'Lost' Countdown: Anticipating the revelations of 'Across The Sea.' Plus! Jin, Sun, and Sideways angst!

jacob-man-in-blackImage Credit: Mario Perez/ABCWhen I interviewed executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof for this week’s cover story about the end of Lost, they told me that the season was designed to have two episodes largely devoted to Island mythology. The first was “Ab Aeterno,” which told us how Richard Alpert came to the Island and how he became Jacob’s ageless servant. It also gave us a metaphorical understanding of the Island (think: a cork in a bottle preventing evil from spilling out) and offered a dramatic case study of the contentious feud between Jacob and the Man In Black. “Ab Aeterno” was absolutely awesome and currently stands tied with “Happily Ever After” as my favorite episode of season 6.

So when are we getting that second monumentally meaty mythological affair? How about … tonight! The episode is called “Across The Sea,” and by all accounts, we’ll be seeing the origins of Jacob and the Man In Black. Will we also learn the secret of the Jacob-looking ghost boy that’s been stalking MIB’s current incarnation, Fake Locke? Will we learn something about The Monster’s allegedly unstable mother?  Will we learn how this wretched, dark hearted Sayid-/Jin-/Sun-killing knave became an ambulatory coil of nebulous metamorphic haze? Judging from these sneak peek clips provided by ABC, the answer to all those questions appears to be … maybe! (Don’t watch these things if you regret being tampered with de-contextualized tidbits of inside information. I peeked — and I regret that I did. But who I am to deny you the freedom and opportunity to stick a needle into your head and shoot spoiler junk into your brain? Knock yourself out …  suckers!)

As it happens, the very first theory I ever wrote about Lost tackled the question “What is the smoke monster?” We published it during season 2, right after the episode “The 23rd Psalm,” in which Mr. Eko came face-to-smoke face with “Puffy,” as Terry O’Quinn likes to call him. Likening Smokey to morphing, mind-reading aliens of James Cameron’s The Abyss, I wrote:

“In the movie, the aliens were so alarmed by mankind’s potential for self-destruction, they resorted to drastic measures — the threat of annihilation by tidal wave — to save us. On Lost, we’ve learned that the island has been/is host to gonzo experiments funded by Alvar Hanso, a munitions mogul/philanthropist dedicated to ”a brighter future for all humanity. …” My theory? Twilight Zone Isle is being used by Hanso’s Dharma Initiative as a sort of human recycling plant, designed to either rehabilitate damaged, fallen people — or junk them.

“Smokey is a sophisticated piece of machinery in this soul-crunching refinery. Its function: quality control. Kinda like another cult-pop alien, the Marvel Comics scourge Galactus. Apparently, the planet-chomping leviathan (also telepathic) serves an elusive celestial purpose. He might be the embodiment of random catastrophe — an essential Lost theme. Yet he might also exist to test the mettle of living beings. Fend him off; you deserve to live. If you can’t, you don’t. Chomp! … But I could be wrong. After all, we’re talking about a creature made of smog and reflective properties — in other words, smoke and mirrors.”

I’d like to think my theory was correct at least in identifying some essential thematic ideas about Smokey … but on the whole, based on what we’ve learned since season 2, my first Lost theory stands revealed as a colossal bust — the first in a looooooooong series. Still, like all my theories, it was fun to put together. And by the way? I’m glad I wasn’t right. Strange, huh? In the early days of theory-making, I think I watched Lost the way people watch horse racing: with a bet slip in their hand and outrageous emotional investment. I wanted my ponies to win, dammit! But very quickly, that desire to be “right” evaporated. I remained driven to “solve” Lost — but I was more hooked on the nutty intellectual thrill of the hunt. I loved how a peculiar word in the script or a conspicuous literary reference could inspire a trip down the rabbit hole of research and free association — and by that, I mean Wikipedia. (Seriously, if I didn’t know better, I would think Wikipedia was invented to service Lost theorizing.) Being wrong has never bummed me out — it has only provided new opportunities to learn new things. And along the way, I learned to love Lost for the story it was telling — and for inspiring my own Sideways world of intellectual edification and pseudo-intellectual tomfoolery. People often ask me: “What are you going to do with yourself when Lost is over?” Honestly, I’m still figuring it out. But I am taken with notion that perhaps Doc Jensen should go legit by …  going back to school. Yep: I’m thinking that the future of Doc Jensen … is to become something like Dr. Linus. To be continued …

