One Crazy Mother


LOST. Season Six. Episode Fifteen. Across The Sea.

If, six years ago, you would’ve showed me five minutes of this episode, I wouldn’t have believed it was LOST. But in a show that can only end once (and is about to), Across The Sea was progress.

We learned that Jacob and MIB were brothers (and…and twins!), that their centuries-old battle was based on free will and the concept of belonging and – in the worst Mother’s Day tribute of any show ever – that their adoptive mother was out of her damn mind, though possibly well-intentioned.

I’m going to tackle this a little differently. First, I’m going to recap the action in play-by-play style with some minimal side-analyses. Because this episode was so thick, I want to make sure I’m on the same page as all of you. Then, I’ll get into an analysis of what those events might tell us about the grander story of LOST. Here we go.

Showcase Showdown
Remember that Hole in One game on Price is Right, where the contestant would have to putt? But if they missed, they learned that they had another chance because the game was actually called…wait for it… Hole in TWO!

That’s kind of what happened to shipwrecked Claudia, who both arrived in and was a vessel. She was also pretty trustworthy, allowing that mysterious woman who rescued her to get all up in her business when her water broke. Bad move. Because after Claudia popped out two babies for the price of one, that mysterious woman swaddled one in white cloth (Jacob) and one in black (unnamed. Damn!). Then, she straight up killed that mother.

Quick tidbit: I liked the parallel in this scene – intended or not – of this woman serving as midwife to Claudia much in the way Kate did to Claire. And it continued, in a sense, in that the midwife ended up raising the child(ren) while the biological mother was left behind (or killed).

Also, I know it’s a TV show. But damn. Child birth looks effing hard. Thanks for taking the bullet on that one, ladies.

The Rules Change…!
Jacob and his brother like to play games. When MIB finds one washed up on the shore, he invites Jacob to play. He makes up the rules, manipulating the game to his advantage and greedily hoarding it from his mother, lest she “take the game away.” Later, he cryptically tells Jacob, “One day, you can make up your own game and everyone else will have to follow your rules.” More on that in the analysis section.

Later, in what would constitute a more significant rule change in a much more significant game, the boys’ “Mother” reveals to MIB that she has imbued them both with something that will cause them to never have to worry about dying. Also, they can never hurt each other. As we learned later, that might not have been entirely true. But what definitely was a lie was Mother telling MIB that, “there is nowhere else. The Island is all there is.”

This was a mistake. One that Mother could not have known she was making, but that would shape our three characters’ lives. When a kid that age finds out he’s been lied to his entire life by the only adult authority figure in his life, the consequences are bad. And as we saw, as soon as MIB got an opportunity to act on that resentment, things got ugly.

It’s The Light That’s Breaking
When the boys come across jungle men killing a boar, they get curious and ask “Mother.” By that point, she can’t lie anymore. She tells them that those men are bad, that they’re not like them, and they don’t belong here.

Out of escape hatches, Mother breaks down and takes them to what she calls “the reason” for their existence. She blindfolds them, making them look like Teenage Mutant Ninja Others, and explains about the men: “They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt and it always ends the same.” That sentiment would be echoed verbatim, centuries later, by Smokey. Which makes sense, because didn’t you all get the impression that MIB was a lot more like his mother than Jacob was? Jacob almost seemed to resent them, transforming into a black sheep before becoming the only option to succeed his mother.

But learned mother-child relations were not the point of this journey. A small cave glowing with eternal light was. The boys’ Mother explained to them that they must ensure that nobody ever finds this bright, warm light. That this light was present inside every man, but man’s inherent greed always causes him to want more, which could cause them to douse the light and end it. “If the light goes out, it goes out everywhere,” she says. And then tells the boys that one of them will be selected to protect it.

Homeward Bound
During afternoon game time, MIB is drawn away by the ghost of his mother, who he chases through the jungle. She reveals to him her camp of people, and that they had come from across the sea. She also tells MIB that she’s his mother.

That’s a pretty loaded pill for a teenager to swallow. And it didn’t go down smooth for the MIB. This conversation planted anger, cynicism and a longing to go home in the Man in Black. Ghost Claudia shattered his ignorant bliss and opened his eyes to a reality and a sense of belonging that he didn’t know could possibly exist. Suddenly, he longs to be born again into this “real world.” He wants to know where he came from. And most importantly, he’s finally able to define and pinpoint the detachment and lack of belonging he’s felt his entire life.

