By Jeff Jensen May 12, 2010
They are not Cain and Abel. They are not Jacob and Esau. At least, not the Jacob and Esau from The Bible. They are not angels or demons, they are not gods or monsters, and they are not incarnations of dead castaways like Juliet and Daniel Faraday. (Seriously! Whoever came up with that last idea was, like, totally stupid or totally high or totally nuts! Somebody shoot that guy before he hurts someone with nutty theories!) No, in the end, Jacob and the Man In Black are revealed to be a pair of brothers who have something in common with a lot of characters on Lost: they got royally screwed by some really crappy parenting.
Meet the mother of all Others — The Other Mother, if you will, and in more ways than one. Nameless, lonely, and more than a little loony (and nicely underplayed by The West Wing's Allison Janney), The Woman Known Only As ''Mother'' was the proto-Rousseau, more fit to raise Claire's fake squirrel baby than two human beings. She was a Wicked Wiccan Witch of the West, an earthy demi-goddess gone gonzo, an old world oracle-priestess gone dangerously loco. A long time ago, across the sea and far away, this nameless wilderness mystic with the hair net tiara — Jacob's immediate predecessor as Island guardian (and/or its previous smoke monster?) — stumbled upon a shipwrecked castaway named Claudia. She took the pregnant beauty to her camp, helped deliver her fraternal twin boys, and then took a rock and bashed in the poor woman's head. (Happy Belated Mother's Day!) She raised the children as her own. She filled their minds with interesting notions about the nature of reality and the nature of man. And through it all, she tended the soil like a patient gardener and worked her loom like a crafty fury of fate. What did she get out of the deal? Companionship. Motherhood. And perhaps... an ending to an eternal obligation? With her dying breath, she thanked the son she loved the most, the one that was most like her, the ''special'' one with the angry spirit — the dreamer; the gamer; the liar; the cynic — for stabbing her in the back and through the heart. Were the boys nothing but an escape plan? Did she raise one to take her job and the other to take her life? Is this the way The Island works?
''Across The Sea'' promised oodles of noodle-cooking Island mythology, and we got just that — which is to say, a yarn that played like myth, albeit with a mean deconstructive streak. You got the sense that the drama that unfolded in this hour left some indelible grooves on the psychography of the living Island, laying track for all future drama to follow. Did the Mother/Jacob/Man In Black drama curse this world like the Biblical fall of man? Did this tragic trio doom future Island visitors to suffer through adaptations of their same sad story? So many shared elements. Shipwrecked castaways. A deadly first encounter with a supernatural Island entity. ''Special'' children and child abduction. Ghosts. Suspicion and conflict with Others. Mystery boxes and games. The war between faith and reason. Betrayal and murder. Does the current iteration of this repeating myth involving Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and the rest of the surviving Oceanic 815 lot represent one more manifestation of the cycle that will continue forever and ever, Amen? Or is the great twist of the entire Lost saga is that everyone, friend or foe — from the castaways to Fake Locke to Dead Jacob — are actually striving toward the same end from different angles: reversing the curse; breaking the chain; cleaning the slate; reboot. We shall see.
Slightly less murky than that previous paragraph: the big answers we got from ''Across The Sea.'' We learned that The Island sits on a whirlpool of ethereal life-giving energy — a wellspring of eternal life; a wormhole into the afterlife; weird-ass well of holy moley whatchamacallit. We learned that if you get tossed into this warm and fuzzy mystic maelstrom, your immortal soul gets severed from your mortal body. Behold the origin of Puffy the Magically Miffed Dragon, the spiritual portion of the Man In Black's once-integrated person, exorcised from his coil after pissy Jacob punted his ass into the lacerating light for slaying their faux ma. And we learned that the Adam and Eve skeletons belong to MIB's first body and the woman who raised/warped him.
It'll take days and weeks and probably longer for the willing to mine this sucker for all its explicit and implicit meaning. At the same time, I think we should be wary of coming to hard and fast conclusions about ''Across The Sea.'' In fact, I think ''Across The Sea'' stands as a cautionary tale about the siren call of ''hard and fast'' conclusions. Mother said a lot of interesting stuff — but how much of it was true? The whole of her knowledge seemed to be a combination of inherited wisdom (which was probably flawed to begin with) and her own discovery and guesswork (which was surely distorted by her issues and instability). And her boys stand as critiques of belief, as exemplars of reaction formation. The Man In Black, so angry and betrayed by Mother, rejected her religion out of spite. He could only embrace her cynicism. He has only hardened over time. Jacob, so dependent upon and beholden to his mother, couldn't afford to question her. Even after receiving divine enlightenment via holy communion, Jacob spent his life trying to win a painful childhood argument. ''Across The Sea'' confirmed once and for all that The Island is a fundamentally spiritual place — but one that most likely defies human understanding, let alone a fundamentalist interpretation. Lost seems to be saying that something like God actually exists — but anyone who claims to know who or what God is probably wrong, if not biased and untrustworthy, if not totally off their rocker.
''Across The Sea'' was an unconventional outing that deserves props for benching its stars to give us a story that felt absolutely necessary for establishing the Big Picture context for the series and the final act that is at last upon us. I thought the Man In Black in particular was well serviced; his unrepentant evil in the present as Fake Locke was given complex context that imbued him anew with a surprising degree of sympathy. Still, I can't say I loved the episode. My brain was activated. My emotions, not so much. I thought it was a collection of massive, Grade A ideas in a small, Grade B package. (I think Lost should have begged ABC for an extra half hour to give this extremely compressed affair some space to breathe and to allow for one extra subplot: a love story, most likely tragic, for the Man In Black during his years among his people. Think: the Michael Corleone-in-Italy sequence in The Godfather.) I can sum up most of my quibbles in two words: kid actors. It really wasn't until Mark Pellegrino and Titus Welliver showed up at the halfway mark that I leaned forward in my chair and got lost in the story... although even then, there were moments when I wondered if these two fine actors weren't completely connecting with the material. I wouldn't be too surprised if some of you felt the same way. One man's ''This is meaningful stuff!'' is another man's ''This is a bunch of murky bulls--t!'' (Indeed, from the instant reactions posted to ew.com and on Twitter, it seems ''Across The Sea'' can lay claim to being the most polarizing episode of the season.) Of course, I happen to be a fan of both meaningful stuff and murky bulls--t, so this episode worked for me more than it didn't.
The Island World
All The Best Candidates Have Mother Issues
''I suddenly realized that in the language, or at any rate in the spirit of the Glass Bead Game, everything actually was all-meaningful, that every symbol and combination of symbols led not hither and yon, not to single examples, experiments, and proofs, but into the center, the mystery and innermost heart of the world, into primal knowledge. Every transition from major to minor in a sonata, every transformation of a myth or a religious cult, every classical or artistic formulation was, I realized in that flashing moment, if seen with truly a meditative mind, nothing but a direct route into the interior of the cosmic mystery, where in the alternation between inhaling and exhaling, between heaven and earth, between Yin and Yang, holiness is forever being created.'' — Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game
''Mother.'' Who was she? Where did she come from? How did she become The Island's custodian? She was introduced via reflection in water. I thought: Lady of the Lake? When she was applying healing twigs to Claudia's injuries, I thought: Could the ''Gaia Theory'' crowd actually be correct? But the more we got to know Mother, the more it became clear she was just a human being — the latest in a long line of human beings who've found themselves marooned on the secret heart of the world and who have taken it upon themselves to protect its mysteries. ''Across The Sea'' clarified once and for all that Lost saga is about mortal people and mortal concerns. And by the way, I do think becoming The Island's vanguard is a choice. I'm beginning to suspect that Fake Locke was right about at least one thing: The Island doesn't demand a guardian. It may seem like it needs one — but there's no charter that requires one.
(That said, you could try and convince me ''Across The Sea'' stands as a multifaceted myth for all sorts of things in the Lostverse, including but not limited to: the fall of man; the first murder; the transition from Matriarchy to Patriarchy; the transition from agrarian culture to metalworking culture; the birth of Western Civilization. I'm not saying I'm buying all this — I'm just saying you could try and convince me. Seriously! I'll listen!)
