Okay, maybe it's just us. We don't claim to speak for anyone else when we say, "...the HELL?"
In fact, we're going to put our (fractured) thoughts out there in this post and for once, we have absolutely no idea how they're going to be received. Normally, there's a bit of a finger-on-the-wind feel when it comes to a Lost episode, a feeling that we know going into the writing of each post what the general consensus is going to be. Not this time. We suspect the viewership will be split on this episode and if there's any form of consensus it will probably lean toward "...the HELL?" but we can't predict that with any certainty.
Okay, before we leap into it, here are two T Lo quotes. The first, from our review of S5's finale, and the second from our review of the Richard-centric "Ab Aeterno" episode of a couple weeks ago. Consider:
"But when you consider that last night's finale represented the halfway point of the final act and it was only then that we were introduced to a brand new character who has never even been hinted at (Jacob's opposite number, who others are already referring to as Esau) and who appears to have been at the center of everything that's happened so far, we can't help but consider it poor form on the part of the writers. It's a cheat; a classic deus ex machina and to be frank, it pissed us off a little bit."
"Are you buying the story's turn away from science fiction aspects like "pockets of electromagnetic energy" and time traveling into full-on mysticism and theological references? We have a strong feeling that the final answers aren't going to be so simple as "It was all magic!"
We trust we've made our points. Discuss.
Oh, all right. Here's another 1500 words on the topic.
Here's the thing: it was a really well-acted (seriously, Allison Janney and Titus Welliver did fantastic work here) and well-told story. It even answered a truckload of long-standing questions. The problem was, it felt so completely unnecessary.
Actually, that's not true. It wasn't so much unneccessary as it was...unwelcome. By us, anyway. As you can see from the two quotes above, we're not too keen on the idea of this show embracing full-on mystical mumbo-jumbo at its core, nor are we too keen on the idea of focussing on completely brand new and unheard-of characters at the last minute. That's the general take. We'll have more to say about that before we wrap this up. For now, let's get into the minutiae so we don't front load this post with too much negativity.
We talked early in this season about "echoes," character and plot elements that hearken back to earlier character and plot developments. This show has always had a ton of them. Locke sustaining leg injuries over and over on the island, lovers being separated by time and space having to fight their way back and find each other, mothers being separated from their children, daddy issues, etc. ad nauseam. While this season has been chock full of these echoes, especially in the sideways timeline, last night's episode was all about the echoes, in a lot of ways. An explanation for why these echoes occur: because, like all myths and stories, the elements repeat over time. Except it wasn't echoes we were seeing last night. These were the originals. The Ur-scenes that came first and repeated themselves over and over again on the island loop.
A woman's (Claudia, Danielle, Claire) vessel (raft, plane) crashes on the island, where she gives birth. Birth scenes are as prevalent as death scenes on this show. We have seen Claire, Penny and Sun give birth. We have seen the births of John Locke, Jacob and Smokey, Ben Linus, and even Ethan.
She is separated from her child(ren), who are "raised by another." (Claudia, Danielle, Claire).
A mother dies, one of her last acts is to name her child. ("His name is Jacob." "Roger? Call him Benjamin.").
"Two players, one light and one dark." The game and more importantly the black and white game pieces are a callback to one of the earliest lines in the series.
A child is a disappointment to a parent or parent figure, which leads to a lifetime of pain and even death. (Jack, Locke, Sayid, Claire, Kate)
"They come, they fight, they corrupt, they destroy." Spoken first by Smokey last season, we find the origin of these words come from his mother.
One man wants to stay, the other man wants to go, a conflict centered around faith vs. knowledge. (Jacob and Smokey, Jack and Locke, Jack and Sawyer)
Important information is withheld from people, the knowledge of which could have avoided a lot of pain and death had it been revealed earlier. (Uh...the whole damn series?)
Everything about this episode was a callback to something else in the series. Hell, we even got the Ur-DHARMAville. The site of the barracks turned out to be the site of the original Other village, which helps explain why the Others speak Latin and even explains some of those ancient underground rooms and tunnels under the barracks. Yes, everything was explained and given a shout out this episode. Maybe that's why it fell flat for us. Too many items being rapidly checked off a list.
In fact, part of our irritation stemmed from the fact that the dialogue was so uncharacteristically dripping with meaning this episode. Line after line could have served as a coda to the series. "Every question I answer will simply lead to another question. " "Because you wouldn't tell me." "If there are other people on the island, I will find them." That's fine. We enjoy the callbacks and the echoes, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. It all felt so heavy with meaning and to be honest, we found it hard to care.
To our disappointment, the struggles of the survivors of Flight 815 and the other denizens of the island really does come down to a millenia-old struggle between two ancient beings that amounts to nothing more than a family squabble. It's a bit depressing to have to say this, but according to last night's episode, the entire story of Lost started with the plea of children to parents from time immemorial: "WHY DID YOU LIKE HIM MORE THAN ME?"
