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Totally "Lost": Deconstructing "Across the Sea"

May 11, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode

“And God saw the light, that it was good:
and God divided the light from the darkness.”
                                                   Genesis 1:4

Are Jacob and MIB two more pawns in the island’s repeating storyline?

   In what is sure to be the most controversial episode of “Lost” ever, the blueprint for our story (a blueprint that has been repeated over and over again in the time since) was revealed in the form of an ancient parable about good and evil, light and dark, love and death, duty and honor.
   But a story that at first blush seemed almost corny reveals itself to be much more upon reflection.
   As the mysterious woman describes the island’s unique properties to her “sons,” it’s not clear if she is phrasing it in simplistic terms their teen-age minds can grasp or if she truly doesn’t realize the scientific explanation behind what she’s describing. And she makes it clear early in the episode (which is really TPTB making it clear to us) that we may never know any more about who she is or where she came from or what the island is or where it came from – and we should stop asking.
   We said it three years ago in this blog, and we believe it now more than ever, the island is the cradle of our world’s mythology. It simply is.
   If you can’t grasp that concept and see how what happened in “Across the Sea” has been intricately weaved into everything else we’ve seen happen so far then this is not going to end well for you.
   Enough proselytizing, on with our longest deconstruction ever:

   Deconstructing Season 6, Episode 15 of the ABC television series “Lost” titled “Across the Sea”:

Title tracking
   > A reference to the world outside the island, a world the mysterious woman does not want her “sons” to know about.

  > Jacob and the Man in Black are twin brothers. A strange woman killed their mother, Claudia, shortly after she was shipwrecked on the island and gave birth to them.
  > The strange woman was the island’s protector before Jacob. She raised the twin boys as her own, but always felt the younger, dark-haired boy was special.
  > The woman said she made things so that the two brothers can never hurt each other.
  > When they were 13, the woman showed the boys an access point to the massive pocket of electromagnetism that lies beneath the island. She told the boys it was “the warmest, brightest light” in the world and that a little of that light exists in each man, but they want more and that is why the island must be protected, because men will come looking for the light. And when they find it, they’ll do what they always do. Come, fight, corrupt, destroy.
  > The game the Boy in Black found on the beach was Senet, the Egyptian game of death, considered to be the oldest board game in the world. The game uses many of the hieroglyphs that will appear on the island in the future. And now we know why a game has been mentioned in nearly every episode of “Lost.”
  > The Boy in Black seemed to naturally know how to play Senet. He told his brother Jacob that someday he could make up his own game with his own rules. It’s a pretty safe bet that game is the game we’re seeing unfold on “Lost.”
  > The Boy in Black is able to see the ghost of his mother while Jacob cannot.
  > Claudia’s ghost tells the boy of his true background and he leaves Jacob and his “mother” to live with his people, the survivors of the shipwreck who’ve build a camp across the island.
  > He finds the people to be “greedy, manipulative, untrustworthy and selfish” but some of them seem to understand what the light beneath the island is and how it might be manipulated and he sees that as a way to escape the island.
  > Meanwhile, the woman and Jacob become closer and she accepts that he’ll have to take on the role of the island’s protector. Jacob is desperate for the woman’s approval, but deep down he knows he was her second choice.
  > When the woman learns her “son” is trying to tap the secrets of the light she goes to him and attacks him viciously, slamming his head against a stone wall in the chamber where his people are building a giant wheel to try and harness the light.
  > The woman returns to Jacob and tells him, “it’s time.” She takes him back to the cavern of light and tells him that the light is “life, death, rebirth … the heart of the island” and that he can never go down there or he’ll suffer a fate much worse than dying.
  > Jacob becomes immortal when his “mother” shares a glass of wine with him in a ceremony with immense Christian overtones. “Now, you and I are the same,” she says ominously, leaving the audience to wonder, “Does she mean ageless … or crazy?”
  > The Man in Black awakes to find his village burned, all its inhabitants purged and the well filled in. We’re left to wonder if he is now one of the walking dead and how a single woman could wreak such havoc.
  > He returns to his childhood home, an island cave, destroys the tapestry his mother weaved, waits for her to return, and murders her by putting a dagger through her heart before she can say a word to him.
  > Jacob comes upon the carnage and beats his brother savagely. Remembering his mother’s description of a fate worse than death, he floats his brother into the light chamber and a giant plume of clickety clackety black smoke is created.
  > After the smoke roars from the chamber, Jacob discovers his brother’s lifeless body nearby. He carefully lays his “mother” and brother down side by side in the cave with the black and white rocks from the Senet game. Their skeletons will be discovered years later by Jack and Kate and dubbed “Adam and Eve” by John Locke.

  > What language were Claudia and the woman speaking after the shipwreck?
  > What did the woman name the second baby?
  > Where did the Senet game come from? Did the woman really send it?
  > Why can’t Jacob see ghosts?
  > Does the woman understand the science behind the light?
  > Did the Man in Black die when his mother attacked him and was he later “claimed”?
  > How did one woman destroy an entire village of adult men?
  > Was she a Smoke Monster? Did she get too close to the light? Is that how she knew it was a fate worse than death?
  > If the Man in Black’s physical body is buried in the caves with his “mother,” then what is the identical form we’ve seen him in since? A ghost? Some other kind of manifestation?

  > Woman: “There is only me.”
  > Woman: “Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.”
  > Claudia: “I only picked one name.”
  > Ghost Claudia: “There are many things across the sea.”
  > Woman: “Take this cup and drink.”

Observations, questions and random thoughts:
  > In the 75 minutes it’s taken us to do this deconstruction we’ve come to like this episode a lot more than we did while watching it. We think that trend will continue.
  > There’s some speculation now that the language being spoken by Claudia and the woman was Swedish. WTF?
  > Although we phrased it as a question above, we think there was a strong implication that the woman entered the light chamber herself at one point and became a smoke monster. This could possibly explain why she bonded more with the Boy in Black, who was special and destined to become a Smoke Monster, just like John Locke.
  > We are off for a few days R&R. We may check in with a weekend update. We may not. Next week is “What They Died For” as we return to the beach and get the answer to the million dollar question: Did Frank survive? :-)

I am looking for: