Weekend Doc Jensen: The Redemption Gospel According To Jacob

across-the-seaImage Credit: Mario Perez/ABC For an episode that many fans allegedly disliked, “Across The Sea” has inspired some of the most spirited and thought-provoking commentary I’ve ever seen from Lost fandom. I’m not the first to make this observation. Myles McNutt has posted a directory of “Across The Sea” blogging on his (highly recommended) Cultural Learnings website, and I encourage you to click over there and check it out after I’m done talking your ear off about all things Jacob. (To the mix of voices, I would also add our own Ken Tucker, who deemed “Across The Sea” a “stinker.”) One of the more contentious reviews I read came from Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune. She was troubled by the depiction of Mother and how Lost in her view has become “the epic, heroic or anti-heroic journeys of a bunch of white men.” As a white, anti-heroic man myself, I can’t quite relate to her critique — which I confess might be something of a problem on my part. Regardless, Maureen is a smart critic and has been a fan of Lost and her review is a credible, challenging (in a good way) read.

My favorite essay about “Across The Sea” was written by McNutt himself. His piece discusses the pros and cons of the episode’s use of metaphor, and I hope you’ll believe me when I say it’s not as dry as my too-succinct summary makes it sound. It’s a valuable read for Lost fans because it helps give you eyes to see the important ideas in the story while fairly questioning whether the episode worked as drama.

In my recap of “Across The Sea,” I theorized that the Mother/Jacob/MIB drama created a mythic template (or followed and reinforced an existing template) for subsequent Island stories. In the same way many Christians believe the actions of Adam and Eve created a condition called original sin that affects all of mankind, Jacob’s early life trauma cursed the Island and affects those who come to it in various ways. The recurring motifs of mad mothers (Rousseau, Claire), Island birthright rivalry (Widmore vs. Ben, Ben vs. Locke), the conflicts between determinism vs. free will and faith vs. reason (Locke vs. Jack) and more — they can infect and take possession of Island visitors, especially ones already vulnerable to these themes. The Sickness that claimed Rousseau? Maybe it wasn’t a disease — maybe it was a story. The Island, then, is akin to The Overlook Hotel of The Shining, whose caretakers and guests risk becoming actors in a demonic play that haunts the environs.

[The following paragraph includes references to the upcoming episode of Lost. Though I don’t describe any plot points, I should give you a SPOILER WARNING, anyway.]

Some people might not like this theory because it would seem to deny the castaways self-determinism. Of course, that’s part of the curse, too, isn’t it? Mother warped her children into aspects of herself. And she all but forced Jacob into role of Island guardian, telling him, “You don’t really have a choice.” For now, I would ask you to set this reservation aside … and wait for Tuesday’s episode; having seen “What They Died For,” I can report that it includes revelations that shade the whole issue of free will in Lost.

[End Spoiler Warning.]

In a recent interview with critic Alan Sepinwall, Lost exec producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof acknowledged that the history of Jacob’s tenure as Island protector has been marked by repeating cycles of the same story. Noting that there is a link between The Purge (in which Ben and The Others wiped out The Dharma Initiative) and Mother’s slaughter of The Man In Black’s well-digging castaway people (the ancient Roman predecessors to Rousseau and her men-of-science friends), Lindelof explained: “There is a repeating vicious cycle that seems to happen on this island, where people come to the Island, they try to figure out what makes the Island work, and the closer they [come] leads them to their own inevitable demise…. The more curious you become about why the Island has its properties, inevitably the protector of the Island feels the need to engage in some form of mass genocide. It was more our attempt to say that history repeats itself, and this is an ongoing and continuing motif.”

If history is stuck in a rut of corruption and catastrophe, can it be unstuck? Can the vicious cycle be broken? Can the hopeless myth of damnation be replaced with a new, better myth? I would like to suggest that these questions represent the Great Work that Jacob has been pursuing over the past couple thousand years. And after much trial and error, and after a few failed approaches, Jacob has found a way to do it — though it will be up to the castaways themselves, and perhaps one castaway in particular, to actually finish his Island redemption project.

Before we get to the present, let’s review the past — specifically the trajectory of change in Jacob’s life. Jacob’s traumatic early years may be emblazoned on the Island’s soul, but his life story didn’t end with his reluctant choice to become Island guardian. Nor did it end with his choice to punish his brother for murdering their mother by tossing him down the Holy Wormhole and turning him into a smoke monster. Over time, Jacob evolved from hapless Momma’s Boy into his own man with a distinctly different worldview from Mother and his own approach to Island management. He rejected his mother’s cynical view of mankind as hopelessly corrupt. Instead, Jacob chose to see mankind as being capable of redemption. He also rejected Mother’s isolationism. Instead, Jacob began bringing people to the Island, presumably via some kind of psychic summoning. And at some point, he even began to journey out into the world and personally recruit people to the Island via his Global Touching Tours. I have to think this was a pretty ballsy thing to do for an eternal man-child who was raised to believe that nothing existed beyond the Island. What do you think he thought of the world of men? I’d like to think he thought: Mother, you were wrong about the world. This is not a place to run away from. This is a place that must be engaged and enjoyed. Yes, it is also a place of suffering and evil — which is why it is also a place that must be redeemed. Besides, the Apollo Candy Bars rock my socks off! (Or they would if I wore socks.)

In “Ab Aeterno,” we learned that Jacob began bringing people to the Island to prove mankind’s goodness to his brother, who had adopted Mother’s cynical worldview. It was through this project, I think, that Jacob hoped to break the mythic cycle of damnation set forth who knows how long ago. I propose that the life story of the Island’s guardian becomes imprinted on the Island. Ergo, I think Jacob has spent most of his life trying to cultivate his replacement as Island protector, someone whose life story that was better than his own and could make for an inspiring and corrective new myth for the Island. I think Jacob has tried a few different approaches to creating a new model Island guardian. The first was pretty naïve. Jacob seemed to think that the broken people and damaged souls who came to the Island would embrace the opportunity of a fresh start and naturally blossom into the super-Buddha he was looking for. And why not? As Jacob told Richard, the Island is a place where “the past doesn’t matter.” But what he realized is that people have a really hard time letting go of the past. I might also argue that people shouldn’t let go of the past; at the very least, we can’t let it rule us, but we do need it to learn from it.

