In the words of John Locke, I was wrong.
In a way, I think we’ve all been wrong.
We were wrong about our approach to Lost over the years. It’s not our fault, really – it’s the way the show was presented to us from the start – that Lost was going to be one big mystery, a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It was a battle of wits between the show’s creators and its viewers. They were leaving little clues along the way, slowly revealing the truth behind the mystery – and we assumed that if you were smart enough, spent enough time thinking about it, researching, and collaborating with others, that we would be able to “figure it out”. That’s pretty much the origin story of this Blog – it was a way for my friends to discuss the show together, to try and figure out what it all meant, where it was heading, and what the ending would be. We were going to outsmart the writers and figure out the ending before they told us. We were wrong.
“Across the Sea” simply solidified something that we should have known all along – there isn’t going to be a clear-cut answer. The hints were there all along. The first season ended by opening the Hatch, but not showing what was inside. It frustrated a lot of people – people who wanted answers – but allowed the audience to spend the summer speculating and debating, discussing Lost. Over the next five seasons, they have thrown enough characters, side stories, and mythology at us that it required a degree of obsessiveness to keep it all straight. We’ve been waiting for the big reveal, when they throw back the curtain and magically tie EVERYTHING together – Jacob, Smokey, Dharma, Hanso, the Others, the Swan Hatch Implosion, the Incident, Widmore, Ben, the crazy connections between all our Survivors, the whispers, the time travel, the funky time, the FDW, and Jacob’s Cabin. We were hoping that at the end of this season, we’d all say “Oh! I get it – that’s how all of these pieces of the puzzle fit together – it was all building up towards this ending! Now I understand it all!”
But if you think about it, that kinda “closes the book” on Lost.
It’s going to piss a lot of people off, but I think the creators of Lost are going in the complete opposite direction – they’re going to leave the book open. They’re going to leave volumes of unanswered questions – and questions that they only provide vague answers to, so that Lost lives on. The debate can continue. People can continue to pull together pieces of the overall Lost storyline to draw their own conclusions.
The book of Lost is going to stay open forever.
If you’ve listened to the interviews and podcasts with Damon and
So how does this make you feel?
To some, it’s a beautiful thing. Lost truly becomes a work of art – the type of thing that can be discussed and revisited unlimited times over the years, each time connecting with the viewer in a different way based on where they are at in life. Philosophy classes can dive in and dissect the big questions that Lost posed – and in true philosophy fashion, not have any right or wrong answers. Lost is about life. Life is about big questions that can’t be answered. But the important thing is that we ask them and think about them.
To some, it’s the worst thing ever. We were promised answers (indirectly from the show’s creators over the years, directly from the ABC promos this season), and while we are getting some answers to minor things, a lot of the major ones are left dangling. It’s a story without an ending. While it’s fun to have each person make up their own interpretations, we want to know the interpretations of the show’s creators, whether we agree with them or not. Life is already full of unanswered questions. Lost doesn’t need to be one of them.
Where do I fall in this debate?
Like Natalie Imbruglia, I’m torn. Part of me likes that this means Lost will never end. Years from now, I can come back to it and view it totally differently than I view it today. People can continue to debate it and draw meaning from it. It becomes this living, breathing thing that lives on even after the show ends.
On the other hand, I think that by doing this, the writers have kinda cheated. By knowing that they were never going to have to definitively answer some of these big questions, it’s allowed them to use them as plot points and twist them in ways that almost become contradictory. Those of us who are looking for the big answers to tie them all together have worked long and hard to try and tie together all the things we know into one cohesive theory – but it’s impossible (see: explaining Jacob’s Cabin). That’s my problem with it.
I have yet to talk to anyone who loved “Across the Sea”. The reactions have ranged from indifference to downright hatred. A lot of this can be blamed on the production values, child actors, pacing, and the lack of firm answers that so many people assumed were forthcoming. But the funny thing is that once you accept that Lost isn’t going to give you these firm answers, this episode provided a lot of fodder for discussion and debate – perhaps more so than any other episode this season. Isn’t that what the Lost experience has always been about?
Yes, Lost has decided to go a route that is going to make a lot of people angry. But when you stop worrying about needing the answers, it’s a lot easier to appreciate what they have given us – a whole hell of a lot of entertainment.