THE SORROW AND THE FURY
Grieving Jin and Sun (and Sayid, kinda): The Latest In A Series

One week after the bloodbath inside Watership Downer, the leaking waterworks of Lost fandom have not yet dammed up.  I’m still getting dozens of e-mails each day full of anguish and blubber over the shocking obliteration of self-sacrificing Sayid and the sad (and controversial) orphaning of what’s-her-name via the drowning of the Kwon marital unit. (And cue the sad tinkling of Michael Giacchino’s poignant score. Every time I think back on Jin-and-Sun’s tragic GLUG! GLUG! GLUG!, I hear that music, too.) (And could I be any more disrespectful with my cruel prose?) (Yes, I could.) Last week, I made a mean observation about the last shot Lost gave us of Jin and Sun — that brief beat of their joined hands drifting apart. I found ironic and heartbreaking that the lovers should exit Lost on a note of separation, not unity. Well, reader Sarah Buch took umbrage with my pitiless prose and romantically challenged soul. She writes:

“I was so upset over your interpretation of Sun and Jin’s unclasping hands. I thought the shot of their hands falling was beautiful and didn’t take it to indicate separation at all.  These two would not have let go of one another for anything other than death! It was them physically letting go of one another as they metaphorically let go of this world and moved on to the next!! (Heaven, Sideways world, take your pick!)

“What do all of our characters on Lost have in common?  The inability to let go!  Of their pasts, their pain, their ideas of themselves, their habits, their losses, etc.  This was so much a theme of last Tuesday’s episode in particular.  Sun and Jin’s death was strangely beautiful. It was a moment filled with love and joy, not fear.  … Sun and Jin saw what was going to happen and they chose to take as much control of the situation as they could and to end their lives together.  I loved that we had probably the two biggest ideas on Lost in one moment: choice versus fate (or chance).  Sun was stuck.  Jin chose to stay.  It was beautiful writing, and I wished that you would have seen their ending in that light!  So see it that way now. Okay?”

Sarah, all I can really say in response to that is … okay!

Of course, other people express grief in other ways. For example, some people question the goodness and authority of God … or at least, TV showrunners. Karen Post is one such freaked-out, faith-rocked Lost fan. She writes:

“I am really taking the deaths of Sun and Jin really hard.  I can’t agree with the people who say that their deaths don’t matter because they are still alive in the Sideways world. I am not emotionally invested in the Sideways world, because I’ve only had about a dozen episodes to get to know those people. They are NOT the same people that I’ve gotten to know over the last six years. This is personal! I’m still mourning Charlie for cripes sake!! And although it was expected, I really didn’t want to see Sayid die a second time. …

“I keep hoping that ‘what happened, happened’ on Lost. My biggest fear for the last few episodes is that the Island folk will continue to die so that the Sideways world can continue. I couldn’t stand it if the past six years means nothing at all. … I am totally afraid to watch the next episode! I need some counseling, Doc, so if what I said makes any sense I hope you address some of this in one of your columns!”

Karen, many fans share your Sideways anxiety. And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it in recent weeks, as I’ve been considering the larger matter of Lost’s lasting impact on our collective imagination and on the medium of television. I find it kind of ironic that a story that is so meaningful to so many people, and a show that is credited with changing television should roll the dice on a conceit that risks subverting that story and negating the show’s accomplishments. Ironic — and perhaps instructive. Think about that one for a second. Here we are as fans worried about the integrity of our
Lost experience and worried that the show is going to render our investment meaningless … and here we have story that threatens the integrity of reality and threatens the redemption arcs of Jack, Sawyer, Kate, and all their castaway friends. Here we are protesting a storyline that could erase all of Lost history, making the past six years meaningless … just as the Sideways characters are recalling their Island history and realizing their lives have greater meaning than they realized. Here we are as a culture, mulling the legacy of Lost … and here we have a show whose final season stands revealed as a deep and clever rumination on the themes of continuity and discontinuity, meaning and meaninglessness, of legacy itself. In other words: The meta-tensions about the show mirror the dramatic tensions within the show. Put another way: Now more than ever, we are the castaways.

