LOST EPISODE 6.15 – “ACROSS THE SEA”

"For an episode that many fans allegedly disliked, “Across The Sea” has inspired some of the most spirited and thought-provoking commentary I’ve ever seen from Lost fandom." --Doc Jensen (And I couldn't agree more!)

Well, we finally got the history between Jacob and his twin brother, “He Who Shall Remain Nameless!” The story played out in one continuous narrative, à la the “Ricardos” episode earlier this season. The story was both mystical and intriguing, as it painted the forces of “good” (Jacob and his mother) as somewhat malevolent and prone to dabbling in the dark side from time to time… See Mother killing Claudia with a rock as soon as the twins were born, bashing MIB’s head against the cave wall, killing his people and burning their camp to the ground, as well as Jacob killing the MIB (sending him downstream to a fate he knew only as worse than death), and thus he himself creating the island’s resident killing machine, the Smoke Monster. The side that has long been associated with good, white, lightness, God, benevolence, etc. has had its image tarnished. And I thought that point of view was intriguing.

Doc Jensen:
”Across The Sea” promised oodles of noodle-cooking Island mythology, and we got just that — which is to say, a yarn that played like myth, albeit with a mean deconstructive streak. You got the sense that the drama that unfolded in this hour left some indelible grooves on the psychography of the living Island, laying track for all future drama to follow. Did the Mother/Jacob/Man In Black drama curse this world like the Biblical fall of man? Did this tragic trio doom future Island visitors to suffer through adaptations of their same sad story? So many shared elements. Shipwrecked castaways. A deadly first encounter with a supernatural Island entity. ”Special” children and child abduction. Ghosts. Suspicion and conflict with Others. Mystery boxes and games. The war between faith and reason. Betrayal and murder. Does the current iteration of this repeating myth involving Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and the rest of the surviving Oceanic 815 lot represent one more manifestation of the cycle that will continue forever and ever, Amen? Or is the great twist of the entire Lost saga is that everyone, friend or foe — from the castaways to Fake Locke to Dead Jacob — are actually striving toward the same end from different angles: reversing the curse; breaking the chain; cleaning the slate; reboot. We shall see.

Ancient Roman (?) Times

Claudia washed ashore approximately 2,000 years before the crash of Flight 815. She is immediately shown with a billowing RED dress, and heavily pregnant. She is now the 3rd woman to arrive on the island with an advanced pregnancy (Claire and Rousseau are the other two). She immediately finds a stream to have a drink of water, and in the reflection (how very Sideways world) of the water she sees a woman. They first converse in Latin, then switch to English, but as Claudia’s questions get too numerous, the woman tells her to get some rest. ”Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.’‘ I’m sure a lot of us would agree that’s the overarching theme of LOST, a source of much intrigue and frustration over the last 6 years… Probably the reason I’m writing and you’re reading this blog in the first place! (wink wink)

But Claudia quickly goes into labor. Jacob is born first, quiet and swaddled in a WHITE cloth. Claudia has chosen his name, and decides on it definitively. And then came the unexpected twin, the Baby in Black! Born agitated and restless, he is is swaddled in a BLACK cloth while his mother, stumped, says she has only chosen one name. But she doesn’t have time to decide on one, as the woman says “I’m sorry” and kills Claudia with a rock. Brutal!

Content Jacob, restless Baby in Black.

It is unclear as the story unfolds if the Baby in Black was ever given a name, as he is always referred to with pet names (“My Love”, “Brother”) and personal pronouns. Previously, Ben stated that “[they] don’t even have a word” for the Smoke Monster. Now we learn that he is literally nameless.

Doc Jensen:
We’ve been told repeatedly that names mean something on Lost. So what does a mean for a life to be denied a name? It suggests to me a life without meaning or challenged by meaninglessness — fitting, given the life in question was destined to lose his humanity and decohere into polymorphic smoke. Still, I’m going to say that Mother did give the Babe In Black a name and Lost decided to keep it from us to keep the character something of a blank slate for us to project ideas upon.

