OK...I've already posted twice about this episode, and this one doesn't really lend itself to my usual "dig into the transcript and analyze scene-by-scene" method of recapping. Instead, after re-watching the episode a couple of times, reading several other recaps, and listening to a couple of different podcasts, I'm just going to sort of leave this episode with some final thoughts and theories on what it means and where it leaves us as we head into the end-game, theories that are a mix of stuff I've seen elsewhere and agreed with and some thoughts that are rattling around in my own addled brain.
This is almost definitely going to be even more rambling and disorganized than usual...
- In response to what a couple of people have said in the comments, as well as what I have seen in some other analysis...I still think, without any doubts, that Man in Black=Smocke=Smoke Monster. There are some who have said that Smokey already existed on the Island before the events in this episode, and that what we see in later episodes is Smokey manifesting himself as Jacob's brother, just like he is now manifesting as John Locke.
My theory is this...when Jacob sent his brother down into the Cave of Glowy Goodness (more on this later), his soul/spirit was separated from his body and transformed into what we have seen as the "Smoke Monster" and all of his various manifestations since. The Smoke Monster was born at that moment. MIB's physical body died at that moment, but his soul/spirit lives on as this new entity, so it is still in line with the "Jacob and MIB can't kill each other" rule.
I do have some evidence to support this...back in "Ab Aeterno", MIB tells Richard that the Devil (referring to Jacob) betrayed him, and stole his body and his humanity. That's what happened when Jacob threw him into the Glowy Cave...he suffered physical death, but now lives on as this other entity trapped on the Island.
(Interesting aside that this is basically the OPPOSITE of what the Bible tells us happened with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden...in their case, when they sinned they died, just like God said they would. But their physical bodies continued to live...the death they experienced was spiritual.)
To me, Smocke HAS to be the same little boy that we saw in this episode who just wanted to "go home". Otherwise, his intentions and goals are even more nebulous than they are right now.
- Although I think we saw the birth of Smokey when MIB went down the cave, I also think that the Mother had to have SOME other manifestation...there is no way that she could have filled that well in by herself and then wiped out the entire human camp by herself without being in something other than human form, right? Maybe an earlier form of Smokey? I don't know, and I don't think we will ever find out, so that is one we will be debating on message boards, I guess.
- I don't think what we saw in this episode is the "beginning" of the Island story, it's just the beginning of Jacob and MIB's story. The Mother told Claudia that she got to the Island the same way that she did....by accident. The story of LOST has been full of loops and repeated history, and I think this was just another example.
- Interesting note from Darlton's interview with Alan Sepinwall...they drew a connection between the human camp being wiped out here and the Dharma Purge, saying that there is a repeating cycle where the more "curious" people get about the Island and its properties, the more protective the "Island Protector" gets, often resorting in the types of genocide we have seen.
- I have also seen some who said that the MIB was "supposed" to be the Island Protector, and that Jacob only got it by default. I disagree...I think the Mother is right when she tells Jacob that it was always supposed to be him. I think she wanted it to be her other son (man, it's super annoying that they never named him), but I think she realized in the end that she had been mistaken.
- Whatever problems I had with the episode had nothing to do with the actors...this was a typically brilliant episode in terms of its actors, in particular Titus Welliver as the Man in Black. He had several great moments, none better than the moment right before his Mother bashes his head against the rocks...for just a brief few seconds, he went from being the defiant, angry, rebellious man to just being the little boy we saw earlier, whose only real crime seems to be that he wants to know the Truth. The Truth about who he is, what this Island is, what else is out there, etc...just really good, subtle acting.
- On this week's podcast, Damon and Carlton said that the reason they inserted that footage at the end from season one was not to hit us over the head with who the skeletons were, but instead to remind us how much these characters have learned and grown since then.
- On rewatch, I enjoyed this episode more than I did the first time I watched it, probably because I had initially gone into this episode with ENORMOUS expectations.
My remaining issues:
- The Cave of Glowy Goodness. I can forgive the corniness (barely), but my biggest problem is how it fits logically in the story. I have said for a while now that I really don't care if they answer every question, or even ANY more questions, as long as the ending makes logical and emotional sense. If that happens, I can fill in the blanks on the other stuff, if you give me logical and emotional context.
But does this make sense logically? How do we reconcile what Mother told Jacob (it's this beautiful light, the source of life, death, rebirth, etc) with what Jacob told Richard (the Island is the cork that keeps this evil contained)? And what does it mean that in the beginning of the Sideways timeline we see the Island at the bottom of the ocean? Does that mean the Source of Light has gone out? If so, why do we not really see any evidence of that in the Sideways timeline?
I'm reserving judgement on this part of it, because in the Sepinwall interview and also the weekly podcast, Darlton hinted that there will be more information coming about what all of that means. I sure hope so, because it felt REALLY flat to me, which is really disconcerting considering that this Cave of Glowy Goodness is apparently what the whole Island story has been about.
Not what the SHOW has been about...to me, the show is still about the characters. But the mythology and history of the Island has been such a HUGE part of the show, and I hope the Glowy Cave of MAGIC isn't all there is to that.
- My BIGGEST issue of this episode? We know NOTHING more about what Smocke's intentions are, or the reasons behind his actions, than we did this time last week. All we learned about him is that he hated his mother, and he wants to go home. Didn't we already know that?
It seems that the point of this episode was just a big mythological data dump, with no intentions to move the story forward. But, in my opinion, the only way that would be effective is if the mythology we are given tracks to the story in some emotional or logical way, and I don't think this episode pulled that off. I feel like we took one of the last few hours of this show to talk about a bunch of stuff that either A) doesn't really matter, or B) makes no sense and only serves to create more questions that have no answers. I get the meta commentary...."Every question (we) answer will only lead to more questions". To which I say....then why bother answering any?
Overall, like I said earlier, I am trying to reserve judgement until we see how it all plays out. But, for me personally, this episode was ultimately disappointing and seemingly useless, unless something happens in the next 3.5 hours that provides significantly more context and meaning to what we saw in this episode.
Can you believe that this time next week, this show will be OVER? GAH.
One more thing...my post on this episode last week was by far the most read and commented on post I have ever put up. I am a little overwhelmed by it, honestly...this blog started as just an opportunity for me to write again about stuff that I enjoy. I was once an English major before my career took a sharp turn into the world of Finance, and I have always loved to write. This was an outlet for me to write about the things that I was constantly talking the ears off of my family and friends about.
I am so appreciative that my little personal venting space has somehow gained the attention of people (many of whom I myself read and enjoy every day) who have been nice enough to point people my way. I hope that your visits have been worthwhile...I know I enjoy the sharing of ideas that a show like this incites and encourages. I have never pretended to be anything but a huge fan of the show, and I love having conversations with other huge fans.
Hopefully, you guys will stick around after this show ends...I have many other subjects that I can ramble on about for hours on end, I promise.