Lost Wednesdays: A Very Special Episode

May 12, 2010
By | 56 Comments

I knew this episode was coming for a couple of months, with rumors of a deep Jacob backstory in the works, with anticipation that it would deviate from Lost‘s storytelling norms and feature a notable guest star. But it’s worth pausing to recognize how bold and unconventional this episode was, especially coming in the final hours of a six-season series. It features no regular characters, aside from a brief flashback to a five-year-old episode. It takes place in an unspecified time, probably around the time of ancient Egypt Rome.* It focuses on three characters, only one of whom has a name (at least until the end), and one who has never been seen before. And it is one of only two episodes of the series that tells its story in chronological order (along with season 2’s “The Other 48 Days“) – conventional for other shows, but radical for Lost.

* UPDATE: Per Sean’s comment and blog link below, I buy that the shipwreck was Roman era. But that leaves the island’s Egyptian symbolism unclear, suggesting a previous habitation yet unseen.

Thus it’s not a surprise that the immediate reaction, at least on The Twitter, was highly divisive. Some celebrated the revelations, while many decried the lack of answers; while many saw it as a distraction from the main story, others enjoyed its mythic sweep. For me, the episode worked very well – not an all-time classic (yet), but an impressive attempt to fill-in vast swaths of backstory without getting too expositional. What stood out was how it truly embraced its mythological tone – we frequently refer to the longform backstory of serialized television as “mythology” (I believe this stems from X-Files fandom), but this episode was literally mythological. Littered with symbols and drawing upon a range of religious and mythic sources – twins! games of fate! murderous mothers! – “Across the Sea” paints the background for the island setting where we’ve spent so much time, but never knew how to find the glowing core. While the answers it provides may not be fully revelatory, they frame the show decisively as a modern myth, much like the sources that the producers frequently cite as role models: Star Wars and The Stand.

The idea that Jacob and Adam (the only name given to him in the episode) are brothers isn’t a huge shock, although I doubt many people anticipated that they would be twins raised by a murderous island protector looking for an heir. For a show steeped in tales of Bad Daddies, the origin story being centered around a Murderous Mommy (now Eve) was a shift. Though the show’s recent treatment of women has been problematic, a point made eloquently by Mo Ryan on her podcast two weeks ago,** making the island’s previous protector a woman makes me more convinced that Kate will end up in a similar role by the end of the series and that Locke’s willingness to dismiss her candidacy (and Claire’s usefulness) stems from centuries of stewing in his Mommy issues. As it often is with serial narrative, it’s hard to judge a show’s politics (and aesthetics) without the full arc in place.

** UPDATE: Mo continued her gender analysis in reviewing this week’s ep – but avoid the comments unless you want to get infuriated.

Much of the episode’s mythological chatter would read horribly on the page, but Lost‘s frequent ace-in-the-hole has been the quality of its actors being able to make hokum sound sincere. Even though Jacob and Adam are infrequent guest stars, and this is Allison Janney’s sole appearance, all three of them completely sell the stakes of their conversations, making me buy it despite the silliness of glowing streams, enchanted wine, and obscure rules. The tone of the episode was purposely broad, framing the mythic narrative as a pre-modern tale of archetypes and supernatural forces preceding science. I was on board with that tone, but it’s certainly not everyone’s taste – and for the viewers who are primarily invested in the arcs of the main characters, this was surely an annoyance and distraction from the show they thought they were watching.

But what about viewers who claim to want “answers”? I’m guessing for many, this episode was frustrating on that front as well. Rather than the style of explicit answers that annoyed me regarding the whispers, the deep mythology created a sense of understanding rather than explication. I have a much better sense of what the island is, why Jacob is tasked with its protection, and what the smoke monster represents – but I really can’t explain it in any way that would make any sense. Many fans want things more explicitly answered, but if that’s your goal, I think Lostpedia is a better site for rattling off answers – the show’s sense of mythic storytelling is more about grounding the narrative in a consistent world rather than filling in every gap.

Of course some answers were given. The origin of the donkey wheel was alluded to – I assume that Smokey worked with future inhabitants to install the wheel, only to discover that it didn’t allow him to escape, but rather moved the island in time and space. And Adam and Eve were clearly identified in a true surprise – not castaways travelled back in time, but truly the original figures of our story. I found that revelation quite satisfying (although I could have done without the replays from season 1), and the more I’ve thought about it, I think tying island’s the mythic sweep to one of the show’s first mysteries is pretty impressive – I have no illusions that the producers knew all this back in 2004 when we first discovered Adam and Eve, but they planted an open-ended seed that could yield a satisfying narrative payoff in the long-run.

The risk that doesn’t payoff was choosing to place “Across the Sea” as Lost‘s antepenultimate episode (sorry, but I had to slip that in…). It break-ups the narrative momentum from last week’s bloodbath, and risks pissing off viewers leading into the finale. Is there a reason why we couldn’t have known the backstory of Jacob and Smokey prior to now? As the only true stand-alone episode in the series history, it seems better suited to midway through the final season to deepen our understanding of the complex relationship and motivation between the dueling brothers. As is, it seems like Cuse & Lindelof wanted to keep it up their sleeve for a grand reveal, but I doubt it functioned quite as they’d hoped. But I still quite like the episode, grading on a curve for its audacity and degree of difficulty, and finding myself enjoying it even more as I think and write about it. And let’s hope that next week provides a more typical Lost experience to get the haters back on board.

Random favorite fanboy moment: “Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.” Thanks for giving me an epigraph to use in my book!


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56 Responses to “ Lost Wednesdays: A Very Special Episode ”

  1. Sean C. Duncan on May 12, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    It’s not taking place in the era of ancient Egypt — they were speaking Latin and the Man in Black’s dagger is of Roman origin. This is, I believe, quite significant in what it means for the island’s larger mythology and discuss it a bit on my blog: http://se4n.org/2010/05/12/lost-across-the-sea/

  2. Sean C. Duncan on May 12, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    “Though the show’s recent treatment of women has been problematic, a point made eloquently by Mo Ryan on her podcast two weeks ago”…

    I can’t currently listen to a podcast, but have seen a number of tweets and offhand comments levying “misogyny” at Lost lately. I’d love it if someone could please run down a list of the evidence for these claims? I’m not seeing it, that’s for sure, and am curious about what the problematic treatment of women on the show is. The killing off of Sun? That Kate isn’t a candidate? The out of context reactions I’d read made it sound like a simple issue of representation — that there wasn’t a woman among the remaining, living candidates for Jacob’s job. If that’s at the root of it, this strikes me as a little ridiculous. There’s gotta be more to it than that, right?

