Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On Golden Pond?

Geez, what a way to present us with heaps of answers.  So, to use the Cuse/Lindelof lingo, did they mid-chlorian us?  Or did they provide just the right amount of answers?  I will present the answers and some lingering questions below the fold with an assessment of whether they went too Phantom Menace or not.

Holy Origin Stories, Batman!  Of course,

Well, we got what we have been asking for. The big question is whether we like the answers.

Mysteries Resolved:
  1. Adam and Eve are really Jacob's family.  Check.  We knew it had to be something like this, but mother and son rather than husband and wife.  Murderous mother and murderous son, that is.  More on that below.
  2. Jacob and the still un-named Man in Black are brothers.  Perhaps suspected, but still interesting.
  3. Jacob did not really steal MIB's form, although MIB can see it that way.  He threw him into a golden pond and it killed him yet also transformed him.
  4. We see the origin of Smokey--Brother plus golden pond of energy equals black pillar of yuck.  
  5. We see the origin of the donkey wheel.  Of course, this raises the question--who built the one that worked for Ben and Locke?  After all, Mom killed all the original diggers/builders?  Did MIB/Smokey do it with the subsequent waves of men?
  6. Stones on Adam and Eve--just from the ancient backgammon game.  
  7. Why Fake Locke talked so derisively of his mother.  She was a super-bitch who created the evil that MIB became.
  8. Origins of the rules. But, of course, the question really becomes (excuse me for going all social sciency on y'all) whether these rules are intersubjective?  That is, they exist because they are believed by the actors to exist.  Jacob and MIB believe Mom, but who is to say that these rules are external to their beliefs?  After all, Jacob does end up killing his brother.
  9. We see the origins of the knife that killed Jacob and that Dogen gave to Sayid to kill FLocke--it was the knife MIB used to kill Mom.  Perhaps that original sin and/or her blood is what makes it useful for killing her "sons."
Mysteries not so resolved:
  1. Why do people get sucked to the Island?  Boat after boat after plane, etc.  Only the Black Rock's seems to have been explained.
  2. The semi-immortality is not really explained.  Sure, Smokey is immortal because he is really un-dead (not a Zombie, not a Vampire, but another form of undead--Lich?  I don't know), but what about Jacob?  How old was StepMom before she died?
  3. What the hell is Jacob's brother's name?  Never mentioned at all.  "I only thought of one name!"  Give me a break.  Cuse and Lindelof are playing with us as this is the least important mystery.
  4. Of course, the big question is who is step-grandmother of Jacob and MIB if Allison Janney's character is the step-mother?  Where did she come from?   
  5. Still no answers about the Egyptians or how long Jacob has been there since the other boaters were not so distinguishable.  They did look very much like how the Others dressed when they sought to fool our Oceanic survivors.  Hmmm.
  6. What powers did Mom have?  She murdered an entire village of folks.  Perhaps, just perhaps, she was Smokey, too.  Otherwise, how does she know what the golden pond would do?  And it does seem to be the case that becoming Smokey is a curse.  It provides great powers but is probably not a great way to live. 
  7. Where does Jacob's powers come from?  Proximity to the Golden Pond?  From the duration of time on the magical island?
  8. Why can his brother see the dead and Jacob cannot? 
  9. We do not really learn how or why Jacob/candidates can and do keep Smokey locked up on the Island.  It may be one of the rules, but this episode leaves me less convinced about the binding force of the rules.
 Allison Janney was great.  Did a very nice job of portraying this women.

Ok, let's go through the highlights.  First, the episode is perhaps the first one since the pilot that did not start with "what happened in previous episodes."  Either that or the Canadian feed was messed up.  I think the former, as there is no relevant previous events for this.

Best answer to the folks watching the show:  "Every question and answer will lead to another question."  Or as someone put it somewhere, it is turtles all the way down.

Jacob is the older brother, which is only appropriate.  And with MIB's birth, sibling rivalry is born.  Jacob always resented MIB as being more loved, even the forty year old version of him.  I guess no public school means he is poorly socialized.  Only interacts with mom and brother, and they were mighty flawed folks.  MIB knows how to lie early.  Jacob had to learn manipulation--in which he eventually gains great competence.
One thing to remember here--Jacob and MIB were born from a mortal, so that limits their immortality just a bit (or not at all, depending on how you look at Highlander).  Step-mom kills the real mom.  So, they may not be born via crime, but instead of circumcision and bad wine, their births are marked by the murder of their mothers.  I guess I prefer the former.  Well, sort of.