Richard Alpert also exposed another flaw in Jacob’s thinking. People need rules. People need to be told what’s right, what’s wrong, what to do, what not to do. Jacob didn’t like that idea. He didn’t want to tell people what to do because he felt doing so would undermine their free will and cheapen their accomplishment. Still, Jacob saw Richard’s point and came up with a compromise solution: He would use an intermediary that would help people glean his will and coach them on right and wrong. Jacob offered Richard the job. Richard accepted.

But Jacob and Richard quickly realized that this approach was also flawed. People need rules … but they don’t really like following them. There are many reasons why. For starters, we all like to think we’re “special.” Rules are all fine and dandy… that is, until they start limiting our self-interest. Then, suddenly, the rules become grossly unfair. There’s also the cold hard fact that to some degree, Mother and MIB are correct: People are at least kinda corrupt. Ambition and greed are real. We want what we want, and we always want more.

Case in point: The Dharma Initiative. Dharma came to the Island with a seemingly spiritual orientation. They rejected the values of the world and wanted a place where they could live out their idealism of peace, love and harmony. Jacob must have been impressed that they identified themselves with the word Dharma, which embodies the ideas of law, rule following and reverence. But I wonder if he was also impressed by the whole “Namaste” business. “Namaste” generally translates into “I bow to you,” but more specifically, it refers to the idea that an aspect of the divine lives in all of us. Indeed, one translation of Namaste is “The light in me sees the light in you.” Another: “The divine in me acknowledges the divine in you and acknowledges that we are the same.” Now, what did Mother tell her sons about the spiritual light underneath the Island? “A little bit of this light is inside every man.” What did she tell Jacob when she consecrated him as Island protector? “Now you and I are the same.” I think Jacob looked at these Dharma folks and thought: These could be my chosen people! Mother would certainly approve! I don’t think he was ever blind to Dharma’s scientific interests and pursuits. To be clear, I don’t think Jacob is or has ever been anti-science. Yes, he is a “man of faith.” But just as Jacob only ever wanted a healthy, respectful relationship with his “Man of Science” brother, I think he has aspired to a healthy, respectful relationship between faith and reason. Jacob may have hoped that The Dharma Initiative could embody the integration and reconciliation of these two modalities. He had Richard Alpert negotiate a treaty with Dharma and gave them rules to follow. He hoped that the Dharma tribe would live according to their ideals and mature into a spiritually vibrant people—and that from their ranks, one special soul would emerge and prove worthy of becoming the Island messiah he was seeking.

And how did all that turn out? Not so well. As I’ve stated earlier, I do think The Dharma Initiative coughed up a viable candidate, someone who still may prove to be the Island’s next protector: Benjamin Linus. But Ben would require many more years of refinement, and in fact, the project is still an ongoing concern. And Dharma itself was a bust, failing to become “The Chosen People” Jacob hoped they would become. Elements within The Dharma Initiative harbored ulterior motives that involved exploiting the Island in ways that violated the natural order of things, from circumventing the process of life, death and rebirth to subverting free will for the sake of facilitating global peace. (For further intel on Dharma’s true intentions, especially in that latter area, check out Lostpedia’s summary of The Valenzetti Equation.) And so, when Dharma broke the rules of the treaty (Radzinsky’s Black Swan drilling team was probably the ultimate no-no), The Others went to war with Dharma, a conflict that ended with The Purge. Perhaps the Others were acting on orders from Jacob. Perhaps they assumed it was what Jacob would want and acted according to their interpretation of his will. Or perhaps this is an example of the Mother/Jacob/MIB myth exerting itself. Regardless: Bye-bye Dharma.

I think that in the wake of the Dharma catastrophe, Jacob realized he needed a new approach to cultivating The Candidate of his dreams, whether that meant bringing new potential candidates to The Island or using these people to further refine Benjamin Linus. I also think he realized that he would need to become a little more involved in order to finish the work. Enter: The New Testament strategy of Island salvation. It is built around the theme of sacrifice. In the end, human goodness is proven by a willingness to lay aside self-interest and lay down your life so others may live or flourish. Perhaps Jacob hoped his latest batch of would-be mythic heroes, the Oceanic 815 castaways, would figure this out on their own. Jack at least got the ideology correct when he preached the gospel of “Live together, die alone,” even if at the time he was speaking more of castaways’ physical survival than spiritual flourishing. But ultimately, Jacob had to show them what true sacrifice looked like. We’ve been wondering since last season why Jacob all but walked into Ben’s knife. After all, we saw in “Ab Aeterno” that Jacob can easily fend off a knife-wielding assassin. So I think Jacob wanted to die. Not like Mother wanted to die — not in a “put me out of my misery” kind of way. I think he wanted to accomplish something, in the way that Christ accomplished something by submitting to death on the cross. (Yes, I know what Miles said; I know he told Ben that until his last moment, Jacob had hoped that Ben wouldn’t kill him. But I argue that Jacob was hoping Ben would do the right thing for Ben’s sake, not his own.)

