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Lost Review: Answers, Lies and The Show's Central Message

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Isn't this ironic?

After years of Lost fans craving resolutions to a number of questions, the events that led to Oceanic 815 crashing on the island were, in many ways, tied to what happened centuries ago - when someone withheld important answers from those seeking them.

Whether you loved or hated "Across the Sea," it's hard to not smirk at Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof for creating a show that is such a reflection of its viewers.

You want answers, Allison Janney's spiritual, unbalanced, selfish (more on that below) fake mother essentially told us? That's fine. But "every question will simply lead to another question."

This, of course, has been the chief complaint fans have had about Lost from the outset. I don't believe the creators are just being cute; I believe this is the central message of the show:

There is a higher power at work. But it's impossible to know everything about it. So don't ask. Don't worry about it. Just have faith, live in the present and love your neighbor. That's all that matters in the end.

I like that message. I believe that message. It fits into the show's themes of religion and redemption, of living together and dying alone. But I don't like the way the message has been delivered; or, getting to this week's episode specifically: I don't like the messenger.

A Fake Family

More than any episode to date, "Across the Sea" heaped information on us. But its main source of that information was a character we just met.

Before the opening credits even rolled, we were treated to a speech about the magical island water and the need to protect it from mankind. Pretty heavy, huge, mythology-oozing stuff - and it all came from a woman we didn't even know existed until five minutes beforehand.

Does it speak to Lost's layered genius that it can introduce a new character that fits into its backstory and sheds new light on established individuals and events, with just three episodes remaining? Absolutely. But it's also frustrating in a way.

After almost six seasons of wondering what's going on, Allison Janney shows up, sits down and just explains it all in 90 seconds? I use the actress' name because the show never revealed the character's name - and because, as a West Wing fan, I was distracted by this casting decision. Janney may be one of the finest performers in TV history... but during this key Lost moment, all I could think about was how C.J. Cregg was probably needed at the White House for a press briefing.

Having this character reveal such a wealth of information, with so little time remaining until the finale, also caused me to wonder: What does she actually know and how does she know it?

Fake Locke was apparently telling the truth: he was raised by a crazy woman. And now this crazy woman isn't just our main source of knowledge regarding the island; she's also the main source of knowledge for her fake children.

Did she tell them the whole truth about the water and the light and the inherent evil of man? Did she actually believe that nothing exists "across the sea" because she was told the same thing by the previous island protector, or was that a lie to quell her son's curiosity? Did she raise her twins in order for one to take over her job and the other to kill her?

It certainly seemed that way when she thanked MIB for the latter act, which means this lady is everything MIB described the people he lived with as: selfish, untrustworthy and manipulative.

She was everything bad about man, yet she was supposedly the one charged with protecting the source of man's goodness? What are we to make of that?

What are we to make of Jacob? He's the only person in this little family that doesn't believe men "come, fight, destroy and corrupt." He embodies all we'd want someone in his position to embody, but his beliefs are seemingly based on utter ignorance. Why does he have such faith in humanity? Will we ever find out?

I appreciate this faith, but Jacob has lost a bit of mystique for me now. This isn't some island deity, not in the sense Lost had led us to believe. He's just a guy who was raised by a crappy parent, the same as many of the castaways.

Adam and Eve

This is both a cool and a troubling twist, depending on what you want out of the show. It's cool because the revelations about Jacob and MIB ground them as wounded human beings. Cuse and Lindelof have always said Lost is a show about characters, not answers, and the stories of these suffering individuals is what has always kept my attention and interest.

But if the series truly wanted viewers to focus on the redemptive arcs of its characters, it should have revealed more mythology at an earlier date. The longer questions about the nature and history of the island persisted, the more fans fixated on resolutions to these issues.

After taking so many guesses about the identity of Adam and Eve, for example, will people be happy or annoyed to learn that they are two characters no one even knew existed a year ago at this time?

The theme I took out of this hour is that nobody actually knows anything. Ben and The Others were also initially presented as omniscient, powerful beings; same for Richard. Jacob and MIB might not even have the answers we seek, as the source of their information wasn't all that reliable.

The show has broken down all these characters and left them searching for the same answers as Jack, Sawyer and company. Clearly, there is a connection here: all search for a truth that doesn't exist, or at least can't be proven... and the result can either be bitter selfishness or the kind of enlightenment modern-day Jacob has somehow found.

In every flash sideways of season six, characters have looked in a mirror and typically been confused or unhappy with what they've seen. Because viewers themselves will likely be left in the same position as the castaways (i.e. confused, focused on the past) when Lost comes to an end, we'll be the ones having to study ourselves and decide: Are we satisfied with how this show concluded? Will we keep striving for answers that will never come - or will be take comfort in the journey that got us here?

A few notes, questions and observations before I turn this analysis over to readers:

  • The rules between the brothers were established by their pretend mother. Are these the same rules Ben and Widmore have referenced? If so, how did killing Alex on season four "change" them, and how do Ben and Widmore fit into all this?
  • Desmond, who seemingly holds the key between the island world and the sideways world, has often been referred to as "special." And how does he refer to everyone else? As "BROTHER."
  • Has it been made clear just why MIB leaving the island is such a dangerous proposition? The magic cave separated his soul from his body, but did he also somehow absorb all the powers of the water? And if he takes that off the island, the world loses all its goodness? But MIB's fake mother made it impossible for him or Jacob to leave the island, long before the former was tossed into the glow. I need some help on this one.
  • The island itself is its own, powerful entity. It can create ghosts such as Claudia and it can punish actions such as the killing of a mother, by preventing child birth ever again on its grounds. But to what end? Does the island have its own purpose?
  • No wonder Jacob is all about free will. He was given his job of protector without being given a choice. He clearly wants his replacement to understand and desire that role.

