Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"LOST: Across the Sea"

DISCLAIMER: In a previous post, I discussed the importance of ABC's "LOST." Therefore, I am beginning a series which briefly explores thoughts on the show with respect to FITmedia and Truth in Fiction. Being as the posts are philosophical in nature, I will try to keep story spoilers to a minimum. However, because many of the philosophical pillars are tied to critical events, it is impossible to discuss without some spoilers. For those of you not following the show, I hope that these posts will be worthwhile on their own merit, and should they inspire you to watch the show, that they will not have ruined the plot for you. You have been warned.

"Across the Sea"

There is both much to say and not much that can be said about this episode. This episode is very central to the show's core mythology as we now understand it. It is the first episode in the series not to feature new footage of any of the Oceanic survivors. And to be quite frank, it could have done without replaying the Adam and Eve sequence from Season 1 ("House of the Rising Sun").

Every question leads to another question.

We now know the root of the Island's mysterious powers, even if we are at a loss to explain its rules. The light inside the Island apparently shares a little piece of itself with every person in the world, so if it goes out, it goes out everywhere. The question is: does each "pocket" of light or energy on the Island have different powers, or had the Dharma Initiative and others just used them in different ways.

If the pockets have different powers and each person has some of the Island's light inside them, then perhaps each person has different "special" abilities. Otherwise, perhaps anyone is capable of seeing dead people or surviving extreme electromagnetism under the right conditions. It isn't clear why the young Man in Black could see the ghost of Claudia, but young Jacob could not. It is also unclear how young Jacob had been sighted by both Sawyer and Desmond approximately 2000 years after he grew into a man—and many days after his death.

Then everyone will follow your rules.

When Jacob pushes his brother into the light, it is the most significant event the series has revealed so far. The Man in Black's "fate worse than death" is to become the Smoke Monster. However, we don't really know what that entails. The light seems to have gone out after the Monster clears the cave, yet if it seems not to have gone out everywhere. If this event is connected to the statements Widmore has made about what would happen if the Man in Black got off the Island, then presumably Jacob's job went from protecting the light to keeping his brother on the Island. Effectively, he changed the rules.

Yet their common past seems to echo throughout the history of the Island. The story of a distressed or sudden birth—where the mother is insistent on the baby's name—is a theme shared by Locke, Ben, and Aaron. The theme of mothers dying violently is prevalent in the Island's history. While the Man in Black killed his foster mother, she killed Jacob's and his biological mother. Ben's mother died in child birth, and the Others under his leadership suffered a plague of pregnant women dying. It is possible that the writers intended to imply that each child is causing his mother's death, much the way that the Man in Black did.

I made it so you can't kill each other.

Currently, the conflicted relationship between Widmore and Ben is a microcosm of the one between Jacob and the Man in Black, I believe, respectively. The two mortal men seem to be locked into the same rules of engagement as the twins. The method or magic by which the woman made that rule is unknown, as is the reason it also applies to the two mortal men.

This concept has always reminded me of the Mark of Cain from the Bible, where God made it so that no one would harm him. Biblical Jacob had a similar protection from God. Though, in neither case was the protection extended to the sibling—Cain having already killed Abel, and Jacob being in hiding from Esau. It is interesting to note that the biblical archetypes (and not the roles of good and evil) are a potential role reversal. Whereas biblical Jacob was encouraged by his mother to be dishonest (he was her favorite), wrestled with an angel (Samael, an angel of death), and went to live among other people, where he built a well; LOST Jacob cannot lie, is not his "mother's" favorite, and yet lives with her in the jungle. It is the Man in Black who wrestles with demons and goes to live with other people where he builds many wells.

Jacob doesn't know how to lie.

The Man in Black's ability to be dishonest seems to be a point of pride for his mother. Even though she vehemently criticizes men and their corrupt ways, she is a murderer and a liar herself. It is the ghost of the twins' biological mother who eventually reveals the truth. Strangely, she reveals it to the young Man in Black, who was told he was special by his "mother." Perhaps being told he was special is what triggered this special ability to see the dead, or perhaps something about his corruptness allows him to see.

Yet again, the ghosts may well be manipulators controlled by a third party whose agenda has yet to be revealed.
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