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Across The Sea: Recap/Analysis by iscorehoop

Finally, the episode that I’ve personally anticipated almost this entire season—the episode that presents us with the origins and identities of Jacob and his counterpart. We also see the contextual origins of all the Egyptian influence we have seen throughout the island (the hieroglyphs we have seen in many different places on the island, the Egyptian statue, the Egyptian embroideries, etc…) And as I have anticipated for some time, we see that MIB is not the inherently evil character that we have been led to believe throughout the series and he was badly betrayed. We learn so much about so many different things and I will try to recap most of it here.

The first thing we learn is that Jacob and his counterpart are indeed brothers. Their mother arrived from across the sea and gave birth to them as twins, before being murdered. In the very first scene of the episode, the dialogue between Claudia and the woman reveals much information. First, we are offered a contextual and historical time period regarding the birth of Jacob and his brother and just how long they have been on the island. The woman is speaking Latin and throughout the episode we see that she is of the time of the Egyptian influence. Thus, Jacob and his brother were born on the island thousands of years ago.

Before giving birth, Claudia asks the woman where her people are and she answers that she is the only one of her people. Perhaps even more revealing, when Claudia asks how she got to the island, the woman responds by stating “the same way you got here, by accident.” Yet, it was no accident that either was on this island and this was clearly a disingenuous answer. And as Claudia begins to ask how long the woman had been on the island for, the woman interrupts by stating that every question she asks will just lead to another question—an interesting assertion by the Lost writers which underscores the interrelatedness and complexity of the island—such that every question can lead to a new question.

After giving birth to twins, Claudia is murdered by the woman and we next see the brothers several years later. The episode begins as we see Jacob’s brother by himself on the beach, looking out onto the water as he finds the game. As Jacob sits to play with him for the first time, Jacob is given the white pieces while his brother assumes the black pieces. When Jacob asks his brother how he knows how to play, his brother responds “I just do.” This is the first glimpse we see of Jacob’s brother being special and possessing some greater knowledge. He proves to be even more special and wise as the dialogue between the two progresses. Jacob’s brother wisely mistrusts their mother and makes Jacob promise not to tell her about the game for fear that she will take it. Interestingly enough, the game is a metaphor to the light on the island. Just as the woman conceals the existence of the island’s light to protect it, so too does Jacob’s brother conceal the existence of the game for fear that knowledge of its existence will cause it to be taken from him. This scene also provides the first contextual reference to the Egyptian influence on the island, as the game he found had similar hieroglyphs on it to those found around all over the island. We can assume that the brothers are children around this time period, which answers an important the important question of how long they have been on the island for—the answer being thousands of years.

As Jacob returns back to his mother, he tells her that his brother was looking out into the ocean, again. As we saw in the first scene, his brother looks out across the sea, almost looking for answers to the things that he seems to know are missing. Jacob lies to his mother about what they were doing and she replies by telling him that if he loves her then he will tell her what they were doing on the beach. From early on, we see Jacob under a strong influence and manipulation from the woman he believes to be his mother. He appears a much weaker character than his brother and unable to keep information from her. The scene also offers another reference to the Egyptian influences as we see the woman weaving a piece that was similar to the one Jacob has produced in The Incident. We see where Jacob learns this skill from and it is interesting to note that he is working on something learned from his “mother” just before he is killed under the statue by Benjamin thousands of years later.

In the next scene, we see the first exchange between Jacob’s brother and their “mother.” As she approaches Jacob’s brother who is again looking out across the sea, she asks “May I join you?” just as MIB asks Jacob in the season 5 finale, The Incident. Her asking if she may join him establishes an independence that he clearly has from her, as if he is aware on some level that she is not really his mother. He asks if Jacob told her about the game, to which she responds “Of course he did. Jacob can’t lie, he isn’t like you.” Again, this reiterates the weakness of Jacob’s character and the influence his mother had over him. Jacob was unable to lie to his mother and told her about the game that he had promised not to tell—the first betrayal of his brother. He responds by asking “How am I?” and she tells him “You’re special.” She has clearly established him as the special of the two brothers, as he has also established himself.

However, in an attempt to conceal the truth from him, she lies and tells him that she left the game for him. When she asks him where else it could come from, he responds by telling her from somewhere across the sea. She again lies and tells him that there is nothing across the sea and there is only the island. Despite all this, he is special and seems to have a premonition that there is more across the sea and more that she is not telling him. The betrayal continues as this woman lies and deceives the boys about things that are fundamental to human growth—the understanding of one’s origins, social interaction with others and the understanding of your home in context to everything else that is out there. He continues to question her about where he and his brother came from and where she came from, until she tells him that she came from her mother who is now dead—something that he would never have to worry about.