Thirteen Years Later

The Boy in Black (here on out, known as BIB!) finds an ancient Egyptian game on the beach called Senet, which is the oldest known board game in the world. Senet boards were often placed in the grave alongside other useful objects for the dangerous journey through the afterlife. For the BIB, the Senet box was exciting and exotic — proof of the “something more” from across the sea that Mother said did not exist.

Senet. Note that this is the same black beaded bracelet that Sideways Sawyer wears in his desk at the police station.

The BIB says he “just knows” how to play, and makes Jacob promise not to tell Mother they found it. However Jacob immediately tells Mother about the game, because as she says, Jacob “doesn’t know how to lie.”

I think this was a really important line for the show because it confirms that everything Jacob has ever said has been the TRUTH. And as she was comparing the two boys, one would assume that she mentioned this because the BIB does tell lies. She refers to his qualities as “special.” Besides being deceitful, he exhibits special insight such as intuitively knowing the rules to Senet, predicting the weather, and knowing that the wheel mechanism will help him leave the island. She tells the BIB she left the game for him to find, which I am not buying. It washed ashore, and saying it was her doing was damage control to keep him from thinking there was somewhere else to go.

He questions what is out across the sea (she says nothing), he asks what dead means (she says something he’ll never have to worry about). Interesting. At this point, she was hoping the BIB would take her place as island guardian. But as she herself AND Jacob can attest to… The island’s guardian is a mortal that may have stopped aging naturally, but can be killed. She knew her own death was imminent… So why wouldn’t he have to worry about death?

The boys chase a boar, but it is killed by three unknown hunters. They demand an explanation of the Others from Mother, and she says they’re not like them, “we are here for a reason.” (Sounds a lot like the original John Locke.) She tells them the Others are dangerous because “they come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt and it always ends the same.” (Sounds a lot like the MIB on the beach.) She tells the boys that she has made it so they can never hurt each other. So SHE is the reason they can’t kill each other, but they can urge others to kill them on their own free will.

The boys being led blindfolded...

They arrive blindfolded at the cave of light, The Source. The BIB says that it is beautiful, she agrees and tells them that a little bit of the same light that is in the cave is inside every man but that people always want more. Mother says that while the other people can’t take the light, they might try and if the light goes out here it goes out everywhere. I think this is exactly what will (or will attempt to) happen in the final act of the series… Widmore and others have come to take more of the light. They can try to possess it, but attempting to do so will put it out. If it goes out here, Sideways world (where the inactive island lies at the bottom of the ocean), will be the consequence: putting out the light of the world. But the Sideways characters are connecting with their island world counterparts… Does this mean the light can be put out, but not for good? She has protected the place but when she no longer can then it will have to be one of the twins who protects it.

The Source, bathed in light. But the light also harbors the darkness of the world, aka Smokey.

”I suddenly realized that in the language, or at any rate in the spirit of the Glass Bead Game, everything actually was all-meaningful, that every symbol and combination of symbols led not hither and yon, not to single examples, experiments, and proofs, but into the center, the mystery and innermost heart of the world, into primal knowledge. Every transition from major to minor in a sonata, every transformation of a myth or a religious cult, every classical or artistic formulation was, I realized in that flashing moment, if seen with truly a meditative mind, nothing but a direct route into the interior of the cosmic mystery, where in the alternation between inhaling and exhaling, between heaven and earth, between Yin and Yang, holiness is forever being created.” — Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game

Some time later, the boys are again playing Senet, and the BIB tells Jacob that he can’t make a move because it is against the rules. He says that one day Jacob can make up his own game and then everyone will have to follow his rules.

Doc Jensen:
BIB took delight in his power… but in that moment, I was reminded of the scene in ”The Substitute,” when Ghost Jacob stood over Fake Locke and reminded him of the rules of his game, and Fake Locke raged: ”Don’t tell me what I can’t do!” Turnabout’s a bitch, ain’t it, Nameless? The bottom line is that there is no bottom line when it comes ”the rules.” ”The rules” are, for the most part, pure whimsy — an expression of the unique interests and will of The Island’s guardian. They are arbitrary inventions of The Island’s custodian. And I suspect he or she can reinvent them any time he or she wants. I am reminded of the scene in season 4, when Keamy assassinated Alex and Ben said, ”He changed the rules.” I always thought Ben was referring to Charles Widmore. But after ”Across The Sea,” I’m thinking that Ben was talking about Jacob.

