I didn’t want to say anything until I knew for sure, but I’m pretty convinced now that Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse are juggalos. How else to explain this insistence that electromagnetism is the source of all magic?
I don’t have any problem with the idea of devoting a whole episode, this late in the series, to Jim Henson’s Island Protector Babies. I even appreciate their trying to create their own mythology, with their own garden of Eden and Cain and Abel and, I suppose, Lillith? Or setting up the notion of similar stories playing out over and over again on the Island throughout eternity.
My problem with “Across the Sea” is my problem with the rest of the season: the pacing is off. Since the beginning of the season, they’ve spent a bulk of each episode on stories with no real context, so we don’t get any clear idea of why we should care about what happens in them.
And it’s had the side effect of making the stuff we should care about — the story we’ve been following for the past five years — less significant, too. The stakes are basically erased: if somebody dies, so what? There’s still another version of them in this alternate universe. Except I stopped caring about that alternate version, too. It’d be like making Run, Lola, Run and trying to wring tears out of the audience at each ending.
With “Across the Sea,” they establish the hell out of that cave, and make absolutely certain that we make the connection between the “Adam & Eve” from Season 1. And yes, that’s one of the questions that’s been lingering through the whole series, and yes, it’s good that they’re wrapping stuff up. But isn’t that the kind of thing you’d just toss into an episode as kind of a “didja notice?” detail, and not linger on it with a flashback? Especially when the closest thing you’ve delivered to a real answer to the main mystery of the entire series is a woman pointing at a hobbit hole and saying, “That’s where magic comes from?”
Pacing in the previous week’s episode “The Candidate” bugged me too, but explaining that takes spoilers
Sayid’s been kind of a drag ever since he died earlier in the season, so I guess it wasn’t supposed to be that upsetting when he grabbed a bomb and ran off to blow himself up. But we were supposed to be really upset about Sun and Jin, as evidenced by all the crying on the beach. From the folks who’ve seen people get sucked into jet engines, blown up, shot with flaming arrows, crushed by a Cessna, torn apart by a smoke monster, shot with guns, drowned, eaten by rare spiders, blown up again, stabbed by a dishwasher rack, strangled in a hotel room, and dragged down a hole and crushed by debris. And not been particularly upset by it.
But again, half the episode has Sun & Jin having an LA adventure that seems to be ending pretty happily for them. And again, we’re all left wondering which half of each episode is the half we’re supposed to care about. Everybody except Kate seems to be pretty happy in the alternate version — I bet you Jack’s not-yet-seen ex-wife is Juliet, even — and it would neither surprise me or disappoint me if the series ended with that version of reality turned into the “real” one. It wouldn’t surprise or disappoint me, but it wouldn’t really interest me either, because I haven’t really gotten an attachment to anything that’s happened this season. Except for Richard Alpert’s flashback episode, which apparently didn’t amount to much.
I will say that the business with Sun & Jin, although I wasn’t moved by it at all, was handled as well as they could given what they had to work with. There was a pretty interesting observation from Geoff Klock’s blog (I heard about it from Jeff Lester) that hadn’t occurred to me:
He says that the scene had more weight than it seemed to on the surface, because it was loaded with subtext. In particular: they never mention Ji Yeon, their daughter. They’re both stuck, they both know the “right” thing to do would be for Jin to leave so their daughter wouldn’t be orphaned. But they’re being selfish, and they know it, and it’s too much for either of them to say out loud. And I’d agree with that take: anybody who says that that’s reading too much into a flat scene, I’d point to all the earlier scenes in the episode involving Sun & Jin. They made a point to show them coming together, and then to show Jin looking at the photos of Ji Yeon and asking about her. I’d also guess that the only reason Sun got shot in the alternate version of reality was to remind viewers that she was pregnant, and make you worried about what would happen to the daughter. It was actually really well done, with a lot more restraint than you tend to see on television, even Lost.
But again, it was well done within that episode. Not for the season as a whole. Why was Sun struck with aphasia for multiple episodes? Why was it important to Widmore than Jin be there for the experiment with Desmond? Which Kwon was the “right” one one the list of names? I’m getting more and more of a sense that it’ll all turn into the “Adam & Eve” thing: it’ll feel like writers desperately tying up as many loose ends where they can, instead of a long chain of events that all happen for a reason.