Mother: “Here. Drink this.”
• Mother gives Jacob wine from the same bottle that Jacob used to give Richard wine with. Does that mean the wine is responsible for immortality, and not Jacob’s touch? I suppose we’ll find out shortly. After all, someone else has to take the job…or do they?
• Here’s another instance where the show is creating mythology, painting in broad, fable-esque strokes, and where we as an audience realize that we’ve been actively participating in that mythologizing. I’ve been talking about Jacob’s touch as the key to Richard’s immortality, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, it’s the wine that seems to be the key to immortality. To explain the fact that Richard becomes immortal, I took what seemed like a significant fact (and may still turn out to be one, for all I know) and ran with it. Jacob’s “touch” makes no more logical sense than the wine – they’re both arbitrary ways of conveying what matters, which is the immortality. That’s mythology at work, the creation of story where we feel the need for meaning, for understanding.
• Mother telling Jacob that he doesn’t have a choice in assuming his role is one of my favorite elements of the episode. Hearing that, and watching as Jacob accepts that, sets up a stark contrast between Mother’s methods and Jacob’s methods. Unless Jacob’s learned to lie, and has been lying throughout the show, then he’s decided that everyone deserves a choice – perhaps in part because he denied himself one.
Mother: “Now, you and I are the same.”
• That’s all I need from that, ‘til we turn attention back to the main characters. See? Short and sweet.
• Least favorite exchange of the episode:
Jacob: “Storm comin’.”
Mother: “Yes, there is.”
• Here’s where we come to another of the problems I had with the show when it first aired. How in the heck does Janney’s character singlehandedly slaughter an entire village full of weapon-making, spear-wielding guys? And how does she manage to collapse the well entirely? It’s totally unexplained. There are two potential reasons for this (1) Mother commands the Smoke Monster in a manner similar to how Ben seemed to command it in summoning it to attack Widmore’s goon squad, and used it to wipe out the village and we haven’t been shown this because they’re withholding it for a reason, or (2) they just figured we wouldn’t care about this detail. Except I do care. It’s glaringly nonsensical unless Mother’s invoked something larger and more dangerous than herself and it feels unnecessarily open-ended.
Mother: “Thank you.”
• The role of ageless Island protector seems to take a serious toll on a person. Mother’s words here indicate that death is a release for her. We’ve also seen that Jacob is capable of giving people a serious beat-down (see: Ab Aeterno), and yet he allows Ben to stab him. In part, I think that this is because he truly believes at that point in Lost’s storyline that humanity must choose for itself (and as mentioned this may be motivated, in part, by the fact that he was told he didn’t have a choice in accepting the Island protector role), but after this episode I believe that Jacob wanted to die, to be released, to pass the burden of protectorship on, or end the cycle once and for all after his death.
• I love the choice to show that the Man in Black had trashed Mother’s cave before she returned to it. It’s so petty and human and relatable. She destroyed “his” people, so he goes back and messes up her apartment, because that’s all that’s available to him as an outlet prior to STABBING HER IN THE BACK.
Jacob: “You want to find the light? You want to leave this place, brother? Then go.”
• So. Prometheus.
You know Prometheus. Brought the fire of the gods to mankind. Was chained to a rock to have his liver perpetually, eternally pecked out by ravenous ravens.
As I watched the Man in Black disappear down the “rabbit hole” and into the Light I thought about all of the ghosts on the Island, my “Well of Souls” theory that, surprisingly, turned out to be more-or-less correct, and I thought about Prometheus. We’ve been told that going into the Light is “worse than death.” What’s worse than death, a release from consciousness and life? For my money, it’s being imprisoned and conscious, aware of your own suffering. My guess is that the Man in Black’s “soul”/energy is trapped inside the “heart” of the Island, only able to emerge as Black Smoke – a “corrupted” version of himself, or as the mirrored images of the dead on the Island, who may also be trapped there. It’s the Lostian version of having a raven peck out his liver. The question I have is why releasing him would be a bad idea. Is it because the Man in Black has been “infected” by whatever the Smoke Monster is/represents, and that something is essentially anti-life, the yin to life’s yang? Or is it because the Man in Black is now fused with the Light itself and that Light can’t leave the Island?
Had he not just tried to murder every Castaway I’d have no problem with the MiB leaving the Island. I mean, his real mother was murdered, he was lied to, and when he tried to escape he got beaned in the back of the head with solid rock. This is something else I genuinely like, a lot, about Across the Sea. You understand the motivations of a Smoke Monster. You see the essential honesty in his story, in the fact that he was genuinely wronged, and if you’re like me you sympathize with his desire to get the hell off of that Island after thousands of years spent smokin’ through the jungle. As Chud commenter DaveB put it, you don’t have to want Satan to win in order to sympathize with Milton’s portrait of him.
So, the way I see it: Either the Man in Black has fused (or perhaps been “infected”) with a primal power that’s somehow dangerous to the world or the Man in Black has been essentially replaced by the Smoke, in the same way that the MiB “replaces” dead Locke. Or, Jacob has been lied to, and the Smoke Monster doesn’t need to be chained at all, since it might in fact be an aspect of the Light itself. It’s entirely unclear.
What we’re looking at here, ultimately, is an intimate tragedy. Through Jacob’s actions – his own sin – he unleashed something profoundly terrible, and it’s literally his responsibility. Jacob does what he does out of guilt and penance, atoning for the murder of his brother by preventing the escape of something that is, strictly speaking, no longer exactly his brother. He is the cause of his own suffering, to bring things back on a thematic level. Imagine living forever on an Island where a sinister thing wears your brother’s face and attempts, over and again, to murder you. And imagine knowing on that some level that you deserve it.
Locke: “Our very own Adam and Eve.”
• I like the revelation of Adam and Eve’s true identities. I don’t love the flashbacks to Locke, Jack and Kate, they feel remedial, and entirely unnecessary. We remember Adam and Eve, and we’ve been waiting for this answer. Don’t smash us over the head with it.
While I love the revelation, and find it exceedingly apt, I can’t and won’t argue that it makes sense realistically. I can rationalize the slow decomposition of the bodies as a result of the Island’s “Light.” I can’t pull that same trick with their still-moldering clothing. Is that a deal breaker for you? If so, you’re entitled to that.
And with that, we’ve reached the ending of this week’s column. Hope it was enjoyed. After that much verbiage I’m not even sure I’m writing in English anymore. According to several reliable sources, this week’s penultimate episode is legitimately good, so those of you who were shaken by this episode to whatever extent (including me) can probably relax a little. I know I have.
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