Coincidence? I’m thinking not. Actually, I think Michael Emerson put it best. Last month, when I visited the set of Lost, I talked with the actor about this very issue. I brought up the topic because I knew from having interviewed him last October that he himself was struggling to make sense of the Sideways world storyline. I wanted to know how he felt about the whole thing now that he had finished his work on the series and seen the greater whole.  Our conversation culminated with Emerson offering the following insight: “So often with [our writers], what we think is ‘the problem’ of the season is their formula. We should always remember that. Lost is the most relativistic show ever. The thing you’re complaining about may actually be the point.”

I’m taking Emerson’s counsel to heart — and certainly keeping it in mind — as we enter the final four hours on the season.

There’s more Lost stuff coming from us throughout the day here at EW.com. We’ll have a new episode of “Totally Lost” posting soon. And I’ll be posting an “instant reaction” to “Across The Sea” soon after the episode airs. Tomorrow: a full recap. In the meantime, here’s some Lost amusement for you. The funny folks at atom.com have posted a series of short-and-clever spoofy clips imagining how Lost might end. They are performed by a Web sketch comedy troupe known as Team Tiger Awesome. Caution! If you’ve never seen Rocky III or the original Planet of the Apes or are unfamiliar with their classic endings, consider this your Spoiler Warning.

Namaste!

Doc Jensen

Update: Totally Lost is live (below)!

Comments (218 total) Add your comment
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  • theduckster

    OMG LOST. Always blowing my mind.

    • LOL

      There is nothing on this page except the headline. WTF?

    • donknottz

      Where is Totally Lost??? I hate these late postings!!!! GiVe Me Now A Ni Mal Mad!

    • Addison

      Doc!! Cover Fringe next!! Season Three!! I’ll read every word!!

      • Jay

        AGREED!!! Pretty please, Doc!

      • JaySin420

        I totally agree, I was just reading about the Fringe finale and I found a pic from “over there” and Superman vs Batman part 2 was playing!

        Such a cool show.

  • Iggy

    I can’t wait to see Jacob’s & MIB backstory. With an additional 10 minutes…set your DVR’s!

    • hugo

      OMFG! Seriously? We’re getting 10 more minutes on this episode? Where did you get that info? Please share :)

      • Iggy

        Info on my dish guide lists the episode from 9:00pm – 10:10pm.

      • jcs

        for real?

    • J

      hmmm… mine says 9-10:02 and V after as 10:02-11

      • Iggy

        My bad…I just double checked it and it is scheduled until 10:02 (I had extended my recording to 10:10…sorry!)

      • One Of The Bills

        Still, an extra 2 minutes! A lot can happen…

    • mesa

      It’s running until 10:10? Are you sure? They’ve never gone that long before.

      • hugo

        Let’s just hope this episode of Lost doesn’t ruin the highly anticipated V countdown clock.

      • Steve

        Let it go Hugo.

    • Q

      Mad props to Iggy for this PSA!

  • Jackie

    After last week’s Lost made me so mad (more for the loss of Sun and Jin than Sayid), I had resolved to watch Glee tonight and catch Lost online tomorrow. Resolve is breaking…

  • aby

    I love the comment from Sarah, beautiful and well thought out. I personally love the sideways world. I don’t feel as if any of these characters are strangers. At their core they are still very much the characters we have grown to love. I am not sure I want to see the Island world disolve and have everyone migrate on over, but if it happens, it happens. I’m along for the ride and have been since the pilot.