But what did Jacob accomplish with his death? After all, it was only witnessed by the two men who participated in his murder: Fake Locke the conspirator and Ben the weapon. But perhaps Jacob’s impact can be measured by the changes we’ve seen in people’s lives. Specifically, the lives of the people he touched. Ben (whom Jacob touched prior to dying; go back and look, it happened) has experienced a profound movement in his heart — a humbling that he has embraced; he seems to moving toward redemption. Sayid succumbed to darkness — but rallied and moved toward the light, sacrificing his life so his friends may live. Jin also died heroically; his love for his wife was stronger than his attachment to life and he went willingly into eternity. I think all the candidates are symbiotically linked via the soul. How? Jacob. When Jacob touched the castaways, he spiritually connected all of them to each other — and to him — creating a circuit of souls. They are now literally vested in each other’s redemption struggles. They share in the strength that’s gained from their victories and they share in the pain that’s suffered from their losses. Jacob’s sacrifice has set off a chain reaction of sacrifice/redemption moments throughout this network of touched souls. I suspect there will be more sacrifice/redemption moments to come, and I wonder if the sum total of that energy will ultimately roll into the last candidate standing, and if that will make all the difference in the final battle with Fake Locke. More, I wonder if their success in overcoming their flaws — together — and finding redemption and new life — together — will create a new mythic story for the Island, finally breaking the cycle of cynicism and damnation that has haunted the Island for thousands of years.

I end with this — another quote from Lindelof, from a just-published interview with The New York Times. I found it as I was finishing this essay. “If there’s one word that we keep coming back to, it’s redemption. It is that idea of everybody has something to be redeemed for and the idea that that redemption doesn’t necessarily come from anywhere else other than internally. But in order to redeem yourself, you can only do it through a community. So the redemption theme started to kind of connect into “live together, die alone,” which is that these people were all lone wolves who were complete strangers on an aircraft, even the ones who were flying together like Sun and Jin. Then let’s bring them together and through their experiences together allow themselves to be redeemed. When the show is firing on all pistons, that’s the kind of storytelling that we’re doing. I think we’ve always said that the characters of Lost are deeply flawed, but when you look at their flashback stories, they’re all victims. … This idea of saying this bad thing happened to me and I’m a victim and it created some bad behavior and now I’m going to take responsibility for that and allow myself to be redeemed by community with other people, that seems to be the theme that we keep coming back to.”

One week from tonight: It all ends.

The countdown begins.

More on Tuesday.


Twitter: @ewdocjensen

Comments (324 total) Add your comment
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  • Bryan


    • lingin

      Like Lindelof and Cruise I’m a Stephen King fan and redemption is a big part of his books, particularly one of the Dark Tower novels which have been given subtitles of “Reproduction, Revelation, REDEMPTION, Resumption.” I’ve been interpreting LOST through the DT series (and “The Stand”)and I’ve been hoping that Ben would be redeemed.

      • Person Who Talks

        Have always been a huge fan of this show but Across the Sea is the episode that finally tested my faith. Please Darlton, don’t fail us!!!!!!!!

      • AL

        I’m starting to wonder if redemption will go back even farther – to MIB. Will he see the corruption in Widmore and finally realized that the island needs a protector. Would love it if MIB/smokey through Widmore down an electromagnetic well to prevent widmore from ‘putting out the light’ and save the day. Then MIB takes over as protector and Widmore wants to kill him badly…

      • Mike

        I think if you have finished the DT series you have a good idea of how LOST will end…. all you KING fans know what i mean

      • matt

        I couldn’t agree more. Like the DT, Lost is a story that repeats itself. Ka is a wheel. I’m telling you, Lost will end in the same vein the DT ended.

      • Andy

        I have for a long time felt that LOST is another telling of the Dark Tower. This season has really stoked these fires and I’m curious to see the resolution of the sideways world… is it just another level of the Tower?

      • bill skar

        I wonder if, like the dark tower series, LOST will start over from the begining again at the end.

      • C Men

        No! Why would they do that? People have been comparing it to DT for years and I have to think that even if that was their original plan they would have changed it by now. They can’t settle for just rehashing the DT.

      • Annie

        i don’t know if LOST will end like DT. i DO know that like SK, D/C created characters that we are all fully invested in. i’m gonna sound trite when i say this, but like most of the literature LOST is being compared to…..LOST is a new medium of exactly what JRR, CSLewis, SK, JKRowling, just to name the more popular, were trying to do. MAKE US THINK…..and oh yea…..one person CAN make a difference, sacrifice yourself for others, forgiveness, what war does to you and your comrades….these themes are expressions of emotions of normal people in extra ordinary circumstances…..look at this message board…..look at what LOST has done….people thinking about greater ideals than themselves…..it is the journey…not the destination

      • R.O.B.

        [spoiler alert on Dark Tower ending]

        I’m with the folks that vote NO on the Dark Tower ending. If there’s one thing about SK books – the endings are often weak or disappointing. He even went so far as to pre-emptively “apologize” for the ending right before the ending!

        That said – Doc is making a lot of sense here, and it seems that each group of castaways (or the Island as Gunslinger) is already getting its Dark Tower ending with the story repeating itself over and over. Perhaps now the Island will get a different, less frustrating ending. In a nutshell – what the Gunslinger’s ending would be after the never ending “spell” was broken.

      • Sean

        There’s definitely a sense in DT that the ones who realize the true value in life (love, relationships, etc.) can put aside their striving and find happiness (even if it is in a sideways world). It almost seems like the Kwons, Sayid, Charlie, etc. are all bowing out of their island world to exist in the sideways world where there will always be shades of the original. End of the show: only Locke is left on the island, the rest are happy in sideways world, and a plane tears apart in the sky, crashing onto the island.

      • gilk

        DT is the best epic story ever written in my opinion and i agree with you. ka is a wheel a yup

    • Sebastian

      Doc’s theory is nonsense. How could Jacob be the one to bring in the Dharma initiative and then punish them when we learned that it was MIB that was cultivating Ben and then Locke from the very start as the main pawns in his complex con to kill Jacob.

      • Rams

        Doc’s theory makes a lot of sense. What makes you think MIB was cultivating Ben as a pawn from the beginning. I believe Ben really saw his mother’s ghost as a kid. Smokey hadn;t scanned him and his mother’s body was not on the Island. Besides, both Jacob and MIB could very well use the same person for their own purposes.