    • Derek Kompare on May 12, 2010 at 9:51 AM

      The problem is that the vast majority of characters are men, and nearly all of the primary characters with any significant narrative energy are men. Moreover, in most cases, they’re men largely motivated by other men. All of the women are almost entirely motivated in relation to other men; aside from the occasional flash of jealousy between Kate and Juliet, or Kate and Claire, there are no substantial relationships between any of Lost’s women.

      To wit:
      MEN –
      Jacob (+ MIB, + “Eve”)
      MIB (+ Jacob, + Locke, + “Eve”)
      Jack (+ Christian Shepard, + Kate)
      Locke (+ Anthony Cooper, + Helen)
      Sawyer (+ Anthony Cooper, + his own dad, + Kate, + Juliet)
      Ben (+ Roger Linus, + Richard Alpert, + Charles Widmore,+ Jacob, + MIB)
      Charles (+ Richard Alpert, + Ben, + Penny)
      Desmond (+ Charles, + Charlie)
      Sayid (+ Ben, + Nadia)
      Hurley (+ Jacob, + Libby)
      Jin (+ Sun, + Mr. Paik, + his own dad)
      Charlie (+ Liam, + Desmond, + Claire)
      Miles (+ Pierre Chang)
      Daniel (+ Charlotte, + Eloise)
      Bernard (+ Rose)
      Michael (+ Walt)
      Walt (+ Michael)
      Eko (+ Yemi, + MIB)

      WOMEN –
      “Eve” (+ Jacob, + MIB, + their mother)
      Kate (+ Jack, + Sawyer, + Aaron, + her stepdad, + her real dad, + the Marshal)
      Sun (+ Jin, + Mr. Paik, + Ben)
      Claire (+ her ex, + Aaron, + Charlie, + Locke, + the psychic, + MIB)
      Juliet (+ Ben, + Goodwin, + Jack, + Sawyer, + her sister)
      Rose (+ Bernard, + Jack)
      Charlotte (+ Daniel)
      Libby (+ Hurley, + Michael)
      Ana Lucia (+ her unborn child, + its killer, + Goodwin, + Ben, + Michael)
      Eloise (+ Daniel, + Charles, + Desmond)
      Penny (+ Charles, + Desmond)
      Zoe (+ Charles)

      The writers certainly aren’t misogynist in a direct sense. However, they have designed a narrative that regularly sidelines women, and/or conceives them only in relation to other men. Sure, that’s hardly a new development in the history of narrative entertainment, but it is pretty surprising given the nature of serial TV narrative in the early 21st century.

      • Lindsay H. Garrison on May 12, 2010 at 10:34 AM

        Wow, thanks Derek – I certainly agree re: huge problems with the fact that female characters on LOST are sidelined and not central to the major narrative, and your map above fleshes that out even more.

        I haven’t listed to Mo Ryan’s podcast, but I’ve certainly found myself less and less invested in this season as the central narrative to LOST each week becomes more and more about the heroic journeys of white men. Given that, it was hard not to read this episode as another take on “Eve is the downfall of man” and get even *more* frustrated with the show. Not to mention the pangs of the problematic historical discourse of women, hysteria, and motherhood.

        Jason, I certainly understand the point you’re getting at when you say “it’s hard to judge a show’s politics (and aesthetics) without the full arc in place.” Yes, it could end up that all the white men kill each other and Kate is the only one left standing. But, as Jonathan opined about on his blog last week, isn’t it also much more about the journey you take with the show to get there? For me, the politics in the journey to the end of the show feel problematic, and it’s something that can’t be totally corrected or re-read once I find out the ending.

        • Sean C. Duncan on May 12, 2010 at 10:53 AM

          This all makes sense, but I have a hard time feeling like these issues are really consequential or “problematic.” Why does it matter for this show? Yes, I see that people “feel it’s problematic” (which is, really, an issue of representation, then), but I have yet to understand why this is anything but a minor criticism of the show. Certainly, no one was complaining over the gender imbalance in Sex and the City, were they?

          What bugs me is that it seems that there is an implicit argument that an increased balance in the narrative complexity for these characters would have benefitted the show in some fashion. I remain unconvinced; since the first season, the show has been overtly cast as a conflict between Locke vs. Jack, two white alpha males (with, ooh, such sensitive sides) dukin’ it out. All other characters — male, female, anglo, of color — have been supporting characters, secondary to that storyline. The creators have done a fantastic job of making us think the show will go off into other directions, making us become invested in other characters, only to revert it back to this Jack vs. Locke conflict.

          So, I was initially annoyed by this, but have come to find a certain elegance in it, as well as admirable that Lindelof and Cuse have tried to seek some kind of narrative cohesion across all the crazy events that have occured on the island in this final season. That is, by making the early choice to focus on Team Jack vs. Team Locke, the body count has risen, and we’re necessarily left with few beyond these two white males driving the story. If this gender imbalance is “problematic,” well, then, I’d argue it’s been a problem since the first season of the show, and it’s not really anything new. Nor anything that tempers my enjoyment of the program; quite the contrary, if the show in its final season veered into a strange Sun vs. Claire conflict, I would have felt robbed.

          • Kit Hughes on May 12, 2010 at 11:38 AM

            While I think that representation is important to the show and has cultural bearing beyond the confines of the text (and LOST’s routine reliance on incompetent, crazy, or throwaway women makes the show hard for me to watch sometimes), I’m sure that argument has been made elsewhere far more eloquently than I could venture here.

            I will say that, for me, one of the reasons LOST’s gender politics are so particularly frustrating is that when the show is so daring in areas like narrative and genre it’s disappointing that LOST relies on very traditional structures and representations when it comes to gender. (I think AVATAR commits this sin much more grievously when it uses awesome formal stylistic advancements as a means to a very traditional and boring war-story end.) In this case, I do think that complex female characters doing interesting things would have added a lot to the show. (I mean, do we really need another story about two white alpha males dukin’ it out?)

          • Chris Becker on May 12, 2010 at 1:12 PM

            Please, I beg you, don’t resort to “but what about Sex and the City!” as an argument against people who lament the patriarchal dominance of close to every other show in TV history.

            • Jason Mittell on May 12, 2010 at 1:27 PM

              Ditto Chris!

              I’ve linked to Mo Ryan’s review in an update to the original post above, where she expands on her gender discussion from the podcast.

              And like I initially wrote, I’m trying to hold off judgement until we see how Kate & Claire (and Hurley & Miles concerning race) end up. Darlton was asked the gender question in this interview, and while they mostly dodge it, they do suggest that Kate has a key role left to play.

            • Derek Kompare on May 12, 2010 at 1:31 PM

              Hear hear! Yes! Thank you!

          • LostnLost on May 12, 2010 at 6:59 PM

            I have to agree with Sean on this one. And being a man I want to be sensitive to the issue of gender treatment and representation of Women in general and Lost specifically.