Actually, this scene was tragic. Poor kid. To have the rug yanked out from under your world like that.

As we would see though, different people handle a situation differently. MIB chose to run. Jacob chose to stay the course, for better or worse. And that choice would have serious consequences.

When MIB tried to get Jacob to join him, claiming that their Mother had lied, that these were their people, and that their Mother didn’t really love them, Jacob attacked MIB. It was here that the schism was formed, where these two twins chose to react in very different ways to the possibility of their origins. To MIB, the tribe of people represented potential belonging, comfort and home. But Jacob claimed this Island was his home. Essentially, he may or may not have believed his brother. But he didn’t care. Home was what he had made it: a nice cave where he could weave tapestries with mother and live out that existence in pursuit of “the light” he was shown. That’s Jacob “normal,” by this point. But it’s not his brother’s.

The disagreement between MIB and Jacob regarding the nature of home, family, belonging and purpose became – and remains – the heart of their conflict. It was really cool to see its genesis last night.

Family Reunion
30 years later, MIB is entrenched with this tribe, searching for family and a way off the Island. Jacob is living in his mother’s basement. But neither man is completely content.

When Jacob goes to visit, MIB confirms what Mother had said about man. That they’re indeed bad, that they’re, “Greedy, manipulative, untrustworthy and selfish,” and that Jacob only can’t see that because he merely observes them from on high. This fundamental disagreement is also, obviously, at the heart of the twins and their battle.

But never mind them. They’re “a means to an end,” says MIB, who proceeds to explain to Jacob that he’s leaving the Island to find his real home. When Jacob relays that to Mother like the blindly faithful servant he is, it sets in motion a series of events that serves what we now see between these two men.

Mother, dismayed that MIB could have found an actual way off the Island, goes to confront him. He explains to her the donkey wheel, how it harnesses water and light, and that when he turns it, he’ll be able to leave. He even turns her words against her, citing her description of him as “special” as proof that his plan will work.

Fed up and out of options, Mother snaps. She knocks her bad twin out, drags him to the surface, crushes the well and proceeds to burn down the village and kill its “very smart” people.

This act, more than any other, set in stone which son would be on which side of the pending war. MIB’s angst was solidified, and Jacob moved from second string Island protector to the varsity squad.

The Backup Plan
When Jacob, now an adult, asks his mother what’s in the cave, she replies, “Life, death, rebirth. It’s the source, the heart, of The Island. Just promise me, no matter what you do, you won’t ever go down there.” Why? “It’d be worse than dying, Jacob. Much worse.”

Believing himself to be his Mother’s back-up plan, Jacob discusses the role of protecting the Island. “My time is over,” claims the Mother, who continues, “It was always supposed to be you Jacob. I see that now and one day you’ll see it, too. But until then, you don’t really have a choice…Now, you and I are the same.”

With that, the torch was passed.

Best Served Cold
After awakening to find his well destroyed and his people killed, MIB goes medieval. He storms up to the cave, and before letting her speak, pierces his adoptive mother through the back with that damned dagger. When he asks why she wouldn’t let him leave, she replies that it’s because she loves him, before thanking him for killing her. If you can explain why she’d think that, please have at it in the comments section.

But the revenge wasn’t over. Jacob returns, beats the hell out of his brother just like he did when they were teenagers, then drags him down to the river.

Fully enraged, Jacob is willing to subject his own brother to a fate that his mother called “worse than dying.” He knocks him out cold and sends him down the river. Seconds later, the Smoke Monster emerges for what I assume is the first time ever. Jacob runs from it, then finds his brother’s body in the creek. He takes it back to the caves, and sets it next to his mother’s, placing the black and white stones from the game next to them and creating the Adam & Eve that Jack and Kate found in Season One.

And…. L O S T.

So what the hell was all that about? I’ll try.

Okay not everything. Here's a stab though.

Let’s just start with free will. Last night we saw the characters faced with all kinds of opportunities to make life-altering choices – and more importantly, we saw what happened when they weren’t given choices.

Jacob was given a choice on whether or not to play the game with his brother. MIB created for himself the choice to live with the people on the other side of the Island. And they both chose how they would react to the various hands they were dealt.

But those choices had consequences. Jacob stayed with his mother and basically gave up on any chance of ever leaving the Island and experiencing his real home. MIB was forced to deal with the reality of man’s corruptibility and burdened with the feeling of never being “home.”