Mother spoke Latin. I'm thinking being Island guardian actually allows you to communicate in any tongue (your universal translator is automatically installed when you drink the enchanted wine, kinda like Neo getting downloaded with kung fu), and Mother spoke Latin with Claudia because Claudia and her shipwrecked people came from ancient... Rome? Yep, I'm saying Rome. Mother raised her kids to speak Latin, too, and that must be why The Others spoke Latin, as well, because Jacob wanted his chosen people to speak his native tongue.
Mother told Claudia she had come to The Island the same way she did — by accident. Did you buy that? We've been led to believe Island guardians have the ability to manipulate the strings of fate and bring people to their shores. Is it possible that Mother worked her loom of destiny and pulled Claudia to The Island so as to get her hands on her kids? I say: Yes, we must entertain the possibility... and then say Nahhh! Mother clearly didn't like people all that much. She was a recluse, not a socialite — more J.D. Salinger than Truman Capote. No, those two guys have nothing to do with Lost. Sorry. Moving on.
-classic Lost line: ''Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.'' Very wink-wink/nudge funny. I've noticed many Lost bloggers have seized upon this line and used it against the episode. The complaint: Why is Lost still withholding answers and still playing cagey this late in the game? As for me, I guess I was engaged enough by the episode not to feel so burned. And unlike others, I enjoy the DIY challenge of sifting through the story and finding ideas that may (or may not) unlock the answers that we say we seek. Finding these ideas and correctly identifying them (assuming they are there) is maybe the trickiest part of the challenge — but I enjoy that, too. This is all to say that if you're looking to me for sympathy for your I'm Not Getting Answers agitation, I guess I'm not your guy.
Mother helped Claudia deliver her babies. The first boy emerged with little incident. His temperament: peaceful and agreeable. Claudia named him Jacob. But she had another bun in the over, too. This boy was born fussy and grumpy. Claudia, unprepared, had no name for him, and the episode never gave us one. Still, I refuse to believe the boy went nameless. It's a nice thematic idea, for sure. We've been told repeatedly that names mean something on Lost. So what does a mean for a life to be denied a name? It suggests to me a life without meaning or challenged by meaninglessness — fitting, given the life in question was destined to lose his humanity and decohere into polymorphic smoke. Still, I'm going to say that Mother did give the Babe In Black a name and Lost decided to keep it from us to keep the character something of a blank slate for us to project ideas upon.
Mother kept the kids from Claudia and covetously ogled them. When she looked into their eyes, what did she see? Did she two little lives to love? Or did she see two lumps of moldable clay that she could shape into a retirement/suicide plan? Either way, she wanted to keep them, and she killed Claudia. The Island — so unkind to mothers! Does this story explain why? Did The Other Mother's matricide create a curse? Did the Man In Black reinforce that curse by killing his Other Mother? Yes, the example of Ethan instantly undermines this theory — but maybe Ethan was an exception permitted by Jacob or the Man In Black to facilitate their respective and competing plans for the castaways. Either way, Mother's homicidal turn at playing midwife puts an ironic spin on the Taweret statue that Jacob decided to make his beach home. Taweret: an Egyptian goddess of fertility and child labor who later became an evil death goddess. Jacob apparently has developed quite the irreverent sense of humor over the centuries…
, followed the rules, always told the truth. The Babe In Black became the Boy In Black (also ''BIB''), and he began resembling the connotations of his name. He was more rebellious, more curious, more dreamy. Favorite pastime: Strolling the ocean, scanning the horizon, fantasizing about a world across the sea. Mother insisted nothing existed beyond the horizon. She said The Island was all there was. Liar. And you got the sense the boy never believed her. BIB's yearning reminded me of Luke Skywalker, pining for adventure and larger experience of life. During one his walks along the surf, he found blue box — the Egyptian board game known as Senet, ''the game of passing.'' (Source: Wikipedia, though thanks to Time's James Poniewozik for Tweeting the Senet tip.) Senet had religious significance to the Egyptians; it was placed in tombs as a talisman of protection in the afterlife. (Protection from what? Boredom?) For BIB, the Senet box was exciting and exotic — proof of Something More that Mother said did not exist. Jacob was less enthused, if not scared by it. He worried about disobeying Mother. I think he was also worried about doubting Mother. He saw the box as his brother did — Exhibit A that Mother had been lying to them. And that unnerved him.