The game is interrupted by the BIB’s vision of Claudia in the jungle. Notably, Jacob can’t see her. BIB abruptly leaves to follow her. She reveals she is his real mother, and she was killed by Mother. Enraged, he wakes Jacob in the middle of the night and tries to persuade him to go to the Others’ camp. The boys fight, and the BIB leaves while Jacob stays behind with Mother.

Thirty Years Later

Jacob's weaving, in Candidate BLUE.

Jacob finishes a piece of cloth, and leaves for the other side of the island to visit his brother for a game of Senet. The MIB says Jacob is mistaken about his people seeming to be good since he is “looking down from above”, and crazy Mother was right — these people are BAD (the irony of his own greedy-manipulative-untrustworthy-selfishness went unacknowledged) — but he needs them to leave the island, they are merely a means to an end. He wildly throws his dagger at a well they’ve been working on, and it is magnetically pulled to the wall. This illustrates his method of leaving. Jacob insists on staying, as the island is his home. The dagger is the same one the MIB gave Richard to kill Jacob, Dogan gave Sayid to kill the MIB, and the MIB used to kill Mother.

Electromagnetism.

Doc Jensen:
”She’s never going to die!” MIB: ”Jacob! Everything dies!” This was a provocative exchange, and it made me wonder how much of this conflict is relevant to the castaway drama. Smokey’s conspiracy to kill the candidates is also a means to an end. But I wonder if the villain uses Jacob’s unhealthy denial of death to rationalize his evil. This could be Smokey’s defense: Jacob’s touchy-feeling tampering and his idealistic redemption schemes have undermined castaway free will and kept them alive longer than what is right and proper. Seen from this point of view, MIB’s assassinations are more like mercy killings and affirmations of the natural order of things. I’m not excusing MIB’s actions. But if my assessment of Jacob is correct, I think MIB’s critique is valid.

Jacob tattles to Mother about the MIB’s intentions, so she pays him a visit while he’s working down in the well. When she first arrives, she is bathed in light but he is tinkering in the darkness. She wonders how he knows that constructing a wheel mechanism will work (and does not deny that it WILL work), and he says he knows because he’s “special”. She feigns a goodbye hug, knocks his head against the wall, then kills the rest of the Others and burns their camp to the ground. The well is filled in, and the MIB is enraged. We know that the wheel chamber does eventually get built… So I’m thinking Smokey finished the job after taking the MIB’s body.

Early stages of the donkey wheel.

A very upset MIB with his hopes dashed, his livelihood in flames around him. A tragic aftermath of epic Smokey proportions, in fact! Just what WAS Mother... something of a smoke monster herself, perhaps?

Sure now that the MIB is not the chosen one, she takes Jacob to the cave of light and as she says, “You’re going to protect it now,” she symbolically passes her torch to him. Although she first asks Jacob to choose to protect the Source, Mother finally tells him he really doesn’t “have a choice.” She adds that she realizes “it was always” meant to be Jacob who would replace her (therefore cementing his fate regardless of his free will). In a ceremonial display, she makes him the island’s guardian. Drinking wine from the chalice and her incantation were almost exactly like the Catholic Holy Communion. With that, they were “the same”. Jacob asks what is in the cave, and she replies: Life, death, rebirth; it’s the source, the heart of the island.” To go down there would “be so much worse than dying.” (umm, yeah…you get Smokified! i.e. forever bound to the island, your immortal soul gets severed from your mortal body, and you are held captive for all eternity.) She tells him “It’s going to be you,” sensing that her death is approaching; Sayid says the same thing to Jack after telling him to rescue Desmond just before the C4 explodes. Hint, hint.