That’s the root of what fragmented these two brothers, who now use the Island as their playground for that debate. But what grows from those roots are some pretty fascinating arguments.

Last night, the concept of choice – or free will, put another way – was explored by the two men as they tried to discover how they felt about human nature. Both boys were initially told that man was inherently bad, but they took different paths to discover it for themselves. MIB didn’t believe his mother, but instead wanted to believe that the people were good, and that following them would lead to his enlightenment and acceptance into a “real home.” So he chose to entrench himself with mankind. Jacob believed his mother, initially choosing to stay with her and observe mankind from on high.

What both men learned, through their choices, was the ability to change their mind. MIB eventually called his men “Greedy, manipulative, untrustworthy and selfish,” while Jacob seemed to disagree. But most importantly, they got to choose those opinions for themselves.

And those things – taken with the whole concept of finding home and family – are what were revealed to lie at the heart of Jacob and MIB’s end game.

It would appear that the game is indeed about MIB getting off the Island and learning what lies across the sea. We knew that.

What we learned last night is that the reason MIB can’t just up and leave the Island is because his physical body is no more, which would explain why he said a few weeks ago that Jacob had “stolen” his body away from him.

So last night, when we saw the origin of Smokey, what did that tell us? I kind of took it to mean that the “fate worse than death” was to have one’s soul separated from one’s body. The Smoke represents MIB’s dark, troubled, cloudy, destructive soul. But his physical body is the one lying dead in the cave next to his mother’s.

So how does that tie in with the free will stuff?

The Mother said that the light existed in every man, but that if man gets greedy and tries to get more of the light, then the light will go out everywhere. It would appear then, that the very existence of man can be threatened by man’s own corruptibility. So if Jacob is right, and man is inherently good, then the light is protected. If MIB is right, and man is inherently bad, then the light is always at risk. The difference, really, is that Jacob believes the light can always be protected, while MIB sees its exploitation and expiration as inevitable.

When some characters have talked about the world “ceasing to exist,” I wonder if this if what they meant. Think about it. If the “life force”/light in all of is extinguished, then we all cease to exist, right?

So if Smokey’s escape would cause the world to cease to exist, then I might infer that Smokey’s escape is predicated on his possession of or knowledge about the light. What if Smokey’s escape involves removing all the obstructions (Candidates) so that he can harness the Island’s light? As we saw last night, he believes that harnessing that light will allow him to leave the Island – that’s why he built the Donkey Wheel. So maybe he’s just trying to get rid of all the Candidates so that he can selfishly, greedily exploit the light and deliver himself to his “home.”


The one big roadblock on that plan: Desmond. He’s stuck in a well, which we know is built upon that same kind of “light” or “energy” or “electromagnetism” that Smokey wants to harness. And we know that Desmond was being tested by Widmore to withstand a massive jolt of such energy. So what if Desmond’s job is to somehow prevent or diffuse Smokey’s access to and exploitation of the light, so as to save everyone in the world?

In doing so, we have to consider our other characters. Is there survival from the Island and Desmond & Smokey’s Great Electromagnetic Storm dependent on their ability to “wake up” to their alternate realities?

And if one of them (my money’s on Jack) is selected to replace Jacob, they won’t have MIB to contend with any more. But as the Mother said last night, man’s greed will always be a threat to the light. The protector will always have something to protect against, which would seem to ironically support MIB’s position that man is inherently evil.

It is a wonder I don’t do drugs.

Okay, that’s what I’m going with, for tonight anyway. But honestly, this has been a really hard review to write. I’d love to know what you think. Thanks for the comments, keep ‘em coming.


14 Snarky Comments:

Anonymous said...

I love your blog!! It has certainly helped me get though this crazy show we love to hate so much!! Here is my question: if MIB has always been on that island, how did he know about C4 and how to set up the bomb?

Island Girl said...

Wow, now I have some answers and more questions! As far as the knowledge of C4, MIB has had a chance to observe and interact with people through the centuries. He probably knows all kinds of fun stuff like that. Also, he has Locke's memories, so that is another source of information.

Is it possible that Smokey cannot travel to Hydra, but is able to cross other bodies of water, if only for short periods of time? How did he get on the freighter, and how was Jack able to see Christian in the lobby of the building in LA? Just wondering, if anyone has any ideas. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

So I have a thought to throw out there about why crazy mama thanked MIB for killing her. It also ties into the light.