            However, overlaying Women Gender/politics on a show that is breaking ground in story telling in so many areas and has created a vast Suite of not only major characters but also Minor Memorable Characters both Men and Woman, feels like people are trying to impose an issue(s)where it may not fully fit?

            When I look at Lost’s portrayal of women, I don’t see Archie Bunker of the 70’s(?). While surely the show was created by men and men have some of the more jucy roles I think people are selling the show short if they think Women are somehow portayed as Second class Citizens.

            The show has a huge cast so everybody fights for screen time and lines. However, with that said, Women have been Central to this Show from the beginning, major players and minor characters alike.

            Love her or hate her, Kate is a kick-ass female figure in this unfolding mystery/drama who does not take a back seat to any man and is as central to the story line as almost any of our main characters.

            Just off the top of my head, there seem to be plenty of great and meaty roles for Women Actors in this series.

            Juliet, Sun, Rose, Claire, Eloise Hawking, Rousseau, Naomi, Illana, even bit characters like Alex & Nadia all were written, acted and played substaintially by both writers and actors. I don’t think any of these women were defined by the men they Chose. Most of these women were STRONG, INTEELIGENT, PROGRESSIVE WOMEN. They all stood on their own because of who they were and their unique character personalities.

            Perhaps I am ignorant (ok, I may just be proving I am ignorant 🙂 but i find it hard to buy the arguement that the women on this show were defined by thier relationship with men and/or lack of development of those relationships.

            Again, Kate slept with Jack/Saywer because she wanted to not because of some 1960/70’s subservient “…this is what women are suppose to do” on tv attitude. It is almost quite the opposite.

            again, I am not a woman and certainly am not fully aware of impact that Male written shows have for women in general and society at large but from my perhaps narrow-minded view point, I like the portrayal of women in this series.

            Now if these comments show up any where but this blog I will immedidately deny them :–)!

          • Elizabeth Rose on May 15, 2010 at 2:55 PM

            For me, the issue is about whether we are finally ready as humans to expand our western storytelling tropes to be inclusive, or if we remain stuck in the same thousands-years-old mythic paradigm about the adrenaline-pumping action of the hunt (supplanted by war and conquest), with their tragic and trickster heroes, usually males. LOST started out as an example of storytelling with potential for shifting the paradigm by explicitly calling out the trope (making much of the story adrenaline-pumping action about hunt and conflict and predator-prey), while focusing on humans (and to some degree a dog) of a variety of socio-economic (albeit western-influenced) strata, flipping archetypes (e.g., Hurley’s Latino trickster, Kate’s female action hero, Juliet’s tragic hero with the fatal flaw, etc.), and it would be nice to see it complete the paradigm shift as it completes the story. It’s also nice that LOST has included some key indigenous reference points (or western-indigenous overlaps, with a nice nod to Joseph Campbell) from Polynesia (e.g., the “Hurleybird” suggests this), the indigenous of the Americas, etc. For example, Homer’s Penelope was a weaver, but also the Navaho creation stories focus on the male loom-maker and spider-grandmother who used her loom to create the human world. And indigenous myth is egaliatarian. Western myth supplanted that with patriarchial myth, often of a pathological skew. I have no objection to those who just want to accept the story on it’s face, but I’m just one of those people who can’t help myself from looking at the mythological foundation for the story. As Willa Cather famously said, there are basically three human stories. (Life, Death, Love.) What differs from one story to the next is how we tell them.

            • LostnLost on May 17, 2010 at 5:48 PM

              Whoa Elizabeth…Are we finally ready as Humans to expand…? NO! 🙂

              But I think I get your overall point. And I’m sure you realize Lost probably was not trying to scale or even inform the Human Condition relative to Gender Politics or the role of women in literature/story telling.

              I think they were just trying to tell their story will all of the internal, cultural and blind spot biases that ANY storyteller(s) would have.

              For an Anglo-Saxon, mostly traditional Old Boys Network, relative to their portrayal of women in this series I think they did ok.

              Which is not to say some of the criticism, bias already highlighted here and other places doesnt’ have Merit as I believe it does.

              I’m just of that opinion, at the end of the day, you have to judge a piece of art/work/literature on what the authors/creators intended it to do/be etc.

              To overlay and juxtapose , global ideological issues on a piece of work that never set out to address, solve or even highlight those issues to some extent misses the point of the work.

              And yet, I think I understand, through a gender politic lens or more closely to your words, through a Human lens you can see the vestige of male dominated, written, etc. etc. story lines

              But really, isn’t this ground breaking series in so many ways TV Series, still a complex, riviting, intellictual joy ride, with said Gender weaknesses?

    • Elizabeth Rose on May 14, 2010 at 2:19 PM

      First, great critique of the ep, my thoughts articulated much better than I could articulate them.

      My thoughts about the feminist critique (which I feel is valid): I think it is a deliberate choice that our female and minority characters are dying, sidelined, or turned into “rejects and crazies.” While the final analysis may prove it’s just a show about white guys made by white guys, I think these white guys are onto something (plus I suspect they are joined by people of all sorts behind the camera, considering where they shot the show). So to advocate for the creators and their possible motives, consider this: The history of western civilization has been one of female garden clans growing into male-usurped agrarian societies (where agrarian surplus accumulation allowed for metalwork and weapons refinement, first for hunting, then for war), dominated by white men, who initiated migrations that prompted overpowering and co-opting egalitarian and matrilineal indigenous societies to obtain resources. (This is not generalization about a group, this is scholarly historical and anthropological scientific theory, i.e. theory that is actually largely factual, but is still being tested because that’s what scientists do.) This ep put us square in the midst of the Roman Empire (the first “global” offender), for example, and what do we have, Latin being spoken as a living conversational language as was imposed by the Romans on the conquered (it was either Latin or Greek, baby, or you were outta communications luck outside your immediate community), the myth of Romulus and Remus brought to life, wolf-mother and all (one of the great examples of female mythology/religion co-opted and dominanted by males to subjugate conquered females), and finally a context for why Sawyer and Kate were being treated like Roman slaves while building Jacob’s prescient runway. So could this not also be about how human societies try to form in egalitarian ways (a la our diverse cast of S1 or the stated intentions of the Dharma Initiative), living in “enlightened” community, and then devolve into warlike conquest – including Purges or genocide, symbolized most tragically for many of us by the black acrid *smoke* of the funeral pyres that are often a feature of these events (like the Nazi crematoriums) – that marks the history of western civilization? (I keep thinking about Rose’s comments early on which “mirror” and foreshadow those of MIB, and then the stand she and Bernard ultimately made to detach from the madness, taking Vincent, the canine symbol of unconditional love and loyalty of the pack, with them. Even in sideways world, they remain the most grounded characters.) Just sayin’. Now if Team Darlton ends the show without making these connections, I’ll be the first to say, I’m wrong and my fellow feminists and anthropologists/mythologists are right, but LOST has set a high bar for intellect on network TV, so I’m hopeful that they have found a way to fulfill that potential on this front too, because I think however this plays out, it will be about breaking generational cycles of human violence and evil. And of course, Kate has been quite clear that she is there to save Claire, which would break a clear cycle we saw demarcated in “Across the Sea,” and her ambivalent choices about the men in her life are hers, not theirs. And she’s not crossed off in the Lighthouse. (It amazed me how long it took fans to see this while desconstructing podcasts to see the crossed off name in the cave, which just goes to show how our own male-dominated media brainwashes us.) Anyway, the finale will be the test of this idea, let’s see if they “get it.”

