Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lost Recap: "Across the Sea"

I would like to preface this post by saying that I am an incredible fan of the show (as if you couldn't tell by the fact that I devote my time to writing a blog about it). I think Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are two of the most brilliant minds in the world today. They have created a show that - regardless of its outcome - will go down as one of the greatest in television history.

With all that being said, I write this blog post with somewhat of a heavy heart as for the first time (in a long time), I have been incredibly let down by an episode of LOST. Don't get me wrong, episodes have disappointed me in the past, but none like this one. Maybe I'm personally guilty because of the fact that my expectations were at all-time high. It seemed like this would be the deep, explanatory, mythological episode we've all been dying to see. Alas, it wasn't meant to be (at least not for me). Before I go any further, I'll warn you now that this post is longer than my usual. Much more content to cover! So, without anything further, here's my recap of Across the Sea.

One is light, one is dark. Good v.s. evil. Black and white. Those are just a few of the themes that have been prevalent throughout the entire show known as LOST. After watching Across the Sea, I'm ready to go ahead and accept that all these concepts were just a big red herring (so to speak). LOST is not about good v.s. evil. It's not about things that are black and white; Across the Sea made things more gray than ever. It has made it absolutely clear to me that this show is about moral ambiguity and how "every man has a scale." Every man is capable of both good and evil.

It is truly something we should have seen from the first couple episodes of the show. We see characters with dark pasts (Sayid, Kate, Sawyer) come to the island to do both good and bad. We also have characters who come to the island as seemingly "good" people, only to commit unspeakable acts on the island (Michael, Jack, and even Locke to some degree). In addition, LOST has also been about truth and how there is seemingly no absolute truth. In other words, we are all, essentially, lost. 

I am definitely willing to hold off judgment until the series concludes; however, I'd be lying if I said this episode wasn't a disappointment for me. Maybe I'm just a sucker for heroic, epic battles of good v.s. evil because I am not at all pleased with the direction things seem to be headed. Why shouldn't the MIB be allowed to leave the island? All he ever did was search for the truth. His whole life he'd been sheltered and hidden away from all the truths in life. He only wanted to know what was "across the sea." Although he's taken many actions I don't agree with, it's hard not to feel a little sympathy for the guy at this point.

Even though we sympathize with him in some regards, it's hard to accept his ruthless killing of Eko, manipulation of John Locke, and slaying of Sun, Jin, and Sayid. Who are we supposed to cheer for here? Is there a right or wrong? Alas, there's no one to support, nor a right side to take. We are simply bystanders watching these characters struggle to find the truth...only to see them become further entangled within the infinite loop time after time, completely and totally lost. 

Speaking of sympathizing, what about Jacob? He seems like a jerk, but really, he is just a victim of Mother's lies. Forgive me if sound all doom and gloom today, but I just can't lie and say that I liked this episode. For starters, "Mother" said it best with the line, "Every answer I give you will only lead to more questions." Well mother, that's exactly how I feel. Although some may be satisfied with the answers given in this episode, I am not entirely pleased. I have a million more questions to follow them up with, which I suppose is part of the infinite web of searching for truth.

Despite all that, this is their story and they don't owe me anything. If a scene or event is done well, I'm not going to fault it just because it didn't go the way I'd hoped. However, there were many things in this episode that just felt contrived and frankly, not well done at all.

Let's start with "mother." First of all, who is she? Is she a goddess? Did she go through a candidate selection process like Jacob and the MIB? Maybe we're just meant to think of her as a protector of the island with divine, god-like powers. Ok fine, I'll go with that.

So Mother has taken MIB and Jacob as her potential candidates for taking over and protecting the island. As we observe MIB and Jacob during the early years, we see that Jacob takes believes everything that's told him. MIB, on the other hand, is curious and inquisitive about the world. I do have to wonder though, what if the island had decided to show Jacob his dead mother instead? Would he have have been just as curious?

MIB decides to go searching for the truth while Jacob continues to swallow every lie that Mother shoves down his throat, even though he realizes that she loves MIB more.

Next, what is she protecting the island from? You guessed it - a giant ball of light!!! This light is something that every man has, but it's also so great and powerful that every man wants more of it. Well doesn't that just make things crystal clear. You don't think so? Yeah, me neither.

So if that's the case, and the light is something that every man desires, then what's all this bull coming from Jacob about the island being a cork for evil? I thought the light was something every man desires and why would every man desire evil? After all, MIB is the one who believes that men are corrupt, not Jacob. You see? The rabbit hole just keeps going deeper.

We also learned how the smoke monster was created (or released?) and that was by - yep, you guessed it again - being shoved into the ball of light! Look, I'm totally fine with a vague explanation. After all, we've stuck around through polar bears, time travel, and moving an island so naturally, we shouldn't get upset when we learn that an equally unrealistic entity - a pillar of black smoke - was created by shoving a seemingly immortal man into a ball of light. HOWEVER, I do have a problem with there being absolutely no explanation in terms of the MIB's body washing up in a stream. Did his soul actually become the smoke monster or was it just released when Jacob cast his brother into the light?

Again, I'm withholding my final judgment until the series concludes, but the scenes throughout Across the Sea are events that often take a full season to come to an ultimate fruition.

