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Home > Entertainment, Film / TV, Lost Recap, Quick Hits, Review / Recap > Quick Hits: LOST S6, E15 — “Across the Sea”

Quick Hits: LOST S6, E15 — “Across the Sea”

May 12th, 2010

Let me start off by noting that I have not forgotten The Candidate.  I loved the episode and just haven’t yet had the time to write up my Quick Hits on it.  I’m skipping it to get to this week’s because… well… I love me some LOST mythology.

The episode was one dealing with Genesis and touched on the ideas of fraternal twins in creation mythology.

I know many fans tire of the mythology and are bored with Smokey and Jacob’s back story.  But LOST is ultimately not a show about action.  It’s an examination of people.  One wonders how the open questions on the main characters will be answered in the 3.5 hours remaining, but I enjoyed an opportunity to look at Jacob and the MIB this week.  And as an avowed CJ Cregg fan, I loved having Allison Janney this week.  In fact, given that her character is never named beyond that of “Mother”, I will refer to her as Janney, throughout.

Even more so than any of the prior episodes, this was about Genesis and creation mythology. We are granted, as we were with Ab Aeterno, a view into the Island’s creation, or more accurately, that of Jacob and the MIB. We’re reminded almost immediately of that by the appearance of a sea turtle, a deliberate reference to the Iroquois Turtle Island myth. That myth involves the support of a world upon the shell of a turtle and begins as such:

Long before the world was created there was an island, floating in the sky, upon which the Sky People lived. They lived quietly and happily. No one ever died or was born or experienced sadness. However one day one of the Sky Women realized she was going to give birth to twins. She told her husband, who flew into a rage. In the center of the island there was a tree which gave light to the entire island since the sun hadn’t been created yet. He tore up this tree, creating a huge hole in the middle of the island. Curiously, the woman peered into the hole. Far below she could see the waters that covered the earth. At that moment her husband pushed her. She fell through the hole, tumbling towards the waters below.

More on that myth can be read here, but the crux of it is that the twins include Sapling (the good, Jacob-son who creates nature) and Flint (the dark son who creates evil and thorns).  Many Genesis myths, including those I have discussed before, involve a duality of the good son (in the Dogon mythology, Nommo) and the prodigal son (Yurugu, the name I will adopt for the MIB).  Janney spoke of Jacob as not being able to lie and Yurugu as special and complex.  As Janney and Yurugu discussed Yurugu’s capacity for sin, it was somewhat clear that Janney regarded Yurugu with favor, a theme that is often repeated in literature – favoritism for the son who does not appreciate parents dutifully.

More on LOST Genesis and my Quick Hits, after the jump.

I find it interesting that the producers borrow so heavily from aboriginal and African creation mythology and eschew some of the more western imagery; provided, however, that we have direct references to Adam and Eve and strong visualization of the concept of the Garden of Eden that Janney has created for the twins.  But one must wonder, then, what is to be said for the mother playing the role of the tempting snake.  She speaks the truth and tempts Yurugu with the tree of knowledge regarding his true heritage and the world beyond.  What does that say of the creator who establishes a Garden to coddle and shelter its inhabitants from challenge and truth.  There is, of course, the great difference that Janney does not cast out the boys; quite to the contrary, she begs Jacob to stay and only permits Yurugu to leave because he so chooses.  It’s also worth noting that, unlike in Dogon creation, Yurugu never escapes his mother’s womb and, therefore, never seeks to return and set things right.  Instead, Yurugu is condemned to walk the Island forever, just as Flint was confined on the Turtle Island in Iroquois mythology.

As a final note on creation, I greatly enjoyed Yurugu’s scientific bent and skeptical nature, wanting to understand where he came from and the rules that governed the Island. While Jacob was accepting of Janney’s reality, calling it his home where he desired to stay, Yurugu’s eyes had been opened to the realities beyond the Island and he desperately sought the counsel of intelligent men to understand how the physics of the Island worked. For a light atheist / strong agnostic like myself, I’m starting to understand my affinity for Yurugu ever more.

The only real shame is that this was a one-episode job for Allison Janney. She was brilliant as Mother.

