Wednesday, May 12, 2010
"Every question I answer will simply lead to another question."
This episode was packed with explanations and answers, and also raised about a thousand new questions that will likely never get answered. We should be used to this by now. I'm going to focus on the positive: we have an origin story! Like a lot of the mysteries on LOST, we've waited so long for this that it's easy to be let down when we learn the specifics. Overall though, I thought the writers did justice to the story and I found most of the explanations satisfying.
"Mihi nomen est Claudia"
In ancient Rome, Claudia was a vestal virgin (priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth; the most well-known vestal virgin from Roman mythology is Rhea Sylvia, mother of the twins Romulus and Remus , the founders of Rome - in the story they are taken from their mother as infants and raised by a she-wolf.) It means "lame."
"I only picked one name."
We've seen several women announce their baby's name after giving birth, a very Biblical practice. Those who speculated early on about Jacob and Esau weren't too far from the mark - Jacob and the Man in Black are twins who were jealous of their mother's attention and became nemeses. And after all the speculation, we're going to have to keep on calling him the Man in Black. After this episode, the possibility that they're holding out on his name for a big surprise is a very small one. I think he just doesn't have a name. And I wonder if not having a name provided an open window - a gap in his identity - that allowed him to become the Smoke Monster. Like John Locke, who was searching for acceptance and a purpose in life. In any case, finding out he has no name is better than finding out his name is Kevin or Steve.
"Do you want to play or don't you, Jacob?"
I think it's significant that Jacob is presented with a choice - sort of. He chooses to play with his brother, but without understanding what the game really is. Later on Mother tells him "You don't really have a choice." No wonder he values free will so much in his dealings with the future candidates: he wants them to be able to freely choose to protect the Island because he never got that choice.
Mother keeps Jacob and his brother separated from the other people on the Island so they will remain pure and innocent. You'd think the candidates should have those same qualities too, right? So why are Sawyer and Sayid candidates? They are the exact opposite of pure and innocent. If the Island's protector really does have to be good, innocent, and untainted, there is only one choice out of the candidates - Hurley. Or maybe Jacob isn't actually looking for someone to take his place - maybe he's looking for someone to stop the cycle and end the game once and for all.
"There is nowhere else. The Island is all there is."
Mother is lying to Jacob and his brother to keep them sheltered on the Island so they can replace her as its protector, but there might be some truth to what she's saying too. If the Island is the source of the ultimate good and evil, maybe it really is "all there is." The Losties have been told that if the smoke monster escapes, everyone they know will "cease to exist" - in a sense, maybe the whole world is dependent on the balance of good and evil on the Island.
"What's dead?" "Something you will never have to worry about."
Again, Mother is lying to Jacob's brother - but unintentionally this time. She believes he will become the next protector of the Island and be immortal. And in a sense, she's right; he lives on as the smoke monster, with at least part of himself intact. It's interesting that the Brother was able to see his dead mother, but Jacob was not. Is this an indication that he is "special"...or was Claudia really the smoke monster, reaching out to the Brother early on and turning him against Mother? I'm reminded of another young boy who saw his deceased mother and decided to leave his people as a result - Benjamin Linus.
"The game came from Mother"
...and not just the game the boys found on the beach: the whole game. She's the one who set Jacob up as the Island's protector, and who made it so that they couldn't kill each other (although several beat-downs and a drowning make me doubt her power in that area.) I'm guessing she also made (or at least passed down) the rules that prevented Ben and Widmore from killing each other, and that determined the qualifications of candidates. When Alex is killed and Ben says "He changed the rules" I thought he was talking about Widmore, but now I think he must have been referring to Jacob. Like his brother said, "One day you can make up your own game and everyone else will have to follow your rules."
"They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt, and it always ends the same."
Interesting that the Man in Black believes this just as his mother did, but Jacob rejects this line of thinking. In many ways, young Jacob seems like a mama's boy, willing to blindly accept whatever she tells him, but over the years he develops his own ideas. I'm sad we won't get to see more of how that happens.
"This is the reason we're here...if the light goes out here, it goes out everywhere."
