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Lost recap: Jacob and Smokey's fight comes down to protecting the light?

Janney-mom Here's my biggest worry about Lost: That when the dust settles and all the big explanations come down, fans will be stuck with a flighty bit of New Age spiritualism which will hardly justify six seasons of obsession.

And Tuesday's episode, Across the Sea, came as close to that nightmare as I ever want to get.

On the surface, it was an inspired move. Building an episode around the origin of warring island demigods Jacob and the villainous Man In Black, producers had the stones to bench the show's entire regular cast for almost all of the program, one week after killing off three of the most beloved characters on the series.

You could almost feel the producers pushing back: You want to grieve over Sayid, Jin and Sun, couch potatoes? Well, you'll have to wait another seven days. Snap!

But...the result of that inspiration was a languid, Oedipal mess of a story, in which West Wing alum Alison Janney took a page from the Claire/Rousseau guide to hygiene and fashion -- playing a harried, robe-wearing mysterious long-ago island guardian who kills a shipwrecked woman to take possession of her babies -- one named Jacob and the other, conveniently left nameless.

Along the way, we obsessive Losties got the kind of answers for which we've been clamoring -- check out my revised list of questions the show MUST answer to see what's new . But the resolutions dropped like awkward, clunky asides, explaining bits of one mystery, only to unveil a new set of questions.

(Perhaps ABC feels the same way; as of this morning, I couldn't find an excerpt of Across the Sea on Hulu or ABC.com to feature with this post)

"Every question I answer will simply lead to another question," Janney's nameless mother figure says to Jacob and MIB's birth mother Claudia, in a quote which might as well be the show's unofficial motto. I wasn't even surprised when Claudia suddenly gave birth minutes later and once finished, was promptly bashed in the head with a rock.

Janney-light  Janney's boho-super mom sees average people as evil. So even though she drew Claudia to the island so Jacob and MIB could be candidates to replace her, she tries to keep the boys away from their human bretheren, afraid they will be corrupted.

Eventually, we learn that Janney is protecting a hidden light in the island -- presumably the source of all the magnetic energy the Dharma people were chasing for so long. And if that light is allowed to go out -- the light which shines within all of us a little bit -- then it will got out everywhere.

Ruh-roh! That doesn't sound good for humanity. Or sophisticated storytelling.

I guess I'm mostly frustrated by what we still don't know. Where did this light come from and how did C.J. Cregg from the West Wing wind up guarding it? How was she able to decree that Jacob and MIB couldn't kill each other? If she's that powerful, why did she need to bring another woman to the island to steal her babies? Why could MIB see their dead mother when Jacob couldn't?

And if MIB and C.J. are the male and female skeletons our losties found earlier in the show's run, how is the MIB also running around the island in John Locke's form?

I'm getting hot under he collar again. To sooth my worried brow, here's a list of the cool stuff we do know:

Mib-donkey-wheel -- Looks like MIB built the big donkey wheel which can move the island, somehow devising a machine he could stick in the light to move people and places around. How much you want to bet he tries using that thingy to kill the light and release his spirit from the island once all the candidates are dead?

-- MIB was turned into Smokey when Jacob pushed him into the light. I'm guessing that killed his corporeal body and turned his soul into a cloud of shape-shifting smoke with attitude.

-- Janney's character destroys MIB's dream of leaving the island, burning down the village of the humans he's spent 30 years living with, in order to push him into killing her, which releases her from guarding the light. No wonder she's so good at weaving a carpet from many different threads -- and has passed that skill along to her angelically manipulative son, Jacob.

-- Did the MIB kill his mother with the same blade that would be used later -- much, much later -- by Ben to kill Jacob?

-- Did Janney's character hand Jacob the same sort of eternal life liquid that Jacob gave his eternal servant, Richard Alpert?

-- Can these guys figure out a way to end this show that won't feel like a jarring mix of action hero explosions and undefined spirituality?

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:07pm]

    

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