      • Skeeter

        Ben’s mom was inside the sonic fence–I think that creates an inference that it wasn’t Smokey.

    • sheri

      I have said that all along, I have just re-read the DT series and have seen many things that are in LOST. I said back in season 2 the series would end just like the Dark Tower, and I am sticking to it.

      • terryp33

        Like you, I’ve thought for years that the series would end similarly to The Dark Tower series, with Jack, like Roland, coming full circle at the end and beginning all over again with subtle changes because of his experiences on his “quest.” At the end of DT, I believed that this was the only way it could have ended, and as Lost progressed through the seasons, I saw much to support my view that the show would end this way too. Although I still do believe this to a certain extent, and if the series were to end this way, I would be satisfied, but I also think that this type of end would be a rip-off- or at least the writers believe that it would be, and I’m sure they don’t ever want to be regarded when all is said and done as derivative. As this season wound down, I started to think that Lost is going to have its own end- and a thoroughly original & unexpected one. I have a feeling we’re going to wake up on May 24 saying “who could have ever predicted…?”

      • Kate

        Lord, I hope not. That ending stank. It’s the reason I don’t read King anymore – I lost all faith in him with the series of deus ex machina that was the final Dark Tower book.

        The ending of the DT was a ripoff of the ending of ‘The Worm Ouroboros’ anyway, and I HOPE Carlton and Damon have their own ideas. If they rip off the DT, I, for one, will feel totally punked.

        But I don’t think they will. They’ve proven themselves as able writers and creators before now.

      • Xicon

        The Dark Tower ended perfectly. To end it any other way would be wrong. Ka is a wheel, and all things are governed by ka.

        Besides, even if we are going to be dissatisfied with the ending, it’s our own fault anyway. King told us not to deny Roland his Tower, not to deny Frodo his Grey Havens, yet we did. We had to see.

      • Gusteaux

        I read the entire Dark Tower series last summer and had the ending spoiled about halfway through by a comment on a Lost blog site. That said, I was prepared for the ending and it seemed to work in the context of the Dark Tower. I don’t knwo what my reaction would have been if I had read the ending unspoiled. I certainly don’t think that (loop) ending will/would work for Lost.

    • Alley Cat

      Jacob seemed to have a special connection with Ilana, do you think there is a chance she was related to his real mother? they seemd to resemble each other, at least in nationality? Maybe that is why there is such a connection?

      • Daytonville

        Wow. That’s a cool connection. I think that is very possible.


      • Barry

        Would make a lot of sense why he chose her to protect the candidates. Also a resemblance to Richard’s wife.

      • C Men

        Who cares?

      • B-ri

        Like the idea, but really, I don’t see a resemblance except for having wavy brown hair… and who doesn’t on this show?? Maybe Kate, Hurley, and Sayid are all long lost siblings. Bah

        Not to mention obviously Allison Janney is caucasian and Zuleikha R. I believe is at least half Indian.

      • Steph

        Allison Janney is not his real mother. Not agreeing or disagreeing with the theory, just pointed that out.

      • B-ri

        yeah, read that wrong. durr.

  • Growler

    Interesting column Doc. Perhaps the best this season. It seems like *you* think the “answer” will be Jack. Certainly could be (on Lost the obvious is correct more often than not!).
    I envision the last scene of the finale: the sunk island somehow raises from the water, and SOMEONE walks out of that cave of light….
    We’ll see…….

    • Stephanie

      Yes, I appreciate the clarity & cohesiveness of this column, and I am glad that you have come to this point.

      • Michelle

        I think it’s partly because instead of telling us to go read something then spending 3 pages explaining it, he just put the links in. I like it much better

      • YES GIRL

        Completely agree! And what’s more, the whole article is on one page – none of that flipping through 11 pages crap. LOVE it!

      • LIGrrl

        Exactly what I was thinking. Terrific column, Doc. Very informative and helps me with a problem I’ve been having — while I’m intrigued by Jacob’s story, I was frustrated that it didn’t really have much to do with the 5 seasons that preceeded it. Now I can see the connection. Of course, we still don’t REALLY understand the Sideways world in relation to the Island yet.

    • kate

      LOVE this senario…rebirth, purification through water etc, etc. Would be very happy with this except,LOL, who the HELL is going to walk out of that cave of light ;)

    • Madd

      I’ve also been thinking Jack is the “answer”.

      • AlexG

        What about Kate? Why is Kate still around if she is not a candidate? Jacob recruited her since she was a kid. He wanted her to be there. Can she be a surprisingly key piece?

      • ICE

        Ben is the answer! He was switched at birth with LOCKE. He is Ben Locke…which means he is a hidden canidate! A friend gave me the scenario and I went back and the peices are all there. Look at their fathers, they have the similar personalites of the opposite son. Plus, when Ben was born he was taken away from his mother and when Locke was born his mother didn’t want to see him(or she stormed out..forgot). Also, Richard was sent back to speak to LOCKE but said he was not the “one”…bec he had the wrong kid! Just saying

      • wordgames

        I’m thinking Kate, too. She is the one person whose actions defy the cycle of the island’s violence. She assisted in Aaron’s birth, but did not keep Aaron (or kill his mother); and her second redemptive action may be that she will finally show Jack how to let go—by becoming the candidate so he can move on into his sideways life.

      • Found

        Kate ended up taking Claire’s baby, not by force mind you, but she still raised him. She was not supposed to raise Aaron.

    • laura g

      great writing, Doc Jensen! Kudos!

    • Person Who Talks

      This is the episode where my faith in Carlton and in this show has finally wavered. So all the characters that we’ve come to know and love don’t have some great, redemptive destiny, they’re simply part of a bratty feud between two brothers and the only thing special about the island is a light? Why do I get the dreadful feeling that all the time that I’ve devoted to this show over six years have been a waste?

