No spoilers for future episodes here, but I will mention stuff that happened in “Across the Sea”, so if you haven’t seen that one…please see it before you read any further!
Fabulous episode. Just stupendous. Not without faults, but stupendous nonetheless.
We’ll start with the stupendous. Which on LOST always means, “the craziest person on the Island.”
Stupendousness: The “Woman,” the unnamed female who took in a pregnant shipwreck survivor, helped birth her twin boys, and then smashed her head in with a rock. As disturbing as that was, it was pretty stupendous, because this is a woman 100 percent driven by survival, and obviously having a successor (a candidate?) is important enough, at least in her mind, to kill for. Bet she never imagined in a million years she’d get to choose between two successors – in fact, it’s the presence of these two original “candidates” that sets all this terrible stuff in motion. More on that in the next paragraph.
Stupendousness: The depth of these twins’ characters. It’s not just a simple case of good twin vs. bad twin. Because we find out that the Man in Black (at that time only the Kid in Black) was the favored son. But the MIB is driven by a burning desire to discover, to leave the Island and see the outside world. Mother’s favorite child is loaded with the hubris that causes all the grief on the Island, all the fighting and corruption and destruction. Kind of like a certain doctor we’ve come to know and love and sometimes be really annoyed by. Jacob, the kid she doesn’t like so much, is content with staying in the only home he’s ever known. Kind of like Locke. It’s fascinating that the bodiless MIB would choose for his vessel someone who in life was so much like his brother Jacob.
That second baby really screwed things up, didn’t he? Because he gave Mother a choice, a chance for free will to run amok. Had it just been Jacob, Jacob would have been the one to take her place as Guardian o’ the Cave. Clearly, she wanted it to be the other son, and clearly Jacob knew this his whole life, which was why he was in such a snit when Mother asked him to take over. Crazy Mama prefers the son who’s most likely to leave her, and the kid who was always loyal gets stuck with all the responsibilities. Recipe for strife, and just reminiscent enough of the Prodigal Son tale to be quite stupendous.
Stupendousness: The MIB getting sucked down that hole in the cave that it didn’t seem like he should have fit through. Creeeeeeeeeepy. It reminded me of that scene in IT where Pennywise the Clown comes up through the shower drain to attack little Eddie Kaspbrak! (I didn’t shower without fear for a month after seeing that.)
Stupendousness: To backtrack to the beginning of the episode, when I saw open water and debris and a person started surfacing…I jumped up and yelled, “Lapidus is alive! Lapidus is alive….oh, it’s some chick.” They fooled me for a second, there. But Lapidus is alive. He may still be adrift somewhere, but he’s still in the game.
And now for the cheese. For the record, it’s forgivable cheese, and I’m over it. But still cheese.
Cheese: Mother’s “in the light is life/death/rebirth” speech. C’mon. Really? The source of all light is in this cave, and every human being gets a little bit, so it’s like the source of human souls, or something? And what can destroy it is human greed for more of what they already have? A valid idea, but in a literary sense, haven’t we all been to this picnic before? This ain’t new. Well, maybe the cave part.
Crossing the line from mystery to cheese SO wasn’t necessary, either. Would have been easy to avoid by just cutting back on specifics. Mother didn’t have to know exactly what the Cave was or what was in it or what would happen if the light somehow went out, or if God forbid someone went in there. How would she know? Who told her? Not to mention that just a minute ago, she was convinced the boys weren’t ready to know anything about the Cave yet, and now she’s telling them everything? It’s much more effective, from a dramatic standpoint, to leave a little more to the imagination.
Case in point: Mother grabbing the kid by the shoulders and saying, “I’ve made it so you can never hurt each other.” Much cooler, because you don’t know how she did it. Gets your imagination going.
If you saw Mother chanting up an invisible chain and locking it around his ankle, you’d think that was cheesy. (Yes, the thought has crossed my mind, because of that chain-y sound we hear when Smokey appears.) If she just looked him in the eyes and said in a grave, yet pleading tone of voice, “You can never leave”? Much more suspenseful because you get to wonder why. Very “Hotel California.”
Another example? My favorite creepy/cool moment of the episode, when Mother and Jacob share a drink, and he looks all, “wow, what just happened there,” and she says, “Now you and I are the same.” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? That they don’t age? I’m dying of curiosity. Ironically, if she had answered my question and said, “Now you’re like me; you won’t age,” I would have filed that scene under “c” for “crapload of cheese.”
Even though we need (and deserve!) answers, we don’t always need such a detailed answer. Mother was able to torch that village of Others without showing us how she did it; I really wish she’d been a little cagier with her Cave info.
Speaking of that cave, isn’t the quickest way to get a kid to do something telling them it’s not allowed? Because I’m sure from the moment Mother showed them that cave, they both secretly wondered what would happen if they went into it, or launched their little brothers into it. Not Mother’s best decision. But then, she’s crazy.
Cheese: Flashing to scenes of Kate and Jack finding “Adam and Eve,” and geez, Locke even saying, “our very own Adam and Eve.” Overkill. Um, haven’t we had this “Adam and Eve” mystery tucked into the back of our brains since season 1, assembling candidates in our minds, while wondering what the black and white stones meant? Sure, you could argue that it was for the benefit of those who haven’t been hooked on this show since the beginning, but c’mon. We already met up with Adam and Eve’s corpses again this season, when Hurley speculated they might be “us”, left over from time traveling to dinosaur times. That was enough of a reminder. And it gave us a chuckle.
All right, to sum up…lest you think I hated this episode, I did not. I loved it. Despite its cheese, which was far outweighed by cool revelations. I do have one lingering question, though: The Man in Black has stated that he knows what it’s like to lose someone you love. While he did lose his mother, I don’t know if that counts, since he was the one who killed her. Think he had a girlfriend (or even a wife) somewhere in that village of Others? He may think of himself as a man of science, but he’s a man first!