FEBRUARY 2, 2011
FOCUS: JACOB, MAN IN BLACK
AIRED: MAY 11, 2010
There are two ways one could hate “Across The Sea”, and both are equally valid. You can hate it for being the antepenultimate episode of the series (not the season, THE ENTIRE SERIES) and spending the entire time with two cipher characters who, quite frankly, no one really cares about AS CHARACTERS (mainly because they're both dead by this point, for one thing). Or you can hate it for often being written with all the subtlety of a Friedberg and Seltzer movie, offering up god-awful dialogue like “One day, Jacob, you can make up your own game and everyone will have to follow your rules,” which is the equivalent of Obi-Wan muttering “You’ll be the death of me!” to Anakin in the Star Wars prequels.
I hate it more for its placement, for the record. As bad as the dialogue can get, it does answer a lot of questions and give certain things that happened in previous episodes a new, better meaning (such as Jacob and MIB’s first scene in the S5 finale). It’s not a GOOD episode, by any means, but I can see its purpose. But why did they have to place the episode here? All along they said that the show was about the characters, that the answers to the various mysteries weren’t important if the characters didn’t care about them. Well forgive me for assuming things about fictional characters, but I’m pretty sure Hurley and Sawyer don’t give a flying fuck about what game Jacob and MIB played with as children. I also doubt the “controversy” of who Jacob’s mother is weighs heavily on Jack’s mind. At least if all this shit was revealed at the beginning of the season, it wouldn’t have been AS annoying. By putting it here, we not only get two very rushed final episodes, in my opinion, but it also completely breaks up the rising tension from the previous 2-3 episodes.
Another benefit to putting it earlier involves the fact that they try to make the MIB into a tragic character here. He was introduced more or less as a villain, had done terrible things throughout the past season under the guise of John Locke, and basically given us no reason whatsoever to even like him, let alone sympathize with him. And NOW, with the final battle more or less already begun, they want us to reconsider his plight? If this was at the beginning of the season, that could have posed an interesting way to approach the season, as fans. Do you side with Locke/MIB, or Jack/Jacob? As we see here, all MIB wants to do is leave (when he was still human), and if we’re supposed to believe in that “all of the evil of the world will be spilled” stuff, they sure as hell don’t explain it or even hint at what that may look like in this. For all I know that’s just some shit Jacob made up to convince people to stay. So they blew a chance for interesting fan debate throughout the season by waiting until almost literally the last minute to hint that MIB might not be the real villain.
And, not for nothing, but the ONE thing they needed to explain was why the Man In Black couldn’t just kill Jacob (or vice versa), and they do so by... having the Mother say that they couldn’t kill each other. That’s basically it. Did she put a curse on them? Is it like some Terminator 2 type shit (“I cannot self-terminate”)? We see Jacob beat the piss out of the MIB twice, so it’s not like there’s some sort of protective force field or whatever – seems like Jacob could have very easily just picked him up and tossed him over a cliff. And if the idea was that even if he did that, MIB would survive (either by simply Wolverine-style healing or being “saved” by a 3rd party, a la the dynamite going out when Richard tried to kill himself), then they should have showed a scene like that for it to be more clear. Nope, Mother just says so. Great explanation, guys.
I also don’t care much for any “back-story” that requires its own back-story. Where did their birth mother come from, and where was she going? How did Mother arrive on the island? Or the “Others”, for that matter? Who decided she would be in charge of the Urine Cave and how did she come to understand what it did? Hell, where DID she get that stupid game? The whole episode is designed to provide answers, but it does so in a very inorganic and rather clunky way; reverse-engineered from what we already know (again, like Star Wars) and rather poorly so.
Well, whatever. It’s not like I’m the lone voice of dissent on this one. Way to make me hate the idea of spending a good chunk of the episode with the awesome Titus Welliver, Lindelof/Cuse (who provide a commentary on the episode but due to time constraints I’ll have to skip it – originally I planned to listen but alas, I’m too behind on other stuff).
Where are we?