6.15 Across The Sea
Judging from the online reaction, I suspect I’m going to be fairly alone in this judgement, but Across The Sea was, without a doubt, the kind of episode that makes me love Lost. How can you not enjoy a series that can set a story well over a thousand years in the past, featuring none of the recurring cast, and yet make it perfectly relevant to what’s going on in the series today?
After the emotional weight of the last episode, it makes perfect sense to take this kind of breather by switching to different concerns, and if you ask me, this episode contained the most complete set of answers ever given on the show.
For instance, we know where Jacob came from. We know where Smokey came from. We know the identity of Smokey’s original form. We know why The Others spoke Latin. We even know where everyone’s special powers have come from. How satisfying you find ‘a magic cave’ as an answer is debatable, but personally I like it.
Whatever’s in that cave can be scientific or mystical, depending on how you want to interpret it, it makes no difference to the plot, but it explains why the island has all its strange properties, and that, in turn, explains why a myth grew around it.
Maybe the island does need a protector, or maybe it’s all just a bit of a misunderstanding that harks back to the same need to explain the unexplained that religions are founded upon, but the right people believe in the island, and that’s what matters.
Similarly, you can suggest that Jacob and his brother were born innately good and evil, or you can say that maybe their adoptive mother simply raised them that way, whether consciously as part of a plan to get herself killed, or simply as a consequence of her bias. Did she see the children’s true natures, or did she nurture them into their roles? That’s the kind of duality Lost has been built on. And as far as explanations go, it’s perfect to explain both Jacob and Smokey’s presence and motivations.
That’s not to say there aren’t questions left, mainly surrounding Smokey, and his dramatic appearance at the end. Did Jacob chucking his brother down the hole create Smokey, or just release him? Is Smokey actually Jacob’s brother, or has he just assumed his form? There’s a question still to answer there, as is there the matter of Jacob’s first meeting with Smokey, and the matter of who actually did get that Donkey Wheel installed.
Still, as I see it, this episode cleared up a lot about Lost‘s internal mythology. Core ideas such as children not being ‘raised by another’, the committing of purges, adherence to rules, and the identification of people who are ‘special’, it’s all been going on for at least 2000 years, and maybe longer.
Does it explain why they happen? Not entirely. But it does give us enough information to create a theory, and that’s a fair amount.
I’m even starting to get an inkling about what the flash-sideways might be about. After all, when Jacob tried to move his pieces sideways in the game, his brother tells him, “You can’t do that,” with Jacob replying that one day, he’ll make the rules. Maybe he has, in a way, simply moved his pieces ‘sideways’.
Away from that, who could fail to be amused by the classic Lost switcheroo of turning their most enigmatic and all-knowing figure into a weeping, whinging mummy’s boy. Turns out, even Jacob isn’t really sure what he’s doing and is at someone else’s mercy. It’s happened to Locke, Ben and Richard, and now Jacob’s on that list too. At this point, the only person who seems to have his crap together is Widmore, and I’m sure we’ll see him in a similar position before the series is out.
As much as I enjoyed the episode, there were a few practical glitches that bothered me. The child actors weren’t fantastic (but then, few are) and personally, I found the mystery-signposting flash-forwards a little intrusive.
While I did enjoy seeing footage that old again, reminding me of a more innocent time for the show, it did feel unnecessary. You have to assume that the majority of fans would make the connection with the skeleton mystery without the archive material, and those that didn’t probably wouldn’t remember enough for the clips to prompt them anyway. Indeed, if anything, it probably just confused them, as there was no immediate way to identify that footage as being from Season 1, not part of Season 6, unless you remember it.
Still, minor concerns, for me, in what was a fantastic episode. I have to be honest, if this had been the final episode, I’d probably have been satisfied and that just makes me wonder what they’ve got up their sleeve that can beat it.
Check out our review of episode 14 here.