Let’s get this out of the way: this is a stand-alone episode, an origin story for Jacob and the Man in Black. And since we go the whole episode without a name for the MiB, I’m going to stick with my original conceit and call him “Esau.” Also, while this episode was loaded with clues and small answers, far more than I picked up on, I suspect, I didn’t really care about it. Last week was crushing emotionally what with all the regular cast carnage and you follow up with a history lesson? Color me not that interested: I assume that this show will end with most of the mysteries unsolved so why drag me away from the remaining characters I care about for forty minutes of back story? Whatever. Plenty of fans will have liked “Across the Sea,” I guess. Just not me so much. On with the recap (which was a pain because lots of talking and not so much doing)!
A long, long time ago, Allison Janney tends to a bruised and very pregnant woman, Claudia, who was shipwrecked on the Island. Allison Janney seems a little crazy and has apparently been on the Island, alone, for a loooooooong time. Claudia (who looks a little like my sister-in-law) has lots of questions – like, where are all the other people who were shipwrecked with me? - but Allison, speaking as The Show, tells her that any question she answers will just lead to more questions so why bother. Birthing pangs suddenly wrack Claudia and, some screaming later, a baby is born, a boy, which Claudia names Jacob. Allison takes baby Jacob, ignoring Claudia’s pleas to hold him. However, soon the young mother is distracted when her labor begins again: there’s another baby. Another boy. Claudia moans that she only picked one name. Allison stares at the babies for a while and then turns to Claudia. “I’m sorry,” she says, right before she bashes poor Claudia’s head in with a rock. The twin boys – the one as yet unnamed – wail.
A dark haired boy – it’s “Esau,” of course - walks on the beach, finding a carved wooden box with black and white stones in it. His blond brother Jacob runs up, wanting to play. Esau says he’ll teach Jacob the rules but only if he promises not to tell Mother as she’ll just take the game away from them. Later, Jacob returns home alone and offers to help Allison with her weaving. She nags him into telling her what he and his brother were doing down on the beach. After that, Allison goes to the beach herself to find her other son. Esau realizes at once that Jacob told on him, which Allison confirms, saying that Jacob doesn’t know how to lie – he’s not like [Esau].
Esau is curious, asking what he’s like then. Allison smiles and tells him that he’s “special.” He asks if he can keep the game and she says yes, of course, that’s why she left it for him. But Esau was hoping that it came from somewhere else – to which Allison replies – obviously lying - that there is nowhere else, the Island is all there is. Esau is disappointed at that and wonders where they came from then. “You and your brother came from me, and I came from my mother … [and in answer to Esau’s query about his grandmother’s whereabouts] she’s dead. Which is something you’ll never have to worry about.” Boy, Allison Janney is one f’ed up mommy.
The brothers chase a boar through the jungle and are startled when a spear that is not theirs fells the beast. The cannier Esau drags his brother into the underbrush, hiding from the warrior-like men who have killed the boar. When it is safe, the boys run back to Allison and tell her that they saw people who looked like them. She is disturbed by this, saying these others are not like them nor do they belong on the Island. When Esau asks why it is that he and Jacob do belong on the Island, she won’t answer, saying it’s not time for that yet. Instead, she blindfolded the boys and leads them off into the jungle. The boys pester her nonstop with questions – where did those men come from? Why are they here? Why do you think they’re dangerous? – all of which she deflects for the most part, saying that men come and destroy and hurt each other. Esau pounces on this: we’re men, does that mean we can hurt each other? She stops, removes their blindfolds and tells them that she’d made it so that they can “never hurt each other.” They she points to some sort of magical, golden glowing tunnel in the side of a hill with a stream running through it. “This is the reason we’re here,” she intones.
The boys run up to take a closer look and she warns them not to go in there. Esau asks what’s down there. She says it’s filled with the warmest, brightest light ever seen – something that’s inside every man … but men always want more, so the boys must never tell anyone about it. Jacob asks if men could take it and she says that no, but they could extinguish it and if the light goes out here on the Island, it’ll go out everywhere. Allison Janney has protected this light for a long time now and when she’s gone, the job will pass to one of her sons. Jacob looks wary about this but Esau just stares greedily into the light.
After the commercial, the brothers are playing their game with the white and black stones. Jacob makes a move that Esau says is against the rules. When his brother protests, Esau snipes that some day Jacob can make up his own game and everyone will have to play by his rules (see what they did there, those clever Lost writers?), but for now, Esau’s rules rule. Suddenly, a vision of their birth mother appears – but to Esau only. He runs into the jungle after her. Claudia tells him that she’s dead but he should come with her anyway, because she wants to show him where he came from: across the island, a place he’s never seen.
She takes him to a village, populated by the shipwreck survivors. She has to explain what a ship is because Allison’s never told him. She also explains that Allison is not his mother – she is and Esau came from across the sea with her. The “plus Allison murdered me” is implied as well. Esau is nonplused by these revelations. Later that night, when Allison is asleep, Esau leads Jacob out into the jungle, wanting to take him to the village. In a typical Lost now it’s night/now it’s day jump, as they walk Esau tells his brother that Allison is not their real mother and Jacob screams with rage and starts beating the crap out of Esau. Allison, suddenly and inexplicably there, hearing the ruckus, runs up and pulls the boys apart. Esau stands, wiping the blood off his face, and spits that he’s leaving, going to his people – his murdered mother told him all about them. Allison clutches at him and cries, “No matter what you’ve been told, you will never be able to leave this Island.” He pushes her away and snaps that he will too, and he’ll prove it, before trudging off into the trees.
