I can see how this would be a really polarizing episode. If you care about finding out Jacob’s origin story and if you want some explanation for why/how the Man in Black became the Smoke Monster, then this hour was probably quite satisfying for you.
If you’re like me and don’t give a flip about Jacob, MIB, and their centuries-long sibling rivalry, this was a really infuriating waste of one of this series’ final hours.
The whole thing smacks of another JJ Abrams-associated ABC series that devolved into overblown nonsense (albeit long before its final season): Alias. If you recall, that series decided to get all ancient and eternal on our asses and make its endgame a super-villain’s quest for immortality.
Lost also seems preoccupied with immortality—only this time, the characters in question want to escape it, not gain it.
The episode opens on an ambiguously-Mediterranean-looking woman in a scarlet gown, treading among wreckage on the surface of the ocean. We learn as she crawls ashore that she’s super-pregnant.
Before long, she meets up with Allison Janney (who’s costumed as though she’s an extra in a remake of The Ten Commandments). Allison offers the woman “help,” taking her to her dwelling and offering her food and water. Of course, the woman (who says her name is Claudia) promptly goes into labor. She delivers a son and immediately tells Allison his name is Jacob. While Allison’s swaddling the kid, Claudia lets out another scream that alerts us all another kid’s coming through the birth chute. Allison catches the kid while Claudia laments that she’d only chosen one name, because she wasn’t aware there were two babies in her incubator.
When Claudia asks if she can see her other, nameless son, Allison responds by apologizing before bludgeoning her to death with a boulder.
Later, the boys are about 13. They’ve taken to calling Allison “Mother,” because she’s been raising them as her own, all this time. Predictably, the Boy in Black (BIM) is more inquisitive, skeptical, and mischievous; while Jacob is docile, honest, and just a stitch less clever. BIM finds a game in the sand on the beach one day; he makes up his own set of rules for it and invites Jacob to play, only after Jacob promises not to tell Mother they’d found it, lest she take it away. Jacob agrees to the terms, but immediately confesses later.
Allison goes to talk to BIM about the game, as he sits on the beach, alone and introspective. They have a conversation about how Jacob can’t lie, but BIM can because he’s “special.” BIM hoped that the game had come from somewhere beyond the island; Allison curtly tells him that the Island is all there is. It’s clear BIM doesn’t entirely believe her.
Later, his suspicions are confirmed when he sees an apparition of Claudia. She tells him that he isn’t from the island and doesn’t belong there. She leads him to a camp of people who arrived “13 years ago, a day before you were born.” She tells him that these are his people.
That night, BIM wakes Jacob and convinces him to follow him out to that camp, but along the way Jacob resists. So BIM tells him about Claudia and how they don’t belong on the Island.
This is contrary to several things Allison has told them. First, she told them that no one else was on the Island. Then, after they’d discovered that they weren’t, in fact, alone, Allison told them that they (she and the boys) were there for a purpose, while the other people were evil interlopers.
That purpose? Protecting a source of light beneath a cave. She tells the boys that the source of light is basically the nucleus of good and evil and the only reason anyone ever comes to the Island is to seize the light for themselves. She says that every man has a bit of this light inside him already, but mankind always wants more. She says they will never be able to possess it, but if they get too close, they can extinguish it, and “if the light goes out here, it goes out everywhere.”
Now… at this point, I’m really over the supernatural/mystical elements of this show. I really just want to teleport back to a time when it was all so Gilliganesque and all we really needed to know was whether or not the Losties would ever get off the island and, if so, what consequences would they face, when they resumed the ugly lives they’d left behind.
When did we get here? When did the whole thing become a poorly rendered biblical parable, complete with a Jacob and an Esau and a Garden of Good and Evil? I am so over Lights and Wheels and Salvation via Electromagnetism. Just… let me know if these people ever get their lives back. I don’t want to know which of them is the new Guardian of the Island. I hope the Island implodes (for real this time) and, come to find out, the Light wasn’t on the Island at all, but somewhere deeper and even less accessible (like the Earth’s core) and no human (despite his/her immortality) could ever sufficiently “protect” it.
But I digress. Allison Janney also tells the boys that she’s “made it so that they can never hurt each other,” which… thanks?
BIM infiltrates the camp he found and spends the rest of his childhood and a lot of his adult life with “his people,” while Jacob decides he’s cool living with Allison Janney (and who wouldn’t be? She’s fairly awesome, usually, when she isn’t playing a mysterious Protector of the Light).
Jacob occasionally visits his brother and they play that insipid “game” with the black and white stones and then the Man in Black confides that he’s found a way to leave the island. At the news of this, Allison pays him a visit and he tells her he’s begun to build a wheel that will help conduct or harness or obtain the Light (and y’all can correct me on that; I don’t care enough to figure out what was going on in this scene). Allison begs him not to do it. He says he has to, so they hug goodbye and she apologizes before shoving the back of his head into a stone wall.
When he comes to, his precious wheel has disappeared and when he heads toward a towering plume of black smoke in the distance, he finds that his camp has been burned and his people murdered.
He winds up killing Allison Janney for this, but not before she leads Jacob back to the Light and tells him that she wants him to take over her role as Guardian. He whines that she’s only asking him because things didn’t pan out as she’d hoped with MIB (who she clearly favored). She lies that Jacob was always supposed to be Guardian and makes him drink a symbolic shot of wine to transfer her duties: “Now, you and I are the same,” which… thanks?
Jacob really didn’t want the duty, which we kind of gathered from his earlier appearances in this series, particularly in “Ab Aeterno,” where he tries to pawn off some of his burden on Richard.
Jacob finds MIB standing over Dead Allison Janney with a bloody dagger and, in a fit of rage, he drags him back to the Light and drops him in, knowing full well that anyone who goes down there suffers a fate worse than death (according to lying-ass Allison).
MIB’s body emerges, dead, after the Smoke Monster comes rushing out of the cave. Jacob lays MIB’s body to rest beside Allison Janney and for a second, we get a flashback to the Season 1 ep where Jack and Kate find the skeletons that Locke conveniently names “Adam and Eve.”
“Goodbye, brother,” Jacob impassively intones, “Goodbye.”
Aaaand that’s it. Seriously. That’s all we get. Like, thanks for letting us know where Jacob and MIB came from (sort of. We still don’t really know, do we? And it still doesn’t really matter, does it?). But for real? I’d rather have spent this time on our principal cast, none of whom will ever know or care about any of this.
I will say that it was cool knowing that the Nameless Son is the “special” son—who really wasn’t lying about Jacob stealing his humanity and about wanting to leave the island and about wanting his life back.
But just like my expectations of a satisfying resolution for the principal cast of this series, that ship has sailed.