      • Sean C. Duncan on May 14, 2010 at 4:32 PM

        “It amazed me how long it took fans to see this while desconstructing podcasts to see the crossed off name in the cave, which just goes to show how our own male-dominated media brainwashes us.”

        Or it could be that, previous to “Lighthouse,” we had seen an unambiguous display of her crossed-out name, the week before. It could easily not be about this “male-dominated media brainwashing” and more about one simply appearing first, and fans chalking up the latter to a production error. There were a few differences between the two lists (Shannon is 31 in one, and 32 in the other; Brennan from the Bésixdouze had a number in one that was different in the other, I forget) — why can’t Kate’s case be chalked up to a simple continuity error, and why must this be so significant re: gender? There are plausible other explanations rather than raising the spectre of ill-defined, vague “male-dominated media brainwashing,” and I object to this kind of sloppy confirmatory reading of the show. At least attempt to address the more prosaic explanations before going off.

        • Elizabeth Rose on May 14, 2010 at 5:49 PM

          Okay, perhaps I generalized. But, just to be clear, the name in the cave was not on screen AT ALL in the ep. “The Substitute,” and my understanding re: Cuse’s comments was it was “unfortunately” edited out. That it appeared and was crossed out in podcasts (that not all of us are able to view for various reasons) is IMHO the definition of ambiguous, whereas the uncrossed-out name was UN-ambiguous in “Lighthouse.” My point, perhaps made poorly, was the focus fans had on the cave notation rather than the significance of the difference between the two. I’m not advocating anything for or against the character Kate, just suggesting that the male lens of our media has interfered with the storytelling. And my perspective is that of the feminist school that sees male entitlement all over major broadcast media. I’ll apologize for failing to make my point clearly but not for my feminism. Especially when I’m advocating FOR the creators based on that feminism!

          The lens I used is, I suppose, a symptom of the chip on my shoulder about male-dominated broadcast TV, as much as the comments I read from Kate-haters (male and female) (“Katers?) who appear to me to have a chip about her because of that same male domination.

          Thanks for the reply and the reminder about generalizing. As for suggesting I’m “sloppy” by referring to a postscript in a larger post that I spent some time offline composing to in order to show sensitivity to a potentially divisive issue, is, for lack of a better word, hurtful. FWIW.

      • Ryan Robinson on May 14, 2010 at 9:23 PM

        Interesting take, Elizabeth – my girlfriend and I also had a similar discussion, in that perhaps LOST is in fact trying to ultimately offer a critique of patriarchy, showing that white men in their quest to find truth in life, or in faith or science, really just do nothing but propel violence and hardship for all. I, for one, certainly want it to be about, as you say, “breaking generational cycles of human violence and evil,” even if that’s not what Darlton are actually explicitly going for. 🙂

        • Elizabeth Rose on May 15, 2010 at 3:15 PM

          Thanks Ryan, the perspective of you and your girlfriend makes sense to me. Of course, to be fair, it hasn’t just been white men to do these things, it’s part of the human condition. (We are after all a social species that organizes itself via hierarchies.) But the nature of western development has certainly made this dichotomy problematic. Especially in the context of religion and spirituality, e.g., earth and spirit, yin and yang, female and male (or anima and animus), dark and light, war and peace, hypocrisy and truth, poor and rich, outsider-insider, destiny-free will, science-faith, and on and on. Children see things as black and white, and we humans often struggle to mature out of that frame of reference to see the overlaps and gray areas. And that’s just human, as far I can tell from my own experience and research. Others smarter than me have commented on the idea of all the things that make us human, it’s our campacity for self-deception that affects our interactions with the world most significantly.

      • LostnLost on May 17, 2010 at 6:20 PM


        “.. I think it is a deliberate choice that our female and minority characters are dying, sidelined, or turned into “rejects and crazies.”

        Perhaps. When Eko was killed, I was pissed. Mostly because I grew to like the character. When Walt became an after thought, I thought it sucked as early on the writers led us to believe he was special. Claire going crazy, Juliet getting killed (new series probably had a lot to do with that also :–), Illana & Sayid getting blown up and I could go on and on.

        None of these did I ever think was “The Man” trying to keep Women and Minorities down.

        For every Minority and Woman that was killed or gone crazy, I can name many many White Characters Mostly Men that were also killed both major and minor characters.

        Again from my earlier post if you look at the story in light of what it was intended to be (whatever that is :–), the idea of “The Man” indiscrimantely killing the Non-whites just doesn’t seem to fit as I think before the Finale is done almost EVERYBODY will be Dead in Island Reality.

        If there is one thing we know about this show, it is a war of Attrition. Whatever is really going on: Good vs Evil, Fate vs Free Will, Choice vs No Choice Virtually everyone is going to die, Man/Woman/Minority/Non-Minority!

        The old corny phrases, Many are Called but the choosen are few comes to mind.

        One of Jacob’s most telling lines in the series was something to the effect, you only have to get it (whatever it is, change etc) right ONCE and everything before that is just progress when referring to MIB’s statement the Man keeps coming to the island, killing and nothing EVER changes.

        So while, if you put a Gender Bias filter on, you can point to Women and Minorities who get killed, go crazy and in the end, there may only be one White Man and if Kate makes it a White Woman standing. I still don’t think that is an epic hit for gender in art as this series had many wonderful roles for Minorities and Women through out.

        However, my feeling goes along the lines of what Jacob said. I think there will be a Reset and all the killings and going Crazies will be resolved in whatever timeline we are left with as a result of choices that Men & Women (Minorities & Non-Minorites), Humans will have to make.

  3. Sean O'Sullivan on May 12, 2010 at 9:24 AM

    For me, this was the most interesting episode of the season. It was nice to see Lost embrace the stand-alone aesthetic of Mad Men and The Sopranos–especially at this point in the season. So I liked the placement, as an antepenultimate installment; thwarting the narrative onrush makes the show that much richer. Think “Pine Barrens.”