It unnerved Mother, too. Jacob couldn't tell a lie, God bless him, and so when Mother learned from him what BIB had found, she tracked her sneaky son down at the beach for a mother-to-son heart to heart. Or am I confusing parenting with spin control, if not long conning? She told BIB that he was ''special.'' His eyes lit up. She basically told him he was a gifted liar (ouch!) — but she didn't make that a bad thing (huh?). She told him that she had left him the Senet game to find, and I didn't believe that for a second. But she had to lie to shore up her other lies. BIB pelted her with more questions — classic kid questions that give parents fits. But when BIB asked ''What is death?'', Mother had a killer response: ''Something you'll never have to worry about.''
Yet Mother's master plan for her boys hit a snag when they raced home to her one day with news they had seen something that shouldn't exist on The Island: other people. Boar-hunting warriors decked in leather and sporting bone jewelry. Mother freaked. She said those people didn't belong on The Island. ''We are here for a reason,'' she said, sounding Locke-ish and putting the lie to her earlier Jack-ishness with Claudia. When BIB pressed her on what that reason was, Mother got even more anxious. ''It's not time yet,'' she said — continuing the season 6 motif of subverted master plans. Kids always grow up faster than you want them to, don't they, Mother? On The Island, you can only ever live in — and for — the moment.
their interest in The Island always leads to ruin. ''They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt, and it always ends the same,'' she preached. This is nearly word for word the same cynical perspective that the Man In Black espoused to Jacob in their classic scene together in the season 5 finale ''The Incident.'' Now we know where he got his worldview. (Why blindfolds? Maybe that's the protocol. Only island guardians can know the location of The Big Secret. Mother wasn't ready to tap her successor, she just wanted her two little candidates to know what they were playing for.)
The Big Secret was a small sun hiding in a cave like a hibernating golden bear — Holy Wormhole Cavern. The kids basked in its warm and fuzzies and were dazzled — the Island equivalent of seeing Star Wars for the first time. Mother explained: ''A little bit of this same light is inside every man. But they always want more.'' When she was asked if man can possess this light, Mother said, ''No. But they can try. And if they try they can put it out. And if it goes out here, it goes out everywhere.'' Bookmark this idea, because I'm pretty sure Mother just spelled out the stakes for the final three hours of Lost. Is this why Charles Widmore has returned to The Island? Is he one more man who simply wants his more? What will happen if he succeeds? And what about the Monster? Does he, too, crave more light... or is he more interested in the Armageddon of it all and snuffing out the light? Finally, consider the Sideways world, and remember that The Island is a dead, sunken thing over there. Did someone succeed in putting out the light in that world? And what does it mean that the castaway characters are now remembering their Island world experience? Yes, the light can be extinguished — but not forever. There is always new hope.
So... what did all this mean? I'm going to borrow from the aforementioned passage from Herman Hesse's The Glass Bead Game and say that the Holy Wormhole Cavern represents what he called ''primal knowledge,'' the ''mystery and innermost heart of the world.'' It's the meaning of life in the raw. It is physical proof that life actually has meaning. To behold it is to take a metaphysical Rorschach text. I might see God and a call to worship. Someone else might see science and a call to investigate. Someone else might see a practical joke and start looking around for Ashton Kutcher. I suspect Lost would say that no single interpretation is correct; that those who insist on a single interpretation couldn't be more incorrect; that the history of human catastrophe on The Island is comprised of eras of dogmatic, abusive interpretation run amok.
show, I think what's more likely is that Lost just doesn't trust human beings enough to know ''the right answer.'' We are too flawed, too damaged, too biased, too selfish, too incapable, too limited, too mortal, just plain too much of this world to be able to really and fully know what this world is really all about. To paraphrase Mother: All our answers will only lead to more questions. It's an infinite progression into infinite regression — ''turtles all the way down'' cubed, to use a phrase that I'm too stupid and tired and lazy to explain, but feel free to look it up. I don't think Lost is saying to stop pursuing truth. Not at all. I think it's more concerned with how we conduct our search and how we can labor with our neighbor in their search. Because lord knows that the bloody, brutal fight over all this stuff remains more troubling and terrifying than ever.