Next, we see the boys growing up with a control freak for a Mom.  They play a game, and MIB tries to get Jacob to lie to Mom.  He fails miserably but it matters not.  She only lets MIB think he tricked her and then only briefly.
The boys see other folks, but before her lies become apparent, she diverts the kids by invading the Falklands showing them the golden pond.  Their job is to protect the Island.  Which seems an awful lot like having the job of pushing the button every 108 minutes.

So, the golden pond is what?  We really don't know as Step-Mom (ironic that Step-mom here is a murderous lunatic, given that Terry O'Quinn starred in a movie called Stepfather, playing a murderous lunatic) is a loonie.  And not the Canadian dollar, but a real crazy lady who engages in mass murder.  But if she is right, then the Golden Pond has a bit of light in it and so do all of us.  Perhaps this is why the whisper dead people hang out on the Island, since this is where the bits of light originate/return/cluster/whatever.

What does protecting it mean?  Seems like throwing one's brother into the pool is probably not protection at all.  Anyhow, some big assertions from Mom that seem to govern the kids:  you cannot leave, you cannot harm each other (they sure seem to do a great job of it--Jacob loves the first strike), etc.

MIB shares Mom's beliefs about the nature of man.  Greedy, manipulative, selfish, etc.  But seems to me they are both projecting.  Even Jacob is jealous of Mom's love.  So, they are not so different and probably actually worse then the humans who show up as they instigate nearly all of the bad stuff that happens.  Claudia did no harm, but birth a few babies and then got killed.  The other humans (villagers?) did nothing but dig some wells and put together a donkey wheel long before they came into fashion.  The killing is all done by Mom and MIB.  And Jacob. 

Jacob and MIB seem to get along ok despite their separate lives, playing their games.  Jacob is not going to stop MIB, but does rat him out to Mom.

She knows her time is up, after her bout of murder.  She shows Jacob where the Golden Pond actually is.  She makes him drink, but the story really here is back to the classic Lost themes of fate vs free will.  She says he has to drink and then protect the Island (and eventually find a replacement).  But he has to choose to drink.  She has to persuade him.  He chooses to do so.  So, I see free will here even if he does what Mom wants.

And then she splits off, knowing that she is going to die soon.  And then Jacob kills his brother.  What a lovely family.  Jacob created Smokey--so the sin lies with Jacob.  Of course, he was punishing a murderer.  Who punished a murderer.  And then the murderer he punished killed him by proxy.  So, eye for an eye really does leave everyone blind. 

And it ends with flashforwards to Jack and Kate and Locke at the caves.  It was pretty clear early on that Mom and the boys lived at the caves from the first season.  That Adam and Eve were really MIB and Stepmom was not surprising once you see that this is the location.  Who else could be Eve?  Claudia's body was not here. MIB's death was a bit of a shock, but then we get Smokey's origins.  And note, there will be no lesson about great power and great responsibility as he has no uncle.  Too bad, he could really use an Uncle Ben.

Some semi-final random thoughts:
  • Anybody else think that the smoke produced by the village burning was a call back to the black smoke that heralded an Others attack in season one?
  • The rocks in the cave actually were not nearly as meaningful--just two pieces from the game.  More meaningful were the later rocks--on the scale.
So, do we like these answers?  I think so.  I have been suspicious of Jacob for quite some time--his experiments that put lives at risk, his manipulation of the various players.  And, I really didn't need last week's episode to prove that Smokey/MIB was a liar and a murderer.  It turns out that they were raised by one of the nastiest pieces of work.  Was it for the greater good?  Well, until MIB becomes Smokey it is not at all clear that his departure from the Island would mean anything bad for the rest of the world.  Once he becomes Smokey, then keeping him on the Island is important.  I don't think we found anything out that ruins our previous understandings--that none of this is equivalent to the speech about midi-chlorians in Phantom Menace that really undermined our understanding of the Force from the original Star Wars movie.