Welp, it looks like this turned into more of a rant than an episode recap, but I guess I'll just leave it at that. What do you guys think? Am I being too hard on the episode? Were you satisfied with the answers? Maybe I will watch it again and give it another chance.


Tyler said...

Completely agree with everything you said. They are leading to a million more questions and the way in which they presented this crucial information to us seemed rushed, confusing and not very well thought out: in other words, absolutely nothing like the show we know and love. Usually with Lost, when they reveal a huge bit of information, you can accept it because it flows with the story and everything has built up to it...

This was not the case in Across the Sea...the WHOLE show has built up to this episode and frankly: it was kind of corny and silly, which makes me extremely sad.

However, I will also hold my final judgment because next week they may do something that 100% makes everything flow and creates a clarity like something we've never seen on the show before.

Also, in regards to the smoke monster: I believe that the smoke monster was the "death" that "Mother" spoke of when she talked about what the light cave held...she said "life, death, and rebirth"...I believe that when Jacob threw his brother into the cave, his soul was torn from his now dead human body and the evil part of the "world" used this to its advantage and released itself from the rest of the energy. I believe MIB was a truly good person before this happened, but now his soul has been corrupted and he will do whatever it takes to get off that island...not only to fulfill the human MIB's search, but because the darkness from the island wants to be free as well.

This is what I believe Jacob is referring to when he says the island is a place that contains the darkness of the world. The island also holds the life and rebirth, however Jacob would not really be concerned with that energy leaving the island as it is still safe under his protection. However, the death and darkness has rooted within his brother's soul and is quite capable of leaving, ONCE it's protector has died. I believe the "evil" MIB can not leave the island until it's true protector is dead, because while alive, the protector still has control over the entity. So, this is why the current MIB is killing of Jacob and the candidates: because he/ it wants to be free of a captor and get off the island.

I think it all makes sense, and I'm hoping they will actually explain all this, because it is some serious stuff...but it seems the only logical explanation for what we saw in last night's show to connect with what we're seeing now.

Anyways, WOW! Sorry for the long comment Jonathan :)


Jonathan Francis said...

Thanks for the comment Tyler! Great points. In a way, I'm kinda glad to see I'm not the only one who thought it was corny. I honestly think our expectations were just so incredibly high.

Your take on the MIB/cave/Jacob has made things clearer to me. Your idea sounds like the most logical explanation and certainly makes sense to me. That would then make sense with what we've seen so far - that they have to stop the evil MIB from leaving the island. That would also give Jacob a chance to right many of his wrongs.

Don't worry about the long comment! It opens things up for more interesting discussion.

Tyler said...

haha I'm glad you thought it made sense. It just seems the only way to tie in what we saw last night, what we're seeing currently with the candidates and Locke MIB, and what Jacob said about the island corking the evil...the evil resides in the soul of his dead brother. Jacob was still the "protector" of this energy even though it was no longer contained within the that Jacob's dead, Locke is not sure who the final candidate is (but I think Sayid did....?) so he is killing them all to ensure that no one can stop him from escaping...because I believe when the final candidate dies: death takes over the world.

Agreed about Jacob righting his wrongs: I believe he feels great guilt for what he did to his brother and he also knows that the reason this darkness is now in "human" form is his fault as well, for feeding his brother to the energy of the island.

Phew...haha so much to ponder.

logankstewart said...

I can't say I was crazy about this episode, and I also had some frustrations, but overall I enjoyed it.

First off, the Source. What I think the white light is is a spark of the Divine. Considering Lost's love affair with religions and cultures, it's easy to see how the Source can be assumed to be a Divine spark. Some religions think that all people have a sliver of God in them, giving them free will and power to do what they will with that will. If you look at the Source like the Tree of Life/Tree of Knowledge, then it needs to be avoided to keep the rest of the sparks unenlightened and uninformed. Does that make sense? Gah.

I definitely think the lines between MiB and Jacob are blurred and greyed, but in the end I do think it's obvious to see which side they're on. What makes the MiB such a great villain is his absolute belief in what he's doing: he wants to get off the Island and go home. It's something we can sympathize with, but we can also see the implications of his escape. And what makes Jacob so tragic is his human-ness, where we know that he's failed and can see the sadness in his eyes.

One thing I like to keep in mind is that this show is a fantasy/sci-fi/drama blend. In order to enjoy fantasy & sci-fi, the audience has to be able to suspend their belief in things. We allow ourselves to believe that apparitions and healings and smoke monsters and strange things are happening on the Island because we believe the Island has some sort of "magical" properties. It's enjoyable because there's a real sense of mystery and faith to it. We know there must be some sort of reason why there's magic on the Island, and when we find out what it is, ultimately we're disappointed. Why are we disappointed? Because it's no longer a mystery. If we believe in the magical properties of the Island and believe that it has to come from somewhere, is it a stretch to believe that it comes from a magical-unexplainable-light thing? Not in my mind.

I did think the acting of Jacob and MiB were phenomenal.

Finally, no matter how the show ends, there'll be a bittersweet feeling. As I stated before, part of the joy of the show is having questions, not answers. Everything won't be answered and resolved, but the spine issues will, leaving all the rib-issues as tantalizing reminders why we loved LOST in the first place.

(Sorry if this doesn't make much sense. I wrote it in a kind of haste. I watched the show at 6:30 this morning after 2 hours of sleep, so I'll probably need to see it again to fully appreciate it.)

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