"Lost" Season Six, Episode 14: "Across the Sea" Recap & Review

5/12/2010 Posted by Admin

Television Recap & Review

"Lost" Season Six, Episode 14: "Across the Sea"

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

"Across the Sea" is by far the riskiest piece of writing that has ever been on "Lost." Taking place entirely in the past and featuring not a single member of the main cast, the third to final episode of "Lost" finally sheds light on the past of Jacob, the Man in Black, and the island itself. It's certainly an underwhelming episode, especially considering how close we are to the end, but it's a revelatory and surprisingly sweet story nonetheless.

Spoilers herein.

Around 23 AD, a pregnant woman named Claudia washes up on a beach, her ship destroyed and the rest of her people missing. Another woman (unnamed, portrayed by Allison Janney) carries her to shelter and acts as her midwife as she gives birth to twins. One she names Jacob, the other goes unnamed, as she was unaware she was carrying twins and only came up with one name. These two babies will go on to singlehandedly cause "Lost" as we know it.

Janney tells Claudia that she is alone on the island, and as she considers these two babies and the fate they've been given, Janney murders Claudia and takes the babies for herself.

We flashforward 13 years. Jacob and, uh, the Boy in Black, I suppose, have grown up believing Janney is their real mother, that there is nowhere else in the world other than the island, and that they are the only three people on it. One day while hunting, however, the boys come across a group of grown men hunting boar. They hide and run to tell their mother, who explains that she lied about people on the island because she didn't want her sons to be corrupted by those people, who she claims are evil, selfish and dangerous.

She then takes the boys to a small cave in a secret place on the island. From the cave emanates a bright light, not unlike the light we've seen coming from the Frozen Donkey Wheel or in other such strong electromagnetic areas. Janney tells the boys that this light is what she is on the island to protect, and that one day one of them will need to take her place.

At this point in the episode, we've gotten quite a lot of stuff to consider. So, Jacob and the Man in Black are brothers, they were raised by a woman who was not their mother (in typical "Lost" fashion), they are there to protect a "special light" that basically contains and is responsible for all good in the world, and, most importantly, that the Man in Black (as a boy) was "special," like Walt, in a way. Unlike Jacob, who was goodhearted from birth and never lied, his brother is capable of being corrupted.

The latter half of the episode concerns the two boys discovering the truth of their birth and the boy in black going off to join the other men on the island while Jacob stays behind with their mother. Fifteen years later or so, the two still speak. The Man in Black has been searching for years for a means to leave the island. Jacob has been helping his mother and basically preparing for taking her place.

The Man in Black tells Jacob that he and his people have found many spots on the island from which the light emanates--we learn that these spots are the spots from which electromagnetism has occurred--the Orchid, the Swan station, etc. Of course, Black doesn't know what electromagnetism is, so he's just rolling with it and digging random holes expecting an escape route.

Jacob tells Janney about this, and she hurries to stop her son from leaving the island. He tells her he's building a wheel (yes, the frozen donkey wheel) that will allow him to go. Before he can do anything, however, he's knocked out by his mother, and she destroys the well he's dug and kills every one of his people.

The episode climaxes with a final confrontation between the Man in Black and his mother. He kills her to avenge his people, but in her last breath, she thanks him. It appears she has finally been released of the island and Jacob can now take her place. But Jacob's not too happy when he finds his brother has murdered their mother, and in a fit of rage, he takes him to the, uh, special light hole thing, and tosses him in, remembering what Janney said earlier about entering the light being worse than death. Several seconds pass and a pillar of black smoke erupts from the cave--Jacob, quite simply, has removed his brother's soul from his body and made him into the good old Smoke Monster we know and love.

In the final, heartbreaking moments of the episode, Jacob takes his brother and his mother and places them side by side in the caves in which he grew up. Their bodies will be found centuries later by our very own Losties, decomposed, their pasts unknown. And in this little nod to season one, the series again comes full circle.

So, yeah, interesting. All of these reveals, pretty solid acting from all involved, great direction--but for some reason, something seems to be missing. There are few stories as anticipated as this one, but somewhere in the execution, it just didn't come out quite as mindblowing or as interesting as it could have been. I have to give the writers credit for coming up with an episode completely removed from the primary tale at hand, with absolutely no main characters, and it's made even more risky with the fact that it comes right after an episode with three major deaths and one of the biggest cliffhangers of the season.

But I don't think the episode doesn't fully succeed because of that--I think perhaps it's that there was no way they could ever match the expectations for such a story. And, as Janney's character says in the episode, "Every answer will simply lead to more questions." Yeah, so we know how he became the smoke monster, but why did he become the smoke monster? And who finished the donkey wheel? And how is it Jacob hasn't aged in centuries?

There's no way to answer every question, and you have to give credit where it's due for even trying to answer what they did.

"Across the Sea" does not meet its potential--not by a longshot--but as a final preparation for the endgame of the series, it works, and it's a lovely story on its own that will likely improve with retrospect.

Grade: B-

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