Where to start? It could be argued that this episode of LOST was one of the most important of the entire season, neigh, the entire show. We got answers, but as one character puts it at the beginning of the episodes, 'Answering your questions would require more questions', or something to that effect. What we're left with at the end of 'Across the Sea' was a bit of a slow episode which didn't advance the main story, yet in a strange way, backs up and reinforces past ideas.
After last week's absolutely barnstorming (yes that's a real word...I think...Nick?) episode 'The Candidate' we're ripped away from the current timelines we've been watching and we get treated to another origin episode similar to 'Ab aeterno'. This is no ordinary origin story though, oh no, this is the mother of all origin stories; it's Jacob and the Man in Black!
It may have just been me, but as soon as the episode opens with the shot of the pregnant woman, I immediately thought 'Jacob and MiB are brothers', of course the scene builds up to that quite quickly and whilst the mysterious lady conveniently manages to come up with a name on the spot for the first one out, 'Jacob', she fails to give us a name for the other baby (not so subtly wrapped in a black fur towel instead of a white one like Jacob...we get it, one wears black and one wears white a lot...I thought the Lost writers thought more of us than to keep ramming this point home. This peaked with the reference to an in joke about the pebbles being made by Fake-Locke to Sawyer. Leave it! - Rant over.). The weird lady that helped the brothers' mother then proceeds to bludgeon her to death for no reason other than maybe she looked at her a bit funny?
The rest of the first half of the episode plays out quite slowly with us learning a bit more about the relationship between the two brothers and how it's been made so they can't leave the Island or kill each other. Again, no explanation is given for why and how but we'll roll with it. We learn that Jacob doesn't lie (something that I think has been mentioned in previous episodes) and that the Man in Black likes to play with different coloured rocks and really wants to know what's off the Island ('Nothing' says his mother...I smell a lie). Something I've always admired about LOST is it's character development surpasses that of so many shows (rivalled by the excellent Breaking Bad) yet they rushed so much of this very important origin story, namely that of the weird woman who has taken the brothers under her wing. We're never given any reasoning for her motivations in killing the mother and why she hate's outsiders so much. Disappointing. I did enjoy the inter-play between the two brothers though, the kid actors where actually alright in my opinion. The highlight of this portion of the episode is the introduction of the light under the island. The whole scene was a bit cheesy but I found it really effective.
'Across the Sea' kicked into gear in it's second half when we're back with the adult Jacob and MiB, seperated on the island after MiB has discovered who is real mother is and that the others on the Island can help him escape. Once again outstanding acting from Mark Pellegrino and Titus Welliver, these two really play off each other well and add a massive depth to the characters, especially Welliver as the MiB. You can really see the anger in his eyes after his village gets burned down and the general desperation to get off the Island.
We learn in this portion of the episode pretty much exactly what the Island is. It contains a light inside it which is the same light that is inside everyone, it keeps the world going seemingly and must be protected at all costs by Jacob, if it is exploited by man then the light will go out not just on the Island, but everywhere. Right. Got that? Good. Me neither. It's a clearer way of explaining what was hinted at in previous episodes that if the MiB gets off the Island then something very very bad will happen, but we still don't know why it will be bad if MiB buggers off.
We learn to sympathise a bit with MiB a bit here, something I didn't think would happen after last week's episode. We learn why he turns a bit bad and is the way he is, his mother was murdered and he was lied to his entire life. In my opinion I really don't see a good/evil battle here. Jacob has an angry and whiney streak and appears to be just as responsible for the deaths in the previous episode as the MiB. The MiB wants off and he's willing to use humans as a means to an end to achieve this (as evident in The Candidate) but Jacob just seems disinterested, he doesn't seem to hold much value with humans, this has been something hinted at in previous episodes. I kinda like this ambiguity but I can't help but feel that we need some kind of conclusion to be drawn about this.
The episode wraps up with one of the more forced conclusions to a long standing mystery we've had so far (the whispers being dead people stuff aside). Jacob and MiB get in a bit of a scrap and Jacob throws his brother (yes, still 'brother'...no name given yet!) into the stream with all the light at the end. What comes out? The bloody smoke monster! I enjoyed learning how he came into this particular power, although from reading other blogs I can see opinion is mixed. So Jacob finds MiB's body on the other side of the mini cave (some people have theorised that the smoke monster isn't actually the MiB and that whatever it is simply took the identity of MiB, but this doesn't hold up to much scrutiny since we've seen Fake-Locke recount his childhood and his mother issues) and then takes him back to their house cave place where we get one of the most convenient answers in the entire series. MiB and his Fake-Mother are the Adam and Eve skeletons from Season 1! Putting aside the fact that Jack clearly states in that episode that the skeletons appear to be between 40-50 years old...is this a slip up by the writers or could it be explained by all the time travelling the island appears to have done?
With only 3 hours of LOST left there's still a lot that needs to be done, though to be honest it's got to the point where there's so many unanswered questions i've forgotten half of them. It seems to me the finale is building to a show down between Jacob and MiB, hopefully in their normal forms as I do think Welliver and Pellegrino own these two characters. I couldn't honestly call what's gonna happen next. Just gonna enjoy the ride!
Prediction for next week's episide 'What they died for': Some kind of massive connection occurring between the two different universes due to the consequences of 'The Candidate'. Hopefully we'll know the rough outline for the finale too.