb? A good indication that Jack will take over Jacob's duties.


8:57 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

Definitely Scott...I think she said "it has always been you" and Sayid said "because it's going to be you" but the similarity is significant. Also, if you picked it up, Mother said "because they come, fight, always ends the same" which is exactly what MIB said to Jacob in the last episode of season 5. Like Mother like son!

3:21 PM  

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