Apologies for the lateness of this "Instareaction." After the show ended I was sort of stunned, in ways both good and bad. I had no idea how to begin writing about this episode. On the one hand, there was a lot to like - Titus Weliver proved to be another of Lost's smart casting decisions. His performance was worth the price of admission. I genuinely loved the sense of uncertainty that surrounded Alison Janneymom's character, and I think that continuing the theme of Island protectors who don't seem to truly understand what they're protecting, or why, is a fascinating one. Many of the individual scenes were captivating, and yet, at the same time, if I'm being honest, I'm sort of cool on it as a whole. Part of this is due to my own overinflated expectations. I was expecting a LOT of Across the Sea, and that's not the show's fault.
Most of the problems I have with the episode involve unanswered questions. Is the Smoke Monster actually Jacob's (still unnamed! What's up with that?) brother? Is what was released by The Man With No Name's body the embodiment of "pure evil"? If so, why can't Smokey hurt Jacob? Is Smokey "bonded" with the MiB? It has to be that the MiB's trip down the "rabbit hole" results in his being replaced/fused with something dark/evil by passing into the light. Otherwise, to be honest, I don't have much of a problem with the MiB leaving the Island. I mean, his mother was murdered, he was lied to, and when he tried to escape he got beaned in the back of the head with solid rock.
And what's with that claim anyway? Why can't they hurt each other? I assume "hurt" actually means "kill," since we see Jacob knock the snot out of his lil bro twice. Unnamed Alison Janneymom gave Jacob wine from the same bottle that Jacob used to give Richard wine. Does that mean the wine is responsible for immortality, and not Jacob's touch? I could go on, but then what would I write about for Friday? Unanswered questions are a problem I can deal with, and it makes the prospect of writing this week's column both exciting and very, very daunting.
I can't lie - some of my problems came from what seemed to be real problems in the story - how does "mom" manage to slaughter an entire village and burn it to the ground? Does she command Smokey? How did she cave the well in? Smokey? Did we really need to see heavy-handed flashbacks to Season 1 in order to figure out who Adam and Eve were? Why hasn't anyone else on the Island stumbled over the Big Glowing Hole In The Ground? For that matter, why couldn't the MiB find it again? Wait 'til dark, then walk around looking for the spot where eerie golden light is spilling from the ground. And was Alison Janney's essential Alison Janneyness distracting for anyone else? For as much as I loved seeing glimpses of the early civilization on the Island, I can't help feeling as though there were missed opportunities here, and that some aspects of the show (the look of it, the costuming, and the ham-handedness of some of the exposition) simply don't rise to the same level of realism and subtlety that Ab Aeterno did.
For all of that complaining and kvetching though, I didn't hate the episode. I'm just having an honestly-mixed reaction and, lucky you, you get to experience my reservations through the power of the internet. One of my much-appreciated Twitter peeps made the observation that this episode should have been the Season opener. I sort of agree in that I think I'd feel kinder to it if it had come, say, directly after The Substitute. In fact, in the future I think that's where I'll choose to re-slot this installment. It fits in perfectly there.
To sum up: I liked much about the episode's themes, it's ambition and it's seemingly-purposefully-veiled mythology. I had trouble with what felt like stilted acting in places, some clunky exposition, and the sense of ongoing confusion that resulted by episode's end. I'm looking forward to talking about this one tonight with some of you down at Professor Thom's (2nd Ave btwn 13th and 14th streets @ 7 pm), and to (drunkenly) rewatching it afterward, because I think there's a lot to chew on here and because I'm frankly hoping that it'll work better for me on the second go-round. This is without a doubt the single most divisive episode of Lost. I'm still on-board for the rest of the ride. Unlike some of my more hyperbolic colleagues, I didn't hate the episode and I don't think Lost has jumped the shark/sh*t the bed/pulled an "Episode 1"/whathaveyou - but for the first time this season since Recon I'm surprisingly underwhelmed.
Let's see what happens when I watch it again. Your thoughts?
"Somewhere, beyond the sea
Somewhere waitin’ for me...
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailin’.
Somewhere, beyond the sea
She's there watchin’ for me...
If I could fly like birds on high
Then straight to her arms I’d go sailin’.
It's far beyond the stars
It's near beyond the moon
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon."
- Beyond The Sea, Charles Trenet/Jack Lawrence
Tonight brings to us "Across the Sea," the third-to-last episode of Lost. It's strange to type that.
The title of tonight's installment recalls the title of "Beyond the Sea," the timeless standard that's been interpreted by the likes of Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra, and which was featured (in French!) back in Season 1 of the show.
What can we expect? Well, for one, we can expect not to see much (if anything) of the show's regular cast. We can expect some of our questions about the Island, its history and its mysteries, to be highlighted. We can expect a very special, very surprising guest-star. And we can expect Titus Welliver and Mark Pelligrino to deliver on the acting front.
If you're clueless about the subject matter of this installment I'm not going to spoil things for you any more than that. All I'll say is that this is the episode I've been waiting all season for, . I'll be back here after the episode airs on the East Coast to give my InstaReaction, and I'll have, I think, plenty to say about it at that point. If you're in the NYC area tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 12th), come by Professor Thom's at 7 pm. I'll be there with my purple baseball cap on, sipping a beer and looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this one.