  4. Derek Kompare on May 12, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    Count me among the “pro” camp. I actually preferred this one to last week’s (and perhaps I’m in a minority that’s less affected by the main characters the longer we go on). I think the timing in the season worked well. The events of last week certainly brought us to a crisis point, and revealed that, indeed, Smokey is a pretty bad guy. This episode serves as an interlude, or even prelude, to the final act, cleansing the palette, and offering us a distinct narrative flavor.

    I also wanted to note that despite this radically different tone, there was something constant and familiar about the episode all the way through. This was conveyed most starkly through setting, taking us back to places we’ve seen many, many times over six seasons (especially the caves and the beach), and poetically drawing in many themes that have come up repeatedly (the magnetic mystery stuff, the “rules,” the corruption of men, fate, regret, funerals, etc.). I loved how several scenes were directly reminiscent of earlier scenes, e.g., the many funerals, Locke showing Walt backgammon, the construction of the Swan station, the invocation of “others,” etc.

    • Lindsay H. Garrison on May 12, 2010 at 10:52 AM

      I agree – while I certainly had my own reasons to dislike the episode on its own merits, I really didn’t mind the break in the tone itself. While it was a little disjarring to spend an entire hour on characters other than those we’ve come to know and care about so much in the last six years, I did like the strange familiarity this episode evoked in taking us back to places. I, for one, really enjoyed seeing the early version of the frozen donkey wheel, something that I think might forever remain my favorite random phrase to ever come out of LOST. 🙂

    • LostnLost on May 12, 2010 at 7:12 PM

      Not sure I am in the Pro Camp but I did like this episode far better than I did last weeks ep that felt much to contrived and rushed for me.

      However as a stand alone ep I thought it was alright (B+). Now the timing of this episode sucked. I do believe it should have been inserted midway through the season as that would have given us a much better appreciation or maybe understanding of smoking.

      So I didn’t particularly like this as a set up to the finally episode yet the themes of good and evil and the source and still not fully knowing if MIB is the Bad one or if Jacob really the problem in this Mythology.

      The Finale won’t answer all the question I would like it too but I do think they will set up a framework where we can infer what has and should happen in the future…

  5. […] close with one final point, Jason Mittell’s post about the episode at Antenna raises an issue regarding the narrative placement of the episode that a number of reviews have […]

  6. Nick Bestor on May 12, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    I really don’t understand the fandom sometimes. They just get pissed off about things that really don’t make sense to me. These last two episodes, apparently they’ve been unpopular, positions I just do not understand at all. Last week’s episode was definitely not in the top tier of Lost episodes, but it still offered some great narrative momentum. And if you’re complaint is “I’m pissed they’re killing characters,” then I don’t know what to say to you. Did people honestly believe no one was going to die this season? This show capriciously kills people off left and right; usually it’s more secondary characters, as the main core of survivors has been relatively indestructible throughout the show.

    But frankly, I could have done with more people dying. I fully expected after Smokey told Claire she didn’t want to be on the sub for the sub to blow up then and there. And why the hell is Kate still around? She had better play an important role in the endgame, because I am real sick of her. If she managed to survive a serious gunshot wound and a sinking sub just because she’s pretty and has a character shield, I’ll be even more pissed at the character than I already am.

    And people didn’t like Across the Sea either? It didn’t quite hit the mark of something like Ab Aeterno, but in my book at least it wasn’t far off. And if people feel like there weren’t any answers in this episode, I am just dumbfounded. They’ve had six years to figure out what kind of show Lost is, and if they don’t yet realize that they’re watching a show where the answers will be about “understanding” and not “explication,” they have set themselves up for some sore, sore disappointment. As far as I’m concerned, damn near every question I had about Jacob and the MiB was addressed (answered might not be quite accurate), and I feel that I have a much deeper understanding of the show’s mythology now. (Jason, yes, I believe mythology to describe a show’s arc does originate from the X-Files, though the term mytharc was used as well.)

    One thing I really liked (and is probably pissing off those people) is that to my mind, the entire question of the MiB’s name has been put to rest: he just does not have one. They had dozens of opportunities to state his name throughout this episode, and they did not. Some probably take this to mean that the producers are remaining cagey, that they’re saving the name for some grand reveal. I don’t buy it. Partially because most of the theories on his name also seem to revolve around Aaron, who I really don’t feel will be all that important to the endgame.

    But more importantly, who of the characters actually cares what his name is? Most everyone seems to have accepted, quite readily, that there is a malevolent entity walking around looking like John Locke. None of them seem too concerned about what that means or who that entity is. Hurley and Jack aren’t arguing around a campfire about the metaphysics of the MiB. The most they really know is that it was the Smoke Monster before, and occasionally it appeared as dead people. Richard seems to be the only one around who’s seen the Adam form. The events of this episode are all very important to us, the viewers, but to the survivors, it’s not much more than backstory. They don’t need to know about Jacob’s brother, they just need to know how to stop the MiB, and Adam’s name isn’t going to help them.

    I am also of the opinion that whatever Jacob’s brother’s name is (Adam, Esau, Bert, whatever), it doesn’t really matter, as what we’re talking about isn’t really him. It’s the Man in Black, the Smoke Monster. This is purely my interpretation of the events, but as far as I’m concerned, the MiB is Adam the same way it is Locke, i.e. not quite. Adam was raised to believe he was special, then duped into toying with the Island’s mysteries, which ultimately led to his death and the Smoke Monster’s taking of his form and memories. Adam’s body shows that we’re not dealing with exactly the same individual, something that should be obvious considering Adam was never a pillar of malevolent electromagnetic energy. It’s difficult to say the extent to which Smokey is Adam, as we don’t know what happened in that cave and probably never will.

    I think it’ll all come down to what happened the MiB revealed himself to Jacob, a scene I definitely hope we’ll see in the last few episodes.

    • LostnLost on May 12, 2010 at 7:26 PM

      Fandom like the shows writers are a fickle group. I am one of those that last weeks episode just annoyed the heck out of me. And not because I want them to answer every question with a specific answer.

      But I do want them to lay out a more coherent answer for the story line and mystery than they were. Last week felt rushed as I explained in painful detail in my post.

      The show has to be true to itself and tell the story the writers want to tell. With that said, the story needs to fit together within it’s mythology.

      Now, for someone like me, I do want more answers than we surely are going to get but that is ok. I would love to know where, how, when the Alison Janey Character got to the island and what are her powers and blah blah blah.

      I will be happy to get a frame work that allows me/us to understant what this show and characters where chosen to do and why. Naturally, I want them to connect the Island World with the Sideways world.

      And just as naturally, I will be bitching about something or other when the show finally ends.

