Umm... what was that?
I was really excited about last night's episode of "Lost", because it was supposed to be chock full of answers, but instead it seemed to just present more questions. By the end, "Across the Sea" felt more like the first part of a two-part episode, only we're never actually getting the second part.
To be fair, the episode did have some significant answers. For example, one of the big mysteries about Jacob was how he became the "protector" of the Island. That was all explained in last night's episode, in which we saw Jacob and his twin brother being born -- approximately 2,000 years ago -- then watched Allison Janney (the previous protector of the Island) kill Jacob's birth mother so she could raise Jacob and his brother on her own. We saw them grow up, with Jacob following everything his "mother" said, while his brother seemed intrigued by the possible world beyond the island (thus the episode's title) and the people who kept arriving on the island. At one point, their mother warned them about the people there, with dialogue that exactly mirrored what Jacob said to the Man in Black when they spotted The Black Rock approaching the island. That was kind of a cool moment.
Also, we did learn that the Man in Black, in his pre-Smokey form, was Jacob's brother (if you didn't get that from the preceding paragraph) but we never got a name for him. It was one of the more annoying aspects of the episode, but I thought it resulted in an interesting connection to Desmond, who famously calls everyone "brother".
The Man in Black's transformation into Smokey was handled kind of strangely. First, when they were kids, their mother showed them "the light", which was what she was protecting. We've learned so little about the island in six seasons that any piece of information should be great, but having something major like this mysterious light introduced with 3 episodes left seems like a tease. Eventually, MiB abandoneds Jacob and his mother to go live with the settlers on the island, so he could eventually find a way off the island. He figures out that the light is the key, but he can't find his way back to where his mother brought him. Fortunately he and the settlers figure out the strange electromagnetism of the island and start digging to find the light. They do, but before MiB can finish his project, he gets confronted by his mother, who stops him by conking him on the head, then burns the village and fills in the well. This only leaves him more determined.
Eventually the mother realizes she has to pass the protector status on to Jacob, and does so with... wine? Magic wine? Look, I've taken a lot on faith in six seasons of "Lost", but the immortalizing wine might be a little much. Still, that's how she does it, and shortly thereafter, she gets into another confrontation with MiB, who kills her, and in the process, "frees" her. That was kind of a cool moment, because it was clear, at least to me, that protecting the Island and finding a suitable replacement had become something of a burden on her, and she was almost happy to be finally dying and be done with it.
After killing his "mom" (again, remember, this wasn't their birth mother, and MiB knew that because he saw a vision of his birth mother in the first chronological appearance of Smokey-as-Dead-Person that we know of), MiB gets a serious beatdown from Jacob, kind of like the one we saw Jacob give Richard in the flashback episode a few weeks back. Then Jacob's all like "well, if you wanna leave so bad, then leave" and dumps MiB into the river that leads into the light. After some rumbling, Smokey emerges. Whoops.
After Smokey flies off, Jacob finds his brother's body and experiences a moment of grief over his loss. He takes the body back to a cave, where he places it next to the body of their "mother", along with a small pouch with one black and one white piece from the game Jacob and his brother played when they were kids. Fast forward a dozen centuries or so and we see Jack opening the pouch, and Locke dubbing the two skeletons Adam and Eve. So, we got that answer, and, honestly, it was mildly disappointing. After all the time loop stuff from last season, I expected those two skeletons to turn out to be something more than Jacob's mom and brother.
What confused me is Jacob finding MiB's dead body somewhere else on the island after the Smokey appearance. That would seem to imply that Smokey isn't ACTUALLY MiB, but is just appearing as him to torment Jacob. And if Jacob and MiB can't harm each other -- as their mom implied earlier in the season -- then why does that rule still apply to Smokey?
Beyond those questions, once Jacob becomes the new protector of the Island, how does he go about coming up with his list of Candidates. It seemed his "mother" just waited for a baby to come to the Island, so she could raise him to be her replacement -- and it was clear from the beginning that she preferred Jacob to MiB, which led to some of MiB's issues -- but Jacob obviously didn't do that. How did he build the lighthouse? The Temple? How did he end up figuring out that there WAS a world beyond the island and start visiting it to choose his Candidates?
THAT'S the Jacob episode I want to see. This would have been a fine episode in a past season, or even earlier this season, but NOW, with just three hours of "Lost" left, it seemed out of place. Seeing the seeds of the Jacob-MiB rivalry and Flocke's "get off the island" motivation was OK, but I still feel like there's a better Jacob-MiB tale to be told, one that takes place between the end of this episode and "Ab Aeterno".