  • Kevin

    This column is good therapy for those of us traumatized by our favorite show. :)

  • jcs

    Wow. Doc, I think you should start your own school, teaching classes in one or two week blocks and all of the addicts (myself included), who are having a hard time dealing with the end of our series can come to wherever you are for more learning and watching of old lost episodes.

    • deb

      I agree! I am going to miss this show so much. It’s going to be like having an old friend move away.

      • Lynn

        That’s why I read books I’ve read before and watch series reruns through NetFlix. Unlike friends, who move away, I can always come back to characters I miss.

    • LS

      Doc, are you going back to school? That is SO awesome if you are! Please add some Lost articles to academia!!!

  • samsldy

    Always interesting, always insightful. I don’t know which I’m going to miss more, Lost or your commentary.

    • Cat

      agreed!!

  • Bryan

    With all due respect, as any major LOST fan, it would be hard to turn down a chance to watch some filming. But JJ I think has a certain duty to his fans & his writing. So to elect to watch the filming of what is likely a crucial time in the Finale, I believe is a complete disservice to his writing & fans. You can say that it won’t affect your writing, but how can it not? It always felt like we were a little community, wading through the muck together. Now I can’t help but think from here on out the writing will be tainted. Even if it’s not. Knowledge of the future changing the present, etc etc…But of course I’ll keep reading! ;-O

    • mesa

      JJ has not been with the show since S3. And that was just the premiere. I can understand your comments but speaking as a major Lost fan you should know that.

      • Ali Mic

        JJ = Jeff Jensen, not JJ Abrams

    • mesa

      Wrong JJ! Woops. That makes me feel better. But I agree, like I said. It’s hard to act fresh and think fresh when you know future information.

      • Lynn

        Oh, come on. We come here for clues of the future. I didn’t watch the video, but have learned tonight is about Jacob and MIB. That’s why I came, to get the scoop on what to watch out for. If you’re against these things, you wouldn’t know about Doc in the first place.

    • commonsense

      He didn’t chose anything. He is a writer with a deadline. This is his job not a hobby. He went on an assignment from his editor.

      • Bryan

        Ah, I wouldn’t say that. He may have had an assignment, but even he admits that the experience affects the way he sees things now as the show is ending. Sure he was sent down there, but again, he even says he can’t talk about what he actually saw. So how can seeing that scene help with whatever his assignment was? My guess is he didn’t “have” to watch that particular sequence. He was likely given a choice to.

      • spk2629

        Exactly! Quit breakin’ the poor guy’s balls for imagined spoilers

      • commonsense

        Bryan, come on man. You would seriously turn your head or cover your eyes in that situation?

      • Ne Oublie

        I trust him.

      • Grignac

        What makes you think JJ didn’t have knowledge of future episodes every season or every Doc Jenson column? You’ve read so far, why would you stop now.

    • CHASE

      I totally agree with Bryan. Doc, you should do the right thing and lock yourself up inside a underground hatch for the next month….

      • Bryan

        Ha, thanks Chase. I agree too. I haven’t really run through the message boards since his Friday column, but I find it hard to believe there’s not more people who feel a little betrayed. Listen, I know it sounds nuts, but I do feel like I’ve invested in his columns just like I’ve invested in LOST itself; knowing all along he might have gained insights others didn’t have here and there, but this seems a little beyond that. Can’t help it, just feel bummed. In fact, these 3 messages I think have now doubled my entire life-postings on message boards anywhere. Just in case you all cared about my level of bummed-ness! :)

      • Bryan

        TO: Common. OF COURSE I WOULD LOOK! But nobody’s reading several thousand words of mine. And in my (and only my) opinion, I have had the feeling (and I think rightfully) over the years that he didn’t “know” certain things. And repeating what I said before, I know he’s been on set before and “seen the future”. But by his own admission, this was not only the Finale, but the End of the Finale he was seeing! And he even said he is a little compromised. I’m not worried about spoilers per se. I just kinda enjoyed his tangents, whether right or not. I guess my overall point is this; he just may not feel as free as before leading into the next few weeks. No biggie, just how I feel.