      However, however this show ends What A Ride. Talk about an intellectual roller coster where I have to come read Jason’s and other Key Bloggers take to begin to understand what might be happening.

      So please, don’t take the complaining and groaning for Overall Disapproval. The beauty of the blog-O-Sphere is that we all want different things and now we can moan and complain and as the Lost Producers will tell you as long as we are talking about the show that is a good thing.

    • Elizabeth Rose on May 14, 2010 at 3:16 PM

      Excellent post. Another take on the name issue (perhaps saying the same thing a different way?): If there was going to be a name reveal, this would be the ep., so I agree that he will remain simply MIB to us viewers. Is it possible that the lack of a name is reflective of “I am who I am” (a/k/a the great “I am,” or Y-w-h)? Not to suggest that MIB is another incarnation of the Hebrew Scriptural G-d, but more of the ethos that having a particular name is mythologically significant (e.g., “Claudia,” “Aaron,” not to mention our long line of philosophically named characters) and not having one is therefore just as significant?

      I’m sorry I didn’t seek out this forum earlier, there some great conversation here.

      • LostnLost on May 17, 2010 at 6:21 PM

        Agreed, I found this forum by accident and in addition to Jason’s great recaps there is a wealth of differing opinions and intelligent Lost life in her.

        Sadly we are at the end.

  7. […] I knew this episode was coming for a couple of months, with rumors of a deep Jacob backstory in the works, with anticipation that it would deviate from L… View full post on episode – Google Blog Search […]

  8. Javier on May 12, 2010 at 12:51 PM

    I agree with Nick, I loved this episode. I’m not concerned with having every question answered, as I am about the quality of the story, and in my opinion this was one of the best stories told in the series. Great acting, engaging story, and a firm connection to the series as a whole.

    It seems that people point mainly to the Jack-Locke relationship as the central focus of these last episodes, but more and more as this season goes along, I find the central relationship to be Jack-Sawyer. In a way their relationship and their characters mirror Jacob and the MIB. The season started with Sawyer declaring his intent to kill Jack. Kate (the tie that binds the two men, like Allison Janey’s character) stepped in and made sure that he dropped the plan, but Sawyer’s decision seemed to be based more on an unwritten rule then a lack of desire.

    Sawyer consistently trying to get off the island, Jack accepting his place on the island, Sawyer’s ability to lie, Jack’s righteousness, and on and on. To me the show seems set to have Jack take Jacob’s place and Sawyer take the MIB place.

    But then again at this point the show could follow any one of a dozen different roads, that is why I enjoy it so much.

    • LostnLost on May 12, 2010 at 7:30 PM

      Great Points. I hadn’t done the Jack/Sawyer Jacob/MIB similarities. And adding Kate as the woman that binds them. Nice!

    • Elizabeth Rose on May 14, 2010 at 3:48 PM

      Entertainment Weekly’s special “End of LOST” issue contained a graphic that I found inadequate, except for one thing: It “mirrored” my own thoughts about the mirroring we keep seeing (especially this season). In particular, Jack and Sawyer and Desmond were placed relative to Jacob and MIB and Widmore, and I’d be surprised if that’s an accident. What that means remains to be seen, of course, but I found it interesting. Unfortunately it failed badly at showing how the women, other main characters, and supporting characters connect them. I would also like to suggest that both MIB and Sawyer are consistently accused of being good “liars,” yet neither of them actually lie. (Although both are withholding.) It’s a perception projected onto both of them by others with vested interests to do so and/or based on their other behaviors. (Another theme of the show, by my reckoning.) As for Jack, he and Sawyer have changed places in their feelings about leaving vs. staying. Jack was adamant to leave, Sawyer, ambivalent. Jack did leave, but Sawyer, who sacrificed his chance for the good of “the team,” especially Kate, stayed and found a form of redemption in Juliet. So I think there’s a significant transformative theme we’re seeing in Jack’s turnabout this season, especially in contrast to Sawyer’s vehement reaction to Juliet’s death leading him want only to “get off this rock.” (And I find the constant use of the term “rock” potentially significant.) And yes, Jack did want to return, but remember he felt it was to help those left behind, not to remain indefinitely, and used Jughead as his means to that end with the goal that everyone would be off, with no memory of the place. The lesson of Jughead for Jack – or awaking to find himself still on island, just back in his own time – was for Jack the beginning of his transformation, IMHO. (And mirrored in Sidewaysville.) Of course, now we know that Jughead may have drowned the light, and even if our protagonists don’t understand that explicitly, their ability to apprehend it in the end (via Desmond and/or Widmore?) may be the means by which the two worlds of S6 are reconciled. In fact, placing ATS with it’s Magical Glowy Cave at this point may BE the point, that just as the true meaning of the situation is dawning on the Lostaways, we the viewers are finally at the 11th hour given insight into the predicament they face, and the time pressure that exists for them to deal with it.

      • Elizabeth Rose on May 14, 2010 at 3:57 PM

        Correction: Jack did tell Ben that he could accept never returning to the world, but I felt that it was an insincere sentiment, and Jack demonstrated that with Jughead. But it did finally become explicitly sincere, especially via Jack’s actions in “The Candidate.”

        Now that I’ve found this comments section, I’m all excited, wound up and wordy, so I apologize for that. I’ll shut up now, but I’ll be back next week.

      • LostnLost on May 17, 2010 at 6:26 PM

        Ohhh, I am tired of typing but there are Many examples of both Sawyer and MIB outright lying.

        MIB told Kate her Daughter was in the temple for 3 years.

        And Sawyer lied to the cast away for virtually six years. It is only lately when he lies to MIB about his intentions that it is even more fun getting behind the eyes and heart of the Con Man we have come to know. We know he is lying as soon as he says things in Season 6.

  9. Max Dawson on May 12, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    My quick $.02 as I run off to class: I *despised* this episode, perhaps more than any other (and that includes the Nikki and Paolo arc). I feel so strongly not because it left big questions unanswered while answering questions I didn’t really care about, nor because it introduced new questions with only 3.5 hours to go, nor because it stole time away from the characters and story lines I actually care about, nor because of the laughable costumes, Bieber haircuts, or silly dialogue. No, I hated this episode because in a very real sense it reduced the entire narrative of a show that I love deeply to little more than a spat between two spoiled brats angling for their mother’s attention. In that regard, I feel cheated.

    • Derek Kompare on May 12, 2010 at 1:30 PM

      It’s OK, Max; don’t mince words, let it out. 😉

      What it actually revealed (as soon as their “real” mother showed up to them) was that Jacob and the MIB were both as much manipulated by the mysteries of the Island as Locke, Ben, Jack, Hurley, Eko and any number of folks. In other words, they were being used; they’re not the men behind the curtain.