How does she know what happens when you enter the cave of light? Perhaps because she DID. What if crazy mama, or really whoever is the 'protector' of the island (bc I'm not convinced she was the original inhabitant of the island) USED to posses the powers of Smokey as a means to stop man from destroying it (results may vary... as in you may not always get a cloud of smoke out of a person, but they aren't human anymore)? I mean we really didn't get the explanation as to HOW she buried that well up and murdered and burned down a whole town of people, right? Sounds like a job for Smokey or the like.

Maybe she realized that the person protecting the island and it's powers needed to remain pure and so she was grooming Jacob. She wanted him to fear going into the cave, but what she didn't expect from him was his reaction to MIB (sibling rivalry) and for him to ACT on the rage with his brother bc really, it's very out of Jacob's character.

So in an essence she thought she had broken the cycle, thanking him for ending her life because she had been trapped there harboring the same feelings MIB currently does about mankind; but she could finally 'leave' in peace knowing she has found a replacement who wouldn’t suffer her fate. Unfortunately, she was wrong, bc she left them to their human nature and recreated the cycle.

Anonymous said...

So we got insight as to how MIB became the smoke monster, and I appreciate your separation of body and soul stab at it. We've come to learn his ability to take shape of people whom are dead on the island and his apparent natural ability to lie, manipulate, deceive, much like man...but that just left me curious about how Jacob came to have his powers. He can leave the island, time travel, touch people and give them life or assign special abilities in a God like manner. What were these two imbued with by the Mother from another Other at an early age that set that in motion and also wouldn't let them hurt each other? Why not by the way?

Do we just assume that MIB is smokey because he was flushed down that light toilet and his unworthy body and soul was given the "Will it blend" test. To explain Jacob's powers, I would have to assume there was something with that wine and incantation ceremony mother gave before he drank it that gave him his powers. I dunno. Maybe he had it all along and he hadn't discovered it yet. I more understand why MIB does his thing, than I understand why Jacob is doing his thing. Any clarification on that would be welcomed (answered by fellow forum junkies like me, or by the actual show)

At any rate, that was an unusual episode for me. I no doubt enjoyed every minute of it, but I was sorta more confused than normal. Ugghhh. I do hate that this is going to end. Is it too early to start being depressed about that?

NYBO1965 said...

I wasn't sure how I felt while watching the episode (at one point I was annoyed), but it actually kept me up most of the night, and I am VERY tired and rather cranky ... not a problem for you guys, just for my poor co-workers!!

Anyway, my one thought during the episode was that the reason that the woman (CJ) thanked MIB for killing her, was that she could not die ... and that he had released her. She didn't seem to age to me, and it seemed to make sense at the time (and kind of still does). I don't know where she came from or how long she had been there, but that's my thought and I'm sticking to it, until someone comes up with a more convincing one for me!

I was disappointed at the time with the reveal of "Adam and Eve" not being Bernard and Rose, but I did understand, and today I am less disappointed.

Thanks so much to Charlie and Maggie for some really great reading and all around fun!

Alex Trepp said...

I could be wrong, but if Jacob is/was correct then there won't always be something to protect against. These events, and those that are driven by whoever arrives at the island next, are just progress until someone or some group is able to harness the energy of the island for the betterment of all...

So I'm not sure we can correctly conclude from past island events that MIB's position has been vindicated. Seems like a Hobbes v. Kant battle, and I only bring that up because I'm curious whether...

Anyone has given any thought to whether Desmond's last name foreshadows anything?

A couple other questions:

Does anyone else feel like Desmond is doomed to marytrdom? The parallels between his position in the hatch and his position in the well are pretty strong. "What are you doing down here?" "Saving the World Brutha..."

Also: how is the semi-immortality (agelessness) conferred? Is it by the touch or the wine? In either circumstance how could or will it be conferred on Jack, now that Jacob is dead and the wine bottle is all busted up.

And Lastly:

Who is Wallace....

Laura said...

I agree with NYBO that Mother said thank you, because she cannot kill herself and need to be released. Seems like she's lived a long time, since the last candidate, or the origina of the light, and she's "tired".

Initially, my friend and I thought that the smoke monster IS the LIGHT. And he inhabits the difference dead people's bodies. All the time we saw MIB it was actually this LIGHT. It wants to leave the island, and Jacob is protecting it - proteting MIB. This is why MIB believes that if he kills Jacob, he can leave (therefore killing the protector of the light). But now my theory has personified the light, which doesn't really make sense (?)