      • neoloki

        I guess you didn’t really read the article did you. The whole series has been about redemption, faith, responsibility and the characters abilities to come to terms with this and fine some kind of resolution for themselves. Jacob has just been a facilitator for this and not the end game.
        Maybe you should change your name to Person Who Thinks and take your time with the big picutre before you come to an immature conclusion.

  • Eric

    Ugh. Maureen Ryan has got to be one of the worst professional television bloggers in the business. Lost is constantly portraying its men as incredibly flawed – it makes a point of critiquing Jack’s and Jin’s view of women as equal partners in action, it’s chock full of horrible father figures – but one crazy mother figure and the show is suddenly misogynist and, somehow, racist? She’s one of the few pro-bloggers to write (and fawn) about Supernatural, a show that offers virtually no prominent, lasting heroic females or non-whites.

    • Josh

      Ah, but Supernatural has pretty 20-something boys. Clearly she can give it a pass for that. (That coming from someone who actually does enjoy that show).

      In other words, I agree 100%.

      • C Men

        Why does anyone even care what she thinks? She’s a woman.

    • erin

      Sorry, dude. She does have at least a small point.
      How many important female characters are there vs. important male characters? How many female characters have been bat-sh*t crazy(as opposed to merely “flawed”)? How many non-white characters have been killed off/ignored?
      I love Lost as much as the next person. It’s one of the best-written, best-acted shows on TV, ever.
      I just wish that when it comes to the long-term primary narrative, it wasn’t such an albino sausage-fest.

      • Eric

        You know what, babe, I concede – or at least I’ll meet you in the middle. I think the show could have written more involved parts for its female and non-white characters – but that’s indicative of hollywood in general. I think the show is at fault for not being more progressive in those area, but I don’t think the show can be criticized as willfully marring female characters or ignoring non-white ones. Every character, male or female, has been portrayed as crazy when left alone for a long period of time (from paranoid Desmond to perverted Jacob to psychotically evil Man in Black.) And while I would have liked more scenes than were given, few shows have given such defined, non-stereotyping roles to its non-white characters from Jin and Sun, to Michael and Walt, to Sayid.

      • Cat

        multicultural representation still going on. non-white still on show: Jin and Sun(Korean) & Sayid(Iraqi)(sideways, but still there) Hurley(Hispanic), Richard(Spanish), Desmond and Claire are both Australian, Miles(Chinese). So it’s not a non-white issue, it’s the lack of black representation that she has an issue with.

      • Deb

        I think I read somewhere that the original plan for Jack to die during the pilot episode and Kate become the new leader? It was the CBS executes that nixed the idea, not Damon and Carlton.

      • C Men

        Desmond isn’t Australian but even if he were what’s that got to do with anything? He and Claire are still white.

      • Tommaayy!!

        CBS?!? YOU are living in a Sideways world, aren’t you?

      • michael/eko

        Michael and Eko were both black and were prominent characters; I’m seem to recall that one if not both of them had to be killed off because the actors themselves had conflicts.

    • Joe

      Everyone’s entitled to their opinions. Maureen has a strong point. Every minority on Lost is dead. That is a fact (Except for Walt, who I’m assuming we will never see again). That’s not the racial slur racist but, it’s odd that the ones that are left standing at this current moment are all the white characters. I’m a HUGE FAN of LOST and I’ve been reading blogs, tweet, etc. all over the web. It’s interesting because most people did not like “Across the Sea” but, Doc Jensen keeps dismissing this as if we don’t know something that he does. I’m a faithful follower of LOST but, man, it’s almost over and it kind of sucks that mysteries of the show are not being answered but, almost ignored because the producers think the show is about the characters (which it is) BUT, it’s also about the mysteries and the mythology.

      • Michael

        Maureen is typical of newspaper writers-undereducated and overly-emphasized. Clearly, white males have never done anything useful for the world, right?

      • mrs alpert

        Every minority is dead…you mind s’plaining Hugo, Miles, & Richard? Oh sorry, maybe Hispanics & Asians aren’t “minority enough” for you?

      • lingin

        Read the NY Times interview with Lindelof and Cuse and you’ll see that Mr. Eko was supposed to be a huge part of this endgame. The actor wanted off the show and Ben Linus ended up becoming a central player because Michael Emerson was already cast for 3 episodes and was doing a terrific job.

      • Giggles

        Not really, Joe. Alpert and Hurley are both Latino, don’t forget. Ken Leung is Asian-American (sorry that I don’t know his exact background). Its not exactly an EEOC-fest, but there’s still a few minority characters wandering around. Dharma never really appeared to be very minority-friendly; the Losties have slowly lost most of their minority members, with Hurley being the last minority, and Alpert and Miles being the newcomers to their “group”. Just because Sayid, Jin and Sun died – three characters whose deaths would have the biggest emotional impacts – doesn’t mean they were killed because they were not white. I don’t think its time to start writing to the ACLU just yet.

      • spk2629

        thanks, Joe. We are a bit flummoxed with the snow job we keep getting about the new questioning of Lost and the lame backstory of the island. I sweaar, I have been on every site and it is funny because there is usually a lovefest for all things lost where every epi gets no lower than a B+, even Kate’s snoozer. Yet when a decent sized portion speaks up and asks who moved our Lost cheese, we get scoffed at, ridiculed, and the general “Rousseau Treatment” from other fans that lapped it up. Doc hasn’t addressed it, and I have to ask if he hasn’t been drinking the darlton kool-aid while he hob-knobs w/ the intelligentsia that is Lost and its writers. I am so tired of hearing that “one answer leads to more questions”—-yeah, it does when you don’t answer or tap-dance around and pick up the island story after it’s been chugging along for ??? how many milennia. We weren’t asking for much, just a compass point to make the rest of the “mysteries” fall in to place, since they refuse to address those as well. Convenient to claim character after trotting out soooooooooooooooo many oddities, mysteries, and non-sequitors, only to now say, “Mehhh, it isn’t important to our characters.”— No, d-bags, it is important to your loyal fans that watched the show for the mysteries’ answers. thanks…

      • Natalie M

        Smoke Monsters are minorities last time I checked.