(Believe me, I'm sitting here rolling my eyes at these words just like you are — but it doesn't mean I'm wrong. And it's at least slightly more interesting to talk about than ''the cave looked cheesy.'')
Before moving away from this scene, let's backtrack for a second and talk about the moment right before the arrival at Holy Wormhole Cavern when Mother told her sons to never go looking for the people on the other side of The Island because they would hurt them. She said ''that's what people do'' — they hurt each other. The Boy In Black — the more inquisitive of the two kids — asked: ''We're people. Does that mean we can hurt each other?'' Mother grabbed her kids and looked them in the eye replied, ''I've made it so you can never hurt each other.'' This little line holds a lot of significance, I think. Besides explaining why the Man In Black had to use a proxy to slay Jacob, Mother's line said something about the power that an Island guardian wields — including the ability to make ''the rules.'' This might be the most important power of all. I know that Lost fans have been talking a lot about ''the rules'' over the past week in the wake of the submarine bloodbath. Why can't the Man In Black leave The Island? Can he or can't he kill the candidates? Can or can't the candidates kill each other? What's the difference between the gift of agelessness that Jacob gave Richard and the protections (if any) he bestowed upon the castaways he touched?
I know a lot of fans were hoping ''Across The Sea'' would answer those questions, and it appears many of those fans are deeming the episode a disappointment because it didn't. I share their desire to know, but not their impatience or cynicism; I suspect some or all these questions are being deferred to the next two episodes because those questions are more relevant to the stories of those episodes. Still, I think ''Across The Sea'' offered a revelation about ''the rules'' that's just as important if not more so than the rules themselves: they are entirely subjective. I think many fans have assumed that ''the rules'' exist as external truths that regulate all life on The Island, mortal or immortal, human or god-like. And maybe some of them are. I think fans have assumed that The Island possesses an orderly if complex internal logic that can be puzzled out. And to some degree, maybe it does. But I think Lost was telling us something when they had Jacob and Boy In Black arguing over the proper way to play Senet. BIB said: ''One day, you can make up your own game and everyone else will have to follow your rules.'' (BIB took delight in his power... but in that moment, I was reminded of the scene in ''The Substitute,'' when Ghost Jacob stood over Fake Locke and reminded him of the rules of his game, and Fake Locke raged: ''Don't tell me what I can't do!'' Turnabout's a bitch, ain't it, Nameless?)
, pure whimsy — an expression of the unique interests and will of The Island's guardian. They are arbitrary inventions of The Island's custodian. And I suspect he or she can reinvent them any time he or she wants. (I am reminded of the scene in season 4, when Keamy assassinated Alex and Ben said, ''He changed the rules.'' I always thought Ben was referring to Charles Widmore. But after ''Across The Sea,'' I'm thinking that Ben was talking about Jacob. More on this another time.) You may not like the sound of all this. Which is interesting, because judging from the look on young Jacob's face, he didn't like the sound of it, either. I think there's more to say about this — about Jacob's (elastic) rules of order, about The Man In Black's subversion of those rules pursuant to his master plan, about how their game-playing (and cheating) might explain almost every Lost mystery there is. But perhaps that's a project best explored at the end of Lost, when all the cards have finally been turned over and played.
