Previously on LOST is a weekly column recapping and analyzing each episode from the final season of Lost. (Warning: May contain spoilers!)
I had been aware of the basic premise of “Across the Sea” for most of the season. It was an episode that featured none of the main characters but focused strictly on the relationship between Jacob and the Man in Black. In my mind, this was going to be THE episode of the season, and I had hyped it up to a completely unfair level. My guess is that most viewers had generated the same lofty expectations, within the first few minutes of the episode.
By the reactions on the internet and from people I’ve spoken to, the fallout seems to be extreme disappointment, particularly in the fact that the episode raised more questions than it answered. I, however, thought it was one of the better episodes this season and maintain that if it would have aired at any point except the end of the series that people would have loved it.
I thought the episode did a great job of explaining the motivations for the characters of Jacob and his brother, and I found their story to be a compelling one. It gave context to two characters that we really knew very little about. I do wish that more of the story had been moved out of the hands of child actors, as it detracted from the episode, and the emotions and story would have been served just as well if they were older.
While the episode was a success from a character standpoint, mythologically it was a grab bag. As I stated before, most people find it frustrating that this episode raised more questions than it answered. To name a few:
- Who is Allison Janney’s character? How did she kill all of the “other” people? Are her true intentions good or evil?
- Are the smoke monster and the Man in Black one and the same? Or does the smoke monster choose to appear as Jacob’s brother? Is the smoke monster the corruption of the light of the island?
- What is the name of the Man in Black?!?
I don’t have much to say about Allison Janney’s character, other than there were apples near the bodies of the burned victims which might suggest poisoning. I do think that the smoke monster and the Man in Black are connected at some level. The writers have been deliberate about other characters on the show knowing that The Smoke Monster is certainly NOT Locke. But Jacob has definitely always spoken to the Man in Black as his brother and not an impersonator from my recollection.
Finally, the name of the MiB has been tiptoed around so much, I think that at this point, it has to bear huge significance in the context of the show or it will remain a mystery. I am okay with never learning his name and it leads me to another point. I find that the show is weaker when it is deliberately trying to answer questions. The ridiculous explanation of the wheel that moves the island was a testament to this. How disappointing would it be to find out that the Jacob’s brother’s name is Larry? I hope that the writers will adhere to the motto, “If you can’t explain it well, don’t explain it at all.”
While I may not love the decisions the writers made in adding to the LOST Canon, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and let them conclude the series the way they intended. I am more frustrated when the characters’ motives and emotions are inconsistent for the sake of plot, or when the writing is dull.
I strongly believe that “Across the Sea” is being unfairly targeted as “the episode that should have answered questions” and is a victim of its placement in the series. After re-watching it, and accepting it for what it is rather than what it should have been, I think it is one of the best this season.
- Who is Allison Janney’s character? Will her own origin ever be explained?
- How did people feel about the “light” of the island?
- Was Richard immortalized by Jacob’s touch or by the wine? If it’s the wine, now that the bottle is broken, who can replace Jacob permanently?
- How did people feel about the Adam and Eve explanation?