      • watched17times

        They added in the mysteries so that the island wouldn’t be boring. It is about the characters. If you become invested in the characters, then you enjoy the show. Ultimately you would want to see what happens to them in the end. They have already said that spending a season trying to answer questions would suck. They have answers but no way to tell the stories that don’t seem contrived and pointless. I don’t think you would want them to spend an entire episode showing the story of why….? It always leads to another question of why…? And when they did spend an episode doing just that..(Across the Sea) everyone crucified them and criticized it to the bone. Cut them some slack. They have answered some very important questions. (the numbers, where did Jacob and MIB come from, what is the smoke monster, why can’t they kill each other, where did the donkey wheel come from, why doesn’t Richard age, how did he bring people to the island, why did he bring people to the island, who is Adam and Eve, how did the others save Ben Linus, why was the Dharma Initiative there, etc.) There are many, many questions that have been answered. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see a list of questions that people still want to know the answers to. Why must you know EVERYTHING? Can’t some of it remain a mystery? There are mysteries in our world that we will never find the answers to. That’s just life and it’s the style of the show. Can you imagine LOST ending with no mystery left over? Can you imagine knowing everything there is to know and have nothing left to ponder or theorize about? Who cares who was shooting from the outrigger? Who cares how Walt got his special powers to make things happen or appear in places? Why can Miles hear dead people? Why can Hurley see them? It’s just like people in real life that have special abilities. How come some people can create a computer chip while some cannot? It just is what it is. The whys are unimportant for so many of these questions. Most people probably wouldn’t even like the answers because they might be pretty boring. Just enjoy the ride and let’s see how it ends. I am dying! Only one more week! It’s bittersweet. We will finally have some closure, but we will be quite without our favorite show! :( I am thankful for the writers who brought this wonderful work of art into our lives. It was a lot of work keeping up with all of those stories and making them fit together. I applaud them!

      • Lane

        Not only there is still few minorities left ALIVE on the show (Miles, RIchard, Hugo), others still appear in the sideways.
        I can’t understand the cry. don’t you remember Dr. Candle, Anna Lucia, Eko. How about Desmond (half Puerto-Rican), Jin, Sayid, Sun.
        I also thing that women are portrayed as strong because they are not easily manipulated by men. Kate is a strong character, Juliette was also strong, as she did not end up with Jack, knowing Jack would prefer Kate, she also decided to get onto the submarine after Kate came back to the island in 1970s, showing that she prefers to go away than to be 2nd best (probably a wrong assumption) in Sawyer life. Charlotte said NO to Sawyer after he kicked her out of his appt. On this show women don’t allow their men to treat them badly.

      • Gusteaux

        Rose is alive. Miles is alive. Walt is alive.

      • Gusteaux

        To WATCHED17TIMES:
        You asked for it, so here’s my list (with 3.5 hours of story left):
        1.Why is Walt “special? Why did the Others ask Michael if Walt had ever “appeared somewhere he shouldn’t be?”
        2.Why is Aaron Special? Why can’t he be “raised by another?”
        3.Why did Desmond have a vision of Claire and Aaron getting on a helicopter?
        4.Where is Christian Shepard’s body and why is it missing in both realities?
        5.Who made the food drops?
        6.When time-traveling Juliet fired a shot from the outrigger she was in at the outrigger chasing them, did she hit/kill anyone? If so, who?
        7.Why did Libby give Desmond the “Elizabeth”?
        8.Why can’t women carry to term on the island?
        9.How did Hugo get the nickname,‘Hurley’?

      • ICEMAN

        Desmond is Irish or Scottish

      • Snortwood

        Gustaux asked,
        > 8.Why can’t women carry to term on the island?
        That’s part of the current (Jacob) guardian’s myth. Woman gives birth, dies. His mother gave birth to him and his brother and, thunk thunk, thwack! Died. So, during Jacob’s tenure, motherhood means death to mothers.

      • B-ri

        Gustaux (2 posts up), I’m with you on #2,#3(ish), #4, and #8. The rest…read on if you like:

        #2: they clearly have at some ‘splaining about Aaron, though I can’t for the life of me figure out how they could work that into the current storyline, but there is time to do it.
        #3: This is an interesting one. I assumed all along that we just hadn’t seen Claire and Aaron get on the chopper YET. but Aaron wasn’t brought back, so wth? I think it’s safe to assume that Des’s vision would have been realized but for the fact that MIB/Christian intervened by taking Claire and separating her from Aaron. We’ve seen time and again that Jacob and MIB can make moves that affect castaway’s actions and thereby change the outcome of future events. (Btw, why Claire? MIB knew she would be most susceptible to “claiming” do to her being distraught over losing Aaron, and comforted by the company of her father she never knew. He probably also knew that those who left he Island would be more likely to return to rescue a sympathetic figure like Claire.)
        #4: I sure would like to see Christian Shephard in the flesh (or ghost, rather) one more time b4 the series end. If not for his missing body in the Sideways world, I’d say the book was closed on him, but since they introduced that in the premiere, I’m hoping we still get a little more.
        #8: IMHO – there is no way this can be fully explained simply because Claudia got whacked after delivering Jacob & MIB. What about Ethan? And why would the curse only be limited to Ma’s who conceive on Island? Why would Jacob be so cruel to Mother’s in the first place? He loved his mother. You know who didn’t?? I think it has yet to be revealed that the curse is Smokey’s doing in an effort to eliminate or discourage reproducing new “candidates” from being born on the Island. Not related to his own mother’s demise.