If this black smoke is essentially MIB's soul, where does Jacob fall into place for protecting it? He needs not protect MIB's soul, but protects the light from ever getting out across the sea. I'm still confused.

But now the light is gone. But the donkey wheel is still there. How did Ben turn the wheel and make the island move + jump to Tunsia + cause all the time travel ruckus?!!!

Other questions:
- why did MIB see Claudia and Jacob didn't? We know it's not smoke monster....
- it's confirmed that jacob is the weird boy showing up to Locke in present day. Why and how?

I felt like Mother's words of "Stop asking me questions. The more answers I give you, the more questions you'll have" was like LOST giving us the finger or something.

What the episode didn't explain, and probably LOST never will, is the origin of the light. And how Mother gets all these powers to bring Claudia to her to choose a candidate with a cup of wine etc. We'll just have to take it.

bret welstead said...

I like Anonymous #2's theory (3rd comment). I, too, was puzzled how a middle-aged woman could kill and burn a village of men and completely bury and destroy a well. It makes sense to me that, though we never saw it, she can turn into a smoke monster.

Remember way back in season 1 or 2, the smoke monster was described as a sort of security system for the island? Maybe Mother/Smokey was the protector of the island and had resigned to that. Maybe MIB/Smokey should be the successor, the new protector, but he is so determined to leave the island (because of mommy issues) that Jacob is now doing everything possible to keep him there.

It seems like Mother was able to create the rules. Maybe the person who is true to the island, the protector, can create the rules that will benefit the island? Maybe Jacob has made his own set of rules, which has resulted in the endgame that we're seeing now?

I have to say, this episode did not satisfy like I hoped. I hope they're going to give us a little more in the last 3.5 hours, because there are more questions:

- What's with Claudia's ghost? It seems like dead people show up a lot on the island, and while some are MIB, some are not.

- If Jacob does get to "make the rules" does that explain the numbers, the names in the lighthouse and cave, etc.? Has he designed a game to keep MIB trapped on the island, and MIB is trying to win?

- Have we seen the cave of light before? It reminded me of the submerged entrance to the underground temple where the bomb was kept.

- What about the origins of the temple, the statue?

- When and why did Jacob relocate to the statue?

- Is it possible that the Others have at times been tricked into obeying not Jacob, but MIB? I'm thinking of the Dharma genocide, for instance.

- I didn't see the switch from Jacob being told that men are evil by Mother, to Jacob believing in some inherent goodness in mankind. Where does that happen?

Charlie's Mom said...

With regard to your childbirth comment ... you're welcome.

Shawn said...

Very few real answers and a lot more unanswered questions...typical LOST.

All I have to say is that I'm starting to get really annoyed at this point. For every answer we get to years of questions we get 10 more questions. All I have to say is that the writers have a lot of esplainin' to do and not much time to do it in.

I also get a feeling that we are not going to feel satisfied in the end that we truly understand the show and what it all meant. Maybe that's the point, but I'm going to be really irked if it's the case. So many people investing so much emotionally into a stupid TV show and then ending with questions. I might have to send a strongly worded e-mail to Mr. Abrams.

Anonymous said...

So, how is Jacob able to leave the island so freely? Is this just an incantation of Jacob and not the real Jacob?

Juanita's Journal said...

So if Jacob is right, and man is inherently good, then the light is protected. If MIB is right, and man is inherently bad, then the light is always at risk. The difference, really, is that Jacob believes the light can always be protected, while MIB sees its exploitation and expiration as inevitable.

I don't think that either of them are right. It seems as if both MIB and Jacob are unwilling to admit that man is both good and evil (or positive and negative), like everything else in nature. The characters on "LOST" have pretty much proven this. Yet, these two seem unwilling to admit this.

Anonymous said...

For those of you in Lincoln, The Ross is taking part in a live HD Q&A with the LOST creators! It may not answer too many questions, but may still be interresting/enlightening.

As far as this weeks episode goes: 1. Talk about a rough day for Claudia; trying to survive a shipwreck, going into LABOR, and being murdered...and I'd thought my day was tough...
2. And yes, I am still super confused. I thought the light went out when the MIB strolled on down the river, but that wouldn't make much sense as far as moving the island. I guess maybe they just didn't show it anymore...

the Mayor said...

4 minutes of Dude...this is awesome.