There's more than ever to digest, so let the opinions and debate flow. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THIS EPISODE?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.8 / 5.0 (128 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Mr Simon,Are you 4 real?You just came out of left field now did'nt you?For a second there I thought I was on the wrong blog.Give us all a break why dont you PLEASE.I dont go to church until Sunday. Glad to know your informed on religious facts but ,could you save it for a more apropriate blog PLEASE & THANK YOU.

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"There is a higher power at work. But it's impossible to know everything about it. So don't ask. Don't worry about it. Just have faith, live in the present and love your neighbor. That's all that matters in the end. I like that message. I believe that message. It fits into the show's themes of religion and redemption, of living together and dying alone. But I don't like the way the message has been delivered; or, getting to this week's episode specifically: I don't like the messenger." Really, you like that message? Come on, now! Don't worry, be happy! That is the message of this six year journey. First, that is not a description of faith. The Bible puts it this way: "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen" - (Hebrews 11:1). Faith has an object and, if we take a biblical perspective, an historical basis. We do not believe blindly that there is a God. We believe because God has specifically acted in human history. God led the children of Israel out of bondage in the Exodus - (the "salvation event" of the Old Testament) - and God rose Jesus from the dead - (the "salvation event" of the New). We are not to blindly believe some teaching ungrounded in human history. We are to believe that historical events occurred. Western religion - (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) - are the most historical-based religions of the world. For Buddhists, it is not important that Gautama lived. It is what he taught. For Christians, it is vitally important that Jesus lived, died, and rose again. Paul put it this way: "...if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith..." - (1 Corinthians 15:14). How do we as modern believers know this, well, the same way that we know of any historical event - it is "revealed" to us through the testimony of others. Faith is not blind!

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MC - first, I did see the season 4 finale that you spoke of - ("There's No Place Like Home") - and perhaps you need to go watch it again. I find no appearance, allusion, or reference to the MIB or to his murdering step-mother. The resolution to "Adam and Eve" was not unsatisfactory because I wanted them to be someone different. No, it is unsatisfactory because we were set up and the statement was made that this reveal would show that Cuse and Lindelof knew what they were doing and where they were going from the very beginning. Obviously, that has not been proven. As a matter of fact, we have the slight continuity problem of Jack, a man-of-science doctor, identifying the remains as having been buried for 40 to 50 years and the placement of the remains - (separated or side-by-side). You make the statement that "...LOST is about the current set of candidates..." well, then, let it be about those candidates that we have come to know and, amazingly, care about. It was not about a mysterious, unnamed murderous mother. It was not about a unnamed MIB. And, it was really not about a capricious semi-deity named Jacob. Again, using your words, the "background" characters - (Widmore, Jacob, MIB, Eloise Hawking, etc.) - have become much more important than the crash survivors.

Matt richenthal

@MC: I didn't say the Mother was essential to the SHOW. I said she was essential to the MYTHOLOGY. That's an important distinction. Without a doubt, she's the individual that initiated all the actual events and mysteries on the island... but, yes, she's a background player in the story of the characters. This is the debate Lost fans are now having: is the show about the characters or the island mythology?
Many are left unsatisfied with how Lost handled this informational dump and I don't blame them for that. I just hope everyone is patient enough to focus on the larger story and wait until the show is over to judge.

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When the mysterious mother said I came to the island by accident, and she also explained that she is the only one on the island, and she said if there is anyone else on the island I will find them, all that made me think about the beginning of earth, being thought of as an accident or the big bang? I thought maybe the mysterious mother is a metaphor, not sure of what exactly. What confuses me also when thinking about MIB taking the form of Locke, is when Ben made sure to bring Locke's body to Eloise, and how she took care of the body in a certain way, that we know nothing about. And what's up with making Locke's body wear Christian's shoes? Does anyone remember that or am I halucinating?

Matt richenthal

@MC: I agree with a lot of your argument and with the overall point that specific answers were never the driving force behind Lost. I agree and I care more about the characters and the journey. However, if - as you say - the "entire point" is that Lost will "never make sense," then that's just lazy, sloppy writing. There can be an ingrained message, as I tried to convey in this review, that there aren't always answers to every question, though one should at least ask certain questions and strive for enlightenment/improvement. But it's a cop out to have the show throw up its hands entirely and fall back on: It's not supposed to make sense! Don't you see?!? In the end, this episode fell flat because it was crafted specifically as an information dump that didn't really reveal any information - it's hard to blame viewers for feeling cheated as a result. Haha, I know you feel smart for citing "Giacchino's music," by the way -- but do you truly believe people who didn't watch the show for that reason should have tuned out a long time ago?

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Yo ,MC!Which writer are you , Damon or Carlton?:)

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Thank you.

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"Didn't Jacob kill MIB?" MiB isn't dead. He's separated from his body.

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"Being on the island magically allows you to shipwreck ships, planes or see whatever in your magic lighthouse. You get the point? Utterly a waste. Don't even bother figuring it out - because it doesn't make any logical sense. " Which is exactly why the writers CAN'T give you every answer. If they tried, you'd complain that it was illogical. It's mysticism, and you want it to make sense. The entire point is that it never will. If you can't enjoy the show for the storytelling, the characters, and Giacchino's music, you should have stopped watching a LONG time ago.

Lost Season 6 Episode 14 Quotes

Every question I answer will simply lead to another question.

Mother

MIB: So, do you want to play or don't you, Jacob?
Jacob: Yes. I want to play.