“Have I missed the big reveal?” — R.E.M.
Thoughts on last night’s divisive episode of Lost, coming right up.
This episode was all about doling out the answers, and how you felt about it probably depends on how satisfied you are with those answers; and even more specifically, how you feel about the Mystical Light Cave.
There’s no doubt that Pulp Fiction is a better movie for never having shown what’s in the briefcase. But, Pulp Fiction isn’t a movie built around that particular mystery — or any mystery. Lost is a mystery show, despite the endless protests from its creators that it’s really all about the characters. Because trust me, if Lost really were about Kate’s character arc, no one would have watched past the third episode of the first season.
So here’s what I’m trying to figure out today — is the best-case scenario for the show to:
A) Show us a magical light cave and have Allison Janney spew some mystical crap about the light
B) Show us a magical light cave and don’t say another word about it
C) Show us a magical light cave and take us inside the cave to show us the exact details of the light source
D) Never show us a damn magical light cave at all
I don’t know the answer, but I’m pretty sure it’s not A. Hearing Janney talk about how the cave light is inside all of us, but we all want more, and blah blah blah — well, that was the lowlight of “Across the Sea.” I’m going to give Janney the benefit of the doubt and say that she was woefully miscast as the murderous faux-mother of Jacob and Smokey, as opposed to saying that she mailed this episode in and ruined every scene she took part in with her sheer lack of believability.
When Janney, early in the episode, said something like, “Every answer I give you will only lead to more questions,” well, that’s about as angry as I’ve ever been at this show (Getting mad at television shows: yep, that’s my life). In general, I hate when Lost gets all meta, and that line was defensive, insulting to viewers, and apologizing in advance for producing crappy answers to important mysteries. I can’t even talk about that line rationally. Fuck that line.
I’m happy we got some of the answers we did. As I’ve said many times, it’s crucial that this show actually answers some percentage of the infinite number of questions it has raised. We know who Adam and Eve were (creepy!), we know who built the frozen donkey wheel, we know the relationship between Jacob and Smokey. We know why Jacob feels duty-bound to protect the island, and why Smokey wants to flee. We know why The Others spoke Latin.
We still don’t know: how/why Jacob set up the “rules” that govern Smokey’s actions, and why Smokey agreed to play by those rules, if indeed it is a mutual agreement; if Allison Janney was also a smoke monster (which would explain how she knew so much about what happens if you go into the magic cave); what originally turned Janney batshit insane; and most importantly, why we would want to root against the Smoke Monster.
Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse stated after last week’s episode that Smokey is the antagonist of the entire show, the ultimate bad guy. And maybe they just wanted to create a complex, layered villain with “Across the Sea,” but I don’t see any reason why anyone would ever side with Jacob over Smokey. Maybe when Jacob threw his brother into the Magic Cave, all the good in him was destroyed and the resultant smoke monster is completely evil. But if there’s any of that dead man’s old personality in Smokey, then he’s a pretty sympathetic character. He was lied to and betrayed, his mother was murdered, and he was murdered himself and falsely imprisoned. His motivations make perfect sense (unlike, say, Jack, Kate, Hurley, etc.).
Jacob, on the other hand, is a total dick. He’s a Mama’s Boy whose first reaction when he’s upset is violence. He does what he’s told without questioning. In his later incarnation, he toys with people’s lives like they mean nothing to him. The Man in Black may think humans are selfish and beyond redemption, but he seems to consider himself one of them anyway.
Maybe our rooting interest here is supposed to be for the castaways to stop being puppets in the brothers’ game. Maybe we’re supposed to hate Smokey and Jacob. But I don’t think so — there’s too much black and white imagery. I think whichever candidate ends up filling Jacob’s role is getting a fate worse then death. And sure, Smokey may have killed Jin, Sun, Sayid and a bunch of others, but am I wrong in hoping he gets off the island? I think the Smoke Monster has gotten a bad rap.
Despite the horrible acting by Janney and the Disney kids (little Jacob might be more annoying than Jack’s sideways son), I enjoyed the family dynamics between the three, and the resonance their interactions have on the rest of the island’s history. But after arguing all season that THIS SHOW OWES US ANSWERS, DAMNIT!, I’m pretty disillusioned with the answers we have been given. So I think I’m switching teams, and asking for two exciting, entertaining, episodes to wrap this shit up. Don’t bother with any more mystery-solving. So far, this answers have been clumsy in execution and unsatisfying in content. By all means, Lost, ignore why babies can’t be born on the island. Ignore Walt. Ignore the Hurleybird. Just please, please don’t talk any more about the light in our hearts that can’t go out. I won’t be able to face life anymore if the last season of Lost turns into a cross between a Celine Dion song and Dianetics.
There’s no doubt that Lindelof and Cuse swung for the fences with this episode (baseball metaphors!), and I’m sure they thought they hit a home run, or they wouldn’t have placed “Across the Sea” so close to series end. But they put their head down and started a slow trot around the bases, only to realize as they were being tagged out at second base that the ball didn’t clear the wall. (Tortured baseball metaphors!)
Rose and Bernard Annoyance Level: 0! I am thrilled that R & B are not Adam and Eve. They don’t deserve that central a place in the show’s mythology.