Instead, we found out a bunch of stuff that ties things together--the donkey wheel, the specialness of the Island (the golden pond), the Smoke Monster, the personalities in play, the rules (even if I still think they are sketchy), etc. 

It is clear that while Cuse and Lindelof want to provide answers to the mysteries that matter in the development of the characters, they want to leave plenty of room for the Lost theorists to keep busy long after the show's finale.  And they are right, it is turtles all the way down.  So, we got heaps of answers, none that break the faith.  I found the previous origin episode with Richard to be more entertaining--more of a thrilling ride, but this one was very interesting and complex.  Lots of ways to read all of it.

And now we have only three and half hours left.  One episode next week and then the finale the following Sunday.


Steve Saideman said...

I see that Doc and I see eye to eye about the mother: http://popwatch.ew.com/2010/05/11/lost-across-the-sea/

I wrote and posted before reading his. He types faster (or had the material earlier).

Unknown said...

I think the mom (Allison Janney) was both protector AND smoke monster - and that's how she conned young MIB into a life that ultimately did what she wanted him to do, which was to kill her and release her from her responsibility of protecting the island, though I don't know or care how she got there (it's a loop that obviously keeps repeating). Then again, maybe dead people can just exist on the island giving away secrets to "special" people, I don't know ...

And I think either one of the boys COULD leave the island whenever, assuming they had a way to do so, but lived by the mom's rules. She needed and wanted them to stay and having nobody else to teach/tell them any better, they just listened to her, though MIB questioned it whereas Jacob didn't.

I'm guessing that wine gives you immortality - so you can stay alive and protect the island. And if anyone discovers and steals its secret (the light a/k/a tree of life/knowledge as some discussions said it was), and gets off the island, all life will die. Or some such thing.

OK, I had it for a second, and now I lost it. But bottom line, judging by the posts I read, people either loved or hated the episode. I think it was a necessary part of the story and I don't care to opine about WHEN they decided to tell us this part or whether it could have been done in a shorter episode.

Beth said...

-I agree, I hope we get a name for MIB - why does he have no name?
-I agree that this episode was meant to be in a time we could not easily recognize because the clothing of the 'village' was not a recognizable time period.
-Obviously a Cane and Abel reference
-I would assume the fake mother was once part of the 'village' of people - Did she say she came to this Island with them?
-I thought the same thing about the fake Mom also being a smokey (she seems to speak as if she has been inside the golden pond & is now living in her own nightmare) - YET, if she was a smokey - then how would a knife have killed her? Remember when they tried to kill FLocke with the knife & it didn't work (he pulled it right out).
-I also was thinking of a Highlander reference - that once Highlander received his powers - then he became mortal.
-what did Jacob drink from that bottle? Was is someone’s blood? I doubt it was wine. They didn’t say L’Chiam .

Unknown said...

Oh yeah, good point - she couldn't have been smoky or the knife wouldn't have killed her. Damn, I forgot that! But serious, there has to be a smoky already on the island - her nemesis perhaps (to continue the them of there always being the good vs. the bad) - b/c how could that one woman have killed all the people in the village and filled in that well. That was definitely smoky-like collateral damage.

Unknown said...



Beth said...

But the village was burned by fire. The 'typical' Smokey deaths are the smoke monster wrapping the smoke around the person and then throwing bodies around until they die. The fire was not Smokey's typical death 'thing'.

Steve Saideman said...

The knife might have worked if she had not spoken to him yet. And I don't think she did. That, too, is one of the rules.

Chip said...

- step mom was speaking Latin to the mom... how long ago was this? I think it was supposed to be a few thousand years or so
- step mom was around before the "village people" and Claudia's ship landed, born on the island? Or brought there by an earlier entity?
- is Jacob immortal? I'm hoping so, but this episode only hints that both bros are immortal -- stepmom says, when asked what death is, that they won't have to worry about that; and later, about men being violent etc, that she's made it so the two brothers can't hurt each other. Jacob being stabbed by MIB via Ben but then falling into the flames has to mean something...
- MIB's name -- Esau? But in that story, Jacob steals Esau's blessings with the connivance of mom by tricking Isaac (dad)... hmmm. ...
- and babies... Maybe the Kwon baby is the next candidate! {crossed fingers}