With that, let’s get into the analysis of “Across the Sea” – or should I say, MY analysis of “Across the Sea”. Your analysis could be totally different – but it’s not right or wrong (a soldier’s last breath, his baby’s being born), that’s the beauty of Lost:
Light. The lack of definitive answers has never been more evident than it was with the magically, gooey, bright, warm light that we saw this episode. It seems as though it’s the source of the “unique electromagnetic properties” of the Island, the reason why so many weird things happen there, and is the thing that makes the
According to The Woman:
“It’s light. The warmest, brightest light you've ever seen or felt. And we must make sure that no one ever finds it. Because a little bit of this very same light is inside of every man. But they always want more. And if they tried they could put it out. And if the light goes out here... it goes out everywhere. It is life, death, and rebirth. It’s the source, the heart of the island…”
With that explanation, it literally could be anything. If you want to get sappy, it could be something like love. If you want to get science-y, it could be something like electricity. If you want to get spiritual, it could be something like a soul.
Me? I want to get logical… and the most logical thing I can come up with to explain the light is that it is POWER.
There’s a little bit of power inside of everyone, if someone tries to gain all the power, it goes out (i.e. – uncontrolled power could destroy the world). We each have the power to create life (bow-chika-wow-wow), kill people, and be reborn – to start fresh and pick ourselves up after we fall… redemption (you know, kinda like the central theme of Lost).
It also works well to tie in this explanation with Widmore – although it seems as though Widmore may have some altruistic intentions, we’ve also been told by Ben that he wants to harness the power of the Island for his own personal gain. For reasons unknown, the Island is home to ridiculous power, the side effects of which are the “unique electromagnetic properties we’ve seen”, a power so strong that if manipulated (FDW), it can bend time (funky time and time travel) and space (move the Island).
Hmmm – maybe we’re going to stumble upon some overall answers in this analysis after all!
The other thing The Woman told us about the light?
“No matter what you do, you won’t ever go down there. It’d be worse than dying… much worse.”
Smokey and The Woman. At the conclusion of the episode, Jacob threw Anti-Jacob into the heart of the
I don’t think so.
There are two huge pieces of evidence that Smokey existed before the Anti-Jacob incident:
- The fact that The Woman knows the repercussions of going into the heart of the
Island. How would she know unless she had seen it happen before?
- The bodies at the Roman Camp massacre looked just like the Pilot’s body after being attacked by Smokey… and unless you’re a Smoke Monster, I don’t know how else you could quickly kill all those people AND fill in their FDW hole.
With all these hints that Smokey existed pre-Anti-Jacob, where was he this episode?
Right before our eyes, in the shape of The Woman.
Get ready for the “big theory” portion of the Blog Post:
I think that The Woman was Jacob and Smokey all rolled into one. She was THE protector of the
Periodically, people would accidentally end up on the
The wheels were in motion. Now all she needed was two people to mold into these roles – and she got exactly that when Claudia showed up.
(Aside: I’m not sure if The Woman truly brought Claudia to the Island the same way that we’re supposed to believe that Jacob brought our Survivors to the
From there, The Woman carried out her plan, cleverly manipulating the two boys into the roles she needed – a calm, loyal protector (Jacob) and a strong-minded angry enforcer (Anti-Jacob). It’s easy to see how everything we saw in “Across the Sea” was part of this master plan.
Ghost Claudia appears to Anti-Jacob (but not Jacob), which helps drive him away.
The Woman allows Anti-Jacob to grow up with mankind to understand how terrible it is, effectively giving him the same views that she has (and we know he retained these views, since he repeated her “They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt... and it always ends the same” speech to Jacob years later.
Once Anti-Jacob gets too close to leaving the
The Woman quickly takes Jacob to the Heart of the Island to force him to become the Protector of the
The Woman knew that once Jacob discovered her dead body, he would throw Anti-Jacob into the Heart of the Island, thanks to all the little hints she dropped along the way (i.e. – “you can’t kill Anti-Jacob” and “going into the Heart of the
The plan played out exactly as she wanted. With her death, Jacob became the Protector of the Island without having to go into the Heart of the
Anti-Jacob is basically trapped, like the Genie in Aladdin. Jacob gets to come and go from the
(Note: Isn’t it ironic that the two individuals that have “been” the Smoke Monster didn’t have true names? The Woman and Anti-Jacob. That’s gotta be intentional on the writers’ part, but I’m not sure why.)
I have to give it to The Woman and Anti-Jacob. When they make a plan, they make a plan – it might take years to see through and involve so many moving parts that it almost seems impossible to guarantee it’ll work – but in the case of the Separation of Power and The Loophole, both took a really long and complicated path to finally achieve their goals. That’s good project management right there.