I know this part was a bit over the top/fantasy novel for some, and I'd count myself in with them. We're far from the "scientific explanation for everything" show we thought we were getting back in the early seasons. It is key to the mythology however, and the urgency of the need to find a new protector: they're not just preventing evil from leaving the Island, they're also protecting the light from being found and used (or put out) by anyone else. It's the Ring, the Force, the Dark Tower. It explains a lot about the two opposing forces that have been at play on the Island from the very beginning - it's not just Jacob v. MiB, it's light v. dark - literally. When Locke says, "I've looked into the eye of this Island, and what I saw was beautiful" (in the show's 5th episode!) it finally makes sense.
"Now you and I are the same"
The wine Mother serves Jacob is the same wine Jacob later gives Richard when he grants him immortality, the one the Man in Black smashes. Was the wine itself what transferred power, or is her whispered incantation the equivalent of Jacob's touch? Mother begging him to "take the cup and drink" has overtones of Christ's sacrifice - one of many allusions to Jacob as Jesus (healing, granting immortality, watching from above.) The way Mother thanks the Man in Black for killing her reminded me of Jacob's own death and explains a bit why he didn't seem that bothered about getting murdered.
"They're a means to an end."
The Man in Black is using the Losties the same way he used "his people" in this episode - as a way to get off the Island. They really are pawns in a game they don't understand. I loved the reveal that the Man in Black was responsible for installing the donkey wheel - and the dagger he throws against the well and later uses to kill Mother is the same one Dogen ends up giving to Sayid. The Man in Black's driving force is the quest for knowledge - knowledge that will let him leave the Island. Original sin, anyone? Which is a nice segue to...
"Our very own Adam and Eve"
The writers have said all along that the scene with Adam and Eve (from the 6th episode of season 1!) would prove that they knew the end game from the start. The Island's Adam and Eve is actually Mother and Kevin/Steve. I loved this reveal, although I thought the flashback montage was unnecessary. And one detail they omitted: in that scene, Jack says that the decomposition of the bodies and clothing indicates that they have been there for "40 or 50 years." Yeah... give or take 2000. To me that makes it pretty obvious that the writers did not know from the beginning who those bodies were going to be. But maybe the real lesson here is that Jack is not an anthropologist.
So many answers, but so many more questions...
-How did Mother get to the Island? I don't quite believe her when she says she got there "by accident." Whose place did she take? I realize this is one of those questions that can never have a truly satisfying answer, because there is always someone else before, always another (wo)man behind the curtain. This is why her character wasn't given a name - she's iconic, representing all the previous protectors of the Island. As Mark Lisanti put it, "archetypes don't get real names, sillypants!"
-Where did the Others come from? Not the shipwrecked people Claudia came with (who all got killed off), but the people we came to know as Jacob's followers. And how did Jacob become their leader?
-How did Mother wipe out an entire village of people and fill in a well single-handedly?
-Did Jacob create the smoke monster by throwing his brother into the light? Or was it already there, waiting to be unleashed?
-Now that we know that the boy in the jungle is a young Jacob - why? We've seen Jacob appear since he died, but always in his adult form. Is he just trying to spook his brother? Or is he being reborn in some way, rising from the ashes like a phoenix?
-And the big one (for me - I was really disappointed this didn't get addressed): why can't the Man in Black leave the Island? What are the actual rules governing his ability to go? And what exactly would be so terrible about him leaving? It's been hinted around so much, I was hoping for some clarity on this one. Maybe it's yet to come.
-The Man in Black clearly thinks he knows the rules about how he can leave the Island, but I suspect Jacob has changed the rules in ways MiB isn't yet aware of. I won't be surprised if we get near the end and Jacob responds to one of MiB's moves by saying, "You can't do that." And I'm willing to bet it has something to do with the young Jacob we keep seeing in the jungle.
-When MiB was thrown into the light, something terrible was born (or unleashed.) I wonder what would happen if Desmond (the variable, who can somehow withstand huge doses of electromagnetism) went into the light? If throwing the MiB in resulted in evil incarnate escaping, will a good soul like Desmond's result in releasing the ultimate good - the one thing that can destroy Smokey?
And one last gripe...
-With only a few hours of the series left, I can't believe they dedicated a whole episode to Jacob and the MiB. As Jimmy Kimmel put it, that would be like making the third to last episode of Seinfeld entirely about the Soup Nazi. There is so much to wrap up in the sideways world, and a lot still going on in present time on the Island. I loved the episode on its own, but I think it would have been much more effective earlier in the season. Who knows though, maybe after seeing how things conclude I'll change my mind.