Lost recaps: Season 6, Episode 14
‘Across the Sea,’ Or: Same Old Story

Published May 12, 2010 on

You guys, I have no idea how to recap this one. I'm still not sure how they managed to make it into a whole hour-long episode. It was short on plot, and while it delivered answers, it was nothing that couldn't have been accomplished in three minutes of NotLocke soliloquy.

But I'll try, because I love you THAT MUCH.

It's an old story, sibling rivalry. There's a reason it keeps getting told: Whoever you are, it hits home. If you didn't vie with a sibling, you probably had a frenemy in school. If you weren't trying to get a parents' approval, you've probably squared off for a promotion. So this is all going to sound very famliar, except possibly the part about the shipwreck.

Speaking of: There's a shipwreck, of course. Isn't there always a shipwreck? Along with the wreckage, a lone woman washes up. She's wearing a toga-type thing, and she is, of course, very pregnant. She's grateful to be cared for by weaver Allison Janney. Allison Janney is wearing a toga-type thing with a kind of net snood over a bun; between that, the newcomer's name being Claudia -- and, oh yes, all the Latin -- we are given to understand that these are Roman times. Not particularly specific, but at least we have a general idea. Point is, this is a while back.

Claudia goes into labor, of course, and gives birth to a son: Jacob. She and Allison Janney are quite surprised to find that there's another baby in there, too. Claudia had only thought of one name. She doesn't live long enough to think of another one, thanks to Allison Janney apologetically ending her life with a rock.

(So what do we call this other kid in the recap? I guess we could go with Esau, but that's mixing up our literatures. Quick glances at lists of Roman mythological characters reveal no apparent Jacob, or Jacobs, or Iakobus, with brothers. I'm just going to call him NJ: Not-Jacob.)

Off-screen, the twins are raised to early adolescence by Allison Janney, whom they call "Mother," since that's what she's told them. So we will, too, because it's their story. Jacob is a towhead who wears light colors; the dark-haired Not-Jacob is a proto-Goth. Mother weaves things and tells her boys that the three of them are the only people on the island, and, further, that there's nothing across the sea.

Jacob and Not-Jacob, like all mythological twins, love each other but seem to be competing for Mother's affections. She definitely has her impressions of them: Jacob is the good boy, and Not-Jacob is... not Jacob. Which is not a bad thing.

Around the time that Jacob grows into that kid who will later haunt NotLocke, two things happen. First, Not-Jacob finds a box that contains a game with white and black rocks, bearing a superficial reference to backgammon. Not-Jacob asks Jacob not to tell Mother about it, but she gets Jacob to spill easily enough -- as she tells Not-Jacob, Jacob doesn't know how to lie; "he's not like you." So what does that make Not-Jacob? Per Mother, "Special." Also, they're never going to have to worry about "dead".

Second: The boys learn that they're not alone on the island. When they ask Mother what was up with those mysterious men who felled the boar that they'd been chasing, she gets all muttery. The men don't belong here, she says. They're not like us; we're here for a reason. She blindfolds the boys and leads them to that reason, muttering all the while about how the men always come and fight and corrupt, refusing to give a straight answer about where the came from. And then she pulls the blindfolds off and shows them the reason they're there: At the end of a stream, there's an entrace to a tunnel, and from it, golden light emits. It's very Disneyland. Mother explains that they're there to protect that light source, because if they don't, then people will interfere with it, and then the spark of it in all men will die. But they can't go in there. Someday, one of them is going to have to take over. (Jacob, paraphrased: "Cool." Not-Jacob, paraphrased: "Huh? And, yeah, NO.") Oh, and she's made it so they can't hurt each other. Remember how NotLocke said he had a crazy mother? I'm starting to see his point.

One day, the boys are playing the game. Not-Jacob has made up the rules, which don't favor Jacob. Not-Jacob sweetly tells Jacob he'll be able to make up his own rules. His next taunt is cut short when Not-Jacob gets a vision of his dead mother (not visible to Jacob), who tells him that not only is Mother not his mother, but that she's been lying to him about there not being anything else out there. As proof, DeadMom leads Not-Jacob to a camp populated by her fellow passengers, the people who'd wrecked on another part of the island. She tells him that these are his people, that they came from across the sea.

To say that this all screws with Not-Jacob's worldview is an understatement. He returns home and quietly tells Jacob they're leaving. Jacob's all, wait, what, nameless brother? Not-Jacob tells him that their lives are a lie, so Jacob beats him up. Mother pulls him off, and Not-Jacob confronts her with the whole origins thing. In the end, Not-Jacob leaves to be with his biological people, though Mother warns him that no matter what they tell him, they'll never leave the Island. Jacob, ever the good boy, stays with Mother.