After the boys see other people on the island, Jacob leads them running back to report what they had seen to their mother. She tells them that they are there for a reason and tells them that they are dangerous. When Jacob asks what makes them dangerous, she repeats what we heard from MIB when sitting with Jacob on the beach looking out to the Black Rock, “They come, they fight, they destroy, they corrupt and it always ends the same.” Jacob’s brother asks why and she responds by stating that it is because they are people and that is what people do. She is speaking to what she believes to be the inherent evil nature of man—the opposite of what Jacob has come to believe in the time we have seen him. She goes on to tell them that she has made it so that they could never hurt each other.

This is the first time we hear this woman speak of anybody else on the island and it is interesting that she states the reason for their evil is because they are people. Besides the implication being that all people are evil, her statement also implies that she and the two boys are not people, but something different—perhaps something greater.

She takes them to the light of the island and tells them that it is the “island’s heart” and that they must make sure that nobody ever finds it. She tells that there is a little bit of this light in every man but that they always want more. Again, she is speaking to what she believes to be the inherent greed that rests among all men. We learn that she has been protecting the light but cannot forever and that one of the two brothers will have to become the next protector of the light.

As we see the brothers playing the game in the next scene, his brother tells him “You can’t do that, Jacob.” When he asks why, his brother tells him because it is against the rules and that one day Jacob can make up his own game and everybody will have to follow his rules. Well, as a matter of fact, Jacob does eventually make up his own rules, but not for a game—for the island. After being killed, we have seen Jacob’s body as a child often remind MIB that he must abide by “the rules.” As we have always seen Jacob as the special of the two brothers, it was very interesting to see as children that Jacob’s brother was the special one who just knew how to play the game and created the first set of rules for it.

And at just that moment, Jacob’s brother sees an image of his mother—an image that Jacob is unable to see. He is not afraid at all, but rather goes with her as he knows there are things he is not being told. When he asks her why Jacob could not see her, she tells him “Because I am dead.” Thus, the implication is that his brother is able to see dead people while Jacob is not. Again, we see that his brother, not Jacob is special.

She eventually tells him that he comes from across the sea and that there are many things across the sea. She tells him that she is his real mother and in the next scene we see him go back to get Jacob and leave. He was a loyal brother and came to rescue him but Jacob was too weak to accept the truth that his brother had presented to him. He had so much difficulty even hearing the truth, that he beat his brother—another sign of weakness and letting evil conquer him. Jacob’s brother strongly confronts the woman and boldly stands up to her, affirming that he knows she is not their mother and that she killed their real mother. He makes one final plea for Jacob to come with him, but Jacob appears weak and dependent upon this woman, too manipulated to go with his brother. She tells him that he will never be able to leave the island and he responds by saying it is not true and one day he will prove it. Though it is thousands of years back, we already see the table is set for him trying to get off the island as he knows this is not where he belongs.

In the next scene, Jacob has a very significant dialogue with his mother. She admits to killing his mother and tells him that she could not let him go back to those people and become one of them. She says that they are bad, very bad and she needed him to stay good. Again, she is referencing those “people” and humans in general and the implication is that Jacob and his brother are not one of them. Jacob goes on to ask her why she loves his brother more than him and she responds that she loves them in different ways. Again, contrary to what has been presented thus far, it is Jacob that had jealousy issues for his brother and his perception that she loved him more. And despite knowing that she had lied to him his whole life and that she killed his real mother, he is too still weak to leave her.

In the next scene, Jacob is about thirty years older and he is still with his fake mother while his brother is still with the other people. Jacob goes to visit him and they talk over their game. Jacob’s brother asks why he watches them and Jacob tells that he wants to know if his mother is right. This is significant as he is questioning what his “mother” has told him about all the people being evil and greedy. We know that many years later he will have eventually transitioned to the other end of the spectrum in believing that all people are inherently good and it seems as though this transition has begun. What is interesting is that it is Jacob’s brother who agrees with the mother and tells of how his people are greedy, manipulative and selfish—while it is Jacob who tells of how they do not seem so bad. Jacob seems to be moving away from the influence of his mother while his brother seems to be moving back towards the sentiment she had expressed. However, Jacob’s brother says he is with them because they are a means to an end, which is demonstrating his transition as well. He has transitioned towards believing that people are greedy and evil and simply using them as a means to an end. Using people as a means to an end has defined MIB’s character in recent years and we see him first planning to use these people to get off the island in this scene—something he would continue to do even thousands of years later.