Really, Lost? All this death, all those lives and decisions and manipulations and deceptions, all because two men can't get past their mommy issues?
Before we get to the bullet points, let's just say this (as a way to assure ourselves): This isn't the end of the series. It could have served as the last episode of a series and then every single complaint we just made would be totally and 100 percent valid. We have to remember, though, that the writers chose to tell this story near the end but not at the end. In other words, despite our heavy disappointment with the overt turn toward mommy issues and magic last night, the fact that there are hours to go before the end tells us that the themes of last night's show were important, but not the whole story. We still have faith that the story of Lost is the story of Jack and Sawyer, Kate and Locke and Desmond and Hurley and even Charlie, Sun, Jin, Sayid and all the dead. We still have hope (even after this disappointing episode and so near to the end) that the story is NOT about two Bronze Age proto-hippies fighting it out for millennia over which one mom liked best. We're still men of faith.
But Oh, Lost. You are testing us.
*The "heart of the island," and the apparent source of all the energy and all the weirdness and all the interest in the island by Bad People who want to do Bad Things is... a glowing vagina. Jesus Christ. Oh, for the Lost of underground bunkers and 30-year-old computers and poison gas and freighters. After 5 seasons of characters with Daddy issues, it's a bit of an abrupt shift into all the heavily Freudian mommy stuff all of the sudden. We're sorry to say that the magical glowing vagina made us groan out loud the first time we saw it. We half expected Frodo and Sam to ride in on a My Pretty Pony to save the day. "A little bit of this light is inside every man." "Life, death, rebirth. It's the source, the heart of the island." Bleh. Okay. At least it explains curing Locke and Rose.
*" If the light goes out here, it goes out everywhere." In the sideways timeline, the island is at the bottom of the ocean, which kind of implies that the light has gone out in that reality, which kind of implies that the entire reality of the L.A. timeline is in danger.
* So...Smokey is, for all intents and purposes, dead? That's what it's called when your body stops working and someone buries you. That makes him...what? A loud and annoying ghost? We've been waiting all this time for an answer on the Smoke Monster and it turns out he's a poltergeist?
* Although there is one thing that makes us rub our hands in glee. We can keep on putting forth our Locke theory, even though there's more evidence against it than for it. Is the Locke in the alternate L.A. timeline really Smokey living as Locke off the island? Probably not. We semi-abandoned it after the revelations about Alt-Locke's backstory last episode, but we can't help asking the question: If Smokey doesn't have an actual body, whose body does he plan on living in when he gets off the island? Could it be, ohh...THE ONE HE'S CURRENTLY WALKING AROUND IN? Seriously, we're probably wrong, but we have to say, it still fits. "I want to go home" means to leave the island, to finally see the world he's been waiting millenia to see. Isn't it possible he'd put up with a wheelchair for that?
*"I only picked one name." We admit to some frustration that we STILL didn't get a name for this character, but was Smokey ever named? If there are only three people in the world, does the third one really need a name, practically speaking? There's Mother, Jacob, and Him. He could quite literally be He Who Shall Not Be Named.
*Mother seemed perfectly willing to leave the Ur-Others alone until they started coming up with a plan to leave the island. Then she killed them all. So why did Jacob allow so many people to go back and forth from the island back in the DHARMA days? And how come Jacob gets to leave the island so much? We've seen him out in the real world plenty of times. Mother sure didn't seem like she would have liked that.
* When you want to add depth, rip off the Bible. Actually, that's probably a little unfair. They've been dealing in ancient story elements for a long time. It's just that they cranked up the Bible allusion dial to 11 this week. "Adam and Eve" of the caves turns out to be more like Cain and Eve. Before Mother goes to her (planned) death, she drinks wine with her son. "Take the cup and drink," a jungle Last Supper. What did she say over the wine? Some sort of prayer? "Now you are like me" implies a couple things. One, the guardian of the island is more than human (although we pretty much knew that already), and two, the guardians of the island seem to always start off human and then become the guardian. Mother told Claudia she got to the island the same way, by accident. It seems that the story of Lost is the story of the guardianship of the island and the struggles that occur during the long process of exchanging hands. Jacob was a somewhat dim Mama's boy with a bit of a temper. In order for him to take on the role of guardian, his biological mother, his adoptive mother, his brother, and an entire community of shipwreck survivors had to die. As Jacob prepares to hand over guardianship of the island (which is what everything from Season 1 on has been about all along), hundreds of people had to die before a successor is named. We've been watching those people die for 6 seasons. We have only one request going forward: If THAT'S what this has been all about, it better be damn good and worth it when Jacob's successor finally steps up to his role. Frankly, we're looking for a little payback right now.
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Labels: Lost, Lost Season 6