      I think that’s pretty cool…but I can see how it might piss people off.

    • Jason Mittell on May 12, 2010 at 1:32 PM

      Interesting, because I thought the way that they grounded the mythic in the human/personal narrative to be a huge asset. The gods are petulant and immature – and I like it that way!

    • enrique garcía on May 12, 2010 at 1:34 PM

      The basic core of humanity and literature since ancient times have been spats between brothers and lovers. I do not think Lost can change this at this point. I also think that Lost is very melodramatic and it has been successful because of that. It’s a funky melodrama though. 🙂

      • Max Dawson on May 12, 2010 at 3:29 PM

        No doubt Lost has featured plenty of spats between brothers and lovers and children and their parents. I personally have become quite invested in many of these melodramas, so much so that I would rather have spent last evening exploring, for instance, Jack’s and Kate’s relationships in greater depth than delving into the Jacob-Allison Janney-Justin Bieber triangle.

    • Jonathan Gray on May 12, 2010 at 5:10 PM

      I disagree that it reduced the show to that. After all, even if Jacob and Smokie loved their “mother” equally, we still have an island that needs a protector, which leaves the Qs of how and where protectors come from, how they change guard, what needs protecting, etc. The mommy issue that I’m seeing a lot of fans focus on seems a bit of a red herring to understanding what anything is about. One can still, of course, despise the episode or love it, but I guess I don’t see how this makes the story simply a mommy-and-two-twits story

      • Max Dawson on May 12, 2010 at 8:53 PM

        Just came across this quote in Sepinwall’s interview with Cuse and Lindelof. Makes it seem like more than a red herring.

        DL: “we wanted to make it clear to the audience that this little family drama, this dysfunctional relationship between these three people is really responsible for everything that’s happening to the passengers of Oceanic 815. We wanted to illustrate that by, at the very end of the show saying, “Oh, right, Jack and Kate and Locke are affected by the fact that Mother decided to raise her kids this way, and Jacob ended up bringing these people to the island.” The idea was to say that this chapter of the series is significant to the story we’ve been telling you, and that the series is about the survivors of Oceanic 815.”


        • Jonathan Gray on May 12, 2010 at 9:30 PM

          Ah, but the beauty of textual theory is it allows me to discount what the authors say they’re really doing 😉

          • Max Dawson on May 12, 2010 at 9:33 PM

            I rep the orthodox auteurists in this debate! ;>

      • Jeffrey Jones on May 17, 2010 at 11:26 AM

        Agreed. And it also makes us rethink who is good and who is evil. Flash forward without Jacob’s meddling and Sawyer is a cop, Ben is a schoolteacher, Locke’s dad didn’t try to kill him. Is Jacob so good after all? If Smokie gets off the island, is it the end of the world?

    • LostnLost on May 12, 2010 at 7:43 PM

      LMAO!!! You feel about this episode as I did about last weeks episode. I do understand your points and actually agree that this episode postioned here seems out of place. Although. I liked the episode alright.

      Not sure I am buying the big reveals that the gods can be petulant. Still frustrated that I have no clue why Janey had to Kill the mother and raise the kids. This seems more Shakesperean than good ole roman/egyption mythology to me.

      I’m underwhelmed at the reveal that Jacob and MIB apparently were regular Human Babies. Even if they were Fated for More. Janey seemed entirely surprised by the second baby, although she did not seem surprised that the mother showed up on her shore.

      We have learned that Jacob brought countless men to the island and perhaps Mom Janey could do/did the same. I would like to know if Janey/Jacob/MIB are Gods, entities of some kind with super powers and wasn’t it a total shock seeing Jack, Kate and Locke on screen at the end when this whole Isolated episode dealt with MIB/Jacob Backstory.

      But Max, you made this blog for me. I know how you feel even if I don’t fully agree with you on this episode.


    • LostnLost on May 12, 2010 at 7:54 PM

      Max, right after I posted to your rant, I went to one of my next favorite Lost Blog writers, Mac at http://www.filmfodder.com/tv/lost/archives/2010/05/key-points-from-109.shtml

      Here is his opening paragraph:

      “…I understand why this episode was produced. It’s half origin story and half mythological brain dump. And there were some interesting bits, no doubt there. But let me sum my opinion up this way: If “Lost” had focused on Jacob, MIB and their wacky “Mother” from the very beginning, I never would have watched this show. I just don’t care about these characters and their deep psychological scars. For six years we’ve watched a fantastic ensemble of great actors playing great characters battling with their own Big Problems. The Jacob-MIB-Mother trio felt like window dressing. And is it just me, or was the acting a little meh?…”


      Just wanted you to know there were others thinking similarly to your thoughts/feelings.

  10. Jessica on May 12, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    I think there was reasoning to this episode being antepenultimate. I am only theorizing until we see the rest of the series, but I imagine it is here to set-up next week. I think next week’s episode is going to have a lot to do with Widmore. And Widmore appears be another in a long line of “well diggers”. If the episode had been earlier in the season it would have fell flat the following week when there was no development of the well of light mythology.

    Of course, this is all currently speculation.

  11. LTorchin on May 12, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    It’s interesting you should mention the rise of the term ‘mythology’ in conjunction with the X-Files. As I recall from back in the day (a recollection sufficiently addled by teaching and drinking) the term ‘mythology’ was used quite a bit by those who were impressed by the way the show was quite cognisant of the UFO mythology held to by such organisations as MUFON (the Mutual UFO Network). This organisation, actually referenced in X-Files (again, if my feeble brain does not fail) offered a relatively canonical overview that could be added to and questioned, but which certainly had its own rules. And this canon was also held up by the satellite organisations such as PUFOG (the Portland UFO Group). (At this point I confess I went to meetings with Anthropologist friends of mine who worked on abduction stories– I had no reason, though.) Unlike some shows which seemed to be under the impression that if you take up something widely regarded as batshit, you can make it up as you go along, X-Files was somewhat impressive for its willingness to adhere to rules already in place.
    I don’t want to draw any conclusions about this, but I thought I would share. Import and overlap may have given this term purchase in the televisual context.
    Meanwhile, I found this episode quite touching and appealing in its own right and agree that there was no reason for the flashback. The writers must know that if anyone was lost with the reference, there’s lostpedia to help with myth and canon.

    • RJ on May 13, 2010 at 4:51 AM

      Alan Sepinwall has an interview with Damon and Carlton where they explain why they had the flashback to season 1. It had nothing to do with reminding people about Adam & Eve.

  12. Carol on May 12, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    “and for the viewers who are primarily invested in the arcs of the main characters, this was surely an annoyance and distraction from the show they thought they were watching”

    Bullseye, jackpot, bingo. Bravo.