        Ok, but….

        #1: I’m begging everyone for their own good to please let go of Walt. I want to see it as much as you do, but that storyline was put to bed at least 2 seasons ago for reasons decided by the producers, and ya’ll just have to deal with it. Anyone posting on here “what about Walt” I have sympathy for you but enough is enough. Grieve and move on.
        #5: Who cares? Maybe it was some remnant of dharma, or Widmore, or Ellie, or Jacob magicly conjured them to feed his people. Pretty insignificant detail in my book.
        6) Really? Yeah yeah, who’s in the other boat? I actually think they’ll answer that one for us in the finale, but whatever, it’s just one of those looping story arcs they threw in there just so they could close it up later on and be all “see we knew where this was going.” Not super impressed.
        7) How is this significant? Even in the highly unlikely event it is revealed that some outside influence guided Libby to give Des the boat, big deal. We know many of the characters have been influenced and prodded towards there “destined” purposed.
        9. AHHHHHH!!! Please tell me this is a joke. It’s not that I have a problem with curiosity, I just though this was a “need to know b4 the series ends” list. How about, what’s up with Hugo’s connection to the Numbers? Did Jacob win the lottery for him? That would be weird, since Jacob doesnt visit/touch Hugo until right before Ajira 316. Who originally broadcast the Numbers radio signal from the Island, especially back when there were still plenty more candidates in the running besides our big 6. They were also being broadcast long b4 the swan hatch had it’s serial number or it was the code for pushing the button. Why do we hear the numbers in 2007 when Lapidus is crash landing Ajira 316? Btw, it sure sounds like Hugo’s voice to me.

        Lots of thoughts. Thanks for letting me kill some time at work.

      • Big Walt

        1.They’ll never answer the why was Walt special question. I think we’re just supposed to accept that he was and the others wanted to use him then realized they couldn’t. End of story.
        2.I don’t know that we’ve ever really been told Aaron is special. Aside from the bogus psychic who’s said he’s anything special?
        3.Desmond had lots of visions that didn’t come true. He saw Charlie get killed like three times before he actually did.
        4.No idea on this one.
        5.Don’t know don’t really care. Maybe they were dropped in the ’70s but didn’t land until the 2000’s because of the Island’s properties.
        6.I’d like to know too but the producers said we weren’t getting that answer so don’t hold your breath.
        7.No idea.
        8.No idea.
        9.No idea.

    • Anne

      whoa. whoa. whoa. Back the truck up. 1 crazy mother? I count at least 4. You’ve got Emily Locke, Claire, Rousseau, AND this latest addition. Now, I don’t think overt racism or sexism is at play, but that fact that the three candidates left are white men and the only woman still breathing is currently rather irrelevant leads me to think that Maureen has a valid point. Especially when combined with this trend of female insanity. I’ve been one of Maureen’s regular readers for a while now and this is the only case of sexism-calling I personally can remember from her. And she wasn’t exactly calling for the writers’ heads or anything. So maybe we’re taking our resentment a little too far. Wouldn’t you say?

      • mrs alpert

        Frankly, I’d actually prefer if Kate had died along with the other females…and PS, Claire’s still ALIVE!!!!

      • Anne

        My apologies. I forgot about whackjob mother #2.

      • Eric

        Hurley – crazy. Leonard Sims – crazy. Ben – completely warped. Desmond – crazytown after only three short years (eventually gained his sanity, but another year or two, who knows.) Charlie went as nuts in season two – from weird dreams no less. I hate the argument that if a women is not written as completely level headed, it’s sexist. That was a stupid stereotype back in the dark ages, but to pretend now that a woman can’t ever lose it, to be politically correct? The only sexist writing, in my opinion, was the way they forced poor Kate’s character into that love triangle.

      • LM

        I agree with mrs alpert – I don’t understand why Kate is still alive. She is boring and doesn’t really do anything. And I don’t buy the excuse that they keep her because she is hot. They killed off other hot women (Charlotte, Juliet, Sun, Ilana, etc.) on the show, and those women actually had personalities. Maybe we’ll understand the reason when the show ends, but for now it doesn’t make sense.

      • Anne

        Ok. Was Hurley ever really crazy? If he ACTUALLY sees dead people, is that crazy? More importantly, it’s a valued ability in his world, not a weakness. Ben, really? Evil? Possibly. Insane? Not exactly. Desmond, you have a slight point there, but only a slight one. Because the women, unlike the men, didn’t experience temporary insanity that their strength allowed them to overcome. No, they stayed more than a little nutty for life (admittedly Claire may break this trend). I am not saying that no male characters have ever had a screw loose and I’m not saying these male writers are only depicting women as lunatics, I’m just saying that the characters whose insanity has been persistent and most visable (not to mention debilitating) have been female and the men typically get to be the heroes. Being frustrated with this is not ridiculous. I’m not calling for a boycott of Lost or anything radical. I’m just saying that I see the trend too, so maybe it’s not all in one woman’s warped mind.

      • Ana

        Hurley was committed, not because he sees dead people, but because he had an imaginary “friend” that would talk him into doing crazy stuff. It was only after he left the island that he really began seeing dead people.
        Also Richard Alpert is a Spaniard. He’s not Latino.

