Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Across the Sea" Rewatch

Hi gang,

It is a busy week for the LOSTies and I am still pretty sure we will not get to a weekend episode. So I wanted to take some time here to address "Across the Sea" and my reaction to it.

A note before I start. It seems the episode has really riled up some fans and for the most part has left our LOST community really doubting the show and it's creators. That statement makes me sad - but I completely understand it. My initial reaction started off positive but quickly led to large complaints and lots of frustration. Hopefully I can use this post to clear up my thoughts on "Across the Sea."

I just finished re-watching the episode and thankfully, it did not leave me angry. In fact, I found myself quite compelled with the story and mythological elements - the answers as they could be called. As magical or mystical as all of this is ending up being, I still find the story very interesting. The problems are honestly in the details.

The first 13 minutes of "Across the Sea" are quite solid! The child acting is working because the script is ambiguous yet well done. I found the birth scene a creepy and wonderful backstory to Jacob and MIB and I was still very interested in learning about the kids growing up with Mother on the island. It is interesting to let my mind wonder about the Senet game and how it got to MIB and how Mother claimed she left it for him - all of this works.

Even as the episode ventures into "THE LIGHT" I was still with the episode completely. THE LIGHT is the definitive LOST device - "it is inside every man" - "they can't take it but it can go out" - "It will have to be one of YOU (who protects it)" the writers use this idea to define the ultimate drive of all characters on the show. Man wants this LIGHT - Jacob/MIB/Mother exist to protect it. What it is - will never be defined. It is divinity - it is the ambiguous reason we all exist. If you look at it too closely, it all comes crashing down around you (perhaps an indictment of science going too far).

The interesting aspect of this (up to this point) is what kind of creature Mother is! I like the theory that she was once human - she came to the island (just as Claudia or our LOSTies) and was inducted to protect THE LIGHT just as Jacob is. She does have power - she is eternal (she never ages in the episode) and can wipe out all humans... and apparently move lots of dirt and rocks really quickly. I would enjoy sitting around and talking about Mother with our community, there is quite a bit to discuss!

Yet, things within the episode are beginning to unravel. MIB (as a boy) sees Claudia - Jacob does not. Why do the writers make this distinction? Because they need to keep Jacob with his Mother. Does it contradict everything we have learned up to this? Seemingly. Why would there be a difference in the boys - why would Claudia and the power to see dead people be with only MIB? In addition, the acting and writing begins to flatten here: As Alex Hahn mentioned in his insta reaction on his podcast "It Only Ends Once," there is a horrendous line of dialogue "That's not true and one day I can prove it" that is delivered by MIB that just murders the scene. The child actor cannot deliver the bad line and the entire sequence simply is ruined by it.

And what a moment to drop the ball! This is the moment when MIB chooses to leave Mother and Jacob! It is vital to understanding his character. Unfortunately the character motivations are muddled which leads to issues with understanding why what is happening for the rest of the episode.

Another dropped ball is the Jacob/Mother "you love him more than I" routine. The writers needed conflict in some form with the brothers (in order to fully justify Jacob's anger) - yet never once in the episode do we get an indication of Mother actually loving MIB more! This needed to be specifically shown.

Moving on - the motivation of MIB continues to confuse. He lives with the humans - yet agrees with Mother that they are no good. In fact, the writers somehow attempt to empower Jacob with liking the humans. These choices are essential to the characters we see on the current island - Jacob is in defense of mankind - MIB dismisses it - WHY did the creators think this idea should be left to contradictory storytelling? Jacob is supposed to love Mother and dismiss the humans - yet he embraces them. MIB is supposed to dismiss, which he does, yet leaves Mother because of this point!

Of course the writers use "across the sea" as the motivating point - MIB wants to leave the island - so why muddy that up with contradictory motivations for and against mankind? I believe the writers are so determined to not have black or white characters that they are deliberately muddying motivations and sadly they are not doing it well - the result is confusion.

More confusing details; why would MIB equate THE LIGHT with getting off the island? Wouldn't building a ship suffice - perhaps a line of dialogue that states that they have tried to leave! In fact, if leaving is such an issue for these 3 characters - why did the creators decide to first show Jacob off the island visiting our LOSTies? Jacob can come and go as he pleases, why decide to make leaving the island such a grand point to the story?

One element that frustrated me was MIB's anger about the death of the humans - but as I write this I do get an idea of the motivation. He needed the smart men to complete the donkey wheel - Mother killed them. Now he is again trapped. That was not abundently clear, but I do understand with the 2nd viewing. I also caught the explanation of "crazy mother." MIB spoke of her being crazy when Jacob pulled him to THE LIGHT - she killed the men - she does not understand his need to leave - she trapped him - she killed his mother - she was crazy. That now adds up and I can let my concern rest.

I am still very confused as to why MIB/Smoke Monster would then begin killing off humans that arrive on the island. Would they not be useful in getting off? The "Ab Aeterno" sequence showed us that Smokey killed immediately - he seemingly only scanned Richard! I wish we would see a sequence where he found someone useful - scanned them - and then manipulated. Being empathetic to MIB in "Across the Sea" may make the ending of LOST more "profuound" and less good/evil - but I feel my enjoyment may lessen because of it.

To wrap this up - I do feel quite a few details, motivations, and filmmaking issues (acting, writing, etc.) were sorely mishandled this week. The story is still fascinating and interesting to me. I only wish they would have taken more time to get this right.



  1. Good points, I haven't re-watched yet but on a podcast someone mentioned that when Jacob went back to the caves after finding the BIB's game, the mother looked up excitingly until she noticed that it was just Jacob, then she kind of change her emotions. That can show that the mother did like BIB more.

  2. Well spoken. Respect

    I agree this episode and others could have been executed better, but it is what it is, we can either find a way to accept it and move forward or get upset and quit. :(

  3. Michael - I do know the shot you mentioned but I do not feel that does enough. It is a small point - but one I wish they would have handled better.

    MethodicJon - Your ultimatum definitely is needed for others but not me. I love this show, this ride, everything about it! When I complain it is because I want more from this show I love. There is no way at this point I am going to turn my back on LOST!



  4. Well done Jed, with some great points. I left out of my video the confusion of how not-mother killed all the humans and filled the well. Was she smokey? Was smokey's inception when BIB went into the "light" So much confusion. However, I am in agreement with you. I still love the show and would not turn my back on it now. With all that being said, it was s disappointing episode in many ways even though we did get some great information. I truly believe they will redeem themselves this Tuesday and I have faith that I will be happy with the ending. Enjoy your weekend.

  5. Great and very eloquent comments, Jed. Thanks for mentioning my show. My biggest frustration is the monster explanation, or lack thereof. There was no explanation of the sounds of the monster or its apparently mechanical elements. The explanation seems very circular and perfunctory. I do feel like a chump for creating a three part podcast trilogy on the monster.


  6. Mother needed something pure and good to replace her. So when she got her hands on the children, that was the best thing that could happen. She had to kill Claudia to eliminate any potential threat to the children's upbringing.

    I think the fact Mother loved MIB was showed slightly within the episode. The scene on the beach with both Mother and MIB she said he was special. Jacob never got the special talk until Mother needed him.

    Also, I noticed that Mother knew when her time was up. A lot like Jacob knew his time was up when Ben and Locke walked into his... Foot. They both had the sad
    truth etched upon their faces. Mother sent Jacob away knowing what she was
    going back to. I thought that was a nice touch.

    I liked this episode overall.

    Craig from Scotland!!!