Moving on, and moving quickly: BIB saw a ghost: Claudia. She brought him to the other side of The Island and revealed the truth of his origins to him. He and Jacob were her children. The other people on The Island were her people, and therefore his and Jacob's people, too. Oh, and Mother had killed her. BIB's response — ''That's not true! That's not what mother told me!'' — struck me as very ''No, I am your father''/''No! That's not true! That's impossible!'' But BIB searched his feelings and knew Claudia was truthful. That night, he packed his bag to run away, and he dragged Jacob along with him. In the jungle, BIB told him the truth about themselves, about Claudia, about Mother. Jacob didn't understand. Jacob didn't want to understand. They fought. Jacob pummeled him bloody (I'm guessing that explained the blood on Ghost Jacob's hands in ''The Substitute'') and Mother found them and stopped them. BIB confronted Mother on her matricide and her fraudulence and announced he was going to find some way to get back to where he once belonged, to his home across the sea. He wanted Jacob to come with him. Jacob looked at his brother, and then looked at Mother, and chose Mother. She grabbed BIB by the shoulders and told him that no matter what he did, he wouldn't be able to leave The Island. ''That's not true!'' he huffed. ''And one day I can prove it!''
In the aftermath, Jacob asked Mother if all the things that BIB said were true. She said they were. She said she killed Claudia because she didn't want him to be corrupted by his people. She said he was good, and she wanted him to stay good. Jacob: ''Really?'' Mother: ''Yes!'' Mother begged him to stay. Jacob agreed. ''For awhile,'' he said. And she clung to him. Tightly.
their respective characters in amber. The Boy In Black was now the Man In Black. He spent his days with his people digging holes in the ground, hunting for magnetic energy. Meanwhile, Jacob had grown into a barefooted voyeur who spent his days watching his brother and playing Senet with him in the woods. MIB told his brother there were some very smart, very curious people among his people — men of science with a more sophisticated perspective on Island truths than the fairy tales promulgated by Mother Of Faith. He also told Jacob that his brainy countrymen has some very inventive ideas on how The Island could be harnessed and made to work for them. (We learned that MIB and these men were responsible for designing — but not implementing — the donkey wheel mechanism that could move The Island and open worm holes to Tunisia. ''Across The Sea'' never explained who came along and finished the project. The Dharma Initiative?)
That said, MIB didn't trust his people one bit. He told Jacob that Mother was right about them. ''They're greedy. Manipulative. Untrustworthy. And selfish.'' Why was he living among them then? Because they were a means to an end — that end being escape. (The irony of his own greedy-manipulative-untrustworthy-selfishness went unacknowledged.) MIB again pleaded for Jacob to come with him. Jacob declined. He didn't want to leave Mother. MIB asked him what he intended to do when Mother died. Jacob refused to accept that. ''She's never going to die!'' MIB: ''Jacob! Everything dies!'' This was a provocative exchange, and it made me wonder how much of this conflict is relevant to the castaway drama. Smokey's conspiracy to kill the candidates is also a means to an end. But I wonder if the villain uses Jacob's unhealthy denial of death to rationalize his evil. This could be Smokey's defense: Jacob's touchy-feeling tampering and his idealistic redemption schemes have undermined castaway free will and kept them alive longer than what is right and proper. Seen from this point of view, MIB's assassinations are more like mercy killings and affirmations of the natural order of things. I'm not excusing MIB's actions. But if my assessment of Jacob is correct, I think MIB's critique is valid.
As always, Jacob couldn't tell a lie, so he went home to his graying Mother and told her that Nameless had finally found a way to leave The Island. You could tell neither wanted that to happen — and you could tell Jacob wanted him mommy to make it all better. And so Mother snuck into enemy territory and found her prodigal son in a well, working to install the donkey wheel. Their engagement began tender, then quickly turned bitter. He told Mother he had spent decades searching for that vision of God — er, I mean, Holy Wormhole Cavern that she had shown him when he was a kid. He failed, gave up, and looked for another path to The Island's innermost heart. And with his fire and his iron and his tools and his science, he found one, hidden behind an old stone wall. Was this a valid access point to the ''light under The Island'' — or was it unsanctioned and dangerous short cut? After suffering through the nose bleeds and time travel death of season 5, I would say the latter.
