Seth, if last night's mess was the best episode of Lost all year, I'm afraid of what that says about this season. I felt as though I was watching a bizarro version of OedipusRex—all the stiff, wooden dialogue without any of the little flourishes (and with matricide rather than patricide). What poorly executed slop. The effects were hokey, the acting was campy, and the sets were sparse. On an artistic level, it was as enjoyable as getting turned into a smoke monster.
On a purely narrative level, however, I was basking in its eternal sunshine. This was perhaps the most revelation-packed episode since we first got a glimpse of the hatch in Season 2. It was, to keep with Jack's toilet vocabulary, a dump. Why this episode didn't happen earlier in the series, I don't know. I'd have been far more invested far more quickly in the Jacob vs. Smokey battle if I was given this back story in the season premiere.
But answers are answers, no matter when they're offered, and even if, as Mother Earth suggested, they lead to another question. Thus, let's begin my parade of answers followed by question marks with the revelation that boy Jacob is that creepy kid we've seen stalking Smokey in modern times. We know that it's not just Smokey who can see the new Jacob, but Sawyer, too. And yet Richard couldn't see him. So maybe candidates are the only ones who can see Jacob Jr., even though Hurley is the only one who can see Jacob Sr.'s ghost? This is the 27th arbitrary rule this season, by my count.
And then, why didn't MiB die when his mom smashed his head against the wall? (Jack, after gunshots to the torso, the head against the wall is Lost's second-favorite way to kill somebody off.) He certainly looked dead—not passed out—and Mother told Jacob that she went to say goodbye to MiB. I'd say that it's because family members can't kill one another, except MiB kills Mother later in the episode. I'd say that the only reason MiB is able to kill Mother is because he uses a special sword (the same one Richard and Sayid use to try to kill MiB), except that's not what Ben used to kill Jacob. It appears we've stumbled into Arbitrary Rule No. 28.
What did last night tell us about all the Egyptian stuff on the island? We didn't get a glimpse of any hieroglyphics or four-toed statues, but we did get the Egyptian game of Senet, which washed ashore along with Claudia and her crew. (How does MiB know how to play the game? He "just does." Arbitrary Rule No. 29!) Lost TV Club Theory No. 15! Jacob and/or Smokey built all of the Egyptian stuff on the island—a tribute to this early evidence of off-island life. In the end, Lost will reveal that Egyptians never found the island—only their board games did.
What are we to think of Smokey's emergence from the eternal toilet? To me it looked as if he took the light with him and that it became a dark void. This gets me all giddy. Mother told the boys that the light was the "heart of the island." And remember that when Locke first meets Smokey, he says that he looked into the "eye of the island." That's no coincidence. Lost TV Club Theory No. 16! Smokey now possesses the light. So it's not that Smokey shouldn't leave the island because he's evil. It's that he's too valuable.
The one caveat is that when Ben spins the donkey wheel, golden flames still come gushing out of the wall. Is that the same light as Jacob is supposed to protect? Also, why is the donkey wheel encrusted in ice by the time Ben gets to it yet is perfectly toasty when MiB is down there in this episode? Is there an island ice age coming? Or is the ice just a remnant of the air conditioning unit the polar bears installed down there?
Seth, you mentioned Mother's negative-Nancy dialogue about human nature. "They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same." This, of course, is nearly exactly what Smokey says on the beach before the Black Rock arrives. It's Jacob—the mama's boy—who disagrees with Mother. This is a fascinating switch—somewhere along the way, Jacob pushed back against his mother's philosophy while Smokey (willingly or otherwise) aligned himself with it. Maybe the Jacob-Smokey battle isn't between good and evil, but trust and paranoia. Or maybe that's not quite right, either. What about between credulousness and skepticism? Last night I kept thinking about Passover: The wise son is only wise because he asks good, searching questions. I have a hard time hating somebody who actually demands answers—especially on a show like Lost.
Some other lingering questions:
- If Claudia is the boys' mum, who's the daddy? I have a feeling MiB knows—he spent all that time with the other survivors; surely he asked about Poppa Black. Here's hoping the dad makes a cameo in the finale, and he's played by Toby Ziegler.
- Did anyone else think that Boy in Black looked like Zac Efron Jr.?
- Won't it be a huge letdown when we actually learn MiB's name? They might as well call him Bob and call it a day. At least then it'll be purposefully anticlimactic. (I'm of the belief that MiB was given a name—just off-camera. It's possible, I suppose, that he's truly nameless.)
- How does Jacob eventually leave the island? And does he bring back souvenirs each time to taunt his brother? I went off the island, and all I got was this stupid Apollo bar.
- Along these lines: When does Jacob learn all of the secrets of the island? When he drinks the wine? Or does his mother offer an intensive home-school curriculum?
- Has Mother Earth seen someone else go down the toilet? Why else does she tell Jacob never to go down there?
- Why does Mother say, "Thank you" when MiB kills her? Is she stuck on the island, too—just keeping the boys around because she's psychotic and lonely?
And a crack at some of your questions, Seth:
- I think Mother is the one who grants the boys immortality (or something close to it). She seems to have a way with mystical chants, and that wine bottle seemed to have mystical powers of its own. (All the more interesting, then, that Smokey smashed it in "Ab Aeterno.") Also, we can presume she taught Jacob how to grant immortality, since he gives this dubious gift to Richard.
- As for how MiB knows that a donkey wheel can get him off the island—I'm stumped. Maybe the ship that crashed was full of Roman engineers? The greatest thing about MiB and the wheel, though, is what happens hundreds of years later. It's MiB—posing as Christian—who tells Locke to turn it and move the island. That's Avatar-worthy wish fulfillment.
- I think Smokey can manifest as MiB before and directly after the Black Rock's arrival for the same reason he can manifest as Locke or Christian. Any dead body on the island is fair game. (As is Richard's dead wife for some inexplicable reason.)
All right, folks. That's enough crackpot for today. But before I forget, I'd like to tell you that we're planning a special Lost finale event! On Sunday, May 23, we're hosting a live broadcast of the final episode, with themed drink specials, prizes, and more, at 92YTribeca in New York City. Stay tuned for details.
In the meantime, I'm tempting fate and Iceland's volcano—a modern-day smoke monster—by flying across the ocean to Europe. I'll find a way to watch next week, but I'm afraid I'll have to join the conversation late. Any Norwegian readers feel like hosting an impromptu Lost party?