  • Jerrod

    so it runs to 10:10? Can anyone else confirm this?

    • Jackie

      Yahoo TV Listings has it going from 9:00-10:02.

      • Barry

        In any case, thanks for making me check and add time to recording Glee so the end doesn’t get cut off. That stupid American Idol has messed me up three times.

    • Growler

      on the time of tonight: when I set my TiVo it said 9p-10:02p (ET). But since I decided to record “V” I am okay either way. But I wonder if it’s a late change. Hope not.

  • Growler

    Okay Doc, if you are reading this for some reason: kudos to you for delving into the thematic concerns of the sideways story arc. I’ll just say this much now (in term’s of the show’s ultimate legacy): a LOT will be on the line in the finale! Clearly it will be one of the most important finales for any show in television history.

    • spk2629

      Clearly. They have a lot to accomplish and while they can’t make each of us happy, they need to keep it in the realms of what we love about the show. I for one will loathe a “Disney Ending” that goes all “happily ever after”.

      • Craig

        Please do not have a Disney type ending. That would be the worst thing that could happen and the complete opposite of what this show represents. Please, please, please let it be fantastic!

  • charlotte k

    Not really sure Jin is dead. This is the man who survived the raft and the freighter fiasco. I think he might be immune to drowning!

    • Johnification

      I don’t want to be near you when you move from denial into the “anger” phase…

  • Shawn

    I will miss Lost when it’s gone, but I’m already totally sick of the long run-times and leaking into other programs. It’s creating havok for my DVR! And it’s irksome to realize that the only reason the hours are getting longer is to keep the status quo of advertising dollars. The shows themselves would easily fit into the normal time slot…

    • Ad

      Switch to AT&T U-verse. You can record up to 4 programs at a time. :)

      • spk2629

        HA!

      • Lynn

        Or, record/watch for free. We have 2 recorders and a computer hooked up to our TV, so we can catch the rest on Hulu or the network’s home page.

    • donknottz

      You have a mild case of Bunchus Pantusitus. Remove Carrot from

    • donknottz

      Seems you have a case of Bunchus Pantusitus. Remove Carrot from Who Ha and Call Al Pacino in the Morning! (or Dr. Jack as I hear he is going by these days)

  • ihatescreennames

    I’m a week late and several dollars short, but I just have to put in my 2 cents about Jin/Sun’s deaths. It bugs me to no end that folks complain, “What about Ji-Yeon? How could Jin “abandon” her and leave her as an orphan?” Well, when I got married, I promised to love my hubby forever and pledged my life to be joined with his forever. I love our kids, but he comes first. It’s because of us, that they are. It’s our love that brought them into the world, and it’s our love for each other that sustains them, teaches them, comforts them, and allows them to learn trust, compromise and patience. My choice would’ve been the same as Jin’s; I made that promise before my husband, God, family and friends–it’s us 2 together; everyone and everything else is just icing on our cake. Now, have at me–excoriate me, crucify me, whatever, but imho, Jin made the right decision. Thanks for letting me vent and thanks, Doc, for all your work and insight. I’m really sad this ride is almost over.

    • commonsense

      You know its interesting. My wife and I watched the episode together and I told her if we were ever in the same position to leave me so she could raise our son but she said she would stay for the exact same reasons you just said. Even though I would want her to leave me I could not leave her either.

      • wtfihsc

        So given the chance to raise your children, or leave them orphaned in a grand romantic gesture…you would choose to die together? the selfless choice is actually to leave and forever live with that, raising the child you both brought into this world. you don’t love your kids nearly enough if that choice isn’t obvious. another scenario–you have a chance to sacrifice your life for your child’s. you wouldn’t do that, eh? according to your logic, that would mean depriving your husband of his life partner and soul mate, so you’d have to let the kid die, right?

      • ihatescreennames

        It’s really nice to know we’re not alone in our sentiments regarding our love for our spouses; love can beat anything!