That pretty much sums up the meat of the episode, doesn’t it?
Looking back, there were a lot of interesting little scenes (like Anti-Jacob talking to Jacob as if he is a detached god, “That’s easy for you to say. Looking down on us from above. Trust me, I’ve lived among them for 30 years.” It’s curious that this is exactly what Jacob ends up being, pre-Alpert. A god who wants people to do things on their own without his involvement), but I can’t think of anything else that requires any heavy thinking and analysis.
Where do we go from here?
I wonder if Jacob found himself in a similar predicament as The Woman – that mankind sucks, so how could he ever find a replacement if Anti-Jacob was successful in killing him? Although he started with a large number of potential candidates, I wonder if instead of trying to whittle the list down to one “winner”, he’s actually looking to whittle the list down to a group of “winners” – the final Candidates, our Survivors. Maybe he’s looking to take the Separation of Power one step further, to prevent the issues that he encountered with his brother wanting to kill him. If there were a group of people who all shared the responsibility, it’s possible that you could build a happy little utopia on the Island, where they both protect the
It’s a little “Captain Planet”, but looking at the remaining Candidates on the
The Outrigger. Finally, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I’d rather have you hear it from me than from some stranger on the street. We’re never going to see the other side of the Juliet / Outrigger scene. Read this interview (which reiterates a lot of my points from the start of this Blog post), and focus on this question and answer from Damon and
Q: Okay, finally, I have to ask, simply because it's been driving me nuts for a year and a half: what's going on with showing the other half of the outrigger shootout?
CC: The outrigger shootout is not something we're bending around in gyrations so we can solve it. In the grand scheme of the show, that is a fairly obscure piece of the show. It is your particular obsession...
DL: ...and you're not alone in it.
CC: You're not alone in it. And yes, it would have been great if we had had the opportunity to close the time loop. But you can't get everything done and keeping the narrative going in a straight line. This is one of those things where we made a very conscious choice to ask, "What are the big questions? And most importantly, what are the paths of these characters? Where do they lead?" And we followed those paths and tried not to trip ourselves up getting too diverted from that. We felt that that's the thing that's ultimately going to make the finale work or not work. We got to the point where we made the finale we wanted to make, that was our approach, and I think it was the only approach we could take. We sat here in my office, had breakfast every day for six years, talked about the show, and we used this gut check methodology, where if we both loved something and thought it was cool, that would go in. We applied that same methodology to the finale, and that was the only way we could do it. We came up with a finale that we thought was cool, that was emotional and one we really liked. That's the best we could do.
DL: When we wrote that scene and somebody started shooting at them, we knew exactly who was shooting at them. That is not a dangling thread that we don't know the answer to. That being said, as we started talking about paying that off this season, it felt like the episode was at the service of closing the time loop, as opposed to what the characters might actually be doing in that scenario. It never felt organic. We decided we would rather take our lumps from the people who couldn't scratch that itch than to produce an episode that was in service of putting people in an outrigger and getting shot at.
Q: You put people in a lot of outriggers this season. It feels, frankly, like you're taunting me.
DL: We can't entirely deny that we're taunting you.
CC: Honestly, though, the logistics of getting all the participants in the outriggers in the configuration that was on the A-side of the time loop was actually really daunting.
DL: Considering half of them had been killed off
CC: It's not like we didn't want to do it. Like Damon says, it was just too much of a narrative deviation to do it.
To me, that kinda sucks. One, it means that as recently as one season ago, the writers still didn’t actually have the ending of Lost plotted out well enough to actually get to the tail end of storylines they were introducing at the time. Unlike The Woman and Anti-Jacob, that’s poor project management. It’s also a little frustrating that they had plenty of episodes earlier this season to carry out the conclusion to this scene (honestly, are there any characters that haven’t been on Outriggers at one point this season?), but chose not to because they were afraid to “pull the trigger” (pun!) and potentially kill off a main character before the very end of the season.
But remember – there’s no reason to get angry about this. We just need to accept that this is the show that Lost is going to be – the kind of show where questions won’t be answered, but the questions that will be posed will be very good. Stop worrying and love the Lost – we’ve only got three and a half hours left.
It seems as though another line from the episode was directed at us, the viewers, as if it was uttered by Damon and
“Every question I answer will simply lead to another question. Just be grateful you're alive.”
Amen to that.
Until next week!