  13. RJ on May 12, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    As an Indian man who has lived in North America all his life, I can’t help but be frustrated by complains made by people over Lost’s use of minorities and women. Really? Of all shows lost? I watch a fair amount of tv and LOST is one of the few shows that has made a point to not to represent a stereotypical view of minorities. Yes I agree that the two main character Jack and Locke are both white males but that doesn’t change the amount of work that Lost has done over other minority characters like Miles, Hugo, Richard, Eko, Sun, Jin etc. I don’t understand what people want from the show in this regard. Mo complains about women being killed off of the show to which I say that if Lost started implementing affirmative action or quota it would be to the determent of the show. The writers should have the freedom to kill off whoever they feel appropriate without having to pause and see if killing the said charcter reduces the representation of a particular minority or portrays them in poor light. Someone in this thread concluded that the episode was doing another version of ““Eve is the downfall” which does not make any sense to me. Arriving at that conclusion is a gross oversimplification of the episode.

  14. […] And so, I needed recaps from Myles McNutt, Alan Sepinwall, James Poniewozik, Todd VanDerWerff, Jason Mittell and Mo Ryan to crystallize it all (I suggest a look at all those recaps, each with their own […]

  15. enrique on May 14, 2010 at 9:35 PM

    It seems to me that if Lost is making all of you so passionate about its strengths and flaws, it means it is a compelling narrative and a classic.

    • Jason Mittell on May 15, 2010 at 10:37 PM

      Indeed. I was listening to the excellent podcast with Mo Ryan and Ryan McGee, both of whom hated the episode – but they spent so much energy mining the episode for every bit of insight and exploring the ramifications that it didn’t seem to matter whether they “liked” it or not. It’s enjoyable to chew on, and that is a testament to its value.

  16. Mark on May 15, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    I really wanted to like this episode, but it did not live up to my expectations in terms of story, production values and acting. However, I am witholding my judgment until I see how things wrap up. I was expecting something more conclusive, but got more table setting. Indeed, I am not sure LOST has ever moved out of the table setting mode this season. They have really raised the stakes for finale pay-off to such a degree, I am not sure that anything can match the expectations.

  17. Jason Mittell on May 18, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    Thanks to all for the great discussion here. I rewatched the episode and posted further thoughts over on my personal blog. Weigh in there, and I’ll see you tomorrow for the last Lost Wednesday!

  18. Elizabeth Rose on May 18, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    Now that we have fully embarked on LOST finale week, I will only make one more post here (assuming “What They Died For” will have it’s own page) because there have been so many interesting replies to my posts. Thank you! First, if you haven’t already, I urge you to visit Jeff “Doc” Jensen’s post today at EW.com, it is chock full of great links. ( http://popwatch.ew.com/2010/05/18/lost-countdown-why-they-died/ )

    I especially like http://815sentencesaboutlost.com/ .

    Okay, onto a few clarifications: First, I’m sorry if I’m implied that there’s a specific goal here to either glorify “the man” or devalue “the man.” (Both in the sense of the power machinations of western society as well as, well, the gender. Hey, I’m rooting for the guys on LOST, even Locke, just not the creature formerly known as MIB and that some of us call FLocke. And I’m iffy on the whole Widmore thing, even his sideways persona is discomfiting.) Neither glory nor devaluation is, IMHO, appropriate in life or in the story, we’re all human, we’re all worthy of love and redemption. I was trying to suggest that the creators may be considering through character study how humanity can evolve through individual acts of redemption, which in turn breaks a dysfunctional cycle that has become entrenched in western society. There is, however, simply no way to know the endgame of the creators until “The End.” Maybe they didn’t go into it with the goal, maybe this is just the read of some of the fans, or maybe they realized as they were fully immersed that this was an opportunity. Who knows? Who cares? It’s their baby to do with as they please, and because they were kind enough to share it, it’s our perogative to see it as we please.

    Second, on the issue of Sawyer/James and MIB and lying, I stand by my comments. Both are good at disingenuousness, withholding, denial, and misdirection. Are they honest? I would say, oh, not so much. They’re con men, magicians, tricksters, this is what they do. (I would suggest, as have others, that their character arcs are “long cons,” and that may even apply to the whole show.) Lying by omission is still deceitful. But I’ve rarely if ever heard either outright *lie*, and con artists and magicians also rarely lie, because to carry out a long con or an elaborate illusion, you have to keep your story straight. Lies trap and trip you up and screw up your con. I grew up with a pathological liar in my family who actually thought he had the skills of the confidence man (he didn’t for the reason I just stated), so I’m very attentive to the difference between liars and confidence men. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear on my observation about those characters. Feel free to agree to disagree, but if you do, maybe you’ll see what I mean when you watch the series again.

    As for the goal of art, that’s a long discussion for another day, but, in a couple of paragraphs, I’ll say this: My own experience has been that art works best when it leaves room for the beholder to be immersed in it based on their on life experience. (And who among this group hasn’t been immersed – for better and for worse – in LOST?) The artists have very specific ideas about what they want to express, but the best artists also let go of it when they put it “out there,” knowing full well that those who appreciate their work will see it through the lens of their own experience. With luck, those appreciating the work will at least “get” the major gist of it, but will no doubt have differing views on subtexts and so on. Team Darlton has been explicit that they will enter “radio silence” for some weeks after the finale (probably at least until after the DVD release) so that fans can absorb the story each in his or her own way, that there will be no “spoon-feeding.” (I think I read that on EW.com.) I find that respectful, and uncharacteristic of much mass media. I appreciate it, even though I’m sure there will be frustrating unanswered questions. (The outrigger firefight, for example, I will vetch about that FOREVER if Darlton is true to its word and fails to give us a clue we can live with when they KNOW who was shooting at the time flashers.) Over time, those will fade in the wake of the major thrust of the story and what I took away from it.

    I probably don’t need to cite examples for this group, but I will anyway (yeah yeah yeah), when I first read Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy”, Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” and T.S. Eliot’s “Wasteland” in school, I read them like a teenager. They are favorites, so I revisit them periodically, and I see new things every time, and appreciate nuances teenagers don’t have the experience to understand. When I saw “The Sixth Sense,” I could not WAIT to see the movie again because of the ending. It was a few months before I was able to, however, and it not only allowed me to suss out all the stuff that surprised me so much because of the ending, but it also allowed me to see nuances I didn’t catch on the first pass. I’ve said often that LOST will be like “The Sixth Sense” for me, and I already have my DVD on pre-order, and will be counting the weeks to the end of August.

    Okay, that’s enough wordiness from me for today, thanks again everyone for the replies. Looking forward to discussing tonight *penultimate* installment. (And now we get to use the actual word in all it’s glory and without the extra prefix. 😉 )

    Kindness to you all.