      • wtfihsc

        your husband is probably cheating on you because you’re a bad mom.

        (sorry, i’m just really sarcastic).

      • dave

        she had only 30 seconds until her death dumb@ss! how can she think of anyone else but the person in front of her.

      • Kate

        @wtfihsc – Most loving parents would do everything to make sure their kids are being taken care of and loved. Sometimes it means dying for them, for their spouses or both. There are too many people today that give up on their marriage too quickly. They “choose” their children over minor difficulties in their marriage, raising ignorant, selfish and egocentric children.

        By the way, have you ever heard that a child without a father is half-orphan, a child with a father but without a mother is a full-orphan. I have heard that from many friends who lost their mothers in their childghood, even when they had wonderful fathers. So in my opinion Jin made the right decision, especially since his daughter was taken care of by wealthy grandparents.

    • Jack

      While I respect your opinion and your view (I hinted as such last week), I’m SO totally impressed by both your use AND your spelling of “excoriate.” Kudos!

      • ihatescreennames

        Thank you very much! I love reading and learning and acquiring new vocabulary words; I appreciate your kind comments. Great name, btw….our son goes by Jack, too.

    • Rams

      Very well said! How could Jin live with himself knowing he left his wife to die alone, provided he even made it out of the Island? In his Wedding vows, Jin mentions that he never wants to be apart from Sun, and he kept that promise till death.

      • ihatescreennames

        Call me old fashioned, but I’m keeping my vows, too. I appreciate your comments and kindness!

      • spk2629

        same here, thank you.

      • Craig

        Jin would likely HAVE NOT gotten custody of the kid anyways. No way the Paik’s were given her up to the fisherman’s son whose mother was a prostitute. To die in the arms of Sun is the romantic thing to do if nothing else this is best for the story.

    • Sen

      I’d like to point out that she would not be an orphan as she has extremely wealthy grandparents that would raise her and give her everything. If I knew my child would be well cared for, I would stay with my spouse.. If no one was around to care for my child, I would not leave them to be put in an orphanage.

      • ihatescreennames

        You have an excellent point; we’re very fortunate to have grandparents and other family members who would raise our kids like we’d want them to be raised and I (selfishly) didn’t think what we’d do if we didn’t have such a strong support group…in this highly hypothetical scenario…it’s all in fun, though. I’m just grateful (and astounded, really) by the civility and kindness on this board.

    • Kate

      Jin stayed knowing he would die. However, he didn’t passively stay there, he stayed so that Sun didn’t have to die alone, and he kept on trying to save her.
      He made a sacrifice, but also he tried until the last moment to do something. There are many spouses that give up on their marriage too quickly without trying enough. Jin and Sun’s marriage wasn’t easy, but their love was real so they didn’t want to give up on it, until the very end.

    • Cat

      very well said… however it’s not a decision you could make until you are actually in the situation. It’s easy to say you’d stay, however, your children need you for a certain number of years. I do think your relationship with your spouse should come before your children. They only “need” you a brief number of years, your married for life.(I am married with children)

    • winecntry

      What is strange about your thoughts are that your children are your flesh and blood and your spouse is not, so your loyalties should be to your children, or equally to spouse children. I would not want to be your child.

      • agreed

        agreed. and if i were your child, i’d hope my grandparents told me that the two of you died trying to save each other’s lives, not that one died willingly to stay by the other’s side even though they knew i was waiting back home.

        the other side of the coin is that death does NOT part true lovers. if i were dying, i’d hope that my husband would honor our love by protecting and raising the products of our love on behalf of both of us. now THAT is romantic!

  • The Jackal

    I don’t care about any of these comments I just want to know where todays Totally Lost is, lets go Doc and Dan!

    • spk2629

      they have been late, repeatedly, and for that they shall be EXCORIATED! bahahahahah!

  • Alicia

    Those clips were brilliant. Especially liked the one with John Locke in the shower – hehe…

    Doc, you should go to school, for sure. How about a degree in philosophy?

    • donknottz

      I thought the Usual Suspects one was great!

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