Yep, Mother, that parenting tactic blew up in your face, didn't it?) She asked for one last embrace before he left her, and he gave it to her, and in that moment, you got the sense that Man In Black was getting something he wanted even more than escape: reconciliation and unconditional — BASH! BANG! OOPS! Silly Man In Black! Falling for the old Come here and give your mother a hug so I can bash your skull into a stone wall trick. Then, in a sequence not shown to us, the Man In Black's frail and aging mother apparently threw her strapping adult son over her shoulder, carried him up a ladder, killed all the Roman Others, then filled in the donkey wheel well with rocks. Now, just how the hell did she accomplish that trick? Maybe super-strength is part of the Island guardian package. But is it possible Mother was something of a smoke monster, too?
Choosing to read Mother as Smokey would clarify the biggest mystery posed by the scene that followed. Either realizing that her time was up — or realizing the moment she had been waiting for and even planning for had finally arrived — Mother took Jacob to Holy Wormhole Cavern. Along the way, she lied and told Jacob she had to let MIB go. ''I had no choice,'' she said. ''It was what he wanted.'' Her emphasis implied that she had to respect MIB's free will. But she gave Jacob no such respect: she browbeat him into taking over as Island protector. Jacob tried to fight her on it. He called her out on preferring MIB over him. ''You wanted it to be him,'' Jacob barked. ''But now I'm all you have!'' Mother tried to convince him otherwise. She said if she had been grooming MIB for the job, she had come to realize she was wrong and that Jacob was always supposed to have the job. I don't know if I believed her. I think at best, she was pulling an Obi Wan and telling the truth ''from a certain point of view.'' I think she always saw her boys as a means to an end; she just didn't know which one was going to play which part. I truly believe she wanted one of them to become The Island's guardian — but I also think she wanted one of them to put her out of her misery.
That misery? Loneliness. Madness. The endless dead end job of being Island guardian. Or maybe, just maybe, the fate-worse-than-death damnation of being a smoke monster. Mother told Jacob that Holy Wormhole Cavern was a passage to ''life, death and rebirth. It's the source. The heart of The Island.'' But she also begged him to never go exploring down there. ''It would be worse than dying, Jacob. Much worse.'' How would she know this? Maybe because she knew someone who suffered the fate she was describing. (Her mother?) Or maybe that someone was her. Is it also possible that she was both Island guardian and smoke monster? I think that's possible.
the chest. She fell to the ground and whispered a word: ''Nothing.'' She told her son that she couldn't let him leave because she loved him, and then she thanked him for killing her and died. Three things: 1. Notice I used the word ''silently.'' 2. Notice that Mother said ''Nothing.'' 3. Notice that MIB used the same knife to kill his mother that Dogen gave Sayid to kill MIB/Fake Locke. Remember Dogen's instructions? Sayid had to plunge the knife into The Monster's chest before The Monster said a word. Sayid failed to execute the execution before Fake Locke said, ''Hello,'' and in the aftermath, Sayid seemed to suffer from some kind of soul sleep, a state of emotional nothingness. Perhaps I'm not adding all of this up properly, but I find the link here irresistible. I go back to where I began — that there was something about the Mother/Jacob/MIB drama that cursed The Island and created a mythic template for future dramas to follow. (Unless, of course, their drama followed and reaffirmed an existing template.) Why did Sayid have to use that knife? Why did he have to do the stabbing before Fake Locke said a word? Why did he feel ''nothing'' afterward? It's not about rules. It's not about internal logic. It's about a story. And that's just the way the story goes. But can the story be changed? TBD.
Jacob found his brother standing over Mother with the bloody knife. Long story short, he got pissed, snapped, and tossed MIB down the Holy Wormhole chute. And out chugged Smokey, full of sound and fury, signifying what he had become: meaninglessness incarnate. Or maybe that was just his soul. Does everyone who goes down the hellhole get barfed up as smoke? I wonder. I also find myself wondering how ''Across The Sea'' affects or changes Jacob's metaphor of The Island as a cork holding in a toxic brew of malevolence. Can we officially declare Smokey that toxic brew? What would happen to the world if he ever escaped? Questions for Doc Jensen to ponder in his weekend column — and I swear, I will post one this weekend. All to say: to be continued. Do you have a question or theory? firstname.lastname@example.org is where you can find me.