  • So I must admit that the start of the show really threw me for a loop. First, you have a woman bobbing up and down in the water who looks amazingly, at first blush, like Snooki from the Jersey Shore. Her arrival on the Island is very appropo and consistent with past arrivals. She is shipwrecked; however, one must wonder if she was drawn to the Island by the woman she encounters, just as Jacob and the MIB later attracted the newcomers to the Island.  If not, was it truly pure chance that she and her castaways arrived there.
  • How is it that the two mothers could understand each other? Before they switched the audio to English, Janney was speaking in what sounded like some Nordic language and Jacob and MIB’s mother was speaking what sounded like Spanish or Latin.  So for some reason they were capable of communicating, though the same language gap was never crossed with Jin and the English speakers.  I know some say both were speaking Latin, but having once known the language, I’m quite certain Janney was not speaking it.
  • The producers seem to have been making a concerted effort to throw the audience a bone, here and there. In this episode, it was the line “Every question I can answer will lead to another question.”  The line, delivered by Janney to the twins’ mother was truly directed to the audience.
  • That the MIB/Yurugu was born without a name was great, but even better was that 1) Jacob was born clean while the Yurugu was stained with afterbirth and 2) Janney committed matricide on behalf and on sight of the two. She then created the rules of the Island for the brothers, reflected by the cribbage/backgammon type game she leaves for Yurugu to find. Although Yurugu thinks he is the one creating the rules, it is indeed Janney who has constructed the board and the environment.  The board comes back, immediately, to the backgammon game that Locke played with Walt in the second episode.  It’s a comforting reminder that, although this show certainly evolved in its mythology, there can be little question that the producers knew what themes they wanted to hit on.
  • There was a hint of Truman show in Yurugu being told by Janney that the Island was all there is. She wanted the brothers to live forever on the Island, without death. Janney also conceived their Island such that the brothers could not hurt each other. The temptation and revelation of world beyond the Island was the Original Sin for Yurugu and that which forced Yurugu from the Genesis egg created by Janney.

The light may have been the weakest link in this week's storyline, but it was imperative to establish some basis for the electromagnetism. I like that the producers mixed Janney's mythology (or lifeforce) with Yurugu's science (or, as ICP would say, f'ing miracles).

  • Janney’s (and then Jacob’s) purpose of protecting the Island’s light seemed a bit odd and nebulous. It may even have been weak. The idea that finding the light could lead humans to extinguish it and end the Universe seemed like forced storytelling. That one of the brothers would be chosen to be the protector of the light was, however, quite cool. Furthermore, the explanation, as complex as it seems, of the origin of the wheel actually worked.
  • The best scene of the episode was when Jacob and Janney discussed whether she loved Yurugu more than she loved Jacob. Her response that she loved Jacob and Yurugu in different ways was a striking revelation. What was also striking was that she made Jacob simple and good, while granting Yurugu sin and complexity. The scene ended with Jacob saying he would stay with Janney… “for a while.” Later, when Janney admitted thinking Yurugu would be the protector of the light, we saw the intense feelings of jealousy within Jacob. This culminated with Jacob’s drinking of the wine and accepting his role as protector.
  • In accepting his role as protector of the light, Jacob and Janney became “The Same” or one; nevertheless, we were presented in the next scene with evidence that Janney and Yurugu were, in fact, more similar. Janney laid waste to Yurugu’s camp and his people, much as Yurugu (as FLocke) would lay waste to the Temple and Widmore’s camp. That Janney’s act of matricide on behalf of Yurugu was repeated and later visited on Janney by Yurugu was all the more appropriate.

Ultimately, the image of the twins, sitting on a log, proved powerful, whether they were young or old. And it is great to note that they later sat right there with Yurugu noting the degree to which he wanted to kill his brother.

  • The creation of the Smoke Monster was beyond me in the first watching of the episode. That being reborn as Smokie is deemed a fate worse than death is one thing; however, it is unclear how that transmogrification truly impacts the game of the Island. Further, it is unclear how Yurugu’s trespass on the light affects said light. Yurugu’s corpse also confused me a bit. It’s somewhat clear that Smokie is a true intangible, not accurately in human form but rather an apparition thereof. So in Yurugu becoming a corpse, does Smokey truly not have a corpus?
  • We were finally given an answer as to who Adam and Eve were. And it was somewhat surprising, striking and well done. I admit that I did not see it coming. Not in the least. It is also appropriate that Locke named them Adam and Eve, given that they were granted only the names Mother and Brother. One week after Jin and Sun, it was nice to have this kind turn to an otherwise dysfunctional episode.
  • The character for which there is a most immediate and apparent parallel for Janney is Rousseau (with a secondary figure being Claire).  However, there is one main distinction: that Janney did not have a child of her own, but stole two others, while both Rousseau and Claire lost their children to perceived theft.  All three… on the surface, at least… batshit crazy.
  • What to make of the wine bottle?  Janney hands it to Jacob when he assumes the role of protector of the light.  But in Ab Aeterno, Jacob handed the wine bottle to Yurugu?  This was well before the arrival of the Candidates and Jacob’s death.  Was there some real symbolism in the wine?  Or was this just a lost point in the script?
  • Finally, it was interesting to note that the fighting that seemed so out of character for Jacob in Ab Aeterno proved to be a fundamental element of his character in Across the Sea.  A friend noted that the fighting seemed beyond the rules set by Janney in that Jacob and Yurugu could not hurt each other.  That said, the fighting does not necessarily implicate hurting.  Nor did placing Yurugu in the river to be carried by the current into the cave truly reflect an active “hurting.”  All three elements, though, seem either beyond the rules or out of character for what we believe we know about Jacob.  It really is something quite interesting and I can quite put my finger on it.

I can’t wait for next week and am starting to get nostalgic over the fact that we’re less than four hours from the completion of the series.  And the great question remains: where the heck are Richard, Miles and Ben?!?

  1. July 1st, 2010 at 23:02 | #1

    I wish I could write like you as Margaret Laurence once said “When I say “work” I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.”

    Sent via Blackberry

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