Thirty years later, he is still asking Jacob to come with him, only this time it is off the island. At this point, he is still a caring and loyal brother and Jacob is still too weak to leave his mother and the island. And just as he had succumbed to his mother’s influence and betrayed his brother as a child, Jacob goes back to his mother and tells her of his plan to get off the island. She goes to stop him, knocks him out and kills all of his people—all of which Jacob enabled by telling her his brother’s plan. This scene was also significant as it shows the origin of the donkey wheel that was used to move the island. It makes sense that Jacob’s brother was the one to create this as he was the one who instructed Locke how to use it when he was in Christian’s body at the bottom of the well.

The woman rushes back to Jacob and takes him to the light that she took him to as a child with his brother. She makes him promise not to go down and tells him that if he did it would be much worse than dying. She offers him wine that represents the responsibility of protecting the light, perhaps the wine that would prevent him from aging, as this was the same wine that Jacob would later offer to Richard to prevent his aging. Jacob does not want to accept the responsibility, yet his mother insists it has to be him. He tells her “You wanted it to be him, but now I’m all you have.” She tells him that it was always supposed to be him and that one day he will see it. Once again, he succumbs to this woman and accepts the responsibility of protecting the light until the day he has to find his replacement. After he drinks the wine, she tells him “Now, you and I are the same.”
MIB returns to his camp to find it burned to the ground and all of his people killed. We see this event as the one that seemed to push him over the edge as he seems to be consumed with an evil look of revenge. At the same time, Jacob and his mother talk about a storm that is coming, again, hinting the possibility that MIB can affect or influence the weather, as many believe he did with the storm that crashed the Black Rock onto the island in Ab Aeterno.
As the woman returns to her camp, she finds the game and as she stares into the black piece that is synonymous with MIB, she is killed by him. She says that she could not let him leave because she loved him and she thanks him just before dying. Perhaps he has set her free or perhaps now Jacob can take over for her. Also interesting to note that he kills her with the dagger that we have seen in many episodes (the dagger Dogan offers to Desmond to kill MIB and the same dagger MIB offers to Richard to kill Jacob).
After he sees that his brother has killed their “mother”, Jacob beats his brother and throws him into the water that would lead him into the light—the very place that his mother told him was worse than death. We have now seen Jacob beat his brother twice and now murder him by throwing him into the light. And not only does he murder him, but he forces his own brother into a place that he was told was worth than death—all over a woman that had lied about being their mother and had murdered their true mother. At last, we see the climax of Jacob’s betrayal and just exactly how he stole his brother’s humanity. So, which brother really had the evil in them?

And in the final scene, we see something incredible. As Jacob buries his mother and brother with the black and white stones, we see a clip from House of the Rising Sun which shows Jack and Kate stumbling upon two skeletons with the black and white stone. First and foremost, this was interesting as we realize that the Adam and Eve skeletons that Kate and Jack had stumbled upon with the black and white game piece were the skeletons of Jacob’s brother and their adoptive mother as Jacob had buried them thousands of years ago.
However, what is most significant about the flashback clip was Locke’s arrival. Locke looked onto the skeletons and states “Our very own Adam and Eve.” The writers decided to put this clip into this episode many seasons later for the purpose of delivering a strong message—not just to show who the skeletons were that Jack and Kate had stumbled upon. Watching that clip with the knowledge we now have, it strongly seems that Locke knew who those skeletons were in that clip and was less than happy to see them. This would support an earlier theory that perhaps MIB was Locke since the very beginning. Perhaps Locke died in the plane crash and the rebirth we see in the pilot episode is not Locke who was able to regain use of his legs, but rather the rebirth of MIB into Locke’s body. Now, if we think back to the first season episode when Locke plays backgammon with Walt and holds up the white and dark game pieces and says “Two players, two sides, one is light and one is dark.” This had always been a very important scene as it represented the light versus dark theme in addition to the rules of backgammon being a definitive metaphor for the rules of the island. However, if we now consider the significance of the white and dark pieces and the flashback clip we have seen of Locke coming across Jake and Kate discovering the skeletons, I think that this scene can possibly affirm that it was indeed MIB in Locke’s body even in the first season, as he tells Walt about the two players, the two sides, one is light and one is dark. In this very episode, we saw the inception of the game; the two players and the two sides. Even more interesting, the scene with Locke and Walt ends with Locke asking Walt if he wants to know a secret just after he tells him about the light and dark piece. We do not learn just what secret he tells him, but we know that he obviously is hiding a secret. We also know that Walt and Locke develop a close bond and that Walt eventually appears as a dead apparition throughout the seasons. Perhaps this secret that Locke shared with Walt was an attempt to manipulate him to eventually use his body, as he had done with so many others. In any event, it is hard to watch this scene with Walt and Locke and argue that this is not MIB in Locke’s body at this point.