Doc Jensen:
Jacob tried to fight her on it. He called her out on preferring MIB over him. ”You wanted it to be him,” Jacob barked. ”But now I’m all you have!” Mother tried to convince him otherwise. She said if she had been grooming MIB for the job, she had come to realize she was wrong and that Jacob was always supposed to have the job. I don’t know if I believed her. I think at best, she was pulling an Obi Wan and telling the truth ”from a certain point of view.” I think she always saw her boys as a means to an end; she just didn’t know which one was going to play which part. I truly believe she wanted one of them to become The Island’s guardian — but I also think she wanted one of them to put her out of her misery. That misery? Loneliness. Madness. The endless dead end job of being Island guardian. Or maybe, just maybe, the fate-worse-than-death damnation of being a smoke monster. (!)

"It's going to be you."

When they arrive back, Mother finds the camp wrecked, says a “storm is coming”, and sends Jacob off for firewood. She finds the Senet pieces, and as she lifts the black piece, she is stabbed through the chest with the MIB’s ancient dagger. With tears in his eyes, he asks why he is not aloud to leave, and she says, “Because I love you… Thank you.” Sooo… Was he able to physically leave, but she just wanted to keep him there? And by killing her, and incurring Jacob’s revengeful wrath, did he cement his own unwanted fate of being forever bound to the island as Smokey? Very interesting… Mother was also killed per the same instructions we’ve heard given before — “Kill [the Monster] before [he] has a chance to speak… [He] can be very persuasive.”

Doc Jensen:
With her dying breath, she thanked the son she loved the most, the one that was most like her, the ”special” one with the angry spirit — the dreamer; the gamer; the liar; the cynic — for stabbing her in the back and through the heart. Were the boys nothing but an escape plan? Did she raise one to take her job and the other to take her life? Is this the way The Island works?

Backstabbed, and grateful.

Jacob discovers the MIB hovering over Mother’s dead body, and in a rage drags the MIB through the jungle to the cave of light. Production note: Titus Welliver (the MIB) broke 2 fingers in this scene because of Mark Pellegrino (Jacob)’s rough dragging. Jacob says he has no intention of killing him. Nope, worse than death in fact! The MIB is thrown into the stream, hitting his head on a rock…as he enters, the light goes out, and Smokey emerges. As does the MIB’s dead body. Makes me think that Smokey wouldn’t have been able to take the MIB’s form if he was alive when he entered the cave. That little unintended accident had very unfortunate consequences for both of them…

Smokey is born. And after Mother's peculiar and Smokey-esque story, we're left to wonder, does anyone who go down the chute to the Source emerge as a smoke monster? Are we dealing with multiples?

And just as Room 23’s brainwashing slideshow predicted, Jacob’s actions produced a major cause of his own suffering for many years to come.

That fateful day, Jacob (avenging his Mother's death), tossed the MIB down to the Source, and Smokey emerged to haunt the island's protector for more than a century.

As the MIB is laid to rest by his regretful brother, we get a big answer! The Adam + Eve skeletons were actually the MIB and Mother. The black and white rocks were their Senet game pieces. Jacob placed them next to each other and had them hold hands. On September 28, 2004, Jack and Kate discover the bodies at the caves, hides the rocks in his pocket (is this important?), and Locke comments that they’re our “very own Adam and Eve.” In the original scene, Jack says that judging by their clothing, they’re about 40 or 50 years old. But the likelihood of any clothes surviving unprotected in a tropical environment for 1500 years is nil. Details, details!

Admittedly, I was slightly let down by this revelation… I was hoping that either (A) it was Rose and Bernard, or (B) Hurley was right when he speculated that it was them, and they died here while time traveling. Though, upon further consideration, I suppose the fact that it was NEITHER of the options I was expecting, I’m glad the show can still keep me on my toes, haha…

The original Adam + Eve skeletons discovery.

Overall, we learned in this episode that the MIB seems to subscribe to a scientific worldview, associating with men who want to use technology to harness the power of the Source. Jacob faithfully follows his mother’s teachings. This makes the MIB the “man of science” and Jacob the “man of faith.” However, in a twist of irony, the MIB eventually assumes the form of John Locke, the “man of faith.”

I’m still in shock that the finale is less than a week away!!! Excited, sad, nervous, etc… Up next, the 2nd-to-last episode, the setup for the story’s endgame: “What They Died For.”

Thanks for reading!

Jen / desmondismyconstant

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