I don’t think that we’ve seen an episode as polarizing as Across the Sea since season 3’s unfortunate low-water-mark, Stranger in a Strange Land. Well, I say that, but the infamous “Jack’s tattoo episode” wasn’t so much polarizing as it was just horribly sucky.
To those who disliked the timing of the mythological download, I disagree. I think we all needed a quick time-out after last week’s cathartic The Candidate, which may well be the most emotionally exhausting episode of the series. I know I needed some time to scrape myself up from the puddle I was in after Hurley broke down on the beach. After this week, we can return to our beloved Oceanic castaways, and see them through to the end without quibbling about mythology. At least, I hope we can.
So I’m going to collect my random thoughts after the last couple of episodes, and jot them down here, yes? Good.
My two complaints with Across the Sea
The explanation of the origin of the frozen donkey wheel felt incredibly forced and awkward. I felt bad for Titus Welliver as he was laboring to convince us that the FDW was the result of… really smart and magically intuitive Roman castaways? Wha? I’d have frankly just as soon left its exact fabrication up to our imaginations, because we couldn’t have possibly come up with anything that lame on our own.
My second complaint is a little more complex, because it’s a complaint entangled in a compliment. My friend Carrie linked me to this interview with Damon and Carlton about the episode.
I think at this stage in the game, we have to start taking the answers they’re giving at face value.
I tend to believe that the MIB is the Smoke Monster. That there was no Smoke Monster before Jacob tossed him into the magical glowing pool of awesome, which turned him into a smoke monster and eventually spit out his body an empty husk.
I want to believe the explanation he gave us as UnLocke: that Jacob took his humanity, his body, and left him as something else. And that he had a mom, who was nuts, and isn’t cohabiting his current form. The interview I’ve linked provides the most compelling reason I like that explanation best:
“We have long sort of spoken about the interesting dynamic in the show is nobody is 100 percent good, nobody is 100 percent evil. Everybody has the capacity for both. Every time you come up with an explanation that’s black and white, it turns into shades of grey. Ben Linus starts as a villain and then can become sympathetic. Sawyer and Jin who were also first presented in less than sympathetic lights became increasingly more sympathetic. We wanted to explain why the Man in Black had behaved the way that he does, and to show that like a lot of other characters on the show, he’s the victim of very bad parenting. To reduce him to just a supernatural force, as opposed to a person, was not our intent.“
I much prefer the “villain” of the piece to be a human guy who went cosmically bad to it being some incomprehensible supernatural force.
The problem with that is, in order to buy that, Across the Sea puts me in the position of having to believe that a middle-aged woman carried an unconscious grown man up a ladder, killed an entire village singlehandedly, and filled a well in the time it took the guy to regain consciousness. Or else come up with another explanation that isn’t the most logical one that springs to mind: that she was the smoke monster before MIB.
Does the Protector of the island have telekinetic skills, in addition to being able to cure cancer and bring people back from near death? Maybe. Maybe that’s how the ships keep getting dragged to the Island. But it’s an awfully big leap for me to have to take when there’s a much more obvious explanation that just happens to conflict with the writer’s “canon” answer, given via the characters’ dialogue.
Stuff We Now Know
Screw “electromagnetism.” The Island is the source of a powerful cosmic energy. Maybe it’s the X-Men fan in me, but I kept thinking of the Phoenix force, with the power to both protect/prolong life and to destroy it on a planetary scale. The power of “life, death, rebirth” – Yup. Sounds like the Phoenix force to me. Maybe the glow is the White Hot Room and poor Jeannie is down there recouping from dying again and Scott bailing on her for Emma.
Ben wasn’t lying to Juliet. Jacob could cure her sister’s cancer. And Rose’s.
The magical glowing pool of awesome is probably also responsible for Jin’s return to fertility and the Wolverine-like healing speed of everybody on the island. Except the dead people.
Speaking of dead people/ghosts, our current tally: actual ghosts – Isabella, Claudia, Michael, Charlie, Ana Lucia. MIB faking – Christian, Yemi. I have no idea: Taller Ghost Walt.
Latin is (still!) the language of the Others because Jacob appreciates his “Mother tongue.” Which has another X-Men connection (or at least, New Mutants). The Others society now reminds me of Nova Roma. Nova Roma was supposedly a lost colony of Roman explorers still living la vida Latin in the Brazilian jungle. But as it turned out, they were actually brainwashed (**cough**Room 23**) tourists kidnapped off a boat by a Roman goddess who missed the culture she came from.
I now know why Damon and Carlton would smirk whenever they’d refer to the barracks as “New Otherton.” Old Otherton was really, really, really “Jesus was still a Jewish carpenter” old.
Got thoughts? Drop ’em in the comments. PEACE!