Overall, I think there are a few interesting things to ponder after this episode. First and foremost are the roles Jacob and MIB came to play in comparison with their roles at the time of this episode. In this episode, we see that Jacob has always followed and accepted what his mother has told him and he has agreed to protect the island. On the contrary, his brother does not accept anything that the mother says and he leaves Jacob and the mother altogether. What is interesting is that since that time, they have both come a full 180. Jacob now represents the opposite of what he believed at the time and he now represents the inherent good in all people. So much so, that it almost as if he is trying to prove his mother wrong. Instead of protecting the island from people, he is doing the exact opposite by bringing people to the island. He is doing this to try and prove her wrong and prove that people can come to the island and not necessarily corrupt and destroy how she had always said. On the other hand, Jacob’s brother has reverted back to the teachings of their mother and even repeats an exact quote from her that she told them as children when she told that all of mankind are evil and that they come, destroy and conquer. Today, they both represent the ideals that were antithetical to what they believed and represented in this episode.

It was also interesting to see that we did not learn the name of Jacob’s brother. At birth, Claudia was not prepared for a second baby and did not have a name prepared for him. And throughout the episode, Jacob only ever refers to him as “brother.” I don’t believe that we will ever find out his name and I think this is a strong allusion to the lack of identity or loss of identity he had his entire life—beginning as a child as he knew something was missing and concluding with the loss of his humanity as Jacob throws him into the light.
And finally, the most important thing to consider is just how badly Jacob’s brother was betrayed by Jacob and their mother. For starters, he was lied to for a good portion of his life about who his real mother was. Not only does he find out that the woman he thought was his mother was not actually, but that this woman killed his real mother. So what does he do? He goes to save his brother and join their people. And what does Jacob do? He betrays him once again by beating him up and refusing to go with him. And thirty years later when his brother once again has a way out, what does he do? He tries to save Jacob and begs for him to come with him—to which Jacob once again says no. But saying no is not enough. He has to betray him again by going back and telling their “mother” what his plan was to get off the island. And what does she do? She betrays him even further by knocking him out, thwarting his plan and killing all of his people. And yes, after all of this, he kills this woman—but what can we expect? She just destroyed his plan and killed all of his people. And how does the pure and good Jacob respond? By once again beating his brother and throwing him into the light—the place that this mother said was worse than death.
From this episode, we see that MIB was not at all an inherently evil character. He was special and wise as a boy and knew that something was missing. And when he found out what that was, all he ever tried to do was save himself and his brother. But Jacob was too blinded by his yearning for his mother’s love and too weak to accept the truth. Each time his brother tried to save him, Jacob went back and divulged all of the information. He continually betrayed his family for a woman that not only was not his true mother, but for a woman that murdered their true mother. All in all, Jacob’s brother was lied to about his mother, his real mother was murdered, he was betrayed by his brother several times, until he met his ultimate demise at the hands of his brother who punished him with something worse than death. And all this man ever wanted to do was get off the island—the island that he had been trapped on—the island that was never his true home—to find his true home. So now, we must ask, who really was the evil of the two brothers? In my opinion, Jacob was a weak and naïve character, jealous of his brother and how special he was, desperate for the love of the woman he thought to be his mother. So much so, that even after finding out this was not his real mother and that their real mother was murdered by this woman, he was too weak to leave this woman. On the other hand, Jacob’s brother was a strong and wise character, even from a young age. He was always looking out across the sea for answers, knowing on some level that something was missing. And when he found out what that was, he loved his brother and begged for him to come with him—first when he left to join the other people and again when he was leaving the island. Again, Jacob was too weak to leave and had to go as far as to betray him and tell the woman his brother’s plans—which would cause the eventual destruction of his plan to get off the island and the death of all his people. And in the end, Jacob would commit the ultimate betrayal by throwing his brother who loved him so much and had tried to save him so many times, into the place that was worse than death.

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