Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lost: The Jacob/MIB Origin Episode


I'm a pretty big fan of Lost. There are some quality dramas on TV these days, including Breaking Bad and Mad Men, but Lost has consistently been my favorite for the past 5 years.

I didn't think the writers would be able to pull off a very satisfying ending. They seem much more adept at generating mystery than explaining it. So I have steeled myself for the end run of the series, almost hoping that they wouldn't really explain much more, because that would be more satisfying than a bunch of crappy explanations.

Looks like so far I've generally been right. That is to say, I wasn't much impressed with last night's episode, the last regular episode before the 2-part finale. There is hope yet, but things aren't looking very good on the basis of this episode.

To recap: Jacob and the man in black (MIB, he still didn't get named this episode, unless I missed it), are actually brothers. They were born of a woman from a shipwreck who wandered into a hippy Allison Janney, just credited as "Mother". Mother delivers the twins and brains the real mother with a rock. Then she raises the two boys and one day shows them a cave emitting a bunch of light. It's the source, she tells them. Everybody's got a little light inside of them, but if this one ever goes out, everything ceases to exist. Okay.

As teens, their real mother appears to MIB, reveals herself as his true mother, and tells him about the rest of the world. So MIB confronts his fake mother and goes to live with a group of other people on the island, none of whom we ever actually meet.

Years later, MIB can't find the cave, but does figure a way he can supposedly leave the island by sticking a wooden wheel near a source of underground energy. Okay. Fake mother shows up to brain him, and either her or something else slaughters all the villagers. Okay.

Jacob reluctantly agrees to protect the cave of light by drinking some wine. We still don't know if this is what gives him his powers. MIB then kills Mother. Jacob gets mad at him and throws him into the cave of light, which Mother had said was "worse than dying". This apparently kills the MIBs regular body and transforms him into the smoke monster. MIB's and Mother's bodies are laid side by side in the cave for Jack and the others to find hundreds of years later. Okay.

Anyone else not particularly satisfied with this?

The characterization was pretty lame in this episode. And it still raises more questions than it answered:

Who is this Mother character?
Where did she come from?
What is this light source?
Where did Jacob's real mother come from? Was she brought to the island by Mother?
Why would MIB keep calling Mother "mother" when he knew she wasn't his real mother?
Why does the light source turn you into a smoke monster?

And so on and so forth. Lost has always tread a thin line between generating genuine mystery and just throwing head-scratching crap at the audience. For the most part it's done a great job of genuinely creating mystery, mostly because they've done a great job of creating compelling characters that you actually care about. But I have to say, they failed on this one. I didn't really give a crap about Jacob or his brother, and this episode didn't really answer any of the mysteries of the island, except by just throwing up more gobbledy-gook.

Maybe the finale will wrap things up in a nice little bundle, but I'm even more pessimistic now. We'll see in a couple of weeks.


Philip said...

I think your review is too kind. I thought the episode was total crap. You sip the magic water out of a proper teacup and it makes you live forever, but you get shoved into it and you (sort of) die and become a smoke monster. And there all these rules that apparently people are able to make and inexplicably they're enforced but, what, I don't know. Gads this show jumped the shark.

Vladimir Nesov said...

> Why would MIB keep calling Mother "mother" when he knew she wasn't his real mother?

Because she *is* his mother, just not his *genetic* mother? Merely not being related by genes doesn't make here any less his mother. She did play that role for 10+ years.