After he’s gone, Allison and Jacob sit, staring at the ocean, talking. She admits to killing the boys’ mother, explaining that she was protecting the boys from the other people: “I needed you to stay good.” Jacob: “Am I good, Mother? … Then why do you love him more than me?” She says that she loves the boys differently and begs Jacob to stay with her. He says he will … for a while.
Years have passed, and now Mark Pellegrino is Jacob. As he said he would, he has stayed with Allison Janney, who looks unwell but also un-aged. A little later, Jacob visits Esau in the village for a game. They chat, Jacob asking if his brother’s people are really as bad as Allison claims. Esau grunts: “The woman may be insane but she’s right about that.” He’s lived among them for thirty years and finds them greedy, manipulative, untrustworthy and selfish. Jacob can’t imagine that they’re as bad as all that; Esau’s like, um yeah. (See, see what those clever Lost writers did there?) Then Esau tells his brother that he’s leaving – he’s found a way off the Island. Jacob looks confused. Not clearing up the matter at all, Esau tells him that there are [magnetic] spots all over the Island and he and the villagers have been digging them up, intending to harness the power under the Island somehow. He tries to get Jacob to agree to leave with him but Jacob refuses, saying that the Island is his home.
Later, like the squealy little pig he is, Jacob tells Allison what Esau has been doing. She’s feeble but gathers enough strength to find Esau down one of those wells the villagers have been digging out. There is a LOT of talking: he plans to use the energy under the Island to leave; she’s very worried because he doesn’t know what he’s messing with. Esau scoffs, saying that he’s going to use the light to turn a wheel that turns a machine that gets him off the Island and THIS ISN’T EXPLAINING ANYTHING except that hundreds of years later, the Dharma Initiative basically hadn’t improved on the turn the wheel/move the Island concept. So much for progress. Anyway, Allison is sad, saying that if he’s determined to leave then she guesses this must be goodbye. They hug each other, tearfully, and Allison sniffles that she’s so sorry. Then she lunges at Esau and cracks his skull against a stonewall.
Back home, Allison rousts Jacob out of his bed. She tells him that “it’s time” – and that she’s letting Esau go because “it’s what he wants.” Then she takes Jacob back to the tunnel of light (calling it “life/death/rebirth/the heart of the Island”). She tells him that he is now its guardian but he must promise to never go down there. Jacob wonders if he would die. Much worse that that, Allison says. Then she pours him a cup of wine from that bottle (that Jacob shared with Richard and that Esau later broke), telling Jacob that if he drinks from it, he accepts the role of guardian. Jacob protests that he doesn’t want to be the Island’s protector. She insists: “It has to be you, Jacob.” Jacob, petulantly: “No, it doesn’t – you wanted it to be him!” Allison says she realizes now that it should have been Jacob all along but all that’s moot as her time is over and Jacob doesn’t have a choice. So the mama’s boy takes the cup and drinks. “Now you and I are the same,” says Allison creepily.
In the morning, Esau wakes up, bloodied and headachy, on the ground in the center of what used to be his village. I say “used to be” because it’s been burned to the ground and all the villagers are dead. Esau walks, grimacing, through the ruins. He finds his black and white stone game and picks it up out of the ashes. Then his face totally changes, from grief and frustration to hate and white hot anger. I sure loves me some Titus Welliver.
Thunder rolls. Allison sends Jacob off to fetch some firewood before it rains, telling him to be careful. She returns home to find her things in shambles, her weaving shredded, and Esau’s game left behind for her to find. Esau is there too and he quickly stabs her in the back. As she lies there, bleeding out, he asks her why she wouldn’t let him leave. “Because I love you,” she whispers, and then “Thank you!” And she’s dead – and seems happy about it, in fact. Esau actually bends his head and cries over her … but not for long because Jacob has just come home.
First he beats the shit out of Esau and then drags him off through the jungle. Esau protests, saying that their mother was crazy – she burned all the villagers – but Jacob is resolute. “Don’t worry, brother,” he says, “I’m not going to kill you.” He brings Esau to the tunnel of light, knocks him unconscious and then throws him into the tunnel where he is quickly swept out of sight by the current. Just seconds later, the Smoke Monster roars out of the tunnel, belling for all to hear. Jacob was NOT expecting that (but I was).
Afterwards, Jacob finds Esau washed up on the riverbank, looking pretty dead. He picks the body up and takes it home, where Allison is still lying dead on the floor, by the way. Jacob sees two of Esau’s game pieces – one black, one white – and picks them up, putting them in a small sack (the same sack that Jack and Kate found ever so many seasons ago and shown to us again now in a flashback). Then Jacob lays his dead mother next to his dead brother, clasping their hands together – and thus we have the story of “Adam and Eve” in their cave from S1. Jacob cries, “Goodbye, brother, goodbye.”
The one thing I found interesting from this is that Esau really is dead – off the Island at last, as he always wished - and that he wasn’t really that bad a guy when alive. It’s the Smoke Monster, whatever it is, that has retained some of the nastier bits of Esau and continues on, ever trying to escape its Island prison. This is why Jacob and the Esau/Smoke Monster have such animosity towards each other, Jacob feeling guilty for having gotten his brother killed and E/SM being cranky at having been killed/still trapped, but also why Jacob still deals with E/SM, because part of him/it is his once-beloved brother.
Previously on Lost / next time on Lost
49 minutes ago