And this is how things go on for 30 years. The boys grow into Marc Pelligrino and Titus Welliver. Mother starts getting tired. Jacob pays visits to Not-Jacob, not sharing much with Mother. One day, as they play that game, Not-Jacob explains that the settlers are just as awful as Mother said, but they're a means to an end. Not-Jacob is determined to leave the island, and he seems to be onto something. He illustrates by flinging a dagger against the side of a well, where it sticks, thanks to -- I'm guessing -- magnetism. Not-Jacob explains that when he and his people find spots where metal behaves strangely, they dig. Not-Jacob asks Jacob to come with him when he leaves, but Jacob stubbornly refuses to leave the only home he's ever known. Back at that home, Mother, of course, knows where her golden boy's been. Jacob tells her that Not-Jacob has found a way to leave the Island. Yeah, this is going to end well.

Mother goes to visit Not-Jacob. She finds him in the bottom of a well, where he's tending a coal fire. Not-Jacob explains that since he's never been able to find the Disneyland valley, they were digging to find the source of the light, and pries a rock out of the wall to reveal that they have. There's a large wheel there, and Not-Jacob says something technical that works out to channeling currents so he can get off the island. Or, um, something. Before he say anything sensical, Mother apologetically rams him into a wall, leaving him for dead.

So Jacob's going to have to be the one to take care of the light -- life, death, rebirth, the source, the heart of the island, Mother calls it at various times in the conversation. But he can't go down there. She pours a cup of wine, mutters over it in Latin; and, since he doesn't seem to think he has a choice, Jacob accepts the cup. Jacob has a sneaking suspicion that she really wanted Not-Jacob to do it, but he's a good son and takes on the reponsibility, agreeing to pick a successor when his time is over. This is all sealed with a sip of wine. "Now you and are the same," Mother says.

Not-Jacob wakes up next to the well. The back of his head's bloody, but since he can't die, overall he's none the worse for wear. He discovers that the well's been filled in and the walls partially knocked down. How long was he out? And then he sees some smoke, and runs to it, and finds that the camp he's called home for so long has been burned and its people slaughtered. It's never said, but the implication is clear: This was Mother's work. The only other possible suspect was Jacob, and that hot bundle of sweetness and light and listening to one's mother? Pfft. Not-Jacob is distraught, but not so distraught that he doesn't grab the game.

As you knew he would, Not-Jacob goes to the cave home and kills Mother with the dagger. In her dying moments, Not-Jacob asks Mother why she won't let him leave. "I love you," she says. And "Thank you."

When Jacob discovers Not-Jacob hovering over Mother's body with a bloody dagger, he goes a little nuts, as you knew he would. He beats up the already-ragged Not-Jacob and takes him to the magical Disney valley. There's some scuffling, and Jacob finally knocks him out. "You want to leave this place? Then go," Jacob snarls, and shoves his brother down the stream, into the golden tunnel. And then... the light goes out. Good job protecting it, Jaco... holy hell, what was that? Why, that's Smokey shooting out of of the tunnel. When Jacob finds Not-Jacob some distance away, Not-Jacob looks pretty dead.

Somberly, Jacob brings not-Jacob's body back to the cave, where he lays it next to Mother's body. He leaves them there with a pouch containing a light stone and a dark stone from the game.

And, many years later, Jack and Kate discover Adam and Eve.

So, to sum up: The battle between Jacob and Smokey is sibling rivalry between the good son who wants to stay on the island like Mother said, and the bad boy who wants to leave. There's a glowy light which is the "heart of the Island," which actually sounds a little like the eye of the TARDIS. This magnetic light seems to have somehow turned Not-Jacob into Smokey -- but's also possible that it was sitting on top of Smokey, and Not-Jacob's arrival is what set Smokey free. Whatever the realtionship there is, the ability to turn into Smokey hasn't helped Not-Jacob leave the island. There are rules, which involve not dying. Adam and Eve are Mother and Not-Jacob. The blond kid NotLocke sees is a young Jacob, either Not-Jacob's rememebrance of his brother or some kind of reincarnation. All of this could have been avoided if Mother had just told the kids what the hell was going on. Instead, Mother played the young men off against each other, and the push-pull between Jacob and not-Jacob was going to keep going until one of them died, and maybe Not-Jacob thought that without his goody-goody brother blocking his way, he could leave the island. Or something. We'll see. I'll I can say for sure is: the "Lost" creative team has three and a half hours left to answer a whole lot of questions. Why do I feel a "Sopranos" ending coming on?

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