      • Drew

        The actor that plays him is. Part Cuban

      • Marsaili

        No, Hurley was committed because he blamed himself for that porch falling apart and killing people and he became depressed—his mother committed him originally, and he let himself be committed after he got back because he was seeing dead people. As for this sexist to women thing—what a load of crap. Boring or not (which I don’t believe Kate is boring) Kate has been a major character since day one and she’s done heroic things as well as bad things. More men on the island are certifiable then women—Russo—she saw smokey take the people in her group, she saw her lover infected, she saw her baby stolen from her and she was stuck on this island without ONE friend living in constant fear of the others, DI and Smokey—yes, that would make one crazy! Claire—I’m supposing that something happened to her after the explosion of the house, maybe she died or came close to dying and got infected by a little smoke—she was also left for 3 years to fend for herself, having to protect herself from smokey, and the others—living in constant high stress situations (plus the fact that her baby was gone, as was Charlie whom she never had a chance to morn) would certainly make someone nuts. As for Emily Locke—she was a kid, her mother was a disconnected bitch—she was later said to be Schizophrenic—if Locke’s parents weren’t who they were he wouldn’t have been the person the island needed him to be.
        And the other mother—we don’t know if she was crazy—she was alone on the island, the protector, she didn’t trust men (something may have happened to her in her past)and she was wise enough to know that man would try and take the islands’ energy/magic/mysteries for themselves. Living alone can drive someone crazy. Killing Claudia was wrong but once again, it must have served a better purpose for the island—but it doesn’t mean that she was crazy to have done so—and as for the Roman castaways—we don’t know for sure who actually killed them, I have a hard time believing a middle-aged woman could wipe out a colony of people AND fill in a deep, huge well.
        And for those of you whiners who keep insisting all the minorities have been killed—WALT, RICHARD, HURLEY, MILES, JI YEON (sp?) are STILL alive—so shut up, all the minorities are not dead. Stop looking for racism, sexism, whatever ism and just watch the damn show!
        (this was written by a minority woman so I have every right to get pissy!)

      • watched17times

        @ LM What’s up with trash talking Kate? She is an exceptional actress and is very important to the show in my opinion. She is one of my favorite characters.

      • Mako

        When people come out and cry more about a show needing to be more PC… than serving the characters and story… I shake my head at the stupidity of the argument.

      • m

        i am with you mako.

      • NewJack42

        Actually, Hurley committed himself after a deck collapse at a party. He felt like his girth and bad luck had led to the event.

      • C Men

        Emily Locke wasn’t crazy.

      • Not Lost

        Emily Locke spent time in Santa Rosa….and I don’t think it was because she liked the food.

      • Not Lost

        Hurley was committed because he snapped over his weight. He crushed people on a deck.

  • Chase Dunnette

    Such an epic post. With only a week to go, seeing a write up that shows the grand scheme of things is very satisfying. Doc Jensen is my hero.

  • aby

    You have given me much more to think about then Across The Sea. I like how you break down Jacobs possible motivations and thought process. I am hopeful that once the finale has aired that I will better understand what they were trying to do with this episode, but for right now I am still not loving it. Not hating, like others, but definetly not loving the way I’ve loved every other episode this season.

    • mj

      I think a lot of viewers disliked “across the sea” because it was slow and dragged out. Also introducing more questions with little time to answer them.
      I must admit that initially I thought too many women were killed off leaving only a few left. Kate is the only female character who ia a leader so I wonder why she is so disliked.
      I agree that if Anna Lucia and Eko were still with us they would be two I would want covering my back.
      Eko’s strenght of body and spirituality would have fit into the final fight against evil. Oh well, water under the bridge.

  • Keith

    awesome analysis. probably the best doc jensen analysis i’ve read.

    and btw across the sea was incredibly awesome!

    • Snortwood

      i agree with Keith on the value of the episode. Assume for a moment that Across the Sea had aired, say, midway through the 5th season. We get the Jacob & Esau back-story; we capture the what Doc has noted, that the Island’s rules are determined by the current guardian; and that there is something hidden and worth preserving that makes the Island a special reservoir of meaning. No complaints about only a few more hours and I want my Ben-fix, or this is just creating more questions and not giving me answers.
      Stop whining, folks. This was, luminescent hokey moment aside, an excellent effort and worth delving into. And in re-watching the entire series, 1.1 thru 6.13 (?) it might be wise to re-slot Across the Sea into the 5.x zone, but that’s just my take.

  • Amanda

    Great post Doc, whether you loved this episode or hated it, it certainly gave the LOST community a lot to think on and that is what the show has done best made people think. It is so going to be missed.

  • prime time 2

    Lost has been one great ride, can’t believe it will all be over in one week :(

    • The Evil Marshall D

      It won’t ever be over. Trust me.

      • Barry

        Agree. Unless Darlton own the show (or JJ Abrams), the network can hire new writers (and cast) for TV or feature movies based on the characters.

  • jaj

    My daughter and I have gone back and forth this week with our opinions about what we think has and will happen. I have read numerous articles and many others views and in the end, I know as little in my beliefs, now as I have in the past. But I tell you what, it has been an enjoyable, mind-boggling, thought provoking, frustrating, ride that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I might not have processed all the information along the way, but sometimes I just sat back and enjoyed the ride without over-thinking the whole thing. That is what has made the show worthwhile for me. Now, I just hope for a satisfying ending. Oh, and I will continue to try and understand the details even after the show is over. It has been fun!

  • wildecat

    Beautiful and brilliant, Doc. I will so miss your ruminations when Lost comes to an end!

  • Eric

    Awesome article, though Doc. Lost will probably be my favorite show of all time, and you were a great shephard or sorts. Look forward to your next big project or whatever.

  • Eric Y

    Great article, Jeff!

  • Chet 4

    Awesome column Doc!!

  • SMS

    Great thoughts on redemption, thanks Doc. I did not care for Across the Sea and Jacob the mama’s boy. But I like the idea that his character progressed over the years.

    • erin

      Agreed. If he didn’t have some major progression in those years, then Lost is looking a lot like that one episode of Star Trek – you know, the one with the omipotent power that turns out to be nothing but a spoiled child.

      • MK

        The Squire of Gothos!

  • Rams

    Awesome post exploring Jacob’s motivations and possible end-game. For the first time, I may be starting to get reconciled to the idea that there will be a replacement for Jacob rather than destruction of the Island. Kudos!

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