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Thursday, May 13, 2010

TV Watch: Lost, Across The Sea

I was actually so distracted by the fact that Allison Janney was in this episode that it took me about a half hour or so to realize we were finally getting The Island Flashback Lost fans have been talking about for some time.

Early in the show, "Mother" tells the soon to be departed mother of Jacob and Not Jacob that asking her questions just leads to more questions. And just as much as this episode gave us a glimpse to the show's backdrop, but it was also indicative of the show itself - the questions you ask ... the more questions you get back.

Fan reactions to this episode seem mixed, and granted some of the hockey "the light is life" type stuff was a little thin - this episode was in many ways a final rounding out of story's core mystery: the relationship between the island, the "others" and the protector. I was more or less enthralled from the first minute on.

But praise is boring. Let's talk about the relatively bizarre contradictions in this episode.

Mother tells us (and the kids) quite implicitly that she has set things up so that they cannot hurt each other. Yet, Jacob pummels his brother not once, but twice AND kills him in the end (well, maybe kind of ... more of that in a bit). So Mother would seem to have been just sort of making that up. Also, Mother has more than a bit of a freakout when she realizes Not Jacob has figured out a way to tap into The Light with the Donkey Wheel. Yet, since we know said wheel as the Frozen Donkey Wheel Locke uses to move the island - Jacob apparently continued on with Not Jacob's work - apparently both with tapping The Light and cultivating people who arrive or are brought to the island.

Let's jump specifically to what may be the core question of the episode: Is The Smoke Monster Jacob's brother? Or is he dead and buried with Mother? Mother said that touching The Light wouldn't kill someone - it would be worse. So it would seem the answer is both. The apparitions on the island seem to be either representations of The Smoke Monster, who look like one person but are really Old Smokey (SmokeLocke) or are real ghosts (Alpert's wife). And since Alpert's wife is trying to get SmokeLocke killed, I think we can assume they're on different teams.

As we saw Not Jacob on the beach with Jacob, talking about doing all this stuff Old Smokey is now doing, I'm guessing The Smoke Monster is whatever Not Jacob transformed into - leaving his body behind. I'm also guessing that the writers made a big deal about Adam and Eve because Not Jacob's body will become a factor in the finale.

At least I'm hoping, because the amount of attention they poured into the fact that two recent characters with no real names are in fact Adam and Eve was a bit much. The flash-forwards didn't seem necessary, I think most Lost fans saw the connection and compared to other "revelations" from this season (Christian was Smoke Monster, whispers are ghosts) it got a lot of screen time.

Sadly, I'm thinking The Light (or The Source as some are calling) is going to get the Wallace's Briefcase treatment from Pulp Fiction. In fact, they might even be the same thing. With one normal episode left before the finale, I'm not holding my breath for any more complete explanation than the one Mother gave Jacob.

So in the long run - it was an interesting episode which gives us at least some depth ... even if not filled with answers.


Winkyboy said...

This technically doesn't explain where the "dead people walking" come from, either, since Not Jacob had a pretty intensive walk-and-talk with his real, dead mother.

Steve said...

Okay, so here's my running theory:

The mother was the protector of the Island and was wanting to retire from the job. So she sought to find a replacement by stealing the child of the woman who she happened to come across. She, however, got more than she bargained for because she got twins.

Story unfolds in this episode and, at the end, Jacob throws his brother into the giant vagina metaphor. The result is that anti-Jacob is not killed but rather his soul is bound together with this evil thing that is the smoke monster.

Now how do we know that this didn't kill anti-Jacob? Because the smoke monster goes on to complete the wheel. That was knowledge that anti-jacob had, so the smoke monster is clearly, in part, anti-jacob.

Now, what does all this mean? It's clear that SmokeLocke, aka anti-Jacob, aka Voldemort, wants to kill the candidates. His thing about leaving the Island is really a ruse. So why?

I believe that so long as the guardian is alive, the great metaphorical vagina is hidden from all others unless the guardian takes them to it. Anti-jacob said he had scoured the entire island looking for it and did not find it. However, if he kills the guardian or, in this case, all candidates for the guardian job, then the "spell" will be broken and he'll be able to go to there. Of course if he did that, then I suspect he'd snuff out all life as "Eve" had warned. And thus our dilemma.

Oh and as for the apparitions that show up, I don't think they are manifestations of the smoke monster necessarily. For example, Hurley's journey to get Jack up to speed on his destiny was instigated by a Jacob apparition. Jack's new found faith at this point is probably the only serious threat to SmokeLocke's plan.

Josh said...

Yeah, the apparitions appear to be part of the island itself, not limited in any way to Smokey. And the way he reacts to Jacob's Ghost - he probably has no control over them either.

Smoke Monster can take the shape of dead people, but hard to tell if that's the same as the ghosts or just a trick of light it can perform. I would be curious to see if all of Smoke's apparitions are dead people known to people Smoke can read (i.e. Jack to Christian, Ben to Alex, Eko to Eko's Brother, Ben to Locke).

The other mystery are the non-human apparitions. The spiders which (thankfully) killed Nikki have been confirmed by the producers to actually be Smoke. There is also Kate's Horse, and a few other odd animal appearances. All Smoke? Maybe this is how he does recon?

Josh said...

So a perusal down Smokey's entry on lostpedia seems to confirm: he has only portrayed shapes "known" to those who see them.

There is a valid distinction here, even though most apparitions are known to the viewer: Sawyer saw Jacob's ghost and had never met him (and Smoke Locke was quite surprised he could see him). Course, the counter to that is: Jacob's ghost is not a ghost.

Another odd twist: Hurley's "imaginary" friend Dave was probably a Smoke Monster appearance. Combined with Kate's Horse and spiders: it seems Smokey can take the shape of anything from a person's mind.

So: why is Smokey locked in as Locke? Maybe:

1) There some weird rule about it we don't know (like because Locke was a candidate, or Mother said so or something)

2) Maybe for some reason he needs to stay in Locke's form to get off the island

3) It's a BS thing the writers came up with, like Sun's aphasia.